Ruger SR22 Review & Buyer’s Guide

Cover photo credit: Stephen Nagorny

Today we’ll do an overall review of the Ruger SR22 semi-automatic rimfire pistol.

After a couple of shooting sessions, multiple customer reviews, and several other tests, I came up with a definite verdict of this nifty little rimfire pistol.

We’ll talk about its features, characteristics, pros & cons, who’s it for, some similar alternatives, and we’ll also cover the best aftermarket options like holsters, sights, and triggers among other things.

But first, here’s a little history about the Ruger SR22 handgun.

The Ruger SR22 Pistol and the Manufacturer’s Idea

Ruger is an American manufacturer based in Southport, Connecticut, and has been a firearms production giant since 1949.

They are mainly focused on making and innovating affordable and efficient firearms that can benefit both civilians and law enforcement units.

Ruger is known for their .44 and .357 Magnum revolvers, but they are definitely into making great rimfire rifles, pistols, and revolvers that cover a wide price range, and you can find solid deals for the semi-auto Ruger LCP II .22 LR pistol and the Ruger Mark IV .22.

Best believe that Ruger has been in the rimfire business long enough to perfect their rimfire pistols, and they still find new and innovative ways to please rimfire gun enthusiasts with excellent prices.

With the Ruger SR22 handgun, I can tell that they wanted to go for a simple, short-barreled, concealed carry rimfire pistol that handles the plinking ranges well.

The manufacturer’s idea was to make an overall jack-of-all-trades gun that’s “perfect for just about anything”. We’ll do an overall evaluation of this pistol to see if that’s the case.

It’s certainly no Sig Sauer P365, but it’s a nice and lightweight pistol for newbie shooters who don’t want to bother with difficult trigger pulls.

Ruger SR22 Overview & Specifications

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The Ruger SR22 Specifications

  • Catalog model: Ruger SR22 pistol
  • Caliber: .22 LR Caliber
  • Magazine capacity: 10 +1 rounds
  • Material, finish, and construction: Aluminum slide, black anodized finish, stainless steel 1:16 RH Twist barrel with 6 grooves, polymer frame, integral Picatinny rail
  • Trigger action: DA/SA (double-action/single-action), decocking safety
  • Retail price: $399 – 459 MSRP
  • Grip frame: 2 interchangeable, black polymer grips
  • Sights: Adjustable 3-dot sights, fixed dovetailed white dot front sight, adjustable rear for windage and elevation
  • Overall length: 6.40″
  • Barrel length: 3.50″
  • Height: 4.90″
  • Width: 1.29″
  • Weight: 17.50 oz.
  • Massachusetts approved & certified: Yes
  • California approved & certified: Yes
  • Warranty: Check with the manufacturer

What Are The Features of the Ruger SR22

The Ruger SR22 Semi-Auto Rimfire Pistol is an easy-to-use, budget pistol that’s generally regarded as a durable and lightweight plinking handgun. It’s versatile and pretty decent for target shooting.

If you like using cost-effective .22 rimfire ammunition, this pistol will suit you just fine.

Let’s take a look at its features.

Trigger and Safeties

The SR22 has an interesting SA/DA trigger mode for enhanced safety.

You got an ambidextrous manual thumb safety, a decocking lever, and an ambidextrous magazine release, suitable for both left-handed and right-handed folk.

The safety is weird. It’s counterintuitive because the trigger disconnecting safety needs to be flicked upwards for firing, and downwards for safety-on. Almost 90% of handguns function in the opposite way, and that’s why some folks have problems with this gun.

Other than that, the rounded, skeletonized hammer renders the trigger pull almost lightweight, which accounts for easier cocking, better accuracy, and ease of operation.

The low-to-moderate recoil offers ease of use for rookie gun owners.

The single-action mode is a 3-pound pull, and it’s crisp and very reliable, but the double-action mode can be very gritty and difficult to pull at 7 and a half pounds. It requires a couple of stacks before it breaks.

The Taurus G2C 9mm handgun is another great SA/DA piece if you prefer a more compact firearm.

Frame, Internals, and Barrel

The Ruger SR22 has a very sleek and lightweight frame with 17.5 ounces unloaded weight, all thanks to the easy-to-rack anodized aluminum slide and durable polymer frame. The slide has serrations for nice and easy racking and chambering.

The integral Picatinny rail on the frame has no stability problems with most of the aftermarket laser sights and lights you can find on Amazon. We’ll give you some suggestions for those later on in the article.

