.22LR Pistol Showdown: Browning Buck Mark vs. Ruger Mark Series

A .22 pistol is one of the most versatile guns you can have in your safe. And every gun owner should have one if for no other reason than it’s an almost an ideal gun to use when teaching noobs how to shoot.

Two semi-autos are front of mind when considering which .22LR pistol is right for you; the Ruger Mark series and the Browning Buck Mark line. Both feature excellent triggers, impressive accuracy and almost imperceptible recoil. Here’s our quick compare-o of two excellent handguns.

comments

  1. avatar Logan says:

    Just taught a couple brand new shooters on a Ruger Mark II today. Then introduced them to a 22 rifle, my AR and 9mm Ruger American.

    1. avatar Shotgun Sam says:

      Had both. Sold the browning even though I’m a diehard browning fanboy. Not much aftermarket for the buckmark and I’m too restless not to tinker with a gun. Love my MkIII hunter. Wish they made it with a threaded barrel tho.

      Don’t forget the S&W Victory if comparing all the similar .22 autos. Got one of those as well. Plenty of Tandemkross aftermarket for that tack driver and it has a threaded barrel.

  2. avatar larry macneal says:

    A lot of Mark II and III trade-ins with people buying the Mark IV. I just picked up a Mark III Competition like new for $150 at my local store.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I’ll have to pick up a MkIII with a bull barrel when I see one. I’ll slap a can on it and call it done.

  3. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Ive had my Mark ll slabside for over 20 years. Only once did it give me a fit putting it back together. They make a small piece of metal that slips over the trigger bar and it wont F$%^k up when you reassemble it..
    Keep it oiled and it almost never needs a full strip cleaning. At least mine doesnt.
    Wipe it down clean the barrel and ramp. A few drops of oil and its good for another 2k rounds.

  4. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    They’re “OK” triggers. They can be made better, but they’re just OK.

    The Buckmark is a bit more difficult to detail strip and re-assemble. I don’t want to hear how difficult it is to get a Ruger Mk I, II or III back together. They’re pud-easy, once you have some training in how to re-assemble them. Hint: You’re going to have to tilt the muzzle upwards when you’re trying to push in the mainspring housing.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      It’s been 15 years since I sold my Mk II, but I never had a problem with re-assembly, once I figured it out, like you noted.

      On that one, I just flipped the muzzle back until I felt the metal ‘toggle’-thing fall into place. Then it ‘clicks’ into place. Easy-Peasy.

      Then again, I’m the weirdo geek that actually enjoys neutralizing parallel-tube amplifiers…

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        is that like how i have my pair of 299’s bridged each running it’s own channel?
        the original ar in my world: the 5ar4’s i had to keep replacing in my dyna70 before i got a variac.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          I think Geoff is referring to parallel-tube RF amps.

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          A Dyna.

          Nice.

          Yeah, I was referring to futzy RF amps, not AF. You were probably referring to ‘bridging’ or ‘strapping’ a stereo into a mono amp, doubling output.

          Nothing against AF tube amps, except the escalating cost of feeding the damn things…

  5. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    I’ve got both. My Ruger is an older Mk 2 vintage 22/45 and its a bit of a hassle to take down for cleaning – although I’ve learned how after 30 years of ownership. My Buck Mark is a little newer (2005) and I think that its just a bit more accurate. They’re both fun pistols to shoot. My cousin has a Ruger Mk 1 that he bought the day he turned 21 in 1970. We line up 20 Necco candy wafers (about the size of a quarter) in a grooved 2×4 at 20 yards and start plinking at each end of the target. The first guy to knock down his 10 wins and the loser buys the beer after the guns are unloaded. Cousin Jim beats me about 7 times out of 10. Its lots of fun for a couple of old farts. I do better with my 1911 and win 80 or 90% of the time – Jim doesn’t like recoil.

