The Birth of the Legendary Ruger Model 10/22
When you’re looking for a firearm that’s reliable in any situation, it’s usually safe to place your bet on tried-and-true classics. Whether it’s hunting, self-defense, or sport, Ruger has produced a number of weapons that have stood the test of time. Ruger’s classic models are popular not just for their lasting effectiveness, but because of their continued innovation. One such weapon is the Ruger 10/22. Here we’ll discuss the history of Ruger 10/22 and why it is an excellent weapon for any situation.
Before founding Sturm, Ruger & Co., Bill Ruger established himself as a self-made inventor and gun designer. He first rose to fame as the designer of the T10/T23E1 light machine gun for the U.S. military in 1938. After a long career developing weapons for the US Army, Ruger teamed up with Alexander McCormick Sturm to create Sturm, Ruger & Co. (Later shortened to Ruger).
The beginning of Sturm, Ruger & Co. in 1949 was fueled by Ruger’s desire to bring his innovative skills to the general public. Their first offering was the Ruger Standard, a semiautomatic rimfire pistol. This pistol drew on a classic visual design that would draw in the public – the iconic German Luger. This look, combined with innovations based on a reverse-engineered Japanese Nambu pistol, made the Ruger Standard a very desirable gun at an affordable price.
The classic Ruger Standard soon gave birth to the MK I, a modified version of the Standard with a 6.875-inch barrel and modified sights.
Since the release of the Standard and the MK I in 1949 and 1950, Ruger has gone on to dominate the .22 rimfire market across the board. This is due to the success of the 10/22 rifle, which began production in 1964.
After years riding the success of the Ruger Standard and MK1, Ruger continued to seek avenues for firearm innovation. In 1964 Bill Ruger set out to design a rifle that could avoid the “usual banalities” of .22 rimfires available at the time. His penchant for innovation and classic style produced one of the greatest guns of our time.
Ruger’s first rifle, the Model .44, had not reached the ideal Ruger had set in his mind. The Model .44 was too expensive and suffered from accuracy issues. When Ruger set out to design the 10/22, he wanted to create a .22 rifle that could be seen as a serious weapon. Ruger successfully took a design for a rifle that had been seen as “childish” and raised its standards to those of popular high-powered rifles.
The result was a rifle that hit the market at an unheard-of $54.50 without sacrificing any innovation in its design. The original Ruger Model 10/22 boasted an 18.5” barrel with 1:16” twist rifling, a fold-down sight, and a classic-looking walnut stock. It combined several features for convenience that make the 10/22 perfect for user upgrades. The barrel could screw off and the trigger dropped out for easy cleaning. But perhaps the greatest innovation was the 10/22’s namesake: It contained a 10-round rotary magazine.
It is no surprise that the 10/22 was a huge commercial success and skyrocketed to become one of the most popular and well-known guns of its time. It was a perfect weapon for sport shooters and hunters alike. The lightweight design and accuracy made it a perfect everyday gun for hunting, self-defense, or even plinking. That success continues today as well as Ruger continue to update and adapt the gun to keep up with its market.
Following the gun’s release, Ruger began to modify the designs for different uses, starting with the Sporter in 1966. Today the 10/22 is available in seven different designs, enough to match the needs of almost any user’s desired specs. And if you somehow can’t find the perfect 10/22 for you, the 10/22 has the most popular aftermarket parts of any rimfire rifle.
The hype surrounding the 10/22 exists for a reason. If ever there was a rifle to check all the boxes, this would be it. It’s lightweight, accurate, adaptable, and affordable. It is great in the shooting range, the back yard, on the hunt, at home, and on the go. The same gun that so many people are sighting at this very moment has been deployed everywhere from law enforcement to the military with only minor changes.
If the standard 10/22 is your style, there’s plenty of reasons it’s an excellent gun. From the start, it was designed to be easy to clean, which makes it a reliable weapon. It isn’t prone to jamming or misfiring even after extended use. And depending on your needs, any of the seven models may tailor this weapon to your specific needs. Whether you want more accuracy or proper tactical modifications for whatever environment you may end up in.
And the aftermarket parts are so ubiquitous that you could actually build a 10/22 from top to bottom without having to actually use a single Ruger part. You can modify the 10/22 with kits that will turn it into anything from a modified Thompson to a genuine bullpup. Or shop around and find the scope, suppressor, barrel length, or stock that will suit your needs in any situation. The 10/22 takes an excellent base product and turns it into something limitless.
The contemporary 10/22 is available in 7 standard models:
The Sporter was the first alternate model made available by Ruger. It continues to be one of the most popular offerings with and 18.8” barrel, mounted and iron sights, and a walnut stock.
The Carbine is, as the name implies, a carbine version of the 10/22. It has an 18.5” barrel.
The Takedown takes many of the standard 10/22 features and adapts them to be easily dismantled and stored while on the field. It is easy to disassemble and reassemble under pressure, without sacrificing the accuracy or speed of the standard 10/22.
The Takedown Lite has similar features to the takedown, but with the addition of a reduced-weight target barrel. The barrel is low-profile, .920” in diameter, with a ventilated sleeve.
The Target Lite is another lightweight offering. Unlike the Takedown, this model is geared towards target shooters and is designed to reduce recoil.
The Compact has the shortest barrel of any 10/22 model at only 16.12”, making it a great starter rifle for younger shooters.
The Tactical adds more features to the compact design, with the same 16.12” barrel. But this model adds a flash-suppressor and an easy-to-change clip.
This is honestly just the tip of the iceberg as far as what the 10/22 is capable of. The high variance in the standard designs should give you a sense of where this gun can start to take you. I’d love to spend more time covering customization options, but that ground has been well-covered elsewhere without me rambling on and on. The 10/22 has established itself as a historic and well-rounded weapon with good reason, and it has proven itself time and time again. What future innovations will come to the design remains to be seen. As it stands it is, in my opinion, one of the most versatile firearms out there.
Josh Lewis is an aficionado of all things to do with firearms, but especially rifles. He’s been blogging and offering his unsolicited opinion on them for a couple years now on his website, Gunmann.com. Be sure to visit and also follow him on Facebook.
The Birth of the Legendary Ruger Model 10/22
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