Sunday, January 08, 2012

Guns: Ruger 22/45 Target MkIII rimfire pistol review - The Budget .22 Trainer

Ruger's been cranking out a lot of interesting rimfire handguns recently. The LCR-22 and the SR22, for instance, are attempts to scale down traditional .22 LR handgun platforms to something that's more friendly for new shooters, and both seem to be getting good initial press. Both are also a bit expensive compared to the subject of today's review, the Ruger 22/45 Target:

The 22/45 is one of Ruger's least expensive .22 LR handguns, thanks to its Zytel frame and simple construction. I grabbed a lightly used example from RRPSI Firearms for about two C-notes, and put it through its paces.


The 22/45's moniker comes from its grip design, which is supposed to ape the grip of a .45-caliber M1911-pattern pistol. I don't have a 1911 handy to compare (*hangs head in shame*), but it does look and feel similar. The trigger mechanism and recoil cycle of the gun are very different, of course.

The gun features all the usual controls in all the usual places - slide release, manual safety, and magazine release - and comes with two magazines. Out of the box, the 22/45 sports decent fully-adjustable target sights that can be switched out for the included scope rail. SHANGRILA TOWERS PROTIP: Use blue Loctite on the threads of the screws for either the sight or the rail - they can work loose while shooting.

Other than the grip alteration, the 22/45 is basically a standard Ruger Mark III - with all its features, good and bad. As I've said before, I think the Mark III's loaded chamber indicator and magazine safety are completely unncessary (and possibly dangerous, considering that most handguns don't have mag safeties), but they don't affect the gun's functioning at all.

Field-stripping the 22/45 isn't quite as simple as, say, a CZ Kadet. If you just blindly wander into it, it's possible to bugger things up pretty bad, so read the instructions that Ruger provides carefully, and watch a few videos on YouTube:


Accuracy for the 22/45 is about on par with other Rugers that I've tried, and about as good as I get with most inexpensive fullsize .22 pistols. In my hands, the gun turned in about 3" 20-shot groups at 15 yards with a wide variety of ammunition - Remington target, Federal bulk, CCI Mini-Mags, Winchester bulk, etc.

Obviously, a bench rest, good .22 target ammo, and a good handgun scope would shrink those groups, but that's about as well as I can do unsupported with open sights on a handgun these days.

The handgun went through well over 700 rounds of mixed .22 LR without cleaning, and never malfunctioned.

The next time people say that shooting's too expensive, point them toward full-size .22s like the 22/45. For about the price of a new video game console, you can learn the fundamentals of handgun shooting with a name-brand, reliable pistol that'll outshoot 95% of us.


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