"Evil 1" Ruger Charger 10/22
I gotta do a morning run to Boulder ahead of tonight's predicted upslope snowstorm, which is supposed to dump as much as a foot of snow on us. I figure that if I make a special trip, it guarantees that the storm will pass us by. That is, at least, my theory, and I'm sticking to it.
I really liked the little Ruger SR-22, but it's hard not to like a new .22 rifle. Here's the key points I'm going to be covering in tomorrow's podcast, and they go back to the whole issue of "what is a rifle?" that we talked about in the whole AR-15 imbroglio. For young people today and for so many of our veterans of Iraq 1 and 2 and the current conflicts in the Middle East, "rifle" means "M-4," rather than a traditional walnut and steel bolt gun. Their — and now our — whole paradigm for what a rifle is has changed...NSSF has a great video making the rounds on YouTube on this very subject, titled "The Modern Sporting Rifle."
Paradigm shifts tend to echo through a lot of levels, and the SR-22 is positioned to take advantage of that shift. There are more 10/22s out there than any other .22 rifle in history, and they sell at a brisk level for all the same reasons they originally did — simple to operate, inexpensive, capable of extreme accuracy and a huge aftermarket parts selection. Now there's a 10/22 option for the new paradigm. I have a friend who recently bought a .22 for his young son...the father wanted classic blued steel and polished walnut; guess what the son wanted?
The AR-15 platform is also one of the most versatile and ergonomic platforms ever created...as we've said repeatedly, it was designed for young men with no firearms experience who needed to be ramped up very quickly. The 10 years of the Clinton Gun Ban had an interesting unintended consequence...since the big players were effectively out of the black rifle market, it opened the door for literally hundreds of small innovators, inventors and AR-15 enthusiasts to create and sell their products through the growing power of the Internet. we're all repeating the benefits of that explosion of creativity.
Likewise, the 10/22 has evolved in all sorts of directions Ruger didn't necessarily anticipate when they introduced the gun in 1964, a .22 rifle "designed to avoid all the usual banalities," as Bill Ruger said to Jack O'Conner at the time. The 10/22 quickly became one of the first "kit guns" in the sense that users started immediately customizing the little rifle, a path that was later followed by 1911 enthusiasts (by necessity) and later the hordes of AR-15 fans. Events like the 1990's Chevy Truck Team Challenge (which became the Sportsmen's Team Challenge) and later the ESPN Great Outdoors Games bumped the 10/22 into an elite (and sometimes quite exotic) target rifle, capable of breathtaking accuracy in the hands of masters like Lones Wigger and Jerry Miculek.
The 10/22 has been morphed into everything from a very strange pistol (the Charger, with a suppressor the coolest pest elimination device ever!) to a hand-cranked twin-barreled Gatling gun. Visit the Custom Ruger 10/22 gallery site to get your mind blown. I especially like the "Evil 1" Charger on a Nordic Components frame, pictured at the top of the blogpost. In short, the 10/22 became a palette for people's custom gun dreams long before the AR-15 followed suit. The SR-22 brings the two together, and I'm interested in seeing where it all goes from here.
The big hit for the SR-22 will be, I believe, if the Ruger Rimfire Challenge series really takes off the way Ruger (and I) hopes it will. Their shooting this year's championships in Morro Bay, CA, this weekend, and Ruger hopes to have 10 matches up around the country in 2010.