At a Glance: Best Ruger 10/22 Models
Comparison of The Best Ruger 10/22 Models
Our Top Pick
|Ruger 10/22 Compact Rimfire Rifle||
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Our Top Pick
|Ruger 10/22 Classic French Walnut||
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Our Top Pick
|Ruger 10/22 Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate||
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If you’re looking for a great beginner rifle, the Ruger 10/22 is an excellent choice. As America’s most popular plinking rifle, there’s a lot to love here. Yet there are many 10/22 variants, with their own strengths and weaknesses. We’re about to review the best Ruger 10/22 models on today’s market.
Our Guide to the Six Best Ruger 10/22 Models Available Today
With so many options available, it’s tough to narrow our options down to a reasonable number. That said, we were able to choose six different Ruger 10/22 models representing the best of what the 10/22 has to offer. In no particular order, here are our six contenders.
Ruger 10/22 Compact Rimfire Rifle
The Ruger 10/22 Compact Rimfire Rifle is a no-frills 10/22 with a grey-green polymer stock, and it’s one of the most basic models. The plus side of this is that the Compact Rimfire Rifle is very affordable. It’s a great starter rifle for first-time shooters. And because the Ruger 10/22 is so popular, you can always upgrade it later on. Buy yourself a different stock or add a rail, and you’ll barely even recognize this rifle.
The polymer stock is reasonably lightweight, which makes it easy to carry in the field. The downside is that it makes the rifle a bit front-heavy, but let’s be clear. This is a 10/22, not a .308 hunting rifle or 28-inch bird gun.
When we say “front-heavy,” we mean “front-heavy for a lightweight plinking rifle.” Moreover, front-heavy isn’t always bad. A heavier muzzle reduces recoil, although once again that’s not much of a concern with a .22 long rifle.
One neat upgrade over the classic Ruger 10/22 is the sliding rear sight. This sight can easily be moved back and forth to adjust for range. With a bit of practice, you can switch from 25 to 50 to 100 yards in just a few seconds. Other than that, everything about the Compact Rimfire Rifle is the same as the original, right down to the blue steel barrel.
- No-frills, beginner-friendly design
- Adjustable sliding rear sight
- High-visibility gold front sight
- Ergonomic handguard
- Polymer stock
- A tad front-heavy
Ruger 10/22 Classic French Walnut
The Ruger 10/22 Classic French Walnut is a standard 10/22, with a full-length 18 ½-inch barrel. This offers slightly improved accuracy over the compact and sporter models. On the other hand, it also means you have a correspondingly longer and heavier rifle. Even so, at only 37 inches long and only 4 ½ pounds in weight, the Classic French Walnut 10/22 is still pretty small and light.
The main attraction here is in the name. The classic French walnut stock is gorgeous, with a polished finish that will stay fresh and lustrous for years if it’s properly maintained. It also lends excellent balance to the gun, which is neither too front-heavy nor too back-heavy.
The downside here, if you can call it that, is that all the other parts are vanilla 10/22 parts. There is a simple gold front pip and a rear folding sight, which isn’t ideal if you want to frequently change ranges. On the other hand, the design is easy to adjust with just a small standard screwdriver.
One advantage of a stock build is that there’s no obstacle to future upgrades. You can add a rail, upgrade the trigger, or install a modified receiver without any complications. So if you like the walnut stock, you can always add the other features you want later.
- Gorgeous walnut stock
- Standard, factory design is easy to upgrade
- Very good balance
- Stock folding sight is easy to adjust
- No significant upgrades other than the stock
- Accuracy can vary with temperature changes
Ruger 10/22 Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate
The Ruger 10/22 Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate is the most unique option. Now, the 10/22 is primarily a plinking rifle, regardless of the variant you buy. But the Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate turns that up to 11.
This is a purpose-built target shooting rifle, with a target grip and stock. This hollow design makes the gun front-heavy, which is a good thing for target shooting from a bench rest. On the other hand, that can also make the rifle harder to aim while standing up. It all depends what you’re trying to do.
The Ruger 10/22 Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate also has a pre-installed Picatinny rail. This makes it easy to mount a scope right out of the box. The downside is that there are no pre-installed iron sights. As a result, even if you don’t want a scope, you’ll need some kind of optics. In that case, a red dot sight should fit the bill nicely.
In the absence of rear iron sights, there’s no need for a front sight. Instead, the barrel is tipped with a built-in muzzle compensator. Considering the low recoil of a 10/22, the compensator only offers very slight reduction. But if nothing else, it certainly looks cool. The kit also includes a hard carrying case, which is a great added value if you’re taking your rifle on the road for competitions.
