Throwback Thursday: .22 LR Competition Pistols: What to Buy, What Not to Buy

S&W 22a

With ammo costs going up and availability going down, many shooters are turning to the good old .22 Long Rifle cartridge for affordable shooting fun. Rimfire competition shooting leagues are springing up across the country. New shooters are mastering the fundamentals of marksmanship. Experienced shooters are rediscovering that .22 LR competitions are a fun way to hone their skills to a fine edge. So, what should we look for in a competition .22 pistol?

Young woman in light blue shirt, black hair and eye protection shoots a Walther P22 against a light brown dirt background.
The Walther P22 is one of the most popular handguns in America—A great choice for all around practice.

There are a variety of reliable, affordable and accurate pistols to choose, but sometimes they can get lost in the noise and marketing of the firearms industry. Gun magazines, websites and blogs constantly scream that whatever is newest is the best thing ever. Of course, that is not true. Some of the newest .22 LR pistols to hit the market are simply range toys of lesser quality. They may look like classic firearms, such as the 1911, GLOCK or SIG P226, but they just are not accurate enough for competition work. Many of those guns are smaller than the service pistols they mimic. Their tiny grips are best suited for teaching children to shoot. There are also doubts about their longevity, as most will fire many rounds from them through time. If you want a .22 LR that looks like a silenced 1911, you can buy one and play with it once in a while at the range for fun. If you want to compete, there are better choices for the same amount of money.

What we are looking for here is a reliable, durable, accurate and ergonomic pistol. We want large iron sights that are easy to see, a very good trigger and barrel that shoots straight. The gun needs to point naturally, and regular maintenance should be easy. We all know that 22 LR ammo.” href=”” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>.22 LR ammo is very “dirty” relative to its size, and all firearms work better when we properly clean and lubricate them. With those rules in mind, here are some good options to consider.

Ruger Mk III

Ruger Mk III pistol black left profile
The Ruger Mk III is a well-loved .22 LR target pistol.

The Ruger Mk III is my personal favorite. Although I have seen amazing results with heavy-barreled variants, mine features the standard weight, tapered, 6-inch barrel, and it is still more accurate than I am. If I miss with my Ruger, I know the fault is mine alone. The Ruger’s big disadvantage is that disassembly and reassembly are notoriously difficult. Many shooters fear the pistol’s complexity and refuse to disassemble it. They clean their Rugers by removing the grips and dunking the rest of the gun in carburetor cleaner or another harsh solvent. Another downside is the price, which starts higher than most other .22 LR pistols and gets even more expensive depending on options.

Beretta Neos

Beretta Neos with magazines and ammunition
The Neos fills a unique niche within the rimfire handgun category. It isn’t a mouse gun or a budget gun.

The Beretta Neos is a relative newcomer to the .22 LR target pistol field. These excellent quality pistols are probably the best bargain per dollar spent. They shoot straight, are easy to disassemble and come with a built-in Weaver-type optics mount. However, many pistol leagues do not allow optics, so that may not be a factor. Pricing is very competitive because the Neos is a newcomer. The science fiction looks of the gun may turn off some potential buyers, but they do not truly matter, except for the extreme grip angle. If you are used to the grip angle of a 1911 or SIG Sauer and you decide to pick up rimfire shooting to save money, you will not have a natural point of aim with the Neos.

Browning Buck Mark

Browning Buckmark pistol, right profile
The Browning Buckmark is a high-quality pistol with a high price to match.

The Browning Buck Mark is a classic .22 LR, loved by thousands. A wide variety of shooters find the Buck Mark’s grip perfect, regardless of hand size. Ergonomically, it is almost magical. Maintenance is the problem of the Buck Mark. Small hex-head set screws hold it together. The owner must unscrew them each time they take apart the pistol to clean it. Losing a set screw means no working gun for you. Strip one out during reassembly, and well, I guess you will not have to clean your Buck Mark for a while. The Buck Mark is also the most expensive of the pistols mentioned in this article.

Smith & Wesson 22A

S&W 22a
The Smith & Wesson 22a is easy to disassemble for cleaning.

The Smith & Wesson 22A is not as popular as the Ruger or Browning, but it offers one big advantage. Disassembly for cleaning is super easy, with no tools required. Where the Browning has a set screw holding the barrel in place, the 22A uses a large plunger you can press with your thumb. The barrel’s accuracy is very good, but the trigger is stiff compared to the other guns I have mentioned. Reliability can be iffy with this gun, especially when dirty, so it is a good thing that it is so easy to clean. On the other hand, its price is pretty hard to beat, and its grip angle is perfect for shooters who are used to full-size service pistols. Like the Beretta Neos, the 22A comes with a standard Weaver rail for mounting red dots or long eye-relief scopes.

