Comparing the Ruger 10/22 Take Down with the Marlin Model 70PSS (Takedown)
By Al Jole
This isn’t your typical gun writer styled review. I have opinions, and I don’t care who doesn’t like them.
I have both the Ruger and the Marlin. I like Ruger’s generally, I appreciate the 10/22 design, but I am not a real fan of various things about the typical Ruger 10/22, especially the prices, and the adulation heaped upon it by many online as the best .22 EVER!!!!! I also like Marlins, and I generally prefer them over the Rugers for the price, outside of specific applications or considerations.
Marlin has been making a takedown since 1986, while Ruger just got into the game. They have VERY different approaches to the gun.
That said...let’s look at how the two guns compare.
According to the factories’ websites, here are the numbers:
As you can see in the picture above, they have a VERY different look, due to how they are assembled. The Marlin uses a threaded collar, with no handguard, while the Ruger uses an engineering marvel to make assembly a “less than quarter turn” effort, with repeatable consistent accuracy, with a full handguard. On the Ruger, you push the parts together, twist, done. On the Marlin, you push together, slide the collar back, and screw it on until snug. According to the manual, that’s it....unless you plan on “extended shooting’, which in my experience means more than one mag full. They include a spanner wrench to tighten things down in that case, and the collar is slotted so you can use a coin instead. But the slot is not sized well, IMHO, and allows every coin I tried to wobble and slip out.
Here is the Ruger system:
And here is the Marlin:
View attachment 46111
So, is the Ruger method of takedown and assembly better? Yes, it is. Unless you are looking for a “survival” gun, that is very light, good for one or two shots to take small game at under 50 yards, and you are not concerned with 50 shot groups, maximum repeatable accuracy, or speed of use, in which case, the Marlin is the gun for you.
In my opinion, the takedown design and implantation of the Ruger is the BEST thing about this version of the 10/22, I was certain the $300 price would be a waste, but I was happily surprised that, considering the base model 10/22 typically costs close to $200, the extra $100 is a GREAT deal for what you get in this model, the takedown, AND a threaded barrel. Not to mention the cool case. Which sadly, despite all the positives, also has a problem.
That problem is, how hard it is to scope the gun, and still fit in the case. The case has two large exterior pockets, many 25 round BX or other mags will fit in them, Ruger also touts the idea that an SR22 pistol will fit in one. And 3 interior sleeves, two for the gun, and one spare.
After putting the included rail on the gun, I tried...well, nearly every scope I had, trying to find one that would let me put the gun in the bag, with the scope attached. The problem is, the bag that comes with the gun allows NO room beyond the length of the assembly. If your scope projects beyond the front of the action it won’t allow you to close the flap on the sleeve properly, it has nearly 4” of Velcro, but the flap won’t reach the last 3” even if the sleeve is empty. And ALL of my scopes did project, even the 6” AIM model. In the picture, the stock and barrel are pulled out to show where they fit, they actually store flush with the edge of the sleeves. One solution I read of is a Quick Detach system, then you put your scope in the extra sleeve...but I don’t like that idea. So, I ended up putting a red dot on the gun. Problem solved!
The two cases, side by side:
The Marlin case is far more Spartan. The good news, you can scope the gun and still put it in the bag! The barrel and spanner wrench fit in the sleeves where the bag folds. Oh, and the case floats with the gun in it, according to Marlin.
View attachment 46119
One of the many issues I have with Ruger 10/22’s is the trigger, they simply aren’t very good. Apparently, many agree with me, so Ruger makes and sells the BX trigger. As I expected, my trigger wasn’t very good, so I spent $60 on a BX trigger to make the gun better, thankfully; it did, accuracy improved as well. I still think Ruger should put that trigger in EVERY 10/22, at no extra cost, or at least in every model but the base model, but what do I know? Well...I know that Savage puts their Accutrigger in a $160 Rascal youth gun and nearly every other .22 they make, so....there’s that.
But wait...the Marlin has a terrible trigger too. In fact, it’s worse than the OEM Ruger was, and there IS no aftermarket trigger available. In fact, that trigger made groups so bad that I didn’t even bother taking pictures of them. About 2” at 25 yards, compared to the 1” of the Ruger, with a 4X scope on the Marlin, vs a red dot that my eyes turn into a smear.
So, even though it costs money to make it “good”, the Ruger still wins in that area. For those wondering, both guns stay zeroed (within the limits of my ability to shoot them) after take down and re-assembly. But the Marlin takes more effort and care to keep things tight, the Ruger is just like shooting a one piece gun.
The way the actions are secured to the stock are similar, but different. The Ruger uses one allen screw in front of the mag well, while the Marlin uses two allen screws in the more traditional way, as shown. The silver bit just above (to the right of) the Marlin trigger guard is the bolt release, which is a feature that Marlin did better than Ruger.
View attachment 46123
On the Ruger, you must lock the bolt back to use the takedown feature, but not on the Marlin. Sadly, Ruger stayed with the crappy rocker style bolt lock they’ve been using for decades, while Marlin went with a very nice, easy to use lever.
Here, the Ruger is in the “locked back” position. To release the bolt, you must pull the bolt to the rear, push upward on the front of the small thin rocker blade, and release the bolt. It takes both hands. The Ruger does NOT lock back on an empty mag, despite decades of people complaining about it. Of course, if it DID, they’d have to fix that stupid bolt release.
The Marlin has this lever, the action locks open on an empty mag, you sweep it downward with the trigger finger after loading a mag into the gun, and you’re ready to shoot. Obviously far better ergonomics than the Ruger. The Marlin allows you to use the bolt handle to lock the bolt back as well, if the LRHO is not engaged, which could be useful for clearing jams or cleaning, but the Ruger has nothing like that.
So: Which is better? Which gives you the most gun for your slightly more or less than $300?
The answer is, as always, it depends. The Ruger is an overall better gun, with more potential...but will cost more to be its best. The Marlin is actually better for some uses, as it is lighter and smaller, and can be slung, but is limited. As long as you WANT the lighter, smaller gun for occasional shooting, the Marlin is the choice.
But for my money, despite my bias against the 10/22 and all of its idiosyncrasies, the Ruger is actually the one to buy.