The 5 Best Ruger Guns of All Time

Ruger 10/22 semi auto rifle

When you use the word “best,” it is a good idea to qualify the criteria for determining what “the best” really is.

Often this is just a subjective opinion of the writer— and to some extent, that will be true here.

I will attempt to buttress my determination with some solid facts, which will help my argument and likely fuel your critique.

But, this is the internet, so both are expected. That being said, here are my choices for the five “best” Ruger guns of all time (click here to skip the infographic):

top 5 ruger guns

1. Ruger 10/22

If there is a more ubiquitous rifle that was never issued to soldiers, I don’t know what it is. Almost every shooter has put rounds down range with some variant of the 10/22.

I own a heavy-barrel variant that is great for inexpensive “precision” practice or hunting small game. It’s one of the most well-known Ruger guns out there.

It’s also a wonderful platform for teaching new shooters to run a semi-automatic rifle and how to manage a scope without any worry about recoil or expense.

For the last 55 years, receiving a 10/22 as a first rifle has been a right of passage for gunnie kids.

The classic carbine model is FUDD-friendly, wood and steel with low-capacity (10-round) magazines.

Ruger also has at least 11 other variants to choose from—including takedown, heavy barrel and super light options.

There are also dozens of companies like Tandemkross, Archangel and Volquartsen who sell aftermarket components. With these companies, you can rebuild your 10/22 as mildly or wildly as you want.

2. Ruger M77 Bolt-Action

Ruger M77 bolt-action
Photo credit: Ruger

This rifle has seen hunting duty in almost every hunting camp in America. It has been chambered in more than 20 calibers, from .220 Swift to .350 Remington Magnum.

My father hunts deer with his .270 Winchester variant every year. In the offseason, we attempt to get multiple hits on a single golf ball. More often than not, we succeed.

The modified Mauser action has stood the test of time for over 50 years and in its latest variants, is still going strong.

3. Ruger Standard Model

Ruger Standard
Photo credit: Wikipedia

This pistol is more commonly known by its variant name. I own a Ruger Mark III and everyone would call it that.

The original was “The Standard” and each major revision has been called Mark II, Mark III, etc. (The current generation is the Mark IV.)

The worst feature of the previous models has been fixed with the Mark IV variant: takedown and reassembly.

Many a grown man has spent his monthly budget of curse words in his first attempt to clean and reassemble the previous variants of this pistol.

Other than that small inconvenience, this gun has proven itself to be equally loved as its 10/22 brother. One of the best Ruger guns, for sure.

Many of the same companies that offer aftermarket parts for the rifle also offer customization for the Ruger Mark series of pistols (like magazines).

(Volquartsen has an upgrade for every single part except the receiver.)

4. Ruger Redhawk

Ruger Redhawk
Photo credit: Ruger

This revolver was the evolution from the Security Six line. When those guns were found to be wearing out from steady diets of .357 Magnum, Ruger decided to build a beefed-up alternative.

The initial choice was the Ruger Redhawk. This was designed by Harry Sefried and it was made to handle the .44 Magnum.

The assumption being that if it could handle that, it could handle anything. At the time, that was a valid statement.

The Redhawk is on the list, not so much for its own merit. Rather, it is the stepping stone to the GP100, SP101 and the Ruger Super Redhawk lines.

Each of these revolvers draws heavily on the modifications and improvements first utilized in the Redhawk line.

5. Ruger No. 1

Ruger No 1 - one of the best Ruger guns of all time.
Photo credit: Wikipedia

This single-shot rifle is derided in the current world of 30-round magazines. For many of the calibers people own this rifle in, that is not a consideration.

I would not want to carry a gun with 30 rounds of .416 Rigby, .458 Winchester Magnum or .400/.450 Nitro Express.

Not to mention, unless you are hunting dinosaur, a decent hit with any of the above should be more than enough.

The Ruger #1 is made in smaller calibers like .204 Ruger or .22 Hornet and is a very accurate rifle in these calibers. The true utility of the strength of this action is in the much stouter chamberings.

The internal falling block action is so strong, Lenard Brownell claimed, “In strength testing, I never did manage to blow one apart.”

Many a professional hunter has been quite happy about that when lighting off a .458 Lott into the face of a wounded elephant, rhino or cape buffalo.

