(Author's note: some of the comments are dated, but the sentiment expressed herein still apply to this day!)
I love Ruger firearms for many reasons. One is that they are made in America by Americans and the company is an American-owned outfit. Bill Ruger was THE American firearms entrepreneur of the 20th century, a man who was not only an engineer but a designer, and those two caps are not often worn together well. His products looked like the sort of guns Americans liked and appreciated. He was able to combine elegance with practicality.
Bill Ruger, Sr, has passed on but his legacy lives on, and to this day Ruger offers both simple working man's guns and elegant firearms that would fit in with the nicest of company.
Rugers are tough, durable, reliable, accurate, and shootable. I have not owned a Ruger shotgun or centerfire rifle but I have owned a rimfire rifle, single action revolvers, double action revolvers, rimfire pistols, and now a centerfire pistol. (Since penning this article in 2004 I purchased a Ruger Scout Rifle in .308 Winchester). They are all Great Guns.
Rugers are not perfect. They are meant to be accessible to every man, and that means holding down the price. Sometimes a design may not allow for the most elegant feature and still be affordable. And Rugers are definitely affordable. That is the final piece of the Ruger puzzle. If you want a rifle or a revolver or a pistol, Ruger makes one you can afford, no matter your financial strata.
Rugers are well-designed and well-made. When things don't work out--as they haven't in cases such as the original P85 and the XGI rifle--Ruger reworks them until they either work properly or they don't put them on the market. The P85 quickly became the P85 Mk.II and then the P89, which is a fine double stack of the Wondernine genre, and available to this day. The XGI was not ultimately a rifle that Ruger decided to market, for whatever reasons. It lives, however, in the form of the Mini-thirty Ranch Rifle which grew directly out of the XGI project. Other guns such as the early '60s Hawkeye were not ultimately successful, and were taken off the market after a couple years. The .357 Maximum of 25 years ago was the birth of a good cartridge that continues in single shot hand cannons, but it wasn't a success for Ruger because the cartridge burned away the topstraps of the Blackhawks in which it was chambered. It is no longer offered by Ruger.
Other Rugers that were indeed a success as originally built--for example the Blackhawk, M77 rifle and the Security-six series of revolvers, were not left to rest on their laurels. In the early 1970s Ruger redesigned the Blackhawks with a transfer bar ignition that finally allowed a single action revolver to be carried fully loaded with six rounds instead of five, the on-going bugaboo of traditional Colt and Colt-style guns. The Security-six, one of my personal favorite guns, evolved into the GP-100 series of even stronger and more modern double action revolvers. The .44 Magnum Redhawk was the first step in this evolution, with the resultant line-up of today being the SP101, GP-100, and Super Redhawk. Ruger intended to retire the Redhawk but it was in and of itself such a huge seller that it remains in the line-up today as something of a throwback to earlier Ruger DA designs.
The M77 rifles, which looked quite like the M98 Mauser upon which all modern centerfire rifles are at least loosely based, was upgraded to the M77Mk.II version which opened the bottom of the bolt face and turned the rifle into a true controlled round feed rather than a push feed which only looked like a Mauser. M77s today can be had in a huge variety of styles and calibers and at prices from several hundred dollars up to a couple grand, depending on what you want.
Ruger has also played the nostalgia market successfully, mainly in rimfires. The 1950s-era Bearcat was revisited with the New Bearcat, currently in the line-up. The original Mk.I autoloading pistol, the first gun ever made by Ruger, was also revisited with a 50th Anniversary Model--and in true Ruger fashion this was not a high dollar, hoity-toity pistol, but one that could be purchased by anyone at a reasonable price.
I currently have ten Rugers in my collection--not many guns by many folk's standards--but they are all keepers and I fully expect to add more Rugers to my safe in the future.
These comments aren't intended to be anything even remotely resembling a Ruger history, but that information can be found in the gun magazines and in books. No, I'm just trying to pass on why I happen to be such a huge fan of the firearms from Sturm-Ruger & Co., Inc.
copyright 2004 by the author, all rights reserved.