Be patient, this is a long post. There’s also footnotes, links, and pix.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. A nice trigger is more than a luxury. It helps keep you on target, but control your thumb.
2. Sights that work, and what to do with them.
– – Lyman front globe sight, and how to install.
– – Crosman/Williams rear leaf, and how to install.
3. You can’t fix your eyes, but you can fix the gunstock. How your eyes work, which means, fix the gunstock.
4. Dialing in sights – the philosophy: finding your rifle’s zero, dealing with zero, and dealing with two zeroes, which you don’t want.
5. Dialing in iron sights, using a mounted scope. Unorthodox, but it works. Cheap parts, cheap labor, keep the equipment, you can use it again.
6. Room on the muzzle for extras, and what makes the crack. This is complicated, but cool.
– – Tall sights make room for good stuff. If it’s good. A big endorsement.
– – An approach to noisy guns.
– – About flash hiders and silencers.
7. Shooting on your feet. People are built to be wobbly, but your sling can make a big difference.
8. Make your stock look good after carving on it.
1. Fixing the trigger.
The trigger is the first thing I worked on, because it was the worst problem with the most straight-forward fix. I replaced the stock hammer and springs with a target hammer and springs from Volquartsen.  The parts were easy to find, which was a blessing. They were a breeze to install, once I got over the horror of looking at the Swiss-watch complexities of the parts within the trigger group. The result was exactly as advertised, and the trigger is now light and crisp.
Having a nice trigger is more than a luxury. When you squeeze the trigger, you flex the muscles and tendons in your hand, wrist, and forearm. Too much squeezing and flexing can pull your aim off-target. The only way to improve on lightening the trigger is to use a Marine sniper trick — keep your thumb on the same side of the stock as the palm of your hand. Don’t grab the stock like it’s a pistol.
2. Sights that work, and what to do with them.
The factory sights simply had to go away. I was well and thoroughly spoiled by the standard target sights on my Gamo .177 air rifle. Hooded front post, notched rear leaf, adjustable for windage and elevation. A timeless classic — but why?
The hood around the front post helps ‘frame’ the target, when you’re first trying to line up your shot. It also keeps the post in shadow, to ensure that the post will contrast strongly against your target.
The rectangular notch in the rear leaf provides a ‘frame’ for the front post. A slight change in the rifle’s angle will move the front post visually upward in the rear notch, adding elevation to your aim. A slight shift, to the left or to the right inside the notch, will compensate for windage.
Even with these aiming ‘tricks’, the ability to physically ‘dial in’ the rear sight is crucial. No two rifles are the same, and the factory setting will almost always be wrong. Even bore-sighting with a laser is not perfect. The only way to get the most perfect alignment possible is to do it with live ammo, with precise adjustments. With the .22lr, this only needs to be done once — but very, very well.
Sights like these are popularly known as ‘target sights’, obviously for good reasons. So, finding a set of sights like that for the Ruger should be a cinch, right? No, wrong. Very wrong.
Nobody offered an adjustable rear sight to fit the factory dovetail (sights that require a hammer, punch and screwdriver for adjustment aren’t really adjustable) , so I had to go with something mounted on the receiver. And, since my model didn’t have a grooved receiver, I had to put on a scope rail. Putting a sight on top of a rail on top of the receiver means you’re going to have a really tall rear sight, which requires a really tall front sight. After endless searching, and discarding parts, I reached a decision. Find the tallest front sight available, and then look for a rear sight to match.
With that approach, I found a Lyman Globe Front Sight, .854″ tall.  It’s actually made for a black powder gun, of all things. The ultimate cool feature of the sight: you have a choice of eight different reticles that fit inside the ‘globe’.
Even so, there were some problems. The Lyman front sight goes into a 3/8″ dovetail, and the Ruger has a 3/8″: dovetail, but they don’t exactly match up. For instance, Lyman dovetail base is too ‘wide’. By which I mean, if you could install the Lyman as is, the horizontal dovetail would stick out 1/2″ to the left of the muzzle, and another 1/2″ out to the right side of the muzzle. The solution: mark the Lyman dovetail very, very carefully at the two places where you need to cut off the excess dovetail, get out your hacksaw, and do the deed.