What do you think? Are there any Ruger guns you felt were left off this list? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (68)

  1. Although this gun is certainly not a classic by any means but I can honestly say it was the most reliable and toughest handgun I’ve owned to date. Back in 1996 i purchased a new Ruger kp-97 .45 caliber handgun for 350 dollars retail. I put over 4000 rounds of the cheapest and lowest quality ammo that was on the market over a 2 year period. I can honestly say that I never even so much as cleaned that gun a single time and don’t remember ever having had any malfunctions whatsoever. That gun was simply amazing and the price was an absolute bargain. It was stolen from me in a break in and I still miss that gun to this very day, would absolutely love to have another one, in my humble opinion you simply cannot beat a Ruger!

  2. My father’s Single-Six is over six decades old and still going, with no maintenance other than cleaning. He was shooting it this morning, as it remains his favored plinker.

  3. Where is the Mini 14? While it is not a tack driver, you don’t want to be inside of a hundred yards with one pointed at you. And, the Garand action is, IMHO, the most reliable, robust and easiest to maintain of any weapon I have ever had the pleasure of owning.

    However, the Ruger Mark II BBL is a tack driver, 8 out of 10 empty shotgun shells at 10 yards is not hard to do with this pistola. While it is not the easiest gun to reassemble, the frustration does not compared to the pleasure of sending round after round downfield knowing that if you miss the target it is not the gun’s fault

  4. The original Ruger “Standard” was the Mark 1 RST 4 model. I have that pistol, bought new in 1978, as well as the Mark 1 Target w/ 6 7/8” barrel and target sights. Both great guns. Wish I could get a used Mark II or a new Mark IV, but I live in California and they know better. I would expand your list to 10 and definitely add the GP-100, and the original 3-screw Blackhawk and Super Blackhawk. The Old Model Super Blackhawk .44 mag with “super blue and super polish,” dragon trigger guard and 7.5” barrel is one of the finest SA revolvers ever made.

  5. I like the 10/22, but I’ve never found an ammunition that feeds and cycles perfectly. While this gun has certainly been a popular gun, I don’t think that the 10/22 has revolutionized anything in this class of rifles. I see a difference between “popular” and “best.” A gun can be popular by offering good quality for the price, but I don’t see that gun as being “best.” I’d probably drop the 10/22 from the list.

    I can agree with the M77 because this rifle is considered to be of such high quality.

    I can agree with the Ruger Standard Model because this pistol has been a bit of a trend setter.

    I accept this rationale for the Redhawk being on the list, but I might have put the GP100 on the list instead. The article even says that much of what the Redhawk did was pave the way for the GP100.

    I don’t know enough about the Ruger No. 1 to say either way about this one. Because this rifle is such a niche rifle for hunters and precision shooters, maybe this one doesn’t have quite the impact.

    I would consider the LCP as an addition to this list because the LCP seems to have been the trend setter in the pocket .380 movement. People will talk about different strengths and weaknesses of this gun, but Ruger seems to have kicked off the movement with this gun.

    I’d also consider the Ruger Red Label shotgun. Some people haven’t liked them, but I’ve known skeet and trap shooters who love them.

  6. The P-94 .40 caliber is often overlooked. I got mine back in the late 90’s and I find it a great pistol especially if you have big hands..(it’s a little bulky for some).

  7. In answer to M. Henley, Ruger doesn’t make a 10/22 in .22 WMR. I believe they could never overcome feeding problems in that platform. Alternatives: Magnum Research .22 WMR (9 rnd.), Kel-Tec CMR 30, CZ 512 (5 rnd.), Savage A22 (10 rnd.), but I would check reviews on feeding reliability. I agree with John, W. Ross, and R. Jones: switch out the Red Hawk, for the Black Hawk and you got the list.

  8. Amongst others, the mkII BBL is my favorite. Factory target trigger. 30 years hence, still a tack driver.

  9. Blackhawk should definately be on this list for sure. I’d replace the Redhawk with the Blackhawk, #1 with the mini-14, on my list.

  10. Not here to dispute but to agree on the validity of the
    M-77, 10/22 and 44mag carbine. I have the M-77 in
    30-06 and 243 both zeroed for 200 yds and I’m here to tell you they are both tack drivers consistently yielding 3 and 5 rd shot groups that you can cover with a 50 cent piece.
    I have two 10/22’s, one of which is equipped with the archangel kit and scoped. At 50 yds it will put 3rds in the same hole all day long. The most fun shooting rifle I’ve ever fired and I’ve fired a bunch in my 74 yrs beginning at age 12 and including a 3 yr stint as Chief instructor at the U S Army Weapons Dept at FT Benning, Ga. Also have a 44 mag carbine that I call my “Bush gun” and also serves as my home protector along with a 12 gauge pump. No complaints about it either.

