Blued Ruger Standard model, 1963 production
Aftermarket adjustable sights
|Place of origin||United States|
|Cartridge||.22 Long Rifle|
|Feed system||9 and 10 round magazine|
|Sights||Open iron sights, both fixed and adjustable|
The Ruger Standard model is a firearm introduced in 1949 as the first product manufactured by Sturm, Ruger and Company, and was the founding member of a product line of .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge pistols. It was marketed as an inexpensive .22 caliber rimfire intended for casual sport and target shooting, and plinking. Created by firearms expert William B. Ruger, the Standard model and its offspring went on to become the most accepted and successful .22 semi-automatic pistol ever produced.
In 1949 renowned inventor, gun designer, self-taught engineer, and entrepreneur Bill Ruger wished to produce and market a new handgun; and acquired a World War II Japanese Nambu pistol from a returning US Marine. Ruger successfully duplicated two Baby Nambu pistols in his garage. Using the Nambu's silhouette and bolt system, Ruger produced his first prototype, but lacked the venture capital necessary to fund its introduction. When potential financial backer Alex Sturm was shown the prototype Ruger had created, he was impressed by its sleek traditional aesthetic and its slight resemblance to the classic nostalgia-evoking Luger pistol.
Realizing that prospective buyers would share his sentiment, Sturm quickly signed on board with an initial investment of $50,000 and the two teamed up to create what was to become an iconic American firearms manufacturing company, Sturm, Ruger and Co. Ruger’s new product was simply christened the “Standard” model. Intended as a low-cost recreation and leisure product for outdoor, hunting, and firearms enthusiasts. Ruger pioneered a number of simple and innovative manufacturing techniques used in the production of the new pistol, including using piano wire coiled springs in the lockwork in lieu of the flat springs most manufacturers were using at the time, and forming the receivers from two stamped sheet metals halves welded together.
Visionary practices such as these worked well with a firearm which needed to handle only .22 rimfire pressures, and the cost savings it produced allowed Sturm and Ruger to radically undersell the competition which was still harnessed to outdated and expensive manufacturing techniques. Financier Sturm, an amateur heraldry aficionado, made his own contribution in the form of the company’s trademark “Red Eagle” coat of arms emblem, which was featured as a medallion on the left grip panel. A favorable review published in the American Rifleman magazine penned by the notable firearms authority Major General Julian S. Hatcher, coupled with a subdued advertisement printed in the same magazine resulted in a great deal of interest from the public. The suggested retail price for the new pistol was a reasonable and very competitive $32.50 US.
Checks from would-be purchasers soon rolled in, but as Ruger was firmly entrenched in the “old school” of financial responsibility, none were cashed until pistols actually shipped, setting a standard for “in the black” operation which would serve the company well in the future. In a few months the seed money was all spent, but by then the first 100 Standard pistols had been built and distributed to the initial purchasers.
From the time of its introduction in the fall of 1949, the new pistol was a success, and though it faced competition from the beginning, it soon dominated a large share of the rimfire pistol market segment. Unfortunately Alex Sturm did not survive to see the corporation's ultimate success, suffering an untimely demise from viral hepatitis in November 1951. In memorial and as a mark of respect and bereavement, Ruger ordered the background of Sturm’s eagle emblem changed from red to black on future production models of the popular and successful firearm they produced and marketed together.
The Standard model was under constant production in basically the same form for the next 33 years, but the new corporation expanded the basic Standard archetype into a product line of pistols over time by the introduction of a number of variant models. These took the form of offering additional barrel lengths and configurations, creating versions optimized for target shooting, and adding the finish option of stainless steel. The line was also refined with two mechanical “MK” series upgrades, the Mk II and Mk III, in 1982 and 2004. In 1999 18 versions of this popular pistol could be found in the Sturm Ruger catalog, and with over 2 million sold it eventually became the most prolific and well-liked .22 automatic pistol of all time.
In many ways the Standard model is a groundbreaking design, lacking the slide found on conventional pistols, instead it sports a cylindrical bolt which cycles inside a tubular receiver in a manner more characteristic of a rimfire rifle. The bolt of the pistol features protruding “ears” at its rear which are grasped and pulled rearward to feed the initial round and cock the action. Using the basic blowback form of operation, the Standard model originally came with a blued carbon steel finish and was equipped with a 4.75-inch (12.1 cm) tapered barrel.
The magazine held 9 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition and was held in place by a catch on the bottom of the grip frame. Standard models came with Patridge style fixed iron open sights with the rear sight securely mounted in a dovetail. The grip panels were hard black checkered Butaprene synthetic rubber, with pre-1950 pistols featuring the “Red Eagle” trademark as originally designed by Alex Sturm. The manual safety on the Standard model could only be engaged when the pistol was cocked, and the bolt could be locked open by activating the safety with the bolt held back.
The bolt was left “in the white” with the unfinished steel providing a visual contrast with the blued receiver. In 1954 a new model with a barrel length of 6 inches was added to the Standard lineup. In 1971, one of the few engineering changes ever made to the Standard model took place when the original 22 year old receiver forming dies wore out. As a precursor to changes to come with the 1982 introduction of the MK II series, the slot for the magazine follower extension on the grip frame was moved from the right to the left side.
Designated the “A 100” frame modification, this alteration facilitated the eventual improvement of the Standard pistol by the addition of a bolt hold open device as part of the eventual MK II upgrade. The pistol grip panels and magazines from older Standard models can not be used on post-1971 pistols due to this change, but the later magazines can still be used on pre-1971 guns by moving the magazine follower button to the opposite side. As the Standard model reached the end of its product lifecycle in 1981, a special edition run of 5000 4.75-inch pistols built of stainless steel were manufactured. These pistols were shipped in special wooden cases and featured an engraving of Bill Ruger’s signature.
MK I Target (1950-1981)
Introduced in 1950, the MK I Target model was basically the same as the Standard pistol, except that it boasted a 6.875-inch (17.46 cm) barrel, adjustable target style trigger, a “Micro” adjustable rear sight, and a front sight blade undercut to reduce glare. In 1952 a 5.25-inch (13.3 cm) barreled version of the MK I Target was added to the lineup, but manufactured only through 1957, making it a collectible rarity today. A 5.5-inch (14 cm) heavy bull barreled version of the MK I Target became available in 1963, eventually becoming the most popular length for Ruger Target MK pistols. Like their Standard model brethren, target models underwent the A 100 grip frame redesign in 1971.
- Quinn, Boge. Ruger_50th.htm “Ruger 50th Anniversary .22” Gunblast Web site. Accessed January 8 2009.
- Metcalf, Dick. “50 years of Ruger Auto Pistols” About.com Web site. Accessed January 13 2009.
- Wilson, R. L.
- “Ruger MKI / MKII / MKIII” Nazarian’s gun recognition guide Web site. Accessed January 8 2009.
- Wilson, R. L. "Ruger And His Guns; A History Of The Man, The Company And Their Firearms." 1996. ISBN 0-7858-2103-1.