Ruger’s stake on the market is marked by tremendous diversity. Not diversity as a buzz word, but diversity in a lineup that covers a wide variety of shooting avenues. They cover every small-arms niche except for shotguns, from their premier .22lr models, the Mark I-IV and 10/22 carbine, to their extensive and fantastic single-action cowboy revolvers, to polymer pistols, 1911s, AR-15s, the infamous Mini-14, hunting rifles, precision rifles, and more.
The Formative Years
William B. Ruger and Alexander McCormick Sturm came together 71 years ago in a rented space in “Gun Valley”, a swath of land between Connecticut and Massachusetts which is king to firearms manufacturing in the U.S. Anyway, they came together. They originally successfully copied a Japanese Nambu service pistol from WWII. After determining success on copying a pistol, they set out on an original design that would use the Luger 9mm and Colt Woodsman for inspiration. From these humble beginnings, the Ruger Standard was born, a pistol which was the direct lineage of the Mark I, Mark, II, Mark III, and Mark IV pistols. The Ruger Standard became so successful that it funded the launch of the entire company, which is presently the largest firearms manufacturer in the U.S.
The Ruger 10/22
The Ruger 10/22 is so popular, so iconic, and so foundational to their continued success that it is getting an entire paragraph devoted to it. Originally introduced in 1964, the 10/22 has remained in continuous production ever since and has sold around seven million copies, which places it in the running for most popular rimfire rifles of all time.
Using a completely unique, patented rotary-box magazine, the 10/22 magazine is one of the critical reasons for its reliability; inferior magazines often are the root cause of an automatic firearms unreliability. The rotary box design never binds and cannot be overloaded, and the spring does not wear out, removing common causes of magazine weakness and failure.
Ruger Single Action Revolvers
In the 1950s, very shortly after the advent of Sturm, Ruger, & Co., single-action revolvers were highly popular due to the pop culture popularity of western cinema, but they pistols themselves were in very short supply. Colt made them, but they were not in the budget of most shooters.
Ruger introduced the Single Six in .22lr in 1953, followed shortly by the magnum Blackhawk, and then the rimfire Bearcat in 1958. They also entered into the world of big-bore magnums in the 1950s with the Super Blackhawk in .44 S&W Magnum.
Modern Day Ruger Pistols
Ruger is the largest overall firearms manufacturer in America, the second-largest American handgun manufacturer behind Smith & Wesson, and the second-largest manufacturer of rifles in America behind Remington. Ruger maintains a highly diverse catalog, with complete lines of single-action revolvers, subcompact, compact, and full-size pistols, pistol-caliber carbines, hunting rifles, precision rifles, and on and on.
Ruger does not hold a preponderance of military or law enforcement contracts, yet maintains its status as the largest American firearms manufacturer. It is able to do so by providing products that no one else does, or just by undercutting in cost. The LCP is not revolutionary but it remains the highest-selling micro-.380 on the market because Ruger has the capacity to make so many, and they have proven to carry on Ruger’s reputation for reliability. Their Security 9 and Ruger American pistols have all of the features of a Glock or S&W M&P, but substantially less expensive. In other words, they succeed by keeping quality high but keeping costs relatively low. Finally, they are industry innovators. The PC carbine has been a home run hitter. The 10/22 Takedown took the best .22lr in the world...and made it better.
Ruger makes a high-quality firearm, regardless of what type. They produce innovative products as well, occasionally upending the industry with a radical new idea, a process honed by producing many items that have since been taken from the catalog. They have proven to be a fearless innovator, willing to take chances on unconventional firearms, dabbling in many niches and they reap the benefits of their gambles.