Posted By Mac66 on October 1, 2014
In November of 2013 I won the Ruger 10/22 50th Anniversary Design Contest. My design was voted the best of thousands of submissions. One of the prizes was a trip to the Ruger factory in New Hampshire to see my rifle being produced.
In April of 2014 I went to the NRA Convention in Indianapolis and met with the folks from Ruger. I got a chance to see a prototype of my rifle and pose with it and company executives. In that production hadn’t started yet there was no date set for my visit. However, while there the CEO Mike Fifer asked me if I wanted a special serial number on the rifle I was to get. I was happy to reply yes, my initials and 001. “Can do” he said. In subsequent conversations I asked if it would be possible for me to buy 5 more rifles off the line preferably with sequential serial number for my kids and family. “We can do that as well” he answered.
In July the trip was arranged and my wife and I were flown to New Hampshire’s capital city of Manchester on Sunday August 3. We were picked up at our hotel on Monday August 4 by Craig Cushman who is Ruger’s product manager. Craig drove us up to Newport, about an hour north where the factory is located. Upon arrival we met up with Tom Sullivan. Tom is the Vice President of Operations. We also met up with Mark Gurney, Director of Product Management, Tim Lowney, Director of Engineering, Ron Nelson, 10/22 Line Manager and Brenda Taglieri who is the day shift Leader on the 10/22 line. She and her people are the ones who actually assemble the 10/22.
Interestingly, they wired me for sound and had cameras follow us around the whole day. It will
likely be edited down and shown on the Ruger Inside and Out show on the Sportsman Channel or their youtube channel sometime in the future.
We got the grand tour with Tom Sullivan with us all day long. The Newport facility includes Pine Tree Casting which is Ruger’s original facility along with their manufacturing and assembly plant. It is their main foundry and factory. They make rifles, shotguns and revolvers. They also have a facility in Arizona that makes their semi auto pistols and a new facility in North Carolina that makes their American Rimfire .22 bolt action rifle and their new AR 556 rifle.
It is a pretty large facility and we were there all day long breaking for lunch at a nearby restaurant. After lunch the tour resumed and we watched them make various guns. At around 2:30 PM they took us over to the 10/22 production line where they had my rifle set up. To my surprise they
had arranged for me to make my own rifle on their line between shifts. The afternoon shift started at 3 pm. This is where Brenda came in. It is her team that makes 10/22s on the day shift. She walked me through the process. Unlike sitting at home putting a 10/22 together working down the line was a step by step process using tools, presses and jigs for each stage. Yeah, I knew how they are put together but not like on an assembly line.
As we worked our way down the assembly line we came to the receiver. I pulled it out and noticed it had the special serial number on it. Then to my amazement, I pulled out five more receivers all with my initials and numbered 002-006. Ruger had put special serial numbers on the rifles I had requested for my family as well and we were going to build them!
After building my rifle I was escorted to the range to test fire it. Not really a range, more like a
bullet trap. “Yes, it works!”. I then got a chance to talk with the 10/22 engineers who adapted my design and made it a reality. They seemed to like the design and thought it was cool to meet the guy who thought it up. I of course thought it cool to meet the people who took it and made it happen.
After a long but interesting day the whole group of us went to dinner at a local pub. We were joined by Tom Sullivan’s wife. We ate, drank and talked guns late into the evening.
An amazing experience on my part and was treated royally by Ruger. I’ve always been a fan of their reliable and affordable firearms and am even more impressed by how they make their guns. They are one of the great American gun companies who are keeping American’s shooting heritage alive.
Stay tuned for a review of my rifle on the line….