Ruger 10/22 Rifle – America’s Plinker

By Tom McHale
Unlike most, my campaign promises are practical. If elected President, I will see a Ruger 10/22 Rifle, or maybe two, in every home…

Ruger 10/22 Carbine
Ruger’s classic 10/22 Carbine
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

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.
Ruger 10/22 Original Ad
Ruger 10/22 Rifle Original Ad (Click to View Larger)

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.

LaserMax 10/22 Barrel Band Laser
LaserMax 10/22 Barrel Band Laser :

Project Appleseed

Tech Sights Aperture Sight for the Ruger 10/22 Rifle
Tech Sights Aperture Sight for the Ruger 10/22 Rifle (Click for more info)

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


Just for fun see hickok45 ‘s 2 part Review of the Ruger Take Down 10/22 Rifle


About Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

  • 14 thoughts on “Ruger 10/22 Rifle – America’s Plinker

    1. Loved the story about the 10-22. I would add, “Why stop with only two 10-22’s in the house. I have four and getting ready to purchase #5. My Ruger’s are even more reliable than my old Remington Nylon 66 was.

    2. Yes, those Ruger 10/22s are great to have. I won one in an ice fishing tournament a couple of decades back and they are very dependable, simple to maintain, and accurate to a good 100 yards. When I was 12, dad handed down his Ruger 10/22 to my brother and I got the Marlin tube feed .22. I was a bit distraught because I wanted the Ruger, ha. Both are good with, in my opinion, the Marlin being a bit more accurate at longer distance than the Ruger. Yet, the Marlin would jam sometimes and needed more constant cleaning than the Ruger.

    3. My first Ruger purchase was a 1966 Ruger Standard pistol in very nice condition. My second was a new 10/22 Sporter with a utterly gorgeous walnut stock. I recently purchased special edition models for my two sons and bought a 50th Anniversary for myself. I still want the classic hardwood model and continue to lust after one of the several international stock versions presently available. I’m sure I’ll end up with at least four in my home! Great article and thanks for all the related links!

    4. Say I really enjoyed all the info on the 10/22 I have one and love I have it madeup as a wwll carbine and it is
      the spitting image of one . I plan on buying another 10/22 in the futhure havent decided what I plan on making it into my First Ruger was a mark 1 22 lr pistol . bought it in 1962 for $42.00 had it for 30 yrs till my buddy talked me out of
      it for $250.00 , I now have a Ruger mark 111 with the short bull barrel and love it .I’m 74 yrs old and still enjoy my shooting. go to the range as much as I can You guys keep up the good work. I have also always been a fan of
      of the 22 magnum and would love to have one of the ruger 22 magnum carbine s . Well I enjoyed talking with
      you . Im also a retired submarine sailor .Loved it too . See ya Donald Richie

    5. Would Ruger ever consider bringing back the .44 Mag Carbine ? Purchased one in 1969 along with my 10/22 I still have the 10/22 but I sold the 44. when I was Drafted. the 10/22 shoots as good today as it did in 1969.

    6. Bought my first 10/22 in 1968 from Maddox Hardware on the square in Cookeville, Tn. Took it home, checked over, loaded ammo in the Diddy bag on my sissybar, tied carbine across rhe ape hangs and off to the dump to send as many rats as I could to the rat promised land. Got stopped by the local constabulary and asked why I had a weapon tied across my bars. Explained where I was headed and they sent me on my merry way. After a little sighting in I put a brick of 22lr thru it that day and have no idea for sure how many brother rats I sent on that day but loved it.
      I still have that carbine. Just this year put a lightweight semiskelton stock on it.
      Bought another one to “fix up”. The new one is getting little adds as I decide which I want. My original still has all of its original innards and shoots as good as ever.

    7. Well bought my 10 22 back in 1966, took it to the range and was dissapointed, it jamed, stovepiped, and made for a poor day at the range. It sat for many years in my closet un used. Present day I watched a few videos on youtube and felt a resergent interest in it. Overspray was one big issue, I found that my rifle was poorley sprayed and promply took care of the overspray. Voala not one jam nore stovepipe. This prompted me to look into inprovements I could make on my own, in cluding, extended mag release, extended bolt handle, auto bolt release free with just a small amt of filing, and an ATI Strikeforce six position side folding stock with Scorpion recoil system, an inexpensive Very100 laser light, and an enexpensive handgrip trypod. Man O Man am I having fun with my beloved 10/ 22 now. Frank from Oregon

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