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Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

by Payton Miller   |  June 19th, 2012 34


Longer ago than I care to admit, I thought the 4-inch Ruger Mark II bull-barreled Target model pretty much embodied everything I wanted in a .22 “trail gun,” a kind of inclusive category of .22 pistols you’d use for plinking, target shooting or small-game hunting. With its 38-ounce weight, it seemed to settle down on target for me better than the skinny-barreled versions. And that hefty barrel with those serious, fully adjustable sights looked, well, cool.

So when I got my first look at the new 22/45 Lite, I was impressed. It has—as the name implies—a 1911-ish grip configuration that, after years of banging around with a .45 Auto, now suits me better than the old angled grips of the Standard Model that served as the template for all the Mark “this and thats” that followed.

When picked it up I did a double-take. The reasoning behind the term “Lite” became immediately apparent. With its 4.4-inch gold-anodized aluminum barrel sleeve and polymer frame, the pistol weighs 22.8 ounces. My first thought was heretical in this age of “light and lighter.”  This thing doesn’t weigh enough.

To extend the appeal of the gun for those living in states where obtaining a suppressor isn’t a mere fantasy, the barrel is threaded to accept one (those threads are protected by a removable cap). I’ve been told by those who know more about the subject than I do that there are rimfire suppressors available of low enough profile so as not to interfere with the sights.

When I took the pistol to the range, I brought along six different .22 Long Rifle loads. This is—admittedly—a skimpier assortment than I would have liked. Rimfire pistols are notoriously ammo-finicky, and the more options you have, the better the chances you’ll be able to find a couple of tackdrivers on the menu for your particular gun. The almost-infinite array of ammo possibilities long ago sold me on fully adjustable sights for .22 handguns. When dealing with bullet weights varying from 26 grains to 40 (not to mention a velocity span of 300 or 400 fps), fixed sights are a pain-in-the-butt handicap unless you have a real talent for creative sight pictures. I don’t.

Of the ammo I used, the pistol—not surprisingly—functioned 100 percent with the hyper-velocity and high-velocity stuff. Some old PMC Match loads wouldn’t run the gun at all, and I had three stovepipe jams with Federal Gold Medal Classic (out of one 50-round box). Those were the only problems I had. Remington’s 40-grain Golden Bullet stuff took top honors accuracy-wise, staying a hair under an inch at 25 yards. Everything else was fully in spec—nothing I wouldn’t try to bust a beer can or a cottontail with (see the chart). I was shooting off sandbags. Maybe a Ransom Rest would have yielded better results, but using one just isn’t as much fun.

The trigger was excellent, breaking with just a hint of creep at a bit over 41/2 pounds. Shooting offhand with the 22/45 Lite definitely requires consistency, concentration and follow-through—all the things that old range guys are continually preaching. After all, the gun doesn’t weigh all that much. But the fact that the trigger pull weight isn’t grossly disproportionate with the gun weight helps.

The magazine, as with most .22 pistols, is stiff and a bit of a pain at first. (I’d be happy to pay extra for an extra one included, but when it comes to rimfires, folks don’t seem to take the concept of multiple magazine possession quite as seriously as they would, say, for a .45 or high-cap 9mm.)

Of course, it would have been a hoot to have been able to take advantage of the 22/45 Lite’s suppressor-threaded barrel. With the exception of the hyper-velocity Winchester 26-grain tin bullet ammo, everything I ran through the pistol’s 4.4-inch barrel registered subsonic (well below the requisite 1,126 fps). But even as is, this pistol has a lot going for it.


Had we been able to take advantage of that threaded barrel, ear protection would have been unnecessary.

Find out about the price and availability of the firearm covered in this article at, where you will gain instant access to the inventory of Davidson’s Inc., one of the nation’s largest factory authorized firearm wholesalers. customers know instantly if the firearm is available and can select from offers presented by dealers in their area. The selected dealer then immediately ships the firearm via Federal Express. Perhaps best of all, guns purchased at are covered by Davidson’s Guaranteed Lifetime Replacement Program Fast. Easy. Hassle-free.

  • dugiboy

    would love one of these , but living in the U.K it aint going to happen …….

    • Ron

      You have my sympathy! I have always wanted to visit the U.K., but I don't think I could live there just for that reason.
      (Thought about moving?)

      • dugiboy

        look after my aged dad , not really an option .