  6. avatar Accur81 says:

    I’ve got a Mark IV Champion in purgatory, waiting for my fiery temper to normalize. Don’t tell DG that I like the easier takedown of the Mark IV series…

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      Keep in mind that when it comes to Ruger takedown and reassembly, DG is nothing more than an unimaginative keyboard commando. No sane person calls Bill Ruger’s pistol takedown approach a good design.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        I went back and re-read my appraisal(s) of the MkI, II and III. I’ve never passed judgement on whether they’re “good” or “bad.” I’ve just said that you people who constantly bitch, piss, whine and moan about how “hard” they are to get apart/together are just being exceeded by a task that just is not that difficult. Compared to many other semi-auto pistols, the Mk I/II/III are pud-easy to disassemble and re-assemble. The Beretta M9 is a spring/detent bomb, with metric roll pins that need to be replaced every couple of disassemblies. Putting a S&W 41 back together is much more difficult than a Ruger MkI/II/III.

        The Mk I, II and III are inexpensive 22LR semi-autos. The Buckmarks, cheap S&W’s, etc – they’re all in the same market segment. They’re all trying to solve the same problems, namely, how to you put a magazine, lockwork and barrel together in a pistol package that is inexpensive to manufacture, easy for the manufacturer to assemble, and accurate enough that people who have never held a true high-end .22LR semi-auto are impressed enough to part with some money to buy it.

        There are far better .22LR semi-auto pistols than the Ruger Mk I-IV, they just cost much more, or they’re no longer in current production. My tastes runs to classic .22LR semi-autos made by S&W, Colt, High Standard, etc.

        1. avatar Mike says:

          Mark i,ii,iii fanboys who stomp their feet whine and cry like babies that the criticism over the absurd take-down is “unfair” crack me up.

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          There’s nothing “absurd” about the Ruger take-down.

          See, this is where you’re just being proud of your ignorance. You’re just ignorant. It’s OK to be ignorant. It’s quite another thing to be proud about being ignorant.

          I’ve seen many, many, many more guns than you have. I’ve seen many more mechanisms and baroque solutions to the common problems that all firearms much solve.

          The Ruger Mk I, II, III mainspring latch is hardly the worst, and it above-average in the larger scope of firearms design/manufacturing.

          All you whiners about the mainspring latch should try getting your hands on some of the high-end European target .22 pistols. You’d be baffled very quickly how to get it apart past cleaning the barrel, and you’d likely make a complete hash of trying to get the pins out of the gun. Hell, I don’t even have to drop a $2K pistol in front of you to watch you flail. Just drop a S&W Model 41 in front of you, then I’ll sit back and be entertained. Watching most of you take apart a Beretta 9x pistol would be cause for me to break a rib with laughter.

          Ruger came up with a design that allows someone with reasonably moderate mechanical skills to take apart his pistol with a minimum of tools, and yet be inexpensive to produce, thereby producing a gun that is affordable. It solves those two problems reasonably well, when compared to many, many other solutions to the same problem.

  7. avatar CBI says:

    When y’all have a video, would it be possible also to include a transcript. When one is at a location where noise should bother others, such as awaiting an order in a restaurant, transcripts are a much better choice. It also allows the same info to be available to both visual and literal people.

    1. avatar Just Sayin says:

      ^Agreed x 10k

      I keep reading this request from others here in various comments sections.

      How ’bout if we say “pretty please”?

      1. avatar Willy says:

        My browser does not even show a video as being an option. Not a lot of fun to find you have no content at all to view. This sucks… Thanks TTAG.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          Neither of my browsers (3), show a video either. I was looking forward to the video.

    2. avatar Rimfire says:

      Agreed 100% we are readers

      1. avatar TheUnspoken says:

        Agreed as well, videos are too slow, I can skim through an article or transcript in seconds, but usually skip the videos as then I have to grab headphones, adjust volume, and harder to watch a video discreetly at work or with the kids without the “what are you watching?”

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Unless what I’m reading is highly technical, or has math content requiring me to do computations or analysis as I read it, I’m usually reading over 2K WPM.

