November 2006

.22 Semiautos—Three Bullseye Handgun Picks Miss The Mark

Smallbore bullseye competition shooting requires a steady hand, top-notch trigger control, focus—and an accurate gun that functions consistently. We pitted two updated newcomers that are safely out of the plinking class based on their price and model names—Ruger’s Mark III Competition (KMKIII678GC, $555) and Browning’s Buck Mark Bullseye Target Stainless (No. 051426490, $643)—against Smith & Wesson’s venerable Model 41 (No. 130512, $1,115) to settle two questions. First, could the two more economical brands offer something to shooters looking to become serious in the sport?; and second, does the S&W still have the performance it’s historically been known for? The answers to both parts were yes, but we were so disappointed in several aspects of all three pistols that we can’t justify more than a conditional buy on any of them.

We shot all three from the MTM bench and Caldwell’s On Target pistol rest (both from Midway USA), first at 15 yards and then at 25 yards, both slow fire and rapid fire. We used four different brands of ammunition, mostly because .22s are notorious for favoring one brand over another when it comes to accuracy, and sometimes functionality. They included Federal’s Champion AutoMatch, a 40-grain lead solid point; Remington’s brass-plated hollowpoints; CCI’s Mini-Mag Standard Velocity; and Remington’s Eley Match EPS, with its heavily lubed, flat-nosed 40-grain lead bullet. With one single exception, each fired flawlessly at all times, and some fairly decent groups were had by all three, though our testers are not competitive bullseye shooters. Trigger pull was measured with an RCBS trigger-pull scale, also supplied by Midway USA. Here’s what we found.

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