Since 1966 Strum, Ruger has made a number of their rifle designs with a full-length stock that harkened back to the days of Imperial Germany and Austria. These guns, the International series, have an interesting back-story and provide collectors with a good shooting rifle that also attracts immediate attention.
Where did the design come from?
In 1889, Paul Mauser was revamping his Model 71/84 bolt-action rifle, in an attempt to gain some more overseas contracts. One of his guns, a short carbine with a full-length, one-piece wooden stock that went all the way up to the muzzle crown, was eventually sold to the Argentine government as the M1891 Cavalry and Engineers series carbines.
The one-piece stock allowed the horsemen to pick up their rifles and put them back inside leather scabbards or over their shoulder without a barrel, hot after fast or prolonged firing, burning their neck, or melting the scabbard or horseflesh. Other cavalry carbines had much the same idea and even the British Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle had a full-length stock that ended very near the end of the muzzle.
In 1903, the Austrian MannlicherSchnauer rifle, using new and innovative rotary magazine of Herr Otto Schnauer, kicked off a much larger production run of these guns with a similar stock, which soon were offered for the civilian market-- proving very popular with aristocratic European hunters pre-WWI.
While the military left this concept behind, the style remained a hit with sportsmen who frequented the Alps, Carpathians, Pyrenees, and other European mountain chains as the full-length wood stock allowed the gun to be used as a walking stick when needed to boost up trekking up hills and added a modicum of protection for the barrel when you're banging it against trees and descending from a bluff. In fact, Mannlicher still makes these full-stocked guns in a dozen different calibers today, proving that a 126+ year old design can still prove popular.
(Image via the NRA Museum)
In 1966 Bill Ruger kicked off his own send up of the old Mannlicher-style stock by introducing a walnut full-stocked version of his 10/22. Termed the RSI (International), the walnut stock and square forward sling mount immediately set it apart.
While this original run lasted only through 1969 and was discontinued, Ruger has brought the International series back for brief times in its M77 bolt-action centerfire, No. 1 single-shot, 96/44 and 96/22 rifles.
One International, an M77 made in 1988 in .243 Win, ended up in the hands of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and was captured by the CIA and brought back to the states post 9/11.
A large run of RSI 10/22s came back strong in 1994 and included several laminated stock and stainless steel options as an update on the classic design. These remained in production for nearly a decade, making them the most commonly encountered Internationals out in the wild.
The only centerfire International that Ruger currently carries in its catalog is the handsome No.1 RSI in 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser carried through Lipseys. Shown below...
Then there is a 77/22RSI in .22WMR...
And no less than three different 10/22 Internationals currently carried by Lipseys and Talo that are dealer exclusives.
As far as collectability, some turn up their noses to the RSI guns while others actively embrace the melding of old world styling and new world manufacturing. While most Internationals run about the same as comparable models and calibers, first run (1966-69, up to serial number 186076) 10/22 Internationals in excellent minty shape these days bring $500-$600 which is really sweet for a .22LR.
With that being said, don't turn up your nose on those by any means.