Saturday, February 11, 2012

Aiming to Please - The Ruger Mark III

I have friends of both sexes, but there are some things you can only share with a gal friend or two.

So there I was, one day, and all I could do was make that call to Roseholme Cottage that went something along the lines of this. . . (warning - dramatic reenactment).


"Hi. . sniff, sniff" long pause "sniff

"Are you OK?"

"Oh, I just had to call. ." sniff sniff, sigh

"What Happened?"


"You took your Mark III apart didn't you?".

Well, it wasn't exactly like that, but Tam and Roberta X told me to bring it all over and they'd get me all squared away with it. A short drive later and some helpful hints from them, I was reasonably sure I could take care of my new toy properly. Once they explained the process, it wasn't hard.

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 shoot 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 I and later, 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. Very nice indeed.

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 most recently bought 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 of ammo, 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 harder to take apart and put back together to clean than my other pistols A degree in mechanical engineering may help. Or standing on your head. I was 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. Most times I do a good cleaning with a good quality brush/rod and some Hoppe’s #9 Bore cleaner and keeping the complete tear down for "every few shoots" not every time I go to the range. It still shots without hesitation, even if not fully disassembled to clean deep each 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. If you can't try this one. 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, but It's a nice choice. Not for self defense, I don't recommend .22 for that. But for something inexpensive to practice with, to hone your skills an mind set or simply a gun that would mak
e learning the fundamentals less intimidating for yourself or someone you love, compared to recoil of a 9mm or a .45 caliber.

But seriously, when you go to take it apart the first time, find yourself a nice starship technician.


  1. According to my father, a Mechanical Engineer and proud owner of a MKII, the degree doesn't help.

    Great post!

  2. I bought my Mark III with the laser grips bought in (I paid too much too).

    I made the mistake of getting the cleaner on the lens of the laser and pretty much ruined it.

    So your advice of checking out you cleaner to see if it is an organic solvent is good advice. That or just remove your grips altogether when cleaning the upper parts.

  3. I love mine. I got the regular (non-22/45) version of yours. I prefer the original grip angle, probably because I learned to shoot pistols on Dad's Mk I. If I could have gotten a Mk II, I would have, just to avoid the lawyer features.

    Yeah, taking it apart and putting it back together is a real pain. And dear $DIETY, don't take the receiver off the grip frame! I did that once. Getting it back on was nearly impossible.

    Enjoy your toy!

  4. The MII is one of my favorite toys as well. I think they made the MIII because the Browning Buck Mark was gaining market share due to the 1911 style features.

    Good target.

    Who doesn't take a new gun apart down the the smallest screws? How else are you going to polish and HBN all the parts?

  5. I think it's kind of silly that I can take my XDM apart and put it back together blindfolded while the Mark III is such a pain.

    The worst that comes to mind otherwise was my dad's Remington 550 made in the '40s or very early '50s. My older brother decided to break it down completely sometime in the mid-60s and made the mistake of taking the end-cap off the receiver. I can only say that it was amusing because it was him instead of me.

  6. And I meant to add, Great review. Thanks.

  7. The only other more problematic weapon I've seen is when people remove the K frame sideplate and get to mucking around in there- other than thet the Mk I, II, and III are totally a pain to clean.

    Many versions of both have been carried to gunsmiths in little boxes....

    A friend with an ancient MkI just cleans the bore from the muzzle and hoses it with cleaner from the open breech....he hates taking it apart that much.

  8. I simply bought one of these kits and forgot about the problem.

  9. I simply bought one of these kits and ignored the possibly difficulties forever after.

  10. Brigid,

    Try this:

  11. The first gun I bought specifically for my wife was a Ruger MkII...I have always been happy with it...although I think I would have been happier if I got one of the .22/45 versions.

  12. I dearly love my MKII .22/45. Wonderful little gun. I went ahead and upgraded the trigger with the Volquartsen kit. I also installed the Hi-Viz FO front sight.

    Such a hoot to shoot. Runs on anything and is dreadfully accurate.

    However, it is a true PITA to take apart and clean.

  13. I was fortunate enough to obtain a Mark I in reasonable condition for a very good price. It can be a pest to reassemble. My son swears that one day I'll bite my tongue off doing ti.

  14. Now I don't feel so bad that I can't strip my Berretta sporting clays shotgun! I clean the barrel with a bore snake and the little thingy on the end that you screw off and clean and lubricate. Twice a year I take it into the gun shop and they completely strip it and clean it for me. I did get it put back together once by watching a You Tube video but it wasn't easy and I really wasn't sure the "snap" I heard was good or bad!!!

  15. P. S. I can easily strip and clean my two 1911's and any of my other pistols - no problem. But that damn Beretta knows how to give me hell.

  16. At the gun shops I frequent, I always found it curious the Mark 1s & Mark 2s were often selling for more than the Mark IIIs.

  17. Borrowed a buddies IAI clone of the Ruger. Figured I'd be nice and clean it when I was done. Dumb, REALLY Dumb. Took it to the local Gun plumber and handed him the bag full of parts. He just raised his eye brow. He called me when he was done putting it back togather. I went to pick it up and asked him "How Much". "To put it together, Nothing. To keep quit about it, That's gonna cost you." Too Late, Already told him. Called him after I'd dropped it off.

    Never doing THAT again.