Then look at the fit. To do this right, you have to remove the factory front sight. It sits in a dovetail, but it’s a tapered dovetail. It’s just a bit bigger on the right than it is on the left. So, with the muzzle pointed away from you, and the rifle laying down on its right side, use a punch and a small hammer, and tap it downwards and out. Then try to slide the Lyman sight into place.
It might be that it won’t work. Sometimes, Ruger cuts the dovetail just a bit too shallow. If you have that situation, the fix is easy. Just file down the flatness at the bottom of the dovetail. Do it a very little bit, check the fit, file a bit more, check the fit. You’re ready to go when the Lyman dovetail will only barely begin to fit into the Ruger dovetail.
Remember the Ruger dovetail is tapered, so with the muzzle pointed away from you, tap the Lyman into place from the right, toward the left. There’s a gunsmithing tool out there that looks like a c-clamp and will press the sight into place and center it, but tapping and eyeballing worked for me.
So far, so good. I had the world’s tallest 3/8″ dovetail front sight nicely mounted, but that still left me without a rear sight. There are times when the caliper is the handiest tool in the drawer, and this was one of them. Measuring this and that, and squidging my eyes just right, I figured out that I could make it work with an utterly, extremely low-profile rear sight, if there was such a thing. Considering all the Googling and Binging and everything else I did just to find a black-powder front sight that could be forced to fit, I figured I was more likely to win the lottery than to find a rear sight with the right specs. I was actually prepared to make something from scratch.
But I found it. A Crosman Williams rear sight, with a notched leaf, adjustable for windage and elevation, and built to clamp to a 3/8″ scope base.  Actually designed for an air pistol. The fit and finish of the unit are impeccable. The knobs have click detents with extremely fine increments and locking screws to prevent misalignment during use. And the profile is utterly, drastically low. (Those of you who like peep sights, take heart: The Crosman Williams also comes in a peep version, and the Lyman front sight comes with peep reticles.)
But this rear sight has a problem of its own. The elevation portion of the sight adjustment is vertical, and goes vertically down the side of the barrel. The Ruger’s wooden stock is in the way. There’s an easy fix, though. Get your Dremel and put the drum sander in the chuck. Put a rounded, shallow gouge in the stock where you want that vertical portion of the sight to fit, and when everything’s installed, it will look almost like original equipment. One thing I did, that you might not like, is I mounted the rear sight backwards, and as far forward on the scope rail as it would go. This puts the leaf as close as possible to where the factory rear sight used to be, but still leaves enough room to work the charging lever. (Note: This has the rear leaf hanging out in front of the receiver. I might re-mount the sight the ‘regular’ way, with the elevation adjustment to the left, if I get concerned about the leaf snagging on things.)
I tried to take a picture of what it’s like to look through this set of sights, but cameras don’t do that very well. Search Google Images and you’ll see everyone has the same problem. So here’s my drawing of it, which is pretty close:
3. You can’t fix your eyes, but you can fix the gunstock.
So finally it’s time to shoot with the new sights. The sight picture was truly and completely what I wanted, but with both eyes open, it simply wasn’t ideal. I went to lots of online message boards and read about people having trouble shooting with both eyes. Nobody had a solution to ‘ghosting’ and ‘double vision’ and stuff like that, but the problem became more clear. I finally saw the answer in the mirror, and later found its description online. The problem is known as cycloduction. 
Look in the mirror and pay close attention to your eyes. While eyeballing your eyeballs, tip your head to the right. You’ll see that both eyes, independently, stay aligned with the horizon. One eye is higher, and the other is lower, but both ‘rotate’ just enough so that each of them remains horizontal the whole time.
