Best Ruger 10/22: Buyer’s Guide

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There are many iterations of America’s favorite rimfire, but this buyer’s guide will help you find the best Ruger 10/22 for you.

The Ruger 10/22 and its many variants are some of the most prolific semi-automatic rimfire firearms in existence and are loved by novice and experienced shooters alike.

The name 10/22 refers to the practical aspects of the rifle, with the “10” referring to its standard magazine capacity and the “22” referring to its .22 LR chambering. Of course, higher capacity magazines are available today such as the BX-15 and BX-25, holding fifteen and twenty-five rounds respectively.

The rifle has also been offered in other chamberings in the past, but those models are now discontinued.

The 10/22 design has established itself as a reliable firearm, a particularly important trait for semi-automatic rimfire rifles as they can be picky when it comes to ammunition, often requiring high-velocity loads to ensure proper function.

Ruger has utilized the 10/22 as the basis for a myriad of rifle designs and it even appears in pistol form as the 22 Charger line of products. Essentially, regardless of your needs, there’s a Ruger 10/22 model out there for you.

Classic-Ruger-10-22-RIA
A classic Ruger 10/22 Carbine with stainless steel finish and scope. Photo: Rock Island Auction.

Ruger 10/22 History And Popularity:

The classic Ruger 10/22 has been in production since 1964, and it quickly became a rimfire staple due to its reliable magazines and semi-automatic action. Other semi-automatic rimfire rifles existed before the 10/22, notably the Marlin Model 60, but without features like the ten-shot rotary magazine.

Over time, the Ruger 10/22 has evolved to fit the needs of shooters. Improvements such as the addition of an extended magazine release button and the drilling and tapping of receivers at the factory are notable changes that have become standard on most 10/22 models. To supplement the drilled and tapped receivers, most 10/22s today ship with an optic mount that accommodates both Weaver-style and .22 tip-off mounting solutions.

This rifle’s popularity has led to it becoming one of the most imitated and cloned designs on the market, and it is currently possible to piece one together without using any Ruger-made parts. The fact that the design is so prolific, both in factory and clone form, is a testament to the 10/22’s lasting popularity.

Custom-Volquartsen-1022-1
A custom Ruger 10/22 Carbine with Volquartsen upgrade parts. Photo: Rock Island Auction.

Ruger 10/22 Modularity:

It is no hyperbole to say that the 10/22 sits alongside the AR-15 and Glock when it comes to the sheer degree of modularity inherent to the design. Nearly every component of the 10/22 can be replaced with an aftermarket part. Triggers, stocks, barrels, receivers, you name it.

The simple barrel removal process accommodates a wide array of barrels on the aftermarket, including integrally suppressed and takedown versions. The inclusion of threaded barrels and drilled and tapped receivers allows for one to acquire a wide variety of muzzle devices and optic mounts as well.

The 10/22 has a considerable number of products that support the design, comprised of both factory and aftermarket options. Even rimfire giants such as Volquartsen and Kidd make a litany of parts for the 10/22 design, allowing users to incorporate high-performance parts into their Ruger rifles.

The 10/22 design can also be dressed up to mimic the appearance of other firearms, such as the M1 Carbine, HK G36 or FN P90. When it comes to customizing a 10/22, you can truly tinker to your heart’s desire.

High-Tower-Armory-1022-P90-Kit
The P90-style Ruger 10/22 conversion kit from High Tower Armory.

Ruger 10/22 Applications:

The 10/22 is very useful in a variety of different roles and applications. They are always excellent options for training due to their low recoil impulse, ability to be shot easily and affordable ammunition. The value of the 10/22 as a trainer applies to new and experienced shooters alike.

New shooters will be treated to a pleasant shooting experience that is not overwhelming and allows them to hone and practice their skills peacefully. Experienced shooters will be able to focus on their shooting fundamentals and maintain their basic skills while shooting on the cheap.

While not a true 1:1 trainer like the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22, the tactical, pistol grip-equipped variants of the 10/22 can serve as a means for shooters to familiarize themselves with and practice with something analogous to a tactical carbine.

10-22-Trainer-VS-SW-MP15-22
A Ruger 10/22 with aftermarket carbine stock Vs. a S&W M&P 15-22.

