Top Shooting Drills and Zeroing Targets worth $47 FREE - Limited Period Offer

9 Best Ruger 10/22 Models [Plinking, Hunting, Competition]

The Ruger 10/22 is an iconic rifle and one of the most popular starter platforms for beginner shooters.

It’s high-quality but affordable and the .22 Long Rifle chambering makes it easy to shoot. 

Fully Upgraded 10/22 with Magpul Stock and Tandemkross Upgrades
Fully Upgraded 10/22 with Magpul Stock and Tandemkross Upgrades

The Ruger also offers aftermarket support with accessories and upgrades, so it’s easy to customize this little rifle to fit your needs and wants. 

But how did the 10/22 reach its current level of popularity in the first place?

Ruger 1022 models - So Many Choices...
So Many Choices…

Let’s talk about that!

We’ll evaluate the history of this venerable rifle to see how it went from new-kid-on-the-block to a revered and beloved rifle platform. 

Then we’ll lay out some of our favorite 10/22 models so you know what’s worth that hard-earned cash.

Table of Contents

Loading...

From Humble Beginnings

When Ruger released the 10/22 in 1964, the firearm manufacturer already had a reputation for high-quality yet cost-effective firearms.

The 10/22, a semi-automatic carbine chambered for .22 LR, was no exception.

.22LR Round
.22 LR Round

From the start, the 10/22 brought an affordable, reliable, lightweight, and easy-to-shoot rifle to consumers.  

It was originally released as a companion to Ruger’s .44 Magnum Carbine, but the 10/22 quickly usurped the .44 Magnum Carbine in popularity.

Eventually, Ruger stopped production of the older rifle altogether in 1985. 

Ruger 77/44 Carbine (Gun Digest)
Ruger 77/44 Carbine (Gun Digest)

The original Ruger 10/22 boasted a walnut carbine stock, aluminum alloy receiver, and 18.5-inch blued barrel. 

Just a year later, in 1965, the walnut stock was ditched and Ruger, instead, went with birch and maple stocks — the latter called the “hardwood” option. 

ruger 10_22
Spoiler: Its basically everyone’s favorite, the Ruger 10/22, seen here in the takedown variant.

At the same time, the Ruger 10/22 got its Carbine designation, which would become important to differentiate this version from the other 10/22 models that Ruger would produce in the future. 

Part of the immediate popularity of the Ruger 10/22 resulted because of a few different features that made it stand apart from other contemporary .22 rifles of the time. 

Ruger 10/22 Stand-Out Features

There were three main features that differentiated the Ruger 10/22 from other rifles — all of which remain hallmarks of the platform today. 

Barrel Block

The 10/22 uses a V-block mounting system with two screws.

This makes it easy to attach and remove the barrel with no gun smithing knowledge needed. 

Ruger 10/22 Barrel diagram
Ruger 10/22 Barrel diagram

While Ruger instituted this system for easy manufacturing, it also makes barrel swaps super simple.

And it laid the foundation for the vast availability of 10/22 customizations and upgrades

Rotary Magazine

The rotary magazine played a key part in the success of the 10/22.

Before this, box magazines were a little unreliable in the .22 LR world (as many still are), and tube magazines are slow and cumbersome to load. 

ruger 10/22 clear mag
You can see how the design works in this clear mag.

Enter the rotary magazine to save the day!

This magazine style granted a more reliable feeding of rimfire ammo than most box mags.

It also still gave shooters a detachable mag that could be quickly and easily reloaded or swapped for a fresh one. 

Ruger 10/22 Rotary Magazine patent drawing
Ruger 10/22 Rotary Magazine patent diagram (American Rifleman)

Breechblock Decelerator

The last feature that made the 10/22 stand out was the breechblock decelerator

At the time, a major difficulty that designers of semi-automatic firearms contended with was the speed of the bolt cycle and the magazine cycle. 

Ruger 10/22 Breechblock
Ruger 10/22 Breechblock

They needed to ensure the bolt cycle gave enough time for the magazine to put the next cartridge in position for the bolt to pick it up — otherwise, the gun would have nothing in the chamber to fire.

That’s where the breechblock decelerator came in. Ruger designers designed a way to slow the rate at which the breechblock moved back. 

Ruger 10/22 Breechblock Decelerator patent diagram (American Rifleman)
Ruger 10/22 Breechblock Decelerator patent diagram (American Rifleman)

They added a cam action to do so with no extra parts needed.

