Gun Review: Ruger 10/22 Carbine

What is the world’s most popular firearm? A lot of gun guys will immediately say 1911, AR-15 or perhaps a Remington 870. I suggest that there is one weapon—lets call it “The Little Carbine That Could”–that is the single most popular weapon of all time. The Sturm, Ruger & Company’s 10/22®. This rifle, ladies and gents, is not chambered in some macho cartridge like the .45 ACP. Nor is it designed to take out bad guys like the AR-15 or function as the “keys to the city” like an 870. Nope. The Ruger 10/22, chambered in the Rodney Dangerfield of cartridges (the .22LR) is my nominee for the world’s most popular firearm. Let’s take a look . . .

The Ruger 10/22 is the Jeep Wrangler of the gun world. In terms of customization, the Ruger’s right up there with the M-16/AR-15 and venerable model 1911. In fact, it’s possible to build a 10/22 from the ground-up with after-market parts. Some heavily-customized 10/22s bear little resemblance to the stock 10/22 pictured above. For instance:

Or this:

The Ruger 10/22 is a chameleon, serving as everything from your kid’s first long gun or a varmint rifle, to a deadly-accurate light weapon that can be used for some surprisingly lethal pursuits.

One of the distinctive features of the 10/22: it’s magazine. The internal, 10-round, rotary magazine is kind of an odd duck in the rifle world. In fact, the only other manufacturer I’ve seen with anything like it would be Calico Arms. Before that, you’d have to go back to the Tommy Gun to see a popular weapon using a rotary mag.

Ruger sells the 10/22 is a variety of configurations, from a synthetic (read: “plastic”) stock with a brushed stainless finish, to walnut stocks or matte black finishes. After-market parts can convert it to what the Israelis refer to as a “non-lethal weapon, useful for crowd control.”

I purchased a stock 10/22 for my then-10 year old daughter, to introduce her to firearms. I’ve found that kids, especially at indoor ranges, have problems with two things: noise and recoil. The Ruger 10/22 has neither. It’s about as quiet as you could ask for a rifle to be (without a noise suppressor). As far as kick, I’ve seen house cats jumping in your lap that will jar you more.

All-in-all, it’s a dream to shoot. Which is not to say there’s not a few problems along the way . . .

All .22LR ammo is inexpensive (when compared to larger calibers). Not all .22LR ammo is created equal. Some .22LR ammo is cheap. As in “cheaply made” or “cheap to buy, but you’re wasting your money on ammo that won’t run in the gun.” I’ve found that most semi-auto weapons are, by design, a wee bit more picky (read: “downright finicky”) than other system when it comes to ammo. The Ruger 10/22 is no exception.

You may not have to worry about limp-wristing a rifle, but it’s surprisingly easy to get the 10/22 to stovepipe a round with the wrong ammo. My advice? Buy a small quantity of a couple of different brands, figure out what works and then buy that in bulk.

You need to bulk buy .22LR ammo because you’ll be shooting a lot of it. Forget about shooter fatigue from a long day of lifting some elephant gun that feels like a free-weight system. Nope, the Ruger 10/22 is featherweight and a dream to shoot. You can blow through a box of ammo in record time, if you don’t watch what you’re doing. The only thing that will slow you down loading the magazine.

Oh, yeah. That. The magazine. Once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. But between my big fingers, meathook hands, tiny .22LR rimfire cartridges and that Rubik’s cube of a magazine, let’s just say that I’m looking into a banana-style, after-market magazine with some seriously-higher capacity. With the factory mag, you can blow through 10 rounds just as fast as you can pull the trigger. And with virtually no recoil, that can be pretty fast.

So if you’re in the market for a gun for your kid, and just can’t bring yourself to spring for the Hello Kitty AR-15 (you knew I’d get a reference in for that one sooner or later), if you need a reliable varmint gun, or just want to go plink at the range without putting a dent into your wallet, the Ruger 10/22 is a great place to start your search.

The 10/22 Carbine runs from $277 to $327 MSRP. You’ll never confuse the Ruger with rifles that won the West or a mucho macho black gun. But The Little Carbine That Could has the goods to Git ‘er Done.

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About Brad Kozak

Brad Kozak is an iconoclastic, curmudgeonly graphic designer/marketer/writer/musician/advertiser/conservative creative guy. In 2007, he completed a gradual transition from a conservative semi-pacifist to a proactive, armed citizen, willing to exercise his Second Amendment rights to protect his family and property. His idea of “gun control” is hitting where he aims.

