The omnipresent uncertainty in the firearms market hasn’t even begun to slow Ruger down. In the past year the company’s “damn-the- torpedoes” marketing plan has introduced new designs in several areas, not the least of which is chambered for the humble .22 rimfire. The caliber that curiously gets no respect among serious gunnies while remaining the most popular recre- ational cartridge in America has generated several new Ruger products for those unafraid of being seen in public with a non-tactical shooting device.
Introduced in April 2012, Ruger’s new 22/45 Lite follows the two 22/45, threaded-barrel guns the company brought out in January 2011. The 22/45 Lite has their same general outline but its own distinct personality.
This 22/45 Lite retains the lower half of its cousins: a black Zytel polymer frame; MKIII 22/45 removable grip panels (in this case, they’re black, diamond-checkered rubber); a serrated frontstrap and checkered backstrap; a 1911-style bolt re- lease positioned for the right-hand thumb; a safety button; a magazine release; an internal key lock on the left side; and a 10-round steel magazine. The 22/45 Lite’s upper half is all new.
Beginning with a gold anodized aluminum upper (now only available in black), as opposed to the blued steel of the more conventional 22/45s, the Lite’s extended one-piece receiver also acts as a full-length shroud for the reduced-diameter barrel. This substantially lowers weight. The alloy receiver is a single continuous- outside-diameter tube, as opposed to its cousins’ stepped two-piece receiver, which is made of a rear receiver and a smaller- diameter, solid-steel bull barrel. At the rear, the scallops, which enable a positive thumb and finger grasp on the bolt ears are more prominent. The Lite also has pseudo-cocking serrations at both ends, the loaded chamber indicator on the left side, better sights with a fully adjustable rear, and the “Ruger Warning,” which has been abbreviated and moved to a 2-inch flat recess in the bottom of the front receiver section. The lower frame still uses the familiar takedown process.
There are two things about the 22/45 Lite that quickly stand out: That spacey upper hits the eye first, and the featherweight heft registers in the hand immediately. The receiver seems to be getting a mixed reception among those wondering about the “cocking” serrations that do nothing. Ruger says the purpose of the aluminum was weight reduction (obvious), and the serrations were to “give the gun a different look and style” (they certainly do).
Weight-wise, the Lite’s 23 ounces beats out its fixed-sight steel cousin’s 32 ounces when it comes to backpacking, longer sessions or younger shooters with less upper-body strength. The barrel insert is still machined of 400-series stainless steel with broached rifling, loses no strength in handling .22 LR pressures and gives up nothing in accuracy. Inside, where you can’t see it, the barrel is fully supported at both ends. On one end, it’s supported by a 90-degree outside angle, just at the forward end of the chamber area that fits into and against a corresponding inside- angled shoulder in the receiver at the rear. On the other end, the barrel is supported by a threaded internal jam nut at the front, which tensions itself against another 90-degree shoulder inside and flush with the end of the receiver tube. Resist the temptation to fiddle with the four-holed jam nut. It’s torqued at the factory for correct barrel tension and epoxied in place. Aside from occasionally monitoring it for tightness, you shouldn’t mess with it—the pistol is not intended to be disassembled to the point of separating the barrel from the receiver. The muzzle itself sticks out 0.37 inches beyond the receiver and jam nut, with standard 1/2×28 threads for use with a suppressor. The Lite’s external screw-on thread- protector cap is also aluminum, to shave off additional weight. The pistol’s sights are steel up front, with a steel blade riding in an alloy cradle in a steel base at the rear. The serrated trigger is also aluminum.