Not only did this change make the 10/22 more reliable, it also kept with the simple design we know and love.

The Ruger 10/22 Today

Today, the Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular firearms on the planet, and is the gold standard for rimfire rifles for most of the world. 

FAB Defense 1022 Stock
FAB Defense 10/22 Stock

This is going to be many people’s first firearm, and the insane modularity and aftermarket support mean you can build one for just about any use you can imagine.

For example…

You can literally just build a 10/22 without using a single Ruger part, which says a lot about how robust the support for this awesome gun is.

They’re like the Glock of the rifle world!

And of course, Ruger makes a number of models with various stocks, barrel lengths, and finishes to choose from, including a really excellent Takedown model.

So, there’s a variety of choices, which leads us…

Best Ruger 10/22 Models

1. Ruger 10/22 Carbine, Model 1103

The Ruger 10/22 Carbine is the OG of 10/22 variations, now considered the standard 10/22 variation.

So it’s only appropriate that it’s where we start.

Ruger 10/22 Carbine with ammo (Ron Spoomer Outdoors)
Ruger 10/22 Carbine with ammo (Ron Spoomer Outdoors)

Now, realistically, any of the 10/22 Carbines are great for general purpose and just shooting for fun.

They all have the same simple design, with an 18.5-inch barrel and 37-inches overall length, as well as an adjustable rear sight and a gold bead front sight.

Ruger 10_22 Carbine Models - Your Carbine Options
Your Carbine Options

The only reason I pick the Model 1151 over the others is that I personally prefer the classic hardwood stock for a classic rifle like this one.  

If you like the black synthetic stock, any of the other 10/22 Carbine models will do just fine.

And just in case you got a recommendation from a friend and are feeling a little confused, Ruger used to call the Carbine models with the synthetic stock their All-Weather models, and then their Synthetic models, but now they’re just categorized as 10/22 Carbines.

But that brings us to our next model…

BEST FOR PLINKING & GENERAL USE
270
at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Ruger 10/22 Carbine, Model 21194

Another 10/22 Carbine, the Model 21194 is my top Ruger 10/22 choice for hunting.

It has the same advantages as the other 10/22 Carbines: it’s got a light and compact build and is super easy to shoot.  

Ruger 10_22 Carbine, Model 21194 - A More Modern Take on a Classic
A More Modern Take on a Classic

The black synthetic stock also gives this model some extra protection against the weather and any bumps it takes while your traipse through the wilderness in search of your prey.

But what really makes the Model 21194 stand out from the other 10/22 Carbine models is the included Weaver 3-9×40 scope with a Dual-X reticle.

This waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof scope is perfect for hunting varmints and small game.

217
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

3. Ruger 10/22 Sporter

The 10/22 Sporter is the classic model with the wood or wood-like stock that many of us probably remember as young shooters.

Ruger 10/22 Sporter
Ruger 10/22 Sporter

This is the OG model that mimics the original design pretty closely. 

It offers a 10-round capacity, making it legal in most states. A barrel length of 18.5- to 22-inches keeps it short and handy for plinking and pest control.

And there are enough distributor-exclusive models out there that you can almost certainly find one with the exact style of stock that you want.

Overall, the Sporter is a classic model that won’t light the world on fire, but it certainly won’t disappoint either. 

4. Ruger 10/22 Target

The 10/22 Target is, as the name suggests, optimized for target shooting. 

This is one of the more precise auto-loading .22 rifles out there, especially in this price bracket.

So, if you’re looking to get into say, NRL22 on the cheap, this is a good place to start.

Ruger 10/22 Target (SOFREP)
Ruger 10/22 Target (SOFREP)

It has a 2- to 3-pound adjustable trigger, a laminate stock with a thumbhole, and an aluminum barrel sleeve that keeps the gun lightweight.

But the barrel still gives you the look and some of the heat dissipation benefits of a true bull barrel.

All in all, this is a great one for a classic target rifle, and is a super fun one for shooters of all ages.

5. Ruger 10/22 Compact

If you’re in the market for a 10/22 to keep in your toolbox or trunk, or maybe to carry with you in the boat, the 10/22 Compact is a great option. 

It features an overall length of 34-inches and a barrel length of 16.1-inches.

Ruger 10/22 Compact
Ruger 10/22 Compact

The Compact weighs in at just 4.4-pounds, making it a great option for moving in and out of vehicles or storing in a backpack sleeve.

This is probably the best choice of all for a young shooter as it’s sized more appropriately for shorter arms, and won’t tire them out by being too heavy either. 

