Ruger 22/45 Lite Review
Part 1 - Introduction, Specifications and Summary
September 10, 2012

It was nearly 20 years ago when I had my first chance to shoot one of the Ruger Mark II rimfire pistols.  It was a slabbed sided stainless steel competition model and it was a great shooting pistol.  I was so impressed with the performance of that pistol that it sparked my interests in purchasing one for myself.  As I did my research, I quickly found that Ruger also had their 22/45 line of pistols which had a 1911-ish style grip angle and after having a chance to examine both guns closely, I decided that I preferred the feel of the 22/45 style pistol.  For some reason (maybe wife, kids, mortgage, car payment, food, etc.) I couldn't convince myself to make the purchase.  Fast forward about 18 years and I was eyeing the 22/45 pistols again and came very close to purchasing Ruger's "Threaded Barrel" version that came out about two years ago.  I thought then that this pistol would be a fun addition to my rimfire collection and I was looking to add a threaded barrel version to one day use with a suppressor.  Again, for some reason (probably reviewing other firearms) I didn't make the purchase.  This year, Ruger introduced their new 22/45 Lite Pistol and it features a threaded barrel and a light weight aluminum upper with a gold anodized finish which adds an interesting look to the pistol.  Since I liked the idea of this new light weight version (about 9.2 ounces lighter than their Threaded Barrel version) and since Ruger went with a non-standard (for Ruger) design incorporating the aluminum upper with a stainless barrel sleeve, I thought now was the time to make getting a Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol a priority for my collection and review efforts.

Their was also one more motivating factor that boosted this pistol up on my priority list.  Back in May I purchased and submitted the transfer paperwork for a new suppressor.  I should be getting my transfer paperwork back in a couple of months on a new C3 Defense rimfire suppressor and I wanted to have a pistol platform ready for my suppressor review.   Obviously a threaded barrel is required for the suppressor and the reduced weight of the 22/45 Lite Pistol should be a good feature considering I will increase the total weight of the pistol with the addition of a suppressor.

Ruger list MRSP as $469 for this pistol, but you can find it online for about $370 plus S&H and transfer fees.  The cost (depending on where you compare) of the Lite model is only about $20 to $30 more than the Threaded Barrel model and I feel the added cost of the Lite is well worth the 9.2 ounce reduction in weight.

 

During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Ruger website on 8/10/12 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol.  The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.  I may also add commentary after these marks as necessary to explain some items if needed.

Overview

  • Classic Feel, Modern Design.
  • No other 22 LR pistol provides the feel of the classic 1911 pistol with the proven reliability and value of the Ruger® 22/45™ pistols.
  • The perfect trainer, it allows for low-cost practice and provides shooters with the familiar and preferred grip shape and feel of the famous 1911 45 caliber pistol.
  • In addition to the identical grip angles, the 22/45 features the same fire control locations (manual safeties, magazine releases and bolt hold-opens) as the 1911, making them perfect for 45 caliber shooters looking for an affordable way to train.
  • Also perfect for plinking, target shooting, and small game hunting, the 22/45 is available in a variety of configurations and barrel lengths, each with the same trusted reliability that Ruger has delivered since 1949.

Key Features

  • Aluminum Upper: Upper receiver, which is finished in a striking gold anodize, is made of aircraft grade aluminum and features serrated cuts, making the pistol extremely lightweight.
  • 4.4" Stainless Barrel Sleeve is kept in place by a tension nut , ensuring the same great accuracy and reliability of the Ruger® 22/45™ line.
  • Accurate sighting system features precision-adjustable sights. 
  • Upper receiver is drilled and tapped for Weaver-style scope base adapters for easy mounting of optics.
  • Comfortable, precision-molded Zytel® polymer grip frame with serrated front strap and back strap. 
  • Hogue® black rubber grip panels are replaceable and can be swapped with other grip panels (not included).
  • Internal cylindrical bolt construction ensures permanent alignment and higher accuracy potential than conventional moving-slide designs.
  • Manual safety positively locks the sear when applied.
  • Patented loaded chamber indicator provides visual and tactical indication of chamber condition.
  • Magazine disconnect prevents discharge when the magazine has been removed.
  • Also features: contoured ejection port ; easy-to-grasp tapered bolt ears' a conveniently located ; push button magazine release on the left side of the frame ; two magazines ; hard plastic case (soft case provided with pistol)

