The Winning Ruger 10/22 Anniversary Design

Ruger 10/22 Anniversary Rifle Prototype at SHOT Show.

Ruger 10/22 Anniversary Rifle Prototype at SHOT Show.

The views expressed below do not represent the views of Ruger, TFB or Appleseed. They are mine alone.

Gary from Michigan here. I won the Ruger 10/22 Anniversary Rifle Design Contest. Soon after I was asked by Steve if I would write an article about the competition for TFB. Ruger let me know I had won in early November, which was pretty exciting. This started a process of signing releases, choosing prizes and so forth. Astonishingly, until someone posted photos of my design from the SHOT Show, I didn’t know Ruger had made a prototype of it. It looks great and I was excited all over again.

I wanted to give people an insight into the whole process of putting together my design, why it looks like it does and what’s up with that big honking flash hider. Like many people I am a big fan of the Ruger 10/22. I own four of them, the oldest being from 1976. I enjoyed hunting with them and plinking with them for decades. They are the most versatile 22 rifles ever produced with a huge aftermarket industry involved in making parts and copies of them. However, it wasn’t until I got involved in the Appleseed Project three years ago that I began to appreciate how good a rifle it really is. It is that experience which I used to influence how my design turned out.

The concept design submitted to Ruger.

The concept design submitted to Ruger.

While any kind of rifle can be used at Appleseed, most people shoot 22 rimfires because of the cost of ammo. We shoot at 25 meters to speed up things (doesn’t take as long to walk back and forth) and any instruction can be easily applied to center fire rifles and longer distances. Appleseed teaches position shooting (standing, sitting and prone) using a loop sling. Most 22 rifles we see are Ruger 10/22s. This is primarily because they are good quality, reliable, accurate and have a reliable flush mounted magazine. Set up with a web sling, good sights, or a scope they are a very good and reliable training rifle. Appleseed is really an opportunity to shoot your rimfire rifle like a real service rifle.

After teaching dozens of classes over the years I’ve noticed a couple things. First is that peep and post iron sights work very well and are much better than most factory iron sights. They emulate military peep sights and as such transition to shooting a military rifle is pretty easy. Second, most people don’t understand the significance of proper cheek weld or length of pull on their stock. Having to hold one’s head up to look through sights or a scope uses muscles which fatigue and causes movement which affects accuracy. A proper cheek weld allows one to lay one’s head on the stock without strain and get a good sight picture. Length of pull is the distance between the butt plate of the rifle and the trigger. If it is too long, holding pounds of rifle out in front of you is fatiguing and for people with short arms very difficult. Most stocks are too long for children, most women and many men. All of these factors influenced my design.

Getting back to the contest. If one looks at all the variations of the 10/22 that are available one sees that there are dozens. With distributor specials running from tactical compact, synthetic, and even wood stocked take down models to fancy full size, walnut stocked target guns. Some were basic, some were fancy and most of the rifles submitted for the contest had already been done in one form or another. One design conspicuously missing was one with good iron peep sights and an adjustable stock.

One other thing popped into mind when designing my entry. Fifty years ago when the 10/22 was first introduced it was considered a handy little utilitarian carbine. It was an every man’s rifle and I think the 10/22s success is due to that idea. You can fix it up to your hearts content or leave it as is. It is what it is. So my thought was OK, fifty years later what would a modern utilitarian, every man’s rifle look like? Through evolution what would it have on it? Good out of the box peep sights? A scope rail that is suited to modern optics? An adjustable stock to fit more shooters, particularly new, young and perhaps nontraditional shooters (i.e. women) just getting into the sport? Instead of making the anniversary model some fancy niche model with a high price for a limited market, maybe instead it should be a modernized everyman’s rifle? Why not make it practical and useful right out the box? Why not be able to grab it, go to the range or show up on the line at Appleseed and have it suitable by adding nothing more than a sling? That’s what I was going for.