You can use it as a concealed carry option because the fixed, stainless steel 3.5″ threaded barrel makes it quite compact in comparison to the other .22 plinkers. You can also grab a version with a non-threaded barrel on which you can easily install a muzzle brake or compensator for noise suppression.

It’s surprisingly accurate for a 3.5-inch barrel length.

The downsides are that the guide rod is plastic, and there are not many aftermarket options for this part. The return spring is also lousy, but the extractor and ejector are high-quality.

Be careful when cleaning your gun because some solvents might damage the polymer. Check out our gun cleaning guide for more info on polymer cleaners.

Rails and Sights

The front sights are dovetailed and adjustable and thank heavens for that. Most handguns have stubborn sights that are barely adjustable.

The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation via two small screws.

The three dot-sighting system has a fixed white-dot front sight and a reversible blade with 2 white dots for better accuracy and placement.

This is all thanks to the Picatinny rail with multiple cross slots for all kinds of laser and light accessories. The Picatinny rail is located in front of the trigger guard, below the barrel.

You can easily customize these adjustments and sights if you have some basic maintenance tools. There’s no need for gunsmiths.

I applaud Ruger for making the sights easily adjustable and stable when needed. It’s as if they actually listened to the customer pleas, unlike some manufacturers I know.

Ergonomics and Grip

The manufacturer has paid a lot of attention to detail when it comes to the ergonomics on this model.

The Ruger SR22 has a comfortable and versatile grip, whether you have big or small hands. You won’t have to worry about palm swells either.

You get two rubberized grip sleeves with your purchase, and even though the grip can be a hassle to remove, you have very cool aftermarket grips you can check out below.

Feeding and Reloading

The Ruger SR22 is the labrador retriever of .22 LR calibers. Rimfire handguns like the Walther P22 are known to be picky eaters, but this one isn’t.

Reloading is reliable and fast, and you can feed it basically any ammo – it works especially well with the Remington Thunderbolt .22 ammo. Just make sure it isn’t Winchester 36 Grain .22 LR ammo. I’ve seen a lot of malfunction cases with this specific ammo, and I’m not exactly sure why.

The 10-round mag is easy to feed, but the magazine release doesn’t drop on its own, so you’ll have to use both hands.

Additionally, it’s very thoughtful of the manufacturer to include two 10-round magazine extensions with extended floorplates.

There were some complaints about the Ruger SR22’s inability to feed or eject. Here’s an informative video for more information about feeding and ejecting.

The Pros & Cons of the Ruger SR22

Pros:

  • Lightweight and small
  • Reliable and has no problem with most ammo types
  • Ambidextrous safety
  • Comfy grip
  • Affordable for it’s worth

Cons:

  • Safety function is backwards (down is safe, and up is fire)
  • 7-pounds double-action trigger pull
  • Definitely has problems with Winchester 36 Grain .22 LR ammo
  • Magazine doesn’t drop, so you have to use both hands

What’s the Ruger SR22 Best Used For?

According to Ruger, the SR22 was made for a jack-of-all-trades type of shooting that can handle plinking, target practice, competitions, and the piece can also act as a self-defense carry gun.

It’s very accurate, but personally, I’d stick to plinking with this one.

This one doesn’t require a lot of hand strength. The recoil is surprisingly handleable, the trigger isn’t too gritty, and it’s not too noisy – perfect for newbies and people with arthritis.

The only scenario where this works as a small-game hunter is when you encounter a big bad wolf to scare off.

What Do Other Ruger SR22 Users Have to Say?

Here are some interesting customer reviews about the Ruger SR22.

Here’s a satisfied customer noting the pistol’s uncommon cycling method. Always remember to read the manual before doing anything else.

This customer complains about the magazine disconnect safety, as it may be confusing for some. The safety is definitely counterintuitive, because most common handguns have a down for fire, and up for safety mechanisms.

Some customers have jokingly compared the Ruger SR22 to an English car, and how “the steering wheel” is on the right side.

Disassembling & Cleaning The Ruger SR22

The Ruger is very easy to disassemble and clean, but replacing the parts was far more difficult because of the tricky recoil spring, and I could barely refit it onto the guide rod. The barrel is fixed, but you can unscrew it from the trigger guard.

Other than that, it’s a pretty straightforward procedure.

