by Jesse Mathewson
As I get older I am less likely to follow trends and popularity contests than ever before. This is definitely the case with firearms. Having learned that quality in firearms can be had from many manufacturers and with many designs, owning a firearm just because Tom, Dick or Mary down the street do, lost its appeal years back.
The Ruger 10/22 is a solid firearm and while my experiences may be abnormal, they should not detract from its value.
Ruger as a company has a difficult recent history, while they have been innovators in firearms since 1949. Bill Ruger designed the first 22lr handgun based on the Japanese Nambu, German Luger, and the Colt Woodsman. This design became known as the Ruger standard, its progeny becoming the MkII and MkIII. The 10/22 was put into production in 1964 and has remained in production since that time.
The first rifle I shot was a 10/22 built-in 1965 or 1966. My first memories of shooting were having my father assisting me in holding his venerable 10/22 as we shot at a truck tire with a piece of cardboard in it that had been rolled across the barnyard, I was 3 or maybe 4 years old at the time. This 10/22 had a fully wooden stock, stock sights, and action.
There was no internet at the time and mail order gun parts simply did not exist. If a firearm did not work well, you fixed it yourself or if you were fortunate enough to have a gunsmith that knew how to work on these new fangled guns, you took it too them.
My first 10/22 was purchased when I turned 22, the internet had started to become a real thing to use and extra bits and pieces were becoming more available. Like my fathers 10/22, the magazines and rifle were extremely picky with ammunition types.
Unlike my fathers using CCI stingers did not fix my issues. In fact, after 2 or 3 years with this particular rifle, I decided to sell it and move on. It was a decade later that I ended up purchasing another version.
Ruger 10/22 Top 5 jams and stovepipe causes and fixes
While this particular rifle was much better, on the whole, the magazines it came with were dismal failures. After spending almost $60 replacing two magazines at the time, I finally had a decently running 22lr. When I say decent I mean decent, accounting for ammunition failures with inexpensive 22lr the rifle itself had several springs replaced and a new firing pin installed before it became reliable enough to use in a local rimfire match.
Ruger 10/22 comes stock in several configurations these days, however, for many years it came with the following only.
- Gold bead front sight (not easy to use except in paper punching)
- Adjustable rear leaf sight
- Solid wood full-length single piece stock
- 10 round rotary box magazine
- Blowback action
- 18” barrel with a 1:16 RH twist (non-threaded)
- Weight 5lbs, overall length 37”
Accuracy is something that I value, and a rifle should be more accurate than a pistol, my MkII handgun was very accurate from 0-50 yards and the 10/22 (all 3 I have used or owned) were also very accurate with even sub-par ammunition. 50 yard 10 round groups saw 1.5” groupings as a normal day.
This aspect is one I have never been able to complain about. When it worked, the 10/22 my versions, were more than accurate enough for squirrels, rabbits, and feral dogs. I personally took hundreds of these small game animals over the years and after moving to the Southwest border, a few dozen feral dogs, cats, and even javelina, all with the 10/22 and CCI stingers.
These days there are several dozen brands of 22lr, at the time I began using it you were limited to whichever brands were available from the local hardware store or farm and supply store. In small town, Illinois pre-1986 this meant CCI, Remington and Winchester ammunition in 50 count boxes. These were the days before big box stores reduced the quality along with the price.
Admittedly 22lr as a rimfire loading will never be quite as reliable as good centerfire ammunition. I can say that Eley, CCI, and Aguila have always been as reliable as low to mid ranged center fire loadings for myself. As of 2008, I had been using Aguila and Eley almost exclusively for my 22lr firearms. When you match the ammunition to the firearm, choosing reliability and accuracy as benchmarks, you will quickly find your firearm to be your favorite regardless brand name.