34 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger 10/22 Carbine

  1. avatarWilliam C Montgomery says:

    Ah, the 10/22. It's not just for kids. I was sold on this gun after I went jack rabbit hunting with them one snowy January day. My friend had a pair of 10/22s with 50-round banana magazines. With that much ammo on tap flowing through that lightning fast action – we didn't use the sites to aim, we looked for the splashes of snow where our bullets hit the ground until we hit the bolting bunnies. It was a blast and the farmer that owned the land was glad to be rid of the pests.

    The 10/22 is every bit as fun as the Mini-14 I used to own, which I sold because at the time I couldn't afford to shoot it (i.e. ammo too expensive and I couldn't resist pulling the trigger as fast as possible – The Mini-14 is like owning a sports car the begs to be driven fast). If I'd bought a 10/22 instead, I'd still be plinking away.

  2. avatarJason says:

    I'm in complete agreement that the 10/22 is the most popular firearm in the US, if not necessarily the world. I have two. My dad has one. My brother has one, my nephew, my brother-in-law, his son and daughter, hell, every gun owner I know has a 10/22. And I'm pretty sure all but two of them are completely different from all the rest.

  3. avatarJED says:

    I use to believe (WHY WOULD ANY GROWN PERSON WANT WITH A 22) until i searched the internet on the ruger 10/22. This little plinker is not only the most versitile gun on the market, it’s a heck of alot of fun to shoot. With ammo being fairly expensive, you can get 10 tomes the fun for the money. I changed out my factory stock with a Butler Creek folding stock added a small scope and a folding bipod (now it looks like a big boy toy). It’s by far my favorite gun in my collection. Even my AR-15 is in second place…..

    • avatarDavid says:

      I have been thinking about getting another 22 rifle. the 10\22 carbine is what i want. what do you think.

      • avatarEvan says:

        Buy 2.

      • avatarJoseph Russell Quinn says:

        A great rifle.It works either as a great beginner firearm to learn on as well as a great platform for people who’ve een around awhile as well.Great prices on inital purchase,as well as for either company and or aftermarket accessories.Accurate as well,with in reason for cost category.Easily adaptable for skill levels,as well as various competittion(small bore category).Fun easy to shoot cheap to cahnge an or upgrade.Cheap ammo.Quiet.All the good things,great prices,a gun to grow with yet never grow out of.What more could you want?

  4. avatarJerry says:

    I started out with the 10/22 and moved up to the “AR” style SR22 with the bull barrel and flash hider. I mounted a Centerpoint lighted reticle variable scope- 4X16X50 variable from 5 yards to 100 yards. This is one accurate rifle. I can hit a 3 inch square in the center from 100 yards with this setup. Gotta love it.

  5. avatarbob says:

    this gun amaziz me so much i am a hill billy and i pluck off varmits all day .its so fun i luv it its betterr that my i use to blow op cars . i luv dis gun

  6. avatarnomad says:

    Love my 10/22. My stock was getting a little worn had the thing forever. I put it in a Maurader Pro mag kit. Thing looks great. Took 30mins to take apart and put together in the kit. If you your like me and cant afford to shoot the big guns. This is a good way to go. Looks better than the AR. Put all the toys on it. The kit feels solid like it came this way. Still I have a lingering problem need a new firing pin. What is the best pin to put in it??

  7. avatarMATT EHRENBERG says:

    A friend of mine has a ruger 10/22 that is about 25 or 30 yrs old and is a real tack driver he has a 100 yrd target set up for his 223 rifle but he can hit the 100 yrd target with his ruger every time. I have a winchester 290 and marlin 60 and remington 597 I just got a brand new 10/22 for christmas of 2011 can’t wait to go do some plinking i even got a bsa red dot scope for it as a christmas gift.

  8. avatarFrank says:

    Love my little 10/22, bought it from a gun store with a aftermarket stock and a scope already mounted. Had to get a few banana mags since I found the 10 round mag to be a bit too awkward, but a fun, light carbine compared to my other 2 rifles which may as well be artillery pieces (Mosin M91/30 and M1917 Enfield) compared to my 10/22. I know I am really going to try and put on a new stock, and possibly toy around with it more after that.

  9. avatarMike C says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your write-up. I have had mine for over 30 years. It was my first gun, and if I had to get down to one, it would be my last gun. Like you say, it is not chambered in a macho cartridge, but I can’t think of another gun that comes close to it for all-around competence.

    If you go with one of the higher-capacity magazine, I hope your experience is better than mine. I bought a 30-round Ram-Line magazine which proved to be unreliable in feeding and which eventually bound itself up tightly to where I could not get any more rounds in or unload the magazine without breaking it. I bought two extra 10-round stock magazines and have never since had any problems with the gun.

