Ruger’s 22/45 Lite .22 LR…With Competition Accuracy!
Pistol weight has been a problem for many handgun hunters and target shooters. All-steel target pistols often have heavy barrels that reduce vibration. This promotes accuracy by limiting variation in the exact position of the muzzle when bullets leave the bore, producing tighter groups, but many bull-barreled handguns are just too heavy to shoot in day-long matches or lug around in the field. Whether I’m hunting, plinking, or target shooting, I want a pistol that doesn’t leave my right arm stiff and sore the next morning.
Over the last twenty years, Ruger has taken the lead in reducing the weight of its popular .22 semi-auto target pistols. In 1993 the company introduced the MK II 22/45 pistol. It had a Zytel polymer frame that had the same grip angle as a 1911. In addition to the 22/45, Ruger also introduced models with fluted steel bull barrels. This keeps their weight down while retaining their large diameter (which dampens vibration). Fluted barrels also have more surface area and cool faster than unfluted ones.
This year Ruger introduced the Mark III 22/45 Lite. This pistol combines the Zytel frame of the Mark II 22/45 with an upper assembly housing made of ordnance-grade aluminum. The rear of the housing is the receiver and the front is a fluted bull barrel shroud. This pistol weighs only 23 ounces, which is a little over half as much as Ruger’s stainless steel Mark III Competition Model. When Ruger announced this new gun a week before the SHOT Show in January, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one so I could compare it to the all-steel bull-barreled Mark I Target model I owned in the late 1960s.
Load Name Projectile Weight Velocity Muzzle Energy Best Group Average Group
Federal 40 grains 1027 fps. 94 ft.pds. 1.21″ 1.83″
CCI Standard 40 grains 878 fps. 69 ft. pds. .95″ 1.62″
Remington Target 40 grains 953 fps. 81 ft. pds. 1.64″ 2.18″
Winchester M-22 40 grains 947 fps. 80 ft. pds. 1.59″ 1.68″
Average groups represent three 5-shot strings at 25 yards Groups were fired using an MTM Front Sight Rest, a Leupold Kenai spotting scope and an EO-Tech 3.5 MOA Mini Red Dot Sight. Velocity was measured with a PACT 1 XP chronograph. Wind direction was from behind the shooter at approximately 10 mph. Ambient temperature was 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Story and Photos by: Dr. Martin D. Topper