There are other pistols appropriate for rimfire competition, but these are the most affordable and readily available. If you are a fan of the SIG Trailside, the Colt Woodsman or the truly exceptional Smith & Wesson model 41, then by all means, go out and shoot your favorite one. There are plenty of bowling pins to knock around at a local shooting league near you.

Which .22 LR do you prefer for plinking or competitive shooting? Why did you choose that pistol? Share your answers in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (87)

  1. The Smith and Wesson M&P designation goes back many years when Smith and Wesson revolvers were the standard for both the Military and Police forces around the country. There is no reason for them to drop the designation simply because there are other firearms being used now.

  2. i stopped reading when i saw the pic say Walther p22 and its def isnt a Walther p22. Personally i like the M and P .22. the Ruger sr-22 is durable as hell (use them in permit class 600 round a day roughly, only repaired once in 2 years), but the accuracy is less than the Phoenix hp-22 (that has a much shorter barrel) that i shot plenty times.

  3. Years ago had the S & W 41 and Ruger Mk 1 5 1/2″ barrel. Decided on a shoot-off to determine which to keep, as times were a bit tight. Accuracy was equal on the two guns and value was much higher for the Smith, so it went. I am, first, last and always a Smith & Wesson fan, but there was not enough difference to keep it. Do I wish I still had it? Yep. But life throws some stuff at you that is outside your control and you deal with it. I still have that Ruger and a few other firearms, and it still puts rounds where it is supposed to, if I do my part. Furthermore, if you have a little mechanical ability, it really isn’t that hard to disassemble to clean.

  4. The older S&W Model 41 are very nice, but their triggers are nowhere close to the High Standard Victors’, or other Military-framed High Standard target pistols, made before 1990(ish), or the new ones from High Standard – Houston.

  5. I shoot a 1975-vintage High Standard Victor that outshoots most rifles out to 25 yards. My mid 1990’s Browning Buckmark is quite precise, but the group sizes are 2-3 times larger than the HSV. I also have the .22 LR conversion for my SIG P22x. It shoots as well, or better than the Buckmark.

    I will never buy anything, but a revolver from S&W. I hate how they brand their guns as M&P, when no military or police force has standardized on their weapons. Additionally, they change designs every 3-4 years, and I have heard that replacement parts for discontinued guns are difficult to obtain.

    I will stick with what I have for .22 LR pistols.

  6. Hey guys,
    I have a a High Standard Citation 22 with a bull barrel & custom hand grips with a thumb rest. This was purchased in 1964 and is still extremely accurate as it was 54 yrs ago. I guess High Standard went out of business. I only resurrected this pistol a month ago to train my granddaughter who has since received her FL CCL. I really can’t believe how accurate it is and how easy it is to shoot. It’s been many years since I have used it. I have since gone to 357, then 9mm, and now to 45 ACP. It’s really fun to go back to a great 22 target pistol. I think I will add it to my weekly shooting schedule. If I can find a league here in FL I will probably join to see if I can get my old scores with these poor eyes. Regards to all.

    The Commish
    Bradenton, FL

  7. Here are two pistols that are heads above the guns mentioned. I speak with 45 years as a FFL and 30 years as a pistol competitor.

    Smith and Wesson model 41 , 5 1/2 inch BBL.

    Hi Std. Victor , 5 1/2 inch BBL.

    No competitor that I ever knew shot a plastic Beretta, Smith, or Ruger.
    They would not hold up to the end of bullseye season.

    also the KMK – GC 512 with a trigger job.

    If you can’t afford one of these three guns, save up . Don’t compromise on something that you can shoot but not win the competition.

  8. I have the Smith&Wesson victory and I love it! Easy to shoot and very accurate. Yes there is an Allen head set screw to disassemble for cleaning, but that doesn’t bother me on a plinking pistol.

  9. I’ve had the ruger Mark II for about 25 years. Heavy barrel, 6 inch I believe. Most accurate, trouble free firearm ever. I can run pop cans out on the range all day. Other guy’s jaws drop to see me hit targets at 100 yards with it. Squirrels (if I still ate the darned things) dont stand a chance out to about 25 or 30 yards. Disassembly difficulty is highly exaggerated imho. Once you learn the tricks, it’s easy. It eats any ammo, no issues. I probably have 10000 rounds through mine and it keeps going. I will never sell this one.

