May 1, 2013

Ruger Model 22/45 .22 LR

We set out recently to test a set of plinker/target .22 LR handguns, with an eye toward finding a comfortable, shootable, affordable product to pass some range time with. Unexpectedly, they wound up finding a .22 LR pistol that not only achieved the relatively low standard of being decent recreational-shooting diversions, but which also offered the serious shooter good training use that can save money. But are these echoes of bigger guns enough to interest the serious shooter who may be looking for a rimfire to keep his bullseye edge, or the Practical shooter who wants to test footwork inexpensively, or the self-defense shooter who want to hone his 20-yard accuracy? Yes, as the pros and cons detailed below illustrate.

Here's what Gun Tests found out about the Ruger Model 22/45, $199:

Range Results

We tested the accuracy of this pistols in a Ransom Rest, but we had trouble using the machine rest with all three pistols. The Ruger settled in the best, but the rest’s master hinge blocked the magazine well. This required the gun to be removed each time we changed mags. The Browning inserts came with steel inlays to brace the slide-release catch lever, mag-release button and spring. But we found out that while in the rest, the Browning suffered malfunctions of failure to feed and premature release of the mag. The Smith & Wesson was hampered by inserts that were not drilled properly for the mounting pattern of the machine, and even after redrilling by Ransom, some deflection in mounting was evident. Still, considering the only alternative was to shoot them by hand from a sandbag or static rest, we doubt we could have improved upon the accuracy data we gathered.


Cheaper and more accurate than the other guns, it also duplicates the feel of a 1911. Also, its trigger feel is classic Bullseye, making it the perfect cheap date for your centerfire 45.

Unquestionably, the most accurate piece in this test was the Ruger, which shot the best five-shot groups with four of the five labels and tied using the fifth ammo. It was half an inch or more better than the other two guns with Remington Viper Hyper Velocity 36-grain lead truncated cone rounds (shooting 1.4-inch average groups) and Winchester Super X 40-grain lead roundnose High Velocity bullets (shooting 0.7-inch average groups). All the guns shot superbly with Federal’s Gold Medal UltraMatch 40-grain lead roundnose bullets, but the Ruger (0.7 inch) still was the best. With the PMC ScoreMaster 40-grain lead roundnoses, the accuracy margin between the Ruger was the same as with the Federal round (0.9 inch for the 22/45 and 1.0 inch for the M22A). The Ruger's group size with CCI Pistol Match 46-grain lead roundnose bullets, was 1.1 inches.


Yes, we know. It's filthy. But in function testing, the Ruger 22/45 kept on firing despite the crud. We recorded no malfunctions with the gun.

In addition to the accuracy data, we also found operational differences that we think make the 22/45 the best gun in this test.

Our recommendation: Buy it. Cheaper and more accurate than the other guns, it also duplicates the feel of a 1911. Also, its trigger feel is classic Bullseye, making it the perfect cheap date for your centerfire 45.

The $199 pistol that surrounds the silver-colored, hinged trigger is unmistakably Ruger in appearance and function. The barrel is a heavy bull design backed by the distinctive butterfly-shaped grip (Ruger refers to them as “bolt ears”) with which to pull back the breech bolt. The bolt-stop pin is just in front of the ears and requires the adjustable rear sight to be moved forward. This makes for the shortest sight radius of the three, but that was of no consequence, we found. The grip frame is polymer and very much like the one found on the company’s larger centerfire models of “P” and “K” designation that handle cartridges ranging from 9mm to .45 ACP.


Part of the Ruger's appeal is the 1911-like feel of its polymer grip.

The model designation 22/45 is derived from what we think is a successful attempt to emulate the tactile experience of shooting a 1911-design pistol. The 1911 is predominant in at least two different shooting disciplines, Bullseye and Practical Shooting or, IPSC. Towards which game does the Ruger lean as a training piece? Despite the rapidity with which the mag can be dumped and reloaded, it is the trigger that tells the tale. Indeed, the hinged trigger offers a free-swinging take-up and meets a solid wall of resistance with only the slightest hint of creep. This is a textbook setup for a Bullseye gun. An IPSC trigger would feature a short take-up, perhaps a small intermediate compression and crisp let-off. The idea here is to make the 22/45 a rimfire battery-mate to the 1911 used in the centerfire portion of a Bullseye match. After the shot breaks on the Ruger, it is necessary to release the trigger completely by moving the finger forward until it is off the face of the trigger completely.

As we mentioned above, the Ruger proved to be the most accurate gun overall, and it also performed without a single malfunction.