I Was Wrong About Ruger
Perhaps a decade ago I looked at Ruger with general disdain.
This feeling was a combination of low regard for their products and low regard for their politics. But let’s put aside for a moment the chunky, ugly pistols I only ever saw used by security guard companies and the Mini-14 with its pitiful attempts at putting bullets in the same place.
I had low regard for their products, which I saw as simply facsimilies of something else. Ruger Standard? Copy of the Nambu in a different caliber. Ruger 10/22? Copy, at least in style, of the M1 Carbine in a different caliber. Mini-14? Copy of the M14 in a different caliber. Ruger M77? Copy of the Mauser 98 in a bunch of different calibers. I thought to myself, couldn’t they make anything original?
It was within recent memory, at least at the time, that Bill Ruger, Sr told America, “No honest man needs more than ten rounds in a magazine.” Indeed, some of the first proposals for magazine capacity limits came from Mr. Ruger himself, and in 1989 the company voluntarily stopped selling its most “military-like” versions of the Mini-14 – a joke if there ever was one – to civilians.
But even a decade ago, Bill Ruger, Sr was no longer involved with the company, nor were any members of the Ruger family. The people from Ruger who had gone before Congress asking for gun control were no longer with the company.
No one from Ruger has ever come forward to self-flagellate before gun owners in atonement for the sins of their corporate fathers, at least not to my knowledge. However, the company now makes just about everything anti-gun folks hate, and they don’t have any qualms about selling them to regular people who aren’t criminals.
In addition to that, the Ruger firearms of today don’t suck. Faint praise indeed, but to tell the truth, Ruger firearms of today are fantastic, and the selection Ruger offers is an order of magnitude greater than the Ruger catalog of old.
I’ll forgive them the production of unnecessarily heavy piston ARs. They make up for that with regular old ARs that are as reliable and accurate as anything in their price range. Their 1911s have carved a significant chunk of business away from other manufacturers because of their quality and low price. The LCP II is a massive step forward for pocket pistols.
“But wait,” you say. “Earlier you were complaining about stuff they copied from other guns, and now you’re mentioning more copies of other guns. What gives?”
It would be most polite to say that my thinking has evolved, much like a politician trying to explain a flip-flop on a hot-button issue. It’s not that they made low-rent copies of existing high-quality firearms. Some of these “copies” were and are vastly improved versions of the original.
Take the Nambu, for instance – no one liked it, not even the Imperial Japanese Army. But everyone enjoys shooting the Mark IV, especially the 22/45 variants. Though I think highly of the M1 Carbine, apparently no one else shares my feelings, because quality new production models are few and far between. The 10/22, on the other hand, is likely to be one of the most produced rifles in history. With results like these, we should be asking them to “copy” more designs.
Some copies are too blatant to ignore, though. We’ll forget that the Mini-14 still exists and consider the Ruger 1911, ARs, and LCP.
Maybe Ruger just wanted to sell more guns. Maybe some executive at Ruger wanted a 1911 and an AR and didn’t want another company’s logo on the side. I don’t know why they started making them, but I can’t argue with the end result. They are affordably priced and highly performing.
As far as the LCP II goes, I say this as a longtime KelTec P3AT owner and fan – Ruger took the P3AT and made it much, much better. Competition is a good thing, motivating others to improve their products – or in the case of KelTec, to make the same old P3AT, introduce 27 new products each year, and ship 2 of them to dealers.
I’ve not even mentioned products like the Ruger Precision Rifle and Ruger Precision Rimfire Rifle, rifles that have Made Bolt Actions Great Again. It’s very clear to me that these rifles were made with serious input from serious shooters. Their performance compares fairly to any similar rifle from any manufacturer.
Gone from the Ruger catalog are the hideous P89 and P95, and yes, P89/P95 owners, I know you love them for how reliable and durable they are, even if they have horrible triggers and sights carved from bits of rock. But you can’t be cool if you don’t look cool, and the P89 and P95 and all their relatives and derivatives are the farthest thing from cool.
I’m not entirely sold on the coolness factor of the SR9/American/Security line, but they are fine pistols indeed from a shooting standpoint, and one cannot argue with the price.
I think the turning point for me was the LCR, purchased just short of 10 years ago. I had taken to carrying a J-Frame revolver in my pocket, a Smith & Wesson 442, and enjoyed both carrying and shooting it – or so I thought. Once I held and dry fired an LCR, I immediately sold the 442 and have never looked back. The Ruger was both easier to carry and easier to shoot.
I don’t think I was alone in my snobbishness of years past. I don’t think I was the only gun owner who discovered Bill Ruger Sr’s comments, took one look at Ruger’s product catalog in the late 90s and early 2000s, and wrote them off forever.
But I was obviously far outnumbered by the people who didn’t write Ruger off, as it’s the largest gunmaker in the world now, and it has been for some time. Some people even went to work for the company, improving its corporate attitude and its product line simultaneously.
I won’t go so far as to say that I hated Ruger, but if you pushed me today to name my favorite major firearm manufacturer, I think Ruger would be on the shortlist. Ten years ago, I wouldn’t have believed that for a second – but today, I’m very happy to have been wrong about Ruger.
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