Improvements for the Ruger MKII KMK10

By D. K. Taylor

Ruger KMK10
Stock MKII KMK10. Illustration courtesy of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

Let me start by describing my enthusiasm about this particular model. A friend of mine had a High Standard with a custom 9-inch barrel that he was amazingly proficient with, and I was unable to fund a custom built gun at the time. So, after seeing a magazine article covering the latest in varmint pistols that showed a photo of the semi-newly introduced KMK10 MKII, along with a brief mention of favorable support by the writer, I knew I needed to give one of them a whirl.

I purchased this pistol new back in the year 1989, after a considerable amount of waiting while I was saving the dough for the purchase. After what seemed like eternity at the time, (a few months) I finally got my hands on one. To be honest, I wasn't all that excited about the Ruger name at the time, as I was brought up in a house that favored slightly more expensive firearms. I had planned to "make due" with the Ruger until I could afford a custom High Standard, or maybe buy one of the more expensive Browning Buckmarks' in a similar configuration. But as I'm here to tell you, things don't always work out the way they were planned.

Since then, some 13 years later, I have owned a slew of different .22 pistols. I've even kept a few of them along the way, though many of them turned into trading stock if I didn't shoot them well at first, or if something new came out and I needed to trade to make up for a lack of cash to make the deal work. Nothing is more fun to me than trying out a new .22! However, one pistol in particular never got very far from my grip, for reasons I'll outline below.

First, the obvious, that long barrel... Why? Well, it allows two very distinct advantages. One is that a longer sight radius will always help the shooter acquire and maintain a proper alignment with the target. The best example I have of this, is the S&W Model 41. A unique version of this pistol was made for a few years by S&W, specifically for NRA Bullseye shooters, which involves a one handed grip, and prolonged shooting times. What was different about them from the standard 5, 5.5, 7, & 7 3/8" barreled versions, was that going on past the muzzle of the barrel, was an extension of the sight rib that held the front sight out about 3 inches past the end of the pistol. Had the barrel itself been that long, the weight would have been too much strain for the shooter to hold one handed for the extended shooting times involved in that sport.

Now the weight is what brings me to the second advantage of the long barrel. Although the heft is less than ideal for a one handed grip, a two handed one is very easy to support the gun with. And that extra weight is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to steadying an open sighted gun after any excitement, activity or nervousness that has gotten the shooter too worked up to hold the gun still. In a hunting situation, it is not uncommon to have to run, crawl, jump, or whatever to get in a good position for the shot. Couple that with the excitement of the hunt itself, and anyone, no matter how cool, is going to need all the help they can get when using a handgun for hunting.

There are a few other advantages to the longer barrel. The external ballistics are improved by using a longer barrel on a handgun chambered in .22lr. But to tell the truth, the mental gymnastics involved in discussing that topic makes me shiver. If that's a subject that interests you, I recommend keeping it in the high power rifle area, where at least you educate yourself at the library about it, and experiment with it by handloading. With a .22 rimfire round, in an open sighted pistol, there really isn't much to discuss, regardless of barrel length.

A couple of other trivial points that are kind of like "icing on the cake" I suppose. The longer barrel does keep the noise further away from the shooter, and the weight of the barrel will reduce some felt recoil. But again, we're talking about the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. So there wasn't much of either to begin with.

One last thing, longer barrels are a bit safer. It is much more difficult to accidentally point a handgun of this size in an unsafe direction, than say, a snub-nose 38 revolver. Okay, enough of the barrel length stuff!

There are many more features that make the Ruger a fine choice for a field gun or...? But if you're sitting here reading this on your own time, you are probably well aware of the MKIIs' features and how they compare to the other makes and their models available in the marketplace.

The biggest draw in my opinion is their affordability, and how that has made them widespread and common in the shooting sports, which has spawned lots of neat after-market products for them. Or, you don't have to stop there. A good machinist can make the MKII head right off the charts when it comes to the "cool factor". Only your imagination and wallet will limit them!

Now for the improvements- I'll give them to you in order of necessity.

First, you'll need a pistol. The blued, (mild steel MK10) version sells for a bit less but in my opinion is less than ideal for obvious reasons, but it's your preference of course.

Then you'll need to purchase 3 more magazines, for a total of 5. (There should have been two included with the gun when it was purchased new.) The reason for this is only a matter of convenience. Regardless of what brand of ammo you buy or in what quantity, sooner or later it will probably work out even by loading 5 magazines at a time. Five of them also gives you time to shoot without reloading the magazines so frequently on a day when a lot of shooting is to be done.

