Nice Surprise

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:

  1. Remove all boolets (and the mag) from the gun. (I can’t believe I still have to tell people this, but every year…)
  2. Cock the piece and click the safety catch up into SAFE.
  3. Press the little button under the slide tabs at the back.
  4. 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.

  1. Slip the firing pin assembly back into the slide (it can only go one way).
  2. Place the hinge hook back into the front of the frame.
  3. 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.


  1. Looks like a sweet gun. What are your thoughts (if any) on the Bersa 380 Thunder? I saw one at a gun show a couple of months ago, and it looked like a decent EDC gun, but my knowledge of guns is all pretty much theoretical, being based on your writings, plus whatever I glean from Larry Correia and Uncle Joel at TUAK.

    And on a completely unrelated note, I never got to enjoy your thoughts on the Obergefell decision, though I remember your commentary on the topic back in the day. If you’re taking requests, that’s something on which I’d like your insights.

    1. If I were in the market for a DA carry pistol with low recoil and high reliability, the Bersa would be on my shortlist. Over the years, I’ve steered a number of New Lady Shooters in that direction, and not one has ever come back with a complaint. Just remember to load your carry piece with quality hollowpoint ammo; .380 ACP FMJ rounds are not serious stoppers.
      Don’t know if I can find my thoughts (if any) on Obergefell. I’ll look around, but don’t hold yer breath.

  2. People complained for decades about the difficulty of reassembly of the Ruger Mark # series of pistols. Ruger only saw fit to fix the problem once Smith & Wesson released their SW 22 Victory model, which breaks down and reassembles easily. I have not shot either pistol, but have handled and dry fired both. I thought the regular (Target and Hunter) Mark IVs very heavy, and the trigger sucked. The Victory is relatively light, with a much better trigger out of the box. Both do have aftermarket support, Volquartsen triggers, etc. .22 Plinkster’s Youtube vids on both guns are very informative.

    My first .22 semi was a Buckmark. It was a good pistol, but I learned the hard way not to dry fire it–I wound up peening the mouth of the chamber, which caused all sorts of FTF/FTE/stovepipe problems. I got it fixed, but wound up selling it. I’ve been running a SIG Hammerli Trailside (aka Xesse) for years now, it’s been a fine target pistol.

    1. There’s a youtube vid showing a 7yo taking the stupid thing apart with a paperclip. C’mon. 😉 First time I took my Mk I apart in ’76 it was the standard ‘try this and see if it works, oops, try that, wash, rinse, repeat’. It’s easier than taking down an M203 grenade launcher trigger group. Still have it. Still shoots the pip out of an ace at 25yds if I do my part. Having said that I’d be interested in a bull barrel, luger gripped, adjustable sight GIV for the right price.

    1. Young lady, you’ll just have to find out for yourself, the next time you and Mr. TrueBrit come over for a visit.

      Actually, it IS filthy… all that gunpowder residue…

      1. These days the only rapid firing weapon in the house is the Kris…. vector. We shall look forward to it. Keep up the good work Kim, the blogs great x

  3. If you believe nothing else Kim ever says, believe him on wanting a Mark IV.

    For those who do not know the joy of a Mark I-III reassembly, they require you to replace the trigger spring into the backstrap of the gun. This multi-stage process requires that you hold the gun at specific angles to use gravity to align parts that connect with the spring. You also have to pull the trigger at one point to free the hammer to move freely.

    Do one step wrong and you get a gun that doesn’t fire and has rattling little free-swinging bits to taunt you about your failure.

    Source: Did not believe Kim on the Buckmark, own a Mark III which I enjoy cleaning whenever I need a good reason for a cursing session.

  4. I guess I’m just one of those guys. I never have seen the original rugers as even mildly difficult to dis/reassemble.

    1. That’s because you’re an engineer. I bet Dilbert and Wally would have no trouble with the older Rugers, either. Which tells us all something.

      1. I somehow manage to do okay with mine, although I’m not an engineer. But I am both careful and persnickety.

  5. Guess I’m one of those guys too. Bought my Mk I new in 1979 (standard 4” barrel). Never really had any problems. Yeah, once in awhile I would fail to re-seat the hammer strut, but it was an easy back track to correct. I agree that the succeeding marks became more tedious, but quite doable with a little practice. I worked a retail shop with an indoor range and rental guns. When it came time to clean the Ruger 22’s, the other employees seemed to disappear in a blink, leaving paper fluttering to the floor, only too glad to leave it to me.
    A few years after I bought my Mk 1, AMT came out with heavy barrel stainless top ends with adjustable sights for Rugers. Fortunately, I managed to snag one before Ruger sued AMT rightfully claiming “I say, that’s our patent you have there, old chap!” It still resides on my Mk I, along with a Volquartsen trigger and grips. I also mounted one of these red dots—

    —the RD00906. It is one of the few guns I have that I refer to as “boringly accurate”. You can literally plink empty 12 GA hulls set on their bases at 40 yards.

  6. I’m not joking.

    When I clean my Ruger Mk III I scrub the pipe, and get one of those brass tooth brushes and scrub around the ejection port a bit – and call it good. I almost stroked out in a fit of Ruger-induced rage with that damned thing. Then I bought some friggin kit that was supposed to make it EASY to strip and reassemble; but they lied about that. It DID make a huge improvement on the trigger and the thing is a little tack driver now.

    My outhouse cleaning methods seem to suffice and if I need to take it in to a gunsmith in a couple years to get it de-sludged … I am good with it. See ya at the range, Kim! Expect no quarter, and give none! Us old farts shoot for coffees and in our world – coffee is blood! 🙂

  7. I’ve still got my ancient High-Standard, but that new Ruger does look rather cool.

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