The Ruger 10/22 Rifle: A Survival Cameleon

Have you ever asked yourself the question – “If I only had 1 _ _ _ _ _ _ (fill in the blank) – what would it be?”    It’s a good exercise.  Doing this helps you to apply a hierarchy to your gear.  Should you ever need to pick up and go quickly, already knowing what gear is on the top of your list can help facilitate the packing process and eliminate wasteful decision making time.

In this case, “If I only had 1 survival rifle, what would it be?”  It’s true, the answer to this question does vary on the situation.  However, in general, my # 1 Survival Rifle pick is the Ruger 10/22.  The Ruger 10/22 has a long rich history and is a very popular .22 rifle.  It is incredibly versatile and breaks down with only 1 set screw.  This 1 screw is the only piece that holds the barrel & trigger assembly to the stock.  Because of this very simple design (and it’s popularity), there are literally 100′s of aftermarket accessories available for the 10/22.  Ultimately, below are my top 5 reasons why the 10/22 is my # 1 Survival Rifle Pick:

  • Impressive assortment of aftermarket accessories & replacement parts readily available
  • 1 Set Screw Breakdown – Making it very ‘packable’
  • Time & Field Tested
  • Uses .22 caliber ammunition: cheap, easy to store & very effective on 99% of wild game
  • Performance: Very reliable & very accurate

The Ruger 10/22 is flat out just a fun gun to own – mainly because of  the huge assortment of aftermarket accessories that you can buy for it.  Just swapping out a few accessories on your Ruger 10/22 can make it feel like a Brand New gun.  You can outfit a Ruger 10/22 to meet the demands of different environments as well as your own personal style.

For this reason, I call the 10/22 a SURVIVAL CAMELEON. 

The Ruger 10-22: A Survival Cameleon

The Ruger 10-22: A Survival Cameleon

Below are 3 ‘sets’ I occasionally use with my Ruger 10/22.

SET # 1: The Classic BushCraft Hunter (Creek’s Preferred Set)

Ruger 10-22: Classic Bushcraft Hunter

Ruger 10-22: Classic Bushcraft Hunter

This is pretty much what an ‘off-the-shelf’ Ruger 10/22 looks like with a wooden stock.  No frills – just a classic rifle look.  I’ve added a sling for extended carry but other than that it’s pretty basic.  In my opinion there is no need for a scope on the 10/22.  With practice I find the iron sights are so accurate I’ve never bothered to spend the $$$.  Besides I like the classic look.

SET # 2: The Urban Commando

Ruger 10-22: The Urban Commando

Ruger 10-22: The Urban Commando

See what I mean by ‘the feeling that you have a NEW GUN’.  It doesn’t even look the same.  This black fiberglass urban style stock gives the Ruger 10-22 a completely different look and feel.  These style stocks are durable and pretty much resistant to abuse of any kind whereas the original wood stocks can scratch and scuff pretty easy.  This change-out takes about 30 seconds.  These fiberglass stocks also do very well in wet conditions.  There are literally 100′s of different stocks available for the 10/22.  They range in price from under $100 to over $500.

Set # 3: Compact & Tactical

 

Ruger 10-22: Compact=

Ruger 10-22: Compact & Tactical

 

As you can see, this same 10/22 is now outfitted with a Tactical Folding Stock which makes it extremely compact and packable for tight situations.  Besides different stock options, there are 100′s of other accessories you can buy to outfit your 10/22.  You can see a few of these in the photo above.  I’ve added a red dot scope and also some high cap magazines.  I’ve even seen 50 round drum magazines designed for the 10/22.  If you can imagine it, someone is probably selling it for the 10/22.

Ruger 10-22: Folding Stock Extended

Ruger 10-22: Folding Stock Extended

It’s hard to imagine that this gun is the same one as the one in the first photo.  From a shooting performance perspective, they are all the same.  However, it can be really fun to create these different styles based on your mood or environment.

Ruger 10-22: 3 Stock Options

Ruger 10-22: 3 Stock Options

 

Because I consider my 10/22 a true survival gun, I keep spare parts on hand.  In the 10+ years (and 1000s of rounds later) I’ve owned my 10/22 I’ve never had to replace a working part but I keep them on hand just in case there comes a day when parts and pieces aren’t so readily available.  This is good practice for any of your guns you think might be with you if times get tough.

What are your thoughts on the Ruger 10/22?  Is it your favorite?  If not, why?  Or…what is?

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek

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Additional Resources:

There are many different web-sites that sell 10/22 accessories.  I have listed a couple below:

http://www.rimfiresports.com

http://www.cabelas.com

http://www.brownells.com

http://www.midwayusa.com

Comments

  1. I also like http://www.cheaperthandirt.com. They have a lot of 10/22 accessories too.

  2. Great addition Todd – I totally forgot them.

  3. Dreamcatcher says:

    This is a very convincing article. Although I don’t own a firearm, I think this looks like it would be a good place to start.

