The Ruger 10/22 is the Piper Cub of the .22 rifle world. It is a standard of expectation and operation upon which all others, good or bad, are measured. In a world filled with evolving products, the 10/22 is easily recognizable whether the gun is an infant, a teenager, or in its 50s. With its classic barrel band, squarish flattop receiver, and blocky rotary magazine, the 10/22 is one of those rare gun designs that came out of the factory oven fully baked.
This review addresses one particular .22 long rifle model from a family of semiauto 10/22 rifles that is more than six categories deep including several variations-on-a-theme called Distributor Exclusives. And each of the categories has two, or three or even four individual 10/22 options. In the Takedown variety, or what I call the TD (as in both Takedown and a winning Touchdown for Ruger), there are two main choices; one is the type of barrel steel (alloy or stainless) and the other is the muzzle option (standard or threaded with flash hider). A couple of stock colors have entered the mix as well. Due to the uniform action, magazines, sight platform, and barrel clamp that the TD has in common with its fixed action brethren, the combination of additional aftermarket bells and whistles provides an ever-growing list of options to pimp your TD ride far beyond conventional appropriateness. And as a fan of innovation, I hope the the after-marketeers will embrace the TD’s break-apart design and offer some tactical stock options in the near future.
The stock of the TD is, in my opinion, a massive upgrade in materials and design over the ultra-bland 10/22 wood carbine stock that’s been around relatively unchanged since it first appeared in 1964. The synthetic molding process allows the manufacturer to produce a more refined and detailed product compared to the labor-intensive, heavy, temperamental, and non-uniform attributes of wood. In fact, one of the most overt features of a basic 10/22 wood stock is its utter lack of anything but smooth untextured wood from forend to heel. The only vegetation on this barren desert of a stock is an equally uneventful black plastic butt cap.
I’ve long since lost count of the number of 10/22s that have moved into and out of my gun safe. My current inventory is two, a basic Takedown model and another tricked out stainless non-TD model that has been lightly tactified with a Blackhawk adjustable stock, scope, and a few action upgrades.
The Humble .22
With estimates of the annual global production of .22 LR cartridges at north of two billion rounds, humble might not be the best word to describe it. The diminutive size and ubiquitous proliferation of both .22 LR guns and ammo makes it rather easy to forget just how formidable a force the little plinker really is.
A sizable portion of the shooting public around the world cut their teeth on a .22 long rifle. Since its inception in 1887, the .22LR has grown to be the most versatile cartridge across almost all gun platforms from single shot derringers, through all manner of revolvers, autopistols and a dozen different actions in long guns. Even .22 LR machine guns are common. Well, not common, but you know what I mean.
Retrofitting kits are popular conversion options to turn AR-15s, 1911s, and even Glocks into .22 LR firearms for a low-cost training alternative. On a good day you can buy a thousand rounds of .22 LR for less than $50, and there are also plenty of bullet choices from #12 shot shells to subsonic to tracer rounds.
Bullet weights range from 20 grains to 60 grains leading to a wide range of velocities from a muted 575 feet per second (175 meters/second) to a squirrel vaporizing 1750 f/s (533 m/s).
Although the defensive carry crowd collectively turns up their nose at the .22 LR as being wildly inadequate for self-protection, there is a long list of dead people who would beg to differ. While human death from a .22 LR slug is not usually as swift as by larger calibers, it is certainly a very real possibility. In fact, the military in Israel used the .22 LR back in the 1990s for non-lethal crowd control, but unfortunately the .22 LR proved it did not play well with others and quickly shrugged off its non-lethal status.
As a hunting round, the .22 LR is an excellent choice for smaller game. However, more than a few North American charismatic megafauna have met their doom through three grams of twenty-two caliber lead.
The Takedown Lowdown
At the heart of a Takedown 10/22 is its ability to quickly, easily, and safely come apart without tools. Followed by the ability to quickly, easily, and safely reassemble back into a fully functioning rifle all while the sights remain zeroed.
I’ve played with several other takedown and survival rifles over the decades, and I think I can safely say that the TD is in a class by itself. There are some larger caliber and custom builds out there that rival the simplicity and reliability of the TD, but at 3 to 10 times the money. The other similar priced options are usually more in the realm of a compromised survival gun rather than a 100% rifle that happens to be engineered to separate into smaller pieces as needed. And to add icing on the Takedown cake, as a direct descendant of Grandpa 10/22 it is heir to dozens of aftermarket accessories and magazine options.
