[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.

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
450 at Brownells

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.

Outfitting

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.

400 at Amazon

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!

Performance

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
450 at Brownells

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 Mark IV is simply fun and easy to shoot.

It’s easy to clean and it’s economical to feed.

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

27 Leave a Reply

  • Andrew

    Love my MK IV 22/45 in the green color. I will say initially I had some feed problems with it, but decided it was old .22lr ammo that I was just trying to get rid of. Once I fed it some new 22lr it has feed wonderfully. I have a TBAC Takedown 22 that I screw onto it for fun quiet plinking. If you want a versatile 22lr pistol I would recommend the Ruger all day anyday.

    1 week ago
  • Steve

    Enjoyed the review, it brings back memories. I have a MK II Government model(6-7/8" bull barrel) and the similar model in 22/45 and love them both! One of the things I used to do at the range is pair up shooters and throw out golf balls in each lane, then the pairs would play keep away, you try and hit the ball first before it moves (The range was sand) makes a great hand eye speed practice with a little competition added in.

    1 week ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Steve, Thank you. That's a great drill. Hitting such a small target with such a small bullet would really be challenging.

      1 week ago
  • Geno

    I purchased a mark III 22/45 in March. It is a lot of fun to shoot............ Feels good in my hand. Well balanced. Just Fun!

    2 weeks ago
  • David GNo

    Don't forget to add the Tandomkross Hive grip, and safety thumb rest! (As well as all the other Tandomkross goodies.) I added both (as well as the compensator and magazine parts) to my Mark IV and love the upgrades. The single button take down of the Mark IV is super easy, I'm glad I bought mine.

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Thanks for the suggestion David. The more I look, the more quality options I see for upgrading this pistol.

      2 weeks ago
  • Todd

    Novice Question: Why did you unscrew the suppressor after firing those rounds in the video? Thank you ~ Todd

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Todd, that's a great question. I simply wanted to check to see how much buildup there was from the day's shoot. Suppressors are great, but what you get in silence, you pay for with maintenance.

      2 weeks ago
  • Dustin

    great review. very nice smirk in the video while unscrewing the suppressor. it deeply saddens me that I cannot buy this in california, but hey something to look forward to when I get around to moving out of here.

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Dustin, Thanks! I was having a lot of fun testing this gun and I'm glad it showed. You have the right attitude, good luck with your move, there are plenty of free states left in the Union!

      2 weeks ago
  • BonC

    "Peppered an errant horse in the butt"?? You didn't really do that did you ? A horse would need medical attention after such treatment, else it might die of infection.

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      BonC, Indeed, although I'm not terribly fond of horses (rodeos at 10,500 feet) I would not shoot one. David is correct, the horse was a cartoon caricature on an old west target.

      2 weeks ago
      • BobC (I had a typo)

        I'm glad I was mistaken. I appologize for the suggestion.

        2 weeks ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      You might have missed the start of that sentence - "Using an old west splatter target". No horses were harmed in the making of this article.

      2 weeks ago
  • Mike

    I have a mark 3, 22/45, great fun, a bit harder to disassemble. For Butch's question, the 45 refers to the grip angle and location of the mag release, bolt release and safety. Same as a 1911.

    2 weeks ago
  • Butch

    So, this is the Mark IV 22/45. The 22 part was reviewed nicely . What's the deal about the "45"?

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Butch, Mike is correct. If you look at the original design of the Mark series, they are similar in many ways to the German Luger. With the 22/45, Ruger combined the top with a lower that more resembles a 1911--hence, .45. The combination makes for a great shooter with (for me) very familiar controls.

      2 weeks ago
    • Dave Kearns

      The "45" is that it has the grip angle and controls like a 1911 I believe.

      2 weeks ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      It is only a .22 long rifle pistol, I can't find any information as to why it is named what it is.

      2 weeks ago
  • David

    Miss my Atari 2600. lol I have the Mark III upgraded. YES! I does bring back fond memories of those simpler times which I also miss. One difference. We didn't have tomatoes. But, we built ship models (destroyers, battleships, ocean liners, aircraft carriers, etc.) and to make room to build more, the local creek became the battle ground. We used sling shots, BB guns, pellet guns, and even a .22 once in a while. Great sport and it helped with hand eye coordination. I also have a Henry Repeating Arms U.S. Survival AR-7 .22 LR Semi-Auto Rimfire and a Browning Buck Mark Contour URX .22 LR Pistol, 5.5" Barrel. Unfortunately. I no longer have the time to build ship models. lol

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      David, I completely understand, thanks for sharing your great memories. An entire flotilla would not have been safe from me back in the day.

      2 weeks ago
  • Terp

    If you held down the reset while turning the Atari on with Space Invaders cartridge in, they (what the hell were they anyway, aliens?) wouldn't shoot at you for the whole game. The gun and the game bring back good memories. :)

    2 weeks ago
  • TD49

    Great article that summarizes my experience as well with thw Ruger Mark IV's. They are are fun addituon to my firearms colkection. I love my Mark IV Lite model...shoots great with or without my suppressor. Ruger has hit a HR with this Mark IV series.

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Thank you, and I totally agree!

      2 weeks ago
  • Richard

    I have an older model but totally agree with what you have written about. I do wish mine stripped as easily as the new ones do.

    2 weeks ago
    • Sean Curtis

      Thanks Richard, the tear down is a delight.

      2 weeks ago
  • ikocher

    I agree that the Ruger MK series pistols are great. I finally upgraded a MKIII 22/45 with a TacSol upper but I'm still waiting on for stamp day for my Q El Camino.

    2 weeks ago
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