Classic Guns: The Ruger No. 1 Rifle

Guns and Gear | Contributor

By Jerry Lee, Gun Digest

Ruger’s fantastic No. 1 single-shot rifle has been a favorite among hunters and shooters since its introduction in the 1960s.

What to know about the classic Ruger No. 1 rifle:

  • The No. 1’s design is based heavily on the old Farquharson single-shot design.
  • It’s a falling-block action actuated by a lever just behind the trigger guard.
  • It’s been offered in almost every popular American caliber, and several European calibers.
  • Since 2014, the No. 1 has been produced in only one caliber each year.
  • This fact, along with the many different versions made, makes the No. 1 very collectible.

In 1966, Ruger invited a select group of gun writers to a meeting at the NRA convention in Chicago to unveil a new rifle. It was a classic-style single-shot based on John Farquharson’s falling-block design that was patented in Scotland in 1872. The rifle was designed to appeal to the traditional sportsman who appreciated and understood the challenge — as well as the advantages and disadvantages
— of having one shot.

Ruger No.1 -mainIn the 1967 edition of the Gun Digest Annual, the late Roger Barlow wrote a review of the new Ruger rifle and eloquently described the appeal of the single shot.

“The man with a single shot rifle, stalking his game skillfully, thoughtfully calculating his range, not just shooting at his quarry but selecting the most effective shot to place that bullet, then carefully aiming and making that one shot count — that man surely is more of a hunter than is the fellow having half a dozen shots available in his repeater.”

Originally, the rifle was going to be named the Victorian, due to its 19th century styling, but not long after it went into production, the name was changed. From the beginning, the actions were stamped “No. 1” and that became the official name. This Ruger model should always be referred to in print as “No. 1” and not “Number One” or “Number 1.”

Ruger_No-1-review-8
Photo by Stan Trzoniec.

Forever ‘No. 1’

The design is not merely a replica of the Farquharson, but it’s a modern take on the action. The falling block is operated with a lever located just behind the trigger guard. This action is much shorter in length — about 4.5 inches — than those of the various repeating rifle designs, which provides one of the No. 1’s major advantages: It can have a longer barrel than a repeating rifle with the same overall length, and therefore achieve a higher velocity.

When the rifle was introduced, the original calibers were the .222 Remington, .22-250 Rem., .243 Winchester, 6mm Remington, .308 Winchester, .30-06 and .458 Winchester Magnum. All were offered with either a 22- or 26-inch barrel, except the .458 Win. Mag., which had a 24-inch heavy barrel. The very first No. 1 was chambered in .308 Winchester and is in the private collection of the Ruger family. The No. 1 has been offered in virtually every popular American caliber, ranging from the .204 Ruger to the .480 Ruger, including several European rounds.

The earliest production rifles were referred to as the S22L, S26M and S24H. These variants were later known as the Light Sporter, Medium Sporter and Tropical Rifle. Other variations, such as the Standard and International, were later added along with many more calibers. The earliest No. 1 models were marked with serial numbers with no prefix, and these models will bring a premium. This serial number range goes from 1 to approximately 8437 for rifles produced through the end of 1969. Beginning in 1970, a prefix was added starting with 130-xxxx.

Beginning in 2014, the No. 1 has been made in a limited range of calibers. Each variation is chambered in only one caliber each year, and that caliber changes every year. Most current models are distributor exclusives available only from Talo Distributors or Lipseys.

The descriptions below cover most regular models in production through 2014. Estimated values are from the 28th edition of Standard Catalog of Firearms (Gun Digest Books, 2017.)

Ruger No.1 -1
The Light Sporter Model has long been a favorite variant of the No. 1 family. Some of the more interesting chamberings include the .22 Hornet, 7×57 Mauser and .303 British.

No. 1-A Light Sporter

This model features a checkered American walnut stock with an Alexander Henry style forend, barrel band with sling swivel, and a 22-inch barrel with a quarter rib with a folding rear and a ramp front sight. Like all No. 1 variations, it has a shotgun-style tang safety, pistol grip cap and rubber recoil pad. Average weight is 7¼ pounds. Previously offered in .204 Ruger, .22 Hornet, .222 Rem., .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., 7×57 Mauser, 7mm-08, .280 Rem. (2014 only), .308 Win., .30-06, .300 RCM, .303 British. For serial numbers without a prefix, add a premium to the following prices of 25 to 50 percent, depending on the condition of the rifle.

NIB        Exc.     V.G.     Good       Fair     Poor

$1,050   $900    $750    $550       $350   $200

No. 1-B Standard

The stock on this model has a semi-beavertail fore-end with swivel studs in the buttstock and fore-end. Barrel length is 22 or 26 inches with the quarter rib equipped with the well-known Ruger integral scope mount bases with rings. Average weight is 8 to 8¼ pounds. This model was in production from 1966 to 2010 and at various times was chambered in .204 Ruger, .218 Bee, .22 Hornet, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .243 Win., 6mm Rem., .257 Roberts, .25-06 Rem., 6.5 Rem. Mag., 6.5 Creedmoor, .270 Win., .270 Weatherby Mag., 7×57 Mauser, 7mm-08 Win., .280 Rem., 7mm Rem. Mag., .300 Win. Mag., .300 Weatherby Mag., and .338 Win. Magnum. For serial numbers without a prefix, add a premium to the following prices of 25 to 50 percent, depending on the condition of the rifle. Also add a premium of 40 to 50 percent for rare calibers including the 6.5 Remington Magnum, 7×57 Mauser and 6mm Remington.

