Ruger 10/22 Review 2021: The Cheapening…

Ruger 10/22 Review 2021: The Cheapening…

What are the central tenants of a good firearm? I think there are two *basic* tenants. 1) The rifle hits what it’s aimed at. 2) The rifle shoots when you tell it to. So basically it’s accurate and reliable. From this standpoint, a rifle accurate enough to hit your target and to do so reliably every time the trigger is pulled is all you really need. Then there are the details. The numerous details… The gravy. Gravy adds to the flavor. Turkey meat will keep you fed, but the dressing, the gravy, and the cranberries make you happy.

I recently acquired a 2020-2021 production 10/22… functionally it’s what a firearm should be, but is the turkey is missing the gravy?

Are *We* Making Chineseum?

The 10/22 is, was, and remains a “good” gun. When we look further past the central tenants of a good gun, things don’t seem as simple. The modern 10/22 has cost-cutting measures everywhere. I am a bit disappointed in the changes, as I have an authentic 1980s 10/22 to compare with. I also handled no less than 5 different current production models for comparison at the local shop and purchased one to keep for my disappointment.

The Changes:

The trigger guard and housing is plastic.

The finish is not anodized aluminum, but rather some type of paint or enamel.

The wood on standard models feels like balsa. The 1980’s era stock feels more substantial.

The barrel clamp ring is now plastic.

On my model: the synthetic stock appears horrendous and the printed camo pattern fades around areas of minute details such as near the diamond pattern of the grips.  White can be seen. Raw nylon? Primer?

The metal vs plastic barrel band. No thank you.

What Didn’t Change:

The barrel and sights appear to be exactly the same save for nitride instead of bluing?

The action feels as smooth as my 1980s example. This is nice as my old Ruger has miles and miles on it.

The trigger feels consistent with the 1980s Ruger. It feels different but not enough for me to lean one way or the other.

Threaded barrel available on some models. Nice.

What Improved:

The mag release is a paddle instead of a button.

The barrel is threaded (on some models).

The bolt carrier has a laser engraved “Ruger” in case you forget which brand you are shooting during clearance drills.

Aftermarket magazines are available from Ruger. Now that Bill’s dead and the powers that be at Ruger put pure profit the value of the Second Amendment on the pedestal they released nice factory 15 and 25 round magazines. Big improvement over the old Ram Lines.

It Says “Ruger”. Take the 5 cents off laser engraving production and spend it on 1/125th of an aluminum barrel band.

Why Did You Do Dis:

Because if no one holds a manufacturer accountable then things will continue to cheapen and deteriorate. I grew up with the 10/22 in my hands. I know how it shoots. I know how it feels. The modern 10/22 is a downgrade is fit and finish across the board. I’m not a firearm connoisseur. I buy guns all the time knowing that I will fix issue X Y or Z. It simply hurts to see a degradation in fit and finish on such an iconic rifle.

The primer peeks out in many places under the surface paint.

I personally buy most of the kit you see on this blog, so I can share my opinions freely… The 10/22 is a reliable, albeit poorly finished .22 compared to it’s predecessors. Both the base model and polymer stocked models look as of the attention to detail was an afterthought.

Dat gap tho.

Ruger should reduce the 10/22 lineup to a few base models and roll costs into revamping the quality of the furniture and components. I mean the Ruger ‘Murican flag Vote 2020 edition makes my loins tight and all, but it won’t have the same effect when the plastic has yellowed and the flag has worn off and the barrel band and trigger was eaten by a squirrel during the great boog of 2045.

That was cute Ruger, now make the “Your Vote Didn’t Matter So Take This Badass, Quality, Multi-Generational Edition 10/22.”

Ruger set our 10/22 free. Clean the lineup. Keep a few. Restore the foundation.

Why did you buy this den?

You no like? Why den you buy dis?

Thanks for asking RockDog. I’ll tell you why. The 10/22 is still a trouble-free rimfire that shoots when you tell it to and hits where it’s aimed. So long as that remains unchanged in that regard, the 10/22 may continue coasting on its timeless, reliable design. Also, it’s $250 ish. So there’s dat.

Is That All?

Not quite. No not quite. I feel for Gen Z as their 10/22 is inferior to the Ruger of yesteryear… But being too late to the game doesn’t mean you can’t roll your own. We’re going to fix it. We’re going to make it better. Next up, Accuracy evaluation, and a few upgrades to give you a rimfire you will be proud to pass down.

Series, enter stage right:

The Rimfire Rifleman

Written by lothaen


  1. Rick · March 19, 2021

    I know exactly how feel about the 10/22. I have a Sporter model purchased in 1976. It has a walnut stock with checkering. It’s 100% reliable, even with subsonic ammo and will put five shots on your thumbnail at 50 yards. They really don’t build them the way they used to.

  2. ST · March 19, 2021

    Shame. Looking forward to the next episode.

