Since 1964, the Ruger 10/22 rifle has been the standard which all other semiautomatic .22 rifles have been measured against. Lightweight, compact, reliable and easy to customize and personalize, over six million of these rifles are in circulation. It is my opinion that this rifle should be included in any collection, and it is a great first purchase for someone just getting into the shooting sports.
A large part of the appeal of the 10/22 has been the compact design and reliable nature of the 10 round rotary magazine that ships with every 10/22. It fits flush with the bottom of the stock, rides well in the ashtray, cup holder, or door pocket of a ranch vehicle, inserts and removes easily from the action, and is easy and simple to load.
Ruger 10/22, modified with a Hogue Overmolded stock, Shooter’s ridge magazine release, fluted bull barrel, 15MOA scope rail and BSA Sweet-22 6-18x40 scope. Note flush mounted BX-10 magazine.
However, 10 rounds are quickly depleted when trying to fully ventilate a can or paper target. Shooting is fun, shooting A LOT is funner, and stopping to load a magazine after a mere 10 rounds puts an early stop to the fun.
I’m unsure of the timeframe, but I do recall sometime in the early 1980’s, my dad came home with the first ‘banana clip’, a higher capacity 25 round magazine for our trusty Ruger 10/22. (Yes, I am aware of the semantic differences between a magazine and a clip…now. But that’s what we called it then.) Suddenly, the walnut and blued steel carbine took on a super duper cool military appearance, and my two brothers and I were beside ourselves in eager anticipation to sling lots of little bits of lead at cans.
Unfortunately, the ‘banana clip’ proved to be problematic, causing numerous failures to feed, failures to eject, and double feeds. The last ten rounds were very hard to load into the magazine, leading to bruised thumbs. We spent more time messing around clearing the jams than we did shooting, and we soon returned to the factory 10 round rotary magazines.
Since then, I’ve tried several different brands of 25 round magazines with varied success, and I’ve culled the unreliable ones to end up with five or six Butler Creek ‘Hot Lips’ magazines that are reliable. I’ve often wondered why Ruger, with an obvious market, neglected to develop and release their own ‘Banana Clip.’
In April of 2011, Ruger quit asking themselves the same question, and introduced the BX-25.
I ordered one up from Webyshops.com, and as usual, the package arrived quickly in the mail.
I noticed several things right out of the box. The first thing is the fact that the magazine can be disassembled for cleaning or repair. This is a giant improvement over the Butler Creek Magazines I’ve been using, and a feature that was only available on very expensive aftermarket magazines in the past. Second, the feed lips are stainless steel, and should never wear out. This is also an improvement over the Butler Creek Hot Lip magazines. The third thing I noticed is a negative. The Butler Creek Hot Lip magazines I have are clear or smoked, and you can tell at a glance if the magazine if full, half full or empty. There is no way to quickly tell if a BX-25 has three rounds or twenty three loaded.
The biggest thing that has kept me attached to the 10/22 as a rimfire platform instead of transitioning to a rimfire AR-15 has nothing to do with the rifles, but an accessory: The Butler Creek 10/22 speed loader. With this loader, a 25 round magazine can be reloaded in mere seconds with no sore thumbs. My biggest concern with the BX-25 is that the loader wouldn’t work with them. If I had to choose between a 100% reliable .22 magazine I had to load with my thumb or a 95% reliable magazine I could use a speedloader on, I’m picking the speedloader every time. On a self defense weapon or big game rifle, I’d go the other way…but a .22 is about plinking, burning ammo, and having fun.
I was glad to find that the loader did indeed work with the speed loader…not quite as smooth and quick as with the Hot Lips magazines, though. The first few loads of the magazines were rather balky with the loader, often I would feel some resistance while clicking a round in, and this required a slight ‘turn back’ of the knob, and then I could turn the knob fully and load a round. This seemed to smooth out after the second or third load. Once I got feel and rhythm down, I could load the BX-25 nearly as quick as the Hot Lips.
I think the root cause of the balkiness in loading the BX-25 magazines with the Hot Lip loader lies in the difference in the configuration and angle of the feed lips between the two. The feed lips on the Hot Lips are relatively flat in relationship to each other, and the cartridge loads and feeds pretty much straight down. On the BX-25, the left feed lip is noticeably higher, and the cartridge loads and feeds from a 1:00 angle to the right.
Well worn HotLips on left that has fed about 10,000 rounds, new BX-25 on right.
The feed lip angle on the BX-25 corresponds with the angle on the 10 round factory magazine, where it was needed because of the rotary, instead of linear storage of cartridges. I suppose having the feed lip angle the same as the dead reliable rotary magazines the action was designed for contributes to the reliability of these magazines, but I do wish the speed loader worked smoother with the BX-25. (Ruger, if you build one, I’ll buy one!)
Two Ruger Hot Lips on Left, BX-25 on Right
Once the magazines were loaded, it was time for the fun stuff: Shooting. I fired 250 rounds through two different magazines, three different rifles, with a variety of different ammo, and the magazines worked flawlessly right out of the package. I ran Federal Bulk Pack, Winchester Bulk Pack, Remington Golden Bullet Bulk and American Eagle through the magazines and rifle with no failures to feed or malfunctions. It should be noted that all of these brands of ammo use copper plated bullets, which is what I run exclusively, as I find they feed better and keep the feedramps and magazines cleaner. The only exception to this is when I run subsonic ammo, which I haven’t been able to find in a plated bullet. It should be noted that Ruger warns that “You may experience malfunctions when using subsonic ammunition or ammunition with heavy coatings of bullet lube.” At the time of testing I was out of subsonic ammunition, so I was unable to test the magazine’s reliability running subsonic loads.
Overall, I am pleased with the BX-25 magazines. They ran 100% reliable, right out of the package, just as I would expect from a Ruger factory product. The only two reservations I have is the slower load time using the Butler Creek loader, and the opaque construction of the magazine that denies the shooter a quick visual confirmation of the amount of rounds loaded. These reservations are far outweighed by the fact that these magazines are Ruger factory supported, can be disassembled to clean and repair, and are constructed of quality materials that should last for generations. These are great magazines, and it was well worth the 47 year wait.
Mark Spreadborough writes from his family homestead in Kalama, Washington, where he lives with his wife, son, daughter, dog and cat. When not writing, shooting, hunting, fishing or working on his property, he goes to his day job as a HVAC repair mechanic.