        • Ron

          Bring him with!

          • dugiboy

            work in a moderate job , he is not in good health . we have the national health service , its not all bad over here , best wishes to you Ron .

          • Ron

            Again you have my sympathy. My Father is 87 and we rely on Medicare. We do the best we can, but I do have several guns and I love to target shoot. If your ever near New Mexico, drop me a line and we can spend the day shooting! You'll love it! And best wishes to you!

  • Rich

    I bought one for my wife,Nice lite 22 shoots well
    looks cool she says,But not as cool as her HKMP5
    but close she says.She was sold on the brand & look of this model

  • Alan_T

    I guess I'm just getting too old ……. I had a original Mark I , and then I acquired a stainless bull barrel Mark II 22 / 45 for my wife when she was with us and I bought the Mark III Target 22 / 45 ( also a bull barrel ) for myself recently . But the looks of this just leaves me cold . Well , to each their own .

  • pfettig77

    Hmmm…this or the SR22?

    • cindy

      sr22 nice gun my first

      • David

        Congratulations on your first gun. You can't go wrong with a Ruger handgun. Enjoy gun ownership and beware the urge to buy more. In fact, heed that urge as often as you can!

        • Michael

          i prefer glock

          • Robert Nemoyer

            I prefer a glock also, but with a 22 conversion kit it is pretty expensive and I an looking for a 22 that I can practice with and not spend an arm, a leg, and my first born son.

            Well, the way he is acting maybe I would spend my first born son. :)

  • old vet

    I really like the looks of this pistol over the SR22. Would make a great back packers gun. Maybe I've always been more fond of the original Ruger style .22 pistol.

  • Mack Missiletoe

    I have a Mark III Target with 5.5" barrel. I thought I'd like the shorter barrel options but have fallen in love with the 5.5" barrel. It looks mean! I love how it kicks. It came with 2 mags. Buy an extra rear sight leaf (the thin rear metal sight) as backup–I think I hit mine on accident with hammer and it broke It was a cheap easy replacement.

    Once you figure out how to disassemble these they are worth every penny as they are very accurate. The action design, kind of like a rifle, is part of what makes them so accurate methinks

    • old vet

      You are exactly right as far as assembly. Know just what you mean by hitting the sight with a hammer, as on the target models you have to "tap" the barrel off with a soft hammer. I remember in Nam we had a little standard model Ruger as part of a "Tunnel rat kit", well several of the guys got "half lit" and decided to take it apart, took many tries to get hammer strut right on the poor thing.

      • Mack Missiletoe

        Haha! It's great to learn how to take apart a new gun. But the Ruger Mark series quickly becomes very mysterious to a first time user…

        I try to take very good care of my guns, but I got a little carried away with that hammer.

        I suggest watching videos on the internet if you get stumped trying to take the Ruger Mark series apart or put it back together. The supplied owner's manual has a lot of information, but it's missing a few 'scenarios'.

  • Checker65

    Just purchased one the other day it came with 2 mags and a soft case so apparently Ruger was listening, you can put a compensator on the threads also instead of a suppressor. This helps with muzzle flip and allows quick target acquistion especially if your your shooting steel match. And you don't need to apply for a BATF stamp for the compensator.

    • Mack Missiletoe

      Sometimes when I sleep at night I wonder if I should have bought the 22/45 Lite model. I saw someone with a nice sound suppressor called a 'Sparrow' and got to thinkin'…

      One of the reasons I got the Mark III target is it's hefty STEEL barrel–which should last for a long time. I have no regrets. I can order an aftermarket aluminum upper with threads, but it's treated as a firearm and would probably cost abotu as much as the 22/45 Lite.

      These Ruger Mark III's and 22/45's are true gems! There are other great .22lr autoloading pistols out there such as the Ruger SR22 and the S&W M&P 22. But the old Ruger design is King of the Hill in my opinion. It kind of reminds you of those Colt Woodsmans and similar classic guns as well.

      • old vet

        Mack, all the guns you mentioned are great, did not like the looks of the SR22 at first, but it is actually a nice pistol. Another really good one is the Buck Mark, a very accurate and fine handling gun. I have a very old Mark I target, can't count how many bricks of .22 have been through it. Still works and shoots great, looks like the old tool it is.

        • Mack Missiletoe

          The Buck Mark is nice. I like its classic look and that it comes in many different configurations–including various wood grips.