Reliability in my experience has been a mixed bag with the Ruger 10/22. Until the mid to late 90s magazines were factory 10 round magazines. Butler Creek made some less expensive versions, my first experience with these was around 1994 or so. They did not work well, in comparison today’s KCI Glock magazines have a better success rate than the early Butler Creek 10/22 magazines.
Other issues that have been seen in numerous 10/22 rifles, feeding was and remains ammunition dependent. Standard velocity rounds in the older models had a relatively high rate of failure, double feeds, cycling issues and more. With today’s offerings, you have enough non-Ruger components on the market to make an entire “10/22” without even using Ruger parts on the gun. This has led to even more failures, unfortunately.
Ruger 10/22 Disassembly Assembly Including Barrel
Most of the issues I saw personally were magazine related, secondary only too ammunition related failures. Again, if you match good quality 22lr ammunition to the rifle and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Swapping out stocks, barrels and more will begin causing issues and should be avoided unless you have a specific goal you are headed for and the gunsmithing abilities to do the swaps properly. Like working on a car, virtually anyone can change the oil, some of us can change brakes, very few of us can do these things quickly and right.
I have never seen a 10/22 in any configuration (minus the very expensive Volquartsen configuration professionally installed and tuned) that could keep pace with a CZ 455 22lr or similar. This being noted, I have personally cut playing cards at 25 feet or so with a stock 10/22 with stock sights. There is a definable point at which accuracy requirements become more expensive than you will ever use.
Most of us shoot paper behind our house, for this purpose and for hunting all manner of small game the stock 10/22 is very well suited. Certainly, I have found and own or use far more reliable, more accurate firearms. This specific firearm is, however, well made and when matched to good ammunition with solid magazines can be more than reliable enough for trap lines, prepping and more.
If you read many of the firearms reviews I have written you will quickly see that I am not a fan of most aftermarket add-ons applied today. For this rifle, there are just 3 items you can and should replace to make it a solid training, plinking, and small game hunting rifle.
Ruger 10/22 Accessories
- Solid two point sling
- Tech-Sights are a must (follow this link to Amazom.com, I use these on several rifles currently owned.)
- Spare magazines
For 22lr firearms I have not seen a need for expensive scopes and bi-pods, even though you can take game past 100 yards with a 22lr, the reality is, the round is best for game under 50 yards. Unless you have a firm rest for your firearm or know how to use a sling wrap appropriate for sitting, standing or laying down; a scope can be detrimental.
If you decide to add a red dot at some point, this option has become more viable in recent years’ thanks to vastly improved metallurgy, construction practices optics and battery life. It is not necessary for the 10/22 in most cases.
If you decide to purchase one of these rifles make sure you clean it well and lubricate properly before taking it to the range. To do this you need to safety check the firearm, ensuring it is completely unloaded and safe to work on. For added safety remove all ammunition from the room. Visually and digitally check the action.
Rotate the rifle so that the bottom is facing upwards. Using solid gunsmithing tools/screwdriver remove the screws from in front of the trigger guard. Loosen the screw holding the band on front of the stock, your model may not have this band. Remove the band carefully and the stock will come off rather easily. Once you do this you can access the important parts for a solid cleaning session.
Ruger 10/22 Rifle Cleaning
Breaking it down further than this is at best difficult without 4 hands or a true gunsmithing set up. Once you clean this firearm you will want to lubricate it. Again I suggest using Ballistol or Hoppes oil for this firearm. Wipe the pieces down with a clean cotton cloth that has a small amount of lubricant on it. Put the rifle back together.
Cycle the action back and anchor it open. Rotate the gun until the ejection port is facing upwards. Drop 3 drops of oil into the receiver. Using the cloth from earlier you can wipe the interior down again. Let the bolt fall closed and work the bolt several times to help the lubricant get into all the areas necessary for proper function. This is a very basic approach that will allow solid function of the firearm.
As with all the articles, please comment and let me know if or what I missed while putting this together. Being a human I regularly make mistakes and if you find one rest assured, it will not be the last.