Ruger Mark III .22/45RP  Rimfire Pistol with Checkered Cocobolo Grips


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 22nd, 2010




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Ruger has been in the .22 Long Rifle pistol business since 1949, and they have achieved the status of top dog in the rimfire pistol pack. Other good designs have come and gone over the past six decades, but the Ruger pistol is pretty much like the first ones that rolled out of the factory way back then, with a few refinements made along the way. While Ruger introduced a model called the 22/45 several years ago, I have always favored the original steel-framed design. It just looked and felt better to me. The 22/45 had a grip angle that was made to replicate the feel of the 1911 style .45 Auto. The 22/45 has always been a reliable, accurate, and affordable .22 rimfire, but I just never warmed up the look of the grip frame, until now.

The day before the SHOT Show in Las Vegas last month, we were shooting some pistols and rifles out in the desert with some of the folks from Ruger, when one pulled out a 22/45 that wore a set of really nice checkered cocobolo wooden grips. These grips were attached with screws, just like on a 1911 pistol, and I fell in love!

I had only seen one 22/45 pistol with such grips before. It is a one-off custom pistol that was worked over by my friend and fellow Shootist, John Killebrew. John put a lot of work into customizing his 22/45 to give it that genuine 1911 look and feel. Now, Ruger is manufacturing a 22/45 with replaceable grip panels. The supplied grips feel perfect in my hand, and are of the thin style. Most any grip that is made to fit a full-sized 1911 will work, but depending upon the grip thickness, longer screws might be required to reach the short grip bushings. Also, if a grip panel is large enough that it has a cutout for the magazine release, it will not align with the mag release button on the 22/45. However, to me, the thin grip panels that Ruger has chosen for this pistol are perfect. They look great, and feel even better. The wooden grip panels are a welcome addition to the 22/45. They should have been there from the inception.

Like the other pistols in the 22/45 line, the grip frame is polymer, with the receiver/barrel and bolt made of steel. This gives the 22/45 a decidedly muzzle-heavy feel, which makes the gun very easy to shoot well. The barrel weight helps to steady the hold, and the overall weight of the weapon is just thirty-four ounces, making it easy to carry afield in a holster. The barrel length measures five and one-half inches, and the barrel is seven-eighths (.875) of an inch in diameter its entire length. The 22/45 wears a vertical post front sight, somewhat of a modified Patridge style, but without the undercut. The rear sight is fully adjustable for both windage and elevation correction, and is easy to see well for precision shooting.  In addition to the excellent sights, the 22/45 is drilled for a scope base, which is included with the pistol. Nice touch.

The 22/45RP has all of the Mark III series features, including the empty-magazine hold-open feature, with the bolt release on the left side, just above the magazine release button. The thumb safety is on the left side, just under the rear sight, and works very well for right-handed shooters. After taking up the slack, the trigger releases crisply on the sample pistol with three and three-quarters pounds of pressure. The crisp trigger pull makes the 22/45RP a delight to shoot. The 22/45 has a magazine safety, so the pistol will not fire with the magazine removed. There is also a very easy to see and easy to feel loaded-chamber indicator on the left side of the receiver. The 22/45 has an internal key lock which renders the pistol inoperable for those who wish to, or are required by law to, use such a feature.

Disassembly of the 22/45 for cleaning follows the procedure that has been used on Ruger rimfire pistols since 1949. Some find it difficult to take apart and reassemble the Ruger autos, but if the instructions are followed, it is no problem at all.

The 22/45 comes supplied with two ten-shot steel magazines, and they are easy to load, as the follower has a button attached that allows it to be pushed down manually as the magazine is loaded.

Shooting the 22/45RP was a pleasure. I have fired many Ruger rimfire autos over the past several years, and I own a few of them already. I have one very early pistol, shipped out the first week of production back in 1949. It still shoots very well today. This new 22/45RP proved to be extremely accurate. Functioning was perfect, as expected. The only failures were traced to bad ammo. I have always shot up more than my fair share of Federal bulk-pack hollowpoints. This stuff is usually very good, but the last batch that I bought has had several cartridges that will not fire, even after receiving a solid hit or two from a firing pin. Many, many times, a gun gets the blame for bad ammunition. Whenever I get an email about a pistol that has functioning problems, I always suggest trying a different brand of ammo before condemning the weapon, and this usually fixes any problems.  Such was the case with this Ruger pistol. The Federal ammo shot very accurately in the pistol, but some of it was just bad ammo. As to accuracy, this Ruger pistol is more accurate than many pistols costing several times as much money. For accuracy testing, I secured the 22/45 into my Ransom Master rest and tried several brands and types of .22 Long Rifle ammunition. Everything that I fed the Ruger grouped into less than an inch at twenty-five yards, with a few types of ammo grouping into half that size! Even the inexpensive Federal bulk hollowpoints, Winchester bulk DynaPoints, and CCI MiniMags grouped exceptionally well. The Wolf and PMC match ammo grouped into the one-half inch range as well. Again, the Ruger fed, fired, and ejected everything perfectly, except for that bad batch of ammo.

The new Ruger 22/45 RP is a dandy pistol. It is just one of many variations of the Ruger rimfire auto that is available, but is a welcome addition to the line. The grip accurately replicates the angle and feel of the popular 1911 style auto. The pistol is very reliable and match accurate. It is also one of the lowest-priced pistols in the Ruger auto line, and is priced competitively against its competition. Like with most Ruger products, you get a lot of gun for the money, and this new 22/45RP can hold its own against many target-grade rimfire pistols. It is easy to shoot, and shoot well. Scoped or not, it would make a dandy pistol for hunting small game and vermin, and is a superb pistol with which anyone can learn to shoot inexpensively.

Like all Ruger firearms, the new 22/45RP is built right, and built in the USA.

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Jeff Quinn

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The 22/45 comes with a hard plastic case, two magazines, padlock, scope base, internal lock keys, and instruction manual.





The 22/45 proved to be very accurate with a variety of ammunition.



As mentioned in the text of the article, Jeff encountered some bad ammunition that would not fire after repeated positive firing pin strikes. This is not the fault of the pistol!



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Ruger's new Mark III .22/45 RP .22 pistol.





The 22/45 accepts most 1911-style grip panels.



Bolt release & thumb safety.



Magazine release.



Internal key lock safety.



Sights consist of semi-Patridge front & fully-adjustable rear.



Disassembly latch.



Loaded chamber indicator.



Ten-shot steel magazine.



The 22/45 is drilled for a supplied scope base.