Of course the other consideration is could/would Ruger make it at a cost that most people could afford? In that regard I started looking at what Ruger already had that could be used. Could they make a threaded barrel? Yes, they already were making one on a distributor special rifle. Could they make peep sights? Yes, they already offered them on their Mini 14/30s. Could they have an adjustable stock? The stock was a no-brainer. I had handled the Ruger American Rimfire rifle at a local gun shop. It has removable butt plates that change the length and comb. It feels good and solid, not cheap like some polymer stocks on some .22 rifles. “Wow” I thought, this stock would be ideal for a 10/22. So the question was, could Ruger make a convertible stock for the 10/22? They already owned the design so making a mold shouldn’t be too hard. Because Ruger already manufactured these parts, they could and would be able to manufacture it.

A word about the threaded barrel and flash hider. Okay, I know a .22 doesn’t need a flash hider, particularly a large one. That feature came directly from shooting prone on the line at Appleseed with unskilled shooters who continually dip the muzzles into the dirt, snow, mud, and/or concrete. Those instructors who lent out guns started putting muzzle compensators or flash hiders on them to protect the muzzle crown from being damaged or clogged. In some cases, they were slip on types. One of our instructors had access and skill on a mill and began threading barrels and cutting down AR15 flash hiders to protect the threads and muzzles. He called them “mud guards”. They work very well. I didn’t think Ruger would offer muzzle compensators or cut down flash hiders so a basic flash hider they already made was suggested. In reality, I would prefer to see a small, lightweight “mud guard” thread protector on my rifle. Perhaps some enterprising entrepreneur will come up with something that extends about an inch or two beyond the muzzle to replace the factory flash hider.

So there you have it. The evolution of the 50th Anniversary Ruger 10/22. The next step for me is a trip to the factory when they make it. I get to pick one off the line. The production run is scheduled for the spring. Perhaps I will report back on TFB about my trip. I hope this new 10/22 rifle will turn out to be popular and useful for the next 50 years.

Gary from Michigan retired from a career in law enforcement after 34 years. He currently spends his time teaching rifle instruction for Project Appleseed and teaching American Revolution history to school, libraries, clubs, groups, etc. through Libertyseed.org

Related

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • M.M.D.C.

    “The next step for me is a trip to the factory when they make it. I get to pick one off the line. The production run is scheduled for the spring. Perhaps I will report back on TFB about my trip.”

    Yes, with pictures please!

    It’s a good design. Thanks for the insight.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/ Phil W “Senior Writer TFB”

      If they allow pics I’m sure you’ll see some

  • Lance

    One of the Best .22lrs rifle in existence. Much better deal for $#50 for a 10/22 than a overpriced piece of aluminum for a MP-5/22 by GSG or HK.

  • wry762

    Anyone know of any dealers who are accepting pre-orders?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I will tell you, but only AFTER I have placed my order ;)

      Joking aside, the rifle is still in development. I expect it will be on sale before the end of the year.

  • Cymond

    I was one of the people that voted for this design, and I could see it’s versatility. I especially noticed the scope rail that doesn’t interfere with the peep sights. I hate how the standard 10/22 rail blocks the sights so sights vs optics on a 10/22 are usually an either/or choice.

    Please let us know when these become available.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I will be sure to blog about it.

  • Stephen

    Gary, thank you for designing this. It fits all the features I wanted (+ some I hadn’t thought of) into one package that previously want offered. The closest one was a tactical version that was missing iron sights. I can’t wait to buy one of these.

  • patrickiv

    Damn, Gary I’m jealous. That’s one hell of an honor.
    Also I want one.

  • Fred Johnson

    Nice rifle, Gary. I’m looking forward to seeing the production model in my local gun shop.

  • Colby

    I am already rat-holing my lunch money for one of these. Thanks for your contribution to the shooting sports.

  • Shanksabunch

    Where can I mount my Tacticool stuff on this beast? I need my flashlight, bayonet, green/red laser, GPS locator, rangefinder, Extra magazines….just kidding, great job man. Made true to the classic and added some great changes and all from experience with the firearm. Gotta respect that.

