I was hunting up an old essay in my archives, when I stumbled upon this piece. It’s one of my favorite posts of all time, just because… well, you’ll figure out why, soon enough.
When I was testing the new Ruger Mk IV pistol last week, I’d also brought along a rifle (my AK-47) for a little practice on the side. On that side of the range at Frisco Gun Club, there are four lanes set aside for rifles in a separate part of the building. When I walked in, there were three shooters already there, all shooting AR-15s, and all the AR-15s were tricked out with red dot sights, tac rails, flashlights, telescoping stocks — you name it, those rifles had ’em. And the shooters were taking this seriously: tightening the stocks, adjusting the sights (one guy even had a spotting scope — in an indoor range) and in general, going about their business with marked intent. (When I go to the range, especially when I’m with a friend or friends, it’s more of a social occasion, and we kid around, teasing each other and what have you; that didn’t happen with these guys.)
While I was busy with the AK, two of the AR guys finished up and left, and their places were taken by two more AR guys, also with tricked-out rifles and all the stuff which would make Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer have a heart attack (I wish) if they saw it. The two new guys were likewise professional and intent on tuning up their rifles, and one had a suppressor screwed onto his barrel. My plain-Jane AK looked like a muzzle-loader by comparison (but it was just as accurate, so I didn’t feel too bad).
It was the first time I’ve ever been at a range where all the other guys were shooting ARs.
Me, I was just there to make sure that my two 20-round mags were still feeding okay — any excuse for trigger time, right? — so I only popped off twenty or so rounds, then headed over to the pistol range for the real business of the day.
But I have to tell you, I really, really liked the way the AR guys were going about their business. Even though they were a bunch of individuals, they looked like a very competent citizen militia… and the whole thing smelled like freedom. I like that smell.
It looks like we’re turning back into a Nation of Riflemen, at last.
And I couldn’t be happier.
Update: I changed the pic, because I prefer the thought that women are becoming riflemen in ever-increasing numbers.
Because I used to buy ammo from CheaperThanDirt.com by the pallet, I ended up on their “Great Customer!” mailing list, which means I get bombarded with “deals” on a daily basis. (Seriously, CTD: you guys need to update your customer purchase history algorithms.)
Anyway, I used the word deals in quotes, because I just got this offer:
Wait wait wait: fifteen bucks for a small ammo can? The ones they used to throw in if you bought a case of ammo from them? I remember gun shows where the dealers had them stacked high and were trying to sell the things for $5 a pop. Most went home with them. Hell, I used to give the damn things away at the range once I’d emptied them — a reasonably frequent occurrence — just so I wouldn’t have to schlep them home.
Gah. This is what happens when you disappear from polite society for a few years; you come back, and everything’s suddenly unaffordable. You never see stuff like this make it into the economists’ calculation of inflation and the rising cost of living…
This may come as a surprise to many people, but I’ve often had a hole in my gun safe when it came to .22 semi-auto pistols. The reason was simple: I donated my Browning Buck Mark to a worthy cause (a young lady who couldn’t afford to buy a gun, ever, because she was a single mother in a low-paying job), and anyway, everyone else in the family had a .22 pistol (Daughter and The Mrs. each had a Buckmark, and the Son&Heir a couple of Ruger Mk IIs), so I never really needed one for myself. If I was going to teach someone to shoot — which was often — I just borrowed one of the Buckmarks, and off I went. Then the kids started leaving the house, taking their pistols with them, the little beasts, and we had to sell Connie’s Buckmark to pay the water bill one month. So while my other pistol needs were (ahem) more than adequately filled, for the longest time I had no .22 semi-auto pistol of any description in my safe. (I have never mentioned this before now, because I’m pretty sure that not owning a .22 pistol may actually be breaking some Texas state law.)
Well, everyone should have a little .22 pistol in the house because… do I really need to explain this? Anyway, one of my friends got sick of me bellyaching about it, and for my birthday in November last year, he got me an excellent present: a prepaid order for the new Ruger Mk IV 22/45 model pistol — due for release “sometime next year”, as he put it. Well, “next year” became this year, and what with recent events, the thing slipped my mind completely.
So last week I got a call from the gun store saying in essence, “How long do you want us to hold onto this shiny new gun for you?”, and after kicking myself a few times, off I went to pick it up.
I’ve respected Ruger .22 pistols in many respects for a long time, and owned a couple before, but my major quibble — in fact the thing that made me pause before buying a new Ruger (back when I had the money to actually buy guns… aaah, those were good times) — was not Ruger’s perennially iffy triggers, but the hassle involved in field-stripping the little buggers for cleaning (Cliff Notes: disassembly, easy; reassembly, “I’m-gonna-throw-this-bloody-thing-in-the-pool! “). This was why for many years, my .22 pistol of choice was the Browning Buckmark, which was far less problematic in this regard (and had a better trigger, too).
Anyway, the hole in my gun safe has now been filled with this creature:
Note the shrouded barrel (which is a little “tactical” for me, but it also means that yay, there’s no room for Ruger’s annoying little message that — get this — guns can be dangerous). It also has a threaded barrel tip, which means that if suppressors are taken off the NFA registry soon (and they might be), I’ll have one badass-looking .22 pistol.
