Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel
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There’s not much that can be said about Ruger’s Mark line of .22 LR pistols that hasn’t already been written. Thousands of times. Many of them right here (see our reviews of the Mark IV Target and 22/45 Lite). Still, we’ll try.

The Ruger Mark pistols have long been at or near the top of the rimfire pistol heap. Bill Ruger started the company — seventy years ago as of 2019 — with the Luger-like .22 Ruger Standard, the forerunner to today’s Ruger Mark IV and the line has been a huge seller ever since.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

These are the first handguns that tens (hundreds?) of thousands of new shooters fired and for a lot of very good reasons. They’re great training tools that are well-made, affordable, accurate, easy to operate, and produce next to no recoil. They’re also a hell of a lot of fun no matter how experienced you are. Lots of gun owners believe a gun safe isn’t adequately stocked without one.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

The only thing about Ruger’s Mark pistols, up to and including the Mark III, that vexed owners was their famously intricate takedown process. It required a background in mechanical engineering and many hours of YouTube study for first-timers to master. And even then, lots didn’t dare attempt it.

But all of that was finally remedied in 2016 with the introduction of the new Mark IV line. While a number of new Ruger Mark IV models (including the 22/45 Lite, Hunter and 22/45 Tactical), were introduced first, this gun is the more traditional 22/45 bull barrel version.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

That button with the Ruger logo just below the bolt is the takedown button that allows the upper to easily tilt up and lift off the lower. The Mark IV disassembles more simply than just about any semi-auto handgun of any caliber on the market.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

Once the upper is off, slide the bolt out the back of the barrel assembly and you’re fully field stripped with easy access for routine cleaning. No more excuses for a dirty gun.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

The 22/45’s manual of arms is the same as any other Ruger Mark pistol. The “ears” on the bolt let the shooter charge the gun once one of the two included 10-round magazines is inserted and the bolt locks open when empty.

The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 has an excellent adjustable rear sight.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

The tall ramped blade front sight is fixed, but is easily removable with the turn of a screw.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel
Ruger 22/45 iron sights

The 22/45 provides a near-ideal sight picture and its looong sight radius ensures you’ll hit exactly what you point it at.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

If you want to attach a Picatinny rail to mount a red dot or other optic to the Mark IV 22/45, the barrel comes drilled and tapped.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

Unlike Ruger’s standard Mark IV models, the 22/45 grip frame mimics the same grip angle, feel and even the double diamond checkered grip panels as JMB’s 1911 design (hence the 45 in 22/45). On the left side, the slide stop (it’s actually a bolt stop as there is no slide), thumb safety and magazine release are right where they should be on a 1911-style pistol.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 had ambidextrous safeties.

A wide variety of aftermarket options are available if you want to replace the 22/45’s black synthetic panels. The Mark IV 22/45 comes with two ten-round magazines that easily drop free of the gun when released. Be aware that Mark pistols have a magazine disconnect safety so it won’t fire unless a mag has been inserted.

The 22/45’s trigger has a short take-up, breaking cleanly with a very short reset. The trigger pull weight is a little more than you might expect in a pistol designed to mimic a 1911. Ours broke at a hair over 5 lbs.

Gun Review: Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Bull Barrel

Accuracy, however, was not an issue. We tested the Mark IV 22/45 with a variety of loads from CCI, American Eagle, Remington and Aguila. The pistol put up tiny half-inch groups as far out as 25 yards without even breathing hard. That big bull barrel gives you the ability to reach out and touch whatever target, can, bottle, or small game you want to perforate.

Specifications: Ruger Mark IV 22/45

Caliber: .22LR
Barrel Length: 5.5 inches
Overall Length: 9.75 inches
Height: 5.5 inches
Weight: 34.4 oz.
Capacity: 10+1
Sights: Rear adjustable, front fixed
MSRP: $409 (about $339 from Brownells)


Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * *
The Ruger Mark pistols are certified American classics and have been for decades. The Mark IV changes little if anything over previous versions. They may not be exactly beautiful, but we’ve grown to love them anyway.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
The 22/45 gives you the easy grip angle, ambidextrous thumb safety and slimness of a 1911, which is why you buy this gun over a standard Mark IV in the first place. This isn’t a lightweight handgun. The bull barrel version weights about as much as a 1911, too (over half a pound more than the 22/45 Lite), but that’s a good thing.

Reliability: * * * * *
Perfect. Not even one FTF (which is usually the fault of .22 ammo) in hundreds of rounds fired.

