Range Report: Ruger’s 10/22 — One of the Greatest All-Around Rifles
The Ruger 10/22 is the .22 everyone wants, everyone keeps, and everyone can afford! Along with the Colt 1911 handgun, the Remington 700, and Browning A5 shotgun, the Ruger 10/22 has become an icon among American shooters. I am not certain it is Ruger’s bestseller, but I would not be surprised if it is. The 10/22 is among the most affordable quality firearms in the world and it chambers the Little Big Man of cartridges, the .22 LR. This means the 10/22 is ideal for training, practice, plinking and small game hunting.
A trained individual, armed with a .22 caliber self-loader is far from helpless in a personal defense situation as well. There are plenty of good quality aftermarket parts to be added to the rifle to make it more interesting. While my three 10/22 rifles currently wear iron sights, the rifle is accurate enough to warrant a good quality riflescope. Ruger rings make scope mounting simple and sturdy.
The primary advantage of the Ruger, over any other rifle, is its sterling reputation for reliability. The rifle just seems to always work, given an occasional cleaning and lubrication of course. The Ruger may also be a first gun for a teenager or a go anywhere do anything .22 for any outdoorsmen. You just cannot outgrow the Ruger 10/22 unless you intended to invest heavily in a bench rest rifle—and then the 10/22 is a good chassis.
The Ruger 10/22 has many good features. Among these is an easy takedown. Originally designed for ease of assembly, the easily removed barrel allows the fitting of any number of custom options. When the Ruger was introduced, .22 LR magazines were either long tubes or box magazines that protruded from the stock.
However, Ruger’s 10-round rotary magazine, modeled after the Savage 99 .300 Savage, features a flush fit into the stock. These magazines never seem to give trouble, needing only an occasional cleaning. Ruger now offers an equally reliable 25-round magazine for heavy-duty plinking.
The only caution that applies to any quality .22 Long Rifle firearm is ammunition selection. The Ruger isn’t finicky; far from it, but there are times when ammo isn’t ‘in spec.’ This usually occurs with the cheapest stuff. Ammo made in the good old USA is the best choice. Also, Match Grade loads are sometimes designed for Match chambers. This means the brass is slightly longer than standard. You do not have to get a magnifying glass out and check your .22 LR ammo, but if you do, you may find it interesting.
Winchester Super-X and other Winchester loads offer an excellent balance of economy and performance. The High Speed hollow points are excellent for use on small game such as rabbit, squirrel and even larger game with good shot placement. The .22 is a bit light for use on marauding coyote though.
I have been taught that a humane kill matters even with predators. At moderate range, the .22 will do the business with a minimum of well-placed shots. As for personal defense, if the .22 rifle is your only firearm you are well armed. Results with the rifle are much better than the pistol, largely due to the ease of shot placement. A Ruger with a Lasermax sight and 25-round magazine is great home defender.
To my mind, the single greatest pursuit with the .22 rifle is plinking. Introducing a young shooter to the joys of marksmanship, and firing a quality firearm in a safe manner, simply is one of the most enjoyable things about shooting. Shooting the .22 LR challenges the shooter when combined with small targets, limited range, report and power, and allows marksmanship to proceed unfettered by the high cost of centerfire ammunition.
The Ruger’s sights are excellent examples of a combination of practicality and precision. As for accuracy, the standard model Ruger will usually put three rounds of Winchester Super X into 2 inches at 50 yards from a solid benchrest. Firing off hand accuracy is less as the human factor is present, but the Ruger 10/22 exhibits a high degree of practical accuracy. This is the rifle that everyone should have, and the rifle that most of us own. But you can always use another!