July 25, 2018
If there was ever a gun perfectly suited to its time, it's the Ruger Standard .22 semiauto pistol, Bill Ruger's enduring triumph of modern manufacturing, the relentless pursuit of a vision and- and this is important- an uncanny sense of what the American public wanted.
Ruger's design for the Standard used state of the art manufacturing techniques he'd learned while working for Auto Ordinance throughout World War II, designing a new machine gun for the army. Despite completion and successful testing of the Ruger design, World War II was ending, the army lost interest in new small arms, and Ruger was transferred to the electronic components division.
Bill Ruger had the good fortune to live in the right neighborhood. His neighbor, Alex Sturm, had been in the OSS in World War II, married Teddy Roosevelt's granddaughter, and more importantly, collected guns. The two men became fast friends, and it was Sturm who provided the $50,000 seed money to launch the new gun company.
The Ruger Standard came into a market filled with classic .22 pistols, including the John Browning-designed Colt Woodsmen, and the High Standard target pistol. But, both those guns were substantially more costly than the Ruger, and out of reach for many of the returning World War II vets.
Ruger got a huge boost in 1953 when master competitor and gunsmith, Jim Clark, won the National Civilian Championship at Camp Perry with an out-of-the-box Ruger .22. The only modification was black friction tape wrapped around the grip. Much of Clark's spectacularly successful gunsmithing business, and later years, was modifying the pistol for target shooting.
The Standard came to the end of its product line in 1981. The next year marked the introduction of the MK II .22, followed several years later by the MK III. All told, Ruger's inexpensive .22 pistol has been in continuous production for 65 years.
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