  10. avatarBert says:

    I’ve had mine for a few years now. Bought it for $54.95 new in box! It has a walnut stock AND a five digit serial number. Some new ones have almost that many prefix numbers to the serial number (i.e. xxxx-xxxxxx). I would not give it up for the world!

  11. avatarMalcolm says:

    Bought a Ruger 10/22 Carbine this weekend. Looks like the stock is white oak. Beautiful gun. Loaded up the clip with CCI Stingers and it is a real tack driver. Had a large ground hog hurting the foundation of our old barn. Saw the ground hog at about 40 yards and laid her out with a shot right through the heart. A day later shot a smaller ground hog. This gun has open sites and plan on mounting a nice scope. One hundred percent American made. Thanks Ruger!

  12. avatarTrebor says:

    Right one target with the 10/22. It’s so much fun to shoot. I matched the stainless model with a 3×9 scope from Wallymart and the gun is a really sweet. Our local indoor range only goes 25yds. At 25 yards 10 shots deliver a hole the size of a dime. I couldn’t be happier.

  13. avatardallas steelman says:

    does the 10/22 carbine able to support a bipod system…if so, please tell which one, i would prefer the bipod system to hook on to the stock

  14. avatarRight! says:

    I’ve owned only four 10-22′s. The latest I’ve owned for 30 years. I don’t shoot it much and have only replaced the barrel once ($35 through Ruger) my fireing pin and assorted springs which wore out about 3 years ago plus several factory mags.
    I was once paid to shoot ground squirrels with this rifle which led me to install an after mkt trigger and X24 scope, I was occasionaly able to make 135 yard hits with a rest using junk ammo. Now with the addition of a P-rail and an after mkt stock the same rifle has become my tacticle trainer.
    I have fired many thousands of rounds through my 10-22.
    I find the comments about ammo functionality a bit over blown. Lube your action, switch to Butler Creek Steel Lips extended mags and 99% of your problems will disappear.

    • avatarZach says:

      Used one and now I have never wanted a gun more than this one. It is perfectly balanced with a great action and extremely reliable. The 10/22 rules all others.

  15. avatarCurtis B says:

    Only sad thing really, 4 years ago when I bought my first 10/22 from walmart it retailed at $190. Today you are lucky to find it under $250 for the same rifle.

  16. avatarAaron says:

    Bought my second 10/22 a month ago. (First one was my first rifle 27 years ago….weird) Upgraded with an archangel target pro(?) stock (not a folding stock), volquartsen extractor, match hammer, extended mag release, and bolt release and couldn’t have more fun with this thing. Trigger pull is down to about 1.9lbs and haven’t had it fail once in the first 1000rounds through it. (The extractor has a lot to do with this from what I’ve read.) Ruger bx-25 banana clips have been running perfectly, although I’ve only fired CCI and Fiocchi through it. Love this rifle.

  17. avatarJody says:

    I just got my first 10/22 this past weekend. Funny, I’ve been buying, shooting, and sometimes carrying Ruger products for about 30 years. I’ve owned a Gold Label, an Express Rifle in .338 Win Mag, several other M77 variations, 2 Mini-14s, a seemingly endless stream of handguns of all varieties made by Ruger, but never considered one of their .22 rifles. I got the plain birch-stocked, blued barrel numbers for $199.99 at a large retailer and moved my Leupold scope over to it from my trusty Glenfield 60 (the one with the squirrel stamped into the grip of the stock). Hope to go shoot the thing some night this week if I get home before dark. Just got tired of dropping perfectly good ammo into the mud after hunting bunnies on public land, while attempting to unload a tubular magazine in fading light with cold hands. Conversely, I didn’t want the slender little flat single-stack mags that every other non-tube .22 on the market has, whether straight or banana shaped. Balance, weight, “pointability” of the basic carbine is just wonderful. Can’t wait to start shooting it.

  18. avatarAdam says:

    I got this gun for my B-Day last year and right out of the box it shot great. The sights where dead on and everything worked smoothly and perfectly. Since I got the rifle I have put 1000+ rounds through it and I can count on my hands the # of jams its had. This rifle is not just for kids, its for every shooter, from the everyday plinker to varmint hunting. Ammo is cheap and easy to find. Unless you live in the Inland Empire in SoCal where we are having a bit of an ammo crisis, no 9mm’s, 22′s, 5.56, or AK rounds anywhere. Overall this gun is great.

  19. avatarMOG says:

    The .22 is like the first girl I ever fell in love with, (or, maybe it was just lust)?, but more reliable.