  11. The variety of different models mentioned in the comments just go to show that Ruger makes a number of really, really good firearms!

  12. Yeah, you missed a few rugers, id say there could be 10 gu s tied for top 5.
    the new 9mm PC carbine will probably be second to the 1022 in 10 or 20 years. (I have) one of the best guns i ever owned. Ive had about 100
    I have a redhawk and its great.
    10/22 goes without saying. I have three!
    The Sr22 pistol is amazing and could be in the top 5 (I have)
    The gp100 (i have)
    The sp101 ( want it)
    Single shot 17 hmr (friend has) its amazing.
    Deer slayer 44 carbine (1974) (I sold mine, was holding it as an investment)
    Red label O/U
    To name a few.

  13. Ruger Blackhawk in .41 cal magnum works for me. My Ruger Bearcat in .22 cal bought new is 57 years old and is the best plinking handgun I’ve ever had. My stainless steel Model77 in .25-06 cal and composite stock is a tack driver.

  14. The one I thought was and IS a great Ruger is the Ruger Single-Six chambered in both.22 long rifle and it’s brother .22 Magnum. Just swap cylinders and you have two different rounds to play with. Thanks for your time.

  15. Blackjack and its little brother the Single Six should each have their spot on the list. I personally don’t have much faith on an author who would neglect both of them, especially seeing how they have traditionally been huge sellers (and for good reason).

  16. Where would the Model 60 fall in popular Ruger Firearms? I’ve had one for around 50 years now works just fine.

  17. I agree! Of course I own 4 of the 5 (never had a 10/22). My first gun was the Ruger Standard. My parents bought it for me in the 8th grade as a reward for good grades. That was well over 50 years ago. I could not tell you how many ten-of-thousands of rounds have gone through the gun, all flawlessly, or how many rabbits have met their end rabbits and soda cans met their end with it. But this I can tell you. It shoots as well today as it did in 1968. I still love to shoot it!
    I am going to have to go with adding the Blackhawk as well. Yep, good grades again, .357 6″. Wow, what a gun. I learned to reload with it. I still own and shoot it also. …. Along with the .45 convertible and two Single Six’s.

  18. My Police Service Six Stainless .357 mag has sure walked a lot of back country trails with me over the years! What a reliable piece it has been. Once, it spent the night with me in a soaked North Face sleeping bag. At the first crack of dawn, I got out of the body straight jacket. Thank God for dry clothes! Later back at the truck, a wipe down with bore solvent cleaned it right up. It looked just the same as it did on the hike in. Today at approx 40 years old, it is much more holster worn, but shoots and looks as good as ever!

  19. I too have taught many people the art of scope shooting with a 10/22 hammer forged stainless barrel, with a Nikon 3x9x40 mm, and bipod, the joy that this soft shooting gun brings, plus them hitting what they’re aiming at, and the lack of cost as the put hundreds of rounds down range, pure pleasure for both, and I didn’t see any comments on New Model Super Blackhawk, in 44mag with a 7 in barrel in stainless , shooting a 180gr round,with a 2′ flame jumping out the barrel, a true attention getter.

  20. I have a 44 Mag Carnine that I purchase in the 60’s . I loaned it to a friend who dropped it and after that it would fire and then jam up . A gunsmith said that a part in it ahd broken and he could not fix it . I mailed Ruger about it and they diddn’t have the part anymore .I think that is why theyn discuned this great little carbine . I still have it , but cannot get it fixed .

  21. The Single 6 and BlackHawk made Ruger a household name, what person who grew up in the “cowboy” age has not shot both and probably has owned both ?

    The mini-14 while being dependable is one of the cheapest ( material wise not cost wise ) firearms ever made so I would leave it off.

  22. I fully agree the 10/22 is their #1, having purchased one at Kmart in the late 70’s for $30. Still working perfectly and shooting very accurate. The rest is up for grabs.

  23. You missed one of the very best: The Red Label shotgun. High quality, exceptional balance, I wouldn’t trade mine for anything

  24. Fully 1/2 of the guns I possess are Rutgers including 4 of the 5 listed. But I would be amiss if I didn’t include the wonderful Model 99 which is no longer made but which has been used across the world to take game from varmints up to the larger game with great reliability.

  25. I own one of everyone of those and a couple in different calibers very fond of everyone that I have. I would have definitely added the mini 14 to your list I own three of them I’ve always been extremely fond of Ruger products

  26. I would like to submit the “Single Six” chambered in 22LR and 22WMR and the Black Hawk chambered in 38Sp/357Mag. I personally would like life less without these two safe and wonderful Cowboy six-shooters.

