Ruger "American Flag" Collector's Series 10/22

American As Apple Pie And It Shows
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The Ruger Collector Series “Vote 2020” Special Edition 10/22. American
as apple pie, motherhood, cruising the strip on a Saturday night, the small
town greasy spoon — and rimfire rifles!

Ruger has made “well over” 7 million 10/22s of all sorts since their introduction in 1964. Each one is roughly 32″ long, depending on the model. Laid end-to-end, they’d stretch some 4,500-plus miles — very definitely on the plus side of that number. You could drive for two-and-a-half days — non-stop — at 70 mph and still barely be able to go from one end to the other. That’s a whole lotta’ 10/22s.

The Marlin Model 60 .22 beats it in sheer numbers (something akin to 9 million or so), but when you look around you sure don’t see any mods or after-market parts for the Model 60.

The lesson? Ruger built an entire industry around the 10/22 by accident. Because the barrel is easily removed and the entire design user-friendly to work on, legions love to customize them. Look at the Brownells’ catalog and you’ll see AR parts, 1911 parts — and 10/22 parts. Over the decades Ruger didn’t let a little bit of design excellence slip by them either. They’ve introduced the original Carbine, Competition, Compact, Sporters, Tactical, Target and the amazing Take Down models. There are also iterations of the “Charger” pistols and even countless special editions and special “Collector’s Series” like our test rifle. I’ve likely missed some too.

I’ve owned 10/22s of all sorts since the late 1960s. Each has been as reliable as a rock, affordable to buy, easy to maintain — if you choose to maintain it — and accurate enough to tally mountain-sized piles of plinked targets, dancing cans, weekend competitions, tasty rabbits and just plain fun. If you said “American as apple pie” and substituted “10/22” for pie you wouldn’t be far off the mark.
But how’d all this actually happen?

Bill The Inventor

In 1963 Bill Ruger figured a lightweight “carbine” in .22 LR would sell. Being Bill Ruger, he was right. His success with his Standard Auto in .22 established the company and Bill was branching out constantly.

A bit of history is in order here. Fortunately, my old friend Walt Kuleck, was kind enough to give me his book, The Ruger 10/22 Complete Owner’s and Assembly Guide (Scott-Duff.com) a few years ago. Walt’s book on various guns are always a fun read and besides the nuts and bolts, he always gets into the history — much of which can be surprising.

As It Was In This Case

In WWII, Mr. Ruger spent time at Auto Ordnance designing a gun — Bill was a brilliant designer, in the same category as “His Browningness,” John Moses. Interestingly enough, Auto Ordnance made M1 Carbine receivers for IBM for the war effort. Hold that thought.

As the .22 Carbine project came together for Bill, I think it’s obvious he called on his experiences with the .30 Carbine for some design ideas. When you first lay eyes on a 10/22 it’s easy to see the .30 Carbine lines hiding in plain sight. Indeed, there are conversion kits today turning a 10/22 into a convincing “GI” Carbine, good enough to need to take two or three more looks just to make sure it’s not.

Ruger’s ground-breaking “.44 Magnum Carbine” was introduced in 1961. Called the “Deerstalker” the stock is a dead-ringer for the later 10/22 stock. Indeed, it looks the same because it is the same — exactly. Except for inletting to accommodate the different actions, the stock is identical. Now for another bit of interesting history — the stock was made by the S.E. Overton company. Guess what they made in WWII? Yup — .30 Carbine stocks. Bill was an original thinker but he was also sly enough to take advantage of existing technology.

This also explains why I’ve always felt the 10/22’s original style wooden stock was always a bit too thick through the grip area — just like a .30 Carbine’s stock.

The attractively-etched bolt of the Flag-motif 10/22 notes it is part of the
Collector’s Series. This Collector Series 10/22 comes equipped with a receiver
Picatinny rail for mounting your favorite scope or red dot optic. Roy also likes
the integral accuracy-enhancing adjustable ghost ring sight.

A Tidbit Or Two More

According to Walt’s book, Ruger also experimented with a couple of pretty darn innovative calibers for the .44 platform. Both based on the .45-70 case, one would have a .357 bullet and one a .40. Two guns were built, but alas, Ruger couldn’t get any ammo makers to buy into it. It’s definitely in the “What could have been” category and I’m calling out Ruger to look into it again! Please.

Ruger designed lever action versions of the 10/22 in the 1990s but they sort of came and went. They also made the “10/22 Magnum” from 1998 to about 2006 but discontinued it. I had heard it was a tough cartridge to contain in the action, at least it was the gossip at the time, but I also confess I’m surprised it wasn’t sorted out and brought back.

The 10/22 is famous for its rotary magazine. The standard 10-rounder
stays flush to the bottom but there is a whole universe of after-market
magazines holding up to 70 rounds of .22 LR.

