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My Newbie Recommendation for a 22

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Post by Tim:H11 3/20/2021, 1:43 pm

To the people that are new to NRA/CMP Precision Pistol (Bullseye) ESPECIALLY parents that have children interested in the sport (youth shooters, be it club or school related)...

Newbies often have this same call for assistance “I’m new, and would like some suggestions on which .22LR pistol I should buy”. 

I always see the same, or similar recommendations, and they all have their pros, and cons. I just wanted to hit on an old favorite of mine that has had some doubt on and off over the years from other shooters. 

The Ruger MKII Target pistol can easily be had (used of course) for +/- $400 to +/-$650 ish depending on condition, finish, etc. I can’t recommend who or where to buy from but when comparing this gun to other options that cost twice as much or more, this is a very attractive option.

I like this option for beginners that have little or no pistol shooting experience because if they don’t like the sport much, they can resell the firearm, or keep it for other reasons, and they haven’t invested such a large amount of money into the gun.

There’s always been a question of “Is the Ruger really accurate enough for this sport?” And “Will
I have to buy another gun later when I progress?”

In my opinion, yes. This gun will hack it. Some think it won’t, but I say it will, and it will be far more user friendly with a few relatively affordable modifications that can easily be done at home. So you can save on the cost of a gunsmith with this gun.

To the second question; that’s totally based off of the shooters personal experiences and preferences. Perhaps once someone has been in this sport for a while, they will start to learn what they like and what they want to get out of a pistol. So if they choose to move to a different platform then that’s a very reasonable outcome. But to start off gambling on a high dollar and high performance pistol doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. 

Pictured is my Ruger MKII Target, manufactured in 1988, and a 50 yard slow fire target I shot. The rear sight was changed out to a Volquartsen type, and I added an over travel screw to the original trigger. 

The three 8s were mistakes made in trigger control that I recognized before ever checking to see where the shots impacted. But the Xs and 10s were shots that felt right. 

This trigger in my personal MKII is challenging to shoot. It’s a bit heavy, snappy, and just doesn’t feel like a bullseye trigger should. So it will be worked on soon. But it won’t need costly work from a gunsmith. Their are things that anyone can easily do for this issue at home with aftermarket parts. 

This target, despite the score, shows a group that speaks to what can be done with limited equipment and the proper execution of fundamentals. And really that’s the point I want to hit on most. This is an inexpensive gun by comparison, but it’s the fundamentals that matter more. 

The Ruger is affordable, it’s usable, tons of aftermarket parts for it are available that are easily installed with hand tools at home.. seems like a good fit for a beginner to me. 

I used to own a Ruger MKIII and though I liked that gun very much, and it came with an optic rail from the factory which the MKII does not, I didn’t shoot the MKIII as well at 50 yards. I didn’t know if current barrel production was of the same or lesser quality or not. But it seems common to me that older Ruger’s shoot better than newer ones. 

As for the MKIV.. it’s disassembly is much simpler and easier for the owner but the grip doesn’t feel the same to me and feels some what chunky. I don’t like what was sacrificed in grip to have the disassemble latch feature. 

So here’s my long and drawn out take on a good old standard that’s great for newbies and doesn’t break the bank. Is it the only one that falls into these conditions? No probably not. But it is a common one that sometimes is over looked.

My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 31e10f10
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Post by CR10X 3/20/2021, 3:17 pm

+1

I have a Ruger Mk II, second year production that I used to use to settle the "I need a high dollar pistol or fancy red dot sight to compete." back when I could see open sights.  

I'd let the other shooter shoot my Hammerli, or Marvel with dot sights or whatever and I'd shoot the Ruger.  After appropriate bets were made the shooting would commence.  Gun paid for itself more than once.

Don't sell a Ruger short.  It's only major problem is it needs a good cleaning pretty often since it traps a lot of the gunk. A most triggers get better with just a dab of moly lube on the sear face. 

Mark II's almost always seem to be more reliable and have less issues than any of the later versions as far as I've been able to read. The last of the production runs of the Mark II were factory drilled for scope mounts.  (Yes, I have a final year of production Mark II as well.)  The issue these days is finding one that someone has not crapped up the barrel by cleaning it with whatever was at hand and messing up the crown or rifling. More .22's are ruined by "cleaning" than about anything else.  

And although some people complain, reassembling a Ruger Mark II is reasonably easy if you just follow the directions and understand how the hammer strut needs to be oriented.  Just learn the "Ruger Shake".   (Put one together in about 10 seconds after watching a gun store clerk work on a customer's gun for about 10 minutes.  Sometimes being old is fun!)

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Post by BHeintz 3/20/2021, 4:04 pm

I shot my personal best with a Ruger MKIII. My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 2021-010

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Post by james r chapman 3/20/2021, 4:24 pm

Yes, the Rugers are great first Bullseye guns
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Post by dlevasse 3/20/2021, 5:01 pm

I like this thread. I have a Smith & Wesson 41 that i do like, but lately I have been shoot my Smith & Wesson Victory with a bull barrel. I have some CCI Mini Mags i have been using for practices. I am looking for a 22lr that would be better suited for a small woman some thing that when she picks it up she doesn't say this is really heavy but still shoots good.

