I've always thought the 10/22 was the standard for small game, but I've never really heard anyone gush about how rugged they are.
You haven't listened very carefully!
The Ruger 10/22 is extremely rugged, especially the older models. Mine is pure workhorse. It doesn't get babied like all my other guns. I've had it for must be 15+ years and I'm not sure it's EVER been cleaned. I've never had a failure of any kind (except some shells that no-bang, but that's not the gun).
Even so, if I was in the market for a similar gun today I'd be getting something in 17HMR. It does everything the 22LR does, everything the 22mag does and some things that neither of them do.
Still happily answering to the call-sign Peetza.
The problem, as you so eloquently put it, is choice.
He is no fool who gives what he can not keep to gain what he can not lose.
-Jim Eliott, paraphrasing Philip Henry.