If you had to pick one .22 rifle as ‘the survivalists .22 rifle’ it would be highly unlikely that anyone would strongly disagree with the choice of the Ruger 10/22. Having been around for around fifty years, pretty much everyone makes accessories for the gun and if there’s a gun shop out there that doesn’t carry 10/22 rifles or accessories, I haven’t seen it.
Problem is,as with just about any semiauto, some mags are good and some are crap. My experiences have been that there are a handful of good magazines out there and plenty of bad ones.
For an amazing amount of time, Ruger only offered the 10-rd mag for the 10/22. Thats fine, theyre really really good mags. But, they are limited to ten rounds and sometimes you just dont feel like swapping mags all the time. Ruger eventually introduced some 25-round factory mags but, interestingly, they have a mixed reputation….a very rare case of a factory mag not being as good as the aftermarket mag.
If your needs can be met with a 10-rd mag, the factory Ruger 10/22 mag is pretty much the best and only way to go. These mags are several years old.
For aftermarket Ruger 10/22 mags its pretty hard to go bad with the Butler Creek stuff. Sure, your mileage may vary, but my experience has been almost uniformly positive. The Butler Creek mags come in two flavors: Hot Lips and Steel Lips. The Hot Lips are mags with plastic feed lips and the Steel Lips are the mags with…well, you can figure out.
Back in ’94 I grabbed as many Hot Lip mags as I could and used them for the next ten years, as Slick Willie’s repulsive ‘Assault Weapons Ban’ made making new mags holding ten rounds a crime (unless, of course, those mags were for the cops or military…in which case they had to be marked as such.)
So, for ten years I had about a dozen Hot Lips mags to use. They held up quite well but they eventually started having problems. But, it was a good opportunity to learn just how much life you could get out of a $15 magazine before it needed replacement. The answer, it seems, is about ten years.
Ca. pre-1994 Butler Creek Hot Lips mag on left, new Butler Creek Steel Lip mag on right. Note the plastic feedlips on the Hot Lips mag showing wear and fraying from years of use.
The Steel Lips magazines, obviously, were a good bit more durable in the feed lip department than the Hot Lips mags. They charge a bit more for the Steel Lips magazines but I’m of the opinion that it is very much worth it. I still sock away the Hot Lips mags, but if I come across a good deal on the Steel Lips I’ll go ahead and get as many of them as I can.
Now that Ruger has re-introduced their Charger 10/22, and brought out the American Rimfire, both of which take the 10/22 magazine so it’s really not a bad idea to get the most durable mag possible. Ten years of regular usage showed that the plastic Hot Lips mags could serve well, but I think in the future I’ll be socking away the Steel Lips more than the Hot Lips.
New BC Steel Lip mag (L.), pre-1994 Hot Lips mag on right shows signs of wear and age from being used frequently during 1994-2004. Mag still functions but it best saved for ‘range use’ or non-critical usage. A replacement is about eight bucks….for now.
The only other aftermarket non-BC mag for the 10/22 I’ve found that was any good are the Eagle brand mags. These are also a plastic-lip mag but they can usually be found in bulk at bargain prices…sometimes around $5-6 ea. They’re good for using at the range and otherwise taking the pressure off of your stash of Butler Creek mags…but for packing away a rifle, case of ammo, and a dozen mags, I’ll stick with the Butler Creek mags.
The best sources I’ve found for deals on the BC mags are either CDNN, MGE, or GAS. You 9or your dealer) will have to subscribe for their email specials but usually once or twice a year they’ll have specials on the 10/22 mags. When they do, don’t cheap out and buy five….get as many as you can afford. They’ll always have a good value and if there’s another magazineban they’ll really be worth their weight in silver.
For carrying magazines, there’s a couple outfits that make single-pouch mags that ride on your belt and, if you don’t mind looking a little like Carl Spackler, there are some chest rigs out there as well. When the gophers are about to overrun your position, and the haze is too thick for air support, a rig like that might save you from being pounded into the dust by thousands of tiny feet.
“License to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote…” -Carl Spackler
So, just my two cents worth, but if you’re gonna go with the 10/22 for most of your .22 rifle needs you’d be doing the smart thing to go heavy on the Butler Creek mags.