Ruger 10/22 Rifle – America’s Plinker

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USA – ‘Tis the season for elections and campaign promises. Unlike most, my campaign promises are practical. If elected President, I’ll actually stick to them. Here’s my primary platform message:

A Ruger 10/22 Rifle, or maybe two, in every home.

What do you think?

If you don’t already own a Ruger 10/22 Rifle, then vote for me as a write-in candidate because everyone should have a Ruger 10/22.

They’re not only fun but useful. That’s why Ruger has sold somewhere more than six million of them over the past 51 years.

A Ruger 10/22 is at home on virtually any range

The Ruger 10/22 is at home on virtually any range, and even now, ammo is (relatively) inexpensive.

Way back in 1964, Ruger released this gun, and from a quick look at the exterior, it appears almost identical to the current 10/22 Carbine model. Back then, it seems Bill Ruger considered this a little brother companion gun to the Ruger .44 Magnum Carbine, which Ruger billed as “The Perfect Brush Country Deer Rifle.” In fact, if you look at the original ads for the 10/22, Ruger describes it like this:

If you like fine rifles you can now have the satisfaction of owning a .22 Rimfire that is built to big game rifle standards.

The mechanical perfection of the 10/22 makes it a worthy companion to the dynamic Ruger .44 Magnum Carbine.

Back then, retail price on this fun little plinker was just $54.50. It was priced to sell, usually significantly less than competing models.

Even if Bill Ruger (read more about the history of Bill Ruger) really did view this as some type of afterthought to the .44 Magnum Carbine, it couldn’t help but to succeed. After all, who can resist a sweet-handling .22 rifle? Yeah, they’re great for beginners, but experienced shooters also get plenty of joy from shooting a .22LR. And this particular one had an irresistible set of features. With an 18 1/2-inch barrel, an overall length of just 37-inches, and highly portable five-pound weight it’s supremely convenient to carry and shoot.

The factory makes a number of variants, but you'll also find a dozen or so distributor exclusive models like this Mannlicher stock model.

The factory makes a number of variants, but you’ll also find a dozen or so distributor exclusive models like this Ruger 10/22 Rifle with in a Mannlicher stock model.

I think there’s more to the Ruger 10/22 Rifle success story, however.  The rotary magazine is certainly cool, easy to load, and reliable, but it’s the indirect impacts that make it so powerful. Unlike most other .22 rifles, there is no box magazine to get in the way of shooting offhand or from a rested position. Certainly lever-action .22s avoid the box magazine issues, but the cost is an extra magazine tube under the barrel that adds bulk and weight. The 10/22 is smooth underneath, which keeps things out of the way while shooting and carrying.

The classic sights are hard to beat for this compact rifle. While plenty of variations of Ruger 10/22 Rifle sights are available, the “original” front post with brass bead and rear flip-up Lyman sight is fast and intuitive. Newer shooters can pick up sight alignment instantly while those more experienced can get on target with lightning speed. They’re also perfect for tracking moving targets.


Interesting Ruger 10/22 Rifle Variants

Ruger 10/22 Magnum Rifle

Between 1998 and 2004, Ruger made a beefed-up variant called the 10/22 Magnum. As the name implies, this one ate the bigger and more powerful .22 Magnum round.

Ruger 10/17 Magnum Rifle

Ruger 10/17 Magnum Rifle
Ruger 10/17 Magnum Rifle

For a short two-year stint, Ruger offered a 10/22 that wasn’t really a .22. The Ruger 10/17 Magnum Rifle took advantage of all the hoopla around the flat-shooting .17 HMR rimfire cartridge. There were a few differences other than caliber. The receiver was made of steel, not aluminum and the 10/17 sported a 17-inch barrel. This variant never really caught on in comparable volume to the 10/22. it was discontinued after two years and is now considered a rare find.

50th Anniversary Ruger 10/22 Rifle Customer Design

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the 10/22, Ruger offered fans the opportunity to design the perfect 10/22 rifle. Gary from Michigan submitted the winning design. In his words, “utilizing various Ruger parts and designs, my concept seeks to introduce a practical field rifle that can be used for various rimfire sporting disciplines, such as Project Appleseed and CMP Competitions, as well as informal hunting and shooting.”

The winning 50th Anniversary Ruger 10/22 customer design
The winning 50th Anniversary Ruger 10/22 customer design.

Ruger 22 Charger Pistol

Technically a pistol, you’ll want to use the bipod configuration for this one.  Offered in a variety of configurations including a new takedown model, the Ruger 22 Charger Pistol is pure range fun.

