In preparation for one of our 10/22 rifle projects, I went searching for a high-quality aftermarket bolt. I found exactly what I was looking for in the bolt below, which was supplied by JWHCustom. Why go with an aftermarket bolt, instead of factory? Ruger has sold something like 7 million 10/22 rifles. One of the reasons they have sold so many is because of the reasonable price. And to keep the price down, they cast the bolt, instead of CNC machining them. This saves time and money. Because if you’ve ever compared a CNC bolt to the factory cast one, it’s obvious that Ruger saved some time and money on the finishing.
What’s the difference?
A factory bolt is cast, which right away means that the tolerances are going to be looser. Molten steel gets poured into a mold, and when it cools, the mold is opened. Out pops a bolt-shaped object. Honestly, it’s a perfectly serviceable part. It slides back and forth, and your rifle goes bang nearly every time.
A JWH Custom CNC machined bolt starts as a block of 4140 tool steel. Everything that’s not a bolt gets machined away. The tolerances are much more exact. It fits better, and the surfaces are smoother. But edges and angles can be made sharper, and more precise. When done, it’s hardened for durability. So it too is perfectly serviceable. And it’s nicer to look at, if that sort of thing matters to you.
Why does it matter?
There are several key features of the JWH Custom bolts, which make them superior to the factory part. First is the proper headspace and firing pin protrusion. This critical fit between bolt and barrel is one of the keys to consistent ignition and accuracy. This also improves reliability. On a stock bolt, they just go for “close enough”. Next is the cross pin over the firing pin. Without it, the firing pin can bounce around a bit, which can also affect consistent ignition. A simple pin over the top keeps the firing pin in place. Finally, the bottom rear edge is radiused and polished. This allows the bolt to travel over the hammer smoothly, with less resistance.
As long as they’re building up the ultimate bolt, JWH Custom adds a laser-cut steel firing pin and extractor. Together, they help reduce failures to fire, and failures to extract. Again, these little things help with reliability. If you’re competing, hunting, or just plinking, it can make a difference. None of this is rocket science. It just costs more money in machinery, time, materials, and labor. This could certainly be done at the factory, but then the $199 rifle would probably cost $249. And let’s be honest – we’d still tear it down and modify it. Because that’s what enthusiasts do.
Want something even more unique?
JWH Custom also offers laser engraving. They have dozens of existing designs, and do custom work as well. So you can get some pre-designed art, your initials, or full custom. Did you name your rifle? Get its name engraved on the bolt. Giving a rifle (or just a bolt) as a gift? Contact JWH Custom and they will work with you to make it truly custom. And that laser engraving is deep. It’s not going to wear off. Definitely not even going to polish out. It’s permanent.
Needless to say, I’m super excited to be including the JWH Custom bolt in one of my rifles. Although accuracy is important, it’s not the only thing. I want this rifle to be as reliable as possible. And I think the bolt is critical to that. So I’m really looking forward to putting it to the test. I’ve rounded up some of the best 10/22 parts available, and there should be another update soon. In the meantime, feel free to share any thoughts, criticism, or suggestions in the comments section.