Wednesday, May 6, 2009


It got me thinking. People spend large amounts of money on good wine. I have too, yet sometimes with a hearty meal, a simple glass of inexpensive red wine will do. Such it can be with a gun budget. I keep a watch on my spending (hey I'm mostly Scot) and I found I was spending a LOT on 45 ammo. Sure I love my 45's. There's absolutely nothing like it and the .45 is ALL I will have close to my side for home defense and my concealed is larger caliber as well. But the thought of having a little .22 to plink with, so I could shoot more, was intriguing. An inexpensive but well-built little .22 would be even better. So after trying out someone's Ruger Mark II, I bought a Ruger Mark III in a nice blued finish at the local non big chain gun store when it was there for a VERY good price.
If all you are familiar with are the Mark I and II, there have been some changes. The Mark III has been seriously "lawyered up" to keep some states happy, with a lot of additional safety features, some nice, some, not particularly necessary. But they're there. There's a magazine disconnect safety that prevents the pistol from being fired with the magazine removed from the weapon (as in lower picture). But be careful, removing the magazine doesn't mean there isn't a cartridge in the chamber and if you're going to handle it you need to remember to make sure the weapon is unloaded. But the magazine disconnect should prevent someone from discharging the weapon by accident after removing the magazine, I would think.

Another safety feature, required in some places, is the internal key lock. A key is inserted after the thumb safety is applied, into a little (and I mean LITTLE) hole just below the thumb safety and then rotated. If you have Shrek sized hands you are going to learn to hate this little key. But it serves to keep the thumb safety from being slid into the "fire" position until the internal lock is de-activated with the key. I'm ignoring mine, but unfortunately, there are some jurisdictions in the US that require such an internal lock. On the plus side, it's quite unobtrusive for those that don't have to, or like me, don't want to, use the device. Sort of like that exercise bike in the barn.

The third safety feature is a loaded chamber indicator. If you blow up my last photo you can see that the side of the gun is flush. That indicates that there is not a round in the chamber. If there was, there is a thin bar, the rear of which protrudes slightly from the left side of the receiver when a bullet is in the chamber. It can be easily seen and felt by the shooters finger.Some people are going to hate the looks of that, but I didn't mind. The bar is activated by a spring-loaded piece of steel that touches the rim of the chambered bullet. There was originally some concern, and perhaps a proven problem, with the earlier Mark III models in that one could drop the weapon on the loaded chamber indicator (the buttered side down bread theory) and the gun could go off. Ruger did redesign this. The new design is said to have fixed the problem by modifying the one piece loaded chamber indicator. I don't need to remind you that this feature is NOT a replacement for gun safety practices, it's just an "extra".

Another nice feature is the magazine release button has moved from the heel of the grip frame to a position on the left side of the weapon, just aft of the trigger guard. A left handed shooter can easily press it with the forefinger, or the thumb of a right handed shooter. The rear of the bolt which is grasped to chamber the first round has been skinnied up a bit, providing a secure handle while remaining "finger friendly". The grip is good though one I would call the "Hollywood Starlet model" (thin and plastic). I've heard some say the low profile grip is a bit too thin for them, but I did find it comfortable in my large hand, though I would prefer a lower grip base of metal.

The loading button on the left side of the magazine follower is also larger than that of the Mark II pistols, and aids in easily loading the magazine to its ten round capacity.

As I said before, the one I have is a MKIII512, with a 5-1/2 barrel, drilled and tapped for Weaver-style scope adapter (included). ALL of the Ruger 22/45's, however have the same grip shape, feel, and familiarity of my favorite 1911 .45 caliber pistol. This makes for a low cost trainer for some quiet practice with that familiar 1911 grip. Reliable as well, in my first brick of ammo through it, I only had just one that failed to feed, copper plated, probably my sixth shot. But after the second brick I think I could have fired gumdrops through it and it wouldn't have had a problem.

The trigger out of the box was good, similar to the 1911 model – short trigger reset and follow through is minimal. I don’t have a trigger pull mechanism to weigh it, but I'd guess it replicates most factory 1911 models at being about 4-4.5 pounds. I honestly don't think I'll need a trigger job on it. An internal cylindrical bolt construction that ensures permanent alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving-slide designs.

Here's a target from my first shoot with it, about 30 feet, outdoors, which I held up to the light so you could see. The first three shots went, in order, high, then quite low, then a bit left, then right on after I adjusted my sight for windage and elevation (OK. . OK. . there was no wind and elevation issues, but if I have a new toy and I can tinker with it I'm going to). After shooting much of a small box, there wasn't much left of the center, a tribute to its accuracy, not so much my skill :-)The downside to this gun? It IS a pain to take completely apart, even with the directions. A degree in mechanical engineering may help. Or standing on your head. I'm open to suggestions. The mag safety is problematic when stripping the gun, because you have to insert a mag, press trigger, remove mag, pull bolt, etc. And if you forget to remove the mag? Don't ask.

