Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's not that I have anything against them...

Since I started shooting, I've owned plenty of Rugers. My first gun was a Ruger 10/22, bought when I was eighteen, and I'm honestly not sure how many of the ubiquitous little rimfire autoloaders I've owned since then. Three? Four? Several, anyway.

Their double-action wheelguns have never intrigued me. I came late to the appreciation of the DA revolver, and my love for the platform arrived with my purchase of a Smith 625, and I've danced with the one that brung me ever since. Just because I don't feel any particular attraction towards them doesn't mean that I don't appreciate their virtues as revolvers, however.

Single-action Rugers I've owned a-plenty, from a three-screw Bearcat and a similarly vintage dual-cylinder Single Six to a .32 H&R Magnum Super Single Six, a brace of Blackhawks in .357 Magnum and .45 Colt, and likewise a pair of Vaqueros, one a Bisley in .44 Magnum and the other a dual-cylinder gun that shipped with one .38-40 cylinder and one in .40 S&W, but soon became a 10mm Auto Vaquero, affectionately dubbed the "Space Cowboy".

I've never had one of their rimfire pistols, although I keep meaning to jump on the first affordable Mk.II 22/45 I find. Their traditional P-series autoloaders never really appealed to me except on price: When I was young and broke I had a KP-91DAO for a while. I've recommended them to several folks in the "young and broke" category since then. They may be as big as a breadbox and heavy as a cinder block, but "not working" is generally not a failing attributed to them.

And then there was my No.1... It was an "International" model in .243, with a beautiful chunk of lumber that ran all the way to the muzzle. The Mannlicher-style stock would keep it from winning any benchrest competitions, as hand-wringing purists will be sure to point out, but that was not the task for which it was purchased. It was more than accurate enough for the field, and is one of the few firearms made by Ruger to which the adjective "beautiful" may be applied without one's tongue firmly in one's cheek.

So it's not like I'm a Ruger hater or anything. For the most part I've found their guns to be quite impressive from a functional standpoint, it's just that I wasn't much their target demographic. That's what has bothered me most about their recent efforts outside their traditional market: The SR-9 hasn't really caught fire; the LCP, being a flyweight gun for its caliber with a finger-and-a-half grip is prone by nature to short-cycle malfs if not held in a grip of iron; and now they're jumping feet-first into a profitable-but-crowded AR market experiencing a bubble of Dutch tulip proportions. I truly hope it works out for them, but the Magic 8-Ball says "reply hazy, ask again later".

Rather than issuing a fawning unpaid "Ruger Conquers Another Market!" press release, I am going to be honest and say that we shall see what we shall see. These are uncharted waters for the company; let's hope it's a successful voyage.

24 comments:

BryanP said...

At this point I'm up to four Rugers. The GP100 and MkII 22/45 are two of my favorite guns to shoot. I've also built a "the receiver is still the original" 10/22, and recently acquired a 3" SP101.

I like their guns.

I'm glad to see them branching out in different areas, but I won't be buying their AR, or an SR-9. If ammo availability / prices ever get sensible again I might consider an LCP, but probably not.

I too wish them luck.

Anonymous said...

At least they are getting past Papa Ruger's decisions. FWIW, agree with the MK II - have a couple of them also, jump on one. Also overlooked is the left handed friendliness of the Number One series. Hope they figure out what to build that get's them out of the ruts they are in - trying to out "Kel-Tec Kel-Tec" and out "Colt Colt" is not a winning strategy IMHO.

FatWhiteMan said...

Everyone has always liked Ruger firearms. The Mark II has always been one of the neatest things going as has the 10/22--sure there have been other .22 auto loading pistols and rifles but these were the first to achieve such a market share. Ruger also gave us the Blackhawk when no one else was making an affordable single-action.

But then there was Bill Ruger and his elitist government gun control crap. I always figured he did it just to try and get government contracts. Maybe if he had worked as hard on a decent service pistol he could sell to them as he did limiting firearms to lowly civilians he would have had something.

But the old man is dead and the first thing the company did was bring out 20 and 30 round Mini-14 mags for us lowly civilians. That was a good start.

I think it was TheFirearmsBlog that equated Ruger to "the hot chick you always wanted to love but had stabbed you in the back".

Now Ruger is in the EBR market. Good. I wish them well and let them bury their misguided past with the old man that held them back. Everyone quickly forgave Smith & Wesson for their treachery to the masses. Ruger should get no less I guess as long as they earn it.

The Freeholder said...

Well, I'm glad to see another AR maker, especially when they're making something that is a bit different than the traditional Stoner gas system design.

Also, from what I've read around the Intertubz, they're using top quality parts (Hogue, Magpul, etc). At least you can feel semi-comfortable paying that top-shelf price they're looking for.

It's also good from the POV of "another manufacturer, more guns in the public's hands" sort of thing. The more mainstream gun ownership becomes, the better off gun owners will be.

As to whether it's successful or not, time will tell.

JR said...

