Ruger’s first departure from steel and aluminum construction was the Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol. This is a polymer frame .22 caliber handgun meant to conform closely to 1911 .45 dimensions in order for the pistol to provide a good training understudy for the 1911-type handgun. It has done so, but also offers an excellent platform for anyone desiring a .22 caliber self-loading handgun as his or her only pistol. The original had molded in grip panels. The present version features removable grip panels. This is a considerable improvement for those who wish to upgrade or customize their pistol. I find the issued grips quite useful.
The .22/45s featured a steel upper receiver and barrel identical to the Ruger Standard Model. That was a very good place to begin. A variation at present is the .22/45 Lite. The barrel is simply a steel liner type—quite slim and trim.
An aluminum shroud surrounds the barrel. The four-inch barrel is plenty accurate and seemed to retain its accuracy, even after warming the piece up with hundreds of rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition. If you wish to own a suppressor, Ruger has accommodated with a threaded barrel and shroud. The pistol is a great field and kit gun at only 22 ounces.
My example features an anodized upper that is quite attractive. The contrast against the black frame is nice. The pistol handles well, and while it is lighter than the steel frame Standard Model, 22 ounces isn’t all that light, but the .22/45 Lite did offer good stability when firing off hand.
The sights are well designed. The front ramp post is bolted securely. The rear sight is fully adjustable. There is no need to remove the sights if you want to mount an optic. However, the supplied rail that runs between the sights may be removed if you rely on iron sights. The adjustable iron sights allow excellent accuracy. The sights are black without any type of insert—ideal for target shooting.
The .22/45 Lite features an ambidextrous safety—a great feature—and an extended slide lock/slide release. The controls are crisp and positive in operation. The grip frame features molded diamonds on the rear strap and serrations on the front. Coupled with the double diamond grips, this is a nice set up that offers real stability, with good adhesion when firing.
The trigger action is OK, but a bit heavy at 6 pounds. Nonetheless, the action was free of grittiness. There is some free travel or take up as the trigger is pressed—ideal for a training pistol. A magazine safety prevents the pistol from firing when the magazine is removed. The receiver contains a bolt that reciprocates as the pistol fires. To load the pistol, grasp the cocking serrations and pull the bolt straight to the rear.
I will stress that this is a great pistol whether you need an understudy for the 1911 .45 or a stand alone .22 for small-game hunting, practice, or even personal defense for those that cannot handle a larger handgun. The traditional 1911-style grip frame feels right, and the pistol is a joy to use and fire. I have fired most of the CCI and Federal Cartridge Company loads with excellent results. The pistol suffered the usual 5-6 break in malfunctions and then began running fine. I am glad the piece is supplied with two magazines, it doesn’t take long to send a magazine’s rounds down range!
I have fired quite a few loads in this pistol, not only to test reliability but also to check its accuracy potential. With the .22, this is so very easy! Firing from a solid bench rest, I fired a number of excellent groups. With the CCI Stingers, I grouped five shots into two inches. CCI Velociter groups averaged just less than 1.8 inches. If I could have managed to get a cleaner trigger break, I may have done even better. But two inches at 25 yards is excellent by any standard!
I like the .22/45 Lite a lot. There is no compromise for the lightweight receiver and frame as far as accuracy is concerned, but the mass of the pistol isn’t tiny and offers a good firing grip. This is a first class, all around .22 caliber handgun.
Do you use a .22 pistol as a substitute for training with a larger caliber pistol? What is your favorite small game or plinking .22 pistol? Share your answers in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
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