Ruger 10/22 Review – American’s Most Popular .22 LR


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

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 the 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.

Free the mind and the body will follow…

Jesse Mathewson

Arizona since 86', lifetime prepper, camper - criminal justice advanced degrees, numerous certifications, 1+ million rounds (shooting for decades), prior contractor, instructor, current volunteer, disabled, honest, father of two husband of one - all budget and prepared. Jesse Mathewson reviews because regular people need someone in their corner as well!

15 Responses

  1. JP in MT says:

    I’ve owned several 10/22’s over the years. I paid $78 for the 1st one and shot it until the top of the bolt scalloped from the charging handle loosing it’s crimp. One letter and two weeks later I had a new bolt at no cost. They even paid for me to sent them the old one.

    I have one set up with a 1:9 barrel to use Aguila 60 gr bullets, and another one just because.

    I sold my takedown because the bag ended up weighing 40 pounds will all the stuff I put in it, and it would not fit in the bag with a scope.

    You can spend a little or a lot on a 10/22. I’ve done both.

  2. Axelsteve says:

    the 10/22 is a good basic 22 semi auto. I bought one several years ago. I put a scope and sling on it and polished the bolt and trigger a bit. My son bought a folding stock for it and a red sight on it. It is kind of the 68 camero of the gun world. You can keep it stock or put ungodly sums of money into it. I gave it to my son and he gave it back to me when he went in the army. A couple of friends of mine bought the 1976 versions of it which is kinda cool.

  3. Sopater says:

    I sold my Marlin Model 60 and bought a Ruger 10/22 after attending an Appleseed event because I witnessed several operational issues with everyone’s rifles after about 100 rounds or so, except for those running 10/22s. Those rifles just kept shooting and shooting until the end of the day. Then after about 500 rounds and a quick cleaning, they were back the next day to do it all over again. I’m sold on the ability, in general, of the 10/22s to run about 500 rounds of ammo through them without quitting… assuming that you’ve found a round that your rifle likes to eat, of course.

  4. Keith says:

    I’ve had and loved my Remington 597 for 20 years. When I need to kill something with one shot, it’s what I use. I own several rifles in .22, 5.56. .308, 30-06, 9mm, .40, 7.62, and .300 bko. If I have to hit something. I pick up the 570. I can put every round on a 5 inch plate from 100 yards with it everytime. I bought my son a 10-22 because of all the hype and I hate it. The mags are harder to load. The sights suck.

    • Sopater says:

      I have to agree with Keith regarding the sights. The 10/22 sights are the worst I’ve ever seen. I switched over to the Tech Sights and couldn’t be happier.

  5. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Keith, the 597 is a great little gun-im a mossberg 702 guy myself- they just work and work and work- with tech sights on it -it’s really a great lightweight easy to use 22lr that swallows virtually every round I throw at it.

    The 10/22 is a great gun, I’ve just moved on a bit is all

  6. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Sopater, agreed times 1000- tech sights are where it’s at!

  7. Charles says:

    I had a 1022 about 20 or so years ago that was a special edition with a laminated stock in matte stainless steel available only at Wal-Mart. I put a silver Simmons 22 Mag scope on it. It was a real looker but the accuracy shall I say left much to be desired. I sold it. I bought a Savage bolt action .22 LR a few years ago with a somewhat heavy barrel. I’ve got a Simmons variable scope on it. Not only was it inexpensive, it is a bona fide tack driver. The 1022 was the only .22 auto rifle I’ve had much experience with so I don’t know how the accuracy would compare to other makes. I shot a Ruger Mark II pistol once and the accuracy of it was superb.

  8. Dave says:

    I just bought a 10/22 stainless takedown to shoot coyotes from the tractor when making hay. I like the looks of the Tech sights. How difficult to install? Should I look to a gunsmith? Also, suggestions for sources of additional 10 or 25 round mags?

    Good, useful article Jesse. I appreciate your reviews.

    • Sopater says:

      Tech Sights are very easy to install, just make sure to follow the directions. As for 10 or 25 round mags, just make sure to stick with ones that have steel lips. Butler Creek and Ruger are usually pretty good. Avoid plastic lip magazines altogether.

  9. Dave says:

    Thanks, appreciate your input

  10. Johnny R says:

    Love my 10/22’s! Avoid 80% of the modifications online, as they’re mostly unnecessary and occasionally detrimental to performance. These few functional changes make it a great gun:

    • Two point sling
    • Tech sights / red dot combo
    • Volquartsen’s drop-in bolt auto-release for $12 (or just Dremel the stock one, like I did, for free) – makes the bolt automatically release from hold-open with a tug, like a normal rifle
    • Extended magazine release (I like the one that follows the contour of the trigger guard, so you just flick your middle finger forward to drop the magazine)

    Beyond that, everything else is just personal preference. The X22 backpacker stock is cool for the takedown, as it turns it into a more packable, nested unit with ammo storage.

    22LR is dirty ammo, so you need to clean them frequently. As long as you do that, these guns run and run. Ruger‘s stock BX 25 magazines are very reliable, along with the stock 10 round rotaries — both of which have metal feed lips, as someone else suggested — makes a difference. 22 Long rifle will pierce half-inch pine board — U.S. military’s gauge for combat lethality — at 430 yards. If you practice until you can achieve repeatable accuracy at 100 yards, there is very little this rifle can’t do inside that range..

  11. Sopater says:

    All good advice, JohnnyR, but I would caution people that due to the extended magazine release that you mentioned, I lost a 10 round box magazine out hunting squirrels one winter day. I must have bumped the mag release with my leg or my coat because I went to take a shot and realized that I had no magazine in my rifle. Very frustrating.

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