Today’s special edition of The Rimfire Report should come as no surprise. The first rifle experience many of us probably had was the Ruger 10/22. This rifle often holds a special place in our hearts. Whether it’s small-game hunting, target shooting, competing or just plinking, the 10/22 can be found. Today we’ll go over the venerated rifle’s history and its progression throughout the years.
The 10/22 was first introduced in 1964 by Bill Ruger with incredible success. Stylized after the U.S. 30 caliber M1 Carbine, the rifle was a hit with small game hunters and plinkers alike. Chambered obviously in .22lr the rifle gave its users an inexpensive target shooter with adult ergonomics. Contrary to other “cheap” rifles of the time, Ruger offered a product that was ergonomic, well-made and simple to maintain.
Bill Ruger was a big fan of the Savage 99 rifles. He liked the designs of the rotary magazines so much, that he decided to incorporate them in the 10/22. Using these magazines in the 10/22 made the rifle easier to use. The magazine met flush inside the base of the rifle. This made it easy to carry and operate the rifle and eliminated the problems of protruded magazines.
The name of the 10/22 partially takes its name from these 10-round rotary magazines. Combining the intended magazine capacity with the caliber of the rifle to get 10/22. As time progressed, more and more models of the 10/22 were produced to serve various niches in the rimfire community. Since the first rifle rolled off the production line and into the hands of a customer, Ruger has sold over five million 10/22 rifles. This fact alone makes the 10/22 the best-selling civilian rifle of all time.
Back during its initial release, the rifle retailed at just $54.50. Due to the popularity it generated, Ruger quickly introduced newer versions of the rifle. One such model, the 10/22 International featured a Mannlicher style Walnut stock and sold for $74.50 at release.
The original design called for a Walnut Stock, an aluminum alloy receiver, folding rear sight, and a gold bead front sight. In 1965 Ruger changed the stock to a maple or birch stock and kept this material until it was discontinued in 2008. I believe my father still owns one of these maple stocked 10/22s. Newer versions of the 10/22 have more modern features like stainless steel bolts, Hardwood or Folding Stocks
Most popular civilian rifle
What exactly drove the 10/22’s success? Unlike many other .22lr rifles of the time, the 10/22 came standard with a host of features that made it stand out from the crowd. With Twin Anchoring points and a screw-in style barrel, the 10/22 was easily serviceable, only needing a few simple tools to disassemble. The 10-shot rotary magazine was a revolutionary upgrade at the time. The rotary magazine provided more reliable feeding and cycling and was compact enough to fit flush with the rifle.
The price is of worthy note too. Being just a few dollars over half a Benjamin, the rifle made itself affordable to all. The receiver was machined out of aircraft-grade aluminum and properly anodized. This made it not only durable but also lightweight. The rifle weighs just 5 pounds compared to some of its much heavier steel receiver competitors.
Changing with the times
The rifle has lasted well into the 21st century and shows no signs of reducing in popularity. Ruger has managed to release 7 basic configurations of 10/22 throughout the years with 6 being available today. Some of the newer models of 10/22 include:
Ruger 10/22 International:
The International featured a full-length Mannlicher stock with blued or stainless steel barrels. It was produced from 1966 to 1969 with a walnut stock, and from 1994 to 2003 in birch. This is one of the oldest models of the rifle being released just a few years after the original 10/22.
Ruger 10/22 Target
The Target model features a longer 20″ bull barrel. It also comes standard “optics-ready” which basically means it comes without sights on it. It has a scope mount and is slightly heavier than its older counterpart weighing in at 7.5 pounds.
Ruger 10/22 Stainless
This model was discontinued in 1992 and is now somewhat of a rarity. The rifle featured silver-colored alloy receiver, hardwood stock, and a stainless steel barrel.
Ruger 10/22 Sporter
Introduced in 1966 made a few changes to the stock and little else. The Walnut stock came with sling swivel studs and a checkering pattern across the stock.
Ruger 10/22 Compact
The 10/22 Compact model features a 16.12″ barrel and a hardwood stock. The shorter barrel reduces the weight of the entire rifle down to 4.5 pounds. The conventional iron sights are replaced with fiber optic sights.
Ruger 10/22 Tactical
The Tactical features a 16.12-inch barrel in a synthetic or an overmolded stock. The model also includes a flash suppressor.
Ruger 10/22 Takedown
This is the latest version of the 10/22 rifle. The takedown comes in 16.12- and 18.5-inch variants with a polymer stock standard sights. A multitude of designs is available for the stock. Field stripping the rifle is quite easy as compared to the previous versions. The rifle detaches at the barrel and it shares this trait with its 9mm cousin the Ruger PC Carbine. This newest edition could easily be the most popular of the modern variants.
Cheers to a faithful rifle
So whether you use your 10/22 for hunting, competition or plinking, the rifle has a firm place in the firearms world. With a multitude of aftermarket support and customization options, the rifle can fit just about any application you have in mind for it. I know my personal 10/22 has been at my side since I was very young and even today the 10/22 is still one of my favorite firearms.
So dust off the old girl, take her to the range and lets all pay homage to a truly legendary American Rifle. Once again I thank you all for reading The Rimfire Report. Comments and suggestions are always appreciated. See you all next week!
Editor’s Picks – Happy 10/22 Day!
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.