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Every shooter needs a good .22 caliber pistol and some of the best are the new Ruger MKIV series of pistols. The latest of these is the 22/45 Lite that comes in two color schemes, an all black version and one with a bronze upper receiver and ventilated barrel shroud. As different from the other MKIVs, the 22/45 Lite has a composite grip frame with a 1911 grip angle and rubber stocks reminiscent of those on 1911 pistols. The two 10 round magazines provided with the pistol are unique to the 22/45 series and will not interchange with standard MKIII and MKIV magazines. While the magazines are drop free, the pistol has a magazine disconnect and will not fire without a magazine in place. While tactical shooters decry magazine disconnects I’m not bothered by them on sporting pistols as they add an additional layer of safety.
These pistols are versatile and I like the fact they come with a nice set of adjustable sights as well as a section of Picatinny rail mounted atop the receiver. This gives me the option of using various sights and scopes. In this instance I mounted a Sig Sauer Romeo 5 red dot sight – more on that later. While the 22/45 looks like it has a bull barrel, in fact what you’re seeing is a ventilated barrel shroud concealing a stainless steel barrel. The shroud is threaded so silencers are easily installed; I tested the pistol with a Gemtech Outback II suppressor.
The new features I find appealing on all the MKIV pistols are the large slide lock, the re-designed ambi thumb safeties and, of course, the easy, one button takedown for field stripping and cleaning. Earlier versions of Ruger pistols were difficult to takedown and put back together, at least in my case, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in having trouble with these procedures. These difficulties are a thing of the past with the MKIV; remove the magazine, put the safety on (up), push the button and lift the rear of the upper receiver off the frame. It’s really very simple and revolutionary for Ruger fans who have been struggling and cursing for decades.
Sig Sauer seems intent on world domination. In addition to their extensive lines of pistols and rifles, their own ammunition brand, an excellent training academy and scopes and accessories they now have an electro-optics division that offers everything from red dot sights to thermal optics. I was impressed with the Romeo 4 red dot I installed on the MKIV Hunter so I decided to try a Romeo 5 on the 22/45. These Romeo sights have a 2 minute red dot with dot brightness controlled by two push buttons atop the unit. While they can be turned off by repeatedly pressing the minus button there’s really no need to turn the sight off… ever. You see, when left motionless for several minutes the sight will turn itself off then instantly come back on when picked up or moved. The single, inexpensive CR2032 battery will run the sight if left on for something like 50,000 hours, a very long time indeed. For all practical purposes there’s no need to worry about battery life. Unlike other manufacturers who get more money out of you by selling sight mounts separately, the Romeos come with two; a low mount suitable for installation on pistols like the Ruger, and a high mount designed to give the right sight height for mounting on an AR style rifle. Best of all, I’ve seen the Romeo 5 offered for sale online at less than $200.
I’ve had my Outback II silencer for a number of years. A really nice, lightweight unit it worked great but couldn’t be disassembled for cleaning. As a result, I used it sparingly; fearing that the accumulation of bullet lube and lead left behind by .22 caliber ammunition would eventually damage or destroy it. Perhaps an unfounded fear, I was nevertheless happy to hear that Gemtech was offering an upgrade program where these older cans are converted to ones with a screw in baffle for easier cleaning. I sent my silencer off and in very short order it was returned to me with the upgraded baffle. My “new” can works every bit as well, if not better than before and I couldn’t be happier with the service from Gemtech.
What can I say? Whether with or without the can the 22/45 shoots way better than I do. Zeroing at 25 yards with the Romeo 5 was quick and easy and from then on it was fun time. While I could have fired tedious groups from the bench that only tells you how well, or poorly, I can shoot so I tested the pistol with a variety of ammunition, most of it fired with the can screwed on. Reliability was 100%. As with the Hunter MKIV I tested previously I found the Lite was partial to Federal’s Auto Match (AM22), said to be “Ideal
For semi-autos” and offer “Target grade performance.” It’s very accurate and comes bulk packed in boxes of 325 rounds.
I’m happy with this combination of pistol, sight, silencer and ammunition. It will do anything you need to do with a .22 pistol and then some and that’s good enough for me.
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About the Author:
Ed Head is a regular on Shooting Gallery, Gun Stories and Down Range TV. He has worked for almost 30 years in law enforcement, first in the United States Air Force and then with the United States Border Patrol, retiring as a Field Operations Supervisor. During his Border Patrol career, Ed worked in a variety of patrol, investigative and training capacities. Ed has an extensive background as a firearms instructor, having trained thousands, ranging from beginners to police, military and special operations personnel. Having taught at Gunsite for 20 years, Ed first trained there under the world famous shooting school’s founder, Jeff Cooper, then later ran the school as the operations manager for more than five years. Ed lives in Chino Valley, Arizona, where he continues to teach and write.