Clark Custom Guns 1022 rifle.
This review is of one of several products that the Gear Report team sought out from a custom manufacturer for inclusion in the 22lr Project. Clark Custom Guns has specialized in 22lr firearms platforms like the iconic Ruger 10/22 (Brownells link) for decades. What some may not know is that they were the original aftermarket 10/22 company and pioneer of heavy “bull barrels” in the 10/22 in the early 1980s.
All in the family
It is not uncommon in the firearms industry for a designer’s name to far outlive their involvement with the brand. As often happens with brands that have a long history, Clark Custom Guns recently changed hands. However, there was no holding company or investment bank involved. The third generation of Clark gunsmiths are now at the helm and steering the family business. From discussions with the current generation of the Clark family, they are VERY proud of the innovative work prior generations of their family contributed to build a strong reputation and legacy for the brand and are committed to maintaining the quality and innovation the Clark Custom Guns brand is built on, while also leveraging advancements in technology where possible. In my experience, some men and companies crumble under the weight of a lofty legacy, the pressure being more than they can bear. I did not spend a tremendous amount of time with them, but from what I saw, I expect the current generation of Clark leadership to thrive and take the brand to the next level.
The rifle has the newer 50th anniversary Ruger stock with the interchangeable comb. The colors are gray and black. That is it for being plane Jane. The barrel is a Clark deep fluted, stainless steel bull barrel with 4 external flute cuts that run along most of it’s length. Except for the Ruger stock and receiver, all other parts are made by Clark Custom Guns.
One last thing to mention is a BIG deal to us and an impressive declaration. Clark Custom Guns provided us with the in house evidence of performance for this very rifle and it includes the name of ammo used and distance. After seeing this jagged hole I was definitely eager to put this rifle to the test to verify the accuracy benchmark Clark Custom Guns has set. I wondered how it would perform in the accuracy tests we have subjected all of the rifles in the 22lr Project series to so far.
The Clark FLSS 1022 has helped us realize that the ammunition we are currently using needs an upgrade. For all specialty match chambered firearms in this 22lr project the test protocol is upgraded to include several samples of tier 1 quality match ammo to set the performance basis for those who will use this Clark 1022 and other custom rifles for competition.
A little background about the company
Clark Custom Guns is based in Louisiana and is going on as a third generation, family owned company established in 1950. The picture to the left shows me with one of the owners at the Clark Custom Guns booth during the NRA 2016 convention in Louisville, KY. The founder Jim (James E.) Clark Senior served in the Marines, where he started developing his knowledge and marksmanship. Along the way Jim Sr. racked plenty competition accolades including earning the title of National Bullseye Champion. Clark Senior was so devoted to his trade that he was named Pistolsmith of the Year in 1985 and Outstanding American Handgunner in 1990.
Now the company has accrued 65+ years of serving the industry. The founder’s success in competitions provided an exceptional knowledge base on which successive generations have built. The family continues the tradition of manufacturing competition level guns and providing the same professional service as the founder did. Clark Custom Guns has many accredited developments, like innovations in the 1911 platform and as recent as 2016 they have created the first AR clamp on carbon fiber handguard system. Another product, more related to our article, they were the first company to customize the 10/22 with the bull barrel back in 1979.
They offer several complete firearm choices in their lineup, and also offer to tune your Ruger 1022, if if you prefer.
- Model: FLSS 16.25″ Deep Flute option in 50th anniversary Ruger Synthetic Stock
- Stock: Grey Synthetic with black raised comb
- Sight: Receiver mounted rail for scope only
- Trigger: metal housing Clark components
- Material: Alloy Steel
- Barrel Feature: Deep fluted barrel blued.
- Thread: None
- Capacity: 10 round mag.
- Finish: Action-black, Barrel blued stainless
- Caliber: 22lr proprietary Benz chamber
- Barrel Length: 16.25
- Weight: 5.5 lbs.
- Suggested Retail: $949.00 plush shipping.
Our test begins…
To start, I measured the trigger pull with our GPS trigger pull scale and it set the scale at 3 lbs four times in a row. There is no creep or grit on the trigger. The clean, smooth performance may take you by surprise when you first take aim and shoot the Clark 1022. Clark Custom Guns mills in an adjustable over-travel set screw on the trigger. The lighter pull weight is a great way of minimizing induced jerking when firing the rifle. Our trigger sample is a big upgrade compared to the standard trigger that is provided with all Ruger 10/22. Clark Custom Guns offers a 2-stage match trigger as the highest trigger upgrade available. Another item that is part of the trigger housing is the automatic bolt release.
