When I saw the Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model in a local gun store, I immediately recognized the similarity to a Colt Gold Cup .45 ACP pistol. Ruger matched the grip style to Colt’s 1911-series guns for shooters like me who need lots of practice time.

The price of centerfire pistol ammo is high, but .22 rimfire ammo costs much less. What a great idea for a practice gun! 

Table of Contents

My Ruger
Magazine & Ammo
Range Time
'Can' We Keep It Quiet in Here?



Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
My Mark III is the grandchild of the first Ruger pistol in 1949, which was heavily influenced by Colt's 1911-style pistols. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

William (Bill) Ruger and Alexander Sturm set out to design and build the perfect .22 rimfire pistol back in 1949 in Southport, Connecticut. Bill Ruger liked the looks of the Luger pistol, the Japanese Nambu pistol, and the Colt Woodsman. He also researched expired patent records for designs he could use to influence the look and feel of the Ruger Mark I pistol. 

Sturm and Ruger realized their design would appeal to thousands of ex-servicemen home from World War II. They also knew the pistol had to be inexpensive and high quality. The pistol received high marks when reviewed by American Rifleman magazine that year, and Ruger’s firearms future was assured. The later Mark III is the subject of my review today.



Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
The Mark III's heavier barrel helps with balance and pointability. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

This pistol fits my grip well and has the unmistakably nice grip angle of the earlier designs. The Mark III’s grip resembles the Colt 1911 and feels like a delicate version of that gun. At a bit over 2 pounds, it is lighter but has a solid feel in my hand. It points naturally, and I can feel the secure texture of the 1911 checkering against my palm. The bull barrel’s weight aids in this pointability, steadying my aim. 

Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
That unmistakable 1911-esque checkering ensures a solid grip. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)
Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
The Mark III's trigger is also modeled on the 1911. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Fire controls are copied from the 1911, too. Both the slide release and the magazine release are on the left side and easy to reach with my right thumb. They are not reversible, making this a right-hander’s gun, like the Colt 1911. 



Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
My Mark III easily accepts a TruGlo Tru-Brite Reflex optic, which makes finding my target much easier on the eyes. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Although the pistol comes with a nice micro-adjustable rear sight and blade front sight, my old eyes are not what they once were. No problem – Ruger includes an add-on optical sight rail that I use to mount my TruGlo Tru-Brite Reflex sight. 

Weighing a few ounces, it projects a red or green reticle on its 1.25-inch screen. It offers a choice of four built-in reticles and five light intensities. Now, I can see! 


The factory 10-round steel magazines for this pistol are high quality and easy to load. Pull down on the loading button on the left side to make loading easy. The magazine is the heart of a semi-auto pistol. It must function, and it does. Most of my shooting is done for slow-fire accuracy, but I can rapid-fire without a jam.

Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol magazine
No jams here – I can rapid-fire my Ruger with no hangups using the factory 10-round magazines. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Some .22-caliber semi-auto pistols can be sensitive to the ammo in their diet – not so with my gun. It will shoot standard-velocity and high-velocity .22 LR ammo reliably. CCI Quiet .22 LR ammo fired but did not cycle the bolt due to its low velocity of 750 fps , but this is to be expected.



Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
Do I look like James Bond? (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Shooting the Mark III Target Model is a dream. Its trigger is crisp, and there is no felt recoil with standard-velocity ammo. Accuracy is quite good. Today, my targets are soda cans, 2-liter soda bottles, steel plates, and a paper target. 

The water bottles are easily punctured and leak. Moving to soda cans, they explode nicely. Now my favorite: the 2-liter soda bottles. Once shot, they shower soda, and one explodes! Good for the flowers at Area 51.

Heavy steel plates do not move when hit with .22 rimfire, but you can see nice grouping. The paper target also shows good grouping.   



Ruger .22/45 Mark III Target Model pistol
My older Mark III didn't have a threaded muzzle, but my gunsmith solved that issue and made a muzzle cap that's nearly invisible. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Unlike modern Mark III Rugers, my pistol did not come with a threaded muzzle. My local gunsmith cut my muzzle back a bit and made a flush-fitting muzzle cap that is nearly invisible. My can is the Tactical Solutions Cascade model that adds 3 ounces to the gun when installed. It is less than an inch in diameter, 5 inches long, and invisible while sighting. 

Tactical Solutions Cascade .22 LR suppressor
The Tactical Solutions Cascade suppressor brings down the noise level of the .22 to just the click of the firing pin. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

Using standard-velocity ammo, the sound of the gun is reduced to the mechanical click of the firing pin! This helps in breaking a clean shot without a flinch. Although the Cascade is discontinued, Tactical Solutions of Boise, Idaho, manufactures a better, newer model today. 

Notice that the point of aim is somewhat different with the suppressor added, but this pistol is sighted to be dead-on with the can attached. The “milk bottle” shaped steel target at long range can be hit with two of four shots – impressive for a 5-inch barrel. Ruger knows how to build them!


  • Barrel: 5.5 inches (heavy)
  • Weight: 2.15 pounds      
  • Grips: Colt 1911-style checkered wood     
  • Sights: Micro-adjustable rear, post front    
  • Magazine: Steel 10-round capacity   
  • Overall Length: 9 inches   
  • Width: 1.22 inches     
  • Height: 5.5 inches   
  • MSRP: $499


Ruger’s Mark III Target model is a high-quality, low-cost pistol. I have competed in rimfire matches, hunted small game, and “killed” many pop cans with mine. Cost to shoot it is an obvious plus, but it has nice handling qualities as well. 

Mine digests most brands of .22 rimfire ammo without a jam. Add a suppressor, and you have a quiet practice plinker. You will not go wrong with this modestly-priced piece of Ruger history.

revolver barrel loading graphic