- Short, 16.12-inch carbine barrel
- Comes with built-in muzzle compensator
- Target shooting grip and stock
- Preinstalled Picatinny rail
- Includes a hard carrying case
- No iron sights
- A little bit front-heavy
Ruger 10/22 Sporter 18.5″ Fancy French Walnut Stainless
The Sporter line of Ruger 10/22 rifles are designed for better accuracy and a longer pull length. The advantage is that they’re better suited for larger people, since they feel a bit more like a full-sized rifle. On the other hand, they’re also heavier and longer when you’re carrying one in the field. This isn’t really a good thing or a bad thing. It’s just a matter of preference. Another advantage of the longer design is that it tends to be more stable and balanced than shorter 10/22s.
The stock is crafted from a beautiful walnut, with a durable, high-gloss finish. Be aware that this is a light walnut, with a pale gold color and deep brown grain. If you were expecting a more neutral, middle brown, this isn’t it. This is a light wood with bold highlights.
Along with the walnut stock, you get a stainless steel barrel that really catches the eye. This brings out the color in the wood far more than the 10/22’s ordinary blued steel barrel would. Other than that, the configuration is the same as the original 10/22. This includes the default folding sight, although you can install a rail in just a few minutes if you prefer something different.
- Beautiful walnut stock
- Eye-catching stainless steel barrel
- Long pull length
- Stable, well-balanced design
- Longer and heavier than most 10/22s
- Finish is lighter than most walnut
Ruger 10/22 Deluxe Sporter Rimfire Rifle – Wood Stock
The Ruger 10/22 Deluxe Sporter Rimfire Rifle – Wood Stock is another one of their Sporter line of rifles, as you may have guessed from the name. This means a long, heavy design, just like the last one we looked at. In fact, this is among the longest Ruger 10/22 builds on the market, with a total length of 40 inches. This makes it an ideal choice for taller individuals, although it’s correspondingly beefier if you’re on the short side.
Once again, we’re looking at a very stable design. The balance is superb, so you can easily fire accurate shots at 100 yards while standing. That makes for an ideal field gun, which is what the Deluxe Sporter is built for. On the other hand, this longer design can be a bit much for home defense. As is often the case, a lot depends on what you’re using the gun for.
Like the Fancy Walnut variant we just looked at, the Deluxe Sporter has a wood stock. However, instead of walnut, it’s carved from medium brown birch. This is a throwback to very early 10/22s, which featured a birch stock. The finish is mostly smooth, but you’ll find cross-hatching on both the fore and rear grips to keep your hands from slipping.
- Classic, checkered birch stock
- Upgraded ring fittings for a sling
- Long pull length
- Stable, well-balanced design
- Significantly longer than most 10/22s
- Front grip is not as ergonomic as some
Ruger 10/22 GoWild Rock Star Stock – 18.5″
The Ruger 10/22 GoWild Rock Star Stock – 18.5″ has two distinct features that make it stand out. The first is obvious at first glance, and it’s in the name. The polymer stock has a GoWild camo pattern that’s ideal for winter hunting. Of course, polymer does mean a slightly more front-heavy rifle, but the overall weight reduction is certainly worth considering.
The other advantage is less obvious from a web image. The ½-inch muzzle is threaded, and comes with a thread cap pre-installed. Unscrew the cap, and you can easily attach a ½-inch compensator or other muzzle device.
Other than that, the Rock Star is a standard Ruger 10/22, with an 18.5-inch barrel and a 37-inch overall length. It also features the same standard folding iron sights, and an upper receiver that’s pre-drilled and tapped for optics. As a result, it’s whatever you want it to be.
Cosmetically, the Rock Star is mostly built for camouflage. We already mentioned the GoWild camo stock, but it also features a dull blued steel barrel. This makes concealment easier than with a stainless steel barrel or generic stock. Of course, this assumes you’re trying to sneak up on varmints, which is a niche application. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for the sexiest 10/22 at the shooting range, there’s a lot to like here.
- GoWild camo stock
- Threaded muzzle with thread protector
- Rear folding sight is easy to adjust
- Stable design with good balance
- Polymer stock
- Not terribly attractive to look at
What To Know About Ruger 10/22
The Ruger 10/22 is the most popular .22 caliber rifle in America, and it isn’t even close. As a matter of fact, since the 10/22 first debuted in 1964, Ruger has sold over 6 million units. Its primary attribute is in the name. Regardless of what variant you’re looking at, you’re getting a 10-round magazine for .22lr cartridges. This rotary magazine forms the heart of the 10/22, and it’s a big part of what makes the gun so special.