Specifications

  • Catalog Number: P45MK3ALRP
  • Model Number: 3900
  • Caliber: 22 LR
  • Material: Aluminum 7075-T6
  • Finish: Gold Anodize
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Barrel Length: 4.40" 
  • Barrel Style: Threaded 1/2-28
  • Length: 8.50" the review pistol measured 8.40"
  • Height: 5.50"
  • Width: 1.00" across the upper receiver and 1.14" across the grip panels
  • Weight: 22.80 oz.
  • Grips: Replaceable Panels
  • Grip Frame: Zytel® Polymer
  • Twist: 1:16" RH
  • Grooves: 6
  • MA Approved & Certified: No
  • CA Approved: No
  • Capacity: 10
  • Suggested Retail: $469.00 online for about $370 plus S&H and transfer fees
  • Safety: Manual, magazine disconnect and internal lock

This review is broken down into multiple parts with this page providing links to each part along with an overall summary of the specifications, pros and cons, and my final "bottom line" comments.  Make sure you take time to checkout the other parts of the review because they contain many photos and lots of commentary.  Also, there is an extreme amount of detail in those parts which is not covered on this page.

As you read these Pros and Cons below, keep in mind that it is hard to keep my particular preferences from creeping in the equation.  Therefore, it is important that you take the time to look at the other parts of this review so you can decide yourself on items which may be more of a personal preference.

Pros:

  • The 22/45 Lite is a very light weight .22LR pistol and is great fun to shoot.
  • Stylish look with the gold anodized finish and black accents.
  • The threaded barrel is compensator/suppressor ready.
  • Built on a proven Mark III pistol platform.
  • Capable of 5-shot group sizes less than 3/4" at 13 yards from a bench.
  • The 4.40" barrel produces velocities between 850 to 900 ft/sec with standard velocity ammunition so you don't have to worry about purchasing special "subsonic" ammunition if you are going to shoot a suppressor.
  • After studying the internal features of this pistol for weeks, I feel that the 22/45 pistol is a simple yet clever design and I can understand why the Ruger Mark pistols have been so popular over the years.

Pro/Con/Comment?  You decide:

  • The filler screws in the holes for mounting the Weaver-style adapter plate did not have any type of thread locking compound on them and were easily unscrewed from the receiver.  I would imagine these screws would work loose over time and fall out.  Make sure you check yours and correct if needed.
  • For years I have been hearing people complain about the disassembly and reassembly of the Ruger Mark pistols.  Maybe I'm the lucky one, but I feel that this pistol is very easy to disassemble.  There are some details you need to watch on reassembly, but overall I still felt reassembly was simple.  I'm sure if this pistol had been tighter and if it had required a wooden dowel and mallet to take apart and put back together, I may have a slightly different opinion.  The thing that seemed to stand out more was the need to insert the magazine to disengage the magazine disconnect safety.  Overall, I wouldn't let anyone sway your opinion on the purchase of this pistol based on any aspects with disassembly and reassembly.
  • During my range tests, I shot about 890 rounds of various types of ammunition.  The pistol proved to be reliable with all but the Aguila Subsonic.  Although the Aguila clearly produced the best 5-shot group size with an average of 0.66", I would not recommend shooting it in the future with this pistol.

Cons:

  • Watch for the trigger pull.  On the pistol I received for review, the trigger pull was heavier than normal for this style pistol.  The trigger pull measured an average of 6.8 pounds and I believe it is normally in the range from 4 to 5 pounds.  This is something you should watch out for when purchasing this pistol (or any firearm).  Other reputable reviews on the internet have confirmed this 4 to 5 pound range.  A couple of dry fires in the store should give you a good indication on the pull weight.  You may get a verbal lashing from the sales person about dry firing a rimfire pistol, but knowing you have a decent pull before you buy it will be well worth the lashing and maybe save you the trouble of having to get an aftermarket trigger or trigger job in the future.  You can also inform the sales person that the Ruger instruction manual states to "pull the trigger to un-cock the gun" in Step 10 on Page 26, so some dry fires must be allowed.

 

Bottom Line:

The Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol is a light weight pistol that is fun to shoot.  The gold anodized upper adds an attractive look that many people will like (I do).  When you couple these with the threaded barrel making this pistol suppressor ready, I think the 22/45 Lite will be made for many more years to come.  The pistol I received for review didn't have what I would consider to be a typical trigger pull and if I didn't have a little knowledge on how to help correct the issue, I may have sent it back for Ruger to correct.  This tells me that Ruger doesn't stack the deck when sending out firearms for reviews and based on reading some other reputable reviews, my pistol was a fluke.  The key point to remember when purchasing any product is to do your research and then look it over closely in the store.  If the firearm they bring to the counter doesn't checkout, tell them to bring you another one.  It is your hard earned money and you deserve a gun in great condition.  I feel that the Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol falls in the high value category and I wouldn't hesitate recommending you checking one out the next time you are at the gun store.


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