This is where the screw-up comes in. Your brain is used to seeing two pictures, side by side, and combining them neatly into a 3-D image. The setup works really well when you’re looking at things the usual way, which is basically all the time. But tilt your head, like you’re peering over a gunstock, and things get strange. Your brain is still seeing two pictures, as usual — but they don’t combine side-to-side anymore. One picture is higher and the other is lower. Your head might be tilted, but each eye picture remains stubbornly horizontal, they overlap crookedly, and the result is an optical mess.
All this gave me a workable theory, so it was time to test it. Lots of high-end stocks have a pillow-shaped bump to lean your cheek /tilt your head against. They look so nice, it’s like you could take a nap on one. I did the exact opposite. I removed a portion of the stock for my cheek to fit into. That let me hold my head vertical, and get my right eye directly in line behind the sights. The result was magical, truly. Aim your right eye down those target sights. Then open your left eye, and focus both eyes on the target. You’ll find that the sights seem to be painted onto the target. Beauty. During the iron-sights era of Marine sniper training, both eyes open was required. You get full depth-of-field vision and target details are twice as sharp, and the result is supposed to ‘paint’ the sights on the target. With the modified cheek rest, I think I made the Marine approach just a bit better.
A note on Marine sniping
Back in the iron-sights era of Marine sniper training — WWII — the best shooters were issued a .50 cal. Browning automatic. Knowing this, a lot of shooters screwed up on purpose in boot camp because they didn’t want to get stuck lugging such a big piece around, along with the bipod and heavy ammo that came with it. I once met a WWII Marine sniper who was stationed in the Pacific who somehow got around this. He didn’t say how, but the result was, he did his sniping with a .22. In a jungle environment, where he worked, there weren’t lots of long-range firing solutions anyhow. His attitude was, it’s okay if the target dies right away or a day later. Meanwhile, his shooting position was harder to locate from the noise and muzzle flash he’d get with something heavier. I’m not a veteran, so I didn’t ask for more details, that’s etiquette, and I’m lucky that he shared as much as he did. Needless to say, he had a lot of respect for the .22 and lived to tell about it.
4. Dialing in sights – the philosophy.
No matter how nice your sights are, they need to be lined up. Online, you can read about zeroing rifles all day long, for an entire week, and not get close to reading even half of it. I finally decided that most of the advice is wrong. Even a lot of online trajectory calculators have the wrongness built in. What’s wrong is picking a particular zero ‘just because’, which will most likely give you *two* zeroes for a rifle.
People who just want to shoot targets will want to sight them in at a certain distance ‘just because’ they will always be shooting X number of yards. That’s fine, and having two zeroes is not an issue. But what if you won’t know in advance how far your target will be? What if you’re hunting, and it might be 15 yards, or 50?
Let the rifle decide.
In a perfect world, you could aim by looking through the middle of the bore. You can’t, so your gunsights are higher than your barrel. So you sight in the rifle so the sights line up with the target at X yards, and then you line that up with where the bullet goes after it comes out of the barrel and hits at X. That gives you two lines that cross at distance X — the sight line, which is always a straight line, and the bullet path, which is always a curve. (Some people actually believe that bullets ‘swoop up’ through the air before heading back down, but that’s totally wrong. A bullet starts falling the moment it leaves the muzzle, it’s an unbreakable Law of Nature, and its name is Gravity.)
Basically, zeroing–for elevation–is angling the barrel upward so that the falling bullet still hits your line of sight at distance X. But, if that bullet keeps going past X, it could go above your target line of sight for a while. If that happens, it will cross your target line of sight once more on its way down. That would leave you zeroed at two distances, and high or low on everything else.
My fix for the problem, which I call ‘finding the natural zero’, is to measure from the center of the front sight to the center of the rifle bore, and zero the sights where that measurement is the same as the bullet drop measured from the muzzle. In my case, the sights are about 1.2 inches above the center of the rifle bore. A .22 lr flying at 1280 fps (Remington ‘Golden’ hollow-point) will drop 1.2 inches at a distance of 34 yards.  So I have only one zero, at 34 yards. Anything further than that, just raise the front sight a bit (as discussed above), which is exactly what target sights are designed for. (At 100 yards you’ll have a bit over 10 inches of drop. Some people say that after 110 yards the .22lr slows to subsonic and goes unstable, with anything from precessing to outright tumbling end-for-end.)
