Gratuitous Gun Pic — Browning Buck Mark (.22 LR)

I think the Buck Mark .22 pistol is one of the best modern rimfire semi-autos to be had.  It’s certainly one of the prettiest.  Here’s a Buck Mark Plus from Collectors Firearms, for example:

…and no serious shooter is going to argue with me that much.  Perhaps you can get a more accurate .22 pistol than the Buck Mark, but you’d have to spend a whole lot more money, because it’s more accurate than almost anyone who shoots it — and other than the high-end competition .22 guns like Pardini and so on, I certainly don’t think you can get a pistol with a better trigger  than the Buck Mark’s.

Best of all, Browning makes a dizzying number of variants to suit absolutely everyone.  I’ve either owned or at least fired most of the major types — typically, the Campers have a lightweight carbon bull barrel, and the Standards have a slab-sided heavy steel barrel, viz.:

My favorite, though, is the Plus Stainless:

I don’t have one of these brilliant little plinkers anymore — not after handing off various models to friends, my children etc.  But it’s on my shortlist, simply because I miss shooting it so much.

All that said:  field-stripping the Buck Mark should never be done in the field, as such, because unless you love scrabbling on hands and knees looking for the recoil spring and / or recoil buffer, you need to be really familiar with the Buck Mark’s innards.  Ask me how I know this.  Actually, your first attempts at cleaning it should preferably be done in a clean white room with a smooth cement floor just to make retrieval of said parts a little easier.  A Ruger MkIV it ain’t, folks.  (Here’s the back story on all the above.)

Still, I miss shooting the Buck Mark — one of the reasons I traded my MkIV for a Single Six revolver was that the MkIV wasn’t as much fun to shoot as the Browning.  (And oh baby… do I love shooting the revolver.)

And on and on it goes… if I didn’t love shooting guns so much, I’d have beaten myself to death long ago over all the stupid decisions I’ve made in the selling of them.  I need a Buck Mark, badly.


  1. I have a wood grip, heavy barrel Buckmark with a Vortex Venom 3moa red dot that I use shooting Steel Challenge and it is a sweet pistol to shoot. Yes, learning how to take the gun apart is a bench job, not an in the field task. .22 LR rounds are messy and build up crap every four or five hundred rounds so careful cleaning will improve performance. My experience has been that the gun once cleaned performs best well lubricated with all of the screws well tightened down with Blue Locktite.

    Kim is exactly right about springs going various places and that includes the extractor spring. There are some good videos on YouTube that explain the steps and I keep a full set of extra springs for my Buckmark. Last thing is there were some major changes in the slide about 18 years ago with some of the internal parts being different so if you have an older pistol look up the serial number to see what year it was produced before you order parts.

  2. Completely agree with Kim’s comments. The Buck Mark is delighful and I have been sorely tempted over the years.

    That said, I bought my Ruger Mk I new in 1979. Later AMT came out with their heavy barreled top ends. (For a few years, until Ruger sued them–“I say lads, that’s our patent you’re infringing on”). I got a SS 8-inch barrel model. Later still added a Volquartsen trigger and grips, and a Millet red dot. It is also a delight and death-ray accurate.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I’m off to pick a shootin’ buddy (also a Kalifornia expat) and then we are off to the gun show in Waxahachi.

  3. Kim,
    After (regrettably) returning to IL in 2015, and having previously sold my Ruger Mark-III 22/45, I purchased a Buckmark. Mine looks like pic #4 and is a joy to shoot. A buddy of mine shoots a $1,200 s&w 41, and my buckmark at 50′ is every bit as accurate as his gun which was nearly 4x the price. Furthermore, his 41 is quite a bit more finnicky too. The 41’s trigger is perhaps a bit lighter, a bit more precise, but not enough to warrant the price difference.

    I’m one to change things but on the Buckmark, there’s not much which needs changing. That damned gun is almost perfect, just as it came out of the box. I only have a couple of quibbles, but they’re quite minor. It would have been nice had Browning designed the thing so tools were not needed for take-down/reassembly. Also, on mine, the rear set screw of the top strap tends to wiggle loose, so, blue locktite is my friend. Like I said, there are minor quibbles.
    Do I regret trading the little Ruger Mark-III for the Buckmark? NO F*CKING WAY. I certainly don’t miss the Ruger six-step “let’s avoid the lawyers” takedown. In fact, there’s a shop near my former MA home that charged $50 to reassemble the Mark-III. Here’s a video about taking down the Mark-III. Before you watch . . . FOOD & BEVERAGE WARNING.

