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The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

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Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world! Last time we talked about the AMT Automag II .22 Magnum pistol. As I assumed would be the case in the comments, most of you guys love the idea, and the looks of the sizeable silver handgun but absolutely loathed the size of the grip, and the lack of consistent reliability across all models with most types of ammo. However, as with any discontinued handgun, not every example is a negative and at least a handful of you mentioned that the pistol was not only stylish but was entertaining as heck to shoot due to the gigantic fireballs the handgun produced. I think we all share the sentiment that it’d be pretty cool to have a modern, decently functioning replica of the Automag II around. This week we’re going further back to a legend within the rimfire pistol scene. Born out of the “Standard” series released in 1949, the eventual Ruger Mark or MK series of pistols would completely change the rimfire pistol scene forever. Today we’ll check out a very nicely preserved sample of the Ruger Standard model sent over to us by our friends at FirearmLand. FirearmLand has been helping us get a closer look at some of these rare and discontinued historical pieces so be sure to check out their website if you’re interested in collecting or even selling some of your rare firearms!

More Rimfire Report @ TFB:

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

Someone can correct me if I am wrong but from what I understand of Ruger and how they produce and serialize firearms, narrowing down exactly which model of Standard or Mark series pistol you have is even more complicated than finding just its serial number. The serial number on this particular pistol reads “19064” which according to the Ruger Mark pistol serial number index indicates that it was produced sometime between 1951 and 1952. This should mean that the example shown in the picture is a Ruger Standard OR a Mark I Target pistol. Very few examples of the Mark I Target actually exist when compared to the very similar “Standard Model” which is why there is a lot of confusion. However for reference, the Mark I Target apparently was only produced in very low numbers (1,500) between 1951 and 1952. The following statement by Ruger should be taken into account.

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

Ruger does not necessarily produce firearms in serial number order. There are occasions when blocks of serial numbers have been manufactured out of sequence, sometimes years later. Also, within a model family the same serial number prefix may be used to produce a variety of different models, all in the same block of serial numbers. And in some cases, firearms may be stored for a length of time before they are shipped.

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

The only other piece of information that can help us identify the early Ruger MK pistols is the set of features that they typically came with. The Ruger Standard featured a shorter barrel, different grips, and of course drift-adjustable only rear sights. The Mark I Target came with slightly larger rear adjustable sights and a nearly 7″ long barrel giving the Target model better velocity from the 22LR cartridge and a longer sight radius for accuracy. As far as I can tell, the example sent over to us by FirearmLand is a pristine example of an early Ruger Standard Model which can be considered to be the progenitor of the entire Ruger “Mark” series of pistols.

Reliability, collectability, and Price History

As much as I’d like to sing the Ruger Standard’s praises, the pistol didn’t have the prettiest of reputations without an extensive amount of care and maintenance. The Ruger Standard and Mark I pistols are often said to have a “poor trigger” and when combined with the relatively crude fixed sights, the Ruger Standard pistol wasn’t easy to shoot. However, being the first product manufactured by Ruger, the Mark I holds a lot of historical significance for not just the company, but for the entirety of the rimfire handgun market.

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

The Ruger Standard is quite the collectible piece as a result of its status as Ruger’s first firearm. Avid collectors of the Ruger Standard and Mark I series of pistols will no doubt know that “Red Eagle” versions of the pistol hold a special significance as pistols manufactured before 1952 – the year co-founder Alexander Strum passed away at only 28 years of age. Sometime shortly after Strum’s death, Ruger changed the color of the eagle emblem to black, to commemorate his passing. No doubt both versions probably have special significance but pre-Mark series handguns typically go for a higher price when kept in good condition or sometimes even unfired in the original box.

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

If you haven’t had a dollar inflation wake-up call in a while, I’m here to provide you with one. The Ruger Standard upon release in 1949 sold for a whopping retail asking price of $37.50 ($491.97 in 2024 dollars). While inflation has definitely skyrocketed beyond belief, the relative price of the pistol compared to the dollar is about the same if not just a hair bit less with a modern MK IV Standard pistol having an MSRP of just $569. The modern variants of the Standard pistol also feature push-button magazine releases, bolt catch/releases, and a modern safety design – so none of the historical charm that came with the original design but perhaps the spirit of the overall design.

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

Final Thoughts

The original Ruger Standard is one piece I’d really love to get my hands on and put on paper against my modern Mark IV which I use for Steel Challenge. I would be interested to see how a thicker barrel in good condition does against the paper-thin straw-type barrel that the Mark IV 22/45 pistols feature. I’d like to extend a personal thank you once again to the folks from FirearmLand who provided us with these nice, high-quality pictures of the pistol that they have in their inventory. If you guys are interested in picking up one for yourself as a collector’s piece, you can probably find one over on their GunBroker page. In the meantime, stay tuned for next week’s edition of The Rimfire Report, and let us know what kind of experiences you’ve had with the Ruger Standard or Mark I pistols! Thanks for reading!

The Rimfire Report: The Legendary Ruger Standard .22 Pistol

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