The latest and greatest Ruger 22LR pistol is here! We take this Ruger Mark IV Tactical for a spin at the range and evaluate it's features, reliability and accuracy potential. And then we accessorize it!
Is it an improvement over previous versions? Do you need one?
The iconic Ruger .22LR pistol has been in constant production since its introduction in 1949. It's been a staple of plinkers, outdoorsmen and target shooters for generations.
In that time the little 22LR pistol has undergone several changes while staying true to it's original spirit: a low cost, reliable and accurate pistol for everyone.
It's the fourth generation of this pistol that we have here, the Ruger Mark IV. With some noteworthy improvements over its predecessors.
The Ruger Mark IV Tactical used for this review was purchased online at Guns.com
The original Ruger 22LR pistol was elegant in its design and sleek in its appearance.
It was a Mona Lisa in the world of the gun.
The rails are the culprit here. They dominate the appearance and they detract from the classic lines of the original.
In all fairness, what the rails kill in elegance, they more than make up for in functionality. Try adding an optic to an original Ruger 22LR without a gunsmith.
Better yet, try adding a weapon light! Although, where there's a will, there's a way! The British SAS are famous for having mounted large D-cell flashlights onto their MP5s back in the day!
British SAS members pose with MP5s that have been modified with D-Cell Flashlights
The top rail on the Ruger pistol is ideal for mounting optics while the bottom rail works very well for mounting a light. See our modification section at the end.
About that top rail - it was designed to be reversible.
The Ruger top picatinny rail can be moved to the rear if desired
If you keep the rear sight, the rail will be forward mounted. If you opt to remove the rear sight, you have the option of keeping the rail where it is, or by flipping it around front-to-back, it can be mounted further to the rear over the rear sight cutout. Neat design!
The most significant upgrade in the Mark IV series is the ease of disassembly and reassembly. This solves the biggest complaint about all previous models. They were famously difficult to get back together.
The Ruger Mark IV is very easy to disassemble
With the push of a button the pistol unhinges and can be taken apart in mere seconds. Reassembly is just as easy in reverse. This feature alone is worth considering upgrading to a Mark IV if you have an earlier version of this pistol.
The Ruger Mark IV disassembled into main components
This pistol continues with the push button magazine release that debuted on the Mark III series. There is also a spring assist near the magazine well that forcefully launches the magazine out of the magwell when the magazine release is pressed.
Magazine Disconnect Safety
This pistol incorporates a magazine disconnect safety. With the magazine removed, the pistol should not fire even with the manual safety off.
This feature is liked by some and hated by others. I don't feel strongly either way and can take it or leave it.
Note: If you upgrade the trigger with a Volquartsen trigger like I eventually did, this magazine safety will be deactivated.
Deactivating a safety on a firearm intended for self defense is generally not recommended for liability reasons. As this Ruger Mark IV is intended for range duty only, I was OK with removing the magazine disconnect safety.
The muzzle is threaded 1/2"-28 for muzzle accessories such as suppressors or muzzle breaks. There is a well knureled cap for covering the threads when they are not in use as well as a wavy washer that gives the cap something to tighten against. Very well executed details.
The rear sight is adjustable while the front sight is a plain black blade that allows for a crisp sight picture. If I was going to keep iron sights on this pistol I would look for a front sight that has a fiber optic insert for a better sight picture. Just personal preference.
The redesign of the frame to allow for easy takedown necessitated a change to the manual safety lever. The Mark I, II and III pistols had a button that you would slide from Fire to Safe, this is replaced by an ambidextrous lever. The lever is generally ergonomic after you get used to it and reveals bright red or white markings to indicate the position of the safety. Red when the lever is down for FIRE and White when it is up for SAFE.
Manual safeties compared. Mark IV on the left, Mark II on the right
I found that the right side safety lever pressed against the top of my right hand when down in the Fire position. It didn't hurt or anything, but it was uncomfortable.
Thoughtfully, Ruger makes it easy to replace this right side lever with an included small washer to make the problem go away completely. Well done Ruger!
A wide variety of 22LR ammo was tested
18 different kinds of 22 LR ammo were fired through this pistol on its maiden voyage to the range - approximately 430 rounds total. Reliability was excellent. One Remington Yellow Jacket Hollow Point round failed to fire on the first try, but did fire on the second try.