    Fun, solid, accurate, reliable, etc., etc., etc. are all words which correctly describe the Buckmark. In fact, a couple weeks ago I shot a steel-challenge with the Buckmark . . . The course was five plates at the same height, about 30, maybe 35 feet out, starting from a low-ready position. The pattern was 4-5-1-2-3, with plate #3 being the smallest of the 5. My best round with the Buckmark was five shots, five hits, in about 2.2 seconds.

    Yeah, I’m sold.

  4. Another fan here. Have a Camper with a bull barrel. (At least I did, need to check the gun locker to ensure Darlin’ Daughter hasn’t claimed it).

    While I agree with you on disassembly of the Buckmark, in my mind at least, it is nothing compared to disassembly and reassembly of a Ruger MKII. Borrowed one from a buddy for Darlin’ Daughters first range trip many moons ago (I sent you pictures at the time), and have never had such trouble field stripping and reassembling a fire arm.

  5. My first .22 pistol was a Buckmark Camper, great little gun. A lesson learned the hard way–do not dry fire a rimfire, at least until you find out if that make and model are safe to do so! LOL Not one of my prouder moments, I eventually managed to peen the mouth of the chamber, started having trouble feeding and extracting. Duh. Took it to the gunsmith, who fixed it. He wanted to buy the gun for his GF, so I sold it to him.

    A downside, to that version, at least–the top strap was made of plastic, which I of course managed to crack the first time I reassembled the gun, overtorqing the screw. I learned a lot from that gun. ;^)

    I’ve never been a fan of the Rugers. I nearly got one of the S&W Victories, which came out not long before the latest iteration of the Ruger, and was overshadowed by it. The Victory shot great, but I couldn’t get past the weird shape of the grip.

    I’ve been shooting a SIG Hammerli Trailside for years, AKA the Hammerli Xesse. Very nice target .22. Larry’s Guns carried them, I gather he recently passed away, though, don’t know if they’re still available stateside or not.

    1. Dang it! I have used Larry’s Guns for parts, mags and grips for my Sig Hammerli Trailside. Sorry to hear he passed. He was a good guy and always had parts that I needed for the EX Sig Trailside, since Sig dropped the line and left gun owners holding the bag so to speak. Larry took up the line and parts for these fine guns. RIP.

      My apologies if this is out of line.

      1. “UPDATE:
        The inventory of Larry’s Guns, Inc. Has arrived at The Cardinal Shooting Center in Ohio!
        Although LGI will not continue, a new website will be active soon under the Cardinal brand.
        We will be takening orders in the next two weeks please check back on the Web Site.
        If you had placed an order with LGI and it is pending we will be calling you to complete it.
        Once the Web site is up and running we will send out an email to all past customers.
        Thank you for your patience and understanding.

        The Estate of Larry Carter is in the process of shipping all consignment and repair guns back to customers.”

  6. I have a Colt Huntsman which is lower cost, fixed-sights version of the Woodsman. I bought it new so long ago that I, as a Connecticut resident at the time, was able to purchase it in California. There was a waiting period even then. No rushing into a gun shop and saying, “Gimme a .38 and a box of shells.”

    1. I have a Huntsman also. A friend has a Ruger MK II and keeps wanting to buy mine. I tell him he can have it after I’m dead.

  7. In pre- Ruger Mk IV days, I nearly bit the bullet on a Browning Buck Mark a couple of times, though Dad had little good to say of a pistol that needed re-zeroing after a detail clean (IIRC). In any case, cancer took him a couple years later and I inherited his S&W Model 41 7″ bull barrel. Honestly, the price was far too high and I’d trade it in for just a handful more good days with him. That said, the M41 is a tack-driver, though the grip feels funny to me. I keep thinking about carving custom exotic wood grips for it to fit my hands and my hands alone.

  8. I wanted a Colt Woodsman since I was big enough to start wanting real firearms. My Dad had picked up a couple of Colt catalogs (late 1960s I think) and the Woodsman and Huntsman were featured in it.

    Decades later when I bought my first .22 handgun the decision to get a Ruger 22/45 Mk2 was made because the chain sporting goods store was getting out of firearms (they later died completely but in the early ’90s they were really surprisingly well stocked) and they had the Ruger in stock at a stellar price, and it fell right in my hand (1911 shooter for 5-6 years before then). I don’t recall them having the Browning.

    There aren’t enough range days to get a second .22 target pistol but in a year or three when we retire I can see trying out a Buckmark to see if it works as well for me as it seems to do for many of you. Maybe there will be room for one more pistol then…

Comments are closed.