  20. avatarAndy says:

    Have two 10/22′s,one for the wife and one for me.With the way things are,glad I put some .22lr back,looks like it might be next year before the ammo companies are caught up to demand.the 10/22 is a great all around rifle,plinking,hunting,and even self defense,I know I might get scorched for that last one,but out here in the country,we practice,and think about a large number of even .22′s coming at you,I think a rational person would head the opposite direction.Most of the videos I have watched show 10/22′s can hit targets out to 400 yards,I can hit them out to 250 yards as that is as far as I have for cleared shooting.A lot of people underestimate the .22lr round,it is the oldest metallic cartridge around and the most advanced,it is being improved every year,it is far from being made obsolete,you can even find around the world.Ruger .22lr handguns are really the best .22 handguns around,rugged and reliable,can almost be had to an individuals taste.Keep your powder dry.

  21. avatarKevin says:

    Brad, you’re slick. Can’t believe you claim to have purchased the 10/22 for your daughter (we all know you got it for you) I have two daughters, I will ask my wife tonight if I can get one for each of them. Hope the ruse works as well as it did for you (pray for me). Great article (with some outstandingly excellent deception with the spouse).

  22. avatarNL_in_NY says:

    What’s not to love about this gun? Affordable, reliable, durable, and a blast to shoot. Also the most customizable gun out there. I’ve had mine for 28 years, and it’s never jammed no matter what brand of ammo I’ve fed it (I only use factory magazines, though). As with any gun, some brands are more accurate than others (CCI and Winchester good, Remington Thunderbolts horrible).

  23. avatarCoinneach says:

    If I was Tyrant And President For Life of my own country, every able-bodied citizen would be part of the militia and a 10/22 would be standard issue. Best little peashooter ever made.

  24. avatarRaube says:

    I purchased a new Ruger 10/22 at Wal Mart and brought the gun home and put up a target and proceeded to sight in a scope I put on it after bore sighting in the scope with a lazier lite. The third round ended up as a smoke stack and I removed the clip and checked the extractor and found it was hanging up in the slot in the bolt, so working on guns I took it apart and removed the bolt and removed the extractor with some difficulty as the extractor was rough were or had been stamped out on a punch press. It had burrs all around the edge of it. I got some 400 grit paper and polished the extractor on both sides on a flat surface and when I was satisfied I reassembled the bolt and gun and took it back out for the test firing. The gun functioned perfect and never failed again. I got a 25 round magazine and it fired all rounds without one jam. PROBLEM SOLVED. This is a great small carbine and I love it to carry on the farm to shoot groundhogs when working in the field . We have coyotes and foxes and bob cats and when the season opens on them I give them a shot they never knew what hit them. CCI Ammo HP is great in this gun.

  25. avatarRaube says:

    Ruger Makes a great gun and I love this little carbine. Well worth the price .

  26. avatarCraig says:

    Well, maybe I got the odd one out here. Bought one for my dad years ago and my brothers have been shooting them since we were kids in the 60′s n 70′s. I recently traded my Winchester 190 in for a SS model with a camo synthetic stock and I’m torn. I’ve always envied the clips and not having to fill the tube. It’s a nice looking gun and with the red field scope I can trim branches at 40 yards with it. Problem is, it will only shoot longs and only certain brands. Very disappointed with this. The old 190 never jammed a round, shorts, longs, lead, vipers, I’ve run every round man makes and never jammed once. The 10/22 shoots well with certain rounds. Is this normal? I think I’m going back to see if my old “obsolete” 190 has been sold yet and buy it back for $100 more than I sold it for. :(

    • avatarRaube says:

      Craig are you trying to shoot 22 longs in your 10/22??? Mine said it is made for long rifle shells only. I use either CCI or Winchester in my gun. I had a problem with it jamming and removed the clip and pulled the extractor back and it would hang up and not be pushed back down by the spring. I removed the bolt and removed the extractor and it had burrs on it. I polished it with 400 wet or dry sand paper and I can fire a 25 round clip now with no jams.

  27. avatarHayward Dunkin says:

    Bought a 10/22 and gave it to my 9 year old grandson to “plink” with at my old farm. He loved it. So that one was gone. Found another one that had been severely mistreated but had a skeleton/boat paddle stock and stainless barrel so I thought it was worth restoring. With a new bolt and new iron sights it works great. Updated with a Ruger brand 25 round mag and put see through scope rings with a decent scope. My favorite rifle. I don’t go for all the “fancying” up but so many folk are buying them for the trigger and receiver assembly. BTW: my 10/22 has metal trigger setup. I guess that means it is older.

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