When the words “Ruger,” “pistol” and “rimfire” are mentioned in the same sentence, I’m sure most shooters envision the company’s Mark III pistol. Originally known as the Standard pistol, since its introduction in 1949, it has set the standard for high quality but affordable .22 autoloaders and has proven immensely popular for serious target shooting, small-game hunting and plinking. Shortly after the “plastic revolution” hit, Ruger introduced its 22/45 pistol, which utilized a Mark III receiver and barrel mated to a Zytel polymer frame with removable grip panels that simulated the overall shape and feel of a 1911-platform pistol.

But the Mark III and 22/45 are large pistols weighing between 31 and 45 ounces, which makes them less than suitable for smaller shooters or for use as trail guns. Recently, however, the company introduced a new line of pistols that provide all the traditional features of the 22/45, along with a few new ones, and with a considerable savings in weight: the Ruger 22/45 Lite.

Redefined Rimfire

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In the past, Ruger’s firearms have had a very traditional appearance, so I was a bit taken aback the first time I saw a 22/45 Lite. First of all, it was blue. I’ve never seen a blue gun before, but more about that later.

The 22/45 Lite’s tubular receiver is machined from lightweight, aerospace-grade aluminum, and it extends forward to fully surround the integral barrel. The receiver has five flutes on either side that reduce weight even further and give the pistol a really sexy look. Atop the receiver is a Weaver-type rail for mounting the optical or electronic sights that are becoming so popular on handguns today.

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For those preferring a more traditional sighting arrangement, a square blade front sight is mated to a fully adjustable square notch rear sight so that you can zero the Ruger 22/45 Lite pistol in with your preferred load.

A 4.40-inch, lightweight, stainless steel barrel is permanently mounted inside the receiver. It is secured in place by a tension nut at the muzzle end. Removing the knurled cap at the front of the barrel exposes a threaded section, which allows the shooter to mount a variety of muzzle accessories.

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The one-piece frame is made from Zytel polymer and is fitted with tacky-feeling black rubberized grip panels that provide a secure purchase, even with wet or oily hands. The grip panels are removable so the shooter can fit the pistol with their preferred type. Being that its shape resembles and feels like a 1911 pistol, I don’t believe I need to go into detail about its ergonomics.

The magazine release, slide stop and safety are all located in the same positions as on a 1911 pistol, and can be operated with the right thumb without moving the pistol around in your hand. When a round is chambered, a loaded-chamber indicator extends out past the left receiver wall to provide a visual and tactile indication of the pistol’s condition.

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The single-column magazine holds 10 rounds of .22 LR ammunition, and, like all Ruger Mark III and 22/45 pistols, the 22/45 Lite features a magazine disconnect that prevents the pistol from being fired when the magazine is removed.

When I picked up the 22/45 Lite, the latter part of its designation was immediately apparent. It was light, very light. In fact, it is 22.73 ounces (empty), which is almost 4 ounces less than the next lightest pistol in the 22/45 line.

OK, you want to know about the blue, right? Well, the upper receiver features a blue anodized finish, which, once you get used to it, is very attractive. For those wanting a more subdued look, Ruger offers the 22/45 Lite with a cobalt anodized frame and ventilated receiver without the Weaver rail.

Precision Plinker

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The 22/45 Lite comes with a top rail for mounting sights like the EOTech MRDS.

The 22/45 Lite was tested for accuracy from a MTM K-Zone rest at 25 yards with four different brands of 22 LR ammo. It showed a preference for slower-moving bullets and performed best with the CCI Pistol Match and Remington Subsonic loads, both of which averaged under 2 inches for the three, 5-shot groups fired. Considering the 22/45 Lite’s short barrel and sighting radius, I found its performance very satisfying.

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Taking it further, I mounted an EOTech MRDS red-dot sight, which, as my range partner noted, made the Ruger 22/45 Lite look like something right out of a Star Wars movie.

I had an urge to do something a bit different than just running the dot-sighted Ruger through the usual series of off-hand drills on cardboard targets, so I placed a large number of clay birds out on the 15- and 25-yard backstops and engaged them in rapid fire.

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The 22/45 Lite produced very tight groups at 25 yards.

I have recently tested a number of red-dot-sighted pistols and have not yet gotten accustomed to how much that little red dot bounces around while you’re trying to aim. So while I would like to say I went one round for one clay at a steady cadence, the ingrained sense of honesty all gun magazine writers possess forces me to tell you that it took more rounds than I had expected. But I had a heck of a lot of fun doing it! The Ruger ran like a champ and we are still waiting for the first malfunction to occur, and that is something you can’t always say about out-of-the-box rimfire pistols.

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I have been shooting Ruger .22 pistols for over three decades and can verify that the 22/45 Lite lives up to the company’s reputation for accuracy, reliability and ease of operation. It would be an excellent choice for target shooting, hunting small game or for use as a trail gun. And if your idea of quality time is spending an afternoon teaching several youngsters the basics of safe gun handling and marksmanship, then the 22/45 Lite will make an excellent companion.

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