There are a few guns that should be found in every firearms-owner’s collection and the Ruger 10/22 rifle is one. I grew up with the Ruger 10/22, which first came out in 1964, just a few years after I was born. I don’t remember whether it was the first .22 I ever shot, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was. But it was one of the first guns I more or less took completely apart and then managed to put back together.
And that, right there, explains a large part of why the 10/22 has been so successful: not only is it a very good, very reliable, reasonably priced firearm, but it is easy to take apart and to put back together again with only a few tools and a modicum of mechanical ability. That means that pretty much anyone who owns one can repair or alter it fairly easily. And that means that a huge after-market range of parts and accessories has blossomed for the 10/22 over the decades.
Do an image search for the 10/22 and you will be astounded at the variety of configurations which is possible with this gun. Almost anything you’d want your 10/22 to do or look like can be done. Turn it into a very high-end target rifle. Make it look like an AR-15 or a Thompson sub-machine gun. Add a muzzle break, or a 50-round magazine, or lights or scopes or beautiful custom stocks. Configure it like some strange weapon from the future. Use it for teaching, plinking, hunting, or competition.
And all the while it still shoots the .22 long rifle cartridge, perfect to teach with, to hunt small game with, to challenge yourself with while remaining very inexpensive.
Currently Ruger offers five varieties of the 10/22: Carbine, Target, Compact, Sporter, and Tactical. All can be customized to your heart’s content. Basic models can be found new on sale for well under $200. Well used, you can find them for much less.
Since the gun can be customized to such a degree, I’ll talk about what I like about shooting the most basic model: a Carbine version. The reason is it only has simple iron sights. I keep it simple because I find that it is less intimidating to new shooters that way, and it reminds me of shooting one when I was a kid.
The gun is light, and can be handled by anyone of almost any age or physical condition. The sights are simple and intuitive. Loading the stock 10 round rotary magazine is straight-forward, and the magazine can only be placed in the gun in one way. Charging the chamber is easy. The safety is simple and easy to reach. The trigger is crisp and clean. Recoil is negligible.
Cleaning? Well, I know people who literally never clean their 10/22, and who haven’t had problem with function in years of heavy shooting. Me, I like to clean my guns after every outing, and routine cleaning the 10/22 is a basic and educational matter for new shooters. If you want to get into a detail cleaning, once again the simple design and construction of the 10/22 means that you can disassemble it with minimal tools.
It comes down to this: if you don’t own a 10/22, you should. You owe it to yourself and everyone you’d ever like to introduce to shooting.