  10. Do not forget the S&W Model 41. Fixed barrel. Easy disassembly. Guess I have had mine for over 40 years and still the most accurate pistol I have.

  11. Received Harrington and Richardson 9 shot 6ÔÇØ Sportsman…fun to shoot. Had to replace main spring that had a nylon tip (Numrich had a six pack of the spring assembly in stock) also have g-pas high STD mod B & mod 69 Winchester bolt action, Walther P22 semi, Springfield tube fed semi, Remington Mohawk, and North American Arms black widow 5 shot. Great guns to teach beginning shooters and a pleasure to shoot. Enjoyed the read.

  12. I have a competition geared 22. It started as a gsg 1911 and there is a company outside of Columbus Ohio who makes parts and it snowballed from there. As soon as I finished it I got into precision rifles and forgot all about it. Basically built a open class race gun and have yet to really run it fast.

  13. One newcomer that was not mentioned is the Smith & Wesson Victory .22. I recently purchased one and with the proper ammunition it will put 5 rounds in the X ring on a regular basis. It’s extremely affordable, likes regular high speed .22 hollow point ammo, comfortable to shoot, great sights and is extremely easy to clean.

  14. I still shoot my old ruger standard, the predecessor to the marks. Love it. I guess familiarity makes stripping it no problem.

  15. Own my dads rugaer mki would never get rid it also mkii and mkiii HR 922 sportsman super accurate with the right ammo also a S&W 422 really a nice shooter bbl barrel Ruger is my favorite and my most accurate yes cleaning can be tough but I do not clean mine until after a 1000 rounds and it is still shooting CCI STANDARDS. Shoot what you like and enjoy it .

  16. Segue: Marlin 795 rifle, best buy for a .22LR. On sale, less than $150. Very accurate, spare mags reasonable when bought on line. A ton of fun. Think, Project Appleseed!

  17. While I own several .22 weapons, I don’t agree with the writers assertion about the price and availability of ammo. From my prospective ammo is the cheapest and most plentiful it has been in nearly a decade. Hell I just picked up 3000 rounds of 9mm for $395 with free shipping. That’s 13 cents a round. I also picked up 2500 rounds of 45 acp for $450. That’s 18 cents a round. Hell even .22 is back where it used to be, I got 10 boxes of 525 for $190, You can find even better prices on large bulk lots.

    1. It depends on where you live and what ammo you want/need. 3 years ago I bought 4 full cases of 7.62x54R for 80 bucks a case (880 rds) for my Nagants and my VEPR.
      I can pick up steel case ammo for cheap but good ammo is getting more n more expensive.

  18. I haven’t seen any improvement over the Ruger Mark II in the bounce for buck bench mark. Prefer over all that I have tried though favorably impressed the S&W Victory. Just need to master the dot optic sights on the Victory – another learning curve.

    1. How about the mk4. Since it doesn’t require a gunsmithing credential to take it apart and reassemble it?

    2. At $50 more than the cheapest Buckmark, I was surprised the Victory wasn’t included in this list. I tried a S&W 22A a couple years ago. Tried 3 different kinds of ammo — FTF, stovepipe or misfired about 30% of the first couple hundred rounds, and I returned it for a refund.

    1. I had a Hi Standard Supermatic Citation back in the 70’s. I used to shoot regularly with a fellow naval officer who had a S&W model 41. He consistently out-shot me, although I was never sure if was me or the gun until he let me shoot it. Maybe the Citation I had was a lemon, but the S&W 41 was clearly more accurate.

    1. The ruger mark IV fixes the disassembly and especially the reassembly issue and from all reports is just as accurate as all its previous models.

    2. I know it’s a little pricey, but my Ruger Mark IV is “the answer” to disassembly with the one button take down. My Hunter model is a very handsome weapon and has worked flawlessly with my 1st thousand rounds.Keep it clean and lubes and it is hard to beat.

    1. Seriously, they re-published an old article without updating it? The Ruger Mark IV is out and fixes the disassembly problem. The S&W 22A isn’t manufactured anymore. The Sig Trailside isn’t manufactured anymore. The S&W22 is out and very affordable. WTF?

  19. I highly recommend the Ruger Mark IV. For an off the shelf .22lr pistol, the Mark IV is hard to beat. With a steady hand or rest, it is as accurate as any pistol in .22lr. If you want to mount a red dot on it, the Bushnell TRS-25 is excellent, and there is a holster available which will accommodate the sight. You can also by an RMR but the TSR will do everything any RMR will do, and is much less expensive. Save your money for ammo. In the winter, I average about 400 rds per week to keep my hand in.