When reloading, a gizmos called a "Thumb Saver" is handy for loading magazines. Maybe one of these days I'll start using mine? They are usually available at the gun shows for around $3.00.

For carrying the magazines, Uncle Mikes makes a Velcro pouch that is just right for 4 or 5 magazines, depending on whether or not one of them is installed in the pistol. This gives you 50 rounds to take along, eliminating the need to pack extra ammunition on long hikes or whatever you might be headed for.

For packing the KMK10, Uncle Mikes offers an array of nylon field holsters and belts. Pick the rig that is most comfortable for your purposes.

So now, you're set up to shoot with a complete package, ready for anything. From here, it gets more expensive and starts' getting in to an area that is mostly about preferences, rather than necessities. So, your mileage may vary.

The biggest improvement made to this gun, is the trigger. This is work for Volquartsen Custom Ltd. I had them install their accuracy kit, which includes the drilling of the frame to accommodate a travel adjustment screw. This gives a very large improvement over the factory setup. Also included are a wide trigger with an over-travel adjustment screw, (shown), their sear, lightened hammer, and reduced power hammer spring, (to match the lightened hammer). The result is a vastly improved trigger pull that is much cleaner than the factory's, with a faster lock-time and an overall superior trigger system to what was shipped with the gun as new.

The downside is, the trigger pull won't be something to show off to your shooting friends. I'm not sure why, but regardless of parts or gunsmith, I've yet to see a trigger in a MKII that rivals what comes with a factory Model 41 trigger or any thing else with a good trigger job on it. The upside is that although not crisp, it should land at around 3-3 1/2 lbs. which is perfect for a field gun. Any lighter than that and it would be better suited on a bench or at a range, not in the field.

The next major improvement is the sights. Most pistol sights are made to be quick and easy to line up. But your long Ruger will be capable of accuracy that is much more refined than available with the factory sights.

Starting with the front sight, I had a machinist mill off the blade of the front sight and then dovetail the factory base to accept a standard bead sight, like you would find on most older .22 rifles.

Then, for the rear sight, I threw out the old factory blade with the big notch in it and made a replacement. I did this with my Dremmel tool using hardened steel and using the factory blade as a template. Coming up with hardened steel the right thickness was not easy, until it occurred to me that saw blades are made of this stuff and it turns out that a combination blade for a saws-all tool was just right. After it was proven to fit, I cut a very fine notch in it to match the front sight with a triangular file, and then I just dunked it into the cold bluing for a finish, and reinstalled it. Easy. What this produces, is a very fine set of sights that allow for much more precision, without sacrificing much speed, or going to bulkier optical sights.

Next, I like the improved magazine release that Ranch Products makes. The improved shape greatly assists in providing a much more positive feel to magazine changes, and it is also much more attractive. That's not too bad of a deal for $12.00.

I also liked the look of it so much, that I decided to match it on the bolt grip surfaces. This is much more comfortable that the factory serration's. I did this with a lot of patience, a Dremmel tool, more patience, and some sandpaper. This is not a project for the impatient.

If you decide that the Pachmayr grips suit you, you need to be made aware of a design problem that exists in them. There is not enough reinforcement in the rubber to keep the hammer pin inside the frame. So, it will work its way out sooner or later and probably when you least expect it. Putting the pin back in without disassembly is next to impossible, so field repairs are out.

The answer to this problem is to have a longer one made, that will accept an e-clip on the opposite side of the gun, under the grip panel, then you will have to hollow out the grip panel a bit to accommodate the protrusion. Again, the Dremmel saves the day.

The last, but not least alteration is in the finish. Again this is personal preference, so no hate mail allowed! After my MKII became a bit tattered and worn from neglect and abuse, the factory finish was looking a tad tacky. I disassembled it, plugged each end of the bore, taped up the bolt except for the grip surfaces, removed all the anodized and blued parts, and ran it through a fine bead blasting unit. It only took a few minutes, and I actually like it better than the original. Since then, I "freshened it up" the same way twice more due to me not being the least bit careful with it, and it comes out looking as pretty as can be. This is another virtue over the blued version.

This pistol has had well over 28,000 rounds through it to date. Most of them at golf balls, tin cans, or whatever else needed shooting. And many went toward putting meat on my family's dinner table. I've carried this gun in the field more than any of my other firearms combined. It simply is the most useful gun I've ever owned.




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Copyright 2002, 2012 by D.K Taylor. All rights reserved.


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