Ruger’s Mark rimfire pistols have been around in one form or another since 1949. A great number of people don’t know the fascinating history or this gun, which began life as what was only called the Standard Model. In this review we will be taking a look at the Mark IV Target variant and what it offers to today’s discerning shooter.
As a simple primer, the Ruger Standard Model has been improved in generational upgrades over its long run. The gun we have here is from the Mark IV series and it represents the most modern variant of that original design.
Those familiar with the earlier Ruger Mark models probably know that the biggest improvement to the Mark IV series is the one-button takedown feature that allows the barrel to easily tilt up and off of the receiver. This greatly simplifies cleaning.
Earlier Mark pistols required a mechanical engineering degree a series of complicated, intricate three-handed maneuvers, the help of multiple YouTube videos and a rabbit’s foot. With the Mark IV, though, those days are thankfully history.
The Mark IV is solidly constructed, primarily of stainless steel. This is not a lightweight gun by any stretch of the imagination, weighing in at about 43oz loaded. That’s more than many all-steel 1911 and the same as a stainless SIG P226. Most of that weight is centered in the mass of the Mark IV Target’s bull barrel.
Despite the weight, the Mark IV isn’t at all what I would describe as ‘massive.’ In fact, it’s fairly slender, smooth on the edges, and attractive in appearance. It’s my belief that the weight comes from refinement of design and purpose, not over-engineering.
The gun has several safety features that make it an ideal choice for new shooters, but none that are a disadvantage for skilled enthusiasts. The first is the pistol won’t fire if the magazine is absent.
This seems like a fairly silly thing to include on a modern gun, and many experienced shooters howl about that. But it’s something that is relevant to new shooters and anyone who may have missed a small, easily overlooked .22 round that the extractor failed to pick up. The gun also features a manual frame safety.
As far as firing the gun goes, the Mark IV Target is easy to load and even easier to shoot. The magazines have a button on the side that allows the follower to be easily moved down with the thumb, therefore enabling the shooter to effortlessly drop cartridges in. Magazines — the Mark IV Target comes with two — hold ten rounds.
The slide (which is more of a bolt, similar to what you would expect on an AR in that it is contained inside the receiver) is very easy to pull back, which is a consideration for shooters with limited grip strength.
The trigger is crisp and light with a very quick reset. I was very pleased by how well it shot right out of the box. Unlike many guns I test, I decided to go straight to having fun with it and opted to skip chronograph and formal group testing.
Instead I went to my local outdoor store and picked up whatever .22 ammo they had on sale or I had coupons for. I then proceeded to spend the next several weeks putting thousands of rounds through this fun-to-shoot pistol.
During the course of my testing, I experienced several failures to fire, all due to bad rounds. That’s not unusual when shooting a lot of .22LR. I had a bunch of old .22 ammo that I found (I somehow just keep finding it in my house) and used it up as well. I experienced no more problems with it than I did with the modern stuff, about two to three bad primers per thousand rounds.
It was at this time that I actually sat down at the bench and shot the gun for groups. I used bulk Federal 36gr plinking ammo for this portion as well as a box of Wolf Match ammunition. The gun was easily able to print one-inch groups at 25 yards from a rest. I was also fully able to make hits on my 10” steel plate at 50 and 100 yards. Suffice it to say, the Mark IV Target shoots and shoots well.
I like that it has a threaded muzzle which is great for those who want to shoot with a compensator or suppressor. Don’t laugh about the comp. Despite the Mark IV Target’s already mild recoil, there are plenty of people who shoot speed matches and bowling pin competitions who use one. In addition to the muzzle, like all Ruger Mark pistols, there is an almost infinite array of options and opportunities to customize this pistol should you so desire.
My impressions of this gun are overwhelmingly positive. It’s hard not to be impressed with a pistol that’s been around for generations, shoots as well as this one does and features a build quality that ensures that your grandchildren will enjoy shooting it some day, too.
Specifications: Ruger Mark IV Target
Barrel Length: 5.5”
Overall Length: 9.75”
Capacity: 10+1 rounds
MSRP: $689 (seen for usually less via Brownells)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * * *
This is one of the most accurate .22LR pistols that I’ve had the pleasure of shooting. The Mark IV Target just put rounds right where I wanted them to go every time.
Handling * * * * *
The gun is easy to point and shoot, as you would expect coming the fourth generation of the world’s most successful .22 pistol line. The Mark IV target is on the heavy side, but that means recoil is almost non-existent and putting ten rounds on a steel plate at 25 yards in just a couple of seconds couldn’t be easier.
Ergonomics * * * * *
The grip angle is perfect for accuracy and target shooting. Controls on the gun are right where they should be, easy to reach and manipulate.
Reliability * * * * *
I fired some pretty low-quality, old, and dirty ammo that I hesitate to even call serviceable, but it all went bang if it could go bang and cycled the gun. Aside from the odd dud round that was clearly the ammo’s fault, the gun easily cycled and fired everything.
Customize This: * * * * *
Unlike many other .22 pistols, the Mark IV Target has some excellent features including a drilled and tapped receiver, a threaded muzzle, removable grips, and removable sights. There is a huge aftermarket for these guns and it’s very easily customized.
Overall * * * * *
This is a truly great gun. It’s slightly heavy for use in camp or on the trail, but it’s prefect for just about everything else you could ever need an accurate .22 pistol for. It’s the ideal gun for teaching fundamentals to beginners, but is also easily exploited in the hands of an expert.