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Post by james r chapman 3/20/2021, 5:53 pm

Another good one for a woman is the Xesse.
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Post by LenV 3/20/2021, 7:01 pm

You can always add a dot to a markll. Drilled or not. They still make no drill mounts and volquartsen still makes grips and trigger kits. Magazines still being made too.My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 20180928
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Post by Jack H 3/20/2021, 7:42 pm

Mk 2 are very capable.  Here is one that I could put them in the 10 ring at 50........ 8 out of 10 times. 
I got the upper alone from a guy who switched to some sort of Volquartsen upper.  I added all the other parts and Roddy did the trigger and stippling. 
When the 2 of the ten above were shot I called them.  One a little oops, a 9.  The other a next county shot Sad
Those were me.  Not the gun
My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 Ruger217
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Post by BE Mike 3/21/2021, 8:54 am

Like many, I started out with a Ruger MK I. It was inherently accurate. The trigger was bad and needed work. I never liked the grip angle. The rear sight was so-so. That being said, they are a good choice for a beginner after getting work. The Browning BuckMark pistols always intrigued me. Some of them came with adjustable triggers and a overtravel stop, but the external overtravel stop seems to be discontinued.
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Post by mustachio 3/21/2021, 10:07 am

my first 22 target was a Mark II. Today it is a Mark II  with a Volquartsen upper=best of both worlds.
I have 2 of them. One is a backup.
My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 J2D5NRR
My Newbie Recommendation for a 22 AG3aHSD
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Post by JasonD 3/31/2021, 9:09 am

The Ruger pistols have the accuracy, but need trigger work and rear sights. Only my MII slab sides had a decent trigger out of the box.

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Post by Trowellw 3/31/2021, 10:59 am

I've used the Mark II with a Clark trigger as my first bullseye gun.  It was more than accurate enough (I won the club slow fire match as a novice shooter) and it is reliable.  I have seen a lot of problems with the Mark 3 and 4 pistols as league director. 

The issue with some ladies and youth is the weight of the pistol.  I built a Ruger 22/45 with a Tactical Solutions barrel.  This is a VERY light weight combination.  You may want to consider the Tactical Solutions barrel for the Mark 2 Ruger or the Browning Buckmark as a lighter pistol for bullseye.

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Post by JasonD 3/31/2021, 11:05 am

Trowellw wrote:I've used the Mark II with a Clark trigger as my first bullseye gun.  It was more than accurate enough (I won the club slow fire match as a novice shooter) and it is reliable.  I have seen a lot of problems with the Mark 3 and 4 pistols as league director. 

The issue with some ladies and youth is the weight of the pistol.  I built a Ruger 22/45 with a Tactical Solutions barrel.  This is a VERY light weight combination.  You may want to consider the Tactical Solutions barrel for the Mark 2 Ruger or the Browning Buckmark as a lighter pistol for bullseye.

My MKIII would eject fired casings off from the magazine's feedlips. It needed the MKII magazine fix, and the lci delete to make it reliable. The barrel was excellent accuracy wise.

It's had the full VQ treatment.

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Post by bdas 3/31/2021, 11:45 am

I have a preference for the Browning Buckmark vs Ruger Mk pistols for beginners.  First, you can get Buckmarks in 3 different grip sizes (the standard/UFX grip is the largest, the UDX grip is medium but has unchangeable finger grooves that may or may not fit your hand, and the URX grip is the smallest and has the option of using grips with or without finger grooves), to fit different hands.  Second, you can get models with or without a top rail already installed, in case you want to add a red dot.  Third, the default rear sight (called the "Pro Target") is pretty good.  Fourth, they can be had in a variety of weights and balance points, depending on which barrel you get (4", 5.5", or 7.25" lengths, and pencil, slab, or full-round "bull" shapes, and heavier all-steel or lighter aluminum with a steel sleeve).  Fifth, they are plenty accurate for Bullseye shooting (both theoretical and practical accuracy), at least until you reach Master.  Most of that can be changed/customized on the Ruger, too, but you can buy a new Buckmark that fits you better out of the box.

Many newbies are afraid of buying a used gun (especially the parents of youth newbies), because the used market is confusing, and they don't want to inherit someone else's problems.  You and I know that most used guns work great, and most gun issues are fixable, but they don't feel that way.  So being able to recommend a gun you can buy new today is a bonus.

Sure, the trigger on a new Buckmark could be better, but it's usually not HORRIBLE out of the box.  Significant improvements can be had with a single evening of tinkering, using a bit of sandpaper to smooth the back of the disconnector, lose or loosen the mag disconnector safety wire, and by either flipping the sear spring ("Heggis Flip") or by replacing the sear spring with the Tandemkross "Gear Box" replacement item.

Full disclosure... I'm biased, because I shoot a Buckmark in Bullseye matches and leagues.  My 22-only league average for the Winter 2020-2021 season is 287.5/300 (95.8%).  And I bothered to write up detailed Buckmark Disassembly and Reassembly instructions, just because I like Buckmark pistols.

In my role as a coach for my club's Junior Pistol program (pre-covid, hopefully resuming soon), I've seen lots of juniors have success with both Ruger Mk and Browning Buckmark pistols, both new and used.  But the ones with Buckmarks seem to be happier with the fit, unless they have a parent who likes to tinker with guns.

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Post by chiz1180 3/31/2021, 12:21 pm

I would agree with the above, a Buckmark is a good place to start. I have one that I use as a loaner gun for people who are new to the sport. In my experience the trigger out of the box with the Buckmark may have a slight edge on the Ruger, but that is a preference thing.  It is probably very much the Ford vs GM debate, some people have better experiences with one or another. 

One thing that I seem to notice with the Ruger's is that people seem to put every racegun/tacticool part possible on them. Yes it can look awesome, but not sure if it truly has benefit or is a distraction.

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Post by bcbasslet 3/31/2021, 2:44 pm

Agree. A Mark II needs a Hogue rubber grip, and then it’s perfect. A Buckmark is a lighter weight starter for a smaller starter

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Post by mustachio 3/31/2021, 4:11 pm

JasonD wrote:The Ruger pistols have the accuracy, but need trigger work and rear sights. Only my MII slab sides had a decent trigger out of the box.
my two Ruger/Volquartsen's have Volquartsen innards and the triggers are 2 and 3 lbs. They break crisply and provide for great accuracy.
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