  • Cknarf

    Definitely the best design of them all. I can’t believe that red and white Abomination or that goofy one with the ‘flames’ was even considered.

  • Titan Norseman

    Outstanding, planning on picking one of these up ASAP.

  • ClintTorres

    Congrats, Gary!! I’m glad your design won…some of those others were a little over the top. Love the inclusion of the aperture sight. This can be a wonderful trainer, out of the box, that will still hold up, un-modded, after the new shooter becomes skilled.

    • Jeff Hesser

      I took my 10 year old son out for his first time a few months ago with my 10/22. I have a folding stock that I bought because it was cool in the early 90′s. It works for me but was to long for him so we folded it up. He kept putting the muzzle in the dirt when it got to heavy. I love the idea of the muzzle guard and adjustable stock. Can’t wait to get one for him and for my daughter. She’s 14 and will go muzzleloading deer for the first time. Thank you Gary.

  • Gary from Michigan

    BTW, the design I submitted did have the auto bolt release. Don’t know if it will make it in the final design.

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      I hope so. I don’t understand why Remington don’t just make one. Its trivial to convert the existing bolt release into an auto bolt release … just requires a file.

      • MW

        Probably because Ruger won’t let Remington add things to their rifles…

  • Kris

    I was “amused” at the Ruger facebook comments when this was posted…so many people said “that’s boring”, “why would you not include a XXX gizmo on it”. Funny thing is…we see people on the Appleseed lines all the time with fancy rifles that can’t shoot worth crap. They scoff at “only” shooting 4 MOA at 25 meters…then they proceed to shoot groups approaching 15-20 MOA. This rifle is PERFECT to really learn to shoot a rifle (and not try to buy accuracy). A well fitting stock, good sights, ability to take a sling. Master this rifle then move up to a “fancy” one.

    • mikewest007

      Funny thing: I bought an airsoft replica of the 10/22 (yes, there is such a thing). By default, it’s fitted with an awful, Tapco-like tacticool stock with a M4 buffer tube and pistol grip. What did I replace it with?
      Someone’s used Ruger factory stock that cost me bubkes (not counting shipping from the US). Now it has that “grandpa’s plinker” feel. This design ain’t too shabby either.

  • IXLR8

    Mud guard? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean…
    A pefect way to insure that it had a threaded barrel. Now, if that is just a pinned flash hider, I would be less enthusiastic.
    Great job on the design. It represents the simple nature of the 10/22.

  • jamezb

    I think you did a great job designing a practical, well considered,and timely revision of this classic rifle. I look forward to getting my hands on one, and would not at all be surprised if after the initial run, you see your model become part of the permanent Ruger line-up.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Nice work, Gary. I really appreciate your thoughtful approach to the design. Congratulations once again on a job well done!

  • Blake

    Really great article. Thanks to both of you for making it happen.

    And kudos to Ruger for having the contest in the first place & picking Gary’s practical, economic design as the winner.

    Personally I’m pleased that there’s no barrel band on this thing; I’ve always been a fan of the Schnabel forend. Let’s hope that the barrel will have a tight enough chamber & stout profile so that it’ll group well (and that we can buy 22LR ammo again by the time it’s out…).

  • Fixxer

    I love that good old-fashioned American marksmanship is shown the spotlight in Gary’s design. I was recently introduced to Project Appleseed which re-ignited my sense of patriotism through Revolutionary War history sprinkled with precision rifle instruction. Already a Ruger fan I am certain that they get it as you do Gary :)

  • DrewN

    They should offer Minis in this configuration. And bring back the Deerfield like this as well.

    • Anon. E Maus

      Good goddamn you’re absolutely 100% right, SIR, they should kit out Mini-14′s and Mini-30′s with these!

  • Adrian Laurendeau

    Looks like they used your design on the Ruger American rifles as well. Very nice work!!

