I think I can declare myself pretty intimately familiar now with my new Mk.III Hunter 22/45. The Mk.III isn’t the only Ruger pistol I own. I also have a Mk.II 50th Anniversary Edition. The Mk.II was my first pistol purchase, and my first experience with “Hey, what’s this extra form?”
The Ruger Mk.II has the safety features I would expect, which means it has a hammer locking manual safety. Great! When it comes to a target shooter, that’s all I want. But the Mk.III has every safety under the sun. Mag release safety, chamber loaded idiotcator, manual safety, child safety lock, and airbags. Seriously, I don’t want any of these things on the gun. Here are my problems with the Mk.III:
- Magazine doesn’t drop free. They switched to a manual thumb release, but you have to physically remove it. As long as I have to do that, I think the original magazine system was fine. If a gun has a thumb release, I expect the magazine to drop free.
- Chamber loaded idiotcater. These don’t belong on any firearms. It implies a firearm without the indicator showing is “safe”. All firearms are always treated as loaded. It also make the Mk.IIIs a nightmare to clean. The indicator can get gritty and stick. Early versions rested directly on the rim, meaning a hard blow (like form a drop) would fire a round. Ruger fixed this problem, when what they should have done is remove the feature, and tell people in the manual how to properly handle a firearm.
- Magazine drop safety. In a target gun, I don’t mind this so much, in a carry gun it’s totally unacceptable. But it is another safety feature that caters to fools, and needlessly complicates the mechanism on a gun that is already notoriously difficult to reassemble.
- Front sight issues. The front sight on the Mk.III likes to come loose after shooting it for a while. They should ship with lock-tite applied so this doesn’t happen.
- I prefer the grip angle of the 22/45, but the polymer frame doesn’t balance of the rest of the gun’s weight very well. On the 22/45, you can’t swap grip panels. It’s integrated into the frame. I use a Houge grip sleeve, which helps a lot.
I understand why Ruger is loading up their guns with safety features; they are popular among entry level shooters, because they work well and don’t cost a lot of money. Ruger doesn’t want to be sued because they could have made a gun with more safety features, which is a product liability tort in most states.
A firearm is an inherently dangerous object, and cannot be made safe in the hands of an ignorant user who hasn’t bothered to educate himself, or get training on safe gun handling. These new features, which are superfluous for experienced shooters, are going to drive experienced shooters away from the Ruger badge, and still will not protect an ignorant user from the device’s inherent hazards. Ruger needs to worry more about catering to new and experience shooters alike, rather than worrying about lawsuits.