Crimson Trace

March 20, 2017

Ruger Mark IV Competition

One of the latest entries in the Ruger Mark IV line is the Competition Model.
In September, we got to try out the Ruger Mark IV Target model. Obviously the most written about aspect of the new Mark IV .22 LR semi-auto pistol line is the quick and easy field stripping and reassembly. In the long dry spell since, The Mark IV Target has become a favorite for those decompression trips to the range. After shooting centerfire handguns or rifles, slipping off to the Rimfire/Black Powder bay and working on fundamentals with the marvelously accurate pistol is just great fun.

Just this week, the Ruger Mark IV Competition has arrived. Unlike the Mark IV Target, the Competition has a 6.88" barrel and the pistol is constructed of stainless steel. The blue 5.5" bull barrel Target model pistol weighs in at 35.6 ounces, the Competition is almost 46 ounces. You can definitely tell the difference.

The right stock panel has a pronounced thumb shelf.
The Competition gun's barrel is a "slabbed bull barrel." Looking shows that instead of a thick "gas pipe" appearance, the barrel is milled flat on both sides back ¾ of the way from the muzzle – which is nicely crowned. Like the Target, the Competition has the Ruger adjustable rear sight and a sharp patridge front sight. The stocks are checkered and made of laminated wood. The left panel has a pronounced 'thumb shelf,' something a southpaw wouldn't prefer.

It does give a good location to lay the thumb of the right handed shooter, but I default to keeping my thumb atop the safety, a throw-back to the 1911 days.

The receiver is drilled and tapped for a Weaver or Picatinny rail to facilitate the mounting of optics.

An impressive heater, very heavy, I was anxious to get it shot and made a quick trip to the range in the mid-day hours, a bad idea normally. The Rimfire/Black Powder range was open though and I quickly set up, using a range bag as a hasty rest.

Using a range bag as a 'hasty rest' to confirm zero.
My first five rounds out of the gun, to check zero, was at a target board about 22 paces away from the bench. As the targets I'd provided had already blown off – welcome to Spring – I used an "unshot" area of an already posted target. I used Federal Premium HV Match, a round that isn't cheap and has shown to be an accuracy load in a pair of other Ruger .22s: the Ruger American Rimfire Compact and the Ruger Mark IV Target. The first five rounds fired to check zero all touched . . . I was stunned.

I quickly got the grounded targets reset and tried it again. This time five rounds of CCI Standard Velocity went into a group just under an inch – this is good shooting for me using a pistol and irons. My second try with Federal Premium gave me the first stoppage I've ever had with any Ruger Mark IV, a failure to eject. The resulting group was disappointing – while four rounds cut into 1 ¼", the fifth pushed it out to 2 ¾".

I went to work with Federal Premium Hunter Match and it put five pills into 1 ¼".

Five rounds of CCI Standard Velocity at 22 yards into 1 1/4".
Obviously the close range stuff was no issue so I went to the east side of the range to engage a pair of "close range" steel targets. The 3 ¼" steel swinging "chicken" is just under fifty yards and the steel pig is fifty-four paces out. Using a supported position on a roof brace and Federal 22 Long Rifle Range ammo, I found hitting the porker was no chore. I then went five for five on the chicken.

Switching to the 'bullseye' one-hand shooting style without support, I put five more hits on the pig. There were no more stoppages on this range trip.

The sights are clear even for my aged eyes. The weight of the pistol is a bit much for an old timer and it doesn't bias forward like the bull barrel in front of the aluminum frame of the Mark IV Target, but it does hold steady on target.

I'm sure the target sights are finely adjustable like on the older brother, but I have yet to adjust these sights. Like the Mark IV Target, the Competition ships with a pair of magazines and has a magazine disconnect feature – no big deal on a pistol like this. The safety positively locks the sear. The trigger breaks cleanly.

I'm sure someone will figure it's not light enough, but I think I was shooting just fine with it as is and wouldn't monkey with the trigger at all.

The stocks are a different story: for me, it's a handgun, not a "hands-gun." I can, have and do shoot with either hand unsupported – quite often. The thumb shelf, fine for a right-handed bullseye or rimfire "steel challenge" shooter, isn't good for everyone else. Fortunately, we have to help us.

From that source, you can get Altamont laminate stocks with the red Ruger Medallion – for Mark IV pistols only – or the checkered black plastic grips, also with the Ruger medallion, also made by Altamont for Ruger.

So there it is: a Mark IV Competition, for competition – also a field worthy pistol, with near-rifle accuracy. Check it out at

-- Rich Grassi