    I am a bit confused about the prices I saw when I looked it up – ranging everywhere from $200 to over $600. What’s the difference? They are all essentially the same rifle made by the same company just with different stock options. Not to sound too ignorant but aside from how cool they may look how does the difference between a wood stock, a plastic stock, and a fiberglass stock constitute such a price variance? Can the rifle be purchased without a stock too (I didn’t see any for sale) as it seems that would be the price to base accessory costs off.

    Also, how would you compare this to a Henry US survival .22?

    DC

    • DC-

      As always – thanks for your comments. The .22 is a great place to start. It’s also a fairly inexpensive gun to own. You are right, the prices for a Ruger 10-22 do vary. The price variations are typcially from different barrel and stock configurations. The 10-22 is a very popular target shooting rifle and because of this many come with ‘high end’ target barrels which can jack the price up quite a bit. If I remember correctly I paid $169 for the one you see in the pics and that one came with the wood stock. I bought the extra stocks seperately. Pretty much any gun store or sporting goods store will carry the 10-22.

      I also own the Henry US Survival Rifle. It’s a great gun. The stock, though, is made from plastic and I always feel the need to baby it a bit because of that. It does float, though, which is pretty cool. You really can’t buy any extra accessories for the Henry US like you can the Ruger. While the Henry US is a very novel and creative idea, I much prefer the Ruger. And, they aren’t much different in price. The Henry does pack up very well with the barrel fitting back into the stock for storage. The Ruger feels more substantial and at least for me is more accurate. Though I prefer the Ruger, I’d be thrilled to have either of them in a true survival situation.

      Hope my 2 cents here is useful.
      Creek

      • John says:

        That sounds like they copied the Armalite survival rifle issued to pilots back in the day. It had a great rep & was an excellent idea.

  4. Hill60 says:

    I love my 10-22, my daughter has become quite proficient with it too! Like most firearms, we’ve found that it responds well to certain brands of ammunition, providing nice tight groups, while other brands tend to open up a bit. Another good reason to try multiple brands is that we’ve discovered that a certain well-known manufacturer tends to be prone to mis-fires. (In the Ruger and my little Beretta 21).

    And finally, a semi-auto is really only as good as the magazine that feeds it, so we’ve purchased a number of factory-made extras to fall back on – inexpensive and good insurance. I have an older “banana” style magazine that works flawlessly, but some of my more recent high-capacity purchases have been disappointing – so be sure to test your magazines for function too!

    The bottom line: You really can’t go wrong with a 10-22. It’s a great rifle for all ages!

  5. neil says:

    I’ve found for myself I MUCH prefer the 10/22′s slower cousin the Ruger 77/22 bolt action rifle. Over the course of owning several 10/22 I ALWAYS had feed/fire/eject problems of one kind or another and that without those aftermarket barrels I could never get any of them to shoot what I would consider even an acceptable group. 1inch or less at 25 yards. ANY way my two cents is that a good peep sighted bolt action rifle is the best thing for a civilian. If just survival is on the table I’d take my 77/22 over any gun I own. If I might have to deal with two legged predators….I’ll take my peep sighted Ruger 77 30.06.
    I do however agree there are a TON of options out there for the 10/22. Something for every style and budget. I just prefer the slower measured pace of the bolt action rifle.

  6. Chance says:

    Creek,

    Thank you for this. I just purchased my third 10/22 and am in the process of upgrading my other two. I enjoy the insight and views from other people who enjoy the guns as much as I do.

    Chance

  7. Don says:

    Creek:

    Thanks for all the awesome info! I couldn’t agree more on the 10/22 as a “one” gun choice. I have mine with a wood stock, 2×7 scope with see thu mounts to use iron sites if needed. I’ve also modified the butt stock by removing the plastic and drilling a series of holes, some small ones about 1/4″ wide and as deep as your bit will go to add emergency .22 rounds. I put 4 holes pretty close together with a longer drill bit and can get 20 rounds in them. Use care when drilling! I also drilled 2 larger holes 3/4″ and added a few first aid items and some fire starting items, waxy cotton balls and steel wool, and a flint an steel. Be sure to use a ribbon loop in the bottom of the holes to be able to pull the stuff out! I got this idea from my M1-A stock with the holes for the cleaning kit. And a scene from “Band Of Brothers” Where Bull pulls a cigar out of his stock and lights up after being rescued! =)

    Don

    • David says:

      Wow, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing the idea of placing emergency rounds, first aid and fire starting items. Real good stuff! Would you mind sending a pic? I would love to see it and learn from you.

  8. Jake says:

    Creek-
    Im looking into portable storage/rifle cases for my 10/22 survival rifle. Any suggestions?
    Thanks—

  9. Riley says:

    Ruger 10/22 Takedown? Seems to be perfect for buggin’ out!