If you’re looking for little Jack or Jill’s first firearm, you could certainly do worse than the 10/22 Compact…and you’re gonna have to try pretty hard to do any better.

300
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Have you tried the Ruger 10/22 Compact? If so, give it a rating below.

Readers' Ratings

4.96/5 (503)

Your Rating?

6. Ruger 10/22 Charger

Next, we have something of an odd option, the 10/22 Charger is basically just a chopped down 10/22 that’s been made into a pistol. 

This is a great choice for a fun range gun or keeping in a bag or pack. Then again, it’s a great addition as another 10/22 to your collection.

Ruger 10/22 Charger (Tactical Life)
Ruger 10/22 Charger (Tactical Life)

Personally, I love it for a fun gun.

It brings a length under 20-inches, so it tucks away almost anywhere.

Dispatch a pesky varmint or take an impromptu trip to the sandpit to blast some soda cans (and then pick them up after) with the Charger.

390
at KY Gun Co

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Ruger 10/22 Tactical

The 10/22 Tactical adds a top rail and an A2-style flash hider to give it a slightly more menacing look

Personally, I like it just because it’s one of the better models for mounting a red dot or other Picatinny-ready optic right out of the box.

Ruger 10/22 Tactical with custom Cerakote
Ruger 10/22 Tactical with custom Cerakote

This makes it a superb choice for a cheap entrant into rimfire carbine competition.

Not to mention, it also serves as an immensely fun gun at the range. And if that’s not enough, it’s pretty decent on the hunt.

BEST FOR UPGRADING
350
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

8. Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Finally, we have my personal favorite, the 10/22 Takedown.

This one, as you probably guessed, breaks down into two halves, making it the ultimate backpacking or camping rifle. 

Ruger 10/22 Takedown (RifleShooter)
Ruger 10/22 Takedown (RifleShooter)

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better option for a full-size survival rifle or a rimfire rifle that’s easier to store. (Other than the AR-7.)

Besides, it splits in half for storage and transport.

So, it basically serves as a standard 10/22, with all the features and modularity you’ve come to expect from the model, but in a totable package.

340
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

9. Ruger Custom Shop 10/22 Competition

The Ruger 10/22 Competition entered Ruger’s lineup in October 2018.  

Ruger 10_22 Custom Shop - For When You Need the Best
For When You Need the Best

The 10/22 Competition was designed, as the name suggests, to provide Rimfire Challenge competitors with a top-of-the-line 10/22 ideal for the range.

Every part of the rifle has been optimized to accomplish that goal.

The 6061-Tg511 aluminum receiver is CNC-machined, hard-coat anodized, heat-treated, and stress-relieved. It offers an integrated 30 MOA Picatinny rail, ready for your preferred optic.

A second bedding lug keeps the stock firmly attached to the laminated stock. Speaking of the stock, it comes painted and textured to provide a more secure grip.  

A vertically and horizontally adjustable cheek rest allows the shooter to position the rest in the way that feels best for them.

The 16.125-inch, heat-treated, 4140 steel free-floating bull barrel is fluted for reduced weight and improved heat dissipation.

Not to mention, it opts for a threaded muzzle for any barrel accessories you like.

Potential Upgrades

Besides the AR-15 and Glock…you’ll be hard-pressed to find another firearm with as much aftermarket support as the 10/22.

FAB Defense 10/22 Foldable Stock
FAB Defense 10/22 Foldable Stock

There’s a bazillion stocks,sights, and accessories to fit your mood.

10/22 Side with Tandemkross Mods and Holosun
10/22 Side with Tandemkross Mods and Holosun

Plus what I think is the best mod is a trigger upgrade…there’s plenty of those too.

10/22 Triggers with FAB Defense Stock
10/22 Triggers with FAB Defense Stock

Find out everything we love in Best 10/22 Upgrades and specifically…Best 10/22 Triggers.

Conclusion

The Ruger 10/22 is an iconic firearm and with incredibly good reason. 

This humble rimfire rifle earned its place as one of the most popular and well-loved guns on the planet thanks to a stellar design, a wide variety of first and third-party support, and a fanatical fan base.

Fully Upgraded 10/22
Fully Upgraded 10/22

There really is a 10/22 for every occasion, and with such a storied history, you can be sure it’ll never let you down.

These were our fave models, but what’s yours? Let us know in the comments! If you need recs on upgrading your 10/22, see the Best 10/22 Upgrades!