The original 10/22 was actually produced as an afterthought. Ruger had just released a .44 Magnum carbine with a similar design, and the 10/22 was seen as a “starter” companion gun. The first Ruger 10/22s came with a blued 18.5-inch barrel, a folding rear sight, a gold bead front sight, and a high-quality aluminum alloy receiver. You’ll find all of these features today.
The original 10/22 came with either a birch or maple stock, referred to collectively as hardwood. Today, you can order the 10/22 with several types of stock, including polymer stocks, which weren’t available back in the 1960s.
In 1965, Ruger renamed the 10/22 as a carbine instead of a rifle, a designation that remains today. The 18.5-inch barrel also remains standard, although there are several barrel lengths available on today’s market.
The Ruger 10/22 is popular in large part because it’s an excellent rifle for beginners. It’s lightweight and offers minimal recoil, so you can focus on the basics. Not only that, but the rifles are affordable and the ammo is cheap. You can spend all afternoon plinking at the range for about the cost of a movie ticket. If you’re a beginner who wants to practice shooting, this low ammo cost is a major benefit.
In addition to all this, the 10/22 is easy to use and easy to keep clean. Anyone can learn to maintain and fire it in a single afternoon. This makes the 10/22 accessible to beginners who’ve never owned a gun before. It’s also convenient for experts, since you don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining your rifle.
To summarize, the Ruger 10/22 has the following benefits:
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Low recoil
- Low ammo cost
How To Pick The Best Ruger 10/22 For You
So, how do you know which Ruger 10/22 is the best for you? There are several different factors you should look at. Here are a few things you need to consider before you make a decision.
Based On Your Shooting Scenario
The first thing you need to consider is what kind of shooting you’re going to be doing. Depending on how you’re using the rifle, you’re going to want different features and different upgrades. In general, there are four applications for a Ruger 10/22.
Okay, so no matter how you’re going to use your 10/22, you’ll want to take it to the range at some point. But if you’re primarily looking for a plinking gun, look for a rifle that’s built foremost for accuracy. Other concerns don’t really matter if you’re sitting and shooting from a bench rest.
- Varmint hunting:
A .22lr is not a big enough caliber for ethical deer hunting. That said, there are plenty of animals you can hunt with a 10/22. You can shoot foxes, rabbits, beavers, and other small animals. For varmint hunting, look for a 10/22 variant that’s convenient to take out in the field, and which is easy to aim.
- Pest control:
Pest control is similar to varmint hunting, but you’re liable to be shooting at closer range — sometimes just a few feet. In this case, target acquisition is key. A shorter barrel with either iron sights or a red dot sight will be your best choice.
- Home defense:
Because the .22lr is a small caliber, it’s not generally most people’s first choice for home defense. That said, if you want to use your 10/22 for home defense, a shorter variant is better. This makes it more maneuverable in an indoor space.
Tapered Or Bull Barrel?
In general, there are two different types of rifle barrel:
- a tapered barrel
- a bull barrel.
In a tapered barrel, the outside diameter gets smaller towards the end of the barrel, or “tapers.” This reduces weight towards the front of the barrel, making it easy to fire while standing. It also makes the rifle easier to carry in the field, since the overall weight is lower.
However, when a gun is fired, the barrel’s heat becomes more sensitive to vibrations. The more times the weapon is fired, the more the barrel heats up, and the more it vibrates when you pull the trigger. The result is that you can lose accuracy after repeated firing.
A bull barrel, on the other hand, is the same thickness all the way down. This makes it more front-heavy, as well as heavier overall. However, because there’s more material in the barrel, it can absorb more heat before it loses accuracy. The front-heavy design is also beneficial for target shooting.
The Sporter line of 10/22s comes with tapered barrels, while most other variants come with bull barrels. That said, there’s a healthy aftermarket for both types of barrel in various lengths. So if you want to switch from bull to tapered or vice-versa, nothing is stopping you.
Length Of Pull
The pull length of a rifle is the measurement of the distance from the butt of the rifle to the trigger. The pull length tells you a lot about how a rifle is going to feel in your hands. The longer the pull length, the “bigger” the gun is going to feel. There’s not a ton of variation in pull length in the 10/22, but it’s still something you should be aware of.
There are four different pull lengths available for the Ruger 10/22:
- The Compact series has a pull length of 12.75 inches
- The Carbine series has a pull length of 13.5 inches
- The Target series has a pull length of 13.75 inches
- The Sporter series has a pull length of 13.88 inches
The stock material of a gun is another major consideration. In general, there are three types of stock: wood, polymer, and fiberglass. Let’s take a closer look at each of those materials.