“Yeah, yeah, Kim… but how does it shoot, and what’s it like to take apart?”
The shooting is fine. The trigger is about the same as or even slightly better than other Ruger .22 pistols, i.e. acceptable, and the gun is more accurate than I can shoot it. (I forgot the targets at the range, sorry.)
But the real surprise comes with the field-stripping — and this is going to cause the prices of Mk II and Mk III pistols to drop as their owners sell them off to replace them with the Mk IV.
This new Ruger pistol is probably easier to field-strip and reassemble than any other .22 pistol on the market. Here’s how it works:
- Remove all boolets (and the mag) from the gun. (I can’t believe I still have to tell people this, but every year…)
- Cock the piece and click the safety catch up into SAFE.
- Press the little button under the slide tabs at the back.
- Lift the slide assembly off the frame.
And that’s it: no special tools, no screwdrivers, no coins, nothing. The firing pin assembly is loose in the slide, and just drops out into your hand for cleaning. Here’s a pic-by-pic:
And now for the best part: the reassembly.
- Slip the firing pin assembly back into the slide (it can only go one way).
- Place the hinge hook back into the front of the frame.
- Drop the slide back onto the frame, and push it closed until you hear the click.
And that, my friends, is why this new pistol from Ruger is the frigging bee’s knees. (I should point out that the field-stripping routine is the same for the regular Mk IV Standard “Luger-style”grip as my 22/45 model with its “1911” grip.) I don’t know how reliable the Mk IV is — I’ll report back after a few hundred more rounds have passed through it, oh, say by the end of the month — but it’s a Ruger, so the chances are good
I have only two more words to say about the Ruger Mk IV pistol: get one.
Many years ago, we had a Christmas party at our old house, and after everyone had said all the greetings, settled down and got their drinks, it was Show & Tell Time, whereby the guests got to fondle and coo over my latest gun acquisitions. For some reason, this always took quite some time.
Anyway, at some point the place looked like some 1930s-era gangster’s hideout, with rifles, shotguns and handguns scattered all over the place. Whereupon one of the lady guests looked around, and said: “Aaahhh… Christmas at Kim’s!”
Much laughter followed.
It’s not only at Christmas. The other night I was busy cleaning out our walk-in closet off the bathroom. Basically, it’s a room which has seen very little traffic over the past few years, because Connie had moved the few clothes she needed into the spare room next to the den, and I generally live out of the armoire in the bedroom anyway.
So there I was, doing some archaeological research into the detritus that had gathered in one corner, and discovered the following:
Yes, that’s two hundred rounds of Winchester .45 ACP hardball. No idea when I bought it, how it got there or anything else. (Finding Random Ammo in my house is not that unusual; I once found five hundred rounds of 5.56mm ammo in the garage — and I’ve never owned an AR-15.)
But that wasn’t all. Underneath the ammo was a little blue box. Inside:
Yes, a little Heritage Arms single-action revolver in .22 LR / .22 WM. No idea how that got there. I have a vague memory that it once belonged to one of the kids, but how it got into that forgotten corner of the closet? Like the fathers of Madonna’s adopted children: a complete mystery.
More alarming still, there’s still one more corner of the closet as yet undisturbed…
Everyone seems to have been overcome with joy that the reign of Emperor Urkel saw this massive growth in gun sales, with x jillion FBI checks per month, lines outside gun shows or whatever. Ruger and S&W share prices grew substantially, gun dealers couldn’t get enough guns into stock quickly enough, yadda yadda yadda.
Well excuse me for peeing on everybody’s parade here, but quite frankly, the downside of everybody suddenly wanting a gun is that the prices of the damn things have climbed into the stratosphere — at a gun show recently, I saw a Century Arms something-clone selling for $1100 (!). I mean, a Century Arms rifle for more than a grand? I nearly passed out. There are no good deals at gun shows anymore. The only guns which aren’t selling at firstborn-demanding prices seem to be double-barreled shotguns, and that’s because I guess they aren’t sexy enough for the New Buyers. Not that it matters much: a new AyA No.2 Round Action side-by-side now runs for about what it cost ten years ago ($7,900), i.e. they’re still expensive.
Don’t even get me started on the complete disappearance of rimfire ammo: .22 Long Rifle, when you could get it, was approaching 10 cents a round for crappy Bosnian stuff, and .22 Win Mag still costs about as much per round as practice .45 ACP. Thank gawd that I had a few thousand (okay, twenty-odd thousand) rounds of .22 LR and .22 WM squirreled away in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer, or else I’d have got really angry.
I remember once suggesting the “seven-cent solution” (a .22 bullet in the back of the skull) for some politician, Teddy Kennedy most likely, and being chided by a Reader that I shouldn’t waste my expensive .22 ammo on that dirtbag. Boy, how ironic is that now when bulk Aguila, which I used to feed to my dog as a treat, now costs well over 10 cents per round.
And prices aren’t going down anytime soon, either. I see that .22 LR is at least being manufactured again, which has eased the availability thereof a bit; but my favorite CCI Mini-Mag is still unaffordable. Ugh. I need to stop now before I bust something. I’d shoot up my TV in disgust, but the ammo costs more to replace than the Sony.