When I was 14 years old, I got my first Ruger .22 Standard Model pistol for Christmas. It was the six-inch barreled version and I shot small game with it, along with hundreds of tin cans and other oddball targets I came across.
In the ten years I owned and shot that Ruger, I can honestly say it failed to chamber a round only once, after I’d dropped the magazine in the Arizona sand. I’ve owned and tested a dozen other Ruger .22 pistols, including a stainless Mark II Target version that I’ve competed with for more than 25 years. Of all the many .22 pistols I’ve owned and fired, the new Ruger Mark IV 22 is my favorite.
Ruger made small improvements to these pistols over the years in sights, special barrels, etc, but retained the original disassembly procedure about which a number of folks have complained. Personally, I’ve never had a problem disassembling or reassembling the gun, though some have been a little easier than others. Nevertheless, a better mousetrap has arrived!
NEW RUGER MARK IV
As one of Ruger’s greatest achievements, the new Mark IV pistol should win a trophy. Not only does it come with 1911-style controls, but some models can also be had with a ½x28 threaded muzzle.
I already had the new SSK Industries Model 22RF .22 Long Rifle Suppressor designed by J.D. Jones, so I opted for a sample Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol with its factory threaded muzzle.
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite comes with a super-strong polymer frame that is very close to that of a Model 1911 pistol, but in some ways better. It doesn’t have a (silly) grip safety, and the trigger guard is larger, undercut, and totally comfortable. Both front and back straps are beautifully checkered, and Ruger’s 1911-type black rubber large diamond and checkered grips assure a firm purchase in one’s hand.
The side-mounted 1911-type magazine release works to perfection, and there is also a slide stop. The ambi thumb safety is up for ON and down for FIRE, with both positions marked in white and red, though I recommend memorizing this in case of low light. A magazine disconnect prevents the pistol from being fired with the magazine out. The magazine base differs from the Mark III 22/45.
The four-inch stainless steel “pencil” barrel is enlarged at the muzzle and chamber areas to keep the pistol feather light, and the aircraft alloy upper receiver also goes a long way to keep the pistol living up to its Lite name.
The shroud that surrounds the barrel has no less than 70 BB size holes around it to further lighten the front, while at the same time allowing one to view the stainless pencil section of the barrel, so it’s “cool” in more ways than one.
At the front of the upper receiver is Ruger’s standard ramped steel target blade sight. The company’s fully adjustable steel rear sight is at the back. Just forward of the rear sight is Ruger’s 4 1/8-inch alloy rail secured to the frame by three Locktited hex bolts. A thin, arched steel spring washer that also helps keep a suppressor tight secures the muzzle’s knurled thread protector.
The Mark IV’s disassembly is no longer a secret, as it opens up much the same as a fine shotgun and locks tight in about two seconds. At the front of the lower receiver is a semi-permanent steel hinge pin through the frame. At the rear of this receiver is a vertical stud that works like all of those past to hold the upper in place while also serving to stop the bolt during recoil. This stud is locked in the receiver by a cross-pin.
After removing the Mark IV’s magazine and making sure the chamber is empty, point the pistol in a safe direction, close the bolt, and push the ambidextrous safety up to SAFE. Next, while pressing the disassembly button, lift the rear of the upper receiver up and off of its semi-captive hinge. The bolt is then free to remove. No further disassembly should be undertaken. Reassembly is in reverse.
While the Mark IV 22/45 is almost the perfect .22 Long Rifle caliber pistol, there are those who will want to change (or improve) something, and yours truly is guilty as charged.
My main improvement involved the trigger and the magazine safety/disconnect. I have never had any use for the latter and have removed them from any of my guns that came with them.
The 22/45’s trigger is exactly like that in all such Ruger pistols from the factory, and this is another area I changed to reduce the weight of the pull like my Mark II Ruger.
My choice was a Ruger Mark IV Accurizing Kit from Volquartsen Custom. This kit not only reduces the trigger to a crisp 4.5 pounds and has overtravel and reset screws, but also automatically eliminates the magazine safety/disconnect. It made a “new pistol” of my sample. Installation by a gunsmith is a good idea.
The final aspect of the Mark IV 22/45 I find a little annoying is the ambidextrous thumb safety rubbing my right index finger, but I’ll wait for an aftermarket replacement.
As much as I love the traditional Ruger Mark I, II, and III .22 pistols, their grip shape and angle are exactly like that of the German P08 (Luger). The Ruger 22/45’s shape is identical to that of the Model 1911 pistol and is about perfect for me. The 22/45 points with sights aligned on target and is great for practice.
Shooting the Mark IV 22/45 brought no surprises, save for the excellent Volquartsen trigger and SSK .22 suppressor. Even with high-speed .22 Long Rifle ammunition, the report was just a “puff.” I’ll have to get a threaded barrel for my Ruger 10/22 to use it with this excellent suppressor.
Shooting off-hand at a steel silhouette target 163 yards away, we didn’t hit it, but dust showed we were missing it by just inches. Shooting targets at 50 feet proved that five-shot groups of one to two inches were possible, but using Leupold’s 2.5-8X produced almost as good groups at 50 yards from the bench—just the thing for small game. For varmints out to 25 yards, the Vortex Razor Red Dot allows fast hits on running prairie dogs. SSK’s 22RF suppressor made shooting the pistol even more delightful.
Ruger offers several versions of the Mark IV 22/45 Lite. For my money, no other .22 pistol comes close to the Ruger Mark IV 22/45, especially at an MSRP of just $559.00 for the model featured here.
STURM, RUGER & CO, LTD.