Arguably, it is to .22 Long Rifle (LR) rimfire semiauto pistols what the M1911 .45 ACP and P-35 Browning Hi-Power 9mm are to centerfire semiautomatic combat handguns, i.e. the gold standard against which all competing makes & models must be judged.
Moreover, starting back in 1949, the Ruger .22 auto was the invention which launched the careers of the late great Bill Ruger (1916-2002) and Alex Sturm (1923-1951) and their eponymous Sturm, Ruger & Co, which is now one of the giants of the American firearms industry.
And like the M1911 and the BHP, the Ruger .22 autopistol has not remained frozen in time, instead spawning many variants and lending itself to a myriad of customizations; suppressed (“silenced”) Ruger .22s were even used by U.S. Army Special Forces for stealthy kills against Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) personnel during the Vietnam War.
The current and most refined variant of this time-honored pistol is the Ruger Mk IV, and I was luckly to personally put it through the paces at the range just recently.
Ruger Mark IV: Origins and Specifications
The Ruger Mark IV debuted in 2016. As described by the official Ruger info page, the Mk IV hosts a plethora of desirable features, including:
“Simple, one-button takedown for quick and easy field-stripping and proper chamber-to-muzzle cleaning. Pressing a button in the back of the frame allows the barrel-receiver assembly to tilt up and off the grip frame without the use of tools.
Cold hammer-forged barrel results in ultra-precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy and longevity.
Ergonomic bolt stop.
Internal cylindrical bolt construction ensures permanent sight-to-barrel alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving-slide designs.
Contoured ejection port and easy-to-grasp bolt ears allow for durable and reliable operation round after round.”
The stainless steel “Target” version of the Ruger Mark IV has a 5.5-inch barrel, an overall length of 9.75 inches, and a weight of 42.8 ounces- — the website doesn’t specify whether that’s the empty weight or inclusive of a fully-charged 10-round magazine.
Personal Shooting Impressions of the Ruger Mark IV
I have a confession to make: although I’m a big fan of Ruger’s revolvers – especially their GP-100 .357 Magnum and Redhawk .44 Magnum, both of which are in my collection – and I also own a Ruger long gun in .22 LR, namely their famed 10/22 rifle…I’ve never owned one of their ubiquitous autopistols! (Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)
So then, to obtain my own live-fire impressions of the Ruger pistol, I headed off to Cindy’s Hot Shots indoor shooting range in Glen Burnie, Maryland to try out the Mk IV specimen the facility made available for rental. The ammo used was a 50-round box of Armscor Precision 36-gain High-Velocity hollowpoint, and the SL-B27E reduced-size silhouette was my target of choice.
The course of fire was divvied into 20-round headshots at 21 feet, 10 rounds at the torso at 50 feet, and the final 20 rounds directed at the torso at the 75-foot back line of firing lane.
The only downer during this range test was that five rounds of the batch of ammo were duds; one ignited with a second strike on the primer, but those other four still failed to fire even after a second attempt. The attendants opined that it was more likely an indictment of the ammo rather than the firing pin of the gun itself.
So then, as for the rounds that did go off…the 21-foot headshot efforts gave me a delightful well-centered cluster in the target’s noggin. Since the .22 LR is such a tiny round, the multiple impacts didn’t leave a single fist-sized hole that my .45 caliber pistols would have caused with that same type of bullet placement, but it was a very good shot group nonetheless.
At 50 feet, five shots took the 10-ring – with three of those punching the tiebreaking X-ring – two hit the 9-ring, and two of those damnable misfires occurred during this string. At 75 feet, the last of the misfires took place, while the 19 rounds that properly ignited impacted as follows: four in the 8-ring, nine in the 9-ring, and six in the 10-ring with two X’s.
Bottom Line from This Expert: Yea or Nay?
Besides the fact that the caliber is so dirt cheap even in this day & age of inflated ammo prices, another major reason for the .22 LR’s popularity is the virtually non-existent recoil and muzzle blast…and the 42-ounce weight of the stainless steel Ruger minimized that recoil even further. The baby-smooth trigger and the big blocky front sight were a major boon to practical accuracy.
If you’re looking for a fun plinking pistol, I can recommend the Ruger Mark IV without reservation. Suggested retail price per manufacturer is $799.00 USD.
Bonus Photo Essay: Glock Throughout the Years
Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports.