If you’re not aware of ‘distributor limited editions’ of regular factory-produced firearms configured differently from standard factory offerings, you haven’t been looking at distributor websites. For example, the Ruger GP100 in 22 LR with a 4.2” barrel – it was a great idea, but deemed not “good enough for regular production.” Davidson’s went to Ruger with an order and Ruger filled it. One of those has been in the shop for a while and it’s a remarkable shooter.
Davidson’s isn’t the only outfit on that playing field – nor is Ruger. But Ruger’s been known to do quite a few of these and the most recent seen around here is their justifiably lauded Ruger Mark IV pistol This one is a TALO Distributor Exclusive called the “Raffir Hunter TALO Edition.” This critter is made with a 4.5” fluted barrel fitted to the stainless steel upper. This is atop the CNC-machined aluminum lower, making a standard auto feel more like the Mark IV Target 5.5” gun. Atop the muzzle of that fluted stainless barrel is HI-VIZ fiber optic front sight, backed up by a HI-VIZ adjustable rear sight – thankfully without added lines or dots. The gun weighs in at 35 ounces
Why is it the “Raffir Hunter?” It’s wearing Raffir Composite stocks. It’s a different feeling arrangement, somewhat of a muted palm swell type affair. They have an interesting appearance that don’t look great to me – others likely are taken by the look – but the Raffir Composites do have a unique feel. I can’t see them when I shoot the gun, so I’m calling their stocks a “win.”
TALO notes on their page, “Raffir is a premium composite material with fine brass and bronze meshes inside. A strong semi-transparent resin fixes the meshes in position and improves the 3D depth effect. Together, this unity of materials has a unique appearance and great strength.”
The front sight is a HIVIZ fiber optic affair -- very bright. The rear (below) also appears to be from HIVIZ -- it looks nothing like previous versions of Ruger adjustable sights.
I like them.
If you’re interested in ordering the gun, it’s model number 40132. It ships with a pair of 10-round Mark IV magazines, a HIVIZ polymer tool containing an opaque white pipe and a pipe that appears to be amber – both for the front sight as the rear sight has no fiber optic elements. The polymer tool is called “a LitePipe storage and installation key.”
The gun is shipped in a hard plastic case.
The range trip with the “exclusive” was interesting. I shot a few hundred rounds of various 22 LR, including CCI Mini-Mag 40 grain, Federal Premium Hunter Match, Remington Thunderbolt bulk pack promotional 40 grain, GECO Semi-Auto 40 grain and Federal Lightning (promotional) 40 grain. I encountered a few failures to eject (stove-pipe) stoppages with the Federal Lightning toward the end of the shooting session. To check function, I fired another 20 rounds of Remington Thunderbolt ammo with no issues.
The pair of stoppages could have been shooter-induced or it could have been the (rather aged) ammo. Function was otherwise uneventful.
Getting the sights to place the rounds to point of aim was a matter of a few moments and the Brownells pistol screwdriver setfor Ruger guns.
I found the CCI Mini Mag and Federal Hunter Match shot consistently well at around 22 yards off the bench. Both yielded groups below two-inches with the best three of five – ruling out my error – going into less than an inch. Remington Thunderbolt, their inexpensive, best-selling rimfire round, is rated as a high velocity round with an unplated forty-grain pill. Besides being value priced, it seems to be quite consistent; I shoot a lot of this stuff.
The Mark IV Raffir Hunter put five of the Remington bullets into two inches with the best three crowding into an inch. It doesn’t shoot like the pricier ammo, but it shoots plenty good for practice and plinking.
The Geco 22 Long Rifle Semi-Auto round features a 40 Grain lead round-nose bullet. “Optimized for semi-auto rifles and pistols,” the stuff can be found for around a nickel a round online. I’ve shot it in a number of guns. Like the other rounds I shot through the Mark IV on this trip, it shot very well for the comparatively low cost. It put five rounds into 5/8” – with the best three going into a half-inch, as shown in the accompanying image.
I brought along a sibling to the Mark IV Raffir Hunter: the Ruger GP-100 22 KGP-22-4, this one a Davidson’s Exclusive, available from their Gallery of Guns. It’s a 40 oz. double action revolver, featuring a 10 shot cylinder, with a 4” stainless steel half-lug contour barrel, topped with a Novak fiber optic front sight. The DA pull is quite heavy and quite smooth.
I shot them side-by-side. The shorter, lighter trigger of the Mark IV was a pleasure but it’s still a solid trigger. For sporting use, I like the fiber optic front sights on both guns.
The distributors seem to have a feel for what the consumer will want to buy – making distributor exclusive models from any manufacturer worth a look. These are very nice.
- - Rich Grassi