The third definition of “venerable” by the illustrious minds at the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:
It is the rare firearm that is raised to this level. Then again, venerable does not begin to describe some firearms. This is the case of the Ruger 10/22.
One may even say that, to certain owners, the Ruger 10/22 is the center of their religion. Others simply hold the 10/22 in high esteem that is achieved only through quality, price, and flexibility.
Let’s look at what makes it so special and why one, or more, may be a fit for your gun safe.
Alexander McCormick Sturm and William Batterman Ruger founded Sturm, Ruger & Company, Incorporated in Southport, Connecticut, in a rented machine shop. After several years working at the Springfield Armory for U.S. Ordnance officials, they struck out on their own, designing their own take on several firearms.
Introduced in 1964, the Ruger 10/22 was an immediate success because of its development for an adult audience rather than as a children’s plinker. The size, weight, aesthetics, and innovations created a fan base that ensured the 10/22 would be one of Ruger’s best sellers for the next five decades.
Ruger derived the 10/22 name from the rifle’s capacity and caliber. The rotary magazine design borrowed heavily from the Savage 99. This design truncates the length of the magazine, allowing it to sit flush to the stock.
Ruger also used design elements of the Ruger Model 44, which itself borrowed from the U.S. Army M1 Carbine. The design simplicity is furthered echoed in the mechanics. Few tools other than a screwdriver, hex wrench, and punch are needed to fully service the 10/22.
Over a half-dozen 10/22 lines later, Ruger continues to apply innovation to the 10/22. Grabbing the attention of both diehard fans and new buyers alike, the history of the 10/22 is now firmly established in the firearms community.
Specs and Features
The basic 10/22 has the following specifications.
- Caliber: .22
- Action: Semi-Automatic
- Barrel: Alloy Steel
- Barrel Finish: Satin Black
- Stock: Wood or Synthetic
- Receiver: Aluminum
- Front Sight: Gold Bead
- Rear Sight: Adjustable
- Weight: 5.00 lbs.
- Overall Length: 37.00”
- Length of Pull: 13.50”
- Barrel Length: 18.50”
- Twist: 1:16” right hand
- Grooves: 6
- Standard Magazine Capacity: 10
The 10/22 Carbine is Ruger’s introductory line, however, it has many variations. These include offerings with stainless steel barrels, scoped models, and more exotic stock materials.
What are the Different Models of the Ruger 10/22?
What’s life without choices. Ruger excels at creating various models to fit a variety of needs. Each line extends on the basic Ruger Carbine model with upgrades and options. There are enough variations that your specific need(s) can be found in one of these lines.
Ruger 10/22 Compact
For younger shooters with shorter arms or those who desire a more compact rifle for maneuverability during hunting, Ruger offers the Compact variant.
This version shortens the barrel length to a hair over 16” and shortens the overall length by 3” to 34.”
Ruger 10/22 Sporter
The Sporter line adds higher fit and finish stocks as well as integrated sling mounts above the Carbine line. The Sporters also get away from the barrel band. This helps accuracy a touch.
Ruger 10/22 Target
Ruger 10/22 Competition
The Competition line adds to this with an adjustable stock, Picatinny scope mount, upgraded receiver, and match bolt release.
Both lines include a heavy free-floating bull-barrel that aids in accuracy.
Ruger 10/22 Tactical
The final line appeals more to the modern sporting carbine than the traditional hunting rifle. The Ruger Tactical 10/22s come with a variety of adjustable stocks, Picatinny rails, ½ x 28 threaded barrels, and larger capacity magazines (25 round).
What’s The Difference Between a Ruger 10/22 and a Ruger 10/22 Takedown?
In 2012, Ruger wowed 10/22 fans with the introduction of the Takedown. The Takedown is a simple concept that has been attempted to relatively limited success over the past few generations.
The primary draw of the Takedown is the ability to break the carbine into two halves, receiver, and barrel, for storage in a much smaller space. The size of the disassembled rifle is limited to the barrel length. For example, the base model takedown can fit in a backpack that is a little more than 18” long.
Are Older Ruger 10/22’s Better?
