Andy H wrote:
Is there any truth in the rumor that Ruger and other firearm manufacturers make special runs for Walmart and these guns may have slight cosmetic or other differences?
Completely false. I used to manage one.
Ruger will not ship a gun it knows to have defects.
However your question has a partially correct answer in that manufacturers, not just guns but sporting goods, appliances etc. do make 'special runs' of their products for the big box stores. What that means is you may buy a lawn mower that has a different engine or wheels that will allow the cost to be lower than normally seen so they can sell it showing they are cheaper. As far as guns, it may be a different grip and a different finish, a combo of parts not normally cataloged, and their large quanity buying power gets them a discount, therefor a different product at a lower price than yopu might see in a local store or as cataloged.