Naturally, the 10/22 is an amazing choice for plinking too. The availability and affordability of the ammunition cannot be understated and enables hours upon hours of enjoyment at the range.

When it comes to hunting, the 10/22 is also an excellent choice for dispatching small game. In the field, the lightweight nature of the 10/22 and its ammunition becomes especially appreciable. Furthermore, many 10/22 configurations such as takedown and compact models lend themselves well to survival and trekking roles.

While rimfire firearms are generally not recommended for self-defense, the 10/22 can fill this role in a pinch if necessary. Having a gun is better than not having one after all. There are many reasons why something like a .22 LR firearm is less than ideal for self-defense, so one should not consider the 10/22 as a primary means of protection.

Essentially, the Ruger 10/22 and its many variants are incredibly versatile and can be utilized in a variety of roles and activities. It is quite probable that Ruger already offers a 10/22 that fits your desired needs, but if not, the rifle’s modularity will ensure that you can make one that checks all of your boxes.

Ruger 10/22 Buyer's Guide:

To illustrate the wide variety of options when it comes to 10/22s, here is a list of ten options that appeal to a variety of different shooting styles. This list is only a small sampling of the options offered by Ruger.

Certain models were excluded in favor of the more common and desirable ones, so just know that things like left-handed and distributor-exclusive versions exist as well. Without further ado, let’s talk 10/22s.

Ruger 10/22 Compact (Model 31114):

Ruger-31114

The compact nature of this model comes from its 16.12-inch barrel (shorter than the standard 18.5-inch barrel) and the inclusion of the Ruger Modular Stock System. The length of pull and cheek weld can be adjusted with the use of various modules.

This modularity allows the rifle to accommodate a wider variety of shooters. Another departure from traditional 10/22s is the sights, as the 10/22 Compact ships with a set of fiber optic sights for quicker target acquisition. The shorter barrel and use of plastic furniture allow the Compact model to be less expensive than the standard 10/22 too, making it a great value option whether you appreciate the extra compactness or not. MSRP: $369.00

Ruger 10/22 Carbine (Model 1103):

Ruger-1022-Carbine

If you’re looking for a classic-style 10/22 that provides the closest look to the original model, this is certainly it. This is a no-frills rimfire rifle that comes with everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The rifle is equipped with a simple yet effective sight setup that features a gold bead on the front sight post. If you wish to put a scope on the rifle, this can be easily done as well using the included scope base. This may be the most basic 10/22 model, but it’s also the most timeless. MSRP: $379.00

Ruger 10/22 Carbine (Model 1256):

Ruger-1256

This model is essentially identical in function to the standard 10/22 Carbine, but is made with more functional materials. Rather than wood and blued metal, this variant features a stainless-steel barrel and receiver and a synthetic stock.

The included optic mount features a similar finish that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The stainless-steel barrel and action provide the rifle with a higher degree of resistance to rust and corrosion. The synthetic stock also lends itself to reducing the overall weight of the package while being more resistant to the elements as well. Beyond the stainless-steel treatment, this rifle is still a traditional 10/22 carbine that adheres closely to the classic design. If you want an all-weather Ruger 10/22 for taking into the field, this is the ticket. MSRP: $419.00

Ruger 22 Charger (Model 4938):

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The 22 Charger is essentially a pistol configuration of the 10/22. The 10-inch barrel makes for one compact weapon, and it features 1/2×28 threads that will accommodate a myriad of different muzzle devices. Even with a suppressor attached, the 22 Charger is still appreciably shorter and handier than the rifle variants.

A provision for attaching a stabilizing brace is present at the rear of the 22 Charger in the form of a Picatinny mount should you wish to have more support while shooting. The 22 Charger also includes a bipod that can further stabilize the pistol when shooting from a supported position. The included BX-15 magazine sports five more rounds than the common BX-1 magazines and will not interfere with the use of a bipod when in the pistol. This pistol is a great choice for those who want a 10/22 in a tight and compact package. MSRP: $419.00

Ruger 10/22 Carbine (Model 31143):

Ruger-31143

This 10/22 is a standard carbine model that Ruger offers with a factory-mounted scope. The included Viridian EON 3-9×40 scope sits atop the optic mount that accompanies a vast majority of 10/22s from the factory. As a carbine model, the factory sights are still present should you wish to ditch the scope and use traditional iron sights.

