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The best .22 target pistols

Gun Tips by Donald K. Burleson

October 2010


This year Janet bought a replacement for be tried and true Ruger .357 Magnum speed 6, and she loves her new Ruger .357.  It can take standard .38 ammo, and it has some serious kill power.  Best of all, it's extremely well-balanced with a trigger pull that is as smooth as snot on glass:

The new Ruger .357 Magnum revolver

Experts say that we will be competitive when we can shoot a 6" to 8" group at 50 yards.

The .22 caliber pistols are a great way to learn pistol shooting because the ammunition is 10x less expensive, and a high quality .22 target pistol can nuke a squirrel at 50 yards with the standard iron sights. 

There is a wide variation in process for .22 target pistols, from over 2,000 down to under $500, where we found our top-choice, the Ruger Mark II target pistol.

A Walther GSP - One of the most expensive .22 target pistols at over $2,000

With the long rifle ammo, an expert can use a pistol with iron sights at 100 yards, but the maximum effective accuracy for any .22 pistol is limited by the grains of powder, and shooting a pistol at 100 yards is like lobbing a cannonball, you must account for Kentucky windage and a two foot bullet drop.

Telescopic sights cannot compensate for low caliber bullets

This discussion show some of the top choices for the best .22 caliber target pistols.

Jamming in .22 target pistols

Any target pistol requires some basic knowledge of the internals, especially with the propensity of all .22 semi-automatic guns to jam.  With even the world's best .22 target pistols, ammo counts, and j Jamming is a huge problem with any .22 semi-automatic gun. 

We chose the Ruger Mark III as our best .22 target pistol and wasted a full day diagnosing a horrible jamming problem, but it was quickly fixed by moving to a higher-grain bullet.  We got the Remington golden bullet, 40 grain, and she performed flawlessly, a joyous pistol with remarkable accuracy at 25 yards.

Evaluating the best .22 caliber target pistols

While there are many high-quality custom rifles, the best mass-produced .22 target pistols include these models (in Alphabetical order):
  • Beretta Neo - Super-modern Star-Trek looks, but watch for the recall, and it's not made in America.
  • Browning Buckmark - Gorgeous looks and balance, easy to clean and maintain, not a lot of add-ons.
  • Browning Challenger - A great target pistol - At under $500, a great target pistol at a great price.
  • Colt Woodsman - Built for hunting, but accurate.
  • High Standard Supermatic Tournament, Citation or Trophy - Some say it's the best 1911 style .22 target pistol
  • Olympic I.S.U. -
  • Ruger Mark II and III - Overall, the best target pistol, with lots of safety features and loads of 3rd-party add-ons for the rail.  The only downside is that some models look like a Nazi Luger.
  • Smith 22A -
  • Victor Target -
  • Walther GSP target- Super-expensive (over $2,000), but you get what you pay for.

High Standard Model 106 Military/Supermatic Trophy

Browning Buck mark Target Special - $475

We chose the Ruger Mark III model 512 in stainless steel

The Ruger Mark III rail supports red dot sights

The Ruger Mark III was our favorite because of:

  • Safety features

  • Great looks

  • Highly accurate

  • Many 3rd-party add on's

  • Standard rail for red dot sights or telescopic sights

The downsides of the Mark III include:

  • Dumb safety features - Many silly features make it more complex than necessary.

  • Hard Cleaning:  You will need to pay a gunsmith to teach you how to field strip the Ruger Mark III.  It's NOT easy, and we DO NOT recommend that you attempt it without instruction.

  • Propensity for Jamming without 40 grain bullets:  Straight from the box, our Mark III had bullet jamming.  We found ours to be a fussy eater, demanding 40 grain bullets to give her enough force to eject the shells and reload them, and we also messed with the magazines.

See my notes on fixing Jamming in .22 Ruger Mark III semi-automatic target pistol. and the most accurate 22 ammo bullets for a Ruger Mark III handgun.

Red Dot scopes for the Ruger Mark II and Mark III

  • Ultradot matchdot

  • C-More

  • Gander Mountain Tru Glow

  • Aimpoint Micro R-1

  • Millet red dot SP

  • Burris Fastfire II

  • Vortex strikefire


Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright ? 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.