March 2008

Downrange: 03/08


Ray Ordorica’s missive below, which was originally part of his .22 pistol story on page 9, was a nice look back at his first Ruger .22 LR pistol, and how that gun compares to today’s model. It’s a happy counterpoint to the news of the day, which I’ll resume next month. —Todd Woodard

A very long time ago I wanted a pistol. It was to be my first, and I had enough knowledge to realize it needed to be a .22 handgun. I

Todd Woodard

knew I would need to shoot it a lot to learn all about handgun shooting, and nothing was cheaper to shoot than a .22 LR. Happily I had a friend, Len Ireland, who knew a bit about shooting. On the day I was to buy my first handgun, Len went with me to the firearms-sales shop of Williams Gun Sight Co. in Davison, Michigan. I really wanted a Beretta Minx with 4-inch barrel. It looked neat, and was small enough to be somewhat portable. However, Len suggested I buy a Ruger Standard. I couldn’t imagine why he wanted me to have that big pistol, and said as much. He showed me. At the time, you could try any of Williams’ guns out on their own range, right behind the store, before you bought them. Accordingly, Len and I took both the tiny Beretta and the big 6-inch Ruger out to the range, and proceeded to punch holes in targets.

What became immediately apparent was that I could actually hit the target consistently with the Ruger. My Ruger groups were not great, but were close to where I had aimed, and the Ruger’s groups were far, far smaller than the best I could do with the Beretta. My eyes had been opened, thanks to a good friend, and I went home with that brand-new Ruger Standard under my arm. I never regretted it.

When I thought back on that old gun, right after having tested the new Mark III Ruger, it was an interesting comparison. The first time I attempted to remove the new gun’s magazine, my hand went instinctively to the bottom of the grip where the early version had its release. Tactile memories apparently stay with us a long time. Second, the new gun felt incredibly familiar, more remembered senses.

But the new gun had better stuff. My old Ruger never had a good trigger, one reason I no longer own it. The new gun has a fantastic trigger. The new gun’s push-button mag release is much easier on frozen fingers, and the mag holds one round more than the old ones. I don’t much care for the added clutter along the tube in the form of the loaded-round indicator and the slide stop, but in practice I’ve found the slide stop to be handy. In most ways that are important to new shooters, the latest version of the classic Ruger Standard is the best ever.

That old Ruger taught me to hold firmly (with only one hand—as in NRA shooting, way before the birth of IPSC), hold the sight picture as steady as I could, put the top of the front sight on the center of the black target dot (never the 6-o’clock position), and squeeze. Over time I became an acceptable pistol shot, and have that Ruger to thank for it. I suspect anyone seriously wanting to become a reasonable handgun shot today will do well for himself to get a fine-handling, reliable, accurate, well-sighted pistol in .22 LR, and learn the basics just as I did. All the fancy stuff, two-handed hold, fast repeat shots, and multiple targets, all follow easily after you know how to stand up and shoot well with only one hand.

—Ray Ordorica GT