The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite is a small and versatile .22LR pistol built to fill a variety of needs. If you’re looking for a rimfire pistol for Steel Challenge, a .22LR to mount a suppressor on, or just something to plink with at the range, you may be interested in picking one up.
The Mark IV line of Ruger pistols was introduced in 2016 and is the fourth-generation successor of the Ruger Standard. Within the Mark IV lineup, there are eight models available: Standard, Target, Hunter, Competition, Tactical, 22/45, 22/45 Lite, and 22/45 Tactical.
I’ve been shooting the Mark IV 22/45 Lite in Steel Challenge for a few years now. In that time, I’ve gained a solid understanding of the pros and cons of the gun. So, if you’re deciding whether to buy the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite, you’re in the right place.
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Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Pros & Cons
- One button takedown for easy cleaning
- Picatinny rail for easy optic mounting
- Wide aftermarket support
- Comes with a threaded barrel
- Bolt can be difficult to manipulate
- Gunky ammo can cause issues cycling
- Low magazine capacity
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Features and Specifications
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite is a semi-automatic pistol chambered in .22LR. It is available in several different color combinations and comes with a picatinny rail, making it easy to mount a pistol red dot sight. It comes with a threaded stainless steel barrel that allows shooters to easily add on a suppressor or compensator. The Mark IV 22/45 Lite’s aluminum receiver features ports that help keep the pistol lightweight at 25 ounces.
Ruger’s suggested retail price of the Mark IV 22/45 Lite is $699.00, but you can usually find them for under $600.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Specs
Ruger’s best improvement on all of the Mark IV line of pistols is an easy, one-button takedown for field-stripping the pistol. The Mark I, II, and III pistols are notoriously difficult to disassemble for a full clean. During my time working at a gun range, we offered a Mark II rental gun for shooters to try out on the range. Because it was so difficult to take apart, no employee ever wanted to give it a good clean and it was often neglected. Ruger fixed this pain point with the one-button takedown on the Mark IV pistols. By pressing the button on the back of the frame, the barrel-receiver assembly tilts up and off the grip frame.
My favorite thing about the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite is that there is a large aftermarket support for the pistol. Companies like Tandemkross and Volquartsen provide many different upgrades and replacements for the pistol. We cover the best Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Upgrades in another article.
Shooters that are 1911 enthusiasts will like the Mark IV 22/45 Lite’s grip angle which is comparable to that of the classic 1911. That’s actually why it’s designated as the 22/45: because it is a .22LR but the frame and grip angle are designed after the .45ACP 1911.
The checkered, 1911-style grips panels are a rubber material that make gripping the gun comfortable and ensure your hands won’t slip, unlike with some polymer grips. The gun’s serrated frontstrap and checkered backstrap also aid in a solid grasp on the gun.
The Mark IV 22/45 Lite features a fixed front sight and an adjustable rear sight. Both sights are black, though you can replace the front sight with an aftermarket fiber optic front sight.
The very first time I shot my Mark IV Lite, I found that my sights were extremely off. Luckily, this is an easy fix with the adjustable rear sights. There are adjustment screws on the top of the rear sight (elevation) and on the side of the rear sight (windage). I recommend spending a little time to sight in the gun when you first shoot it.
The trigger and trigger pull on the Mark IV Lite could be better. The gun’s curved trigger feels wrong to me because of the gun’s 1911-style grip and grip angle — I would expect a flat trigger like that of a 1911. I replaced the trigger on my competition gun with an aftermarket flat trigger face because of this.
The pull on the trigger is a long, heavy, and gritty pull, with many shooters measuring around a 5lb pull. Luckily, there are fixes for this problem, including aftermarket kits or a little kitchen table gunsmithing.
Next let’s look at the controls on the Mark IV 22/45 Lite. We are going to look at the safety, magazine release, bolt stop, and bolt ears.
Lefties are in luck because the Mark IV 22/45 Lite has an ambidextrous, manual thumb safety. Ruger provides a washer that allows the shooter to convert the safety to left-side only if the ambidextrous safety isn’t your thing.
The safety is easy to manipulate on and off. When the gun is on safe, a white dot is visible underneath the safety switch. When the gun is not on safe, a red dot is visible.
I like to rest the thumb on the safety when shooting, as I would with a 1911. I find that it is not comfortable to do so with the Mark IV 22/45 Lite’s safety because of its smaller size. Luckily, there are aftermarket, oversized safeties that solve this problem and assist in grip and control.
The magazine release on the Mark IV Lite is a circular button behind the trigger guard. If I’m trying to reload quickly, the button is difficult to reach and manipulate. It does function well, practically launching the magazine out of the gun.
Bolt Ears and Bolt Stop
Unlike typical semi-auto pistols, the Mark IV 22/45 Lite does not have a slide that can be racked. Instead, it features bolt ears and a bolt stop. The bolt is accessed on the very back of the gun. You use your pointer finger and thumb to pull the bolt ears back. While the bolt ears are serrated for an easier grip, I find the whole process of racking the bolt awkward. I’ve even been pinched by the bolt ears when my finger slipped off it. During a Steel Challenge match, I had a failure to fire malfunction from dirty ammo and needed to rack the bolt. It was difficult to do so quickly, and my sweaty hands slipped off the bolt the first try.
When an empty magazine is inserted in the gun, the bolt will lock open when you pull it back. If you wish to lock open the bolt without an empty magazine inserted, you simply push up on the bolt stop with your thumb while pulling back the bolt. To release an open bolt, push down on the bolt stop. If it feels tough or stiff to do so, you may need to pull back on the bolt a bit while pushing the bolt stop down.
The Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite’s magazine is a single stack, 10-round magazine with a load assist button. To use the load assist, simply push down the load assist button just enough to insert a round. While the load assist is nice, I once got a blister from using it all day at a match.
Luckily, there are a couple tools you can use to avoid this. The first is the MagPal – or something similar – that sits over the magazine and gives you more room to push down on the load assist.
The other option is the Ultimate Cliploader. To use, empty rounds into the loader, shake it to align the rounds, insert the empty magazine into the loader, then pump the magazine in and out of the loader slightly to load the rounds. While this method can be quick and easy, I also find the Ultimate Cliploader to be slightly unreliable if you deviate at all from the loading instructions.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Performance and Reliability
The Mark IV 22/45 Lite has been my Steel Challenge competition gun for the last few years. In that time, I have found that certain .22LR ammo does not run as smoothly as others. Any .22LR rounds that are more gunky out of the box will give the gun cycling issues. I’ve also found that it will make my magazines sticky. Of the ammo I’ve run through it, I had the most trouble with Aguila rounds. On the other hand, it runs Federal Champion .22LR 40gr. ammo exceptionally.
The Mark IV Lite is an accurate shooter. I’ve taken shots at steel a couple hundred yards out with no issue. It has virtually zero recoil, making it enjoyable to shoot.
Shooters should take care not to slam the magazine into the Mark IV 22/45 Lite. I had gotten into a habit of slamming a magazine into my centerfire pistols to ensure they seat properly. When I do this with the Mark IV 22/45 Lite, part of my hand can get caught between the magazine and grip frame, causing a big painful pinch. Although you shouldn’t slam the magazine in, it is easy to accidentally not seat it all the way and for it to then fall out of the gun while shooting.
Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite Final Thoughts
The cool thing about the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite is that most of its downfalls have aftermarket fixes. Although there are some features that I would change, overall the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite is a solid .22LR pistol. It is a great choice for competition shooters and casual shooters alike, and I would not hesitate to use it to introduce a new shooter to the range.