Stance. Breathing Control. Sight Picture. Trigger control. Follow through. Ultimately, time at the shooting range is about the fundamentals of shooting and hitting your target. While it’s more thrilling to shoot a larger caliber handgun, when it comes to hitting your target, you can’t beat a nice .22 cailber target pistol.
You’ll find five major contenders in the casual .22 caliber target pistol market: the Ruger Mk. III, the Ruger 22/45, the Smith & Wesson 22A, the Beretta NEOS, and the Browning Buckmark. They each come with a ten round detachable box magazine. They are all single action pistols with a relatively light trigger pull for increased accuracy. While there are amazing target pistols from companies like High Standard and Hammerli, the pistols in this guide were all selected because they cost less than $500.
1. Ruger Mk III. Introduced in 1954, the Ruger Mark I was a foundational product for Ruger. It’s shape was reminiscent of the famed German Luger pistol and it featured a rakishly angled grip and a 10-round magazine. Over the years, the design has matured into today’s Ruger Mark III. You can get the pistol in four different configurations: Standard, Target, Hunter, and Competition. Barrel lengths range from 4.75-inches to 6.88-inches. The Standard model comes with fixed rear sights and the rear sights on other models are all adjustable. The Hunter comes with a fiber optic front sight. The Standard Ruger Mk III starts at a suggested retail price of $389.
2. Ruger 22/45. The famed Mark III spawned a new product line called the 22/45. While based on the similar to the Mark III, the 22/45 has a more conventional upright grip and places magazine releases and safeties in roughly the same positions as they would be found on handguns fashioned after the venerable Colt 1911. Of course, .22 caliber ammunition is much more economical to shoot than the more powerful .45 ACP. Barrel lengths run from 4-inches to 5.5-inches. The target version of the 22/45 starts at a suggested retail price of $359.
3. Smith & Wesson 22A. This SW22A is a basic target pistol with a top-mounted accessory rail integrated into the design. It runs the entire length of the pistol and can easily accommodate standard accessories like an optical sight. Barrel lengths are 4-inches, 5.5-inches, and 7-inches. The 22A often comes with a long barrel and RealTree APG HD camouflage finish to appeal to small game hunters. The SW22A starts at a suggested retail price of $329.
4. Beretta U22 Neos. If you like to be on the cutting edge, the Beretta Neos looks like the target pistol for you. Designed in collaboration with the renowned Italian designer Guigiaro, the Neos has the futuristic lines of a starship. Like the standard Ruger Mark III, the Neos has a steeply raked grip. An accessory rail for Weaver-compatible scopes is well integrated into the pistol’s design. The Neos comes with a 4.5-inch or 6-inch barrel. The U22 starts with a suggested price of $280. In addition, for $249 more, a carbine conversion kit is available to convert the pistol to a very cool looking little rifle.
5. Browning Buck Mark. The Browning Buck Mark series of target pistols has a highly regarded reputation for quality and accuracy. The Buck Mark comes in 4-inch, 5.5-inch, and 7-inch barrel lengths. The Buck Mark Camper UFX starts at $379. The Buck Mark Contour URX has an integrated accessory rail that runs the entire length of the 5.5-inch or 7.25-inch barrel. The Buck Mark Hunter has a shorter accessory rail for scopes, cocobolo target grips, and a fiber optic front sight.
Each of these target pistols comes in myriad configurations. The key is to find one that fits your hands and your budget. While these pistols are not good for self-defense due to their light single action triggers and small caliber, each would be a great addition to your arsenal of fun. A good .22 target pistol will allow you to shoot more and really hone your marksmanship skills.