For my money, you just can’t have any more fun than spending a day out plinking with your favorite shooting iron. And one new pistol that makes plinking fun is Ruger’s new-for-2007 4.5-inch-barreled 22/45 Mark III Hunter.
When I was a kid, every old farm and ranch had some gulley or low place where they dumped their refuse–cans, worn-out fence wire, even used-up appliances. Or if one of the farm critters died under suspicious circumstances, such that it was no longer suitable fare for the dinner table, it went there, too. To a young boy the local dump was a mysterious and exotic place populated with all sorts of inanimate targets as well as some highly animated ones–mice, rats, and various and sundry snakes. I suspect a lot of you folks reading this know exactly what I’m talking about because you learned most of your shooting skills at the local dump, too.
I think this is one of the things that makes plinking so interesting. We can do our shooting at the local dump with whatever targets of opportunity we might find. Or we can find a safe place to shoot and haul out a bunch of fun targets to try our marksmanship on. Plinking can be a way to get the kids interested in learning to shoot. And it can be a way to keep older kids–like maybe you and me–interested in our sport.
Regardless of how informal our plinking session is, or how much fun we are having, it’s always important to put gun safety first. And a plinking session is the perfect place to start teaching the kids the importance of gun safety–and it doesn’t hurt to remind the more experienced shooters of the basics.
Four Simple Rules
Here are four simple rules that cover the subject.
- All guns are always loaded. If you need to pick up a gun, or want to examine it, start with the assumption that the gun is loaded and act accordingly.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything or anyone you are not willing to shoot. That just about says it all. Loaded or unloaded, always keep the gun’s muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. Most negligent discharges (what some people try to claim are accidents) happen because the gun handler presses the trigger without intending to.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. You will be held responsible for every shot you fire. It is up to you, and no one else, to be sure of the target you are shooting at and what lies behind it.
Beyond a concern for safety, plinkers are not limited to any particular kind of target. Some companies, like Caldwell Shooting Supplies and Champion Traps & Targets, have printed up various stick-up targets with different kinds of critters and fun bullseyes. Birchwood Casey also markets a number of different spinning targets that will add a lot of fun to an informal plinking session.
My favorite thing is to gather an assortment of objects and put them to use as plinking targets. Early on I found that charcoal briquettes make excellent targets and provide a satisfying puff of “smoke” when you center them. Empty shotgun shells also become challenging targets, as do the clay pigeons that are used in the shotgun shooting sports. You can just set them against the backstop or, better still, hang them by a string and let the breeze supply you with moving targets. Golf balls are also challenging targets. When you hit a golf ball with a .22 bullet it really takes off. While “golfing” with your favorite .22 repeater, just be sure to remember safety rule No. 4 and be aware of what’s behind the target.
Some of my favorite plinking targets come from raiding the refrigerator just prior to heading to the range. Now, I don’t advocate shooting up perfectly good food, but sometimes stuff lingers a little too long in my ‘fridge, and I’d a whole lot rather use it as targets than to just throw it in the trash. This includes tomatoes, apples, peaches, eggs, and heads of lettuce and cabbage. The possibilities are mind-boggling.
Some pretty basic rules go hand in hand with each and every plinking session. The first is that you never shoot at anything made of glass. Nobody wants broken glass all over their range, creek bank, or other informal shooting location. Also be very careful about shooting at metal or any other hard surface that might result in a ricochet. And, finally, clean up the mess when you’re finished shooting. Fired cartridge cases, cans, shotgun shells, golf balls, and all that other shooting detritus needs to be policed up, put in a trash container, or hauled off. The possible exception to this would be the charcoal briquettes and food products that are biodegradable.
The .22 Is Plinking King
Of course, we plinkers are free to enjoy our sport with just about whatever firearm happens to appeal to us. Bring along your shotgun, .45-70 carbine, matched pair of engraved Colt Peacemakers, or any other guns that melt your butter. I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say that the .22 rimfire cartridge is still the most popular plinker of them all. And being as how I make my living, I trust you’ll understand when I say that my favorite plinking partner is some sort of .22 handgun.
