Ruger SR22 Autoloading Pistol

By Randy Wakeman

Ruger SR22
Photo by Randy Wakeman.

New for 2012 is the Ruger SR22, a 10-shot .22 LR autoloading pistol. The new Ruger resembles the Walther P22, which itself is presented as a three-quarters size rimfire version of the Walther P99. The Walther has been a popular pistol, billed as �the world's most popular,� although it has also gained a reputation for being a bit fussy about ammunition and is cheaply made. The primary area of disdain is its zinc alloy slide. The Walther also has a sleeved, �rifled insert� style barrel. It seems that Ruger seeks to capitalize on the popularity of this style of lightweight plinker, but without the cheap slide and fixing the ammo fussiness in the process.

Here are the published specifications:

            Catalog Number: SR22PB

            Model Number: 3600

            Action: blow-back operated, semi-automatic

            Caliber: .22 Long Rifle

            Magazine Capacity: 10

            Slide Material: Aluminum

            Slide Finish: Black Anodized

            Grip Frame: Black Polymer

            Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot

            Barrel Length: 3.50"

            Twist: 1:16", RH

            Grooves: 6

            Overall Length: 6.40"

            Height: 4.90"

            Width: 1.29"

            Weight: 17.50 oz.

            2012 MSRP: $399.00

The Ruger SR22 is ambidextrous. It has an ambidextrous safety and an ambidextrous magazine release, which is to say dual safeties and dual slide release buttons, one each found on both sides of the handgun. These controls are satisfactorily easy to operate. The SR22 has adjustable three-dot sights, a Picatinny under rail for accessories and a pair of slip on rubber grips. One is extremely thin and one medium sized. Most will go for the larger grips straight away; they still aren't that large.

If you're looking for a fabulous trigger, look elsewhere. The SR22 trigger is a familiar double action / single action (DA/SA) style, with a heavy DA pull that was off the scale of my Timney trigger gauge. Once the hammer is back, after a long take-up, the SA trigger pull releases at about seven pounds.

The Ruger SR22 is a "tactical plinker" type of handgun. By that, I mean it seeks to capitalize on the polymer aesthetics of the Glock, attempting to look what some would find mean, cool, or "bad." It is a cosmetic treatment only, with a single action trigger pull about seven times the weight of the entire firearm and a horrible, even heavier, long take-up double action trigger that takes the opposite direction of the Glock's consistent striker-fired system. With a slow locktime external hammer combined with the unacceptable trigger, it is an unsatisfying handgun, an advance to the rear from the pistols I grew up with 45 years ago, most notably a High Standard autoloader and a 1960's Browning Challenger. While some may find the Picatinny rail appealing, given the "tactical plastic" look of this pistol, I find it a bit silly.

At the shooting range, the combination of the coarse sights and the excessively heavy trigger made the SR22 difficult to shoot accurately. A representative 25 yard target showing 10 shots fired with Winchester Super-X 40 grain HP ammo is shown below. The SR22 compares poorly to any number of .22 rimfire pistols previously reviewed on Guns and Shooting Online, including a NAA Mini-Master, Colt Diamondback and a Ruger Mark II target pistol.

Ruger SR22 target

Based on testing with Winchester, Federal and Fiocchi .22 LR cartridges, the P22 is completely reliable. It is also a dream to field strip and clean. At not much over a pound, it is also extremely lightweight. Though the SR22 retails for $399, the initial 2012 street price seems to be in the $300 area. This is similar to, if not a bit less, than the Walther P22 with which it obviously competes. Some of the truly ugly Walthers (digital pink camo, for example) run around $375 or so.

Recently, I have been very impressed with Ruger handguns. That includes the LCR, SR9 and SR1911. In the case of the SR22, I am less enthusiastic. It is reliable, attractively priced and certainly a quality upgrade from the Walther product. As a result, I think Ruger will sell a ton of these.

So, what's my beef? The problem is Ruger already makes far superior.22 autoloaders, for the same or less dollars. The Ruger P512MKIIIRP, for example, is the 5.5 inch bull-barreled version of their 22/45 series, with Cocobolo checkered grips that retails for $389; the standard P512MKIII retails for $349. The basic steel Ruger Mark III tapered barrel, offered in 4.5 or 6 inch barrel lengths, retails for $379. These are very accurate, reliable, durable, well-made, all steel pistols that are far more appealing.

Ruger seems to have wanted a lightweight P22 beater and has achieved that goal. However, the Ruger Mark III .22 LR pistols remain a superior product for about the same price.

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Copyright 2012, 2016 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.