20 Years With A Ruger 10/22 by Lyndon Combs
I cannot believe it has been twenty years. This gun has lasted that long with me. It only has one bad mark on it, but that mark has a story to go with it, so it is hardly noticeable to me. I would tell the story, but pride keeps me from telling on myself. Twenty Novembers in the field, twenty seasons of squirrel hunting, crow popping, and twenty summers hunting bottles to shoot. Twenty years, wow, that’s longer than any relationship in my life, well except for family. Hell, my marriage only lasted six years, and I can honestly say that the experience with the 10/22 not only lasted longer, but it has left me with better memories than my marriage, but that’s a whole other tiger to grab by the tail.
I bought the rifle new in November of 1987 at a local gun shop, but since I am doing an article on this milestone in the life of this gun, I decided to contact Ruger to find out what little I could about my 10/22. They have a section on their web site that gives you information on how to contact them concerning such matters. I found that the rifle was manufactured and shipped in January 1986. The gun is coming up on its twenty-second birthday. I think if I knew the actual day of manufacture, I may have a party on that day every year. You think people will think I have gone a little strange if I buy a birthday cake for a gun? I’d better not, it might make the other guns in my cabinet jealous!
The carton code 10-22RB is the model number, and the B stands for the wood on the rifle, birch. I had forgotten that it had the birch wood stock. I new it wasn’t walnut, but I had forgotten what kind of wood it actually did have. I guess that is understandable considering that the original stock spent some time off the gun in the closet. The gun has gone through some changes, including different types of stocks, but who hasn’t customized their 10/22. I mean if you own one chances are you have tried at least one of the many after market products made for the rifle. At least a high capacity clip if nothing else.
That was the first thing I bought for my gun, a 30-round clip. I don’t use the 30-round clips much anymore; I tend to take a few of the factory 10-round clips with me when I shoot the gun these days. I still have it, and several others I have bought over the years, but I tend to shoot fewer rounds. Age has taught me that it isn’t the number of rounds you send down range, it is the quality of shots you put down range that matters. I mean all the rounds in the world aren’t going to do you any good if you don’t hit anything square.
For the first year I owned the gun I shot many rounds through it. My friends and I would spend just about every evening shooting bottles or what ever a group of teen age boys would hunt. I can only guess at the number of rounds that have been fired through my rifle. We shot a hundred rounds at least every-time we went. Most of the time my thumb looked like it had been through a barbed wire fence, and blown up to boot, from loading the magazines over and over again. I know I am likely to put at least 50 rounds through it when I am plinking. If hunting it is less, but still I have been known to plink if the hunting isn’t going well.
Twenty years, thousands of rounds, and the gun still shoots straight. I have never had the gun fail me, knock on wood. You can’t see it, but I am hitting myself in the head. The gun is now back to the way it looked when I bought it in ’87. Wood, blue metal, and 10 round clip. Gone is the pistol grip stock, synthetic Dragonov style stock, and whatever else I have slapped on it in over the years, oh, and scopes. In the picture it has a scope, but that is gone as well. Come to think of it, that makes three scopes the gun has out lived. It will probably out live a few more before I am finished. I can only imagine what the next twenty years will be like. God willing I live that long. I am sure that of all my guns this one will probably out live me, and be passed down for another kid to grow old with, shooting bottles, cans, and what ever else they decide to hunt. Hopefully it isn’t each other. Lord knows the way things are looking they ain’t gonna be the brightest generation in the woods. Anyway that is another tiger to grab by the tail. I seem to be getting a little grumpier in my writing.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that I walked out the gun-shop door with my Ruger. I was only half joking when I talked about a cake, but I would like to mark this time. It is just a gun, but it has been the best I have ever owned, and it has never let me down. That is a lot more than I can say about other things in my life. I may just take it out, and fire a couple hundred rounds through it for fun, like I have so many times in the past twenty years. That sounds about right, maybe call up a few old shooting buddies to plink along with me, and the 10/22.