Last week Ruger unveiled their new 10/22 Breakdown rifle. They have also already been spotted in the wild. Here are my thoughts on the new rifle...
Its an incredibly awesome rifle!..... Its perfectly executed!..... They are selling it at the perfect price point!..... I have no desire whatsoever to buy one. Seriously. None.
Here is the thing... Ruger brought forth what seems like a fantastic new rifle. Its a well thought out and executed design, and it very well may be the best way to pack a .22 lr rifle now available on the market... and they even give you the perfect pack to do it with! The most amazing thing is that it looks like it shoots just as great as a standard, non-breakdown 10/22. Thats an amazing feat. All-in-all this looks like a rifle that is light years ahead of the old AR-7 Survival Rifle. For only about $75 more than the AR-7 (or there is also the Marlin Papoose thats been out for a while), you are getting a far superior rifle and a great way to save some space if you need to pack a .22 rifle. But I personally have no use for this gun, and I question how many people in the marketplace actually will as well. I think that the number of people who have a true need to pack a breakdown .22 rifle often enough to justify a $300 expenditure are actually few and far between.
I also think that .22 rifles the likes of the 10/22 are a specialized tool in our gunnie tool boxes. Yes, they are occasionally used for plinking and teaching youngsters how to shoot, but generally they are working guns whose major underlying purpose is to put game in the pot. This particular 10/22 is an even more specialized tool than most. These breakdown 10/22s should be even more so working based guns than other 10/22s are, and will primarily be purchased by individuals who actually need a .22 rifle that can break down into a compact and stow-able piece of gear. Will people pay a premium price for the breakdown model even if they dont have an actual need for such a rifle? Will there be enough individuals who do to make this a profitable venture for Ruger? At this point we just dont know.
I do believe that their true target market is limited. Yes, many people will buy this simply because its the latest and greatest whiz-bang to hit the market, and the cool factor alone is gonna make some people buy it. However, as far as actual need is concerned I do think that demand (especially long term demand which will be the primary factor in profitability) will be lacking. I just think the major problem here is that there are very few people out there that absolutely need a breakdown .22 as a pack rifle... and many of those people who do have that need have already been making it work with a standard .22 just fine. Are they going to be willing to forgo their tried and true current rifle for the sake of dropping $300 for this new rifle? IMHO, the answer is no. Had this rifle been introduced decades ago as one of the original 10/22 offerings, many people would have just bought this breakdown version instead of their standard 10/22 that they have now had for most of their life.
Dont get me wrong... This is a great design and its really cool that there is a rifle like this from Ruger now on the market, but sadly I think that this is an idea whose poor timing is going to keep it from being what could have been the greatest .22 rifle of all time.