This Month in History: William Ruger Is Born

  • Joey Upper

Were he still alive, William Ruger would be 104 as of June 21.

Born in Brooklyn, William Ruger went on to help found one of the great firearms companies of the 20th and 21st centuries.

So, how did he get there?

Let’s fast-forward a bit, all the way up to early 1949. Ruger had been making hand tools for the past few years, but business was not booming. He was $40,000 in debt and ready to shut down his business.

Ruger became business partners with a man named Alexander Sturm, and as Ammoland recounts it:

Ruger showed Sturm a prototype of something new that he was working on, harking back to his previous life with the military and arms development. Sturm liked what he saw and agreed to bankroll the project with $50,000. Immediately, the two men began laying the foundation for what would become one of the largest firearms companies in the United States. The first Ruger “factory” was in a small, unassuming building affectionately dubbed the “Red Barn” across the street from a railroad depot. The company’s first offering was equally unassuming: a semi-automatic .22-caliber pistol designed for plinking. It would become known as the Ruger Standard.


By early October 1949, the first plinksters were heading off the line and on the way to eager customers. By January 1950, more than a thousand had been shipped.

By February 1950, more than 5,000 were on back-order. By that summer, the backlog was up to 9,000 guns and they could only produce a thousand a month.

The rest is history.

Sturm passed away suddenly in 1951, but the dream he helped to realize has helped put six-shooters, plinksters, hunting rifles (including my own), and sporting rifles into the hands of millions.

It wasn’t until 2000 when Ruger retired in favor of his son. He passed away two years later. Although no one with the name Ruger has stood at the helm since 2006, the company continues to be one of the great manufacturers and easily-recognized firearms brands in the U.S.

And seriously, if you don’t have one of the American series rifles, do so. It’s one of the best firearms purchases I have ever made.

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