A BIT OF RUGER’S HISTORY

 

BILL RUGER AND THE HDM 22 CLIPS

My relationship with Bill Ruger goes back to ‘55. While I was working at Stoeger’s warehouse and part’s department in Long Island City, Bill came in as his company’s salesman in an effort to gain distribution for his RST-4 .22 pistol.  I had only just started working in the part's department at that time.  But we got to know each other when he tried to sell me on his product in the hope that I might put in a good word to Stoeger's management for him.

Later on, when I started Wildey Firearms in the ‘70s, I was looking for a source for my machining and contacted Art Murtha who owned his own machine shop. At one time, Art had been the president of High Standard.  Art and I got to talking about the old days in the industry.  He told me an interesting story about the first clips Ruger used on his RST-4 .22 Auto, and how those clips helped the struggling company survive. Ruger's company, Sturm Ruger, & Co. had gone bankrupt in '53 and was fighting for its life.

It seems Ruger worked for High Standard before he formed Sturm, Ruger & Co. with Alexander Sturm.  During Bills time at High Standard he designed what would become his RST-4.  He took that design to Art Murtha and tried tosell it to him.  Art turned him down, however, he had another deal for Ruger.  High Standard had built what they called the HDM 22 pistol for the government. But the contract had been cancelled and High Standard had a large quantity of clips still on hand that they had no use for.

In a spirit of giving, Art offered the clips to Ruger. The cost of designing and producing clips, $40,000 to $50,000, is astronomical for a small company, and has turned out to be the downfall of at least one company that I know of, the Bren Ten. So the gift of these clips was a God send for Bill. Naturally he took them and redesigned his pistol to use them. Ruger had gone bankrupt in ’53, but after receiving those clips he saw opportunities instead of problems ahead of him. I dare say those free clips were the little extra that got him going.