Ruger 10/22 rifles have a tendency require a bit tricky two hand operation when locking the bolt back or releasing it. The new bolt catch is only actuated when one wants the bolt to lock. To release the bolt all that is needed is to pull the bolt back and let go.
The trigger housing in the Clark 1022 is metal, which is always the case for their rifles. Compared to Ruger’s use of polymer components which are good, but the material flexibility does not meet the quality standards that Clark Custom Guns is expecting from their manufacturing.
I have taken the Clark 1022 a couple of times to the range and have installed a Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10X32 in mrads and have sighted it for 1.5” down at 100 yards. So far for this I have used bulk pack ammo and even at 100 yards there is a very consistent grouping. I did several scope adjustments to get to where I wanted. It is my impression that ammo inconsistencies and shooter error deliver a couple of flyers. However, this initial sighting portion was not a measured test.
Due to our review queue list of items, the Clark 1022 is now the host for our SIG Sauer Tango 4 3-12X42 Scope. The color combination, I thought, was a perfect match. The accuracy on this rifle will help us evaluate how the turrets and mechanics of the SIG Sauer Tango 4 scope track and hold their adjustments.
Ammunition vs MOA guaranty
Because this rifle has an M.O.A. accuracy guarantee, I have arranged a better supply of ammunition to perform the accuracy test. Am I changing parameters from what was used for other rifles in the 22lr Project? Simply put, no. I will provide the usual 5 types test at the 40 yards, followed by match oriented ammo. The performance of match chambered barrels whose manufacturing process using precise tolerances like those by Clark Custom tend to be directly related to the quality of ammunition shot through it. Part of the accuracy tests will be expanded to, at the very least, use the match ammunition that many competitors would select for a rifle of this quality.
What a day for testing, it was in the teens for temperature and we had about 10″ snow on the ground. Here in North Carolina, this sort of winter weather is rare. Luckily, we have the Project Humvee Battlewagon which made light work of the snow covered roads on the way to the shooting range. Even with the unusual cold aspect to deal with, the Clark Custom Guns Clark 1022 performed flawlessly. Let’s go through the lineup:
- Remington Thunderbolt 1/3rd Square Inch. without counting what I considered to be a flyer, and 1-1/16 Square Inch.
- Federal Automatch 7/16 Square Inch.
- Winchester Super X 1-1/3 Square Inch.
- CCI Subsonic 1/4 Square Inch.
- CCI Velocitor 9/16 Square Inch.
After the preliminary sight Zeroing and shooting with some of the bulk pack and standard ammunition we can see how accurate the rifle is. Our test is done shooting 10 rounds each brand or sample from our trusted Hyskore Dual Damper shooting rest (Review of the Hyskore rest) at a distance of 40 yards. The results are clear on what ammo the rifle likes. We don’t expect bulk pack ammunition to be the most reliable, and this is reflected in a couple of the target blocks. One flyer out of 10 does increase the overall group size considerably. In the case of the Thunderbolt ammo the group is a touch more than double if the flier is counted. In the case of the Federal Automatch, the lowest hit was included to begin with, but if it is considered a possible flyer, the group would be in the 1/4 Square Inch category.
Competition ammo accuracy testing
- Eley Club 1/4 Square Inch
- Eley Target 1/4 Square Inch
- Federal Match 5/16 Square Inch
- Federal Ultramatch 1/4 Square Inch
This ammunition does show how selection and testing does help in distinguishing what is the best ammo for your rifle. If you are into shooting competitions and make the effort of investing money in your rifle, it does not make sense to compete with subpar ammo. There is, in this case, a correlation between price and performance, One can look at these results and justify using some of the samples used here as a great value purchase. The Federal Ultramatch will hurt your wallet to the tune of about $24.00 for a box of 50 rounds, compared to the other 3 at an average of $14.00/50 rounds. Don’t forget that there are other brands out there that provide the great performance expected for the competition level, like the CCI Subsonic, at a budget price of $12.00/100 rounds. All of these targets show how good of a performance one can expect out of the Clark Custom Guns company.
The target sample provided with the Clark 1022 is definitely validated through our range test. Our Chief Editor Jeff even took the rifle and put a string of fast 10 rounds on target shooting off the hood of the Project Humvee Battlewagon using only a stack of Cole-Tac shooting bags. I usually measure the area required to cover all of the shots outside to outside of bullet holes. If the measurement was taken from center of bullet hole to center this measurements would reduce by 1/2 the width of a 22lr bullet. In translation the 0.5″ by 0.5″ would render a dimension of 0.38″x0.38″ and even more impressive that is 10, yes, TEN!!! bullets going through the same hole. I believe that is undeniable proof of how accurate this Clark 1022 is… since Jeff isn’t really that good of a shot. Needless to say, Jeff continues to be impressed on how easy, smooth, and accurate this Clark 1022 is.
