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Ruger/Black Hills Ammunition, Mark IV 22/45 Lite Edition, by Pat Cascio

If you don’t have a .22 LR firearm in your survival battery, you should! We look today at an extremely limited, rare edition, of the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol.

Survival Firearm

For more than 40 years now, folks have been asking me what type or kind of firearm should they purchase first for survival. Others ask if they only have funds to purchase one firearm, period, what would it be. My answer has changed, with knowledge, and I’m sure a lot of folks will disagree with me. For the longest time now, I’ve been recommending that folks purchase a good .22 LR rifle or handgun, if that’s all you have the funds for. Now, when we talk about “survival” it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people.

If you are a bush pilot in Alaska, you will surely want something in a larger caliber if your plane goes down in bear infested areas. If you’re out walking a wilderness trail on a Sunday afternoon with only a fanny pack, you might think a .22 LR handgun is a good choice for fending for yourself if you get lost. Look, before all the hate mail comments start pouring in, there is no right or wrong answer here. This is just my take on it.

My First Firearm

My very first firearm was a .22 bolt-action rifle, which I purchased when I was only 15 years old from a hardware/auto parts store in Sturgis, Kentucky, when I was there on vacation with my grandmother who raised me. She went to visit family she hadn’t seen in more than 40 years, and I was walking around town and noticed the sign that said the hardware store carried “sporting goods”. To me, back then, it meant firearms.

This was before the 1968 Gun Control Act that changed the way we could purchase firearms. Keep this in mind. I had saved up money for the trip, from one of the part-time jobs I held after school, so I was prepared to buy whatever I wanted on this vacation, not realizing that there really wasn’t anything to buy. It was, and still is, a small rural town in Kentucky and not a tourist town.

The One

I readily spied the gun counter in this store and made my way to it. In short order, I found just what I needed. I can’t tell you the make or model of that .22 bolt-action rifle because I just don’t remember. However, it would take .22 short, .22 Long, and .22 Long Rifle ammo, which was great. The price was $15 and some change.

I asked the man behind the counter if I could purchase it and still remember what he said to this day. He said, “Son, I don’t think I know you. Who are your parents?”

I told him I was visiting my Aunt Catherine Calloway, who I’d just met. I had no idea she pretty much ran things, since her late husband owned the coal mine outside of town. So, this fellow called up my Aunt Catherine and asked about me, and if he should sell me the firearm. She told him, “If he has the money, then sell it to him.” Ah, my very first gun!

How Proud I Was

You see, back then, there wasn’t any age restriction on purchasing firearms, nor any paperwork. You put your money on the counter and walk out. And, I remember how proud I was, walking down the streets of downtown Sturgis, Kentucky with my “new” rifle. No one paid any attention. Back then we didn’t have mass shootings like we do today. I’m sure a SWAT team would be called on me today, if I walked down the streets with a gun in my hand now. My, how times have changed.

Never Enough Money To Buy All Firearms Wanted

Since 1967, and the purchase of my first firearm, I’ve owned hundreds, if not thousands, of firearms. Many folks believe I have a huge gun collection because I’m a gun writer. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a working stiff like most of you reading this, and I’ve raised a family over the years and never had enough money to buy all the firearms I wanted. So I’m an habitual gun trader and always will be.

I’m fortunate in that, as a gun writer, I have the opportunity to test a lot of firearms, and I can purchase them at a discounted cost if I want to buy the samples, or simply return them when I’m done with my testing, which is usually a 120-day period of time. So, this works out great for me. I get to play around with a lot of new guns before deciding if I can afford to buy them or return them to the gun company.

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Back in the early 1970s, I think I might have owned 35 firearms at one time, maybe just maybe that many. Such is not the case these days.

A Good .22 LR Firearm Should Be First Survival Firearm

So, this has been a long way of going about telling folks that a good .22 LR firearm should be your first purchase as a “survival” firearm. First of all, .22 LR ammo is inexpensive. The price has come down quite a bit since the Sandy Hook shootings. For several years, it was next to impossible to find any .22 LR ammo at any price. That was something I thought I’d never ever see happen. Gone are the days when you could buy a brick of 500 rounds of cheap .22 LR plinking ammo for under ten bucks, but you can find a brick for about $25, if you shop around. That’s a day’s worth of fun shooting out in the country, if you ask me. Even at today’s prices, you can stock up on plenty of .22 LR ammo for your future needs, and it takes up very little space.

As already mentioned, a day of fun on the range is good enough reason to own a .22 LR firearm, if you ask me. Then we have small game hunting and even self-defense. Yes, self-defense can be done with a .22 caliber firearms. I did some studies many years ago, in a big city, and found out that more people were shot and killed with some kind of .22 LR pistol than any other caliber. Wow! Now, I’m not recommending a .22 pistol as your first line of self-defense, but it sure beats a sharp stick or throw rocks at someone attacking you.

A .22 LR Pistol

I hate to admit it; however, I’ve been without a .22 LR pistol for several years now. There’s no excuse for that, either. Yes, we have .22 LR long guns, but I personally didn’t have a .22 LR handgun. The wife owns several.

Limited Edition Model of Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 LR Semi-Auto Handgun

Under review today is the Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 LR semi-auto handgun. This particular model has been around for several years now; however, it is new to me, especially this limited edition model, which was commissioned by Black Hills Ammunition and has a few special features.

Features of the Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 Semi-Auto Handgun

Check out the line of 22/45 pistols on the Ruger website and you’ll come away impressed with what they have. Instead of going over all the features that are standard on this handgun, you can read them for yourself on the Ruger website. So, I’m only going to cover a few features.

One-Button Push Take-Down

First of all, I love the simple one-button push take-down feature. In the past, when I was doing gunsmithing and had a gun show, I couldn’t tell you how many guys brought in their Ruger .22 pistols that they took apart for cleaning and couldn’t put them back together. It wasn’t really complicated; it just took a little nudge at times to get the guns back together. I never charged anyone for doing this for them. So, this simple one-button push take-down feature is welcomed on this gun.


Now, the receiver on the 22/45 Lite is actually the upper part of the gun, not the lower, where you’d expect to find the serial number. The upper is anodized aluminum, and this really keeps the weight of the gun down to a mere 25 oz. There are also holes milled into the front of the receiver, to help lighten the gun’s weight. And, depending on which model you like, the holes can be of different configurations. The model that Black Hills Ammunition selected for their limited run is based on a special edition that is only sold by a big name distributor. It has an anodized OD green upper, and the lower is black polymer, which has the same feel as the grand ol’ 1911.


Also, it takes 1911 grips, albeit you will have to modify the grips a little bit to get them to fit this gun. The gun comes standard with black rubber Hogue grips, which I love. However, the BHA limited edition comes not only with the black rubber grips. It has a pair of gorgeous, smooth wood grips. The right grip panel has the BHA logo, and the left grip has the Ruger logo.

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Barrel and Sights

The barrel is also threaded with a threat protector cap on it, if you desire to jump through all the red tape to purchase a sound suppressor for this pistol. I won’t! The front sight is a tall fixed one, and the rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The gun comes with a Picatinny rail mounted on top, if you desire to install a red dot or magnifying scope on it. I removed it, so I can just use the sights.

Mag and Safety

The drop-free magazine holds 10 rounds, and the gun comes with two mags. There is an ambidextrous safety; however, it can be converted to a single-side safety, if you want. And, there is the mag release, right behind the trigger guard, just like a 1911, for quick mag changes. The front strap has serrations, and the back strap is checkered, for a very sure grip in any weather conditions. Chambering a round is simple. Just grasp the dual charging handle/bolt on the rear of the receiver and pull it and release it; a round chambers.

Upper Receiver Marked with “Black Hills” and Serial Number

The rear of the upper receiver is marked with the “Black Hills” name, and there is a special serial number range starting with BH18-001 to BH18-200. Yes, that’s right. Only two hundred of these guns were commissioned by Black Hills Ammunition, so you won’t be able to buy one of these. However, you can find almost the same exact gun on the Ruger website without the special markings or serial numbers. On top of it all, this dandy pistol came with a chest harness holster from Badlands Leather that also has the Black Hills Ammunition logo on it. What a great addition to an already fine pistol.

Worth the Wait

I waited several months to get my hands on this limited edition .22 LR handgun, and it was worth the wait. I already had the holster in-hand, so it was hard to wait on the pistol to fill the holster. Uncharacteristically, I was really undecided on if I should even shoot this limited edition pistol. I really thought about just displaying it on my computer desk for all to admire. I contacted Jeff Hoffman, who owns BHA with his lovely wife, Kristi, and he flat out told me “A gun you can’t shoot, isn’t worth anything.” That made my mind up. This will be a shooter.

I did remove the beautiful wood grips before shooting the gun. They are just too nice to get buggered-up with dings and scratches. So, I installed the black rubber grips from Hogue Grips that came with the gun. I had a real hodge-podge of .22 LR ammo on-hand, as you would expect– everything from plinking lead standard velocity fodder to hollow point copper coated hi-velocity stuff– that I ran through this gun. This isn’t an on-going test of this gun. It is just a fun gun to shoot. Thus far, more than 400 rounds have gone down range without a hitch, and I didn’t expect any. It is a Ruger!


As for accuracy, I placed a paper target out at 25 yards and started shooting away, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. The trigger pull has some slack before it goes “bang”, and it was about 5-lbs, but I was easily able to get 2-inch groups without trying hard at all. If I hunkered down, I could easily get groups of 1.5 inches, and with the right ammo I’m positive I can get 1-inch groups. Targets of opportunity were easy to hit, even out to 100-yards. Head-sized rocks were hit with regularity.

A Real Winner

The Ruger 22/45 Lite is a real winner in my book, and it’s not an inexpensive handgun. It retails for about $550 but can be found discounted quite a bit. Even my local gun shop usually has them in-stock for about a hundred bucks below retail. Yeah, it’s still a good chunk of change, but this .22 LR pistol will easily give you a lifetime of shooting pleasure, and it’ll sure do for many survival purposes. You can pack a lot of .22 LR ammo in your pack, too. Check one out at your local gun shop, and remember, you can find a similar base model. You won’t find this limited edition version, since only 200 were made.

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