In 2014, the Ruger 10/22 rifle turned 50, but despite the passing of over five decades, this gun remains the most popular .22 rifle ever. Loved by millions for its affordability, accuracy, quality and reliability, the 10/22 is considered the ultimate rimfire gun.
If you’ve never had a 10/22, you need to try one out immediately! It’s great for novices or veterans and comes with a huge industry of aftermarket parts for customizing the gun to fit your requirements. The name combines the original magazine capacity (10 rounds) and the .22 caliber.
The Story Behind the 10/22
The Ruger company started out as Sturm, Ruger & Co, Inc in 1949 in a small rented shop in Southport, Connecticut. The company has been publicly traded since 1969 and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1990.
Before starting his own company, Bill Ruger developed new weapons for the U.S Army. After the formation of the company, Sturm & Ruger Co. produced its first semi-automatic .22 rimfire pistol – the Mk I, generally known as the Ruger Standard, which became so successful that it launched the entire company.
Before the 10/22, the .22 rifle was considered ‘a kid’s gun’. Bill Ruger wanted to design a .22 rifle that would be taken seriously by adult professional shooters. Along with Henry Sefried, Bill started working on a new .22 rifle that would look like the Ruger Model 44 and act as its rimfire counterpart. While the Model .44 was a gas-operated rifle, the 10/22 used simple blowback operations with the receiver fashioned of aluminum. Bill Ruger incorporated the rotary magazine design of the Savage 99 into the 10/22, which made the rifle easy to carry and operate.
The original design of the 10/22 featured an American Walnut military carbine-style stock, aluminum alloy receiver, a folding rear sight and a golden bead front sight. Using aviation-grade aluminum for the receiver, trigger guard and butt plate allowed the 10/22 to weigh only 5 pounds, significantly lighter than the competition. The classic sights allow newer shooters to learn sight alignment instantly, while more experienced shooters can aim with lightning speed. They’re also perfect for tracking moving targets.
The rifle was introduced in 1964 with an affordable price tag of just $54.50, which made it even more popular. It was more accurate and had a higher quality than any of the competition with similar prices.
Over 50 Years As One of America’s Favorite Long Guns
Over seven million Ruger 10/22 rifles have been sold since the original came out in 1964. If each Ruger 10/22 owner has fired only one brick of ammunition (500 rounds), it means that a minimum of 3.5 billion rounds have been fired. The Ruger 10/22 raised the bar for .22 rifles of all types, elevating it from a kid’s gun to a serious hunting and sports rifle.
Why the 10/22 Remains So Popular
Due to its exceptionally simple design – unlike most other .22 rifles – there is no box magazine to get in the way of shooting offhand or from a rested position. The rotary magazine is easy to load, and reliable. It does away with the additional bulk and weight of a conventional magazine tube under the barrel found in most rifles.
Smooth underneath, the 10/22 manages to keep things out of the way while shooting and carrying. The assembly and disassembly of the gun is easy and even the trigger assembly can be disassembled for cleaning.
Additionally, the Ruger 10/22 product line is versatile and 11 models and 7 basic configurations have been introduced over the years, ensuring that there’s a model for everyone.
The Ruger 10/22 Rifle is a great choice if you’re interested in adapting and modifying the gun for any purpose. The barrel is mounted using an ingenious v-block system and slips right into the receiver. Rather than rely on threads that need to be timed for perfect headspace adjustment, a v-block, and two screws connect the receiver and a dovetail cut in the barrel itself. The average person can easily replace any part of the gun with nothing more than a screwdriver, a hex key and simple punches.
The 10/22 is reliable enough that you can shoot 300 shots down the range without any cleaning. This is the best performance for any semi-automatic rimfire rifle in its class.
Due to its popularity, companies offer many aftermarket modifications to improve performance, augment the rifle’s looks, or increase its magazine capacity. Upgrades like the bolt assembly, trigger housing, larger magazines, folding stock and Picatinny rail have made this rifle even more accurate and desirable. The 10/22’s aftermarket is now so prolific that a 10/22 can be built with completely non-Ruger-made components.
Today, Ruger offers the 10/22 in a number of configurations, including Carbine, Compact, Sporter, Tactical, Takedown, and Target models. Over its lifetime, it’s been offered in others, too. Here’s a quick overview of the models currently available.
This is the standard model. It has an 18.5″ barrel, comes in hardwood or black synthetic stocks, black alloy or stainless steel receivers. A version of this model comes fitted with LaserMax laser sight.
This model disassembles into barrel and action/buttstock components easily for carrying in a backpack. The standard Takedown model has a brushed aluminum receiver which resembles stainless steel and an 18.5″ barrel with a black synthetic stock.
It’s also offered in a black alloy receiver with a 16.12″ threaded barrel with a flash suppressor or with a threaded, fluted target barrel.
The Target shooting model comes with a heavy 20″ bull barrel with no iron sights, and weighs around 7.5 pounds.
The Compact rifle has a 16.12″ barrel and an overall length of 34 inches. It weighs a comfortable 4.5 pounds and is fitted with fiber-optic sights rather than the diamond rear and gold bead front. It’s available with a hardwood stock.
This model has an 18.5″, alternatively 20″ or 22″, barrel and checkered walnut stock with sling swivels. It weighs 5.75 pounds, so is a bit heavier than the Carbine.
This model with a 16.12″ barrel is fitted with a flash suppressor. It is also offered with a 16.12″ heavy target barrel with a Hogue OverMolded stock fitted with a bipod or black synthetic stock.
The Ruger 10/22 is a fine gun for any shooter, whether a novice who’s just starting out or an experienced marksman. Not only does it come in several variants that can be used for hunting, marksmanship or sport, but the huge aftermarket modification market will allow owners to customize the rifle to their own requirements.
This American legend has been around for 53 years and is on track to complete a century with its current popularity. As new generations of shooters are introduced to this beloved icon, the future of the 10/22 seems bright.
Josh Lewis is a 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.