Last week, I published a little teaser about the Open Top 11/22 from Fletcher Rifle Works. This is a receiver patterned after the Ruger® 10/22®, but with some new features. Sebastian Unger designed this receiver in a home workshop in Austria, and refined it over about four years. Then Paul Fletcher, of Fletcher Rifle Works, licensed the design, so that we could enjoy this novel receiver stateside. And by “novel”, I don’t mean it’s a novelty. This is actually a very clever design, and for those that see the value in it, I expect it to be a hot seller.
Patterned after the 10/22, so all internal and most external dimensions are the same. Uses any OEM or aftermarket bolts, triggers, charging handles, and barrels. If it fits a factory 10/22, it will fit the 11/22. 6061 aluminum, with stainless steel pins. The black anodized finish is far tougher than the current OEM finish. Looks better too. Will accept large diameter (.920″) “bull” barrels. If there is one area of concern it’s that there may be a few different chassis designs it doesn’t play well with, due to the front rail section. I know it won’t work with a Crazy Ivan Original (but just fine with the Comp and Comp Lite). Judging from the looks I’d say the Midwest Industries handguard will hit the rail as well.
Have a look at the image below. That stainless steel pin on the side interfaces with another stainless pin on the removable top cover. Pull the captured pin out, and the top cover will slide back and off. Replacement is as easy, just in reverse. The top thickness and grooves it rides in are pretty ample. This isn’t something that will wear out over time.
My personal use case for the Open Top 11/22
Due to the removable top, the rail section is all the way forward. This makes mounting a scope somewhat problematic. So maybe this isn’t the first choice for that scoped precision rifle build. But a small reflex sight, like any of the popular red dots, fits perfectly on that rail section. Does that limit shooters at all? Maybe. But a light rifle with a red dot is a very popular option right now. As is the 22 Charger format, with a red dot. And there are more suppressors in use than ever. And we know that suppressor use is one way to quickly foul up your receiver’s insides, including the bolt.
Given the ease of which the bolt can be removed and cleaned, I see the Open Top 11/22 as the ideal base for a pistol build. Grab a short barrel and brace (while you can), and put together a little aftermarket Charger. Of course, it would still make a good base for a light field rifle. Whether plinking or hunting small game, if a red dot is sufficient, this is a great option. It should surprise no one that my first choice was to throw it in a chassis with a short barrel and a brace though.
My build list
Rather than ordering new parts, my impatience got the best of me. So I dug into my spares box, and also pulled a few parts off another project. That’s a bit of what makes the format so popular – the ease of swapping parts. So first I attached a Summit Precision carbon fiber barrel. Then I added a Ruger factory trigger housing with a TandemKross Victory trigger. For the bolt, I used my JWH Custom American flag model. When it was all done, I dropped it into my Enoch Industries Deep Six chassis, with SB Tactical folding brace.
Some of these parts were just what I had on hand. But the barrel and chassis were selected for a specific reason. I’m not even sure how long I followed Sebastian on Instagram, watching his project progress. Seeing an individual’s dream project unfold before my eyes (in very slow motion) was awesome. Here’s a guy who said “I can do better”, and he did. So it’s fitting that I used a Summit Precision barrel, and Enoch Industries chassis as well. Both are also run by guys who saw an opportunity to design and produce their own products. So this project is also a celebration of the independent designers that help make up the industry.
My barrel slid right in with only the slightest resistance. It wasn’t loose, but didn’t need any heat on the receiver either. Then my v-block was installed but not tightened completely. This is where my usual assembly process took a weird turn. While I would usually install the bolt and make sure the barrel timing was correct, I installed the trigger instead. TandemKross KrossPins slid right in and held the trigger housing in place. Their bolt buffer went in without any trouble too. Some receivers have been overly tight or loose. So far, the Open Top 11/22 was right in the middle.
With the top plate off, I installed the bolt and charging handle. As this was my first time doing this with the Open Top 11/22, it was a bit of a challenge. I’m sure there’s a video out there that covers this, but I either haven’t seen it, or didn’t pay attention. That was on purpose, as I wanted to see how intuitive the design is. Anyway, with the bolt and charging handle installed, I made sure the extractor was centered in its notch in the barrel, and tightened the v-block. After replacing the top cover, and installing the whole thing in my chassis, I was ready to go. Well, I mounted a Vortex red dot and zeroed it with my laser too.
Shooting the Open Top 11/22
My initial plan was to find a bucket of bullets, or similar filthy bulk ammo, and really dirty up the receiver. But I couldn’t justify the price gouging I would pay (dude, that’s not actual gold on your “golden bullets”), especially when I was sitting on a decent supply of cleaner ammo. So I settled for most of a 500 round carton of Federal bulk. Over the course of about 400 rounds, I had exactly one failure, and that was with a BX 25 magazine. No issues with the ten round magazine. Aftermarket receivers have better tolerances than OEM, and really, I’m not expecting this one to be any different. Smooth running with zero lubrication. Accuracy was exactly as expected from a 9″ barrel and 3MOA red dot. One benefit of using existing parts was I knew what to expect. Perfect for empty cans, empty shotgun hulls, and partially broken clays. Would have been cheating to use it on the dueling tree.
One thing I did notice was the sound is different. There is almost a hollow metallic sound. Not sure how else to describe it. Seems as though a traditional receiver dampens this noise, but the Open Top 11/22 brings it out. It’s not a problem, just different. When I was done shooting, I checked the bolt, and it wasn’t nearly as dirty as expected. This created a small dilemma. I could burn through more ammo, and then tell everyone how easy it was to clean my rifle, or just publish my article, and point out that mildly dirty, or super filthy, the Open Top 11/22 is easy to clean. Slide off the cover, pull out the bolt. Wipe it down, and if necessary, run a cleaning rod through the back of the receiver, and into the barrel. I don’t have to get it dirty to prove it’s easy to clean.
Final thoughts, AKA my opinion
Unless you want a scoped rifle, there aren’t many reasons not to consider the Open Top 11/22. The simplest reason may be that they’re available. I have two dealer accounts with well-known manufacturers, and even I can’t get a receiver when I need one, due to stock fluctuations. Right now, Fletcher Rifle Works has these in stock. On a few of the rimfire enthusiast sites I visit, the 10/22 is popular for plinking, hunting, and as a suppressor host. Throw it in a light stock with a compact optic, and you’re set. This receiver would be ideal for that, since cleaning requires no disassembly, which makes a difference in the field. And let’s be honest, people will buy this just because it’s easier to clean.
Thinking of building a Charger? Maybe suppressed? With a binary trigger? That’s the fastest way to dirty up your action. Again, no tools other than a rag and a maybe a small brush, and you can keep things clean with minimal down time. And no chance of lost parts like screws or pins. So what’s left? The price. Yes, at $250, it’s not the least expensive receiver option. But if the features appeal to you, it’s totally worth it.
I’d like to thank Paul Fletcher of Fletcher Rifle Works for sending his Open Top 11/22 receiver for this review. I’ve done about 15-20 custom builds, and this one is certainly unique. I’ll continue to shoot it, and report back if there is anything else to share, good or bad. Also, I need to take a moment and thank Sebastian Unger, for putting up with my endless questions every time he posted on Instagram.
Comments? Questions? Love it? Hate it? Can’t wait to get your own? Feel free to share below.