5. Dialing in iron sights, using a mounted scope.
The trouble with sighting in at 34 yards is that it’s hard to see the holes in the target, either because your eyesight isn’t perfect, or you’re really picky, or both. You can do a lot of walking back and forth between the target and your shooting position to do the job, or get a fancy hand-held spotting scope. And maybe even use two guys, one to spot and one to shoot. Got that problem fixed, too. I found an offset scope mount for a paintball gun. It attaches to the regular scope rail, but gives you another scope rail to the left of it. That’s where I put a bargain-basement Tasco scope. That combination let me shoot, spot, and adjust, in real time, with my hands never leaving the rifle. Once the iron sights were fully lined up, the offset rail and scope went back to the parts bin until I need to line up another set of iron sights.
When shooting, rest your rifle on something whenever you can, of course. When dialing in the sights, you have to. A lot of people like bipods because they don’t weigh much and are very portable. Others like them because they look cool. My opinion: nothing beats a sandbag. You can buy a rifle ‘sandbag’ at your average sporting goods store, but they’re a lot of money for basically the same technology as you find in your average bag of sand.
The trouble with a sandbag is that it isn’t very useful for other things, but if you have a dog or cat, you’re in luck. Go to the grocery store. Get a bag of dog food, cat food, or kitty litter. There’s your ‘sandbag’. Sight in your rifle, and when you’re done, you know what to do with the leftovers. If you do this for competition shooting and people laugh, just shoot better than them and then they won’t.
6. Room on the muzzle for extras, and what makes the crack.
While doing all of this, I realized at some point that those ‘tall’ sights left me with some extra ‘real estate’ on the muzzle. There are all sorts of things available on the web that you can attach to the muzzle of your rifle, and some are more legal than others. To screw them onto the end of your muzzle, you either take your rifle to a machine shop, or you get yourself an adapter. The adapter fits snugly on the end of the muzzle, has a slit that your front sight snugs into, and is held on with a set screw. I think I found the best one out there, because the set screw is huge compared to others and you can torque the heck out of it.  It’s stainless, but I painted it flat black because I’m just that kind of guy.
The question still is, what to screw onto the end of the muzzle adapter? There’s lots of stuff out there that you’ve probably seen on Star Trek. I settled on the JP Enterprises JPRE-2 muzzle brake  — not for how it looks, but for how it works. I spent a few hours studying ballistics and the physics of muzzle ‘crack’ before making my decision.
Turns out, there’s three elements to muzzle crack, though it sounds like just one. First is the air inside the barrel (~2 cu. in.) being pushed forward by the bullet. It makes a crack because the bullet pushes the air supersonically out of the muzzle. The second crack is when the bullet ‘uncorks’ from the end of the muzzle. Since propellant gas is lighter than lead, the propellant rushes past and ahead of the bullet (~44 cu. in. of it if I did the math right) as soon as it uncorks. The propellant gas also breaks the sound barrier and makes a sonic ‘crack’ when it hits regular air. All this forms a ‘Mach disk’, which is shaped roughly like a dinner plate standing on edge. It happens when supersonic gas ‘splashes’ against regular air.
Then, finally, comes the bullet. At first, it’s flying through air/gas that’s moving at about the same speed, which is smooth sailing. But then, it has to fly through the turbulent shock-wave mess of the Mach disk. The moment it comes out through the far side of the Mach disk, it makes a crack all on its own — when the bullet itself is flying supersonically through regular air.  (You really need to look at the pics at the links in that footnote.) The JPRE-2 does nothing about the final bullet crack, and it can’t — that bullet will break the sound barrier the moment it hits clean air. But it ‘peels away’ the first two gas flows that make a crack, and sends them off to the sides and away from the bullet.
