Next month I’m attending an Appleseed shoot in Manchester, TN. None of my guns is quite right for an Appleseed shoot, and the 10/22 is their recommended gun barring anything else appropriate.
Friday I strolled into the sporting goods section at Wal-Mart to look at .22 rifles. I was glad to see L. manning the counter. (Doesn’t everyone know their Wal-Mart gun counter clerk by name?)
I asked to see the Ruger 10/22 in the rack. L. said he loved his. I mentioned why I wanted it and he had heard of the shoot I was going to, and we swapped stories about travelling that part of Tennessee on Interstate 24 between Nashville and Chattanooga. Another customer came by and endorsed the 10/22. He had replaced the barrel and stock on his with custom parts. (The 10/22 rifle along with the AR-15 rifle and Colt 1911 pistol is one of the most accessorized and customized guns in America. You can replace every single part on those gun with a different part made by someone other than the original manufacturer.)
To buy a gun in the United States you have to provide a photo ID and fill out an ATF form 4473. I’ve done it more than a few times, but Wal-Mart was by far the most exacting about it. As L. told me, “You’ve probably filled out one of these before, but it’s a little different at Wal-Mart.” He cautioned me that Wal-Mart doesn’t accept abbreviations. I’d have to spell out Tennessee and Street, Avenue, etc., and that I’d have to give the year of my birth in four digits.
When I finished the the 4473 I was asked to put N/A in spaces I had left blank, such as my Social Security number, which is optional. The form went to NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) for approval. A little while later NICS came back an approval number. An assistant manager and co-manager came to the gun counter to verify the paperwork and to make sure the serial number on the paperwork matched the serial number on the gun.
After I paid one of the managers escorted me to the exit. He carried the gun, not me. On the way to the exit he told me I’d need my receipt. At the exit he asked the greeter to check my receipt, even though he had watched me pay. Lots of folks are unhappy about Wally World’s rules for buying guns, but I guess they feel the need to protect themselves from potential liability. I knew what to expect and it didn’t bother me.
Ruger makes several dozen variations on the popular 10/22. The one I bought isn’t listed on Ruger’s Web site because it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive. It has a 22″ stainless steel barrel, a little nicer stock than the standard Ruger 10/22 Carbine with checkering and no barrel band, a longer length-of-pull better suited to an adult than a youth, and standard sling swivels. Price was $238 before tax.
The Appleseed folks recommend folding down the 10/22′s standard folding sight and instead using a TechSight brand aperture sight. That works for me – I much prefer aperture sights to open sights. The Tech-Sight extends the sight radius another eight inches and is easier to adjust for windage and elevation than the 10/22′s standard sight. For sixty bucks or so the TechSight is a square deal.