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
"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 make 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.