My gut tells me no one reading this article remembers the launch of the Ruger Standard. The rimfire debuted in 1949, and with little fanfare as Ruger was an unknown. Yet this humble beginning kicked off a rimfire revolution. As .22s go, the Ruger pistols have set a standard that every other manufacturer in this industry wishes was theirs — and this Mark IV Target is no exception.
How many thousands?
Or is it millions by now?
Bill Ruger began the Sturm Ruger juggernaut with this design. Ruger based his early designs on a retooled Japanese Nambu. The lines of the Nambu were highly influenced by the Luger, and the Ruger Standard, after Alex Strum provided Ruger the capital it needed to get the guns into production, looked like a streamlined mix of the Luger and Nambu.
While there have been too many models to count, even with the help of the internet, the basic changes are grouped into four larger generations. Each additional upgrade, named MK II, MK III, and MK IV, added new upgrades or materials or barrel lengths.
The Mark IV family is even better.
The latest versions, the MK IV, make one massive upgrade that any true Ruger fan will instantly recognize. The MK III guns could be very difficult to reassemble. They came apart fine, but they could frustrate even the best of us.
The MK IV take-down process is completely overhauled and reassembly is almost push-button easy. And that’s important for a rimfire. Of all the guns I own, the ones I clean most religiously are my rimfire pistols. While I can be a bit lax about those cleanings, they’re sometimes a necessity.
The new hinged design, though, linking the upper and lower, makes cleaning so simple that I find I have no excuse not to, now. The change will likely make the life span of these Mark IV guns far longer than the Mark III and other generations.
Some familiar features, like the bolt stop, have been upgraded. And the Mark IV magazines are now designed to drop free. We’ll talk more about those in a minute.
How does it handle?
Incredibly well. The beauty of this beast is its weight. With a 10-inch bull barrel, the Mark IV Target isn’t light. The gun’s overall length comes in at 14 inches, and it weighs in at 53.5 ounces.
The trigger breaks clean, though, at just under five pounds. There’s a slight take-up before a crisp wall. And the curved trigger shoe is exceptionally comfortable.
The action, too, is light. The spring is just stout enough to guarantee the next round will strip from the magazine.
As for accuracy, the Mark IV Target lives up to its name. From 25 yards, it is easy to put an entire magazine into a group you could cover with a quarter. One-hole accuracy is well within reach, depending on the distance to the target. Random fliers, such as the one below, may happen more as fatigue sets in. As I noted earlier, this isn’t a light pistol.
The Ruger Rimfire Magazines
Ruger’s 10/22 mags are as good as they come. I’ve shot every major rimfire platform and have yet to find anything that comes as close to the reliability and durability of the 10/22 mag. The Ruger rimfire pistol mags are equally robust. The design is more common and will be familiar to those who know the old Colt rimfires, or Brownings, but they work reliably well.
The springs on these are tight. Loading is easy enough — just compress the spring with your thumb and drop in the rounds. You may need to stack them in and keep one from occasionally standing up, but there’s a balance to pulling down the spring and adding additional rounds that comes easy with practice.
At only 10 rounds, you will load these a lot. While the Mark IV Target isn’t a fast-action pistol — not that it couldn’t be — you will still blow through a lot of ammo with this gun, and your thumb will get sore.
Some rimfire rifles behave better with certain grain weights, or the more boutique brands. I’ve run this gun from buckets of miscellaneous leftover rounds with no difficulty. Even the occasional sub-sonic seems to have enough space in the barrel for the expanding gasses to drive the bolt.
When I switched to shooting groups, I went for something more standardized. The CCI 40 grain .22 runs reliably well. These are never priced out of reach. For accuracy, when knowing that each shot is going to behave within a predictable window of consistency, ponying up a bit more is well worth it.
Practical Considerations for the Ruger Mark IV Target
I can’t imagine trying to carry the gun for long, which is all well and good. Holsters are hard to come by. This is — for me at least — much more of a range gun than a plinker I’d carry into the woods. And, as its name implies, it is perfect for target shooting.
The Mark IV Target is as stable as pistols come. The weight eats up recoil — which isn’t really an issue, even in the shorter barreled Rugers. But if you shoot a Marl IV Standard next to a Mark IV Target, you will see a difference in muzzle rise.
And the extra sight-radius distance will make the effort easy, too. The rear sight is adjustable. The front sight is a tall black blade, which contrasts nicely against the stainless.
The weight, though. Part of the appeal of these rimfires is their ease of use. I’ve taught many people how to shoot with a Ruger rimfire. But the weight of this may not be ideal, especially for kids. I’ve watched several people get tired and drop the muzzle between shots, pointing the gun down to the ground, which is easy enough to understand.
The Mark IV Target weighs more than three pounds. That’s not egregious, by any means, until you’re on your tenth magazine or so, trying to hold it on target without shaking.
The Ruger Mark IV Legacy
This Mark IV Target is part of a growing line of guns that are split into very different families. This is a reflection of how versatile these Ruger Rimfires are. Much like the 10/22, they’re capable of anything from basic plinking to hunting to serious competition.
As for looks, this one — on the outside — looks like one of the more infamous variants: The AWC TM-Amphibian “S,” an integrally-suppressed build of the Ruger Mk II Target that has been used for military applications.
And that may be where this, for me, comes full circle. It is exceptionally rare these days that I review a gun and come away knowing that it has a home in my permanent collection — but this is one. And the only thing that’s missing is the ability to easily suppress it.
Adding a can on the end of this would ruin the aesthetic, for sure, as I know of very few silencers that incorporate any stainless steel — and none that would match the Mark IV Target. And it would make the gun even longer. But silence is golden, so I’d likely suppress it either way.
As for price, the MSRP on the Ruger Mark IV Target is $869. Ruger has an exceptionally strong distribution network. Though this model will be more rare, and less likely to sit on a store shelf, the price would likely come in a bit lower than $869 in this market.