Browning Buck Mark Bullseye Target .22 Pistol
By Chuck Hawks
Browning says this about their Buck Mark pistols:
"The Buck Mark pistol is one of the most proven 22 rimfire designs in the world today. It superseded the original Challenger series of Browning 22 Long Rifle pistols in about 1985. Over the years the design of the Buck Mark has remained very similar with refinements most often in aesthetic design, grips and finishes . . . Browning Buck Mark rimfire pistols lead the industry in quality, reliability, accuracy and variety."
The Buck Mark Bullseye Target model .22 LR autoloading pistol was produced from 1996 to 2005. The basic design is standard Buck Mark and it uses the same blowback action as the current (2018) Buck Mark pistols.
The Bullseye Target is, to me, the high point (thus far) of the Buck Mark pistol line. It is my favorite Browning target pistol since the long discontinued Medalist. Its appearance is serious, attractive and it is obviously a class act. A Browning Signature series zippered nylon case ("pistol rug") is included with the Bullseye Target pistol.
The 7-1/4" round, fluted bull barrel is all steel with a hand reamed chamber and a target crown. Its matte bluing perfectly matches the black anodized, 7075-T6 aluminum, CNC machined from billet grip frame.
The steel slide is designed with a 2-3/8" long, contoured finger recess with grooves for a positive grip. In addition, there are small raised "ears" at the rear of the slide. Since the Buck Mark has a top strap that does not move in relation to the frame, you must rack the slide back with a "thumb-to-finger" grip. This is why the ears on the slide help. The slide stays open after the last shot and there is a small, but ergonomic and easily manipulated, manual slide release conveniently located above the forward part of the left grip panel.
The single action, gold plated target trigger is free of creep and has a 2-1/4 pound pull weight, per my RCBS gauge. It incorporates an external over-travel adjustment screw that I did not need to touch. The wide, contoured, grooved trigger has a pronounced curve that fits my medium size fingers nicely, but it might be a bit too curved for really thick fingers.
The Browning Pro Target, Patridge style rear sight has 16 click per turn precision windage and elevation adjustments. The rear sight is mounted on a removable sight base that can be replaced by an accessory sight base for optical sights, if desired. This sight base does not move with the slide; it is fixed in relationship to the barrel for repeatable accuracy.
The target blade ramp front sight is flat black, as it should be for maximum contrast when using a six-o'clock hold on bullseye targets. The front sight, secured by an Allen head screw, is replaceable.
A manual, two position thumb safety is located at the top rear of the left grip panel, where it is unlikely to be inadvertently bumped. Like the slide release, the safety is easily reached by the thumb of the shooting hand. It locks the striker and also the slide (closed) and is very positive in operation. There is also an automatic trigger disconnect magazine safety.
The Bullseye Target comes with beautiful and very functional laminated rosewood target grips with a small, laser cut, Browning "buck" logo. These incorporate thumb and palm rests into which you can really lock your shooting hand. They seem to fit medium size and large hands quite well.
Shooters with small hands may want to slenderize the grip panels. However, do not remove the grips from the pistol unless you know what you are doing, as they serve to retain and position internal parts.
Buck Mark magazines hold 10 cartridges in a single stack and have a heat treated steel body. There is a coil spring behind the black plastic follower, which Browning claims provides a more consistent follower angle than the usual "Z" magazine spring. The magazine positively ejects from the grip when released.
The push button magazine release is conventionally located on the left side of the grip frame, behind the trigger guard. Because of the thumb rest on the left grip panel, I find the magazine release button difficult to access with the thumb of the right (shooting) hand. I find it easier to use the tip of the left thumb to release the magazine.
Probably the biggest drawback to the Buck Mark design is its complicated field stripping procedure for normal cleaning and maintenance. Most pistols today are stripped without the use of tools and there are no small parts to lose. Unfortunately, this is not true of the Buck Mark. (Two Allen wrenches are supplied with the pistol.)
Here is the disassembly procedure:
When the pistol is disassembled you wind up with nine parts. Four of these are small, easily dropped or lost, screws and washers. Work on a large, flat surface, such as a table covered by a white towel, where parts are unlikely to go astray.
Guns and Shooting Online Gunsmithing Editor Rocky Hays and I did some rather casual shooting with high velocity Remington Golden Bullet 40 grain RN, copper plated ammo. Our 25 yard, 10 shot groups averaged 1-1/2" from an outdoor bench rest (discounting our, not the pistol's, flyers), shooting without sand bags or a Pistol Perch. I am sure, if properly supported, this pistol has the intrinsic accuracy to shoot one inch groups with match ammunition.
The Bullseye Target balances perfectly in my hand for offhand shooting with one or both hands. This is a hard quality to define and highly subjective, but for me, Browning got this pistol right.
They also got the functioning right, as the Buck Mark Bullseye was 100% reliable. I was not surprised the Buck Mark went bang when it was supposed to. A dear departed friend, John Rauzon, owned a Buck Mark Varmint model. I can't remember his Buck Mark jamming, even though he seldom cleaned it.
We used to go pistol shooting in the hills (weather permitting) with our friends, pretty much every week. John delighted in using that pistol to shoot at empty cartridge cases at about 20-25 yards. He hit most of them, too.
For 2018, Browning offers 22 regular Buck Mark models and 11 limited availability models (mostly 2018 SHOT Show specials). There are standard, target, hunting, plinking and lightweight models with barrels from 4" to 9-7/8" long. Some are threaded for suppressors. All come with target sights and most come with Picatinny rails for optical sights. There is a new Buck Mark for virtually any purpose.
Copyright 2018 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.