I've also been told that if you put it back together really wrong, it's going back to Ruger. Not encouraging words. Yes, I have a friend could take hers apart in about 30 seconds, but she can also build a radio out of a paper clip and a piece of gum. But I'm not going to give up. Everyone told me I couldn't put a transmission back into my MG and it was done, so we will see. For now, the first few times, I'm field cleaning with a good quality brush/rod and some Hoppe’s #9 Bore cleaner and keeping the complete tear down for "on occasion".

Like anything, it might get much easier after that first time. Note: be certain the any chemical you’re using to clean this firearm is “plastic safe.” It might be a rare occurrence, but certain solvents may deteriorate the lower frame

If you can find a nice Mark II used, snag it. I got this gun at such a good price I couldn't pass it up. Depending on where you live, or your needs, you may want some of these safety features, It's a nice choice. Not for self defense, I don't recommend .22 for that. But for something inexpensive to practice with or simply a gun that would make learning the fundamentals less intimidating for yourself or someone you love, compared to recoil of a 9mm or a .45 caliber.

For me it was a good purchase based on keeping the costs of practice down. Sometimes you don't need a $59 bottle of 2001 Altesino Brunello di Montalcino. Sometimes you've had a long day and are watching your budget and you just want a glass of "Three Buck Chuck" from Trader Joe's. There's a place for everything in life, and my budged-minded little Ruger will be a nice little alternative to a Saturday of shooting practice.


  1. I've always liked those little Ruger .22 pistols. I had one several years ago and traded it for something else.

    Thanks for the review. I think I might look into getting one of these.

    I think the one I had was a Mark I. It took a few times and a little swearing but I finally got good at taking it apart and putting it back together without having any leftover parts.


  2. Thanks for the review. I just inherited a nice, nearly new MK III form a deceased freind. He passed away way to young, hence it being a year old MK III. It is sweet. Sometimes my daughter lets me shoot it, I normally have to snag it when she is sleeping. I've looked at the directions and they make me nervous. I am looking at simplifying them a little more than the original and maybe some better pictures.

    The enhanced safety features don't bother me, I don't have to use the key-lock safety and I have kept enough semi-autos around kids that I appreciate the magazine disconnect. If a gun has one, okay, if not okay.

    BTW, the Bacon Cole Slaw is great, my daughter made it to go with BBQ beef. Thanks!

  3. This summer I got a Browning Buckmark Camper for the same reason. I preferred it to the other auto .22's I've handled.

  4. I bought a Mk III target in stainless last fall to replace the Mk II I sold in '03 when I needed cash after being laid off. I could do without the 'lawyer parts'. The loaded chamber indicator somehow managed to trap a fired case between it and the guide rod during a pistol match and the mag disconnect doesn't allow easy dry-fire practice. You can dry fire these without a snap cap but the empty mag locks the bolt every time you cycle the bolt to cock it. I've pegged the follower down in the magazine with a short piece of toothpick through the side slots so I don't need to release the bolt all the time.

    My Mk III is put together much tighter than my Mk II so it is difficult to take down for a thorough cleaning. Hopefully that will improve with a little wear.

    Otherwise a very good gun. Just as if not more accurate than my Mk II.

  5. Great review!

    I need to get me one of those...

  6. I had a rather... interesting first outing with my MKIII 22/45.

    It bit me, then during reassembly, I put tab A into slot C instead of doohickey B and bent some internal pin.

    I've had the pistol for almost 2 years now, shoot it quite regularly, and I'd love to tell you it gets easier to reassemble.

    But I'd be lying. I still need to read the instructions to get it to work right. The good news is I've not bent the pin again and even though it's a PITA to clean, it's still the most fun one can have with pants on.

  7. Nice! You have a sister pistol, mine is the same except that it is in stainless. I think the break down has gotten easier, though since I have heard the same thing you have, I sweat it a bit every time. Attention to detail is nice, for personal pride (which would be hurt by a re-manufacture) and the cost and time of being without it, but it would be better not to have to worry quite so much.

    I would love to have ordered the wood stainless model, but the price was a bit much. Still, it was a fine add to my armory, and yours I suspect. It just seems that a .22 pistol or rifle is great for practice... and for inviting people into the world of shooting, plus small game hunting. Squirrels and rabbits might be cute, but they are far tastier, so...

    Enjoy! Oh, and good shooting. I have to think it should make a decent hunting pistol too, if the target happens to be closer than what raising a rifle might be good for. Taking both a pistol and a rifle is a good thing anyway. Plus, it's more cowboy (cowgirl) too, especially if they are matching calibers! Giddee-up.

