Ruger 22/45 Lite Review
Part 3 - External & Operational Features
August 31, 2012

Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

In this part of my review, I'm going to try to cover all the external and operational features of the Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol.  Since the 22/45 pistol has been around for about 20 years, some of this information may seem common knowledge to those familiar with this pistol.  For those not familiar, I hope to show you all the details of this pistol.  Remember that clicking on a photo will bring up a higher resolution photo showing more detail.

 

At first glance, you will notice that the 22/45 Lite has a gold-ish finished metallic upper with a polymer lower grip frame.  The upper receiver is actually made from 7076-T6 aluminum alloy and has a gold anodized finish.  The gold anodized finish is accented by the matte black sights, rear portion of the bolt and the thread protector.

Figure 1
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The aluminum upper has 5 angled slots machined into each side in the front and 3 in the back.  These slots have no real purpose other than adding to the looks of the pistol and reducing the weight slightly.  I feel Ruger's intent was focused on the looks.  For those not familiar with the Ruger Mark III pistols, the rear slots give an impression that you should pull back in that area to open the chamber.  Since the upper is fixed (the pistol has no slide), this tends to fool those less experienced with this style pistol.

Figure 2
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The polymer grip frame comes with checkering on both the front and back grip areas and also has rubber textured removable grip panels on each side.  The girth of the grip (5.25") is about 0.13 smaller than the SR1911 pistol and I believe this difference is mainly due to the difference in thickness of the side panels.

Figure 3
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

One of the features of the 22/45 pistol is that it maintains the same fire control locations for the safety, magazine release and bolt hold-open feature as a standard 1911 pistol.  Although the safety and bolt hold-open buttons look completely different from that of a standard 1911, the same basic finger movements allow you to operate these controls.

Figure 4
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The Ruger 22/45 Lite measures 1.14" at its widest point which is across the grip panels.  The 1.00" stated in the specifications is across the aluminum upper receiver.

Figure 5
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The pistol measures 5.50" tall and 8.40" in length which is 0.10 shorter in length than the specifications.

Figure 6
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 7
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 8
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The back of the grip has the main spring housing latch that is used for disassembly.  I cover the details of disassembly in the next part of this review.

   Figure 9                 Figure 10
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review   Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The pistol with an empty magazine weighed in at 22.8 ounces as stated in the specifications.

Figure 11
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The aluminum black anodized thread protector really accents the front of the aluminum upper.

Figure 11
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The thread protector can be removed by hand and doing this exposes the external 1/2-28 threads on the barrel nut.  This threaded portion extends about 0.40".  The barrel nut pretensions the barrel and should never be removed.  According to Ruger, doing so will cause permanent damage to your firearm and void your warranty.  You can also see the end of the stainless steel barrel in these photos.  The end of the barrel has a slight internal chamfer to provide some protection to the rifling at the muzzle.

Figure 12
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 13
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Ruger has a decent video at their website that talks about the features of this pistol and in the video they show this view below which helps to explain how the barrel assembly is put together.  You can see the video and other information by going to this link.  In this photo you can see the 4.40" stainless steel barrel inside the aluminum upper.  The barrel rifling is 6 grooves with a right hand 1:16" twist.

Figure 14
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The pistol comes with an all black fixed front sight.  Actually the sight shown in the photo below is not the correct sight for the 22/45 Lite pistol.  This sight is slightly longer than the intended sight.  I discovered this when I tried mounting the Weaver-style rail adapter and found that the adapter seemed too long.  After contacting Ruger, they confirmed that this was the wrong sight and shipped me a new sight.

Figure 15
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The photo below shows the two font sights.  The top sight is the correct sight and the bottom sight is the one originally installed on the pistol.  When Ruger sent me the new sight, they also sent along a new screw that had some blue thread locking compound already installed on the screw.

Figure 16
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

This photo below shows the new sight installed on the pistol.  There is very little difference between the looks of both these sights, so some of the photos in this review may show the original sight.

Figure 17
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The lower surface of the aluminum upper is machined flat forward of the grip frame and Ruger has laser engraved the text below: 

 READ INSTRUCTION MANUAL
BEFORE USING FIREARM
PRESCOTT,  AZ  .22LR

Honestly I'm not sure why Ruger decided to machine this surface flat other than looks, because laser engraving would have been possible on a curved surface.

Figure 18
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

These next two photos give you a good look at the contoured ejection port which blends in nicely with the look of the pistol.  This next photo shows the polished stainless end of the bolt in the closed position.

Figure 19
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

With the bolt back, you can see a horizontal blade on the left side which is pushed to the left when a cartridge is chambered.  This is what pushes out the "loaded chamber indicator" on the left side of the pistol.  You can also see the top of the magazine.

Figure 20
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The rear sight is made from steel and is adjustable in both windage and elevation.  Notice that the rear of the bolt has a black finish to match the other black features on the pistol.  The rear of the bolt has some aggressive ridges on each side that angle slightly inward as you go forward so that you will have a no-slip grip when pulling the bolt back.

