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William B. Ruger
Ruger in 1975 holding that year's Outstanding American Handgunner Award
Ruger in 1975 holding that year's Outstanding American Handgunner Award
Born William Batterman Ruger
(1916-06-21)June 21, 1916
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died July 6, 2002(2002-07-06) (aged 86)
Prescott, Arizona, United States
Occupation Inventor, industrialist, businessman
Children William B. Ruger, Jr., Carolyn R. Vogel

William Batterman Ruger (June 21, 1916 – July 6, 2002) partnered with Alexander McCormick Sturm in 1949 to establish Sturm, Ruger & Company. Their first product was the Ruger Standard, the most popular .22 caliber target pistol ever made in the US. After Sturm’s death in 1951, and under Ruger’s continued leadership, the company produced one of the widest variety of firearms of any manufacturer in the world.

Early years

Ruger was born on 21 June 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. He first developed his passion for guns when he received his own rifle from his father at the age of 12. As a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he converted an empty room into a machine shop and, in 1938, came up with initial designs for what eventually became a light machine gun for the United States Army – executing the drawings on his in-laws’ dining room table. U.S. Army Ordnance officials liked the gun so much that they launched Ruger into becoming a full-time gun designer. He helped invent and patent dozens of models of sporting firearms during the last 53 years, which were instant and enduring successes. From the start, his company stressed mechanical innovation and safety.[1]

Ruger shared and exchanged technical information on firearms and ammunition with many like-minded people worldwide, including English rifle maker and cartridge designer David Lloyd.[2]

When not involved with firearms operations, Ruger was deeply involved in a variety of activities including antique firearms, 19th century Western American art, and his nationally noted antique car collection of more than 30 vehicles, including Bentleys, Rolls-Royces, Bugattis, Stutzs, and a 1913 Mercer Raceabout, among others.[3]

Ruger supported and commissioned the design and construction of a classically styled sports touring car in 1970 that he called the Ruger Special. It was based on the design of the 1929 Bentley 4½ Litre.[3] He also designed and commissioned a 92-foot (28 m) yacht, the Titania.[4]

Ruger continued to lead his company on to world prominence in gun manufacturing and it became the largest manufacturer of firearms in the United States. Not only an expert inventor, designer, and engineer, Ruger was also a skilled manufacturer and marketer of firearms.[5]

A legend in American industry, Ruger had a hand in the original design and time-honored styling of every firearm his company produced. He continued to work on new creations up until his death. With his legendary leadership style, he led his business from “it can’t be done” remarks to a corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RGR). His firm has produced more than 20,000,000 firearms for hunting, target shooting, collecting, self-defense, law enforcement and for US and foreign governments.[6]

Today, with plants in Newport, New Hampshire, and Prescott, Arizona, and corporate headquarters in Southport, Fairfield, Connecticut, Sturm, Ruger manufactures high-quality rifles, shotguns, pistols, and revolvers for a variety of sporting and law enforcement purposes. Its precision investment castings are made for a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, general manufacturing and the golf market.


Ruger was active in a wide variety of charities especially in communities where his factories were located, as well as the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, where he served as a member of the Board of Trustees for over 15 years.


Bill Ruger received the following Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Awards:

  • Shooting Industry Award 1993 William B. Ruger
  • Manufacturer of the Year: 1992, 1993
  • Handgun of the Year: 1993 Ruger Vaquero, 1997 Ruger Bisley-Vaquero, 2001 Ruger Super Redhawk
  • Rifle of the Year: 1999 Ruger .22 Magnum 10-22, 2002 Ruger 77/17RM .17 HMR Rimfire,
  • Shotgun of the Year: 1992 Ruger Red Label Sporting Clays, 2002 Ruger Gold Label Side-By-Side[7]


Ruger received criticism from gun owners for suggesting that rather than ban guns, that Congress should outlaw magazines holding more than 15 rounds.[8] On March 30, 1989, Bill Ruger sent a letter to every member of the US Congress stating:

"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[9]


Health problems finally forced him to retire in October 2000.


On Saturday, 6 July 2002, at age 86, after a period of failing health, Ruger died at home in Prescott, Arizona.

Ruger is survived by his son William B. Ruger, Jr., who served as the Chairman of the Company until his retirement in 2006; daughter Carolyn R. Vogel; six grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren.[10]

R.L. Wilson, firearms historian and Ruger’s biographer wrote of Bill Ruger, "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".[11]


Wilson, R. L.; G. Allan Brown (2008). Ruger & His Guns: A History of the Man, the Company and Their Firearms. New York: Book Sales, Inc. ISBN 978-0785821038. 

  1. Wilson (2008) pp.48-51
  2. Wilson (2008) pp.161-166
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wilson (2008) pp.94-96
  4. Wilson (2008) p.119
  5. Wilson (2008) p.38
  6. Wilson (2008) p.18
  7. Ayoob, Massad (2002). "Bill Ruger". 
  8. Patrick Sweeney (2007). Gun Digest Book of Ruger Pistols and Revolvers. Gun Digest Books. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-89689-472-3. 
  9. William B. Ruger (1992). "An Open Letter". p. 18. 
  10. Wilson (2008) p.297
  11. Wilson (2008) p.311

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