Today’s Generation

Ford brought us the Mustang in 1964, the same year the 10/22 was introduced, and I’m guessing both caused the same sort of stir — the Mustang among the young-at-heart car enthusiasts and the 10/22 among the shooting fraternity. It exploded across the gun press and soon Ruger was churning them out. Priced at $54 initially, today’s basic 10/22 is in the $300 range. Interestingly enough, the $54 original price translates into about $450 today so while it sounds “cheap” today, it wasn’t. In this case you got a high-quality, well-designed .22 semi-auto — for what might have been close to a month’s wage in ’64.

The original 10-shot rotary mag is still used, with just a touch of design changes. There’s still no bolt-lock back on the final shot and it’s still a simple blow-back action. Our test gun, while treated with an eye-catching flag theme, seems to essentially be a standard .22 Carbine with synthetic stock. But Ruger has tossed in some very practical and fun accessories.

The sights have been upgraded to an adjustable ghost ring rear mounted integrally into a Picatinny-type rail, coming pre-installed. The front is a “winged” protected blade (think .30 Carbine again folks), and the muzzle is threaded for what Ruger whimsically calls a “muzzle accessory.”

The rifle features a threaded muzzle for your favorite accessory, plus
a protected blade front sight clearly channeling the venerable .30 Cal. Carbine.

Test Gun Touches

The box has a metal sign — also themed red, white and blue — saying “Ruger Vote 2020” which we all hope you did. The barrel is 18.5″ and is of the new hammer-forged type, done in-house by Ruger. Rifling is 1:16″ (RH) and the barrel finish is a nice satin black but I’ll be honest and say I can’t tell if it’s blued or some sort of baked or other magic finish. It’s handsome nonetheless.

Other controls are standard 10/22, with a cross-bolt push-button safety and mag release lever. You can lock the bolt back by pressing the bolt lock lever under the action, releasing it the same way. The trigger housing is glass-filled polymer and while not the old-school aluminum, it’s evidently more stable and rugged. Such is life today, eh?
My trigger pull gauge showed right at a 4-lb., 10-oz. average over 10 pulls, which is a tad lighter than the “5 to 6 lbs.” commonly cited. But alas, in typical 10/22 fashion it’s gritty and creepy. But fortunately there’s a slew of after-market drop-in kits, parts and shops all able to give you a crisp, match-grade trigger. And like all things, the more you pay the better it gets. One drop-in “chassis” kit I have from Powder River Precision delivers a crisp 2-lb. pull feeling like a well-tuned 1911 match trigger. It’s worth it, trust me, changing the entire shooting experience.

Otherwise the sample rifle didn’t deliver any surprises, other than the fact the combination of the sights and installed rail made it very easy to scope it or just shoot it with irons. I’ve always found the standard flip-up Ruger open rear and blade front to be crude at best and will never allow most of us to shoot up to the rifle’s ability.

The trigger, like most 10/22s, is adequate but there are numerous after-market
upgrades available such as drop-in units from Powder River Precision.

Shooting

The test rifle seemed to have a bit of an edge on most of the stock 10/22s I’ve shot on targets. Most will deliver in the 1.5" to 2.5" range at 50 yards, with 3" (or even a bit bigger) fairly common if you’re using the stock open sights. The ghost ring rear and bold front on the Flag rifle helped me to get 1.5" to 1.75" groups depending on the load. I found good old CCI Mini-Mag HP ammo (as opposed to the round nosed) paired up neatly and gave group after group in that 1.25" to 1.5" range at 50 yards. I swear this was ammo was made for Ruger’s 10/22 carbines specifically!

I scoped the Flag rifle with one of Skinner Sights’ new very affordable hunting scopes. For around $279 you get the 1x6 scope (with 30mm tube) and mounts, with a rail to fit many rifles. I merely unlocked the quick lock mounts and moved it to the rail on the Flag rifle from another rifle. Presto, about two minutes and the scope was on. After zeroing, I re-shot it at 50 yards.

Presto … suddenly I saw some 1" groups and even a couple a tad smaller. But I was also reminded of how a good rear aperture can shoot close to a scope at the 50 to 100 yard range. Out of curiosity, I fired 50 .22 CCI Mini-Mags at one target at 50 yards and ended up with a total group of 1.4" — mostly thanks to my aged eyes and the trigger pull! I suspect with a good trigger and better eyes (and the right ammo) this is easily a reliable 1" 50-yard gun. This could allow you to remind the neighborhood squirrels to “Say hello to my leetle friend.”

Finishing Up

MSRP for the Flag rifle (complete with the “Collector’s Series” logo on the bolt) is right at $369. I’d very definitely do something about the trigger with a drop-in kit or professional trigger work of some sort. I’d also add some sort of red dot or cross-hair optic if you’d like to take advantage of what might just be a real tack-driver if you get a bit lucky in the draw.

I’ve grown accustomed to this enthusiastically American Flag rifle leaning against my desk this past month or so and find I just can’t let it go back to Ruger.

Say hello to my new little friend!

Ruger.com

SkinnerSights.com

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