The plinker went to war: The IDF's Ruger 10/22

  1. Editor
    Ever since their beginnings in 1948, the Israeli Defense Force has had to think outside the box to come up with weapon's systems, therefore it shouldn't surprise you that for the past 20 years the Israelis have used a (much-modified) 10/22 for use in both special operations and in security operations.

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    (A gently modded 10/22 with IDF forces in 2000)

    The background

    Going back to 1987, the IDF purchased a quantity of Ruger 10/22s for use by security forces in the Palestinian Intifada, a violent uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that led to a number of deaths on both sides. Hallmarked by rock throwing, molotov cocktails, and slingshots by the Palestinians (backed by the PLO, Fatah, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front and the Palestine Communist Party), no less than 60 Israeli military and police were killed by 1993.

    This led the Israelis to go a bit harder from rubber bullets and tear gas-- the traditional less-lethal tools of the age, and use .22LR rifle fire aimed at the legs of armed intifada participants, as a next step. It seems it's hard to keep your motivation to throw rocks with a 40-grain round in your shin.

    The guns used by the IDF at the time were standard wooden-stocked 10/22s modified by the Italian firm of Sabatti with a heavy bull barrel encased by an integral suppressor that looks all the world like a 6 D-Cell Maglite. Drilled and tapped for a full-sized Weaver base, the gun was given a 4x optic of various manufacture and a Harris-style adjustable bipod forward.

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    (Use of the 10/22 always seems to be in conjunction with other soldiers armed with M16, Tavor or Galil rifles)

    It's not known just how many of these guns the Israelis picked up, but they have been widely seen in the West Bank and Gaza for the past two decades.

    Their use, however, was controversial an in 2001 they were ordered restricted from use as a "less lethal" weapon.

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    (AP Photo)

    "The mistake was that the Ruger came to be seen as a means of dispersing demonstrations, in contrast to its original purpose as a weapon in every respect," said a senior IDF officer at the time. "The ballistics of the bullet are different from those of regular bullets, and as a result, it is liable to cause excessive damage when used indiscriminately."

    Then in 2008, the guns were brought back online and have been used extensively since then with a different set of rules of engagement that restrict the use of them in circumstances where lethal force is authorized.

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    An Israeli border guard aims his 10/22 during clashes with Palestinian protesters following an anti-Israeli protest after the weekly Friday prayers on September 18, 2015 in the Israeli-controlled area called H2, in the West Bank town of Hebron. Note the BX-25, well-worn stock and receiver, and improvised cheek pad. Image by Hazem Bader/AFP

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    An Israeli army sniper, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, 5 December 2014. Photo by Haim Schwarczenberg. Note the more advanced optic over the original 4x scope used at first.

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    Israeli soldier with a Ruger 10/22 sniper rifle in Hebron during the "open Shuhada street" protest, February 22, 2013. Photo by Lazar Simeonov. Note the ACOG optic.

    Further, last week the Israeli Attorney General authorized the use of the 10/22s against rock-throwers in East Jerusalem for the first time.

    Other use

    It wasn't just in the Palestinian areas that the Israelis used the .22 rifles. In the ongoing asymmetric war with Hezbollah along the Lebanon border, it is believed that commando units used them to take out sentries and dogs before entering an area to maintain the element of surprise. This actually fits into long-standing doctrine. The Israeli air marshals, Mossad, and Sayeret Matkal had long issued the .22LR Beretta 71 (usually suppressed) for covert operations including the counter-terror operations authorized after the 1972 Munich Olympics attack.

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    In recent years, the IDF 10/22 cache has seen a number of upgrades to include BX-25 mags, FAB Defense modular composite stock systems with aluminum bedding blocks, and more modern optics.

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