Figure 21
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The photo below is intended to give you an overall isometric look at the sights and aluminum upper.

Figure 22
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

When looking down the sight while holding the pistol at arms length, the gap on each side of the front post inside the notch is similar to that shown below.  My personal preference would have been to have some type of white dot sights similar to what Ruger put on their SR22 Pistol.

Figure 23
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

This next photo shows the 22/45 Lite Pistol with the bolt locked open.

Figure 24
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

For these next two photos, I inserted a loaded magazine and then chambered a round.

Figure 25
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

You can see the loaded chamber indicator is pushed out on the left side which not only gives you a visible indication of a round in the chamber, but this also gives you something to quickly feel with the tip of your thumb.  The actual black indicator seems to be made from some type of polymer material.  Notice the three black filler screws.  The receiver comes drilled and tapped to install a Weaver-style base adapter that comes with the pistol.  These filler screws 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, so make sure you check yours and correct if needed.

Figure 26
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The loose filler screws made removing and installing the Weaver-style base adapter very easy.  Once I had the correct front sight installed, the rail adapter dropped in place and fit nicely.  I think you can see that any additional length on the forward sight would prevent the rail adapter from installing on the receiver.  The adapter is 4.65" long and has 5 slots.  The adapter can also be used to mount 3/8" style mounts.

Figure 27
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 28
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

All the controls for the pistol are located on the left side.  As I mentioned earlier, they are in the same basic locations as you would find them on a 1911 pistol.  The bolt stop (A) engages after the last round if fired.  If you look in the photo below, you can see the round head of the magazine follower button pushes up on the bolt stop to engage the stop after the last shot.  The safety (B) is in the up position for safe and down for fire.  The photo shows the safety in the safe position and you can see the "S" visible in the slot.  When in the fire position, an "F" is visible above the button, but there are no red markings for the fire position.  The magazine release button (C) is fairly low profile and sticks out about 0.11".

Figure 29
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The Ruger 22/45 Lite is based on the Mark III platform which comes with an internal lock feature as an added safety.  The photo below shows the key inserted in the keyway.  To lock the pistol, the safety must be in the safe position, which also means the bolt must be cocked since you cannot move the safety to that position without it cocked.  You then insert the key into the keyway and rotate the key clockwise about 1.75 turns until it stops rotating.  When locked, you can not move the safety to the fire position.  To unlock the pistol, rotate the key counterclockwise about 1.75 turns until is stops rotating.  Another safety feature of this pistol is that you cannot fire the pistol with the magazine removed. 

Figure 30
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The trigger pull measured 6.8 pounds based on an average of 5 pulls using a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.  I would consider this pull weight to be higher than normal which is typically between 4 and 5 pounds.  The trigger is made of aluminum and is about 0.35" in width and has ridges on the front.  Initial take-up on the trigger is about 0.125" until it becomes firm.  The trigger creeps to a break at about 0.165", over-travels to about 0.200" and resets back at about 0.100".  The trigger also had some side-to-side play that seemed slightly more than other handguns.  The combination of high pull weight, creep and side-to-side play makes me think a new aftermarket trigger may be in this pistols future.  So I could perform my range tests with a representative trigger pull, I decided to polish the hammer, sear and a few other contact areas and brought the pull weight down to 4.8 pounds which is in line with a normal pull weight for this pistol.

Figure 31
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The black polymer frame is made from Zytel® which is a high strength and impact resistant glass filled nylon.  The black rubber grip panels are made by Hogue® with the Ruger logo and are held in place with two Allen head screws on each side.  The panels are replaceable with others of your choosing.

Figure 32
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

As you can see below, the right side of the frame is fairly plain and has no controls.

Figure 33
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The magazine well maintains the same angle as the standard Mark III pistols so Ruger could utilize the same magazine bodies which makes the 22/45 pistols feed just as reliable as the standard Mark III pistols.  You can notice that there is a wedge shaped blade of polymer material that sticks rearward on the front side of the grip.  This blade supports the front of the magazine and helps you align the magazine as you insert it into the grip.

Figure 34
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

The Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol comes with two 10-round magazines.  You can see by the steep angle on the top of the magazine that Ruger keeps the same magazine design and feed geometry as the standard Mark III pistols.  The magazine has a steel body, follower button, spring and block (base) retaining plunger.  It also has a polymer follower and block (base).

Figure 35
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 36
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

Figure 37
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

This next photo shows the magazine loaded with 10 rounds of .22LR ammunition.

Figure 38
Ruger 22/45 Lite Review

 

Thoughts

Overall the Ruger 22/45 Lite Pistol seems to be a well crafted handgun.  Initially Ruger installed the wrong site on this pistol, but after contacting them, they sent me a new front sight in the mail very quickly.  I'm not sure how many more pistols are out there like this one having the wrong front sight, but if so, don't hesitate to contact Ruger.  The trigger pull was heavier than normal for this pistol (4 to 5 pounds).  The trigger pull measured an average of 6.8 pounds so I did a quick trigger job polishing a few key areas and got it down to 4.8 pounds.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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