Owners of the popular Ruger Mark III pistol, and its iterations, know it’s a great gun…until you have to take it apart and clean it.
Field stripping the .22, which has a long-standing reputation for accuracy and pointability, is an complicated bit of business. As one Facebook user said, “I don’t even attempt to take my Mark III apart without the Youtube video on how to put it back together already loaded.”
No longer. A couple days ago, Sturm Ruger & Co. announced a new pistol dubbed the Mark IV, which looks nearly identical to the Mark III on the outside, but features an assembly requiring the push of just one button to field-strip and clean, plus internal updates.
Once the recessed button located on the back of the frame is depressed, the upper receiver is free to tilt up off the frame. The bolt then simply slides out of the receiver and the barrel can be cleaned from end to end.
A release from Ruger says other significant improvements include a one-piece frame that’s precision CNC-machined from a solid piece of stainless steel or aluminum, an ambidextrous manual safety, and a redesigned bolt stop for more ergonomic operation.
The magazine drops free on release for faster reloads, the release says. This may be a pro or a con depending on the shooter, but a redesigned magazine disconnect safety on the Mark IV prevents it from firing when the magazine has been removed, like the Mark III. Internal improvements include changes to the hammer, sear, bolt and firing pin for smoother, more reliable feeding.
The one-piece barreled receiver and internal cylindrical bolt construction remain the same. Because the gun doesn’t have a moving slide, but a bolt instead, there is a permanent sight-to-barrel alignment with better accuracy and more mounting options for sights and optics.
One could argue the Mark IV seems to be a direct response to the introduction of the Smith & Wesson Victory .22 pistol at SHOT Show 2016, and the continued excellence and expansion of the Browning Buckmark pistol line.
The Mark IV is available in two variants: a Target version with a 5.5-inch bull barrel, checkered aluminum grips, a fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight, with a steel receiver. It’s available in a stainless steel (MSRP $689) or blued finish ($525).
The Mark IV Hunter comes with a 6.88-inch fluted bull barrel, a steel receiver and grip frame, checkered laminate grips, fixed fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight, and a satin stainless finish (MSRP $769).
So how big of a deal is the one-button takedown of the Mark IV for shooters used to the Mark III? It’s one of those things you can’t really understand until you’ve had to clean one…especially a brand-spanking new one.
In the era of polymer pistols that are rarely more than four parts when broken down, which is done with no more effort than sliding a lever and pulling the slide from the frame, the Mark III seemed frustratingly antiquated by comparison.
It first requires the removal of the mainspring assembly, which usually calls for a makeshift tool of some kind and delicately maneuvering it out of the gun without scratching anything. Then you remove the bolt, which can easily get hung up on the internal hammer. You might have to smash the gun against your palm or tap it with a rubber mallet. Keep the hammer handy, because you’ll probably have to give the receiver a few hits to knock the slide free. The general rule of Mark IIIs is: the newer the gun, the more difficult it is to take apart.
This 18-minute video gives you all the tips and tricks for easing the Mark III frustrations:
But gun buyers looking to own their first Ruger will likely never have to know this frustration, providing testing shows the Mark IV to be as reliable and accurate as its predecessor.
The Ruger Standard Pistol in .22LR was introduced in 1949 and has since been enhanced and improved with the Mark I, Mark II, and finally the Mark III in 2005. That last version included a number of improvements from the Mark II, such as a visible loaded chamber indicator, a magazine release button moved from the heel of the grip to a more conventional location behind the trigger guard, standard drilled and tapped holes for an included weaver-style scope base, an internal safety lock, shorter tapered bolt ears, and a smoother contoured ejection port.
It remains to be seen if an updated version of the popular Ruger 22/45 rimfire pistol will be offered. The 22/45 is essentially a Mark III with a polymer frame and a grip angle that matches the Colt 1911 rather than the Mark III’s Luger P08 grip style.
The 22/45 was designed as a training gun for soldiers who would be issued a 1911A1 service pistol ,and has been updated concurrently with the Mark II and Mark III pistols. It’s light weight and a grip more familiar to American shooters has made it a popular option among target shooters and hunters alike.