  20. The Feinwerkbau AW93 is THE .22 cal pistol for those taking competition seriously. Designed as an Olympic sport pistol it is in use by the best.
    Imported by BFTC IN TEXAS.

  21. The responses so far are correct. I have a Hi Std Trophy & Citation, one with a bull BBL and the other with a 7 1/4 fluted BBL. Shot Hunter’s Pistol for a few years without any problems. I also have 2 S&W 41’s, each having a different BBL length…. They are very sensitive to ammo and difficult to not jam…Finally I have 2 Ruger’s, a MK II and a MK IV…… Love them all, but be ready to spend $150+ on any Ruger to fix the trigger…. Two word of advice…. Hi Std magazines are NOT available period… Stay away from the KKK magazines as they DON’T work….. Buy a spring kit for the 41’s, Enjoy…..

  22. This writer better do more research on grip angles, in particular the study done by Luger — the neos grip angle does not appear extreme — the 1911 is horrible, and does not allow normal holds !TD Mike needs to do more research!

  23. I have a pair of S&W Model 41’s and a HS Trophy. They all shoot better than me. The 41’s trigger are heaven.

  24. I have a High Standard Supermatic Trophy with a 7 1/4 fluted barrel. I see them go for $800 to $1000. They are worth saving for and you will never be sorry you did.

  25. I have owned a Ruger, a S&W modle 41 and a High Standard Trophy. I still shoot the High Standard and I consider it to be the best of all that I have owned.and shot. I used to shoot NRA indoor and target and have shot tens of thunands of rounds over the past thirty years. The Trophy is my all time favorite for reliability and ease of disassembly and cleaning and is as accurate as any gun available. It also has a frame that closely matches the Colt 45 Gold Cup that I also shot in competition for many years..

  26. I own a MK2 slab side stainless target, SW 617 4″ 10 shot and a SW 22A. Been target shooting for a bit over 40 years and the 22A is as capable as any high end rimfire handgun made. Maybe I just got lucky with the bull barrel, but it’s my go to tack driver.

  27. I like the time machine of seeing these posts about the DHS now that we are 102% certain it was hoarders and opportunists causing the shortages.

  28. I have a Browning Buckmark and have been having troubles with it. I can’t get through 2 magazines with out having a light hit. There is a mark on the rim but it doesn’t go off.
    I have changed to amo that shoots a 100% in other guns and got the same results. I recently got aqua pistol amo and got the same results.
    I changed the firing pin thinking I had dry fired it to much learning to use it and got the same results. (The old firing pin showed no damage or wear and the firing pin assembly area was surprisingly clean.
    I cleaned the barrel / chamber to the point a round would fall out of the chamber just by tipping the chamber back. I got the same results.
    Looking for new ideas as to what could be causing this problem? I will appreciate any ideas.

    1. Jay i might just have the answer for you if you have been dry firing and the firing pin has dented the face of the barrel then the case will form into the dent and cushion the strike,this happened to me good news is remove the barrel and have it machined flat again and while youre at it trim the firing pin so it does not damage the barrel face.
      cheers i hope that is the problem/

  29. I have a few hand guns, mostly 308, 9mm and 45. My problem is this, I read all the reviews I can on the .22 caliber LR and I have come to the conclusion that there is not a good reliable one on the market. All seem to have below average reviews about them, I have large hands so I need a full size weapon, not to offend anyone, I cant use the toy subs and compacts. Thank you Larry

  30. I am not concidering, I am trying to put together what guns i need to shoot in as many competitions as possible considering I live in the great state of ALABAMA no sarcasm intended. i’ve been searching the web looking for rules and specifics of all types of competitions. with slim pickings of competes whats the best shotgun ,pistol of high caliber an .22 pistol is a good start for a poor country boy that already shoots a springfeild range officer 1911 45 . the silluete comps, say you have to shoot a .22 rimfire & centerfire and 45 got the 45 handled

  31. Hammerli 208 – the world’s most accurate pistol since 1978 (if you believe in this kind of record). Anyway I have a 208s and it is just a dream to shoot. Anyone who shoots it goes straight to a gun shop or starts looking online – be warned to shoot one is to buy one! Not made any more but parts are easy to get in USA or Europe and they are extremely reliable even with high round counts. The “s” has a better range of trigger adjustments. I bought mine from Frankonia in Germany in mint condition with 2 mags, original kit (box, test target, tools, barrel weights) for £380 and a new set of Nill grips from Germany to suit my hand size were £150. For £530 this is a top quality pistol and I will never sell it, a true keeper!

