Firearms

Review: The New, Less-Expensive Ruger 10/22

Ruger 10/22 Rifles

Ruger has offered good-quality firearms to working people for more than 70 years. The Ruger 10/22 is among the most famous and widely used .22 caliber rimfire rifles of all time. “Value” and “reliability” are catchwords of this rifle.

In modern times, the price point is important, and Ruger has made several introductions that offer excellent value for the money. (The recently introduced Ruger Wrangler is among these.)

Ruger has introduced a new and more affordable version of the Ruger 10/22 that offers a good value. The new rifle (SKU 31139) is intended to retail for less than $200.

This is the same reliable 18.5″ barrel, 4.5-pound rifle as before, but without sights and with a plain vanilla plastic stock. This Ruger 10/22 falls into the sporting rifle, rather than target rifle, category.

The rifle fires the affordable and useful .22 Long Rifle cartridge. For small game and informal target practice, as well as training, this is a good choice. It may be the best base for customizing the 10/22, as the MSRP is about what good used Ruger rifles go for.

Ruger 10/22 Fast Fire 3 Red Dot
The author’s rifle was set up with a Fast Fire 3 red dot sight.

Design Features

This is a simple blowback action. Hammer and recoil spring pressure hold the bolt shut after firing until the bullet exits the barrel, releasing pressure and allowing the bolt to blowback, eject the spent cartridge and strip a new round from the magazine.

Each trigger press fires a single round. The action then resets the trigger. The 10/22 is a rifle with a well-deserved reputation for reliability despite its affordable construction. The receiver and trigger guard are casting. A key feature of the rifle is the barrel.

It is affixed to the receiver by a V block and two screws that lock the barrel into the receiver. This makes for easy barrel changing out for a bull barrel, threaded barrel or target-grade barrel. The 10-shot magazine is encased in plastic.

The steel magazine is a rotary type, similar to the original Savage 99. This magazine is very reliable—trouble with this type is practically unheard of. The original 10-round magazine may be replaced by 15- and 25-round X-magazines.

The only requirement for long-term reliability is that the magazines be cleaned every 500 rounds or so.

Ruger 10/22 Plastic Stock
Note the nice checkering on the plastic stock.

Accuracy Testing

The magazine is easily detached by means of a thumb latch. Late-model 10/22 rifles feature an extended release that is very fast and easy to use. The rifle features a cross-bolt safety and a lever to lock the bolt to the rear and also to release the bolt.

I have noted in accuracy testing of many 10/22 rifles that the Ruger has a tight chamber. It isn’t quite a Bentz chamber, which is a match-grade chamber with less taper than a standard chamber.

Just the same, a self-loading .22 benefits from a tighter chamber to reduce blowback and helps keep the chamber clean. When you look at the design of the Ruger, with no locking lug, it is a wonder the rifle is so accurate.

Yet, the action is full-length bedded in the stock. The new 10/22 features what first appears as a cheap plastic stock, but the stock features light checkering in the right places, even on the butt bad. This works well in shooting drills.

The stock allows an adult to properly handle the rifle, while teenagers are also able to handle the 10/22.

Ruger 10/22 Safety Position
The Ruger safety is in the same location as all 10/22 rifles. It is positive in operation.

Optic Upgrades

Since the rifle doesn’t have sights, I mounted a Burris Fast Fire 3 red dot sight. I really like that the Burris and the AF-type mount easily mounted on the Ruger’s top rail. This red dot is excellent for all-around use.

While it may be a bit expensive, costing about the same as the rifle (or a little more), saving money on the rifle may mean you can spend more on optics. There are inexpensive red dots and scopes that would also work fine with the Ruger.

10/22 adaptive parts build
If you are upgrading a 10/22 with aftermarket parts, the inexpensive option makes a lot of sense. (This is an Adaptive Tactical parts build.)

The Burris, however, has good features that make it a great choice. After mounting the Burris Fast Fire 3, I dry-fired the rifle a few times before range work. The trigger breaks at six pounds, a bit heavier than I like, but smooth and crisp.

I took along a good supply of the CCI Mini-Mag and the new Federal Hunter Match ammunition, as well as a stack of Ruger X magazines.

Ruger 10/22 Fast Fire 3
The Fast Fire 3 offers a wide sighting window and excellent practical accuracy.

Performance and Function

The Ruger 10/22 is famously reliable. I would have been surprised to find otherwise with the new version. While less costly than some, the action is the same as any Ruger 10/22. The Ruger was easily sighted in using the Fast Fires adjustments.

The rifle is fast, very fast on target. While I don’t recommend the .22 for personal defense, it has served me well and a quality .22 self-loader isn’t the worst choice you could make.

I settled into a solid bench rest firing position and fired several five-shot groups at 25 yards. The CCI Mini-Mag averaged 1.25 inches for three groups; the Federal Hunter Match load was more accurate with a group of 1.0-inch average.

This was with the red dot dialed down to its lowest setting. These are excellent results.

Federal Hunter Match Ammo
The Federal Hunter Match load provides excellent accuracy.

Conclusion

I find the Ruger 10/22 to be a great all-around rifle, and the new version gives shooters on a budget another option.

What do you think of the Ruger 10/22? Do you think you’ll be picking up this cheaper new version? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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 (5)

  1. I have an original Ruger wooden stock with sights. I waited to buy mine till close to Christmas and got it on sale for the same price as this new cheaper model. This new model would be great to get without waiting for a sale. I enjoy shooting my Ruger 10/22, added a scope with red and green light up sights for night hunting coyotes in Michigan. This gun is great for anyone looking for a good reliable 22 rifle and now more affordable. Thanks for the write up on this Bob.

  2. Let’s not under estimate the modest 22LR for self defense. It may not have the stopping power of a 45 ACP, but nothing has stopping power if the shooter cannot hit the intended target. A 22 caliber is an excellent gun for beginners, including those who are just getting into keeping a gun for self defense. It also good for those who may have strength problems in handling a large caliber firearm, such as the elderly. Because the 22LR has such little recoil, a shooter using something like the Ruger 10/22 can quickly access a target and keep on target after shooting multiple rounds.

  3. Nice to see Ruger give a nod to those of us on a budget with the Wrangler and this new 10/22. Will we see a budget friendly version of their GP-100 in the future? I certainly hope so.

  4. I picked one of these new Ruger’s up a couple weeks ago and I’m very happy with it. I wanted one that I could modify and this was just the ticket. It’s a great rifle.

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