If you are interested in having a comparison of performances, visit our other reviews in the 22lr Poject (link). I would especially recommend the Ruger 10/22 Target Hammer Forged review(link), since it is the closest comparison to the Clark 1022.
I have taken the rifle apart to do some regular cleaning and while I did, I noticed that the interior components like the bolt and trigger are machined to perfection without milling marks and even looked polished. Cleaning was extremely easy. The only thing I have noticed is the at the extended bolt handle does have extra wiggle when pulling. I don’t believe this affects performance. When I pulled further out from the edge of the lever, I felt some extra resistance. This is induced from the spring and guide rod getting increased friction from the movement. However testing this vs a standard 10/22, the Clark 1022 has a better fit and less wiggle, as well as better interior polished surfaces.
I have to make sure that I pull the bolt from the center of the lever and not from the tip so I do not increase the wear and tear of the components. The flat magazine release on this rifle has been updated with the extended post that makes dropping the magazine a very easy motion. Clark Custom Guns recommends for this option to be used on models that are not going to be used for hunting. I think is prudent to say that when hunting the extended post can get bumped or snagged and could cause either a loss of magazine and or damage to the component.
I will make the analogy that the bolt and receiver are the heart of the rifle, and as such I would liken the barrel as the artery that delivers the goods. Boy does this barrel bleed. Looking at the barrel, those deep, heavy flutes milled out are mesmerizing. There are no imperfections on the surfaces, the flutes are nice and even. Clark Custom Guns starts out with a Lothar-Walther Premium Bull Barrel blank, then they apply their proprietary Benz Chamber, mill the heavy flutes and crown the muzzle. Another option on their barrels is the threading which will allow for using a muzzle device or suppressor. Although our Clark 1022 does not have a threaded muzzle, I would not expect this to lessen the accuracy or performance of their threaded barrels. From our accuracy test the barrel delivered Dime sized groups on roughly 7 out of 9 types of ammo used. This quality of accuracy will not let you down hunting or competition, assuming you do your part. The main benefit from the deep fluting option that Clark Custom Guns offers is that the bull barrel accuracy is held while loosing the added weight. This barrel is approximately 3 to 4 ounces heavier than the standard barrel from Ruger. The mobility and speed required to transition between targets or hunting moving query are less affected by the reduced weight of the fluted bull barrel. The final weight of the Clark 1022 provided is at 5lb. 5oz. definitely not a burdensome weight to carry out in the field.
I have had a fantastic time shooting this Clark 1022. The professional manufacturing and attention to detail that Clark Custom Guns offers is undeniable. It is great to know that Clark Custom Guns makes products like the Clark 1022 that are competition ready out of the box. Even when the version provided has the rather pedestrian 50th anniversary Ruger Synthetic Stock, the Clark 1022 maintains that competition accuracy Clark Custom Guns guarantees with proof. Remember that Clark Custom Guns will provide you with the in-house target test when you purchase one of their Clark 1022 rifles and offers the option when you send your 10/22 for their accuracy treatment. We are very impressed with how this rifle performs. If you are in the market searching for a 22lr hunting or competition 10/22, make sure Clark Custom Guns is in your list of companies to contact. The best part about Clark Custom Guns is that you have several options for a Clark 1022 as well as the choice to have them customize your own rifle if you already own one. I absolutely recommend this Clark 1022 and have nothing that would keep me from also recommending their other 10/22 products and services. While this is not a “cheap” options, the results are impressive and inline with the price. Even if one sets up to buy components to build your own accurate rifle it is the knowledge and experience harnessed by the Clark Custom Guns company that enables all the components to work in unison to truly create an accurate rifle.
Clark Custom Guns
Clark Custom Guns was founded in 1950 by former United States Marine-National Champion Bullseye shooter Jim Clark Sr. In the 65+ years since its opening, Clark Custom Guns has repeatedly built guns claiming national level championships, delivered top notch customer service by REAL NATIONAL CHAMPION level competition shooters, and made high quality guns affordable to the average shooter.
Headquartered in Newington, New Hampshire, SIG SAUER is an ISO 9001 certified company with over 1,200 employees. The largest member of a worldwide business group of firearms manufacturers that includes J.P. Sauer & Sohn and Blaser, Gmbh. in Germany and Swiss Arms AG in Switzerland.