The ScottWerx 10/22 Thompson; an economical fun, conversion kit
by R.K. Campbell
The versatile, reliable and affordable Ruger 10/22 rifle is an American icon. This handy rifle has been used in sport shooting of all types, competition, hunting and even personal defense by thousands of Americans. The Ruger 10/22 is a robust design that always works even when left uncleaned and unlubricated for long periods of time. I do not recommend such abuse, but the fact is this is a durable and low maintenance firearm with much to recommend it.
The simplicity of construction lends itself well to modification. At one time I was more familiar with a number of special project Ruger 10/22s designed for use by villagers in impoverished nations. These people were issued the Ruger to defend themselves against communist insurgents. It has been 30 years since then but the Ruger conversionssome of which were full autostuck in my mind.
Today we have any number of accessories that will modify the basic rifle into advanced configurations for practically any chore. One of the greatest fun conversions I have ever used is a recent one. The ScottWerx (3047 Piedmont Ave., Dept. GWK, La Crescenta, CA 91214; phone: 818-248-1139; online: 1022FunGun.com) conversion modifies the Ruger 10/22 into a Thompson submachine gun lookalike. The Thompson is a marvelously famous piece of Americana and a logical addition to the Ruger 10/22’s list of lookalike modifications.
George Thompson invented the Thompson submachinegun, but this was just one of many of his accomplishments. Thompson was an American Army officer of some repute and possibly one of the great underrated warriors that made American victory in World War One possible. Thompson was part of the Army board that recommended the .45 ACP cartridge for our service pistol, the 1911 Colt. This finding was based upon test programs that are so valid they still stand today. The success of the 1911 pistol is in part attributable to Colonel Thompson.
During World War One Thompson worked to ensure production needs were met, primarily at the Remington factory. The Remington produced Enfield rifle as one example is still respected as a well-made, rugged rifle of unprecedented strength. Quality control was never questioned. But Thompson’s greatest achievement is the Thompson Submachinegun. Thompson had studied the warfare in France extensively. His fully automatic pistol caliber firearm was specifically designed for trench warfare as a “trench broom.” However, the Thompson arrived too late for service in World War One.
As many of you know the Thompson submachinegun became popular with both booze runners and federal agents during the Roaring Twenties and the Turbulent Thirties. Even many local police departments acquired some Thompsons. During World War Two the Allies heavily used the Thompson .45 in several configurations.
The Thompson emerged with a solid reputation. If there is any valid criticism of the Thompson it is weight. (Range might be criticized as well, but the Thompson was designed to be, and is, a short-range instrument.) The Thompson is large and heavy and the semi automatic reproductions are also very heavy. And frankly if you are shooting for recreation and ninety nine per cent or more of the ammunition we use is fired recreationally, why not just use an economical .22 rimfire?
Enter Craig Scott. Scott has a tremendous amount of engineering experience, primarily in the automotive field. With this training and experience it was a simple matter for Scott to design and fabricate a quality conversion that gives the humble but ubiquitous 10/22 a sensational appearance.
The conversion is straightforward. Following the simple 10-step instructions completes the conversion. I have about an hour invested in my conversion, but if I do it again, the time would probably be cut in half. There is nothing permanent in the conversion and the Ruger may be returned to original format by reversing the procedure. The only tools needed that are not supplied with the kit are a hammer, screwdriver and punch. All the drilling and inletting precision work is done. The conversion went smoothly. I suppose even a 10-thumbed individual would be fine with the processes and, in the end, you have a very nice looking firearm that strongly resembles the Thompson submachinegun.
Scott held the tolerances of his kit to .002 of an inch just as he had in the automotive industry. Since Ruger rifles are also held to close tolerances the kits and the rifles are a good match-up. I need to stress that this is not a plastic conversion at all but a true blue steel and walnut conversion that is worthy of the folks who will use it.
There are two conversions. One gives the rifle the look of a World War Two-era Thompson M1A1 while the other gives us the look of a gangster-type firearm, complete with vertical foregrip. I preferred the gangster-style. There is even a fake drum magazine available. Once I assembled the Thompson, it seemed a waste to use and fire the rifle with the standard 10-round magazine. Durable and feed reliable it is but ten rounds is cutting it short for rapid fire recreational shooting. After all I was using Mike Gibson’s .22 sized pepper popper and I planned on firing at this steel target with the better part of a 500 round brick of .22 caliber ammunition.
I obtained a 50-round magazine from Mwgco.com, a subsidiary of Mounts Plus (Mountsplus.com), a company well known for producing good quality gear for the Ruger 10/22. I also added a fiber optic front sight from the same company as well. We never had it so good with these accessories. The 50-round drum features a helical spring that must be wound to load the magazine, much in the same manner as the original Thompson 50-round drum, although this magazine is a see-through plastic affair. It takes a few minutes to load the magazine with 50 rounds but the end result of the design is reliable feed for a full 50-rounds magazine. To run from almost no compression to full compression with reliability is a neat trick.
Accuracy testing is redundant. After all, the accuracy of the conversion depends upon the accuracy of the rifle. However, the solid steel bed the rifle is down in is very rigid and accuracy is good. It was no mean trick to consistently group 10 rounds of Winchester Dyna Point .22s into less than four inches at 50 yards off of the benchrest. A good accurate Ruger 10/22 with quality Winchester ammunition will group two inches at 50 yards from the benchrest with just a little tweaking, but with peep sights four inches is about my limit. I had a thought that I just might mount an inexpensive red dot sight to the Thompson conversion, just for the fun of it, and I may do so at a later date. For now, the Scottwerx Thompson .22 offers plenty of fun. In fact this is the one solid hit on the rifle range above all others to date. The rifle feels good and looks great but it is light enough and Ruger reliable.
The Scottwerx conversion remains true to form with excellent accuracy on the order of two inches for a three-shot group at 50 yards with the Winchester Wildcat. The Winchester DynaPoint hollow point is very similar but clocks a solid 1,300 feet-per-second from the Green Mountain barrel. This brand of barrel has proven match grade accurate in the past, and would prove so again with proper optics. It would not be a challenge at all to fit a red dot sight to the Thompson/Ruger combination. That would be quite a set up, and all you have to do is use the pre-drilled and tapped screw holes in the Ruger receiver. As for a small game hunter, there is no reason not to use the rifle as converted; it is pretty neat. Quite a few shooters keep a good .22 caliber rifle for personal defense. This one handles quickly and provides excellent reliability as well as 50 rounds of ammunition with the MWG magazine (phone: 866-307-1466; online: mwgco.com or 50rounder.com). Overall, the Scottwerx conversion offers many advantages both practical and recreational. I give it a clean bill of health on all accounts. If you like, you could probably order the kit from Brownells.
However, if you wish to keep shooting the Scottwerx conversion and your other firearms, support the Second Amendment Foundation.
ON THE COVER: Loads of fun, practical and cheap to shoot what’s not to like about the Scottwerx conversion?
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