Ruger’s Mark III 22/45 Lite: Performance & Testing

In the first part of this feature, we gave you all the details and specs for Ruger’s Mark III 22/45 Lite. Now see how it did when we took it out to the range for some testing! 


Gun and Archery Club

The author uses the MK III 22/45 along with his Rock River Basic Carry .45 to shoot Bullseye matches at the Flagler Gun and Archery Club. His spotting scope is a Leupold Kenai.



The 22/45 Lite shot as well as it looked. I tested this pistol from the bench for accuracy and velocity, used it to shoot falling plates at the Volusia County Gun and Hunt Club, and fired it in Bullseye matches at the Flagler Gun and Archery Club.


I was very pleased with the performance of the 22/45 from the bench. Quite frankly I wondered how accurate this pistol would be. The barrel makes contact with its shroud in only two places. It is anchored at the chamber in the rear and by a barrel nut which is located just behind the threaded portion of the barrel at the muzzle. The nut is torqued and epoxied at the factory. It should not be removed by anyone other than a factory technician.


great gun for hunting small game

The MK III 22/45 Lite is a well-balanced and accurate target pistol that’s also a great gun for hunting small game. Photo by Ruger


I was concerned that the large air space between the barrel and shroud would allow for the barrel to vibrate and/or bend somewhat when it got hot from repeated firing. This could ruin accuracy. However, I shouldn’t have worried, because the 22/45 Lite turned out to be one of the most accurate handguns that I’ve tested in recent years.


I used an MTM Front Rifle Rest to test 40 grain loads from Federal, CCI, Remington and Winchester for accuracy. Three five shot groups were fired with each load at 25 yards. The three group averages for each load ranged from 1.62-2.18 inches. The groups weren’t only similar in size, the four loads also shot to the same point of aim. This is excellent performance considering that these bullets were loaded to three different velocity levels.


In addition to the bench tests, I also fired the 22/45 Lite on steel plates at the Volusia Club. The 22/45′s 3.5 pound trigger and the MRDS sight made the six plates fall very quickly at a distance of 15 yards. I shot the plate rack several times as fast as I could get the dot on target and did not miss a single plate. At that point I decided to buy the gun. In the future, I’ll increase the plate distance to 20 or 25 yards, if only to save my budget.



The final test involved using the 22/45 Lite in Bullseye competition at the Flagler Club’s Thursday morning match. I shot the gun with the traditional one-hand Dueling Stance during the match. The targets were at 25 yards and I found that the light weight of this pistol required me to change my grip and trigger squeeze. That’s because the 3.5 pound trigger requires 56 ounces of pressure to trip the sear. But the 22/45 with a loaded magazine and the MRDS sight weighs only about 26 ounces. Therefore, it’s easy to pull the sights off target when squeezing the trigger unless you tightly lock your wrist and elbow and take a firm grip on the pistol. It took a few strings to figure this out, but as soon as I made the necessary adjustments, the shots clustered nicely in the black.


Volquartsen makes an excellent aftermarket trigger for Mark II and Mark III Ruger .22 pistols that breaks very cleanly at 2.25 pounds. Those who are committed Bullseye competitors may be interested in installing one of these kits, but for the average hunter or steel match shooter, the factory-standard 3.5pound trigger works very well.



Ruger’s 22/45 Lite is a very good-shooting .22 caliber pistol. It was completely reliable and it shot every load to the same point with consistent accuracy. At an MSRP of $499, this lightweight rimfire should find ready acceptance among competitors, hunters, hikers, and campers.

very good-shooting .22 caliber pistol


Story and Photos by Dr. Martin D. Topper

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