  32. Couldn’t agree more about the Walther. What a piece of JUNK! I can’t believe a company with that history, name, and reputation would put out such a crappy product. The trigger is as bad as any you might have used in your life. The “wings” that slam forward when you cycle the weapon literally tear the gun apart. It requires one to do some mods if you want to have this for more than a year or two.

    As to the DHS buying a billion+ rounds, remember that the ammo is stockpiled for use over 8 or 10 years. It also goes to other federal organizations – it isn’t all staying with DHS for their sole use. If you’re unfamiliar with the way the manufacturers operate, the time of year determines whose ammo is being manufactured.

    Government orders, followed by corporate buys(retail supplier orders) with consumer needs coming in last. It’s as much a function of how many more people are shooting these days compared to 8 or 10 years ago as it is the government. Excepting .22LR and .22WMR, ammo is plentiful but still way too pricey. I buy rounds by the 1,000 mostly and easily weathered the storm of the last several years because I buy when there’s a deal to be had and not when I need it.

  33. I have several 22 cal pistols Brownings ,Rugers ,Smiths ,but the two that I consistanly shoot the tightest groups with are the Rugers mkii & mkiii both of these guns are stainless models , and I’ve added the volquartzen accurizing trigger & sear kits ,and the volquartzen Target grips these guns are extremely auccurate and reliable , I agree the Rugers is a bit of a pain to take apart and put back together ,but once doing it correctly its really not that hard, I put the accurizing kits in my self with very little trouble, the mkiii is a little more trouble than the mkii, but if you have no experience at all with these firearms I would suggest getting help. The grips were around $55/60.00, the accurizing kits were $110.00 ea. Adding these two items along with a red dot scope make these guns real shooters.

  34. let’s not forget hordes of panic buying civilians running to the stores screaming “Muh stockpiles” and throwing every case of ammunition they can find into their carts like frenzied animals until a clerk finally says, “That’s enough”

  35. You’re absolutely right, Single Stack. It’s *all* DHS. Not any other agency and the military isn’t using any ammunition in that party in Afghanistan, right?
    Small hint: Last month, we lost 27 service members and this month, we’re up to a dozen dead.
    Can’t for the life of me figure out whereinhell all that 9, 5.56 and 7.62×51 is going.
    I do know that I can still get .45, .38, 12 gauge, 30-06 ammunition.
    But, it’s all the DHS buying up every round available as part of the Grand Conspiracy of the Space Aliens or something.

  36. Yep, we won the battle, but lost the war. We can have all the guns we want but ammo is gone.
    Hope everyone bought before DHS. Now is the time to own that one-of-a-kind odd caliber that everyone kidded you about since you were 12 y/o.
    22LR are available but you can only buy one box of twenty at a time and only if there are any left. Very inconvenient if you live far from a town. Anyhow, all the more reason to make every shot count regardless of caliber.
    For 22 pistols, my go to gun is a Ruger MK II, then my Colt Targetsman (only cuz I don’t want to scratch it up ’til necessary), and lastly my Heritage Revolver replica of the Colt single action (interchangeable barrel – LR/Mag). I kind of spruced up my MK II with new grips fm Ruger and fell in love all over again. With a large number of clips bought over the years, I can pop caps for straight 5 minutes stopping only to replace clips. I have many Targetsman clips as well(same as Woodsman). All of my 22’s shoot any and all brands of ammo with no problems. Just lucky that way I guess or could it be because I clean each one after each shooting session. By the way, I read where some gunsmiths are refusing to re-kit the MKII. This is really hard to understand. The process is so straightforward and the parts easy to handle. Before taking it to anyone, at least look at the process on youtube; they do a pretty good job of breaking anything down and reassembling it there. You will certainly find your gun. Let’er rip, Tater chip.

  37. Ruger makes a fine pistol but for extreame accuracy there are only two choices of guns. The High Standard TrophyMatic and the Smith and Wesson Mdl 41. The High Standards being produced in Texas are junk and not even accuracte but an older High Standard made in Hamden Connecticut will shoot groups less than a dime at 25 yards on sand bag rest. The Smith 41 will also shoot very good at 25 yards using CCI standard velocity cutting the X out of the circle no problem.

    1. Well fair suck of the sauce bottle Bob. I had a high standard citation.i have one problem it is so heavy you need to be built like Arnie to hold the bloody thing in competition.

