Not Your Daddy’s .22 Rifle
The Heckler & Koch G36 represents the golden ring for many American gun collectors. Hamstrung by absurd import restrictions and eclectic company policies, the U.S. gun aficionado desirous of a semi-auto version of the European military G36 has to start with the castrated SL-8 version. The H&K SL-8 sports the same magnificent German gas system as its milspec brethren but comes cloaked in a nauseating civilianized thumbhole stock and sporting a magazine well restricted to tenround magazines.
By the time an American owner has procured the milspec parts and put together a semiautomatic clone of the military rifle, he has sunk many hours and $3,500 or more into the project.
The H&K G36 is indeed a fascinating weapon. The gas system is derived from that of Eugene Stoner’s AR-18 and has since been adapted to the British SA-80 as well as the H&K 416 carried by some of SOCOM’s most high-speed operators. The G36 has been adopted as standard issue by several nations around the globe, including Spain and Germany, and is also used by the NATO Rapid Reaction Force.
ProMag Industries has been around for years, producing high-quality magazines and accessories for a wide variety of firearms. Recently their manufacturing subsidiary, Archangel, added a fascinating accessory kit to their lineup.
TURNING CLARK KENT INTO SUPERMAN
The Nomad conversion kit offered by Archangel consists of a polymer shell, flash suppressor, faux sound suppressor, proprietary 25-round magazine and polymer magazine shell, and an accessory package that all combine to convert a standard Ruger 10-22 rifle into an uncanny semblance of a certain unnamed modern German assault rifle.
The world’s excessive lawyer density apparently precludes reference to the Teutonic original in the accompanying literature, but the parentage is obvious. Now before you serious gunmen yawn and move on to the next article, appreciate that this 10-22 kit really is different.
I have had several 10-22 “dress up” kits pass through my gun collection over the years. After a little hard use, they were nothing more than the name implies—cheesy toys for little girls. They all looked cool, but none of them held their luster at the range. The Archangel Nomad system, however, takes a fun .22 plinking rifle and puts a little hair on its chest.
What struck me most when I first noticed this setup at the SHOT Show was how much it felt like the real rifle. The gun has enough heft to feel sturdy—7.6 pounds—and will pass for a real steel assault rifle at all but bad-breath range.
The stock feels solid, and the stock controls are positive and easy to manipulate. Press the large release button on the left side of the stock to fold it to the right. When folded, the stock is held in place by a hook molded into the receiver. Controls are still accessible with the stock folded, and there is a generous but superfluous rubber recoil pad incorporated into the buttstock itself. The entire kit is comprised of a functionally indestructible fiber-reinforced polymer bolstered in critical areas with aluminum.
BEATING HEART OF AN AMERICAN CLASSIC
At its heart, the Nomad is the venerable Ruger 10-22. The 10-22 is not the most popular .22 rifle in the world simply by random chance—Ruger has sold more than five million copies to date.
The charging handle is accessed on the right side of the rifle, and the safety is a push button located just ahead of the trigger guard. The magazine release is accessible by the shooter’s thumb directly behind the magazine.
The Nomad conversion set also includes everything you might want for this system in one complete package. There’s a nifty four-prong flash suppressor that slips over the Ruger front sight and is held in place with a roll pin. Feel a little friskier? There’s also a fake suppressor that attaches in the same manner if you feel moved to feed the inner James Bond. The Nomad kit also includes an extended magazine release and bolt stop, which are imminently practical and necessary to the function of the kit when assembled.
The factory sights need to be removed, but that took me less than a minute with a punch and small hammer.
Assembly of the entire rifle can be undertaken by any reasonably gifted ape, but be forewarned, this is not a typical Christmas Eve toy.
Assembly requires a punch or two and a set of SAE hex wrenches. With my son’s able assistance, it took me a leisurely hour and a half to get the weapon completely assembled. None of it was really difficult, but it did require disassembling the trigger group and replacing the bolt hold open and magazine release with the extended versions included in the kit.
The rifle is a tight fit in the stock and it secures via—count ‘em—eight different bolts from eight different directions, but that ably contributes to the remarkably solid feel of the final product. When the assembly is completed, this gun feels like you could parachute with it or toss it around the inside of an APC. You really have to heft this rifle to fully appreciate how much it feels like the real thing.
The Archangel Nomad set also includes one of the revolutionary new Archangel 25-round 10-22 magazines. This magazine slips down inside a polymer shell that is the same size and footprint as that of a full-size rifle magazine. The rifle can be operated and fired just as readily with or without the magazine shell in place.
The stock shell itself incorporates an ample polymer rail along its top to accommodate the user’s choice of optics. In keeping with the obvious philosophy of including absolutely everything you need in one simple package, a pair of iron sights is included that is affixed directly onto the rail. The nice springloaded rear peep sports two different apertures and is adjustable for windage.
There is also a pair of sling attachment loops at the front end of the handguard and standard quick-release swivel sockets at the rear of the rifle, allowing for whatever sling system the user desires. There are two discrete accessory compartments for spare parts, batteries or a little last-ditch ammo.
The kit can be ordered with either a 25- or ten-round magazine for those Americans unfortunate enough to reside in the enslaved portions of the country. Lastly, the stock includes a length of Picatinny rail underneath the forearm for those wishing to attach a broomstick or tactical light.
PRACTICAL TRAINING VALUE
On the range, the Archangel Nomad is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. With the Ruger 10-22 its heart, reliability is superlative. The gun shoulders and points exactly as does its larger-caliber German counterpart. The rifle is functionally recoilless and its heft gives a fun outing at the range some practical training value.
The fit of everything is tight at the outset, but the polymer used by Archangel seems to smooth out readily and settle into its own personality rather quickly. As a result, magazine changes and mechanical manipulation become smooth in short order. The stock is as solid as any folder I have ever used.
It can be hard to find an example of a true bargain in the gun world these days. The Archangel Nomad conversion is a shining exception. This kit comes with everything you need not only to convert your civilian plinking rifle into something infinitely more interesting, but also with all the accessories required to do it up right in one big blister pack.
With an MSRP of $200, if you already have a lonely 10-22 lying around (and most of us do), you can land a seriously unique piece of high-tech iron for a very modest investment. The Nomad conversion is available from a number of commercial distributors.