In fact, I recently had the chance to try out the latest version of Ruger’s 22/45 Mark III pistol. I’m talking about the Mark III Hunter with the 4.5-inch barrel. Ruger’s 22/45 series of .22 auto pistols is built around a polymer frame that simulates the same grip angle as the classic 1911 pistol. And just as on the Mode
l 1911, Ruger’s 22/45 has its magazine release mounted on the left side of the frame just behind the trigger. The new 22/45 also features a slide stop and thumb safety in virtually the same location as on the Model 1911.
Topside, the Ruger 22/45 Mark III Hunter is crafted from stainless steel and has a target-crowned, fluted, bull barrel. Again, barrel length is 4.5 inches on this new-for-2007 version. The front sight is a HiViz fiber-optic unit.
The rear adjustable sight is standard Ruger fare with the addition of a V-notch rear sight blade. The combination of this V-notch rear blade and the fiber-optic front sight make for fast target acquisition. The pistol also comes with a Weaver-style scope base adapter for mounting a scope, electronic sight, or other sighting apparatus.
Magazine capacity of the Ruger 22/45 is 10 rounds. The pistol’s overall length is 8.5 inches, and it weighs in at approximately 29 ounces.
I gathered an assortment of popular .22 LR ammo and took the new Ruger 22/45 Mark III Hunter to the range. I set up bullseye targets at 25 yards and did my shooting from a sandbag rest. This Ruger 22/45 handled its shooting chores without a bobble–with one exception–and I suspect that I’ll be able to tighten up these group sizes once I get a little more used to the fiber-optic front sight.
|RUGER 22/45 MARK III|
|Manufacturer:||Sturm, Ruger & Co.|
|Model:||22/45 Mark III|
|Caliber:||.22 Long Rifle|
|Barrel Length:||4.5 inches|
|Overall Length:||8.5 inches|
|Weight, empty||29 ounces|
|Safety:||Manual sear lock; magazine disconnect; loaded chamber indicator; internal key lock|
|Sights:||Adjustable rear; fiber-optic front|
|Magazine Capacity:||10 rounds|
|Finish:||Black Zytel polymer frame; stainless-steel barrel, slide, and upper assembly|
Here’s the information on that exception. On my way out the door to the range, I grabbed a box of Aguila .22 ammo. I’ve got an assortment of Aguila ammunition, and it has always performed pretty darn well, so I was a bit surprised when this Ruger pistol wouldn’t eject it. Being the trained investigator that I am, I finally looked at the box and discovered that I had picked up some of Aguila’s subsonic .22 ammo. The low velocity combined with the 38-grain bullet just wasn’t enough to cycle the pistol’s action.
Of course, once the requisite accuracy testing was out of the way, I loaded up the little Ruger and engaged in some “serious” plinking. I was able to bounce golf balls and empty shotgun shells all around the range. I just couldn’t get enough of turning those charcoal briquettes into little puffs of smoke as they disintegrated. And splattering some big, brown hens’ eggs, much too long in the ‘fridge, all over the place was much too easy. If I wasn’t a dedicated gun writer immersed in a serious gun test and evaluation you might have thought I was having a ball.
I appreciate Ruger and Editor Joel Hutchcroft for giving me this opportunity to have some rimfire plinking fun. It’s good mental health for a shooter. Sometimes we get so caught up in the serious stuff–handgun hunting and defensive training and competitive shooting–that we forget how much fun shooting can be.
|Shooting Ruger’s 22/45 Mark III Hunter|
|Factory Load||Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||25-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Remington 36-gr. HP||982||30||73||2.50|
|Winchester 37-gr. Super-X HP||1032||22||61||2.00|
|Aguila 38-gr. Subsonic HP||937||11||26||1.75|
|CCI 40-gr. LRN||860||16||44||1.75|
|Winchester 40-gr. Match||936||13||33||1.80|
|NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of 25 rounds measured 15 feet from the gun’s muzzle.|
So, as your duly authorized Handgun Editor it is my duty to prescribe some relaxation for you. Remind yourself of the safety rules, round up some suitable targets, and spend the afternoon plinking. It’ll make you smile. Oh, and while you’re at it, try out this new Ruger 22/45 Mark III Hunter with the 4.5-inch barrel. It’s a plinker’s companion if ever I saw one.