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Browning Buckmark: Field, Target, Tackdriver

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When Browning introduced the Buckmark in 1985, I wasn’t slow to add it to my working battery. Later, a Browning Buckmark did yeoman service in my training classes. The Buckmark replaced the well-respected Challenger pistols. The Buckmark was intended to be affordable but deliver good performance. My version is the Field Target, a useful variation with a 4-inch heavy barrel and fully adjustable sights. There are at least 20 variations of the Buckmark. Surely, there is one for every shooter.

Bob Campbell holding a Browning Buckmark pistol while wearing red hearing protection
The controls are very ergonomic.

This bull barrel measures .90 inch in diameter. The result is an excellent balance. Each chamber, in every pistol, receives special attention and is properly cut.

The frame is manufactured from high-grade aluminum. The frame is anodized, and the barrel and receiver are blued. Browning designed the Pro Target rear sight to offer serious shooters greater adjustment, with 16 clicks rather than the standard 12.

The Buckmark is accurate enough to take advantage of this superior sight, as I soon learned. The front sight is a bold post that offers an excellent sight picture. The sights do not move with the slide. A solid Picatinny rail allows mounting a wide range of optics including red dot types.

Browning Buckmark safety and slide release lever
The controls are similar in layout to the 1911 pistol.

The controls are standard Browning types as found on the Browning Hi-Power and Colt 1911. The slide lock and magazine release are easily manipulated, and the manual safety is pressed upward for Safe and down to Fire. The safety solidly locks the sear when applied.

The pistol will not fire when the magazine is removed. This isn’t a bad feature on a target gun. Never dry fire a .22-caliber handgun without a snap cap or spent case to shield the firing pin’s impact. Since a .22 rimfire is ignited by the firing pin striking the edge of the cartridge rim, when the chamber isn’t loaded, the firing pin strikes the edge of the chamber, possibly damaging both the chamber and the firing pin.

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The trigger action is nice and clean. There is minimal takeup and no creep. Trigger compression is a smooth 4 pounds.

I began the test at 10 yards in order to properly sight in the pistol. I began with a load I had on hand in good quantity, the CCI Mini-Mag. This is a great all-around, do-anything .22 Long Rifle high-velocity loading. I sighted in the pistol for the 6 o’clock hold.

Bob Campbell shooting the Browning Buckmark pistol with a two handed grip
Firing quickly offhand is great fun with the Buckmark .22.

I realized I was far too close to explore the accuracy potential of the Buckmark Field Target. As I moved to the 25-yard range and fired from a solid benchrest position, I experienced a number of excellent groups. The practical accuracy of the Browning Buckmark is surprising.

My best effort with the CCI Mini-Mag included a 1.1-inch group. Most groups were larger at an average 1.5 inches, some a bit larger. I felt that iron sights, eyesight, and human frailties limited the performance of the handgun and ammunition combination. Just the same, a five-shot group just over an inch at 25 yards is exceptional.

I also fired a number of other loadings including the hyper-velocity Stinger. This handgun is well worth adding an optic to. I enjoy iron-sight handguns, but I am looking forward to working up a light combination to complement this handgun.

Velocity of Various Loads
Mini-Mag 1,129 fps
Match Target 1,090 fps

A .22-caliber handgun is great fun and a sure small-game getter. The Browning Buckmark is among the best choices, and affordable at just over $300. Incidentally, I fired more than 200 cartridges in one range trip. There were no sore wrists or flinching, but a smile on my face.

Do you have a favorite .22 LR pistol? How does it compare with the Browning Buckmark? Share your answer in the comment section.



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