By Jay Grazio, Shooting Illustrated
There was a car commercial, many years ago, for one of the major Japanese manufacturers that spliced together clips of other manufacturers comparing their car to the initial manufacturer’s signature model. Clip after clip of “as good as the [name]” and “more headroom than [name]” flashed in quick succession, with the end result being a number of competitors referencing the first company’s car.
That’s what the Ruger 10/22 has become: a reference. It has become a generic trademark, where “Ruger 10/22” has become synonymous with “semi-automatic .22 LR rifle.” We’ve seen, just in these pages, a number of other-manufacturer offerings compatible with Ruger’s rifle, paying testimony to the imprint on the market of the little rifle. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em—especially given the robust aftermarket enjoyed by the 10/22.
Here’s where Azimuth Technologies comes in. While you may not have heard of this Florida-based manufacturer, chances are pretty good you’ve shot a firearm with components made at its facility. While the list of industry partners is kept close to the vest for obvious reasons, Azimuth has been manufacturing precision components for defense, aerospace and medical-device companies for decades, with more-recent expansion into critical rifle and handgun components. I had the opportunity to visit the Naples, FL, facility late last year and couldn’t help but marvel at the state-of-the-art CNC machinery literally packed wall-to-wall in the unassuming strip-mall-like facility.
When Azimuth decided to make the leap into finished-product production, it opted for the 10/22 as the test bed. The company has a proprietary honing-and-polishing method of mating the barrel and receiver, called hydrolapping, that claims to increase accuracy through greater concentricity—how the breech mates with the rear of the receiver. Rather than offer a complete firearm, Azimuth opted for more of an à la carte offering with a barreled receiver needing a trigger group and stock. Complete firearms are available through select outlets, although the “next-level” aspect of the Azimuth rifle is more likely to undergo end-user customization. With such a wide variety of stocks and triggers available for 10/22-pattern rifles, it’s a blank canvas upon which the rimfire aficionado can paint their own masterpiece.
The rifle we received for testing came complete with a Stocky Stock’s thumbhole stock and a Powder River Precision trigger. It’s an attractive and quite useful combination, with the colorful stock offering an aesthetic and functional counterpart to the machined-steel receiver and barrel. With the Powder River trigger, there’s little room for error—that’s an adjustable 2.25- to 2.5-pound pull—but there’s also little room for error. The exceptional trigger is amplified by an astonishingly accurate barrel and vice versa. It’s a combination that works exceedingly well together and should satisfy the most demanding rimfire-accuracy needs.
This plays into the projected market space for the AZTP-22. Azimuth expects it to compete against custom-built 10/22-based rifles, not against standard Ruger models—this is a next-level rimfire rifle. You’ve owned a 10/22 (or 10/22s) for years; you’ve got a ton of gear and really enjoy shooting the inexpensive .22 LR, but you’re looking for something like Rimfire Challenge competition and figure rather than upgrade your existing 10/22 with a new stock, trigger and barrel, you’ll invest in a dedicated offering.
Whatever the reason, the AZTP-22 is a great choice as that next-level, semi-automatic rimfire rifle. Should you want to put one together yourself, adding a trigger involves the use of two pins while the stock requires a single screw. It’s Do-It-Yourself-101-level stuff. Don’t feel like turning a screwdriver? No worries—Azimuth has partnered with numerous distributors to offer turnkey versions. The take-home lesson, though, is that you can custom build a rifle to your own specifications for a pretty reasonable price. It’s more than an off-the-shelf 10/22, of course, but the components you’d have in the Azimuth rifle are definitive upgrades.
Are the upgrades worth it? That’s a personal question, and a lot depends on your expectations. If you’re looking for a basic plinking .22 LR, probably not. If you’re in the market for something really accurate that functions without incident, though, ponying up a little extra up front pays dividends in bragging rights on the firing line. Shooting results speak for themselves: The light, crisp trigger combined with the superlative accuracy of the hydrolapped barrel gave impressive results, with many groups coming in well under 1 MOA. Function-wise, the rifle performed without incident, eating up a wide variety of ammunition ranging from bulk plinking lead-nose rounds to high-end, competition-worthy ammo.
In the end, opting for a next-level variant of pretty much any firearm is a personal thing. A standard Glock G19 right out of the box is going to work fine and do what’s expected of it all day long—yet folks eagerly add aftermarket components or opt for radical customizations to improve it. It’s all about choices, and with the solid manufacturing processes and attention to detail in the AZTP-22, you’re making an excellent one.