  18. Brigid... I have faith in you... and your Ruger MKIII... my daughter can strip hers down, clean it, and have back together in under 10 minutes...

    You two will have to shoot your MKIIIs together sometime...

    (Picture of her Ruger MKIII 22/45)

    Dann in Ohio

  19. I have a Mk I and a Mk II, and you had better have a manual to get it back together, or it will make you want to take up heavy drinking. Nice gun to shoot though. Ammo is a lot cheaper than 45 ACP.

  20. I see more "Bag 'o gun" in this model than any other! Good advice! So when do I get MY lesson in reassembly, LOL!

  21. My Ruger P345 came with that internal lock thingy too.

    When she first came home, I locked it just to see if it really worked.
    It did.
    So I unlocked it
    and fed the key to the dog.

  22. I don't have a starship drive tech on speed-dial, so I guess I'll stick with the High Standard.
    New toys are always fun!

  23. A Mk III with Volquartsen trigger is the backup to my S&W 41 when shooting Bullseye competition. The Ruger prefers Federal Gold Match while the Smith likes CCI plastic box but, fed accordingly, they're just as reliable and accurate at 50 yards. (I'm not.)
    The stock Ruger trigger feels hard and abrupt to me vs the Volquartsen's "softer" feel - I think that means there's a very slight "roll" but I can't otherwise feel it. It just feels more like a pillow than a glass rod breaking.
    I use a guy in Arizona for Ruger work. Gary knows his Rugers.

  24. My son in law has a MKII. We were out here shooting it not long ago, so he either knows the secret of reassembly or he hasn't cleaned the damn thing in ages. I'll have to ask him.

  25. MK II Forever... MK III Never.

    Saw a MK III at the range blow the LCI out the side of the gun with a case rupture.

  26. I recently went to a demonstration of our department's new German-made desktop (!) machine that produces custom circuit boards. The first question I asked was about maintenance/cleaning -- despite having more than a dozen engineering PhDs on staff I knew we would never be able to get that device reassembled without the manufacturer's help if cleaning involved a lot of disassembly.

  27. Great story. The MKIII is fun shooting. As to stripping it I've never had a problem but now that I've read this I'm sure the power of suggestion will cause me to leave it in pieces.

  28. well, for William and Alex's first try at gun making it's pretty good. but, as you see, William was a engineer and Alex was an arteest(!) and you see how it turned out.

    the good news is the more you take it apart the easier it gets. the parts loosen up and your hands develop callouses.

  29. Broke a pin in mine once when I re-assembled it incorrectly. Snapped an important pin right in half when I pulled the bolt back. Ruger very kindly sent me a new one.


    Good customer service, and one of my favorite handguns.

    And, yes, I can reassemble them correctly now, but I always have the manual open for reference.

  30. Gosh, I wish I'd read all these comments years ago before I bought my MKII- I probably wouldn't have bought it. But dang, I feel so good being- obviously- one of the talented few who just happens to have a Ruger that likes him, or something.
    Like Dann says, it ain't that hard. Well. Maybe once. OK, twice. After that it's free. You just gotta be sure to keep an eye on that little do-hickey, right there>>

  31. @Shy Wolf, it's called a hammer strut.

    I will admit I went back to the gunsmith who sold me my first Ruger MkII to ask him the trick of getting the hammer strut to engage with the spring properly. If you point the muzzle straight up and let the hammer strut come to rest against the mainspring housing and then gently swing it into the grip frame it goes together just fine.

    And the magazine disconnect in the MK III's does add to the steps for takedown and reassembly.

  32. Watched the disassembly procedure on the official Ruger channel in Youtube. It looked horrifying complicated.

    I was read that if you have a can on, it really fouls up the Ruger.

    Well there is always a Glock.

  33. Nice target! The wealth of responses suggests that this is a sensitive nerve. One of the best benefits of these pistols is the tremendous aftermarket supply.

  34. You guys are scaring me away from buying a Mk I, II, or III.
    And if you think it helps to say, "it isn't that hard once you get the hang of it", it doesn't!

  35. Windy Wilson- I love the MK II If you find one buy it.

    It is not that complex of a machine. There is a "trick" to putting them back together (lining up the hammer strut). Once you know how to do it is not hard. I only take mine apart once every 2-3 years.

  36. I've had my Mk II for around 20 years and 75k roounds, with a Volquartsen kit and wood Bullseye stocks. It's about due for extractor and spring swap, but I've never had a problem with it, nor doing action jobs on my S&W's. I WILL NOT go for the new gusto from Scottsdale, tho! Too many horror stories from 'smiths. I don't like to pay them unless it's for something I want, not 'cause I can't put it together!

  37. Just had a really neglected MKIII 22/45 from the range apart and back together tonight. The broken rear sight was more problematic than getting the pistol back together.

    Things must be aligned and you must have the proper shrine constructed to Bill Ruger for these things to go back together well.

    Oh, I think I found the remains of Jimmy Hoffa in this one, sheesh! How much crap can come out of a .22LR and it still work?

  38. Your comments on the MK III are spot on. My son and son-in-law both have the 22/45 version, and any time they need to be cleaned, they wind up on my bench. This is probably the reason I've been described as "Spacy". If you take the things apart enough, you learn the tricks. It's kind of like juggling. Once you can do it, you do it without thinking.

    Keep up the great work.


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..