  8. Welcome to the Ruger MK... You'll get the hang of reassembly. Something has to be upside down and you need to be a left handed monkey to do it quickly, but it will come. Also congrats on the MG Tranny. That is a great accomplishment. Enjoy both!

  9. I have a Mark III, but the Luger Style Ruger. Grow more attached to it each time I shoot it.

    Haven't shot it quite enough for a full take down cleaning. The directions for such are intimidating.

  10. I had to remove the loaded chamber indicator on mine as it caused constant stovepipes. After it was removed it cycles like it should.
    My 30' targets don't look like yours.
    Must be the gun :]

  11. I've always wanted a .22 pistol, I just wanted the Springfield XD in .45ACP more, LOL

    my bill for .45 is gonna be scary

  12. Mk III disassembly... try a Mk I :)

  13. Here is a couple of videos on a Ruger MKIII. I couldn't find this on a the Ruger website but I found it on you tube. This covers disassembly Here is one on how to reassemble it.

    I have a MKII 22/45 and a friend of mine has a MKIII. Having a chance to compare them against eachother they should tar and feather the people responsible for the POS magazine safety. It makes the pistol a pain to field strip and reassemble. It also goes against my safety training to put the magazine back into a weapon that I want unloaded after I have cleared it.

    I recommend you pass on the MKIII If you can find a decent used MKII.

  14. That's what they used for my girlfriend's "NRA First Steps" pistol class. She'd never fired a gun before, and couldn't hit anything with it. The problem was the sights were entirely black! After we put a few dabs of Liquid Paper in strategic places, she could hit the black 90% of the time.
    Personally, I'm *this close* to buying the 22 rimfire conversion kit for my Kimber. As much as I love my 45, it *is* getting expensive to shoot. At 'today's prices' I burned about $150 worth of ammo last Sunday. Luckily about half that was ammo I'd bought over a year ago, so out-of-pocket cost was closer to $75 for the day. The rimfire kit could pay for itself in no time.

  15. I have a MK III that I put an aftermarket shorter barrel on so it will fit my carry holster. (It doesn't fit the holster perfectly, but it is usable for subcaliber training) In addition to making disassembly and reassembly a royal pain, the magazine safety also prevents the magazine from dropping free during reloads. A perusal of the various shooting boards will help with the solution to both problems. One other problem I've had is the little pin that retains the adjustable rear sight in its base can work itself out. Accuracy tends to degrade somewhat when this happens....

  16. nice post! all good things...

    Regarding Mr. Shaw's wine, try the shiraz over the merlot - best bang for "buck".

  17. Ruger .22 autos are a bulletproof design. They are a bit difficult to tear down, but there are some great instructions on how to do this on the internet.

    Here's a YouTube version of it.

  18. I liked my old Mk I but once I got my Colt Huntsman, I pretty much never picked up the Ruger again. I do wonder why they make .22 auto's so freakin hard to disassemble. Have yet to come across one that was as siple and elegant as my Sig 226.

    Thanks for the great write up Brigid!

  19. I'd like to get a 5" bull barrel Ruger, at some point.

    My favorite wine is really very inexpensive (though not as cheap as the "Chuck"): Frontera Cab/ Merlot. Approachable, but complex enough for continued enjoyment. Gets better as it gets oxygen.

  20. Haven't had a chance to shoot one of the Rugers in a very long time but as I recall they are fun. If you get a chance to try the S&W 22 A/S I think you would enjoy them as well. Slightly cheaper to purchase, much easier to tear down, and comparable accuracy at least for me.
    w/v:pheant-what you nearly do the first time a pheasant takes off from under foot.
    Rey B

  21. Some folks are milling off the molded in side panels and screwing on standard M1911 grip stocks for a more comfortable and familiar grip.

    I personally prefer the MKII and the original grip form as the 22/45 frame is indeed to narrow for me.

    One thing for certain, these guns are as close to everlast as you can get. I know of some MKIs in the U.S. Army that have probably fired in excess of 1-million rounds without repair (although magazines may have been replaced).

  22. I solve that problem with my Mk. 2 by simply never disassembling it.

    Spray-cleaner works pretty well, it turns out.

  23. I'm with you on that, Sigivald. I've got the 22/45 and the first time I field stripped it (new out of the case) I noticed that it did have the tendency to nip fingers and bend fingernails. I advocate careful disassembly. Aside from that, I love the Ruger 22/45s.

  24. My MK II 22/45 is wonderful. Very, very accurate and very, very reliable.

  25. I feel your pain on taking apart the Mark 3. That said, mine (Mark 3 Hunter, Stainless, 6" barrel) is my favorite pistol. I have doctored it up with a Volquartsen set of grips, target hammer and trigger. It is an absolute dream to shoot and a real tack driver.