Customize This: * * * * *
Ruger Mark pistols are some of the most heavily supported aftermarket guns you can buy. There’s nothing about the Mark IV 22/45 you can’t replace or upgrade if you want to.

Overall: * * * * *
You have to look really hard to find fault with this gun (some will quibble with the trigger, but not us). Now that the Marks have Ruger’s one-button takedown feature, these may be the most pleasurable handguns to shoot and own you can buy. Get one.

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  1. Looked at 1 of these yesterday at Cabelas. While nice and beefy, i think i would still rather have a 1911 based 22 with its still cant be beat trigger.

  2. Excellent guns. We have an MkIII era 22/45 that has been used for indoor .22 USPSA style shoots, target practice and training new shooters. Wonderful guns. But as the article notes, take-down, and worse reassembly can be challenging, so we’re excited to get one of the new MkIV versions. In know there are other great .22 pistols, but for my money these are the best value .22 target pistols on the market.

  3. The even better thing about the Mark IV’s is you can pick up a used Mark II or III for a great price. Once you learn how to take them down (and the harder part-putting them back together), you never forget.

      • I love the MK II series Rugers too. I have a 6″ Bull Barrel Government Model that is one of my all time favorite shooters. And a full house Clark Custom Bullseye gun, built by James Clark Sr. in the early 80s …. we call it the “Magic Wand”. I do like the looks of the new ones but they have a lot to live up to. Might add one to my collection tho…

    • You’re gonna love it. For what it’s worth mine loved CCI’s Standard velocity 22lr rounds (CCI’s Blazer rounds also worked well) and absolutely hated the Remington Thunderbolt.

      • I have eight .22s … four pistols , four rifles … only one, a old Winchester single shot, will shoot Thunderbolts … if it has an “action” with moving parts it probably won’t like Thunderbolts. My Rugers love CCI Pistol Match and Lapua Pistol King … they never fail and are deadly accurate.

  4. Nah.

    I enjoy struggling with reassembly of my MK-I Bi-Centennial Model.

    Every time I see that lever on the mainspring housing latch, I remember the first time I disassembled and cleaned the weapon. Popped right back together, no problem. The second time took 2 hours.

    Don’t fire it much today, so when I go to clean it, I always watch a disassembly/assembly video. I still must hold my mouth right and use the proper language.

  5. I bought mine (same model as in article) back in May. Took it to an annual gathering of members of a gunsite I belong to. The pistol was a huge hit! Probably due to the takedown as all present were already familiar with the older Mark series and their inherent accuracy (and the PITA disassembly/assembly).

    I’ve put approximately 1200 rounds through it. Not a single issue. Picked it up new for under three bills too! I’m pretty damn happy with it.

  6. I bought a Ruger MK 1 5.5″ bull barrel after graduating airborne school in 1980 and reporting to my permanent duty station in Savannah, GA. That pistol shot! It was stolen in a burglary in 1987. Replaced it with a MKII stainless 5.5″ bull barrel. Still have it, but it ain’t the same. Despite”improvements” I don’t want anything newer than a MK II.

    • The MKII is a good gun. My only problem with it is that to take the barrel off the first five or so times required a vice and a rubber mallet.

      • Precious little reason to dismount the barreled action from the gripframe. Too much of that and you have to tighten it back up.

  7. I don’t think I would refer to the Ruger Standard or any of its successors as “Luger like” since they’re based on the Japanese Nambu pistol rather than the Luger.

    While all three guns have a somewhat similar appearance I would say the Ruger looks more like a Nambu than it does a Luger.

    But to each their own. Bovine smooches and all that.

      • I swear it’s because of the name. They are definitely Nambu like, but I get customers in my shop yelling out “you got any ‘o them Luger .22’s? Always cracks me up.

    • The first Ruger .22, aka “The Standard,” looks so much like a “Baby Nambu” that some vets told me they did a double-take.

      I don’t get the “looks like a Luger” thing other than the grip angle. The Luger has that big, chunky toggle on top of the action which absolutely sets it apart from nearly all other handgun designs.

      The thing about the Ruger .22 pistols was that, from the get-go, they were designed to lower manufacturing costs, but still be a quality piece of work. The tubular receiver, the Nambu-like bolt-in-the-tube design – right there was a huge improvement in manufacturing costs over most all the .22 pistols being produced at the time. It was an inspired and clever bit of design by Bill Ruger.

