|“||Ruger was a true firearms genius who mastered the disciplines of inventing, designing, engineering, manufacturing and marketing better than anyone since Samuel Colt. No one in the 20th century so clearly dominated the field, or was so skilled at articulating the unique appeal of quality firearms for legitimate uses.||”|
–R.L. Wilson (Firearm historian)
William Batterman Ruger (21st of June 1916 - 6th of July 2002) was a world renowned gun designer and inventor and co-founder of Sturm, Ruger & Co. (alongside Alexander McCormick Sturm). Ruger designed the company's first product, the Standard, in the 1940s and is still in production to this day (albeit having been improved over the years).
Bill Ruger was born in New York on the 21st of June 1916 and first developed an affection for firearms after his father gifted to him his first rifle at the age of 12. Ruger attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and, during his time there, converted an abandoned room into a workshop. It was while Ruger was at UNC that he designed his first firearm (a design which would later be adopted by the US armed forces as a light machine gun).
Ruger's first design was approved by the US Army Ordnance in 1938, and, with his confidence blooming, began down the path of a gun designer.
Founding Sturm, Ruger & Co.EditRuger had designed several firearms, including the now renowned .22 calibre Standard (a semi-automatic target pistol) by the late 1940's. However, while designing a firearm may have been more of a poor man's game, the manufacture of firearms was (and remains) a task that was difficult to do without funding. Ruger, however, obtained $50,000 from his friend Alexander McCormick Sturm.
Ergo, Sturm, Ruger & Co. was born in 1949, with Ruger providing the technical know how (and business sense) and Sturm providing the money (and the prominant Germanic heraldry-style logo). The partership exploded onto the scene, with Sturm's $50,000 investment being repaid many times over after the sucess of the Standard, yet the partnership would be sadly cut short, however, upon Sturm's death in 1951.
A Designer and BusinessmanEdit
Following Sturm's death in 1951, Ruger became the sole founder of Sturm, Ruger & Co. and took on the responsibility of building upon the sucess of the Standard. The next break for Ruger came with the Blackhawk, a design that took elements of its design from the infamous Colt Peacemaker. The Blackhawk's success came from the fact that the single action revolver market (into which the Blackhawk entered) had all but dried up, with none of the major firearms manufactures (ie Smith & Wesson and Colt) producing single action revolvers.With the Blackhawk effectively controlling the single-action market (with its classic look which made it more appealing for use in Westerns) and the Standard dominating the .22 pistol market, Sturm, Ruger & Co. had built the foundation upon which they could expand. This resulted in Ruger's company producing more and more products, including double action revolvers (such as the eminent Redhawk), rifles (including the James Sullivan designed M77) and even an attempt to construct a successor to the Uzi, the MP9 (Ruger managed to talk Uziel Gal, designer of the Uzi, into redesigning his famed weapon in the 1980s).
By the time Ruger stepped down (due to illness) in 2000, his company had a worldwide reputation for quality and had produced some of the worlds most well known firearms.
As expected of a member of a community that is often critised for a variety of reasons, Ruger voiced an opinion on what could be done about to reduce the crime rates in America that used guns. Ruger, however, was critised by members of the gun owning community (of which he was a part) after a speech made to the US Congress on the 30th of March 1989:
|“||The best way to address the firepower concern is therefore not to try to outlaw or license many millions of older and perfectly legitimate firearms (which would be a licensing effort of staggering proportions) but to prohibit the possession of high capacity magazines. By a simple, complete and unequivocal ban on large capacity magazines, all the difficulty of defining 'assault rifle' and 'semi-automatic rifles' is eliminated. The large capacity magazine itself, separate or attached to the firearm, becomes the prohibited item. A single amendment to Federal firearms laws could effectively implement these objectives.||”|
–William B. Ruger
In short, Ruger prefered that magazines be restricted to holding fifteen rounds as an alternative to having guns banned outright. Although this was, at the time, seen as the wrong solution to the problem, it has gradually risen in support since the turn of the millenium.
Ruger died on the 6th of July, 2002 at his home in Prescott, Arizona having retired two years earlier. He left behind him a company which has continued to grow, at first under his son William B. Ruger Jr. and then under it's current CEO Michael O. Fifer, to become the United States fourth largest gun manufacturer, operating in a number of locations.
After he died, historian R.L. Wilson compared Ruger to Samuel Colt, in the sense that the two of them focused as mush on business and marketing, as they did on their designs. Indeed, both men have forged companies that have and will continue to produce world renowned products.
Wilson R.L., Ruger & HIs Guns: A History of the Man, the Company and Their Firearms, New York: Book Sales Inc. (2008)