Firearm of the Week #3
Posted by Trik Toral, 02 February 2014 · 1,847 views
Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger and Company
Firearm: Ruger Standard
Caliber(s): .22 Long Rifle
Action type: Semi automatic direct blowback
Capacity: 9 or 10 round external box magazine
History: During WW2 William Ruger was working for Auto Ordnance, designing a machine gun for the US military. He perfected the design and was readying it for testing when the war ended. His plans to sell the machine gun to the US military fell through and he left Auto Ordnance to create his own guns for the civilian market.
Sometime around 1946 Ruger got acquired a Japanese Type B Nambu (aka “Baby Nambu”) pistol from a US Marine who had brought it back from the Pacific theater. Although the Nambu was very unique, it was poorly designed, suffering from a weakly designed receiver which in turn required a low powered cartridge. Using his garage as a makeshift workshop, he duplicated the design and created 2 pistols that were clones of the Nambu. Neither of these pistols became more than a prototype, but Ruger used them as inspiration for his later pistol, the Ruger Standard.
This new pistol was revolutionary in many ways, using cheap, efficient, but effective manufacturing methods. Ruger used coiled wire springs in place of flat springs, making the pistol cheaper and more reliable. He took inspiration from the Nambu and designed a cylindrical bolt that moved inside the receiver, unlike the popular Colt Woodsman which used an external slide. While the design is not very strong, it’s enough for a small, low powered cartridge like .22LR. Instead of machining the frame of the gun, he shaped 2 pieces of stamped metal and welded them together into the frame of a pistol to create a cheap, simple, and easy to manufacture firearm. The back of the bolt extends from the rear of the receiver creating small “ears” for pulling the bolt backwards to cock the firing pin and chamber a round. The gun was equipped with a heel magazine release, a common European design feature. The heel mag release was later changed to a side button release in the Mark III. Because of the rimmed design of the .22LR round, Ruger designed a sort of “swept back” grip, which was reminiscent of the Nambu and bore a resemblance to the classic, nostalgia-inducing German Luger. This was a very innovative design for the time, competing with more expensively machined pistols such as the High Standard and the Colt Woodsman series.
Ruger did not have the funds to put his prototype into production, so he showed it to his friend Alex Sturm who was so impressed by the features and planned manufacturing methods he invested $50,000 up front. He also contributed to the gun by offering to design a heraldic crest to be placed on the grips. He designed a black eagle with outswept wings and an “R” on the bird’s chest with a red background. This became known as the “Red Eagle” logo. Speaking of the logo- Sturm died in 1951, and in memory of his friend and business partner, Bill Ruger changed the background of the crest from red to black on all future firearms.
Sturm used his connections to have a piece about the pistol published in the popular magazine “American Rifleman”. The article boasted of the pistol’s features offered for sale at the very competitive price of $32.50 USD ( $318 USD today), which led to orders flooding the company, although the gun was little more than a prototype at this stage. Ruger and Sturm rented a small machine shop and got to work manufacturing guns.
Sturm and Ruger employed revolutionary manufacturing practices, which gave them a strong advantage over their competition. This led to significantly less expensive products and high demand. It was customary in those days for pre-production orders to be accompanied by checks, but Bill Ruger refused to cash any checks until the orders were completed and shipped. He not only had high standards for the quality of his products, but he had impeccable integrity when it came to his business practices. This caused some anxiety as the original $50,000 was nearly gone before the day the first 100 firearms were finished and ready to ship to fulfill the prepaid orders. In 1949, the first pistol was shipped and the vibrant and profitable company we know as Sturm, Ruger, & Co. was now a significant player in the very competitive firearms market. Unfortunately, due to Sturm’s untimely death, he was never able to witness the company’s success, and Bill Ruger was to carry on the company’s legacy alone.
Variants: Mark II, Mark III, 22/45. Various Hunter, Target,
Date of manufacture: 1949 to present
Users: Private Citizens. Suppressed Mark IIs have been used by US Navy SEALs.
What makes this gun unique: First firearm Ruger produced, jump-starting a very successful company.
My experiences: I have been shooting a Ruger Standard for the last 6 years, and as long as it’s clean, it works great. No complaints at all. I personally prefer my Colt Challenger, as I like the grip angle more and it points more naturally for me, but the Ruger is a workhorse and I’m sure it’ll be around long after I’m gone.
Why you should own one: Arguably the best semi automatic .22 pistol on the market. Reliable, easy to use, easy to clean, and plenty of aftermarket support, including triggers, grips, sights, bolts, and barrels. You can never go wrong with a Ruger pistol, I highly recommend them.
No pictures this time, sorry, no time. But I did find this picture during my research that is pretty cool, its a side by side comparison of the Ruger Standard and the Nambu.
Hope you enjoy. Sorry for the very long wait, I make no excuses. I will try to pick this back up again in the future, but no promises.
And now I'm off to Army basic training. See you guys in May! So long and thanks for all the fish!