This Ruger Standard Model was manufactured in August of 1956 according to the company records. It is a self-loading, blowback operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The pistol has been designed to operate as a single action firearm that utilizes an internal hammer. The original finish was a deep blue with a chrome plated trigger, but due to age and use, some of the original blue finish on this specimen is worn away. The Patridge sights includes a blade front sight and a square notch rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage only. The MK-1 is fed by a single column 9 round detachable box magazine. On the pistol's butt there is a European style heel magazine release. The thumb safety is located behind the left grip which also acts as a slide hold open device. The pistol came from the factory with a 4 3/4 inch tapered barrel with 6 grooves and a right hand twist making one turn in 14 inches. The pistol has a total length of 9 inches and an unloaded weight of 36 ounces. This firearm does not incorporate any type of slide hold open mechanism to let the operator know when the last round has been fired. Although the slide thumb safety lever can be pushed upward when the slide is at its rearward most position thus locking the slide open for general cleaning. The checkered grip panels are a black hard rubber and sport a die-cast Ruger logo on the left grip only.
Some folks envision the Luger pistol when they see this firearm. There was probably some confusion when the original ad for the pistol first appeared in the American Rifleman. Some folks might have even thought that the “R” in Ruger was a misprint. Could this possibly be an ad for a new .22 caliber Luger with a price of $37.50? A glance at the bottom of that ad set things right when the reader then understood that this pistol was manufactured by a new company just starting out called the Sturm, Ruger & Company from Southport, Connecticut.
While working in his garage, Ruger successfully duplicated two WWII era captured Baby Nambu pistols that he received from a U.S. Marine. Ruger did not market his copied Baby Nambu pistols, but came up with a pistol design that is still with us today. He used the Nambu style rear cocking device and modified the Nambu's silhouette and added a 4.75" barrel with fixed sights. The slide on Ruger's Standard model pistol was different as well, the conventional slide form on pistols of the day were on the outside and usually found on the top of the firearm. Ruger employed a cylindrical bolt that operated within a tubular receiver on the Standard model pistol. This tubular bolt design also meant that the sights remained fixed when firing, they are mounted on non-moving parts of the firearm. Another unique aspect of the pistol is that it was constructed of facing halves stamped from two pieces of flat sheets of steel and then welded together.
The original Ruger pistol called the Standard model, had no model number because it was the first, and only gun made by Ruger. The company stated that it was the first overall improvement in automatic pistol design since the Browning patent of 1905. The Sturm, Ruger company first introduce the Standard Model in 1949. Just as soon as this model was on the market, new versions, and small design modifications and refinements began to be produced with a total of 30 variations being recognized today, excluding the MK-II and newer models. The word "MARK" is the English way to denote a change and is often abbreviated with the letters "MK". The production of the Standard Model MK-1(pronounced Mark 1) ran until December 31, 1981 when it was succeeded by the MK-II. The one-millionth Ruger MK-1 pistol came off the assembly line in 1979, and by 1981 there was in excess of 1.250,00 that were produced. In 1949 the price for a new Ruger pistol was $37.50 and in 1981, the last year of production for the MK-I, the price for a new pistol was $126.00.
A brief history of the Sturm, Ruger company.
After WWII in 1946, Ruger rented space in a barn in Southport, CT where he formed the Ruger Corporation. He started the company with the goal of producing sporting firearms. Shortly thereafter he perfected the design of the Ruger .22 caliber target pistol and obtained $50,000 in financing from the Sturm family. In October of 1949, Sturm, Ruger officially opened for business. Alexander Sturm who was a graduate of Yale Art School is responsible for designing the company's trademark. Later, an article about the new company in the American Rifleman brought in the first orders. Soon thereafter, the Southport post office was forced to expand just to handle the mail that the Ruger company was receiving. Within a year, Sturm, Ruger had repaid the Sturm family's $50,000 investment; this was also the last money that the company ever borrowed. Sturm died in November of 1951 at the young age of 29 from viral hepatitis. Ruger took over control of the company's management, while Sturm's estate retained its interest in the company. William B. Ruger continued to direct the company until his death in 2002.
William B. Ruger's credo was "Arms Makers for Responsible Sportsmen." He created firearms not only for hunters and target shooters, but for folks who purchased guns for their esthetics and their precision. The company stock has been publicly traded since 1969, then starting in 1990, Sturm, Ruger began trading on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol of "RGR". So far, the Company has made a profit every year of its existence. Ruger has manufactured well over 20 million firearms for both sporting and law enforcement use. Today they have branched out into other endeavors such as the automotive parts market and manufacturing the cast titanium golf club heads for the BIG BERTHA drivers. The Company's corporate headquarters are still located in Southport, CT and that barn where it all started, well it is still standing today.
It would not be fair if I did not as well mention the controversy that Mr. Ruger created with his letter to members of the House and Senate on March 30th, 1989. In short, it is thought that his letter was the genesis for some parts of the legislation that was drafted 5 years later in the Assault Weapons Ban. Not only that, but in an interview with Tom Brokaw, Mr. Ruger went on to say that "no honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun" and "I never meant for simple civilians to have my 20 and 30 round magazines". These comments brought down the wrath from angry gun owners even though Mr. Ruger had actually advocated for a 15 round magazine limit. Still, it shocked the firearms community to hear such comments coming from an important firearms manufacturer. Today, the Ruger company no longer stands by this line of thinking and is actively selling high capacity magazines to the general public.