  10. Ryan says:

    Its a great article about a great gun, I’ve had mine for 10+ years and I’ve had no mechanical problems though I’ve done so refinishing of the stock. Keeping some spare parts is a great idea I’m going to add to in kit.
    Also I wanted to add when buying extra mags make sure they have steel feeder lips on them( where the bullet transfers to the chamber), the plastic ones just don’t hold up and is a good guide on how high quality the mag is made.

  11. wardog says:

    Why Ruger doesn’t put sling mounts on their 10/22′s is beyond me! I recently got the TD model strictly for bugging out and after having tried three other of their models i think I’ve finally settled on the best one for that purpose. I read some comments of poor feeding experiences but not a hiccup out of several 10 rounders and several 25 caps – firing fast or slow made no difference. I think I recall reading that one can’t fire anything but .22 mags out of the mag model and although I agree ‘bring a big enough gun’ I wanted the latitude of firing (single shot, no mag) bird shot, shorts, subsonic, etc. if needed.

  12. Jerry says:

    As a retired gun store clerk I have had the pleasure and honor of handling most of our modern handguns shotguns assualt weapons of various caliber’s.
    Without question if I could have only 1 weapon it would be the ruger 10/22 , It is the AK 47 of 22′s it is as reliable and well put togeather as any weapon system.
    The Israeli’s use them to snipe people in the close quarter street’s of their nation.
    you can get just about all small game and with well placed shot’s many a deer has ended up in the skinning shed.
    Also while it would not be my first choice for self defense the .22 was responsible for more killing’s in the United State’s than any other caliber.
    No doubt the advantage of being able to carry 500 rd’s on your person not to mention 1000′s of round’s in a back pack is the deal closer for me.

  13. Roma J. Turner says:

    I love this rifle. As a small women in my late 60's the weight and balance of a rifle are very important. This gun is easy for me to carry and shoot with accuracy. I have a red dot site, but would agree, you don't need one. A very, clean, consistent shoot.

  14. J says:

    Creek – Is the Compact (10/22 CRR) compatible with all the aftermarket accessories you mentioned above? Length of barrel and weight seem the be the only differences, but can you confirm for us? Why would someone go with a compact model opposed to the 5 pound, regular length barrel?

    Thanks,
    J

  15. Michael Darren Brown says:

    You just can't go wrong with a 10/22.

  16. Essential complement to your firearms collection.

  17. Smallest and most accurate (for the price), and cheapest to mod, great gun for SHTF situation.

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  19. Casey LaVack says:

    my 10/22 is the take down model. I love it, takes 1.5 seconds to take apart and pack another 1.5 seconds to unpack and put together. So fast, so accurate. the best 22 in the survival world. only problem is, it wont fit aftermarket stocks without a little customizing on the stock so the takedown lever will fit, other than that its the same

  20. SurvivalSapper says:

    I have used a 10/22, several other 22cal as well but my favorite is the AR-7 the Air Force survival 22 cal rifle. Made in USA by Henry Repeating Arms in NJ this is the best. No parts to drop no tools needed and it breaks down and stores in the stock. Also lots of after market stuff as well.

  21. thank you so much for all of this – really great info!

  22. Jacob says:

    hey does anybody know what kind of bag is in the set #2 been really looking for a bag like this. btw what is the bag on the front of CREEK’S book been looking for a bag like this too!

  23. Todd says:

    I can’t argue with the versatility, reliability, and ease of a 10/22. I like them. But I like the Marlin 39A even more. Granted it’s a little pricey and it’s a lever action, but it has some some features worth noting. The microgroove barrel makes this little gem crazy accurate whether it’s shooting .22 L, .22 LR, or .22 Shorts. I like using the shorts on small varmints because they are quieter than most pellet guns. This comes in handy when you don’t want to alert everyone and everything to what you’re up to. You don’t want to scare away your potential dinner. That one thumb screw take down is pretty handy too. Granted, it doesn’t have the stock options as a 10/22, and you won’t be able to fire it as fast, but I do like that versatility in the .22 ammo it can fire (especially the relatively stealthy .22 Short).

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  25. I have one with the Tactical Solutions threaded barrel, Hogue Overmold stock, and the mag release that goes under the trigger guard. I also had to put a new aftermarket extractor in, but only after shooting it for the last 28 years. It weighs half of what a regular 10/22 weighs, but the down side is it's not as durable, but as for reliability, it's great. Especially with the BX-25 mags! Eventually, I'm getting the take down model!

  26. I have one with the Tactical Solutions threaded barrel, Hogue Overmold stock, and the mag release that goes under the trigger guard. I also had to put a new aftermarket extractor in, but only after shooting it for the last 28 years. It weighs half of what a regular 10/22 weighs, but the down side is it's not as durable, but as for reliability, it's great. Especially with the BX-25 mags! Eventually, I'm getting the take down model!