Wood is the most long standing material, and has been used for gun stocks since the very first 15th-century arquebuses. Nowadays, wood is still a commonly-used material mostly because of looks. Let’s be honest, performance aside, nothing looks more beautiful than a polished wood stock.
Not only that, but wooden stocks actually work quite well. They’re generally heavy enough to balance out the barrel, so the gun isn’t quite so front-heavy. That said, wood expands and contracts a lot with temperature changes. This means you’ll have to adjust your sights more frequently with a wood-stocked gun.
Polymer stocks are injection-molded plastic, which makes them easy to mass-produce. Because they can be produced quickly in large numbers, they’re relatively cheap. However, they tend to be lightweight, which makes the gun a bit more front heavy. It also means you get less recoil reduction, but both of these factors aren’t major concerns on a .22 caliber rifle.
In recent years, fiberglass has come into use for some higher-end rifles. Fiberglass is similar to polymer in that it’s plastic, but the plastic is injected around a reinforcing fiber fabric shell. If you were to cut a fiberglass stock in half, you’d see a series of layers of plastic and fiber. This gives fiberglass excellent recoil reduction, and makes it virtually impervious to temperature changes.
|Different stock materials and their benefits|
Best Upgrade Ideas For Your Ruger 10/22
So, what if you want to modify your Ruger 10/22 to be even better? In that case, there are a few parts you can upgrade or add to improve your performance. Let’s take a closer look!
The stock trigger on a Ruger 10/22 is already pretty well-engineered for the price. However, there are aftermarket kits that allow you to replace it with something even better. With a drop-in aftermarket kit, you can reduce the pull weight, get a smoother break, or change from a curved to a straight trigger.
That said, drop-in kits can be expensive for what you get. A better alternative, if you’ve got the confidence, is to replace the individual parts instead. The two most important parts are the hammer and sear. For the cost of a couple boxes of ammo, you can get a custom trigger that greatly improves your gun’s performance.
Different Types of Sights
In general, there are three different types of sights you can use. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so a lot depends on what you’re going to use your gun for. Here’s a quick overview:
- Iron sights. Iron sights are the standard mechanical sights that are installed on most models of 10/22. They’re a versatile type of sight, but they require the most effort to learn to use. That said, once you’ve learned to use your iron sights, you’ll find that you’re a more skilled shooter than you would be learning with other types of sight.
- Scopes. A scope is a glass magnifying scope with an internal crosshair. Scopes are useful for shooting at long distances, where you need magnification. Keep in mind that a .22 caliber round is inherently a short-range round. A 4-7x magnification scope is all you’re ever going to need with a 10/22.
- Red dot sights. Red dot sights project a red dot onto a glass lens. When you look through the lens, the dot will always be over your target. Red dot sights allow for fast target acquisition, since you don’t have to squint through a scope or over iron sights. On the other hand, the dot is fairly large, so they’re not pinpoint accurate at long ranges.
|Different types of sights and their uses|
|Iron sight||Scope||Red dot sight|
|Home defense?||Good||Poor||Very good|
A compensator is a small cylinder with holes called ports around the perimeter. This cylinder is designed to reduce recoil, as well as muzzle flash. However, the .22 caliber is a low-powered round. There’s not much recoil or muzzle flash to begin with. That said, there are a couple of reasons you might want to use a compensator.
- Night hunting. At night, any amount of flash suppression is a good thing. If nothing else, you’re less likely to blind yourself by using a compensator.
- It looks cool. Is this a practical reason? No. But that never stopped anybody from outfitting their rifle the way they want to. And if you like the aesthetic, compensators are very affordable.
Replacement receiver parts can be either functional or aesthetic. Because the receiver is the heart of the firearm, there are a lot of options here. On the cosmetic side, you can switch from stainless to black and vice-versa.
On the practical side, there are a wide variety of options. For instance, you can get a longer charging handle for competitive shooting. You can also get the charging handle on the left hand side for left-handed shooters. Some receivers even come with a built-in Picatinny rail, so you don’t have to install one on your own.
As you can see, there’s no one universal “best” Ruger 10/22. A lot depends on which features are most important to you. For example, the Barracuda Green Mountain Laminate is a fantastic choice for target shooting. But the unusual design makes it less well-suited for varmint hunting or pest control.
If you want a great all-around 10/22, the Ruger 10/22 Classic French Walnut is your best choice. It has the same main components as the original 10/22, with a beautiful walnut stock. If you want to add optics or anything else down the road, it’s easy to do, and the Classic French Walnut rifle is highly versatile. Whether you’re plinking, hunting, or removing pests, you’ll be able to get the job done.