Classics versus new is an age-old question. The Ruger has benefited from advancements in materials and manufacturing. Synthetic stocks and laminate stocks can be more durable and can be more aesthetic than traditional wood. Then again, there are few things better than an original walnut stock.
Some “experts” in the wild world of internet forums prefer earlier versions due to better parts (not a lot of love for the plastic trigger, sear, and trigger guard). While there is a little truth to this, I leave it up to you to weigh the cost-benefit ratio aside from just collecting an older rifle.
Is the Ruger 10/22 a Good Rifle?
Five million owners can attest to the quality of the Ruger 10/22 Carbine and its variants. From stem to stern, it has earned its reputation as a great little rifle. I’d love to know the statistics on how many people have purchased or received a 10/22 as one of their first firearms.
Out of the box, the 10/22 can meet the needs of a backyard plinker or hunting companion for a lifetime or across generations.
How Reliable is the Ruger 10/22?
Ammo for 22 caliber rifles greatly affects their performance. I have two personal rules for 22s. First, I never judge a 22 based on the first 500 rounds. This particularly applies to semi-automatics. Buy a brick, hit the range, and have fun. Discount any failures to feed or failures to eject.
Once through the break-in period, pick a box of each of the popular brands available in your area. 22 semi-automatics tend to like particular ammo. Try everything you can get your hands on and find what works with your specific rifle.
Ammo peculiar’s aside, the 10/22 is a very dependable firearm. Just don’t confuse break-in issues and ammo issues with reliability problems.
Regarding accuracy, the out-of-the-box 10/22 can easily hold to a “minute of tin can” or “minute of squirrel” depending on your options. Again, cycle through ammo to find the best match for your gun. My Takedown loves CCI standard velocity and is highly accurate with them shooting reliably within a ½” at 25 yards. With Winchester White Box, the accuracy opens up significantly but is still fine for plinking cans.
What is the Ruger 10/22 Used For?
The 10/22 is one of those rare firearms that spans the shooting spectrum from plinker to competition. As a low-cost backyard plinker, it has the out-of-the-box accuracy to drop cans, plastic bottles, and large chalk pieces. All fun targets to keep new and youth shooters interested.
In the field, a scoped 10/22 excels at squirrels and rabbits. Make sure your ammo and gun combination hold to the accuracy needed for a quick and efficient kill.
Low-cost practice is one of the greatest uses of a 10/22. Appleseed is almost the perfect fit for the 10/22 and most attendees use one form or another.
The price associated with a 22 allows you to put thousands of rounds down range for small money. Guilt-free practice of basic rifleman skills is just as valuable but more rewarding than dry-fire time.
This practice doesn’t have to be static! With the tactical models and accessories, you can simulate most combat rifles for much less than the price of a case of .223 ammo.
Range competitions will find you upgrading to a heavy-barreled option or investing in the target or competition models. These come standard with accuracy improvements that will take you far in a basic setup. All you need to do is add the scope.
Is the Ruger 10/22 a Good Defense Weapon?
The 22 cartridge has never been accused of being the “one-shot-stop” champion, and it probably never will be. That being said, I wouldn’t want to be shot by one.
Unfortunately, there are no real statistics on the number of times a firearm thwarts crime with no shots fired. That being said, the escalation of force that includes the brandishing of a firearm is often enough to stop some attackers. For this, any gun, real, small caliber, or hand cannon, will do.
When shots have to be fired, often that escalation of force is enough to stop an attacker. Most active shooters are stopped by simply encountering resistance. Many times this includes suicide, however, many times a shot does not need to be of the “one-stop shot” variety to be effective.
That being said, those are a lot of “ifs.” You stop an attacker through neurological damage, hydraulic failure, or structural failure. The 22 is capable of all these, but only through perfect shot placement.
That’s not to say that an attacker never went down instantly from one shot out of a 22. I just prefer the odds stacked a little more in my favor.
If a 10/22 was the only thing available (or left) I’d rather use it than nothing. While I still have other options available–I’ll use them first.
Pros and Cons of the Ruger 10/22
There are several benefits that make the Ruger 10/22 a great addition to any gun safe. These include cost, variety, customer service, and expandability (more about this in a moment).