          I almost bought the basic Camper version some time ago. It fit my hand well.

  • Gary

    I’m not sure who post the reviews here but, My review is much different.
    The first thing I did not like was how the magazine is inserted into the handle.
    You would expect it to fallow the angle of the handle, but if you do the magazine will Jam up in the handle. The magazine has to go into the handle at a sharp angle to mate up to the feed ramp.

    Next when I push the magazine release the magazine will not pop out, I have to remove it by getting my finger nail under it and pull it out
    Next, after 25 round the front sight fell off the gun The sight screw had backed out.
    I put the screw back it and again it had backed out.

    This gun jam many times on Winchester ammo.
    I’m taking it back to the gun shop and trading it in. Sorry Ruger you miss the target on this one.

  • jovitscot618

    If you look very closely to the picture you will notice that the gunner is wearing a protective headphones. It is because its needed for noise assessment.

  • Gregd548

    I guess I have issues with the review of this pistol, both from G&A and other magazines. I have a buddy who bought one, and after 3 hours at my camp range, using every brand & style of ammo we could find, we could NOT get this gun to not jam. It would either jam on trying to load for the first shot, or, if we managed to get a round in the chamber, it would them jam on the second. We were never able to get it to fire even 2 rounds in a row. I thought it may have been his pistol/mags at fault, but then I ran into a guy at our local gun club with exactly the same problem, and he mentioned a friend of his who was also experiencing the same issues. I'm beginning to suspect that all the reviewers are getting factory tuned guns, not what the rest of us can get from our dealers. I have a Mk2 stainless that has always work fine, and is accurate to boot.

    • Capt. Gus

      Its the useless magazine safety, remove that and all is well.
      The mag does not set well. So it backs down ever so slightly , causing the ammo not to feed proper . The fix is $ 10 bucks, I did this a few days ago and it's perfect , eats all the ammo I give it! Just look on u tube ,I purchased on eBay
      ( Ruger Mark lll 22/45 magazine disconnect hammer bushing by Tandemkross )

      • Eddy J

        I have a much "celebrated" 10/22 that has been a serious disappointment right out of the box. Even after changing out the mag release. Jams like crazy (Tried different ammo with same results) and is a pain to clear. Fast forward to Christmas. My wife got me a 22/45 Lite (could there be something in that little solidus mark) for Christmas….looked cool I guess. I tried dropping the magazine first thing and as above had to "pull" it out by hanging a fingernail under the lip. It also doesn't manually cycle (unloaded) without some "convincing". I don't dare fire it as the fight will likely start. All that to say, thanks, I'm ordering the bushing to head off any more disappointment. Hope it works ;-)

  • Jeremy Miller

    I was told that the gold finish has been coming off and Ruger is going to DC the gun. I work part time for a local gun dealer. Anyway i purchased one just to throw in the safe I figure one day t might be worth something being it was only made for six months or so. If I am wrong oh well I will just sell it as I only payed $300 for it. I was also told they may continue to make it but with a different finish.

  • Vaughan

    Looks good and shoots good. Every take one apart to clean it? Horrible design, overly complicated and really tough to get back together.

    • Sirrus Rider

      I disagree on what you said about the design; however, it does take some finesse and knowledge to field strip it. I can get mine apart and reassembled in about 5 minutes.

  • Charles Elk

    I love this gun. I installed fire sights and a Volquartsen trigger on mine which wasn’t difficult if you have basic mechanical ability. Ran over 1000 rounds of various kinds through it before I cleaned it for the first time and only had 3 or 4 hiccups. Can go wrong with this or a Buckmark.

    • Charles Elk

      Can’t non can. My bad.

  • Mike

    This is by far the worst gun I have ever owned. Shoots good but jams à lot and clip does not fit good and hard to put back together. Has given me trouble ever since the first time I shot it out of the box new.

    • cmott426

      Change the brand of ammo. Some ammo works better then others.

  • Ethan Anderson

    I have the mark 3 22/45 with a 5.5 inch barrel and I absolutely love it. I take it out for my trap lines and even just to shoot everything squirrels, raccoons, crows (on the ground or a limb) rabbits foxes I mean this pistol is just absolutely amazing with its constantly accurate groups about 1 inch groping at 100 yards. The only problem is the field stripping. It takes a few times to get good and quick at it

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