  26. Do you really need to take the Ruger completely apart to clean it?

    Many guns, like those designated for military and police are made to be easily disassembled. .22 pistols generally are not. I would just clean the barrel and chamber, lubbricate, and rock on.

  27. Munitions & Amp; Miscellania - Cleaning the works is highly recommended. Accumulated powder residue will make the trigger "crunchy"

  28. Story linked at The Liberty Sphere in a special, separate post.

    As always, great writing.

  29. Nice review! I grew up shooting my dad's Ruger Standard. In fact, until I got my Taurus PT145 last year, it was the only semi-auto pistol I'd ever fired! It was (and still is) a good, reliable, and accurate gun.

    I've been considering buying my own Mark III lately (though I could do without the lawyer parts, too). I'd rather have a Mark I or II, but they're hard to find when I actually have the money to spend.

  30. Brigid,

    I have to agree with your assessment of the Mark III. I bought one when I was having a hard time finding a Mark II, yet wanted to upgrade from my Mark I. In fact, I was so underwhelmed by the "designed by lawyers" approach that Ruger took that I went out, found (finally!) a Mark II and sold the Mark III to my best friend - after warning him about it. (He bought it anyway, and he still likes me, so all is good!).

    But my even bigger complaint about the "45" version was the way that the bottom plate of the magazine went up the backstrap for like half an inch or more - it made the mags NOT drop free - and this is NOT what you want when you're pin shooting! (up here in MA, they have these goofy things called "candlepins"... which are perfect for a rimfire pinshoot.)

    The no-drop free mags, combined with needing a different degree to strip it and clean it, mandated that Mr Mark III was going to go away... and it did. I'm very content with my Mark II.

  31. Like Rey, I went for the S&W - partly to save a hundred bucks (I'm part Scot too) and partly for the easier breakdown.

    Shooting for 5 cents a shot makes it much more fun.

  32. Pick up a spare sear against the day. I don't know what kind of metal the little buggers are made of, but they have a thin skin that provides all the hardness, and when they wear they can't be rehardened by any treatment known to me. Without it, the restoned engagement surfaces won't last more than a dozen shots.

    I've tried everything from oil quench to Kasenite with no luck at all. But you're right, a great little pistol, with comparatively few foibles.

    Even the 1917 Enfield, arguably the greatest military bolt action ever made, had an achilles heel in it's ejector, so nothing's perfect, and a judicious spare kept near makes a 5 year gun into a 10 year gun, with no downtime at the 'smith's.

    I deal with Ruger (Pine Tree Castings division) all the time in the aerospace business, and the tolerances those people hold in their investment castings is literally unbelievable.

    Plus their powdered metal technology does things that would have been completely unachievable in conventional alloys just twenty years ago.

    Happy shooting with a great little handgun. You have me thinking now about a .22 with a military grip, either a Ruger or an old Hi Standard. And me with a daughter to be expensively married off in September. Shame on you.

  33. Great review. I've had a Mk II 22/45 for about 6 years and I've never bothered to take it completely down.

    I use brushes, boresnakes, and scrub what I can with a toothbrush and whatever cleaning solution I have on hand (Hoppes, CLP, whatever). I've never had a bit of trouble out of it.

    Now it's an experiment. How many years of shooting can I get out of it this way?

  34. A useful review.

    I recently picked up a Mk-III 22/45 like yours. I've put about 400 rounds through it. So far I'm impressed: nice crisp trigger, dead accurate, shoots to the sights. No functional problems.

    I like the Mk-III's modernized magazine release button. The many lawyer safeties bug me less than I had feared.

    Like others here, I'm kind of dreading the day when I'll finally have to detail strip the Ruger.

  35. A degree in mechanical engineering doesn't help the stripping as much as you might think. I still forget to pull the mag out.

  36. I bought that very same gun--the P512MKIII--a little over a year ago. I'd wanted a .22LR auto-loader as an instruction gun, and I came across one on sale, so I snapped it up. I love the little beast. It's never given me any trouble mechanically; every failure it's had was the result of bad ammo (I'm never buying Remington "value packs" again). Admittedly, I have suffered the occasional mangling when the web of my hand got caught in the mainspring housing latch during dis-/reassembly...

    I've used it to introduce my nephews, niece, wife and two European friends to shooting, and they've all done quite well with it. I drop it into my range bag on every trip, just in case. And actually, I think it does get easier to dis-/reassemble over time, providing you keep your hand in.

    The only complaint I have regarding the loaded chamber indicator is that residue tends to accumulate near the hinge, at it take a generous amount of solvent to flush it out. Oh, yes, and I did paint the front sight day-glo orange (with an undercoat of white).

  37. jurjen303 - good to know. Thanks!!

    I picked up some good hints from folks from this post.


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