          The fastest auction barkers rarely keep up 200 WPM.

          I don’t watch 9 out of 10 videos posted. They simply take too much time.

  8. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “.22LR Pistol Showdown: Browning Buck Mark vs. Ruger Mark Series”

    There’s a reason ruger has 4 different revisions, because Browning got it right the first go ’round…

    Love my Browning Practical URX…

    http://www.browning.com/products/firearms/pistols/buck-mark-pistols/current-production/buck-mark-plus-practical-urx.html

  9. avatar Jimmy james says:

    Its amazing to me how many (million?) Mk1 thru 3’s Ruger made and sold with such a terrible take down design. The 1 I had was not accurate so away it went. Had a bull bbl buckmark for probly 30 yrs now. Super accurate with WWT22.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The take-down on the MkI, II and III was pud-easy. It was easy to take it down to the pins, easy to remove the barrel, easy to put it back together.

  10. avatar jwm says:

    Purely subjective. The Ruger fits my hand better than the Browning. Both run like champs. I just shoot better with the Ruger.

  11. avatar TruthTellers says:

    I’m a Ruger fanboy, but the S&W Victory is better than either of these.

  12. avatar GS650G says:

    +1 on the sw22 victory. Not only is it easy to clean it’s in stainless. Comes with open sights and a picatany rail.

    1. avatar epickett says:

      I have a Mark IV *and* an SW22 Victory. I almost bought a Buckmark from Classic Firearm’s Black Friday sale but I hesitated because, well, I have the Mark IV and SW22. That hour or so that I took to think about it meant they sold out… 🙁

  13. avatar Charlie says:

    I bought a Ruger MK II KMK-512 in July 1991, and I love the thing. It’s only a pain to dis/reassemble if you can’t follow instructions.

    I’m surprised he didn’t review the S&W M22. The reports I’ve seen have been promising.

    Charles

  14. avatar strych9 says:

    Kinda surprised how many people have trouble with the Rugers. A MKII was the first pistol my father ever put in my hand and I never found reassembly difficult at all.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      “A MKII was the first pistol my father ever put in my hand and I never found reassembly difficult at all.”

      Same for me, on the Ruger Mk II I had.

      (I’ve commented on it before, it was the one I dropped into an unusually powerful ultrasonic bath that stripped of a black Parkerizing job I paid good money to have done. *grrr*…)

      Then again, I’ve only owned one, so my sample size is small.

      Was the re-assembly ‘trick’ different for the different versions?

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        “Was the re-assembly ‘trick’ different for the different versions?”

        Not to my knowledge. Then again I always have kinda “over exaggerated” what DG talks about, usually by adding a shake to the process. I also have not played with an MKIII that I remember/know of.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      Some people just don’t handle mechanical devices well. I’ve seen people use wood chisels and standard screwdrivers interchangeably. I’ve seen people complain about the “complexity” of detail-stripping a 1911, a gun that was designed to be disassembled without any tools. I’ve seen people, unhappy with the 1911’s tool-less design, change the grip panel screws to hex (Allen) head screws, so that now they’re required to have a tool to detail strip a 1911.

      People who don’t work with tools and mechanical mechanisms frequently are often frustrated by issues that frequent users of tools and mechanical mechanisms consider simple and mundane.

      1. avatar Mike says:

        People who don’t know modern firearms and have very little knowledge of the advancements in tech tend to defend rube goldberg botches like mark i,ii,iii

  15. avatar Bigbear says:

    I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong, but it’s very clear I’m not the only one. I haven’t seen a video link that works in days/week. And I haven’t seen any info from the admin???? Dan??

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      It seems to be browser-dependent, in my opinion.

      The *latest* Firefox shows it, but I can’t recommend using it, as I’m having other issues with it…

      *mutter*

  16. avatar Jim says:

    Browning Buck Mark Vs Ruger? I picked a Ruger. For a Buck Mark look-alike, I chose S&W 22A, which is a bit lower in quality compared to the Ruger, but shoots great, if not better than the Ruger. 22A takes apart a bit more easily, but has a buffer button that I’m not fond of. Still, wouldn’t go for a Buck Mark.

