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.
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