NIB        Exc.       V.G.       Good      Fair        Poor

$950      $800      $675      $450      $300      $150

No. 1-H Tropical Rifle

This model is chambered for several big-bore cartridges and was designed primarily for use on dangerous game. The heavy contour 24-inch barrel has adjustable open sights and a barrel band. Other features are similar to other No. 1 models. Calibers have included the .375 H&H Magnum, .405 Win., .416 Ruger, .416 Remington, .416 Rigby, .450/.400 NE, .45-70 Govt., .458 Lott, and .458 Win. Magnum. For serial numbers without a prefix, add a premium of from 25 to 50 percent, depending on the condition of the rifle. Also add a premium of 75 percent for .404 Jeffery and 250 percent for .45-70 Govt.

NIB        Exc.      V.G.      Good     Fair       Poor

$1,050   $900     $750     $550     $350     $200

Ruger No.1 -2
The Mannlicher-style stock and 20-inch barrel on the RSI International Model appeal to many collectors and hunters.

No. 1-RSI International

The full-length Mannlicher-style stock and 20-inch barrel set this one apart from other No. 1s. It’s equipped with adjustable open sights and an American walnut checkered stock with a complete sling swivel mounted on the forend. This model was limited to the following calibers: .243 Win., .257 Roberts (2014 only), .270 Win., 7×57 Mauser, .30-06 and .300 RCM. As with the other early production models, add a premium to the following prices of from 25 to 50 percent for a non-prefix serial number, depending on the condition of the rifle.

NIB        Exc.     V.G.     Good     Fair       Poor

$1,100   $950    $800    $600     $400     $250

No.1-S Medium Sporter

Similar to the Light Sporter with a 22-inch medium-weight barrel and open sights. This model was chambered in these cartridges: .218 Bee, 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Win. Mag., .300 H&H Mag., 9.3×62 (2014 only), 9.3x74R, .338 RCM, .338 Win Mag., .375 Ruger, .38-55 Winchester, .45-70 Govt., .460 S&W Mag., .480 Ruger/.475 Linebaugh. Weight varies depending on caliber from 7 to 8 pounds. As with the other early production models, add a premium to the following prices of from 25 to 50 percent for a non-prefix serial number, depending on the condition of the rifle. A limited edition run of 1,500 rifles marking Ruger’s 50thanniversary was made in 1999. These models featured a high-grade Circassian walnut stock with gold inlays of William B. Ruger’s signature and 50 Years logo. Chambered in .45-70 Govt. only. Add a 100 percent premium for this model.

NIB        Exc.      V.G.      Good     Fair       Poor

$1,000   $850     $700     $500     $300     $200

No. 1-V Varminter

Introduced in 1970, this model has a 24-inch heavy barrel with no sights and target scope blocks. Weight is 8¾ to 9 pounds. It has been chambered in the following calibers: .22 PPC, .223 Rem., .22-250 Rem., .220 Swift, .243 Win., 6mm Rem., 6mm PPC, .25-06 Rem., 6.5-284 Norma, 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Rem. Mag., .280 Rem., .300 Win. Magnum.

NIB        Exc.      V.G.       Good      Fair        Poor

$1,100   $950     $800      $550      $350      $200

No. l Lyman 1878 Centennial Rifle  

A commemorative Ruger No. 1 series celebrating the centennial of the Lyman Products Company, a manufacturer of reloading tools and other equipment for shooters, was manufactured in 1978. The Grade 1 rifle, of which only 101 were made, is hand engraved with gold accents and a high-grade walnut stock. It has a 28-inch barrel with a 30-inch long tubular 4X Lyman Century scope. The Grade II series, of which 1,000 were made, has photo engraving and not as fancy wood. All models came with a walnut presentation case for the rifle, scope and accessories, including a set of loading dies, bullet mold, a framed letter of authenticity, and a centennial journal like the one that was issued in 1878.

Grade I

NIB        Exc.         V.G.       Good       Fair     Poor

$2,500   $2,000     $1,500   $1,000     $600   $400

Grade II

NIB        Exc.       V.G.    Good    Fair     Poor

$1,900   $1,400   $900   $650    $400   $300

No. 1 Stainless Series

In production from 2000 to 2010, the stainless series was offered in four variations and in many calibers. Features and specifications are similar to the blue-finish models. On all variations listed below, the actions and barrels are stainless and the receivers have a quarter rib and no sights. The stocks are all black laminated.

No. 1 K1-B-BBZ Standard. Chambered in .243 Win., .25-06 Rem., .270 Win., 7mm Rem. Mag., 7mm STW (Shooting Times Westerner), .308 Win., .30-06, .300 Win. Magnum.

No. 1 K1-B-BBZ Sporter. Chambered in .45-70 Govt. or .375 Ruger with 22-inch barrel.

No. 1 K1-B-BBZ Tropical. Chambered in .375 H&H Mag., .405 Winchester, .416 Ruger, .416 Rigby, .458 Win. Mag., .458 Lott, with a heavy 24-inch barrel. Weight is approximately 9 pounds.

No. 1 K1-B-BBZ Varminter. Chambered in .204 Ruger or .22-250 Remington only with a 24-inch bull barrel. Weight is approximately 9 pounds.

Estimated values are for all models:

NIB        Exc.       V.G.       Good      Fair        Poor

$950      $800      $675      $450      $300      $150

Author’s Note: This article was excerpted in part from Standard Catalog of Ruger Firearms (Gun Digest Books/FW Media, 2014).

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