The single-shot rifle is as much about
attitude as it is about mechanics. In the mid nineteenth
century, the single shot was a necessity, as repeating rifles
were rare and still in development. Today, hunters and shooters
have hundreds of choices in repeating rifles, from lever-actions
to bolt guns to pumps to semi-automatics. These rifles have
magazines with capacities from just a couple up to forty or
more, yet some hunters still choose to go afield armed with a
single-shot rifle. It is about attitude. A hunter who knows that
his first shot is likely his best and maybe his only shot, is
more apt to make that shot count, and to place it precisely.
In the late twentieth and early twenty-first
centuries, some chose single-shot rifles because they cost less
than repeaters. Today, with a raft of really good inexpensive
bolt-action rifles available, that is rarely the case. Many who
chose the single-shot are well-heeled and will pay a premium for
a quality single-shot rifle. The rifle featured here is one of
the best single-shot designs ever built; the Ruger No. 1. The Ruger
No. 1 was first introduced back in 1967 and has been in constant
production for over half a century now. The No. 1 has been
chambered for cartridges ranging from the 218 Bee up through
cartridges suitable for taking any game on Earth, and most
everything in between. It is a wonderful design, and no more
elegant rifle has ever existed than the Ruger No. 1.
Currently, the Ruger No. 1 rifle is available
chambered for nineteen different cartridges, from big bores down
through the efficient little 22 Hornet, which is the rifle
featured here. The Hornet is a classic cartridge, uses very
little powder, is relatively quiet compared to most centerfire
rifle cartridges, and is a delightful little varmint cartridge.
The Ruger No. 1 rifle chambered for the 22 Hornet cartridge is
available exclusively through Lipsey’s, a large firearms distributor
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They distribute firearms to dealers
all across the United States, so chances are, there is a
Lipsey’s dealer near you.
This Ruger No. 1 is, in addition to the
chambering, done up in spectacular fashion. It is the No. 1A
Light Sporter design, meaning it wears open sights on a slender
twenty-two-inch barrel, has a barrel-mounted front swivel mount,
and has the classic Alex Henry-style forend. Beautiful. As if
all that wasn’t enough, this Ruger has a case-colored
receiver, grip cap, and lever as well as a jeweled lever latch
by Tyler Gun Works of Friona, Texas. Bobby Tyler and his crew do
magnificent work and do the case-coloring of many firearms in
the industry. The wood on the 22 Hornet shown here is checkered
and beautifully-figured walnut. The barrel swivel studs and
sights are a deep satin blued. The rear sight is adjustable, and
the front wears a gold-colored bead. Like all Ruger No. 1
rifles, this Hornet comes with scope rings, and also included
are sling swivels. The buttstock is fitted with a synthetic
rubber pad. There is no finer-looking rifle on the market today
anywhere near the price range of this Ruger No. 1.
22 Hornet ammunition is readily available,
and very efficient, offering good velocities for its diminutive
size. Reloading for the little Hornet is easy, and the two best
powders available today, in my opinion, are Hodgdon’s H110 for
lighter weight bullets in the thirty-grain class, and Hodgdon’s
Lil’Gun powder for the heavier 45 grain and up class. Both
powders give high velocities and excellent accuracy in the 22
Hornet cartridge. The
little cartridge is so efficient that a handloader will get
around 600 loads from a one-pound can of powder! Bullets are
available that are built to expand at Hornet velocities, and the
little cartridge works well on small and medium-sized vermin out
to around 250 yards. The Ruger has a one-in-fourteen-inch twist.
The fit and finish on this rifle is very
good. Wood-to-metal fit is excellent, with no gaps, and the wood
is only slightly proud above the receiver. The cut checkering on
the stock could best be described as flawless. It seems that
Ruger takes extra care with the No. 1 rifle, and it shows.
For accuracy testing, I mounted a Leupold 6.5
to 20 power target scope. Such a scope is overkill for the 22
Hornet cartridge, but it allows me to test the potential
accuracy of the rifle. A good quality 3 to 9 power scope would
be very versatile on this rifle. The little Ruger will shoot!
No. 1 rifles as well as the Hornet cartridge are great hunting
tools, but neither is noted for outstanding accuracy. However,
the Ruger performed well. I fired three-shot groups at 100 yards
on paper, and accuracy varied from the smallest group of
one-half inch up to the largest at just over one and one-half
inches, depending upon the ammunition. The smallest groups were
fired with handloads assembled using the Barnes 30 grain Varmint
Grenade bullet and Lil’Gun powder. The only factory load
available to me was the Winchester 45 grain Hornet load. This is
an excellent factory load, for those who do not roll their own.
It uses a 45 grain hollowpoint bullet that is built to expand at
Hornet velocities. From this rifle, it averages 2702
feet-per-second (fps) at ten feet from the muzzle. The 30 grain
Varmint Grenade broke the 3000 fps ceiling using H110 and came
very close with Lil’Gun. The 45 grain Hornady bullet did best
with Lil’Gun, topping 2700 fps at ten feet from the muzzle.
All accuracy and chronograph testing were done at an elevation
of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of eighty
degrees Fahrenheit and eighty-seven percent humidity, with a
Functioning of the Ruger No. 1 was flawless.
As expected, extraction was easy. The trigger pull was heavier
than I like for a varmint rifle, releasing crisply with five and
one-half pounds of resistance. Recoil, as expected, was almost
nothing. The Hornet does have a good report, but nothing like as
loud as a 223 or 22-250 varmint rifle, but still can push
lightweight bullets over 3000 fps. Dandy little cartridge, and
perfectly suited to this Ruger single-shot rifle. The Ruger
weighs in on my scale at seven pounds, two ounces without scope
or rings. It handles very well; well-balanced and comes to the
There are those who scoff at the use of a
single-shot rifle for hunting, claiming that one shot is not
enough. The Ruger can be reloaded rather quickly by a competent
rifleman. Not as quickly as one can fire a semi-auto or even a
bolt gun, but a good marksman is not handicapped by using a
Then again, from an economic point of view,
one can buy at least three excellent Ruger
American bolt-action rifles for the price of this
single-shot Ruger No. 1. That ain’t the point. Those who
choose the Ruger No. 1 do so for various reasons; among them,
simplicity, beauty, elegance, and the romance of doing that
which needs to be done with one well-placed shot. The American
is a good rifle, but it will never wear the grade of walnut that
Ruger places on the No. 1. It will never be as short and handy,
given equal-length barrels, and it will never exude elegance as
does the No. 1. The Ruger No. 1 is a special rifle for special
hunters, and this particular Ruger rifle, with the beautiful
enhancements by Tyler Gun Works makes it even more special.
For the location of a Lipsey’s dealer near
you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order quality 22 Hornet ammunition, go to www.midsouthshooterssupply.com
Check out the full line of quality Leupold
optics at www.leupold.com.
a closer look at the custom touches offered by Tyler gun Works,
go to www.tylergunworks.com.
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