Ruger 22/45 LITE Lightweight 22 Long Rifle Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

April 12th, 2012



Click pictures for a larger version.





Manual safety.



Bolt lock (top), magazine release (bottom).



22/45 LITE (left) compared to Ruger 22/45 (right).





Barrel nut secures steel barrel into aluminum outer tube/receiver.



Muzzle is threaded 1/2x28 TPI for muzzle brake or sound suppressor attachment.



Tactical Solutions Cascade sound suppressor.



Disassembly/reassembly is easy, if you follow instructions.





Key lock.





22/45 LITE looks good with 22/45 checkered wood grips.





Sturm, Ruger & Company has been in the 22 semi-automatic pistol market from the company’s inception. Ruger started out in 1949 with a rugged, reliable, and affordable 22 auto that drove the nail in the coffin for many of its competitors. Unlike other 22 semi-auto pistols, the Ruger design uses a bolt within a tubular receiver, more like a rifle action, instead of a frame and slide. The Ruger design is simple, reliable, accurate, and extremely rugged. I have serial number 0132 that was built in 1949, and it probably shoots as well today as when it was brand new. I wasn’t around in 1949, but for the few years that I have had this little jewel, it has never stuttered, and is more accurate than I can hold it. I own several Ruger 22 auto pistols, and they all run very well, shoot accurately, and I am confident that each will still give good service years after I am gone.

A few years back, Ruger introduced the 22/45 variation of their auto pistol that has a lightweight polymer grip frame mated to their steel receiver/barrel assembly. This pistol replicates the grip angle and feel of a 1911, and it has been very successful, as shooters really seem to like the feel, performance, and price of this variation of the Ruger Auto.

The newest 22 auto from Ruger is the 22/45 LITE featured here. Ruger has taken the lightweight polymer bottom half of the 22/45, and mated it with a lightweight aluminum receiver/barrel shroud, resulting in a pistol which weighs only 22.7 ounces, yet has the full-sized grip and feel of the standard 22/45.

Built upon the Mark III generation of Ruger auto pistols, the 22/45 LITE uses a ten-shot steel magazine, an internal key lock, visual and tactile loaded-chamber indicator, slide lock, and a magazine safety, as well as the manual safety from previous generations of the Ruger 22 auto. The grips on the 22/45 LITE are removable, as on the latest versions of the steel-topped 22/45 pistol. The grip panels on the LITE are checkered black synthetic rubber, and built by Hogue. The receiver/barrel shroud is gold-anodized aluminum, and wears Ruger’s fully adjustable rear sight with a ramped blade front. Both sights are, thankfully, black. The receiver color contrasts nicely with the black grip panels, grip frame, sights, thread protector, trigger, rear of bolt, and sights. The receiver/barrel shroud is a one-piece unit, and there are eight diagonal quarter-inch cuts milled into each side of the aluminum tube, to lighten the weight slightly, and for cosmetic appeal. To me, they look good. The receiver is also drilled for the supplied scope base.

The 22/45 LITE feels great in my hand. Compared to my steel/polymer 22/45 bull barrel, the LITE weighs in a full three-quarters of a pound less. The LITE still uses a Ruger Mark III steel barrel, but it is turned down to a thin diameter, and fastened into the receiver/barrel shroud with a large nut at the muzzle, which tensions the barrel within the aluminum shroud. The owner’s manual warns to not remove the barrel nut, as it is torqued properly and epoxied into place. The muzzle is threaded 1/2x28 TPI for the attachment of a muzzle brake or sound suppressor, and the threads are protected by a polymer thread protector.

Critical specifications for the Ruger 22/45 LITE are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The height includes the sights and magazine base. The trigger pull is very good, fairly crisp, with a smooth release and slight over-travel. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance, as measured on my Lyman digital gauge.

Weight 22.7 oz.
Height 5.56"
Length 8.38"
Receiver Diameter 0.95"
Maximum Grip Width 1.15"
Maximum Width 1.15"
Trigger Pull 4.06 lbs.
Trigger Reach 2.56"
Barrel Length 4.45"
Magazine Capacity 10
Magazines Supplied 2

I tested the little Ruger 22/45 LITE pistol with several brands of 22 Long Rifle ammunition for velocity and function. The velocity results with each brand and type of ammunition are listed in the chart below. HP is a lead hollowpoint bullet. Solid is a lead roundnose bullet. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of fifty-seven degrees Fahrenheit, with humidity in the twenty-five percent range. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (FPS), and were recorded ten feet from the muzzle of the Ruger pistol. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Federal Bulk HP 36 989
Winchester DynaPoint HP 40 940
PMC Match Solid 40 921
Wolf Match Solid 40 900
CCI Mini-Mag HP 36 1042
CCI Mini-Mag Solid 40 1021
CCI Velocitor HP 40 948
Remington Yellow Jacket HP 33 1135
Remington Hi-Speed Solid 40 1006
American Eagle HP 36 976
PMC Zapper HP 38 1022
Winchester XPert HP 36 997
Hansen Solid 40 934
Remington Bulk Solid 37 999
CCI Blazer Solid 40 993
CCI Stinger HP 32 1217

In addition to the chronograph data above, I also checked each brand and type of ammunition over the chronograph with a Tactical Solutions Cascade sound suppressor attached, and found little, if any, difference in velocity using the can or firing the 22/45 LITE with no can attached. In some instances, velocity increased slightly with the can attached, and with other ammo, a decrease in velocity was noted. This was shooting and recording the velocity of individual cartridges, but when the data was compiled taking into account the ten-shot strings from each type of ammo, there was no difference of consequence whether using or not using the sound suppressor.

With the exception of Wolf 40 grain match ammunition, the Ruger 22/45 LITE functioned perfectly with all ammo tested. I even found a stash of old corroded ammo that functioned perfectly. However, the Wolf ammo did not have sufficient power to reliably cycle the bolt every time. All other ammo functioned perfectly; feeding, firing, and ejecting without fail.

Accuracy was very good. I secured the LITE into my Ransom Master Series machine rest, and fired for accuracy at a distance of twenty-five yards. All ammo tested grouped into less than two and one-half inches for five-shot groups at twenty-five yards, with most ammo doing much better, cutting that group size in half or even better. The Wolf match ammo exhibited the best accuracy, but again, it would sometimes fail to fully cycle the bolt, so it is not recommended as a reliable carry load in this particular pistol. It might function perfectly in yours, as it does in my other Ruger pistols.

The Ruger 22/45 LITE is a dandy little pistol, sufficiently accurate for use as a trail pistol, informal target shooting, and just plain fun. 22 Long Rifle ammunition is relatively cheap to shoot, has low recoil, and is accurate. The 22/45 LITE carries easily on the hip, weighing in at only about one and one-third pounds. It is large enough to shoot well, but light enough to carry all day, and is probably Ruger’s best 22 auto for packing on the hip to date. The 22/45 LITE comes with two magazines, padlock, internal lock keys, scope base, grip screw wrench, and a padded, zippered pistol rug. The 22/45 LITE is in production, and distributors have them in stock and ready to ship as this is written.

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order a Ruger firearm online, go to

To order quality rimfire ammunition, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.





Cutaway picture of the 22/45 LITE shows how the steel barrel was machined (photo courtesy of Sturm, Ruger).









Receiver is drilled for supplied scope mount.



22/45 LITE comes with two steel ten-round magazines.



Ruger 22/45 LITE even fired reliably with old corroded ammo.



Accuracy testing was done at a distance of 25 yards with the pistol secured into a Ransom Master Series machine rest.



Accuracy results at 25 yards.