[Hands-On Review] Ruger Mark IV 22/45: Sheer Fun

This firearm transported me back in time and reminded me how shooting can just be plain fun.  

Twenty years of law enforcement have me constantly considering how I can be quicker to the draw, faster in my reloads, consideration of cover, and issuing commands while I’m handling my firearm.

Ruger Mark IV
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45, a combination of delights.

My gun is a defender of my life and the lives of others, but there was a time when things were much simpler.

In fact, they were a hoot!

The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 took me back there and I’m going to tell you how it can take you there too.

Table of Contents


The Hoary Days of Yesteryear

My admission may seem rural to some of you, to others it may just hit the mark.  

While I lived in the city, I spent summers in the country on my grandparents’ farm.  This was a working farm on the Black River where a lot of various crops were grown and harvested by the sweat of our brow.

tomato field
Tomato field

When it came time to harvest tomatoes, we would gather them all into buckets and take them to a large, covered picnic table for sorting.  Hundreds of tomatoes were screened by visual inspection, the ones that fell short of the mark for one reason or another were tossed in the river.

The Black River languidly flowed by, creating a bit of sport that I never forgot as an adult—shooting moving targets.

The corrupt tomatoes actually floated, so when they hit the water, they bobbed along downstream.  Now, they weren’t exactly a swift sparrow on wing, but tossed upstream, they approached, then gradually peeled away from my position.  

I had my .22 loaded up and plinked away with glee, marveling when I could hit one, blow it apart, and send it down to Davey Jones’s Locker.  Parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and even cousins would offer shooting advice and even help out with an occasional tomato pitch.

Keep in mind this was before the Atari 2600 was widely available.  

Atari 2600
Atari 2600, released in 1977

Twenty years of training later, and every shot I carry daily weighs upon me with the gravity of potential life lost or taken, including those of my family, co-workers, as well as my own or that of some innocent bystander.  

The idea of using my firearms to save lives is both wonderful and horrific to contend with. And yet, it is what I have trained for, and now, what I train others for also.

So much for the simpler times when my targets were tomatoes that never reached their potential and the only “innocent bystanders” might be mouthy carp or stolid Cypress knees just edging above the water’s surface.

The Evolution of Fun

Ruger took me back to simpler times when the .22 long rifle was the next logical progression from a BB gun.  

Young people growing up in rural areas might be called upon to save their town from the ravages of Black Bart or some other villain.  

Best .22 LR Semi-Auto
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I had known about the Mark series pistols for some time but had heard mixed reviews because of the engineering behind the handguns. Things have changed significantly.

The order of business when I received the pistol was to take it apart.  It really couldn’t have been easier. I made sure it was safe and empty, pressed a button, and it disassembled into four distinct parts which I could tell would be easy to clean.  

The worst of my fears abated, I endeavored to see what joy might be gleaned from this modernized shooter.

Ruger Mark IV
I love how .22 LR ammo comes in rows of 5.  I would dump two rows in my hand and feed the magazine full.


Heading out to the range a total of five times I endeavored to put the pistol through its paces with four brands of ammo as well as a suppressor to test the gun’s versatility (Ruger makes a variant with a threaded barrel for just such purposes).  

Perhaps most importantly, I mounted a Vortex Razor with a 3 MOA dot to give it that modern accuracy, and quick sight acquisition flair.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The 22/45 comes with adjustable iron sights but I wanted to plink with the greatest of ease.  It also has a Picatinny rail which I mounted, then bolted on the Vortex. With just a little bit of time to get the Razor adjusted, I dialed it in and soon was plinking away like the days of old.  Or wait, not like the days of old, better than the days of old!  

By dialing the red dot brightness up or down depending on the lighting conditions, I was able to pull up on target, find my red dot, and start shooting.  This was much easier than aligning the front and rear sights like I was used to; it was a modern marvel!


The trigger had about 1.5 mm of slack before it started to snug, then broke at an average of 3.12 lbs on my Lyman Digital Trigger Gauge.  Loading the magazine was interesting too until I learned to pull down on the spring tension release button which held the follower at bay.  

The controls were all easily accessible, particularly because I had selected the Ruger Mark IV 22/45. Although I wanted to get away from the responsibility-laden shooting of law enforcement, this model made for an easier bridge.

Ruger Mark IV
The button under my left thumb made loading the rimfire shells a whole lot easier!

With one magazine, once you shot the 10 rounds, you were done.  

No need to conduct a rapid reload, no need to seek cover or call for some!  I soon began to relax and enjoy the sheer simplicities of marksmanship, sending rounds downrange with great accuracy and little regard for heavy recoil or a booming percussion.  

A moment of brilliance tugged at my mind’s edge. Hey, this is good enough that my kids might like it.

Despite the attractive nature of the gaming world, most children still crave analog experiences whether they realize it or not—especially when those experiences are shared with loved ones.  I took my kids to the range and let them try the Ruger Mark IV also.

My son liked it.  

He was comfortable enough that neither the recoil nor the pop of the .22 LR was really an issue for him.  

He was big enough to grip the pistol easily and used the Vortex red dot to narrow in on his target and press the trigger back to complete, consistently emptying the magazine, hitting most of what he was aiming for.  

Ruger Mark IV
My son rapidly began to enjoy shooting the Mark IV and was used to the red dot Vortex from so much gaming.

My daughter was a bit too small to truly get a good grip on the pistol and reach the trigger also.  So, we compromised. She held the gun and aimed intuitively through the Vortex while I provided a little support and pressed the trigger when she was on and said “ready”.  