  38. I own a couple of Colt’s which are actually made by Walther. They are in a 1911 configuration. My wife, she uses a Chiappa in a 1911 format. It is a good lil’ $200.00 shooter. If kept clean and lubricated, it does not malfunction, YES, it is made of pot metal. But, for $200.00 to be used as a Sunday afternoon range shooter, it is a reliable platform. Of course the Colt’s are in the $400.00 range. After all, it has the Colt logo on it. They are both great shooters right out of the box! Not too picky on ammunition either. Hollow point, lead…doesn’t seem to matter. Keep the feed ramps clean and polished and the Colt’s are awesome .22 Caliber LR platforms.

    1. See my posting for June 9th regarding my 54 yr old Hi Standard.

      The Commish

  39. I bought the kit for my RUGER MARK II after a few hours of pulling out my grey hair , I took it to a local GUN DEALER/GUNSMITH/FRIEND HE SAID HE WITH NOTHING TO DO WITH RUGER MARK PISTOLS and he takes his to another gunsmith ! ! I than took it to a gunsmith that has been working on guns for 40+ years he pulled out some grey hairs but got it working . WHAT A KIT BUY A BORE SNAKE ! ! ! ! ! !

  40. @Mac……I have a Colt Targetsman and Woodssman. Bought in 1972. Never needed anything else in that caliber pistol, both perform like the day they were bought. Hard to find truly classy pistols like these anymore, so solid and meant to last. Don’t sell yours, they will shoot any brand ammo you load them with, just buy mags.

  41. That a Ruger is “notoriously difficult to disassemble” or even reassemble is nonsense.
    Owned a MkII and MkIII for ages, I literally could disassemble and reassemble the weapons drunk, kicked in the head by a mule and suffering dysentery.
    PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. Be it a Ruger or an M1911.
    Honestly, if you don’t know howinhell to disassemble and reassemble your firearms, I’ll be concerned about your safety on the range.
    Inside and out.

    1. Agreed. I’ve been breaking down and reassembling my Ruger without a problem for over 55 years. I guess it’s a MKI, since it was made in 1949, inherited from my Daddy. I was even able to find the NRA 50th year anniversary model (MKII?) with the SAME SERIAL NUMBER (preceded by “NRA”) to complement it. I wonder what the two of them together are worth?

  42. I love the S&W 22A. I shoot every 2 weeks averaging 5,000 rounds a year with my dad. As of this writing the pistol has 7,600 rounds through it and hasn’t experienced any problems. We had another S&W 22A prior to this one and my dad sold it with 31,000 rounds through it. The spring needs replaced at times but S&W has always provided parts those at no charge.

  43. All are nice guns; I like my S&W 41. It shoots just about any ammo including the cheepie stuff. Super accurate – wish I could say the same for me.

  44. I also have a Ruger MkIII Hunter and enjoy trouble free shooting of it, but for the life of me I can not figure out why Ruger put the buck horn rear sight on it instead of a normal square notch. That is my only complaint with the pistol. I find it harder to get a good sight picture than with other pistols I own. Nothing beats the High Standard.

  45. I have the 22/45, used it for many years with no problems. I did some trigger work on it, and it has a bull barrel with compensator. the trigger breaks like a piece of glass, and the accuracy is good. I bought the 22/45 because of the grip angle which is more like the 1911. On a second note, I recently purchased a Marvel Precision conversion for the 1911. Now in a three gun pistol match, I’m using the same lower for both the 22 and the 45. Also, you have to purchase a gun from outside the US to find one with the same accuracy as the Marvel. You can check out their website,

  46. I purchased a Ruger Mark III Target for exactly the reasons this article was written. I had issues, one way or another, with every gun on the list. Either too light (Beretta Neo) or too unbalanced (Ruger Mk III with standard barrel), grip angle (Neo), disassembly (Buckmark) or lousy trigger (Smith & Wesson). But the closest to what I was looking for was the Ruger. I just had to step up my game, open my wallet a bit more, and get the premium Hunter model. Long heavier fluted barrel was perfect for balance and virtually non existent recoil. The Hi-Viz sights are phenomenal to use I can regularly shoot a quarter size group with the 10 shot magazine at 10 yards. The trigger is like butter with a crisp, positive break. It comes with a attachable Weaver type optics mount, if you have the urge to scope it or put a red dot on it. There are any number of grips available, I switched mine to a target style with thumb rest. Accuracy is beyond words, the stainless steel construction is a breeze to clean. However it did take a disassembly (or three) to get the hang of putting it back together but the Ruger online videos are fantastic, and once you do it a few times it becomes second nature. So don’t let the stories of it being a pain to reassemble dissuade you from buying one

  47. In great respect for both i have owned a beautiful 22Ruger mark 111.To my suprise shoting pine cones from tallest pine tree here is sporting as it come .The accurcy was there.It got stole in my home break in.Sad but true .Next i bought out pawn shop a Browning Buck mark .Expecting the same out the Browning as the Ruger was just not there in accuracy or performance.The main gripe is the hanging up and not accurcy as the Ruger.Im getting another Ruger.

