The Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in 22LR is quite possibly the best rimfire rifle design in the history of the cartridge. That's a big statement to make, but look at the competition. The only similarly priced semiauto 22 that even comes close is the Marlin/Glenfield Model 60. The Marlin 60 claims to be the best selling 22 rifle in history and any pawn shop that carries guns will prove that. Marlin 60s are everywhere. Its hard to find a pawn shop that doesn't have a marlin 60 (or five).
Over the past few years, i've owned five Marlin/Glenfield rifles (models 60 and 75) and gotten rid of all of them. I sold four of them and gave one problem child to a friend of mine who was quite taken with the squirrel design on the stock. That gun was a $45 gamble to start with. The guy i gave it to still hasn't gotten it functioning other than just as a single shot rifle. Two of the guns i had worked great while the other three never worked well, if at all. I'm no gunsmith, but i have some experience fixing my guns when they break. These guns stumped me. I just couldn't figure out how to fix them.
Ruger 10/22s have been a different story for me. I have a lot of experience with 10/22s, shooting several thousand rounds through them over the years. What a great little rifle. I consider the Ruger design to be superior to the Marlin design because of how easy the Ruger is to work on. The trigger group comes out as a sub assembly. There really isn't much to go wrong because the magazine does the feeding. On the Marlin there's a feed throat, tube magazine spring, and a healthy dose of magic responsible for making the gun feed. The number of parts, pins, and C clips is quite intimidating. Imagine how much cheaper the gun could be produced if it were made more simply! Fewer parts almost always means cheaper. Also, having fewer parts means that there are fewer things to break. the KISS example works well here: Keep It Simple Stupid.
A big selling point for the 10/22 is the amount of aftermarket parts available to customize the little rifle into whatever you want. If you want a folding stock and a pistol grip, there are multiple comapnies that make those. If you want a wooden thumbhole stock or a dragunov style stock, those can be had too, also made by multiple companies. There is a vast array of trigger kits and entire replacement trigger groups, not to mention .17hm2 and 22 short conversions. The guns have sold so well and have such a loyal following because they work. Its a great design and well worth the cost, which is about sixty bucks more than your average Marlin model 60.
One interesting thigs that i've noticed is that i've only ever seen a few used 10/22s in my entire life. I go to probably 6 or more gunshows a year as well as plenty of gun shops. I just don't see used 10/22s. Its not that the guns aren't popular, because the aftermarket is booming with parts for these guns. I think they're just so good that people don't want to part with them. Either that or they get snatched up in a hurry whenever they hit the "used" section at your local gun shop.
The 10/22 isn't perfect though, it has its weaknesses. Putting the bolt back into the reciever can be a pain if you're not used to the operation. The bolt handle is small, almost comically so. Its a perfect size for the pinkee finger. A common swap is to use the charging handle from the 22 magnum version that Ruger offers/offered, but I wonder why they didn't just have one part to begin with. It would've been cheaper and easier for Ruger to make one charging handle and keep track of one part number at the factory. The magazine release requires the user to claw the 10 round rotary magazines out of the gun. This has been remedied with recent models that have an extended magazine release that's got a lever on the end. Aftermarket companies have been making extended magazine releases for years and Ruger has finally wised up and started installing them from the factory. The other somewhat odd problem with the 10/22 is the bolt hold open feature. It does not lock open after the last shot, but the bolt can be manually locked open. One would think that after the bolt is locked back, you could just pull the bolt handle back a little more and "slingshot" it into battery. Not so. In order to do that, you need an auto bolt release, sold for about fifteen dollars. Either that or you can take your chances modifying your factory bolt release.
Also worthy of mention is that the barrel has to be removed from the reciever to clean from the chamber end. I didn't like this fact at all, because every time i removed the barrel and put it back on the gun, i'd have to re-sight in my scope. VERY annoying. I wound up having my gunsmith chuck the barreled action in a lathe and spinning a hole in the rearward face of the reciever to act as a hole for my cleaning rod. This was in the days before the boresnake. I actually had him do two 10/22s for me at the time because i was sick and tired of wasting time and ammo trying to setup scopes that were perfectly set before barrel removal. Sure, i could've cleaned from the muzzle end, but I didn't want to adversely affect the condition of the crown. I'll clean a gun by its muzzle end if that's the only way it can be done (such as with the Marlin 60 with its splined and pinned barrel) but i don't like doing it. In the case of the 10/22, it was the right way to do it in order to protect the crown, even if it was a bitch to reset the scope after each and every barrel cleaning.
The 10/22 has its own special little quirks, but I think its the best we've got. Its the best semiauto 22 i've seen to date and its very attractively priced, selling for $209 brand new with a wood stock at Dick's Sporting Goods. Its a good sixty bucks more than a Marlin 60 sells for at Gander Mountain, but i consider the 10/22 a much better buy.