The previous starlet of the survival .22 world was a fat bottomed girl named Henry. While the Henry’s AR7 is not much of a looker, or a shooter for that matter, it did float. Although I have not personally tested the Takedown’s buoyancy, I’m pretty sure it can’t swim. And personally, I've never given much thought to whether or not a gun would float. In fact, the only other potential floater I've come across is a bulbous-gripped marine flare gun which is actually, in spite of what you see in the movies, more of a glorified fireworks launcher than a survival pistol. Sure, a properly stored AR7 is a fine option, but for actual shooting work, leave that to the TD since it will shoot round after round with the same reliability as every other Piper Cub flying around out there.
My first foray into the takedown gun world was with a Savage 24 Series P over/under 20 gauge/.22 magnum. A sharp yank on the forearm popped it off and the barrel unhooked from the action and stock. The barrel was the longest piece at 24 inches making this single-shot combo gun only four inches longer than the longest part of the TD which happens to be the stock/receiver half. The barrel half of the TD is 18.5 inches chamber to muzzle. Gravity is also a factor between the two because the hollow stock of the TD and its svelte barrel only draws about 4 pounds 11 ounces of tug from the earth. The TD’s overall length of 37 inches is the same as the standard 10/22 carbine we all know and love.
I won’t deny the coolness factor of a takedown rifle that comes with a well-made padded Cordura nylon zippered pack. Especially a black one with Molle webbing and a prominent red Ruger logo. But beyond that, I find it is more a storage case that works well for transport. Frankly, I’ll leave the guns to Ruger, but I get to choose my own backpacks.
If the rifle is all you are packing, then the accompanying backpack is comically large. But add an optic, 25-round mags, a few range tools, targets, and some lunch and the pack comes into it’s own. For general preparedness, the pack is fine. But for actual survivalist situations, the gun is much more useful as part of a larger overall kit that, of course, includes a larger overall backpack.
And speaking of the 25 round mag that Ruger sells, it holds two-and-a-half times more ammo than the standard 10-round rotary mag, but takes up five times as much space and is three-and-a-quarter times as heavy. The 25-round mag wins on convenience, but that’s about all. However, it certainly has not stopped me from packing a couple loaded 25-rounders in my Takedown bag.
And as if the mag was not big enough, Ruger now offers two attached 25-round mags in a combined reversible configuration that provides 50 shots with less bulk and weight than two separate 25ers. But price-wise, it's sixes.
Shooting the Takedown is almost indistinguishable from a non-TD model. In fact the only topside indication its a TD is the knurled barrel nut and small gap in the smooth plastic. And if you flip this puppy over and look between its legs, you will notice this boy has a little lever recessed into the forearm.
The TD disassembles and reassembles equally fast, and faster than popping the slide off a Glock. For a right hander, you use your right thumb or index finger to pull back the slide lever, and with your left hand and the finger or thumb of your choosing, you pull on the forearm lever and rotate the two halves in the only way they will turn. Just reverse the process to reassemble, or, oh hell, Ruger warnings be dammed, just slam the halves together and twist. It's not the best for the mechanism, but if you really need to get that shot off fast, you can worry later about the wear and tear on your gun if you're still breathing.
The TD performs as advertised and punches holes in the same place regardless of how many times its been cut in half. Although I've never needed it, Ruger did plan for the future by engineering in a way to maintain the tightness of the mechanism. A round nut almost an inch in diameter adjusts the spacing between barrel and receiver ensuring centuries of shooting with zero play in the works. In fact I'd bet the barrel would wear out faster than the business ends of the takedown assembly.
Cleaning a standard 10/22 must not have been a priority given the rifle's design. As anyone with a Ruger Mark II or III .22 auto pistol knows, Grandpa Ruger never designed his auto guns for routine housekeeping or disassembly. The TD, on the other hand, gives you easy action access without crawling through a 19-inch long tube in order to wipe out all the grit and lead left behind from a few thousand bangs.
From a survival rifle standpoint, the Ruger Takedown 10/22 has a little bit to be desired. It was designed as a special version of the venerable 10/22 that could take up less space as needed. It's not lighter, smaller, and certainly not cheaper than a standard 10/22. The TD has no storage bay in the stock, nor does it come in a ultralight compact fluorescent orange version. Sling swivels are not included, and there is no hidden compartment in the grip. As mentioned above, the TD does not float, and the barrel does not fit inside the stock. It does, however, score big on dependability, simplicity, plastic and stainless steel durability, and most of all, its exclusive diet of any .22 long rifle cartridge.
Unlike many rifles in the survival genre, the Ruger Takedown is a working gun that just happens to come apart easily. When as one, the TD components behave the same as any other bombproof rifle that can squirt 40 grains of hollow point lead downrange all day long.
But is the Takedown the ultimate survival rifle? Well, ultimate might be too strong a word. Perhaps "best" or "excellent" or even "near perfect." Personally, I think the TD is on its way to ultimate status, but Ruger or the aftermarketers will need to play the full survival card and ramp up the SHTF potential of this .22 rifle before I feel comfortable calling it the "ultimate.”