  48. Speaking about .22 lr target pistols, I love my Colt .22 Target (some refer to it as the cadet model). I’ve not seen many around and when I pull it out of the bag it get a lot of attention.

  49. I am looking for a .22 target pistol. Haven’t ever fired one, but have gripped all of the pistols pictured above. Except for the Ruger MkIII, I do not like the grip or fell of most of the pistols. They feel a little top heavy and the Berretta Neos grip is way too small for my average hand. It’s a shame that the grip on such a “pretty” pistol is so poorly designed.

    I have reasonable shooting experience and accuracy with other pistols (.380, 1911 and 9mm Ruger), but was very surprised by the awkward feel of these .22 pistols.


    1. @Rich, look for a .22 with target grips. I personally shoot an older Browning Challenger (1960s) that has the wider grips and absolutely love it. I have a Beretta Neos as well, but prefer the Browning for my weekly shooting league night. I picked up my Browning Challenger at a recent gun show for about $500, and it is in “like new” condition. ~CTD Donna

    2. Yes Donna, I have one of those and love it. Nice trigger too and just a well made gun and fun to shoot. Enjoy! Alan

  50. Ruger has good videos on disassembly and assembly of the MK III pisols.
    I shoot the competition model and it’s a great firearm, but I did add a Volquartsen accurizing trigger kit that I find considerably better than the already decent Ruger trigger. Unless you’re very handy, have it installed by a reputable gunsmith. Many shooters opt not to install the extended bolt release that comes with the kit – it sticks way out and is a little on the sharp side. My MK III will shoot any good ammo extremely reliably, but the tightest groups are with Wolf Target Match.

  51. I’ve got a High Standard I inherited from my grandpa. I wouldn’t trade it for all the cheaper match grade pistols in the world. A true work of art, but, out of the price range of most casual shooters.

  52. Correction: the Federal is gone and my last box of Remington is gone so that’s 1000 rnds. Breakdown and reassembly has gotten much smoother although you really have to pay attention to the hammer during reassembly.

  53. I did buy a Ruger 22/45 MK III and it is a bit of a pain but gets better as I use it. First outing-FTF after 60 rnds. After disassembly and cleaning the second outing went 150+ until it FTF. Disassembled pistol and mags. Third outing 150+ rnds no issues. Fouth outing-ditto. Fifth outing-300 rnds-ditto. Now I’m feeling guilty and need to clean it well. After going through 500 rnds of Federal (I don’t remember which) I’ve been shooting Remington Golden Bullet copper plated round nose. It’s all filthy but that little pistol is running very well.

  54. It’s about 2 years old. I bought it new, and reading advice on “breaking in” guns, I used it heavily, despite the problems. I’ve put somewhere around 2500-3000 rounds through it. Since the vast majority of the jamming is failure to eject, limp wristing was my first assumption (and the assumption of everyone I talk to who hasn’t tried shooting the gun…). I’ve tried all the usual assumptions (limp wristing, breaking in, 6 different 22LR brands and 2 types within some of those, tightening the screws, strip and thorough cleaning, etc) and the only thing I’m left with is the possibility of a bad extractor spring, but I don’t have the tools to get at it and check or a gunsmith close to here. I love the precision of it, and can keep a 1″ grouping at 7 yards and a 10 inch grouping at 25 yards on a good day, but having to stop every few rounds to pry loose a wedged-in casing that half-ejected is driving me nuts.

    1. Ugh. I am sorry to hear that about your Buck Mark. While my leaguemaster’s Buck Mark doesn’t jam, it does hose up frequently where you have to drop the magazine, clear it, and start over. While uncommon, I have heard of experiences with some of the Buck Mark .22s performing to less than expectation.

  55. I have the Browning Buckmark, and it’s unfortunately the reason I’m here looking up .22LR options. I did my homework before buying it, and like you, nearly everyone said it was great. My experience was the exception to the rule. Even immediately after a full cleaning, it jams 25% of the time. YMMV, I suppose.