Maybe with Remington and Ruger making AR-15 platform rifles, companies like Bass Pro Shops will see the light and get off their anti EBR high horse.

og said...

I have a MK2 which I like to shoot. I want a large caliber #1.

I've been in their New Hampshire facility (Ruger uses some Robodrills that I've worked on) and they do a fair to middling job of doing their job. The QC of their products is first rate; while firearms may leave there with engineering defects, I think manufacturing defects are pretty uncommon. Of course to the guy with the broke gun in his hand, it don't make much nevermind.

I do hope they do well and continue to do so. I know the new management has chosen to take a different direction, and that direction is driven by market demand; people want what they want and if you sell it, and it's good, they'll buy it.

I'm dead with you on the wait and see. And hope for the best.

tom-the-impaler said...

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http://www.chaosus.com/products.html

(word ver: belonsut

Joseph said...

Ruger, the Linux of the gun world. Rugged, dependable, open source and not that pretty.

I own several.

Joe Huffman said...

My first handgun was a Ruger P89. I used it for plates, pistol league, ISPC, and many classes. I put over 30k rounds through it without it breaking. I had it malfunction many times but it was only when was dirty (600 to 1000 rounds without cleaning using rather dirty ammo) or when I was trying to use 30+ round magazines.

I still have it but the slide is very loose from all the use.

I also have a Mark II that I use mostly for new shooters.

For new shooters that want good value at a reasonable price I frequent recommend Rugers although I don't see myself buying any of their products in the immediate future.

Matt G said...

I was a Ruger auto hater for a while, based on my experiences with one (1) single P89 that couldn't finish a mag without a malf. I learned later that I was simply WRONG-- they are as a rule very reliable, if chunky and unattractive.

I've always liked the Ruger semi-auto .22 LR pistols, for their inexpensive happy-fun-time. But I've got a Browning Buckmark that does it just as well, if not better.

I've killed so many deer with Ruger M-77 bolt guns, that I'd hate to have to load a truck with all of them, without a lot of help, and an open afternoon to do it in. They are strong, reliable, and every bit as accurate as anything else on the market. But I wouldn't buy a new one, without the understanding that I was going to be immediately replacing the trigger group with an aftermarket one. (They're now riveted together.) Frankly, I'll just skip the Mk II M-77's alltogether.

The Ruger Blackhawks and Super Blackhawks are some of the best deals to be found at the gun shows. They're capable of stunning accuracy, and are hell for stout, at a very reasonable price. For a person wanting to get into handgun hunting, I can think of nothing better. But I HATE the aluminum ejector rod housings on them. I need to get a steel aftermarket replacement for my Super Blackhawk.

I thought that No. 1 .243 that you took to GA for deer/hog hunting was a beaut, and was sorry to hear that you'd let it go.

B.S. philosopher said...

My dad bought a P-85 in 1988. I didn't and (still don't) like Ruger's larger caliber autopistols. The safety on the P-85 sucked and I had trouble with the monstrous grips, I'm 6'3" and wear size XL gloves.
Pop also owns a Ruger Mark I from the late 1960's and a Ruger Vaquero. Every single one of them goes boom when you pull the trigger. They are reliable, yet ugly and not quite "with it" ergonomically.

If I want to shoot a Ruger auto pistol, I borrow Dad's. I wouldn't own one.

word verification: uralrig

Ahab said...

I liked my DAO GP100 that I foolishly sold. I've never really been "into" Ruger's autochuckers, but their PC-9 carbine (or whatever that was) was a neat little HD gun.

The Raving Prophet said...

I had a Mk II 22/45, and I found it unenjoyable. Quite accurate and very reliable, but it wasn't any fun to shoot- that's what I get for buying one as a .22LR variant of a 1911.

I also with them well with the EBR market (hopefully when the bubble collapses there won't be so many big fish in the market that the smaller ones die out), but I would have preferred something more novel than a piston AR with half the Magpul and Troy Industries catalog preinstalled.

Ed Foster said...

An honest review. I kinda like the Mark II also, despite the unneeded complications. In a kinky sort of way, I admire the clever engineering. Amazing what can be done with stamped sheetmetal. Very clever in a pre-CNC, campy '50's sort of way, almost always a decent trigger, and good ergonomics.

But every one of them should be issued with a spare sear, as they're completely unrepairable. Stone a worn one and it can't be rehardened by man nor bear.

I've seen one that wore through it's (case?, induction?) hardening in only a few hundred rounds. In all fairness, it's the only one like that I've ever seen, but I know of two others than did the same thing after only a few thousand.

Still, the Ruger people had the replacement to me in two days, and were likewise just as quick and pleasant when I pranged the front sight blade on my No. 1 .243 International.

My No. 1 is one of those magic rifles that will never end up on the swap list. The Farquarson falling block was one of the classics, and they truely did it justice in a modern recreation with great steel. Follow the lines and blending of the two bottom planes running from the reciever to the forend on the International. Lovely.