CCI Quite 22LR did not have enough oomph to cycle the action, but that is expected from that low-powered round and is not a fault of the pistol. Outside of that, reliability was perfect.
The real star during the function test was the CCI Quite-22 Semi-Auto 22LR. This is a 45 grain lead nose bullet traveling 835 feet per second. It is intended to be a subsonic (thus quieter) round that still has enough power to cycle the actions of semi-automatic pistols and rifles.
In this regard it worked very well! It functioned perfectly and was nearly as quiet as the CCI Quite 22LR that did not cycle at all. In future testing I will see how this sounds suppressed. I am betting it will be a winner there!
CCI Quiet Semi-Auto 22LR
Prices Subject To Change
Prices Subject To Change
Experience shows that 22 Long Rifle ammo is dirty and leaves a lot of carbon fouling and firing residue in the action. For this reason, keeping these pistols clean is key to maintaining reliability. The simplified field stripping procedure of this Mark IV pistol eases the tear down, minimizing the cleaning burden, and essentially delivers reliability to the attentive user.
The first ammo tested was the CCI 40 grain Standard Velocity round. The very first 10 shots from the pistol went into a 1-7/8" group from the bench at 15 yards. Given the circumstances and the fact that iron sights are difficult for me to see, I was impressed.
Accuracy was very good with almost all types of 22LR ammo
All other ammo showed similar accuracy with the exception of the CCI velocitor which was much less accurate.
I'll be retesting in the future with a Red Dot optic which should tighten up groups considerably.
As it comes out of the box, without any modifications, the pistol is very capable and may be just what you need it to be.
For my needs, I needed to change several things on this pistol.
They are detailed here in their order of importance to me. None of these parts were installed at the time of the first range session.
Volquartsen Accurizing Kit
I cannot say enough good things about this trigger upgrade! It's simply phenominal.
Out of the box the Ruger trigger pull measured 3 lbs, 9 ozs. After installing the Volquartsen trigger, the trigger pull measured a very crisp 2 pounds on the nose. The Volquartsen trigger is adjustable for both pre-travel and over-travel.
The Volquartsen Accurizing Kit reduced the trigger pull to a crisp 2 lbs
Installation was semi-difficult since even the Volquartsen YouTube video left out some important details. If you choose to do this upgrade yourself I recommend watching several different videos and reading all of the comments first! Little details like where spacer washers go and where they don't go are what to pay attention to.
If you plan to install the VQ trigger, watch several videos and read all comments first. Pay particular attention to where spacer washers go and where they don't go. Hint: The VQ video is not 100% accurate.
Tandemkross Halo Charging Handle
The Tandemkross "Halo" Charging Ring is a worthy upgrade to the Mark IV
The factory Ruger bolt has small ears that you grab to pull the bolt back. During bolt manipulation, it's a foregone conclusion that you will get your fingers pinched between these bolt ears and the sharply machined corners on the rear of the frame.
I have lived with this annoyance since I bought my first Ruger 22LR in 1988!
This year I finally said "No More"!
Enter the Tandemkross Halo!
This part is a snap to install and makes working the bolt so easy that it's actually fun! I will be refitting my other Ruger 22 pistols with this great accessory.
The Ruger Mark I and II bolts have larger "ears" than the Mark III and IV pistols. Make sure you get the correct size Tandemkross Halo for your pistol.
The Tandemkross "Halo" Charging Ring
Volquartsen Bolt Upgrade Kit
The Ruger has a reputation for being one of the most reliable 22LR pistols on the market. This kit makes it even more reliable.
Volquartsen Exact Edge Extractor: Reliable extraction depends on a quality extractor. The Volquartsen extractor was designed to be an improvement over the factory part. It's the first replacement part generally recommended for a Ruger 22 pistol that is having extraction problems.
Volquartsen firing pins and extractors enhance reliability
Volquartsen SureStrike Firing Pin: The single malfunction I had in the first range trip with the Ruger pistol was a failure to fire on a Remington Yellow Jacket round. It did fire on the second try. It's this kind of failure that the Volquartsen Firing Pin is designed to prevent.
Both parts are hardened to prevent excessive wear and deformation that can happen with the factory parts.