After completing all safety protocols, you first need to:

  • Release the magazine.
  • Lock back the slide, and press the takedown switch at six o’clock to release it.
  • Pull the slide back up, gently push the slide forward, and take it away from the rail.
  • Flip the takedown lever 90 degrees down and remove the recoil spring.
  • Done!

There have been lots of customer complaints about the stubborn grip. It’s unbelievably difficult to remove.

Here’s an informative video for disassembling the Ruger SR22.

Alternatives to the Ruger SR22

The SR22 has great ergonomics and handling, but the trigger might be too gritty for some.

Don’t fret, you can find interesting alternative handguns that are similar in build and operation with the Ruger SR22.

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ 9mm

smith and wesson M&P9

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It’s not a .22 caliber, but it has a very similar feel to the SR22 in ergonomics.

The M&P Shield EZ 8-round 9mm handgun is built for self-defense and home protection.

The trigger is crisp and light, it’s easy to operate and easy to clean, and you can find a lot of aftermarket options for this one.

Walther PPK

walther ppk

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Here’s the Walther PPK, an astounding .22 caliber pistol with a similar feel.

This one is for those of you who enjoy shooting a classic-looking plinking gun, with a comfy grip, manual safety, and high durability. It’s German engineering at its finest.

The trigger is somewhat similar to the SR22, and the recoil is exactly the same.

Walther P22

If you’re looking for an easier slide rack, you can definitely enjoy plinking and target practice with this one.

The Walther P22 has the exact characteristics besides the ergonomics and the recoil feel, but it has a crisp 4-pound, single-action trigger, with low-profile 3-dot sights.

The recoil might be stronger, but it’s perfect for those who are looking for a quick-reaction, small, lightweight gun, built for quick reflexes.

Walther P22 California, Semi-Automatic, .22LR, 3.42 Barrel, 10+1 Rounds

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Aftermarket Options for the Ruger SR22

You can find lots of interesting aftermarket customization and upgrades for this pistol.

In contrast to the Taurus G2C, which has less aftermarket accessories, you can find all kinds of holsters, sights, triggers, magazines, and grips.

Rails, Lights, and Laser Sights

The SR22 has a Picatinny rail for lights and lasers such as the LaserMax Rail Mounted Laser, Williams Gun Sights, and the Hiviz LiteWave Front Interchangeable Sight if you think the iron sights are not cutting it.

Holsters

You can find a lot of holsters for this pistol, but here are one of the most popular and most comfortable ones.

Here’s the Fobus Holster for left-handed, and right-handed shooters. It fits perfectly and is easily adjustable.

Check out the Gunleather Ultra Custom for right-handers, if you’re looking for a more durable holster.

Grips

Replacing the grip on this pistol can be a real drag. But, if you don’t like it, you can check out the Hogue HandALL Beavertail Grip Sleeve as a fine replacement for it.

Magazines

Here are some standard aftermarket magazines.

You can purchase the Ruger SR22 10 round .22 LR Magazine at Brownells and Sportsman’s Guide.

The Ruger SR22 Tandemkross Magazine Bumper is also cool if you’re looking for high-quality mag bumpers.

Other Internal Aftermarket Upgrades

The Ruger SR22 Threaded Barrel Kit is what you’re looking for if your former one has been damaged or needs replacing. It’s a manufacturer-made stainless steel barrel, and it doesn’t need a gunsmith to tweak it. It includes a barrel cap, adapter, and a wrench for easy adjustments.

The Ruger SR22 Tandemkross Spring Guide Rod is another great aftermarket option if your spring guide has worn off.

Conclusion – The Ruger SR22 Is a Good Plinking Gun for New Users

Much like the other lightweight plinking pistols like the Walther P22, Sig Mosquitoes, and other handguns, the Ruger SR22 is a pretty decent target practice handgun.

If you’re looking for a variety of .22 cal pistols, you can check out our list of best .22 pistols.

It’s not exactly for self-defense, but you might as well carry it around because of its small stature. The ergonomics are decent, and the grip, although difficult to remove, is easy on the palm of your hands.

This .22 LR caliber handgun has a crisp trigger, but some customers have complained that it gets grittier over time.

Other than that, it’s easy to operate, easy to clean, eats cheap ammo like pac-man (besides the Winchester 36 Grain .22 LR), and it’s a literal bang for your buck.

Of course, it’s not exactly a firepower to be reckoned with, many newbie users will find this nifty rimfire shooter to their liking.

So, pick up the SR22 and head for the ranges. You’ll have a blast, I’m sure.

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