  27. I also think that the Single Six should be on the list…. it may just be the best single action .22 ever made. Mine is pre transfer bar, which I prefer… but in any case, a most excellent Pistol!

  28. My Mini-14 is even MORE “FUDD-friendly” as it came with a 5-round magazine! That makes the 10/22 come with a “high-capacity” magazine.

  29. 1) 10/22
    2) Single Six
    3) Black Hawk
    4) #1- I have 3
    5) 44 auto Rifle – I have both the carbine and the Monte Carlo stocked rifle
    6) SP 101- I have 2 both SS 357 – one special edition 1/4 ” and one 125 gr only 3 ” barrel
    I could go on!!!!!

  30. I have to agree with Mr. Ross, the Single SIx definitely deserves a place on this list. Colt stopped producing the Single Action Army revolver shortly after the end of WWII due to the high cost of production and the popularity of the 1911 that GIs had become smitten with during their Service with Uncle Sam. A few years later in the late 40s early 50s Western themed movies and TV programs became wildly popular reigniting an interest in the guns used by the cowboy heroes in them. Colt wasn’t making any new SAAs and old ones were hard to come by or demanded top dollar. Cagey ol’ Bill Ruger saw the opportunity and jumped on it. By using New technologies in matalergy and manufacturing processes Ruger was able to bring his little single action to market at a very attractive price. Outwardly the Ruger Single SIx is practically a 3/4 scale clone of Colts SAA but internally had many improvements that made them more robust and more reliable.

  31. I disagree.
    #1 Blackhawk / Super Blackhawk.
    #2 .22 Standard pistol MK 1,2,3,4.
    #3 Number One single shot rifle
    #4 96/44 Lever action rifle
    #5 Precision rifle

  32. Ha! The 10-22 is the biggest POS I own. No one can change my mind on that. When you have to buy aftermarket mags for the stupid thing to make it work it makes the gun a total fail in my eyes.

  33. I do some competition shooting. Specifically, bowling pin competition, 4 and 6 slots.
    For those that are not familiar, 4 or 6 bowling pins are set up at 25 yrds. You are timed on how long it takes to knock all pins down. You can take as many shots as you want, even reload if necessary. Of course, if you are using a 6 shot revolver, you best not miss. For this reason, most shooter’s use a semiautomatic .45acp or 10mm. I had a a custom Norcino 1911 .45acp built by Terry Tussy. A world famous custom 1911 maker out of California. With a cost of $1800 (early 90’s) a d an 18 month turnaround, I was extremely happy when I got it back. I had it all done, 30 dpi grip checkering on front and back, bar-sto match barrel and bushing, Wilson Combat match trigger and hammer, adj. national match Colt sights and many other mods. This pistol was superb, and I won a ton of matches with it. On a whim, I bought a like new, bone stock in the box Ruger P-90 .45acp from a friend that needed some cash. He sold it to me for $275.00. I took this gun to the range and simply could not believe how well it performed. It honestly shot as good (maybe better) than my custom 1911 built by Tussy. I won many more matches with it in the years following. I was shocked and tickled at the same time. A few years later, I found another P-90 for super cheap so I bought it. Same result, the pistol was superb with constant groups under 1″, point of aim, at 25 yrds. In my opinion, The P-90 was one of the best semiautomatic pistols ever made.

  34. Over the years, I’ve had several Ruger firearms. My 1st a convertable single six which I later sold for a down payment on our wedding rings. My nex was a 3 screw Black Hawk. I had a custom quick draw rig made. Should have kept that one, what a dumbell! I had a Super Black Hawk but found with my “fat” fingers, I had troible breaking the shot correctly. I drifted away from the hand guns and concentrated my funds on long range varmint shooting, My newest Ruger is a precision rifle in 6.5 CM, a real “tack driver”. I wish the gad brought out the precision platform in 338 LM before I got my Savage. If I had a wish, I’d like a #1 in 220 Swift. Wish I had taken the plunge before they dropped it.

  35. Most of my firearms are Rugers – for a reason. My favorite is my 357 Blackhawk, bought more than 38 years ago. I have put thousands and thousands of rounds through this gun. No failures, no malfunctions, and no broken parts. Still looks and feels like new. I will let you know how it holds up after another 38 years.

  36. I found the comments on the Ruger Number 1 interesting.

    I grew up learning to shoot a single shot .22 and believe that when you are in that situation, you learn to make every shot count.