Ruger 22 Charger Pistol
Ruger 22 Charger Pistol

Ruger SR-22 Rifle

While the SR-22 may look like an AR-pattern rifle, it’s really a souped-up 10/22 action with snazzy furniture. A careful look shows the classic receiver, bolt and magazine release controls. With all the extra gear, it weighs almost two pounds more than the basic carbine model at 6.9 pounds. But, can you say “fun?”

Ruger SR-22
Ruger SR-22


Ruger 10/22 Rifle Aftermarket Success

With the help of Ruger and Brownells, I built this customized Ruger 10/22 to benefit Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT. It's hard to recognize as a 10/22 isn't it?
With the help of Ruger and Brownells, I built this customized Ruger 10/22 to benefit Soldiers Angels Project Valour-IT. It’s hard to recognize as a 10/22 isn’t it?

There is a chicken and egg type situation that has contributed to the longevity and popularity of the 10/22. As a million or so were sold over the early years, the shooting accessories and parts industries woke up and said “Hey! We need to get in on this action!” As a result, dozens of manufacturers started building parts, enhancements, and accessories. With the broad array of stuff available, you can actually build a “10/22” that doesn’t include any Ruger parts, including the receiver.

Of course, technically speaking, it’s not then a 10/22, but you get the idea.

10/22 customization & accessories
One of the neat things about the 10/22 is the ease of customization and huge variety of stuff you can buy to accessorize it.

Want to equip your 10/22 with a laser sight to make the ultimate low-light pest control gun? Add a Lasermax CP-1022 Laser. ( )  It takes the place of the standard barrel band. Activated by an ambidextrous slide switch, it’ll help you burn through plenty of .22LR ammo.

Project Appleseed

If you’ve ever thought about really learning how to shoot with iron sights, check out Project Appleseed. This course is continuously offered all over the country and will teach you and your family a solid dose of American History while equipping you to become a bonafide rifleman.

The perfect gun for this weekend training program is, you guessed it, a Ruger 10/22 Rifle.

If you want to do it up, add a set of Tech-Sights aperture sights. ( )

They’ll make your basic 10/22 sight just like the classic military M1 Garand and M1 Carbine semi-auto rifles.


Ruger 10/22 Rifle & Home Gunsmithing

Usually, putting the words “home” and “gunsmithing” in the same sentence is a crime punishable by not less than a $10,000 fine and two years in prison, at least under our current Administration... Not so with the 10/22. Even if you’re one of those folks who believes that anything short of the space shuttle’s guidance system can be fixed with pliers, a hammer, and duct tape, you can do serious customization on the Ruger 10/22 Rifle.

The Ruger 10/22 Rifle barrel is mounted with this v-block and two screws.
The Ruger 10/22 Rifle barrel is mounted with this v-block and two screws.

For example, the Ruger 10/22 Rifle barrel is mounted using an ingenious v-block system. The barrel itself 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.

To replace the entire barrel with any aftermarket barrel option, ( )  remove the two screws, pull out the barrel, pop the new one in, and replace the screws. That’s it.

I installed this Volquartsen bull barrel in minutes.
I installed this replacement 10/22 Volquartsen bull barrel in minutes. :

Of course, you can do the simpler things too. The entire stock comes off via one flat-head screw. An aluminum rail segment comes in the box so you can add optics or other tactical stuff on top of the receiver. The trigger assembly and magazine release pop out in seconds. Want an extended bolt handle? No problem. That’s a piece of cake too.

Part of the reason that the 10/22 is approaching the 10 million sold mark is that one can buy a basic model for a little over two hundred bucks, then gradually customize and upgrade over time. It’s a tinkerer’s delight for sure.

Just check out the enormous selection of Ruger 10/22 Rifle parts at Brownells ( ) and you can only imagine the tacticool possibilities.


A Ruger 10/22 Rifle in Every Home

As you can probably surmise, multiple books have be written about the wide variety of Ruger 10/22 rifles (and pistols) along with the seemingly infinite number of aftermarket customization options. The way I see it, there’s a configuration for just about everybody, regardless of their personal tastes and preferences. If you want a new one, there are currently seven product “families” offered by Ruger. I say “family” because each model type has variants within.

The current 10/22 lineup
The current (2015) Ruger 10/22 Rifle lineup

Current (2015) Ruger 10/22 Models

Ruger 10/22 Rifle Resources


Ruger 10/22 Rifle Instruction Manual

Ruger 10/22 Rifle Instruction Manual


Reprinted with permission from