Thursday, June 20, 2024

Eleven Rugers that never made it

 Sturm, Ruger and Company has been pretty good and putting out products that the customer wants, but sometimes they miss the mark or fail at perfecting the product.

In no particular order:


We'll start with the Ruger XGI. The XGI was a scaled-up version of the Mini-14, which is a scaled-down version of the M-14. In reality these were M-14s built Ruger's way. Calibers were .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. 

Although they were advertised in the Ruger Catalog from '84 to '86 none were ever shipped due to functioning issues.

10-17 HMR

The same can be said of the Ruger 10-17 HMR. Built on the 10-22 Magnum platform the 10-17 HMR was chambered in .17 Hornady Rimfire Magnum. Introduced at the 2004 SHOT show, the rifle supposedly never went into full production as the .17 HMR develops more energy than the 10/22's blow back design could handle. After a couple of years, Ruger dropped the 10-17 HMR from the catalog.
Picture below is a 10/22 Magnum.


In 1999 Ruger introduced a new P-series pistol, the P97, it was basically a P95 (9mm) chambered in .45 ACP. The polymer framed gun was never updated as its 9mm cousin was and sales of the gun floundered. Ruger discontinued the pistol in 2004 when it was replaced by the P345. 
The pistol was not a complete failure, they did make little less than 54,000 pistols before it was dropped from the catalog.

22LR/22Magnum Bearcat Convertible

In 1993 Ruger introduced the 3rd revision of the diminutive Bearcat revolver, this time with a .22 Magnum "convertible" cylinder. In April of 1994 the guns were recalled due to concerns the Magnum cylinders were not timed properly. Many of the owners of these guns have stated their revolvers shoot just fine.
Some believe that the issue was not with the timing, but with the 22 Magnum chambering. They believe the pressure was too much for the frames and thus Ruger recalled them. There is no other evidence to support this except for the fact that Ruger never again offered the Bearcat with a 22 Magnum cylinder.

357 Maximum Blackhawk

The 357 Maximum cartridge was originally developed by wildcatter Elgin Gates as the .357 SuperMag, in 1983 a joint venture between Remington and Ruger brought the .357 Maximum to the market. Ruger chambered their New Model Blackhawk revolver in the cartridge. It didn't take long for Ruger to notice the frames were being "flame cut" from the excessive blast through gap between the cylinder and forcing cone. Ruger discontinued the revolver after 7,500 or so guns were built.


In the late 1980's Ruger hired UZI designer Uziel Gal to redesign his infamous pistol/carbine. The result was a closed bolt select fire version that had many improvements over the original UZI design. Ruger hoped the gun would be adopted by US Government agencies that had a need for such a CQB weapon. Unfortunately, the gun never found favor with the alphabet agencies. 

Being that the gun fired from a closed bolt, it could probably be built as a semi-auto only version for civilian sales, but alas this was the Bill Ruger Sr. era and that wasn't going to happen on his watch. Only 1,500 of the pistol/carbines were produced before it was discoed.


In 1996 Ruger introduced a lever action carbine. Although it was chambered in three calibers (.17, .22 & .44) the .44 Magnum was the most interesting. The styling was reminiscent of the Savage model 99, which was a favorite of Bill Ruger and one which was still in production at the time this rifle was introduced.

The 96/44 was dropped from the catalog in 2006 with around 23,000 units produced, the rimfire version was discoed in 2009 with close to 57,000 being produced.

Red Label

Many people might not even know that Ruger once produced shotguns. Introduced in 1978 the Red Label was an over-under shotgun that Ruger hoped to compete with the higher priced European brands.

The Red Label was built in the three most popular chamberings 12, 20 & 28 gauge. The gun was expensive to produce and weighed more than the typical over-under.

Ruger discontinued the shotgun in 2011, then reintroduced the gun in 2013 with a newly designed receiver and a $500 drop in price. This new version was better built, lighter and easier to shoot but alas the gun was dropped from the catalogs in 2014. Around 150,000 were produced, so it is not rare by any means, but not very well known outside of the Ruger fan base.

Gold Label

Another Ruger shotgun is the Gold Label, this one even less known. The Gold Label was a hammerless side by side shotgun introduced in 2002 in 12 gauge only. The gun was not very popular and in 2006 it too was dropped from the catalog. These are considered somewhat rare as only 3,361 of them were produced during its 3-year run.

Deerfield Carbine

The Ruger Deerfield Carbine was a 44 Magnum carbine, introduced in 2000. This was a modern replacement of the beloved Ruger 44 Carbine which was discontinued in 1985.

The rifle, also known as the 99/44, was built on the Mini-14 platform and used a 4-round rotary magazine. 17,441 of these were made before the gun was discontinued in 2006.

Hawkeye Pistol

The Ruger Hawkeye pistol was a single shot pistol based on the Blackhawk. Chambered in .256 Winchester Magnum (a .357 Mag necked down to .25 cal), the pistol was produced for about a year in 1963-64. Only 3,075 were built making them quite collectable.