5 Reasons to Check Out Ruger's MkIV .22 LR Pistols

With 75 years of production history behind them, Ruger .22 LR pistols continue to be a top choice for rimfire fans!

by posted on May 1, 2024
Horman MKIV 001 75Thmkiv Cover 01

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Sturm, Ruger & Co., a company that began with founders William B. Ruger and Alexander McCormick renting a small workshop in Southport, Connecticut in 1949. Today, Ruger is among the top gun manufacturers in the United States with a reputation for quality firearms at fair prices. The company's expansive catalog includes a diverse product line-up ranging from single-action “cowboy gun” revolvers to semi-automatic modern sporting rfles.

But it all began with Bill Ruger's semi-automatic Standard Model rimfire pistol. Chambered in .22 LR, his design blended the sleek profile of the German 9mm Luger with the practical sporting features of Colt Woodsman. This .22-caliber handgun was so popular that its sales provided the financial backing needed launch the company.

Ruger’s much-loved .22 LR pistols have been in production for 75-years.

Although Ruger now offers long guns and handguns in dozens of calibers, the .22 LR pistols based on the Standard model have continued to be some of the most popular pistols in their class. So it only seems right that among the special edition Ruger models launched to celebrate its 75-year milestone would include a fourth generation (MkIV) Target pistol styled after the original Standard Model. Here are a few reasons to check out this and other members of the MkIV .22 LR pistol series. 

Simple Push-Button Disassembly
Launched in 2016, the Mark IV series of blow-back operated pistols feature an important modification not found in earlier generations. Although they were accurate, durable and reliable, the MkI through MkIII pistols were a real bear to take apart for routine cleaning. However, the Mark IV pistols are among the least complicated guns to dissemble that I've worked with so far. These models are essentially divided into an “upper,” consisting of the barrel, receiver and bolt assembly, and a “lower” one-piece grip frame assembly which houses the trigger group and the magazine. A pivot pin is mounted to the front of the grip frame with a push-button release located at the rear, just below the bolt handle.  

This special anniversary edition MkIV Target model blends classic cosmetics with up-to-date features.

To disassemble a MkIV, begin by removing the magazine and opening the bolt to verify the pistol is completely unloaded. Release the bolt so that it's resting in the closed position and swing the thumb safety up into the SAFE position. Hold the grip in one hand and the barrel in the other. Press the release button and pivot the upper up and off of the grip frame. The bolt assembly can then be pulled out of the receiver and the gun is ready to clean. The process takes about 15 seconds or so if you're not in a hurry. The pistol can be reassembled just as easily. This easy takedown process makes the MkIV models and ideal option for new handgun owners. 

Reliable Operators
Pistols chambered for .22 LR are among the least reliable semi-automatic pistols available. This has a good deal more to do with the ammunition than with the pistols themselves. The .22 LR rimfire cartridge design is more than 130 years old with a primer design that is just less reliable than center-fire cartridge primers. The cartridges are almost always filled with powder charges optimized for use in 16" or longer rifle barrels. Bullet shapes and weights vary significantly as do bullet velocities. This means that gun makers have their work cut out for them when configuring a pistol to fire .22 LR ammunition.

The optics rail was used to support a Swampfox Justice II micro red dot designed for target shooting.

That being said, the Ruger .22s have a proven track record of operating reliably with a variety of ammunition. The range test of the 75th Anniversary MkIV Target pistol shown here was conducted using three factory magazines and a generous mix of bulk box to premium loads. Throughout the entire course of formal and informal shooting, a total of three bad primers cropped up, which is not the fault of the gun. Otherwise, it was smooth sailing throughout the test with no other hang-ups, hiccups or issues. 

The MkIV pistols separate into upper and lower halves with the press of a button.