This scoped variant of the 10/22 also includes a Ruger-branded hard case and ditches the usual white cardboard box. This package represents a great value for a prospective 10/22 buyer as it not only includes an optic, but also a more rugged means of transportation and protection for the rifle. MSRP: $439.00

Ruger 10/22 Takedown (Model 31152):

Ruger-31152

This takedown variant of the 10/22 features Magpul’s X-22 Backpacker stock. As its name suggests, the X-22 stock was designed with backpacking in mind. The stock has a provision for storing three BX-1 magazines, and a storage compartment is also present in the grip that can accommodate things such as batteries, a bore snake or tools.

The use of stainless steel in the barrel and receiver also protects the rifle from the elements, making it a hardy companion in the field. The threaded barrel makes it easy for one to equip this carbine with a suppressor too, a great extra option for hunters. The set of fiber optic sights is a welcome inclusion as well.

This model would make an excellent choice for a survival rifle as it is lightweight and compact both when deployed and stowed. Whether it’s for the field or simply a more compact storage solution when packing for a range trip, the 10/22 Takedown in Magpul’s X-22 stock fits the bill. MSRP: $659.00

Ruger 22 Charger Lite (Model 4935):

Ruger-4935

The 22 Charger Lite from Ruger takes the standard 22 Charger design and makes it more portable. Its 10-inch, cold hammer-forged barrel can be easily removed, and it’s tensioned in an aluminum alloy barrel sleeve that has been ported to further cut down on weight. The muzzle is threaded 1/2×28 and a Picatinny-style rail at the rear of the 22 Charger Lite allows one to install a stabilizing brace.

The 22 Charger Lite shines as a truly compact and stowable solution as it benefits from both its inherently small package and the ability to be broken down even further. MSRP: $719.00

Ruger 10/22 Target (Model 21186):

Ruger-21186

This 10/22 variant is optimized for target shooting. The black laminate wood stock features a thumbhole design that lends itself well to improving the rifle’s ergonomics. Ruger also includes their BX-Trigger in their 10/22 Target rifle, an improvement over the base model. The BX-Trigger breaks at 2.5 to 3 pounds, features a crisp reset and reduces overtravel significantly.

The 10/22 Target is a great choice for those who wish to squeeze as much accuracy out of their rig as possible. Essentially, this rifle will make for a precision-oriented rimfire rig that will allow you to shoot on the cheap. Throw a scope on this rifle and enjoy. MSRP: $769.00

Ruger 10/22 Takedown Lite (Model 21152):

Ruger-21152

This 10/22 rifle has received Ruger’s “Lite” treatment, meaning it was purpose-built to reduce weight without sacrificing quality, reliability or performance. The 16.12-inch alloy steel barrel is tensioned in an aluminum sleeve, reducing weight on the front end. Additionally, the sleeve features porting to further reduce weight and aid in cooling.

The inclusion of Ruger’s Modular Stock System allows the end-user to set the rifle up with a length of pull and cheek weld that fits them best. Like most conventional takedown models, this rifle includes a Ruger-branded carrying case that neatly stores the barrel and action in their own compartments. MSRP: $809.00

Ruger 10/22 Competition (Model 31120):

Ruger-31120

This 10/22 variant is feature-packed from the Ruger Custom Shop and sports significant upgrades from the traditional design. Ruger’s BX-Trigger is included in the 10/22 Competition and provides a crisp and consistent trigger pull. The stock features a fully adjustable cheek rest that can be tuned to a shooter’s body to provide the most consistent and comfortable cheek weld when shooting.

The bolt release has been upgraded to a match-style release that is larger and more ergonomic than the traditional one. The receiver features an integrated 30-MOA Picatinny rail that will accommodate a variety of optics. The cold hammer-forged and fluted bull barrel lends itself well to repeatable and consistent accuracy. The rifle includes a hard case and a Ruger Custom Shop certificate of authenticity, a challenge coin, cleaning cloth and decal as bonus items for your purchase. In short, this rifle is a premium offering from Ruger and allows you to purchase a heavily upgraded 10/22 straight from the manufacturer. MSRP: $929.00

For more information, please visit ruger.com.

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