By Don Findley     Photographs by C J Duncan Photography


Operating from a small shop in Southport, Connecticut, Sturm, Ruger & Co. was incorporated on January 12, 1949. Sturm, Ruger’s only product was a semi-automatic .22 pistol, designed by the Company cofounder, William B. Ruger. Since that date, with facilities in four states, the Sturm, Ruger Company has manufactured and shipped literally millions of quality firearms; all MADE IN THE USA.

By August of 1949, machinery (for pistol production) was in place. Component parts were being stocked. A small work force had been employed. Eight barreled receivers were selected for early preproduction assembly. The underside of each receiver was hand stamped 1 through 8. Each major pistol component was numbered internally with a single digit, hand stamped 1 through 8. The fixture for serial numbering had not been installed.

Number 3 was purchased by employee John L. Boudreau on September 5th 1949*, making serial number 3 the very first Ruger firearm purchased from Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. His special “employee cost” was $9.53. Boudreau was hired by Ruger for his proficiency in competitive handgun shooting and pistol smithing.


He had been a competitive shooter since 1932. Boudreau was able to assemble his serial number 3 pistol using parts which existed at this time. Some of the “first lot” of component parts had to go through minor alterations. Those parts which were either not available or not compatible, Boudreau hand made in the Ruger shop. The remaining seven barreled receivers were set aside to be completed later that month (September).

Boudreau shot his Ruger pistol in area matches. In the Dope Bag section of the November issue of the American Rifleman Magazine Major General Julian S. Hatcher writes, “Mr. Jack Boudreau of the Ruger factory has used a Ruger in several local matches. He placed high in several of them, and won at least two medals in September alone”.

As minor modifications had been completed on component parts (September), Boudreau personally assembled and tested six of the preproduction pistols. Serial numbers 1 and 2 were retained in the Factory collection (Alex Sturm and Bill Ruger). Number 3 was already in Boudreau’s possession. Number 4 was assembled and test fired **. Numbers 5 and 6 were never assembled into completed pistols. Number 7 was picked up by Maj. Julian



Top Right: Serial number 3. At the time this pistol was assembled, grip panel medallions were not available.

Middle Right: Magazines were not available. Boudreau modified High Standard Military HD magazines to function in his Ruger pistol. The bottom of the tube was cut to change the angle. The HS spring had to be shortened. The follower and follower button are HS. The base is attached by 2 steel pins (indicated by red circle). Left: original, unaltered High Standard, 10 round magazine. Right: High Standard magazine modified to function in Boudreau’s pistol, 9 round.

S. Hatcher. The last pistol in the group, number 8, was personally “hand” delivered to Warren Page shooting editor of Field & Stream Magazine.

As a footnote: Ruger pistols produced after serial number 8 were machine serial numbered***, assembled, and test fired by Factory workers. Serial numbers started with 0009 and up. The majority of the barreled receivers, serial numbered from 0009 and through number 0025 were never assembled into completed pistols.



*John Boudreau took possession of serial number 3 the first week in September of 1949. It was officially entered in the Ruger records book on October 6, 1949.

** Ruger firearms with the serial number 4 were “assigned” to employee Walter Berger. As Berger’s Ruger firearms (serial number 4) collection was sold, the Single Six was the earliest Ruger firearm in that collection. At the time of his death he was in possession of the Ruger prototype Target Model pistol serial number X4. After Berger’s passing Mrs. Berger returned the X4 pistol to Bill Ruger.

***As every serious Ruger scholar knows, when researching Ruger Firearms, never say never; serial numbers for the 1950 prototype Target Pistols were hand stamped but that is another story.

  The 9 round magazine for the first Ruger pistol was a modified High Standard HD Magazine.
Serial numbers were hand stamped on major parts on all 8 preproduction pistols.