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

14 Leave a Reply

  • James

    What about the quietest 10/22 out there.???

    June 12, 2021 11:33 am
    • David, PPT Editor

      No model of 10/22 is any more or less quiet than any other. The only difference would be ammo and putting a suppressor on it.

      June 12, 2021 7:00 pm
  • Steve B

    I grew up with a Marlin feed-tube .22 and just today bought a synthetic stock Ruger 10/22 to do some plinking, rabbit hunting and more in the Texas Hill Country.

    April 16, 2021 5:12 pm
  • James Orth

    Basic 10/22s have one feature that is a SHAME ON RUGER!
    The triggers are terrible terrible terrible.
    Then they offer a decent trigger assy. for sale to you after you just bought a new rifle. This is wrong. Their customers deserve better. I sent mine to Brimstone Gunsmithing because I was mad at Ruger. Now I have a beautiful rifle with a 2 1/2 lb. sweet trigger.
    I am a loyal Ruger owner, with the 10/22, a MK2 Target .22 pistol and a sr1911 in 45acp.

    March 10, 2019 4:48 pm
    • carlos kanaan

      Ive owned 5 ruger 10/22l's at different times and Ive "never" had an issue with any of the triggers....

      June 18, 2020 12:53 pm
    • Mike Sipes

      The entry level price of the 10/22 means that some things are not as good as they could be. But to keep it at something that an entry level shooter can afford there are many more options available to upgrade at a higher price if the shooter desires.

      January 20, 2021 2:10 pm
    • James Rosproy

      That crappy, high pull-weight original trigger keeps Ruger out of trouble with the lawyers. And if you do some YouTube research, you would find that the original trigger can be brought to target rifle specs just by correctly polishing the rough surfaces of the trigger components.

      January 22, 2021 11:47 am
  • John B

    I have built 2 custom 10-22's in the past. For what it's worth I would caution that if you don't want to keep it exactly as you bought it give thought to if you should save for a full custom like a Kidd or Magnum Research, Volquartsen, etc. or build your own. In re-sale (horror's!) if you built it likely will get a lot more money parting it out. It is very easy for a home built custom to reach or exceed the price of far superior custom guns that hold their value better. Even though I use mostly for fun at the range I don't care for the all steel bull barrels. My first I put on a Whistle Pig barrel, latest a Kidd lightweight. For the latest I was using some credits from my Cabela's Credit Card (shameless plug, they are not always cheap but it becomes free money for gun stuff). Base carbine on sale, also Magpul stock (LOVE IT, put in a pressure pad though), Ruger plastic trigger group to replace stock aluminum and a Kidd trigger spring. Well short of a full Kidd gun and honestly I really like tinkering with guns and this gun is awesome for that. Very few tools required. Yes I am likely a gun hack, but with the right ammo my latest shoots 3's at 50 yards, maybe better with a better driver. The Kidd barrel is threaded for a can and my 15 year old nephew thinks it is the coolest thing on earth. And yes, I do believe cool matters.

    December 3, 2018 2:54 pm
  • Phil

    I have a TALO M1 Carbine replica 10/22. It is a great rifle. I have received many compliments on it, it is accurate and easy to shoot. I did have to replace the sights, but other than that I's been great.

    December 3, 2018 5:53 am
  • Catman

    This was, IMHO, an incomplete article. It really didn't talk about anything that everyone already knows. I have been collecting 10/22s for 40 years and must point out that the newer guns are no where near the quality of the original 10/22.

    December 2, 2018 9:42 pm
  • Duke Aquaro

    The 10/22 is beyond a doubt one of my favorite firearms EVER. I love shooting it and have a few for various purposes. The customization possibilities are virtually endless. Its reliable as all get out too! Love it no matter what its form!

    December 2, 2018 8:05 pm
  • Jim

    The omission of the 10/22 charger is a huge goof. Although not a rifle, it is still a 10/22. A very fun one at that.

    December 2, 2018 5:57 pm
  • Bill

    My two choices were the 50th anniversary model and the Magpul Backpacker. I really like stainless guns. I did equip the anniversary model with a scope. I also have a AR7.

    December 2, 2018 4:56 pm
    • JDub

      Yep, the rear aperture sight on the 50th anniversary edition is superior to the open sights that are on most other versions of the the 10/22. Making it, in my mind, one of the better versions.

      December 3, 2018 8:17 am
New to Guns ? Check out our beginners guns video course. Start Now