That’s how you get the recoil compensation, but I’m willing to bet that this also makes the rifle more accurate — by preventing a Mach disk from forming, and helping keep the bullet in clear air. Which could be the reason why the JPRE-2 is the only compensator that’s banned from shooting competition.  One thing it does for certain is make the .22 quite a bit quieter downrange.
Regular civilians don’t need to worry if they can be spotted by their muzzle flash. It’s seldom you need to shoot in the dark, and you can go flash-blind after the first round. This isn’t such a problem with the .22lr, but the JPRE compensator handles most of what little there is. (If you’re working with a larger caliber and figure on night work, be very careful in your choice of flash hiders, there’s lots of junk out there.)
There’s another, and definitely serious, problem with muzzle flash — and this applies to all rifles, daytime or at night. All cartridges, of all calibers, contain more propellant than is required to launch the bullet at the right velocity. The extra propellant, for reasons known only to chemists, helps the propellant burn cooler. In turn, the rifle runs cooler, and this reduces wear inside the barrel. Us older guys who remember adjusting carburetors on cars know that if you run the engine too lean (too little gasoline for the air passing through), the engine runs hotter and you can burn your valves. So you run just a bit on the rich (more gas per air) side of things. So it’s something like that.
That extra propellant comes out of the muzzle, of course, and it’s burning. With the Ruger 10/22, it looks like sparks coming out of the barrel. You don’t see this happening in broad daylight, but it’s there, and shooters have actually started wildfires that way. Consider, spark arrestors are required on off-road motor vehicles. I’m not going to advocate a law requiring spark arrestors on rifles, but a flash hider doesn’t completely hide the flash and act as a spark arrestor. Burning propellant coming out of the muzzle is what it is. I don’t know how I’d design a rifle spark arrestor, but someone out there does. Pass the word.
Another dubious product is a silencer/sound suppressor. If you can get one legally, it’s still not worth the money. As I pointed out earlier, part #3 of the ‘crack’ is the bullet going supersonic. A silencer/suppressor can only solve part #3 by slowing the bullet down. If you have a problem with fast noisy bullets, save yourself the money and the hassle and buy subsonic ammo. The Ruger 10/22 with the JPRE compensator and subsonic ammo is about as loud as my Gamo .177 air rifle and is, in a way, a bit quieter because there’s no noise from an internal spring and piston. With Remington subsonic .22 lr hollow points at 1050 fps, your zero will be at 28 yards, though. (Note: do not bother putting this subsonic ammo in your Ruger MK II pistol. I tried it. The round is designed to burn hard and fast, to ensure the Ruger 10/22 semiauto bolt cycles reliably. In the pistol, it’s actually louder than a standard .22 lr round, has a nasty, sharp recoil, makes a big muzzle flash, and you can feel it beating the crap out of the pistol.)
7. Shooting on your feet.
Shooting while laying on the ground with help from a bipod or sandbag is a fine thing, especially when you’re calibrating your sights, but it’s not a realistic shooting environment. Not at all like shooting rabbits or squirrels or the occasional rabid raccoon. You need to know how to do what they call shooting ‘offhand’, which is essentially shooting while just standing there.
The human body has a lot of joints, and all of them move, which makes this kind of shooting a bit tricky. In this case, your best friend is your rifle sling. I tried all sorts of setups before I got it right. It’s so simple that I’m sure it’s been invented before, but I haven’t seen it.
Let’s say you shoot right-handed. Pick up your rifle and aim it at something legal. Hold it in a way that feels normal, natural and comfortable. The forward mounting point of your sling is on the left side (not the underside) of the stock, and about two inches closer to the butt than your left wrist. The rearward mounting point is on the left side of the stock in the middle of the ‘pistol-ish’ place you grip with your right hand. But away from your fingertips. The caution about keeping the mounting points away from wrists and fingers is to help prevent getting things tangled up, and you might like the extra room if you happen to be wearing cold-weather gear.