  • Kivaari

    Now I like that design. I was waffling back and forth on what kind of optic to put on my Colt M4. I read a great deal about the Lucid HD7 and ordered on. But a couple days later I came across a EOTech XPS2-0 like I previously used. The XPS ended up on the Colt. But the Lucid showed up this afternoon, I was impressed. My plans for sending it back, turned into what kind of rifle could I put under the HD7. By pure chance this came up, and I am now thinking a Ruger 10-22 like this deserves to be owned by me. A very nice looking rifle and optic.

  • Maxcoseti

    I didn’t vote or submit any ideas, but this is turned out exactly the way I would’ve wanted it

  • me

    I like this design. It is simple and pleasing to the eye. If I were designing such a thing I’d start with a bull barrel, and peep sights easier to adjust–but that gets very expensive very fast. They don’t make the old Redfield International or Olympic peep sights any more, and I hear that the Williams aluminum knockoff doesn’t hold up in serious use by people who change the adjustments a lot. This is a compromise that uses a maximum of parts Ruger already makes and has in stock, which is probably why Ruger approved it.

    In another year there will probably be a dozen distributor-exclusive variants of it in the catalog–a takedown version, a blued version, a version dipped in Multicam(tm), and so on.

    I hope .22 LR ammunition is readily available again by the time these hit the gun store shelves. I want to attend an Appleseed myself, and have already cobbled together an appropriate rifle “the hard way,” with Tech-Sights and so on, but am continually stymied by lack of ammunition.

  • Epunthesis

    Gary, I like your design and the reasoning behind each feature, but your entry should have been disqualified based on the rules of submission. First, Ruger was clear that the gun submitted was an actual gun you had kitted out–not just a photoshop chop cut-and-paste job. Why not make a 10/22 with a plasma trigger and a holographic barrel and ghost receiver (whatever that means). The point is that you submitted FANTASY guns and not one that was followed the rules. Second, the rules stated 1 gun was to be submitted. You submitted 4 with the variations you included. It’s a cool gun, but Ruger (due to the paucity of quality submissions ) effectively violated and set aside their own contest rules in nothing less than an obamaesque manner.

    • Maxcoseti

      Nope, the design is by no means a “fantasy gun”, if it’s completely feasible, and by your own account the gun not being fantasy was the sole purpose of the rule of submiting an actual gun rather than a concept, so I don’t know what you are complaining about, also if you are so inflexible towards rules perhaps you should follow your own moral code and avoid calling something “obamaesque”, remember “guns, not politics”, it’s right there in the logo
      Cheers

      • Epunthesis

        I appreciate your reply, but I wish you had addressed the specifics of my post rather than saying I am at fault “for being inflexible towards rules.” Imagine if you had a job where you agreed to work for $20 an hour if you met certain conditions–on time, work passed quality control, etc. At pay day, they decided not to pay you, but somebody else who never showed up to work, but rather, only agreed that the certain conditions you had worked under were laudable–just not for him. Would you be flexible? Regarding politics, no partisanship in my comment–you must understand language and how words enter the lexicon. I could have used “pharisaical”, but then you would have accused me of anti-semitism. Gary’s design is good, but it just didn’t follow the rules. Please feel free to show me otherwise.

  • Adam

    I’m very excited for this rifle. Now if only I could find .22lr ammo to shoot…

  • Lt Dan

    Great practical design, congrats to the submitter. A concept that should sell good. However I was hoping Ruger would go with a more classic style for their 50th Anniv model.

  • ArizonaPT

    Wow! Wow! Gary, I had no idea you put so much thought into the design. Logical, practical, affordable. Very, very nice. I admit, I did not vote for your design. However, were you able to provide all of the above justification I surely would have. Nice job shooter.

  • Ross

    I don’t like it. Too bulky. Not the slim, easy carry, woods rifle that the 10/22 was famous for.

  • Kivaari

    I want one. It is what it should have been, years ago. This will go under the Lucid HD7 sight that I bought. Then I wont feel bad for having this new optic sitting on a shelf. Very nice design.