  8. I have a MKIII 22/45 with a bull barrel. Taking it apart is not a big deal once you figure it out and it would not be an advantage for me to get a Mk IV. It has the feel, sights and trigger very similar to my 1911. I also have a GSG 1911-22 that is exactly like my 1911 in looks, weight and function with the only difference is the recoil and cost of ammo. I like the GSG 1911-22 better than the MK III and it is cheaper and more reliable (the Mk III has FTFs if the firing pin isn’t cleaned pretty frequently).

  9. …”vexed owners was their famously intricate takedown process….”

    Wife has a Mark II. It is quite the pain to clean but it is a tack driver.

  10. A 22/45 was the second semi auto pistol I fired. I don’t remember what the first one was, but I remember it was a 9mm. The 22/45 was a fun gun to shoot. I saw an older one for sale last year for around $130. I went home to think about it and came back the next day to find it was already gone. Should have just snagged it.

  11. Cue Dyspeptic chastising everyone for their utter lack of mechanical prowess in manipulating the Standard—MkIII’s field stripping process 🙂

    • I read through the comments looking for the same. Since I didn’t see it, I’ll take it from here:

      Takedown and reassembly of the MKI & MKII is easy as pie! Even a caveman could do it. Just make sure the hammer is in the cocked position, put the bolt it, tip muzzle down, pull trigger so hammer falls forward, insert bolt stop pin, tilt muzzle up with trigger released so the hammer stays forward and hammer strut hangs back, swing mainspring housing shut while eyeballing that hammer strut to make sure it goes into the concave mainspring plunger. Flip mainspring housing lever up. Done.

      For the MKIII, locate the nearest chop saw. Cut it in half and throw it away.

      • “While rubbing your belly counterclockwise.” You forgot that step. Now go line up in pairs of three…by height…agewise. Carry on.

    • Eh, I’m not going to bother. It seems as tho people just cannot believe it, and probably won’t believe it until or unless someone shows them.

      Everyone I’ve shown how to re-assemble the Mk I and II pistols has had a huge “Ah-HA!” moment and been much happier when they went away. It really isn’t that difficult. I think it would have been beneficial if the manual had some pictures or photos of someone doing the manipulation rather than just a couple lined of text, which most people won’t read.

      That said, the bull barrel Ruger pistols were (and are) nice pistols. The Ruger pistols shoot above their price class, and can be made into very nice target pistols if one wants to put money into them. I’ve got no beef with them whatsoever.

  12. I can’t see disassembling the Ruger 22 unless something broke. I had a 22/45 but sold it, good gun, son could hit flying clay pigeons with it. But the plastic burns our hands, yuk yuk

  13. The first gun I bought with my own money, when I was 15 or 16, was the Mark II with 10″ bull barrel. Left it in my uncle’s closet for safekeeping when I went to college. It wasn’t there when I got back. The wife says I can’t have another ‘cuz I didn’t keep up with the first one. Turns out I could have kept it in the dorm despite the official rules. Lots of guys did. Of course, that was before the days of gun sniffing dogs and effective roach control.

    • It’s been a few years since your post. Did you get a new wife?My Mark IV 22/45 is worth a wife change. Put a good trigger kit in and it’s slick, slick.

  14. I have a 22/45. Nice gun aside from the fact that the holes for mounting the front sight and optics rail are oversized by a thousandth of an inch. No amount of thread lock will keep them on for more than one trip to the range.

  15. When I used to compete in handgun matches I had a Colt Match Target that gave me years of service with out a single complaint and at least one perfect score in a match. I still regret that I sold it. I bought a Ruger Mk IV .22 for my wife and before a box of ammo went through the thing a pin vibrated loose and jammed up the whole works. The good news is that Ruger paid the shipping and repaired the .22

  16. I have a blued Mark II Target w/ a 5.5″ barrel and a stainless Mark III Hunter w/ the mag safety removed and the LCI filled in. Additionally, I have a Mark IV 22/45 Lite. I like them all for different reasons. The older Marks are easy to take apart and put back together once you learn how to do it. All have fiber optic sights on them and the Hunter has a scope mounted to it. The Mark II has target grips and iron sights, and the IV is just a fun plinker. The only thing I don’t like about them is that they all use different magazines. I would never get rid of my Mark II, but would consider getting a Mark IV 22/45 with a bull barrel if it shared magazines with the Lite version and cutting the Mark III loose. The one I have was a distributor special with a 5.5″ barrel similar to my Mark II. Now I just need to get me a Single Six and/or Wrangler.

  17. My Mk lV Target has been flawless, and since I wear progressives, I put a reflex sight on it. Very accurate, never fails and a breeze to clean. That said, my Mk lll taper barrel is just as accurate, but far more difficult to clean. Simple fact is that Ruger makes great guns.


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