    When my brother and I purchased a 15 shot .22 later (High School) at an estate sale, out aim seemed to be worse rather than better

  37. I would include the Mini 14 & 30. I have the Mini 30 and love it. It’s a great ranch rifle for hunting or defense. The Gerand action is reliable and smooth which results in a light recoil. The 7.62 x 39 round is fairly inexpensive, plentiful and a terrific round for hunting. What I also like about the rifle is It’s a conventional looking firearm. The anti-AR15 zealots will not view the Mini’s as assault weapons and place it on the AR15 hit list. I love Ruger’s.

  38. I personally own four LCPs and two LCR9ss.
    The LCP was a better quality gun than some of the competition which came out before it.
    Since guns on the list get credit for variations from the
    Original, the LCP could make the list. I would bet that the combined sales of
    of LCPs,LCP IIs, LC9s and LC9ss since the introduction of the LCP are
    larger than even the 10/22. I only have one 10/22.
    Great guns from a great gun company!

  39. The Ruger Super Blackhawk. It has stood the test of time. This single action .44 Magnum is both accurate and powerful. My 7 and 1/2 inch barreled gun has downed I don’t know how many whitetails through the decades and stopped a 200 pound charging wild boar. If I could only have one gun out of my collection, it would be this one.

  40. I’m very happy to see the #1 on the list. It’s a work of art and I own this in .25-06, the Varminter variant. It came to me when my father-in-law passed away and it had no furniture. I held on to it for many years, then finally decided to spend the big $$ to get it functional. I mailed it to Ruger to get an estimate (they initially gave a range of $350-$450 to put furniture on it). A week later, I got a notice a package had been mailed to me from Sunapee, New Hampshire. I was nervous, since Ruger never contacted me to give a firm price, and I thought maybe the action was so messed up they just sent it back.
    So I called them and was told that the rifle was fine, they put new furniture on it, test fired it, cleaned it and had shipped it to me. I asked what the price was. I heard tap…tap..tap…of a keyboard and then the representative said “no charge”. I was amazed and she said “they must like you”.
    I became a lifelong fan of Ruger and have bought several Rugers since then. What a great company.

  41. Good article. I have a 10/22 carbine and a GP100 (6″). You can’t beat the 10/22 for small game. I mounted a reflex sight on my GP100 and I think it’s the about the most fun you can have with a wheel gun.

  42. Wow, I would have expected to find the GP-100 somewhere on that list of “5 Best Ruger Guns of All Time”, seeing that it was for decades (and still is) the primary competition for the S&W 686. Many lawmen and security professionals have trusted their life to this firearm. This revolver incorporates all the fine attributes that Ruger has to offer (reliability, ease to maintain, accuracy, strength, and dependability. It has even been called the “AK-47 of revolvers” because of its ability to eat just about anything you place in it. I understand your fondness of the M77 Rifle, however, this revolver should have been in its place on the list, or even the Six-Series of revolvers, such as of the Police-Six, Security-Six, or Speed-Six series of revolvers.

  43. I also agree, the original 44 mag carbines are fantastic. I use mine every year for hog hunting here in Florida’s thick brush. It’s very quick to the shoulder and puts the hogs down every time. I am also partial to my Super Blackhawk Hunter as well.

  44. Does Ruger make like 10/22 in 22 mag. I own the 10/22 but would like to have the same rifle in the 22 mag.

  45. I agree with GRIZG when he mentions the .44 Carbine; it was a fabulous deer rifle, but I am a .44 Magnum fan, albeit in Smith’s 629 as I never found the Rugers to be comfortable to shoot, I have had several Smiths that I absolutely love.
    I would also add the Mini-14 Ranch. It is a great varmint and/or deer rifle in a pinch that is easy to carry. And with the abundance of 5.56 and .223 ammo, it is not hard to keep plenty around to maintain proficiency. I have to admit that I have a bias to the Garand style of action in the Mini-14 so for me this was an easy choice.

  46. I’ve got a #1 in 22-250, 220 swift, 77 in 25-06, 300 mag, couple of mini14 in 223 & 7.62×39, sp101 357 magnum in 3 and 6 inch , Black hawk 357 and 44 mag and 30 carbine, several 22 pistols and revolvers, 44 mag carbine , semi auto 22 lr , 22 mag and 17 hmr, a RPR in 6.5 creedmore and 338 laupa, a super Redhawk in 454 casul , 3 inch , and I’m sure a couple more I can’t remember , as you can see , I like Rugers !!

  47. I hunt with a M-77 30-06 , Redhawk 44 mag and a Blackhawk 44 mag and I love them . I also own 2 10-22s very good firearms all of them .

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