Most 10/22s retail for less than $500. Often you can find them at a discount for closer to $300, even less on the used market. Other lines average a bit higher as they are loaded with upgrades.
The variety of 10/22 is one of their best features. Whether you are a backyard plinker, a serious squirrel hunter, need a gun for barn pests, or a weekend bullseye competitor, there is a model for you.
Want a bull barrel? They have one. Want a short version for navigating brush? They have one. Want a bench-rifle that will touch 1 MOA groups. They have one.
Next is Ruger’s legendary customer service. From the custom shop, all the way down to replacing the occasional lost screw. It doesn’t take much time on internet forums to find happy Ruger customers.
The Ruger 10/22 isn’t perfect though. The trigger could be better, the bolt and mag release are legendary for their difficulty. That being said, for a budget firearm, it’s hard to find one better. Also, for what you don’t like, there are upgrades. A world of upgrades.
What are the Best Ruger 10/22 Accessories?
With such a large following, it’s understandable that the aftermarket for 10/22 parts is so large. From trigger, to stock, to barrel, there are a million and one pieces and parts. Let’s look at a few.
One of the biggest bangs for the buck is a trigger replacement. Shot placement starts and stops with trigger control. A light, smooth, and crisp trigger go a long way to tightening up a group. The Ruger BX and Timney drop-in triggers are some of the best.
Bolt and Magazine Release
Next are the bolt and magazine releases. Both have a bit of a learning curve. Both are cheap and easily replaced. Consider these, especially if you are taking part in any timed sports or attending Appleseed.
Stocks are the next upgrade many 10/22 owners look at. Magpul makes quality stocks for both the 10/22 carbine and the Takedown. The carbine Hunter X-22 version includes an adjustable length of pull, raised comb, and a comfortable foregrip.
Prefer a modern thumbhole stock look? Try out the Tactical Solutions, LLC – Ruger 10/22 Thumbhole Stock. The beautiful laminate wood is not overshadowed by the incredible ergonomics.
These are only a few of the hundreds of available accessories. Spend some time with your search engine of choice to build the perfect 10/22 that fits your needs and style.
What are the Best Ruger 10/22 Takedown Accessories?
Most of the upgrades available on the receiver end of a 10/22 will fit and improve the Takedown.
The Hunter X-22 Backpacker is Magpul’s upgrade for the Takedown. It adds an improved feel and grip via the rubberized butt pad, storage for three 10-round magazines, and allows the barrel to lock into the stock via the foregrip.
A set of sling mounts make taking a 10/22 from point A to point B a little easier. They take a bit of skill to install but are well worth it.
Should I Buy a Ruger 10/22? Why Should I Own a Ruger 10/22?
Should you buy one? That’s a really good question. Not that this matters, but I have one and love it. My buddy has four. In fact, I don’t know many shooters that don’t have at least one in the safe.
So, why would you add one to your collection? First, the 10/22 is a part of firearm history for many significant reasons. They are well made, make a fantastic first gun for new shooters, and are equally at home in the backyard, on the range, or in the field.
Next, the 22 caliber is perfect for getting in range time without the cost of larger calibers. Fundamentals are foundational for a reason. Practice for your grip, stance, and trigger pull are universal whether you are shooting .22, .223, or .308.
Finally, if you are a tweaker, there is no better firearm to build upon. From barrel to buttstock there is a part that you can upgrade. Hit the online stores and YouTube university.
Most can be done with a few tools and a dash of confidence. You’ll probably find you will soon own a few in various states, from stock to fully tricked out.
We enjoy firearms and shooting sports for a variety of reasons. Self-defense, a love of hunting, or just the serenity that comes with precision practice, there is something in it for all of us.
The Ruger 10/22 has found its way into the hearts of many shooters regardless of the portion of the sport they occupy.
There is something about the Ruger 10/22 that melds with the sport. For some, it’s the cost. Other it’s the utility. Finally, for some, it’s the appreciation of being a part of the history of the rifleman.
Regardless of the direction that the sport has taken you, there is probably a place for the 10/22 in your safe. Better yet, there is a place for it tucked into your shoulder as you ease into the trigger and send a shot to your target.