  3. Cadca · March 22, 2021

    I hate to but agree now that some Global Corporatist owns Ruger, they are not in the business of making guns. They are in the business of making money and maximizing profit! They may decide to strip out all the equity and sell of the label and scraps next week to a pallet manufacturer next week who wants access to their wood supplier or some European Conglomerate who wants to buy out the competition or some such. CZ bought Colt for their military and police business, will they cheapen the other Colts to zinc castings, quit making them all together, to make CZ the only choice. Bill Ruger cheapened his gun designs as much has practical with the then current tech but still wanted a gun not what we see today. I’m positive he would not go along with it. It will cost the Ruger brand in the market place, in the long run but the “Investors” will have made their percentage, their profits and sell Ruger and invest in Chinese tooth picks. They have no commitment to product, reputation and long term survivability of Ruger firearms. They are living off their former glory/reputation and it won’t last. I’m not going to buy a Tiffany that is now made of plastic and a birch 2×4!.

  4. Ben Bow · March 22, 2021

    Thompson center makes a better 10/22 version that ruger does now. Admittedly, the rear sight fell off of mine, but SW mailed me a new one, NQA, not even a serial number, and since then, all has been great.

  5. RSR · July 25, 2021

    Many 10/22s don’t even have barrel bands anymore.

    Most recent I bought was circa ~2015 and barrels are black oxide or similar. Rusts too easily for nitride.

    Their camo stuff is all hydrodipped best as I can tell.

  6. Gary Johnson · August 28, 2022

    Has Ruger cheapened the 10/22 Sporter with plastic parts etc. or just the carbine versions?

  7. Dave C. · May 3, 2023

    I agree with the article and am hesitant to buy any more Ruger 10/22s without a very thorough inspection in the store. Even then, you can’t tell how the gun is going to function until you get to the range. What you get today in most Ruger firearms is either “hit or miss” in quality. It just varies from gun to gun. My local gun dealer has said the same thing, and has recently had to send sold GP100 revolvers back to Ruger for customers for timing issues causing “spitting lead” due to the cylinder not lining up exactly with the forcing cone when the hammer falls. I’ve seen SP101s where the cylinder lock plunger is very close to popping out due to over grinding of the frame there. There are all sorts of reports on gun websites of Ruger guns with canted sights, bad stock finish or other stock problems (like the photos in the article), poor accuracy, etc.

    The majority of guns are obviously OK, but Ruger’s philosphy now seems to be to rush production and let their decent customer service department deal with the bad guns that come off the line. I recently had to return a Ruger 10/22 BX trigger that was strangely way under their 2.5 lb to 3 lb trigger pull spec. Online reports from customers and vendors say the BX triggers actually range from just under two pounds to over four. All these quality control problems are silly because with modern “statistical process control” manufacturing techniques (used by mechanical engineers & techs everywhere), every gun could come off the line nearly perfect. In the past, Ruger probably assured this by simply inspecting every gun very well, and not shipping any that didn’t pass. Back then they would never have let the bad stock in the article be shipped with finish defects and the gap around the butt pad.

    Ruger is currently selling all sorts of models of the 10/22 including carbine, sporter, tactical and target, as well as several “dealer exclusives” that come out periodically with special features. Some of the dealer exclusives are oddballs like the 2020 Ruger 10/22 with a silly American flag stock. I believe the gun reviewed in the article is a regular production mmodel 31113 that has threaded barrel (good) but an odd poor-quality hydro-dipped winter camo stock that no one seems to want. However, reviews of the threaded barrels that Ruger is also selling separately vary from good to very poor, with a few reports of poor machining (even chips in the crown) and poor accuracy.

    Strangely Ruger has not not simply offered a model incorporating the features of the 50th Anniversary Design Contest Winner which had a threaded barrel, adjustable stock modules (for length of pull and height), sling swivels, and a combination of peep sights and scope rail (though they cheaped out on the rear peep sight). In contrast, Tech-Sights is now offering a superior aftermarket rail mounted peep sight.

    I have some Ruger catalogs from the 1980s and 1990s that describe the features as:
    “Stock is best quality American hardwood”
    “Hand checkered American walnut” (deluxe model)
    And you can tell from the photos that the barrel is gloss polished blue.

    As was written, the current wood stock seems to be some sort of mystery “hardwood,” that is lighter in weight than the birch stocks before (and walnut long ago) and has almost no grain compared to the stwo stocks I have from over 10 years ago. One I saw in the store with no grain had an odd redish tint to the stain. I don’t know what the “blued” barrel finish is anymore. The Ruger website just says “Finish: satin black.” Black what? Would any necessary touch up cold bluing of scratches that develop look terrible now?

    The polymer trigger group and barrel band aren’t a big deal to me since they are as strong as the aluminum and may have better tolerances, but yes they do look “plasticy,” compared to the old anodized aluminum. And strangely, the trigger pulls on the carbine models are all over the map from three pounds to six. With the new polymer trigger housing frame moulded correctly and decent tolerances on the sear and hammer, what may be causing this is variation in the stiffness of the trigger plunger spring (or hammer sspring) or possibly the depth that they are drilling the angled hole for the plunger spring. They should easily be able to maintain a standard five-pound crisp pull.

    It is all so disappointing.

  8. C Casey · September 1, 2023

    Would you pay 900 dollars for the older builds a new shorter is about 530 retail

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