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Ruger 22/45 .22 LR Autopistol Gun Review: Best of Both Worlds or Big-Time Letdown?

The Ruger 22/45 – or more specifically the Ruger Mark III 22/45 Lite – made its debut at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ruger 22/45 .22 LR Autopistol. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Ruger 22/45 .22 LR Autopistol

Sturm, Ruger, & Co.’s Standard .22 Long Rifle semiautomatic pistol is the gold standard of rimfire semiauto pistols, the measuring stick of quality by which all other rimfire autopistols must be judged. It’s still going strong – now in its Mark IV iteration – 74 years after its inception.

Likewise, the M1911 .45 ACP is the gold standard of centerfire caliber semiauto pistols. It’s still going strong 102 years after its inception. 

So then, a pistol that combines the sweet-shooting characteristics of the Ruger .22 with the superb ergonomics of the M1911 must be the best of both worlds, right? That’s what Ruger was certainly aiming for with their 22/45 .22 autopistol. Let’s see how that theoretical match made in Heaven has worked out in practice. 

Ruger 22/45 Lite LR History & Specifications

The Ruger 22/45 – or more specifically the Ruger Mark III 22/45 Lite – made its debut at the 2012 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. (For anybody not familiar with the SHOT Show, the acronym stands for “Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade.”) The current Mark IV Lite iteration came out in 2016.

The most prominent features that distinguish it from the Standard Mk IV and indeed give the 22/45 its name are the M1911-style grip angle and what the manufacturer’s official info page describes as “Checkered, 1911-style grip panels for a great appearance and comfortable, non-slip hold …” Indeed, the diamond-style pattern on the grips of the 22/45 looks a good bit like that on my WWI-era Colt, except on the former they’re made of plastic where the Colt has old-school checkered walnut.  

The info page also proclaims “Ergonomic bolt stop,” “Internal cylindrical bolt construction ensures permanent sight-to-barrel alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving-slide designs,” and Contoured ejection port and easy-to-grasp bolt ears allow for durable and reliable operation round after round.”

Specifications include a 4.40” barrel length, an 8.40” overall length, a 5.5” height, a 1.22” grip width, and a 25 oz. empty weight. The standard magazine capacity is 10+1 rounds.

Personal Shooting Impressions

I was back at my nearest indoor shooting range, delightful ol’ Cindy’s Hot Shots in Glen Burnie, Maryland, to try out the shop’s rental 22/45. The gun was quite pleasing to the eye, with a metallic blue-and-gold appearance, where the finish is officially described as “Cobalt Kinetic Slate Anodized.”  

Ammo selected for my first live-fire session with her was 50 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag 40-grain Copper Plated Round Nose ammunition, delivered from the Classic Weaver Stance using the SL-ST1 Silhouette Target (USPSA) from Baker Targets. The course of fire was 25 rounds of head shots at 7 yards, followed by 25 rounds of torso shots at 25 yards, and 25 torso shots.

The ergonomics were good, and the bolt stop and actual bolt itself were easy to manipulate, as was the mag release. The sights were big and blocky, but being plain black with no dots or other visibility added, the sight picture became blurry and difficult to focus on with indoor lighting conditions.

As for accuracy and reliability, I found it to be a major disappointment, to say the least. It shot 3 inches high at 7 yards and about A FREAKIN’ FOOT HIGH at 25 yards!!! I ended up with three total misses at 7 yards, five total misses at 25 yards, and three unintentional head shots at the latter distance (remember, I was targeting the torso at the farther distance). The group sizes were halfway decent, but that was slim comfort. Then there were the jamming issues: 2 ejection failures and 2 failures to fire. And with the ejection failures, the traditional “tap-rack-bang” jam-clearing technique didn’t solve the problem.

But, knowing just how goshdarn finicky .22 LRs can be when it comes to what sort of ammo they like and dislike, I decided to give this gun a second chance a few days later, this time using 50 rounds of Aguila High Velocity 40-grain Copper Plated Solid Point ammo. The course of fire was the same as before, only this time using a Thompson Target B27-IMZ  Immobilize Zones paper silhouette target. Alas, different ammo, same crappy reliability and accuracy results. Once again, three inches high at 7 yards and twelve inches high at 25 yards; no total misses this time, but plenty of peripheral strikes far away from my intended aim point, and the groups were looser. And still more jamming issues: one ejection failure, two feeding failures, and four failures to cycle the second round from the magazine after discharging the first round.

Long story short, the Mk IV 22/45 Lite did **not** live up to the excellent standards of performance that I’ve come to expect from Ruger products, whether the Standard Mk IV or their centerfire handguns such as the P97DC .45 ACP autopistol, GP-100 .357 Magnum revolver, and Redhawk .44 Magnum revolver (I own all three of the latter guns and am very fond of all of them). Whenever I finally get around to buying a .22 LR handgun, the 22/45 **won’t** be one of my finalist candidates; I’ll most likely go with the rimfire edition of the Beretta M9 (which I test-fired alongside the 22/45, with **much** better accuracy and reliability results.)

In fairness, this was a rental gun, and was probably heavily used and abused, and other shooters have had great results with their Ruger 22/45s. Still, though, based on my firsthand experience thus far, the 22/45 left me severely underwhelmed. 

Want Your Own?

True Gun Value states that “A RUGER MK IV 22 45 LITE pistol is currently worth an average price of $492.52 new and $448.77 used. The 12-month average price is $495.89 new and $448.77 used …” 

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.

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).