    1. Is your Buck Mark brand new? If so, it may take about 500 rounds to break in. I bought a new (old stock) Browning Challenger last summer. I had numerous jams until I realized it wasn’t the gun, it was me. I was limp-wristing —oy. I also learned it liked certain types of ammo better than others. After about 500 rounds, several cleanings and a lot of oil, it now shoots smooth as silk. I’ve also learned to maintain my wrist position. A number of ladies in my weekly pistol league shoot Buck Marks without any issue. ~CTD Donna

  56. There is nothing to be afraid of with the Ruger MKiii; RTFM. This is a great pistol that takes a long time to outgrow.

  57. Reply to Mac: About 50 years experience with colt woodsman match target pistols. Extremely accurate, elegant handguns but none made since the 1970’s and excellent used ones keep going up in price. Find a good one, enjoy shooting it, don’t abuse it; you’ll always get your investment back and more if you decide to sell. One of the few top-quality .22 target pistols that works equally well in the field!

  58. Ruger Mark II or III is my personal favorite,disassembly and reassembly are not difficult like most people think.
    After you understand how the Hammer Strut work.You will see it is very easy and simple to disassembly and reassembly in the few minutes.

  59. I think the author was trying to keep within a reasonable price range with his selections. The High Standards and S&W 41’s are quite expensive these days and most people don’t want to pay alot for a .22 pistol. Revolvers can be alot of fun but aren’t suitable for some types of competition. I’m a Ruger fan in this category. I have an old Standard Model, MKII and MKIII (this one is threaded for a suppressor). Good article CTD Mike.

  60. It always surprises me that people have problems with reassembly of Rugers. Maybe I’ve just been shooting them too long (nearly 50 years).
    I agree, the HiStandard should be on the list, though they’re getting difficult to find. Wish I’d never let mine go. Hung onto the Ruger ‘cuz it felt, and therefore shot, better. The 22A is really finicky, needing cleaning before shooting a whole box- but it may just be my ammo- Feds. The kid prefers the 22A, though, claims it’s ‘his’ pistol. He mounted a Red Dot on it and shoots circles around me. (Actually, my groups are circles around his :\ )
    No revolvers on the list- kind of disappointing, but understand the reason for omitting them. People might find them worthy of a second look, though.

  61. Even knowing the procedure described above, re-assembly of the Ruger is still a PITA. Given that the Ruger .22LR pistols have been in production for 60 years or so, I would think they could have made re-assembly a bit easier. For example, there is an aftermarket version of the cylindrical part that sticks up thru the bolt that can be unscrewed with a hex key–making the tedious re-assembly procedure completely unnecessary. Also, I prefer the MKII–which does not have all the superfluous safety sh*t of the MKIII.

    The Walther P22 suffers from a design defect (front sight wobble) that makes it inherently inaccurate.

    I believe the best bang for the .22 pistol buck is the Browning Buckmark. Have bought Buckmarks, like new, in pawnshops for around $300.

    The article should also have mentioned High Standard .22 pistols–probably second to the S&W 41 for sheer quality–especially the old Connecticut guns.

    As for the rest, I pretty much agree with the article.

    Peter H

  62. Well put, Ted. I’ve taken my Ruger Mk III apart many times for cleaning. But it is still really intimidating for newbies. Its certainly not as easy as most modern automatics of any caliber.

  63. Sorry, one last thing — just double checked, and the “football shaped depression” has a little hemispherical cup in the bottom, and that cup is where the point of the hammer strut goes. There’s a different football-shaped depression on the back of the mainspring housing, but you couldn’t get the hammer strut in that one without divine intervention anyhow.

  64. Putting the Ruger .22 pistol back together is easy once you know how to position the hammer strut.

    The hammer strut is a steel piece dangling out of the bottom of the hammer. Take the mainspring housing out, and there’s one dangling piece of metal under there that can flip back and forth. That’s the hammer strut.

    In reassembly, when you’ve got the mainspring housing pin through the bolt, but before you lock the housing back into the grip, you need to flip the hammer strut back, pointing aft, so the tip goes in a little football-shaped depression in the mainspring housing. Hold the gun completely inverted, barrel level, grip up, mainspring housing hanging down. Reach in there to manipulate the hammer strut with a punch or a pencil or tweezers, it’s easy. Just be careful not to knock the strut around while you’re folding the mainspring housing back into the backstrap. Once it’s in, the strut’s locked in place.

    That’s it, that’s the whole secret. Try it. It works every time. Think about it: If they can assemble these things at the factory, there MUST be some way for them to go together reliably. Well, this is the way.

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