Optics Ready
In the last few years we've seen notable advances in micro red dot optics specifically designed for handguns. Luckily the MkIV pistols have been optics ready from day one. The 75th Anniversary model sent for this evaluation arrived with 4.25" long, one-piece 10-slot aluminum Picatinny optics rail installed. Thankfully, this rail is mounted to the receiver in front of the fully adjustable rear sight, and, the iron sights are tall enough to see over the rail when an optic is not in use.

This version of the MkIV is enjoyable to shoot in or out of a bench rest.

Because the optics rail is mounted to the fixed tubular receiver, various optic types, sizes and weights can be installed without affecting the gun's reliability. In this case, I went with a Swampfox Optics Justice II. This is an RMR-footprint optic with a 30 mm ruby-coated lens and 6 MOA red dot intend for use with competition-grade guns. Since this is a sporting .22 LR pistol intended for target shooting and small game hunting, the more generous lens size of the Justice II makes it easier to see around the aiming point. Other features include a durable 7075-T6 aluminum housing, 10 brightness settings and a Shake 'N Wake automatic on/off function to conserve the CR1632 battery. It ships with a protective rubber cover but the Picatinny rail mount is sold separately.

Enjoyable Shooting Range Sessions
This was my first opportunity to take a long-barreled target shooting Standard frame MkIV to the range. I found no reason to complain about the performance of the MkIV Lite 22/45 models that I have worked with. In fact I kept the last one I evaluated and dressed it up with a set of Tandemkross competition upgrades. Nevertheless, I wanted to see what this Standard model could do.

Readily available bulk-box, target and small game loads yielded satisfying 5-shot groups.

When selecting the test ammunition, I intentionally steered clear of the extra fancy and relatively expensive competition-grade ammunition. Most of the time, when folks are enjoying their Ruger .22s, they do so using the plinking and hunting rounds commonly available though their local big box and sporting goods stores. The formal five, 5-shot group, bench-rested accuracy testing was conducted at 25 yards using CCI Clean-22 Target, Browning BPR small game hollow points and Federal bulk-box Auto match rounds with 40-gr. bullets.

The group sizes were far from disappointing. I feel like I'm doing my job at this distance when using a red-dot optic atop a .22-cal. pistol if the 5-shot groups hover somewhere around 3" mark. In this case the groups ranged from 1.52" to 2.26" with an average extreme spread of 1.92". Here is the complete set of range results:

Several Models to Choose From
I really like the old-school, 1950s sci-fi blaster looks of the MkIV featured in this review. Although it weighs in at 32.8 oz. with the 6.88" barrel, most of that weight is back above the grip in the receiver. This balances the pistol nicely for a lighter, handier feel than one might expect. The rounded trigger guard, deeply curved silver-finish trigger and the fully checkered laminated wood grip panels with the Ruger eagle medallions look and feel great to work with.

The MkIV series pistols are available with either Standard-style aluminum frames (bottom) or lightweight 22/45 polymer frames (top).

But don't worry if this particular model is not your cup of tea. A quick look through the online catalog showed 14 variations of the Standard frame models in various categories including Target, Hunter and Competition. An additional nine versions of the MkIV are available outfitted with the light weight 22/45 polymer frames. This count doesn't include the distributor exclusives. So whatever .22 LR pistol endeavor you wish to pursue, there’s most likely an MkIV that will do the trick.

Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Model: 75th Anniversary Mark IV Target (#40175)
Action: Blowback-Operated Semi-Automatic Rimfire Pistol
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Receiver: Blued Alloy Steel
Frame: Aluminum, Black
Grip Panels: Fully Checkered Wood laminate
Front Sight: Fixed Blade
Rear Sight: Fully Adjustable
Barrel: 6.88” Blued Alloy Steel, Tapered
Trigger Pull: 4- bs. 11 oz. (as tested)
Overall Length: 11"
Height: 5.58"
Width: 1" Receiver, 1.2" Grip
Weight: 32.8 oz.
Capacity: 10+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two Magazines, Owner's Manual, Lock
MSRP: $599
Optic: Swampfox Optics Justice II 1x30 Red Dot Optic (JTC2130-6R) $259


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