Range Report: Mark IV 22/45 LITE

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol right profile

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.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol right profile
The Mark IV 22/45 Lite is supplied with two reliable magazines.

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.

Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol's threaded barrel end
The Mark IV 22/45 Lite’s barrel is suppressor ready.

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.

CCI Velocitor .22 LR ammunition
CCI ammunition gave excellent results.

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.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (12)

  1. I just ordered a Mark IV this weekend. The price, 278$, delivered to my FFL dealer. That is a very good deal for what I am getting. I hope to get it out this next weekend, to shoot some ammo through it, and see if it is as good as promised.

  2. The Volquartsen Competition kit for Ruger pistols is very much worth it. Not only does it reduce the trigger pull down to about 2.5 lbs (and allows for adjustment of pre- and over-travel), but it includes an updated (hardened) extractor and firing pin that reduces or eliminates extraction and FTF issues. I have both a Mk II 22/45, and a Mk III 22/45 lite, and they are much more accurate and reliable with the kits installed. No financial interest, just a happy customer!

  3. My .22 is a Stainless Steel Ruger Mk III Hunter w/6-7/8″ barrel and all the bells and whistles. It is far better than I am at this point.

  4. I have an old MKII 5″ BB. Hands down, most accurate .22 shooter I have ever had. I can run pop cans out 75 yards all day long. Thousands of rounds through it. The take down is no issue, just have to know the trick. I will never let go of this one!

  5. Had a late 1970s MKII 5-1/2″ Bull Barrel I put ~50K rounds through. It was dependable and very accurate. I loved that pistol. I let it go in a trade and replaced it with a MKIII 6-7/8″ Bull Barrel Stainless Target and a 5-1/2″ Bull Barrel Stainless 22/45, the original. I prefer the 22/45 for its grip angle and 5-1/2″ balance vs. the longer 6-7/8″ barrel. I’m ready to own a 22/45 Lite since I tried a friend’s. I especially like the new controls and the upgraded breakdown feature.

  6. I would have to disagree with you on mark 4 22/45 being Rugers first pistol not made of steel and aluminum,I believe the Mark 3 22/45 lite was out the door first as i have one of the 1st one,thx you

  7. any chance you could do something on the GSG 1911 922 platform i have owned Rugers in the past the take down was always a pain great gun otherwise my GSG 1911/922 has the true fit of a 1911 and is a great shooter thanks

  8. While anyone may allow a problematic gun to slip out I would bet a dollar to a donut it is ammunition related.

    1. Nope, the ammo fed fine in my old MKII. We tried several different brands. I believe his biggest problem was the extractor as I had to dig out most of the shells that wouldn’t extract with a pocket knife. We also cleaned the gun at the range and in between trips to the range..

      Maybe I can talk him into selling it to me cheap. I know Ruger can fix it.

  9. While I will admit that every Ruger I have owned has been nothing short of dependable and accurate, a co-worker bought a 22/45 after a trip to the range and shooting my 35 year old MkII. His gun isn’t able to go through 100 rounds with a misfire or failure to eject. The average is closer to one every three magazines. I told him to contact Ruger to get it fixed. I feel sure Ruger will be able to make the gun right.

    When I shot it, it did remind me a bit on my SR1911. But the weight is too light to feel right. It also put the bullets right where you aimed them.

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