The rest is sling adjustment, and again, this is for right-hand shooters. (Lefties just do the opposite.) For regular carry, your rifle hangs in front of you, butt upward to the right, muzzle downward to the left. The rear-most portion of the strap goes over your right shoulder, and across and down your back, and then forward under your left armpit to the fore-most sling attachment. When you get the length of the strap just right (my sling is 71 inches long), merely lifting your rifle to aim, just like you normally do, automatically locks your left hand and both shoulders into three points of a solid triangle.
If you don’t want to carry the rifle in front, just push the barrel up and the rifle behind you, butt down, which makes a comfortable, safe carry.
What I use for a sling is actually a single-piece rein for a horse bridle. They’re available at your local farm store, or should be, and are much cheaper than something in a box that says ‘Super Hi-Pro Sniper Rifle Sling’ or whatever. It’s also a better product. When brand new, the leather (it’s a solid strap) will be a bit stiff. Coil up the rein and lay the coil flat on the bottom of a coffee can. Get some synthetic air compressor oil, and pour just enough over the top of the coiled rein to barely cover it. Let it rest overnight. The next day, wipe off the excess, and you’re good to go. A rein comes with solid brass buckles for adjustment, which is a nice plus — and you also have the leftover oil. It’s a light oil that keeps a low viscosity across a wide range of temperatures, so it’s perfect for restoring leather goods that have become so dry that leather soap isn’t an option anymore.
8. What begins hard should finish well.
Finally, after all that work, especially the wood-working on the stock, you want the whole thing to look pretty good. I chemically stripped the original finish, and rinsed in water with a stiff brush. To remove remnants of the original stain, I also rinsed and scrubbed with bleach. Once it was bone dry, I stained it with Varathane ‘Espresso’. That’s the darkest they make, and works well with the woodgrain. After that, one top coat of semi-gloss polyeurethane. To my eye, the finish is far better than the original.
Hopefully the pictures below will make things more clear.
1. Target Hammer for 10/22 and 10/22 Magnum, https://www.volquartsen.com/products/201-target-hammer-for-10-22-and-10-22-magnum
2. Lyman Globe Front Sight, .854″ tall (they come in different heights), http://www.trackofthewolf.com/categories/partdetail.aspx/875/1/FS-17-ATC
3. Crosman Williams rear sight, http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Crosman_Williams_Rear_Sight_Notched_Blade_Elevation_Windage_Adj_3_8_Mount/2008
4. Physiology of the Ocular Movements, http://www.cybersight.org/data/1/rec_docs/88_Ch%204%20-%20Physiology%20of%20the%20Ocular%20Movements,%20p.%2052-84.pdf
5. Gravity Calculations – Gravity Solutions http://www.gravitycalc.com/ Important note: I use this set of online gravity calculators instead of online ballistic calculators because I want to find where the zero should be. With ballistic calculators, you have to pick your zero first, and if you pick a bad zero, your problems are only beginning.
6. JCS 3 inch Offset Rail 3/8 Dovetail, http://www.discountpaintball.com/JCS-3-inch-Offset-Rail-38-Dovetail_p_1463.html#
7. Tacticool Ruger 10/22 Threaded Barrel End – 1/2-28 TPI – Stainless, http://www.tacticool22.com/shop/ruger-1022-threaded-barrel-end-1228-tpi-stainless-p-51.html Note: The set screw comes up from the bottom, and is basically insurance for it not falling off. It fit so snugly I had to put a block of wood on the end of the adapter (to protect the threads) and tap it on with a hammer.
8. JP Enterprises JPRE-2 muzzle brake, http://www.jprifles.com/buy.php?item=JPRE-2
9. Computational Fluid Dynamics Application to Gun Muzzle Blast – a Validation Case Study, US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, Technical Report ARCCB-TR-03011 (August 2003), http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA417311&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf See also, Gunshot Effects Simulation, Science & Military (Jan. 2011), http://www.aos.sk/casopisy/science/dokumenty/archiv/2011_1/cl11.pdf
10. Muzzle Brake / Flash Hider / Sound Suppressor, Gunquester, http://www.gunquester.com/index.php/complete-ar-15/ar-15-uppers/muzzle-parts