I'd love to go hunting (stalking) a red buck in Scotland with a No. 1in 7mm Mauser, although I'd probably go with an after market barrel. Or not, depending. I wonder if they ever mark them as .275 Rigbys for us traditionalists?

As for the P series, yeah, clunky and lacking in the fit and finish you'd get on a Rock River, Kimber, or Baer, but for the money, the later models were functional.

I saw an early M77 that jammed it's firing pin when the rivets used to attach the safety/stop lug backed out and pinched the inside of the bore, but anybody deserves a pass on teething problems as long as it isn't a military or police weapon.

Again, they are good about type improvement, and learn from their mistakes. They're just a bit quick to market.

So overall, I'd have to follow your lead, wish everyone well, and hold my breath.

TJP said...

JR said...  "Maybe with Remington and Ruger making AR-15 platform rifles, companies like Bass Pro Shops will see the light and get off their anti EBR high horse." 
 
I'm thinking that anyone who is anti-autoloading at this point isn't on a high horse, but is in fact a certain part of the horse's anatomy. Is the BPS management also having a hard time parting with wooden-spoked wheels and whale oil?

Self-loading technology is approximately 1.2 centuries old--they might as well be anti-soil.

Don Meaker said...

The .22 Rimfire Bearcat I got to teach my daughter broke, twice. Each time it was the transfer bar arrangement. Each time it was fixed at no cost to me.

My Heritage .45 Colt broke last night. Same place. Any bets that it will be fixed for no cost?

DirtCrashr said...

I wish them well, they should have plenty of experience making pistony op-roddy things work and another mfg in the AR market is fine with me.
I wish to God Winchester had decided to make an AR, before they folded and were assimilated into Borgguns. That Winchester script on a military rifle is a license to print money if Garands and M1 Carbines are anything to go by - and they belonged in that market based on that too.
My big Brother has a single-six from the late seventies, that's the only Ruger in our family - I just never cottoned to 'em or had a reason to buy one.

Somerled said...

Ruger revolvers, in particular the single actions, have kept smiths such as Hamilton Bowen, Jim Stroh and the Powerses busy. I've cursed the New Model Blackhawks a lot through the years when the hole I want to put a charge in or kick an empty out of traveled half-way past the loading gate. Then there was the Bisley .45 I owned, one of several Ruger shipped, with the too-tight chamber mouths.

No Ruger I've had has ever broke. And I wish I still had the heavy-barreled No. 1 Varmint in .22-250. I also wish Ruger would again make the No. 3.

Frank W. James said...

No word exactly on whether the upper and lower receivers of the SR-556 is cast, but I'll bet it is instead of forged. If it is then I think it is priced too high for the market as 'cast' receiver guns are characteristic of low market EBR's.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

James family outpost, Iowa. said...

I too started with a 10/22, now on my 2nd (DSP) and 3rd (RRR) after #1 was stolen. Only thing I would change is the lousy iron sights - my CZ 452 is so much better...
10/22's need a scope, period. I love the SP-101, carried one in.357 for 5 years in Virginia '95-'00. I do so wish they would make the 22LR version again, it's the ultimate tackle-box .22, indestructible, period. RE: the new 556; I already have a piston-driven .223 Ruger, my mini-14 is just fine, and now I have stocked up on 20 & 30 rd. mags, thanks!
My SS '81 single-six is tha bomb, and I love my Frontier 77 in .243 - That's it.

Jay G said...

I do believe my Security Six is the only Ruger that I own.

Huh.

I'd get an LCP if they were allowed to be sold in MA; at some point a Mark III Hunter with fluted barrel will make its way into the armory.

Oh, and I might even get a 10/22 someday...

Anonymous said...

To me, Ruger = revolvers and .22s. And they have given Americans a lot of excellent guns in those two categories.

I don't think they've ever found their feet with centerfire self-loaders, and the teething pains of the SR9 and LCP confirm my prejudices. I know the Mini-14 does have its adherents.

mcthag said...

I've got a 10/22 International in the safe.

My wife has a .357 Blackhawk.

We like those guns.

I used to have a Mini-14 that I'd accessorized. Folding stock, bayonet lug, Aimpoint 1000, aftermarket 30 rounders... It had a wandering zero. Because of that rifle I giggle with glee at my ARs that hit what I aim at at 100 and 200 yards. The Mini was only good at 50.

Then Bill Ruger ran off at the mouth. Then his son did much the same.

I find that the current management has not done anything more than be the company that Bill should have been running, politically. I think I need more before I will buy from them now.

Lame-R said...

"It had a wandering zero" that sums up the Mini-14 perfectly.

iirc, Bar-Sto out here won't work on Rugers b/c of some crankiness on Bill Ruger's part in dealing with them after they did him a big favor a long time back.

My P90 was a mid-90's 'young and broke' acquisition. I put many a much pricier pistol to shame with it. Right now it sits in the safe with a broken mag-release spring and a worn guide rod, because apparently the effers at Ruger won't ship parts to little guys anymore.