Monday, November 2, 2009

Ballseye's Gun Shots 33 - Isn't It Ironic - The Ruger MK II

If ever there was a pistol that exhibited irony among all of those that I have owned, borrowed, and or fired it would have to be the Ruger MK II. How can a pistol exhibit irony. Well, I guess it is due to the fact that the very affordable and fairly well made Ruger MK II is one of the most fun to own and shoot pistols available. Yes, I agree, there is nothing ironic in that. Then again, consider that the Ruger MK II is one of the most cursed at modern pistols in existence and you may see some irony.

So how is it that a pistol that is well made, affordable, fun to shoot and is one that is regularly shot by large numbers of shooting enthusiasts can also be one of the most cursed at pistols out there? Just leave it to a Ruger to come up with a reason. You see, despite all the good things it has going for it, the Ruger MK II can be one of the biggest pains in the neck to disassemble for cleaning and even a bigger pain in the butt to reassemble after cleaning. Figuring out how to take one down and then put it back together again with ease on a regular basis, especially when the pistol is fairly new, would be something akin to unearthing the secret of the Sphinx. Isn't it ironic that the Sphinx, one of Egypt's most well known and studied monuments was and remains one of the most perplexing. The same holds true for the Ruger MK II when it comes to taking it apart and putting it back together again. It can be done, it is often done, but you can bet that you are going to hear cursing when it is being done no matter how popular the pistol is due to its better attributes.

Why do I bring this all up? I own a Ruger MK II pistol. Tonight I decided to disassemble mine and give it a good cleaning. I got it apart pretty quickly, maybe only one hushed and mumbled utterance that could have been a curse. Then, after I cleaned it, I tried to put it back together again so it would be in working order. That is when the muttering, the mumbling, the hushed utterances all started to become a bit louder and when the first expletives aimed at this piece of mechanical conundrums began to spew forth from my lips. It took me at least 7, maybe even as many as 9 (or was it an even dozen) attempts to seat the bolt stop and mainspring housing (all one assembly) and get it to the point where I could close it and wind up having a fully reassembled pistol. Amazingly, once I had accomplished that, I racked and released the slide then squeezed the trigger (as in dry fired) and much to my amazement the pistol functioned as it should. I tried this holding it at various angles several times and it worked each time. usually what happens is I get it reassembled and cannot operate it at all and then have to take it apart and put it back together again to get it to work - or I get it back together and it will only work if pointed at the floor at a 45 degree angle, or more, but when held level squeezing the trigger will simply not drop the hammer. That too requires taking it down and reassembly it until I get it right. So the litany of foul language that escaped my pie hole tonight was not quite as long, nor as loud nor as flowery as it usually winds up being. That in itself may be ironic!

Truth be told though, I love (as in really like) my Ruger Mark II. It has taken a beating over the years and keeps on firing and it usually hits that on which I set my sights. There is a lot to love about this 22 pistol despite the pain in the neck it can be to reassemble correctly. First of all it is chambered in .22LR. Therefore it is inexpensive to shoot. You could put 500 rounds through it in a session and chances are that will not cost your more than $20 for ammo. Chances are also good that you would be able to do so without having to stop to clean the gun. Yeah, I know, 500 rounds is a lot of ammo, but I have already gone at least 300 rounds without a malfunction, and on another occasion I have shot 500 rounds through it in a day. That time, I did stop about half way through that time to give it a quick field cleaning without disassembling it and it kept feeding, shooting, extracting and ejecting just fine. I was using some fairly clean ammo when I did that, and granted I had a couple or a few failures to feed but that should be expected in almost any 22 after getting past 150 to 200 rounds in the same session without a cleaning and as I recall I was well past those numbers when the first failures to feed occurred.

Besides being chambered for .22lR, the Ruger has some other nice features. The MK II that I have has a blued steel 5 1/2" bull barrel, alloy frame, adjustable rear target sight, front blade sight, plastics grips mounted on an angled grip akin to a Luger pistol, and fires from a 10 round magazine. The magazine release is on the bottom of the grip and can take a bit of getting used to for someone who usually finds the mag release on the left side of the frame grip just to the rear of the trigger guard's lower section. Nothing to worry about in a target, plinker, or hunting pistol. I have shot my MK II in all of the manners I just mentioned and can say without a doubt it is one of the best can shooters I have ever fired. It has also bagged a few squirrels in its day, and really I mean only a few. I usually hunt squirrels with a rifle because a pistol just does not usually reach out and touch them as well from the normal squirrel shooting distances. I imagine some also find it a passable pistol for target shooting competitions although I suspect that most serious target shooters would choose something a bit more refined. Still though - the Ruger MK II is accurate enough to make it a great hunting pistol and a great plinker.

I don't think they still produce the MK II any longer. There were a couple or a few other 22 caliber models that came out in Ruger's lineup of pistols since the MK II so I imagine production of it ceased. One of them was the 22/45 (with a grip more akin to the Colt 1911) and another was the MKIII. My guess is they no longer produce the MK II now that the MKKIII is in production and has been for at least a few years. It is pretty much the same pistol with some refinements as far as I can tell. I highly recommend the MK II and if you can find a used one in good to excellent condition I say buy it. I also figure that the MK III is also probably worth the investment of funds if you cannot come up with a nice used MK II. If anyone wants to front me the cash to buy and test one - be my guest. I am pretty sure I'll enjoy every minute of owning it, well at least the minutes I spend shooting it but maybe not the time I spend disassembling and reassembling it.

All the best,
Glenn B