The result was magnificent. Using an old west splatter target, she shot bad guys aplenty and even peppered an errant horse in the butt for being in the vicinity. Much fun was had by both and an entertaining experience was shared by all.

Ruger Mark IV
This is something I won’t soon forget and I believe my kids feel the same.  Ruger and Vortex made this possible.

I eventually had to stop shooting for the sheer pleasure and needed to remember I was reviewing this pistol for you, dear reader.  I took my four ammo types and set out a target 12 yards away, then carefully fired an entire magazine of each for accuracy.

It wasn’t supported but it was about as accurate a test as you’d need to utilize to measure this plinking marvel.  

I used three brands and four types of .22 long rifle.  First was CCI, the 40-grain gold standard of plinkers everywhere.  

Next were two varieties of Aguila, both 40-grain, one being standard velocity and the other being high velocity.  

Finally, I used Federal Premium, also in a 40-grain.

The last I used only during testing of the Gemtech suppressor, and this was Gemtech 42-grain subsonics.

The groupings came in as follows: CCI came in at two inches for ten whole rounds.  The ammo was solid, reliable, and predictable with no failures to fire. Both Aguilas performed well, with only a slightly stronger pop distinguishing the high velocity from the standard.  

With the high velocity, I achieved a 1.34-inch group and with the standard, I got approximately 2 inches. The Federal also averaged in at a group of 2 inches. All of these ammunitions were reliable and provided an economical level of fun with reasonable accuracy.

Ruger Mark IV
The Ruger Mark IV and Gemtech GM-22 were made for each other, a wonderful pairing.

Heading to Liberty Firearms Institute on a slow day I was able to test the Gemtech GM-22 out with the Ruger Mark IV.  This was a match made in heaven. Unscrewing the thread protector, I removed it and the crush washer before screwing on the suppressor.  

I just so happened to be wearing a suit and tie at the time so admonishments from Q came ringing to my ears as a testy “double oh seven!”

Q 007 James Bond

I tried three ammo types and measured the difference in sound with a decibel meter about ear’s distance from the muzzle.  

There was an ambient noise of approximately 70 dbl. in the range. Using various loads, I noticed a trend. The GM-22 took the rounds down in decibels to just above 100 decibels, removing the sonic crack one typically experiences.  

Now, sound experts say 100 decibels will damage your hearing after 8 hours of steady exposure. All I noticed was a slight pop and the action of the bolt clicking.

For its diminutive size, the GM-22 is awesome.

By the Numbers

Reliability 5/5

I really racked up a tally with this pistol.  Between me and my family, we ran approximately 1,500 rounds through the Ruger Mark IV 22/45.  The only hiccup was shooter initiated. The base of the magazine sits deeply into the magwell and I failed to properly seat it once, causing a failure to feed.  This was quickly remedied and not duplicated. The gun provided flawless performance and was only cleaned once during testing.

Ergonomics 4/5

The ergos on this pistol are wonderful.  I like the slim profile of the grip, just like a 1911, and this also gives it less aesthetically in common with a Luger.  The controls are all pretty easy to get to and even smaller hands can make use of them. There is a good design to the backstrap, protecting the shooter’s hand from the bolt that blows back.  It is super easy to operate, from loading, firing, to cleaning.

Accuracy 3.5/5

I wouldn’t call the standard 22/45 a card splitting dynamo, but it does really well in what it is designed for.  Imagine a few hours on a warm afternoon, plinking at bottles or cans set up in your favorite shooting spot. Or, perhaps you might hang a target such as Dastardly Dan, and work on fundamentals of shooting.  The gun’s performance is solid and predictable. Using the Vortex Razor helped simplify things in my mind. For my children, only one address was necessary—put the red dot on what you want to hit!

Customization 4/5

There is a ridiculous amount to customization available to these guns.  Ever hear the name Volquartsen or Tandemkross?  

You can change out triggers, barrels, grips, heck, just about anything you’d like and upgrade this gun ‘til your heart’s content.  I wouldn’t call the market robust, but there are plenty of options out these for those looking to upgrade. Having the ability to add optics like the Vortex Razor and GM-22 suppressor also widen the variety of customization possible with this gun.

Value 4/5

These little pistols are an excellent value.  Listed on a few websites between $400 and $500 (depending on model) you can’t go wrong.  Is this the all-time home defender pistol? No. Is this the gun you spend quality time teaching your wife or children how to shoot and have countless hours of fun?  Yes.

Best .22 LR Semi-Auto
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Overall 4/5

Hats off to Ruger for bringing the joy of shooting back to me in a way that is difficult to express.  


The Ruger Mark IV is fun and easy to shoot. It’s a breeze to clean, it’s economical to feed, the reliability is flawless, and we loved that this little .22LR pistol fits any shooter, even the kids. The accuracy could be tuned up a little, but for a plinker, it’s hard to go wrong.

You can spend a lot of time teaching important fundamentals on this firearm that later translate to other systems.  You can bond with members of your family and have a blast while plinking away. You can upgrade it into a race gun also, but it’s simply wonderful just the way it is.

Special thanks to Liberty Firearms Institute for transfers and also for holding the Gemtech suppressor and allowing me to shoot it before my tax stamp was settled.  

Do you run a suppressor on your .22lr pistol or rifle? What is your favorite plinker? Let us know in the comments! And if you need ammo for that .22, check out the Best .22 Long Rifle Ammo!

Or looking to mount a red dot? Check out Best Pistol Red Dots.

Tested Pistol Red Dots
Tested Pistol Red Dots

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