  17. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Maybe because there is no comparison between them. I forgot to mention my S&W Model 41. It the 7 inch blued one with a muzzle brake. Its only 45 years old and beats the crap out of my Mark ll slabside as a target pistol in every possible way but cost. Never shot a Buck Mark or a S&W Model 22. Havent a clue about them.

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The S&W 41 is the benchmark by which all .22LR pistols in the US are measured. I have one with a 6.5″ Clark barrel (5.5″ factory barrel), and it will do better than I can for the rest of my life at 50 feet indoor ranges.

      Every time I pick up some other .22LR pistol with a price tag under $800 and shoot it for a group, I sigh, put it back down after a magazine or two, and go back to my 41.

      1. avatar Jay in Florida says:

        I got lucky and inherited mine from my Uncle. Its a gun Id never have bought for myself.Too expensive. I always thought my 6 inch Slabside Ruger was as good as a 22 could be. Shooting shot gun shells off a fence post from 100 yards was easy.
        Then I got the 41 and it became simple even with open sights. With a red dot ridiculously simple.

  18. avatar The Rookie says:

    Both fine pistols, but I’m going to suggest the .22 version of the Walther PPQ. Well-built, operates like its “big brothers”, very accurate and reliable. Love mine.

  19. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Para-Claw knife bracket goes well with my piano wire necklace.

  20. avatar Alfonso Alfredo Rodriguez says:

    I have owned both Browning and Ruger. Frankly, I prefer Ruger, it is more robust, very accurate and will last longer without issues. My Browning Buckmark had a more delicate shooting mechanism prone to breakdowns (and it did) but not so with a Ruger. Others may dissagree but that has been my expecience. Currently I own a Beretta NEOS and I am very happy with it.

  21. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    mkll gov’t bull barrel since ’91. my friend has an older buckmark. it may be slightly more accurate.
    still want a woodsman.

  22. avatar Mike says:

    Walther PPQ in .22 and Ruger sr22 operate and take down like modern firearms and are hands down much better training devices. So for that matter is a 22 conversion on a sig. If you want to hit paper on a gun that is useless for anything else you can go for buckmark or mark i/ii/iii but if that is the priority you may as well use a 22 rifle.
    I think it is funny that a huge number of people who can tack drive in a buckmark or ruger mark i/ii/iii, but can’t hit the broad side of a barn with an actual self defense handgun

  23. avatar JoeVK says:

    The only .22 in my house is my son’s Henry. My dad recently bought a Ruger Mark III. There’s a hilarious story about the time he caught a woodchuck in a trap he set for rabbits in the garden, and decided to kill it with his M&P 9 because he couldn’t remember where he put the Mark III. Long (and hilarious) story short, he attempted to open the trap and shoot the woodchuck as it came out to avoid cleaning a mess in the trap, but ended up running-and-gunning across a bean field after it, before he finally got it.

    And no, he didn’t lose the Mark III, he just forgot where in his closet he put it, so rather than spend 20 minutes moving stuff, he just grabbed his M&P so he could get it done and over with.

  24. avatar Shawn Graber says:

    My father has a Ruger Mk I from the 1970’s. He had forgotten about it until I mentioned I was looking to buy a Ruger Mk IV. He pulled out his original Mk I to my astonishment. I hadn’t seen the handgun for more than 20 years…when I saw it as a little boy I thought it was a scary German Luger. I took the gun out to try it and found the 9-shot magazine was broken. Once we found a suitable replacement magazine online, the gun ran in 2- and 3-shot bursts. The firing pin stop had disintegrated sometime in the last millennium, and the sear was slipping. The good folks at Ruger got the gun repaired and returned to me in no time; I only paid shipping. It runs well, but is tricky to disassemble/reassemble since I’m not up to Dyspeptic Gunsmith’s talent quite yet.

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