Volquartsen Competition Bolt
This bolt is an expensive upgrade to the factory bolt. It's a premium part that includes the VQ extractor, firing pin and recoil spring assembly.
Volquartsen competition bolt has a Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) finish
On top of that, it has the excellent Diamond Like Carbon (DLC) finish and an extended grasping handle.
If you've upgraded your factory bolt with all the VQ parts and added the Tandemcross Halo charging handle, I don't think it would be worth it to ding your bank account to get this part.
However, if you have a factory Ruger bolt and you want a tangible step up in performance and features, you should seriously consider the Volquartsen Competition Bolt.
Volquartsen Extended Bolt Release
The factory bolt release works fine, but for me it was a bit difficult to get a good purchase on it. This was true both for pushing down to drop the bolt as well as pushing up to lock it back.
Volquartsen extended bolt release improves handling of the Ruger Mark IV
This drop in replacement bolt release by Volquartsen is machined from a solid block of stainless steel. The improved feel that it gives over the factory part has to be felt to be appreciated.
Remove Right Side Safety Lever
I don't mind ambidextrous safeties on pistols - unless they get in the way. The Ruger Mark IV ambidextrous safety gets in my way.
Luckily, Ruger makes it easy to remove the safety and replace it with a small washer. Problem solved!
The Ruger factory rails set a new standard for functionality, but they're also a blemish on the otherwise sleek lines of this classic pistol.
I was torn. My aging eyes screamed out for an optic but my sense of decency and taste demanded that this classic beauty not be gaudied up more than necessary.
Enter the Madmaccs mount.
This neat optics mount is a minimalist design that allows an optic to mount in the least intrusive way.
Some love this mount for its low profile. Other for its light weight.
For me, the Madmaccs mount allows more of the Mona Lisa that Bill Ruger put into this classic pistol to shine through. And that makes it more than worth it.
I mounted a Burris FastFire III red dot on the Ruger pistol.
It's a huge leap over the factory iron sights. I can't say if it's the best red dot on the market, but I can say that for a reasonable price it's been spectacular and I have no intention of ever taking it off!
Burris FastFire 3 is an excellent light weight optic for a 22 pistol
BONUS MATERIAL STARTS NOW
Major Differences Between Ruger Mark Models
The history of the Ruger 22LR pistol dates back to 1949. It was the brainchild of William B. Ruger, co-founder of Sturm, Ruger & Co. You can read the detailed history of the pistol on Here on Wikipedia.
What follows is a quick and dirty summary of the major differences between the four different Ruger Mark models, the Model I, II, III and IV. Across all models there were stainless and blued versions as well as tapered and bull barrel variants. Both fixed and adjustable sights were offered as well.
Also with the introduction of the Mark II, the 22/45 model was introduced. This variant significantly changed the grip angle from the original Luger angle to the less steep 1911 angle.
Ruger Mark I, the original
The Mark I is notable for the non-scalloped rear of the upper receiver near the bolt ears.
All future variants had this area scalloped out for easier grasping of the bolt.
The Mark I also has the butt heel magazine release that will continue into the Mark II model.
Ruger Mark II
Introduced in 1982, on Mark II the area near the bolt ears is scalloped.
The Mark II also has a slide stop for locking the bolt to the rear.
Magazine capacity was increased from 9 rounds to 10.
Ruger Mark III
With the introduction of the Mark III in 2004 the magazine release was moved to the left side of the frame behind the trigger guard much like a 1911-style push button.
Both a magazine disconnect safety and loaded chamber indicator were added.
Ruger Mark IV
Introduced in 2016, major changes with the Mark IV include the inclusion of a push button for easy disassembly and the changing of the manual safety from a sliding button to an ambidextrous lever.
The loaded chamber indicator was removed but the magazine disconnect safety remains.
Ruger Mark IV on left shows the disassembly button. Ruger Mark II on right shows previous disassembly mechanism in the backstrap. Also visible here is how much smaller the bolt ears of the Mark IV are.
The photo above shows the takedown button of the Mark IV. All previous models had a much different (and more difficult) mechanism inside the backstrap for disassembly.
Some Ruger ads from the past!
1969 Ruger print ad
1998 Ruger print ad