Ruger Mark I pellet pistol: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


The Ruger Mark I pellet pistol is a powerful spring-piston gun.

I first saw this air pistol at the 2012 SHOT Show, though it had been selling in Wal-Mart for about six months before that. The Ruger Mark I pellet pistol is a breakbarrel spring-piston single-shot pellet pistol that seems normal in every way. The velocity claimed for the gun is 600 f.p.s. with non-lead pellets and 500 f.p.s. with lead, which means it’s both powerful and also somewhat difficult to cock. A cocking aid is supplied with the gun and slips over the muzzle to increase the leverage.

I’m a handgunner at heart; and whenever there’s a new handgun to test, I really want to try it out. I was delighted when the Wal-Mart exclusive elapsed earlier this year, and this pistol became available to the rest of the airgun world. The Ruger Mark I air pistol is available only in .177 caliber at this time.

For the record, I’m testing pistol number 00030570.

Not that hard to cock
I read the customer reviews on the gun before taking the gun from the blister pack. Many said it’s hard to cock. I disagree. What you have to do is learn where to put your hands, and this pistol cocks easily enough when the cocking aid is installed. Keep the gun close to your chest when cocking to keep the leverage as optimum as possible. If you want to see an air pistol that’s hard to cock, try a Browning 800 Express or, better yet, a Walther LP III. Those guns will put hair on your chest! This one just takes some getting used to.

One person said he left the cocking aid on the gun when shooting. Good idea! I did the same, and it seems to work well. I suppose I ought to test it for accuracy with the aid both on and off the gun.

Trigger
Several people commented about the long trigger. The second stage is quite long and slightly creepy, but it isn’t the worst trigger I’ve ever used. In fact, it’s a lot nicer than some other air pistol triggers I have tried. And the creep can be adjusted out, as I soon discovered.

The first-stage pull length is somewhat adjustable. I tried to make it as long as possible, which should shorten the second-stage pull. It seemed to work, though there was still a lot of stage-two travel present. But the creepiness seemed to be abated. I think I can get used to it.

The sights
The sights are fiberoptic, of course. That part I don’t like, as all precision goes away. But the front red tube is bright enough indoors to aim with, and that’s important. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions, and there’s an arrow for elevation and a scale for windage. One owner stripped the elevation screw because he said his gun was shooting too low and he tightened down the rear sight screw (?) as far as it would go. Of course, he should have adjusted it up, because the strike of the pellet moves in the same direction as the rear sight.

There’s a short 11mm dovetail cut directly into the spring tube for an optical sight, but it needs to be one with a very short base. And there’s no provision for the scope stop that this pistol definitely needs. So, if you want to use optics, think BKL.

First impressions
The firing behavior is quick and free from vibration. There’s a definite forward jump when the gun fires. Your hand will rock forward on its own. You’ll have to adopt an artillery hold to get any accuracy from this air pistol.

The chisel detent that holds the barrel closed is very aggressive, and the cocking aid needs to be slapped to break open the barrel. It locks up tight and gives a great feeling of confidence. If the barrel is rifled well, I bet this pistol can shoot.

This gun smokes like a teenager at the mall! It’s been over-oiled at the factory and will not require any oiling for some time. This will also make the break-in period longer, and you’ll have to get used to the smell of frying bacon.

The pistol balances very well in the hand. The use of synthetics puts the bulk of the weight above the web of your firing hand, and that gives the gun a very neutral balance.

The barrel is nicely rifled with 12 shallow lands and grooves. It’s jacketed with a synthetic sleeve that has four large flutes; but since you’ll probably leave the cocking aid on, the barrel will look longer.

Ambidexterity
The grips are contoured to fill your hand, and they’re completely ambidextrous. The only feature that favors right-handed shooters more is the safety that’s a button that pops out on the right side of the frame when applied. It’s pushed in (to the left) to make the pistol ready to fire. It’s not automatic, so you can leave it alone and just cock and shoot the gun. This safety blocks the trigger and can be applied at any time — even when the gun is uncocked.

Use of synthetics
This gun has a lot of synthetic parts. The grip frame is actually a subframe that houses the spring tube. It’s entirely synthetic, but the spring tube is a conventional steel tube. The barrel is a thin steel tube housed in a synthetic jacket that includes the base block. The synthetic trigger blade is fat and nicely curved. The cocking aid is also synthetic; so except for the spring tube, most of the outside of the pistol is plastic. But it doesn’t look bad or out of place.

Finish
The gun is mostly matte black. Only the spring tube is polished steel, and the level of polish is just one step better than matte. So this is a black gun with a matte finish.

So far
Thus far, this pistol hasn’t been in the hands of many airgunners. It was sold through Wal-Mart, with no way of knowing how well it was received. But now that it’s in airgun market channels, it’ll be time for a thorough evaluation. How does it hold up against other powerful spring-piston air pistols?

I’m so glad this is a pellet pistol and not a BB gun, because there’s a good chance for accuracy. It holds well, the sights seem usable, and the trigger isn’t that bad. Cocking is easier than many have said, and I am hoping the pistol will continue to surprise me downrange.

27 thoughts on “Ruger Mark I pellet pistol: Part 1

  1. BB

    I much prefer rifles to pistols, but I do own a few pistols. As a handgun aficionado, I would be interested to know what your all time favorite air pistols are. I realize this may be a difficult question, akin to asking “what’s your favorite song?” I am guessing the FWBs top the list?


    • SL,

      Well, FWB doesn’t even make the list, if we include firearms. They would be a Colt SAA with a 7.5″ bbl. and a 1911 that’s been tuned. I also like the Makarov a lot, though the cartridge is a bit anemic.

      If we are talking air pistols then my all-time favorites are the Crosman Mark I, the Beeman P1 and, yes, a Feinwerkbau P44 that I can’t afford, even today. I also like the S&W 568 and the new Dan Wesson BB revolver with the long barrel. And the Makarov BB pistol from Umarex.

      B.B.



  2. Almost makes me wish I hadn’t heard of pneumatic or didn’t have a IZH-64m. I like the looks of this pistol – and I normally play my cards close to my chest.
    -Chuck


  3. The smell of frying bacon. It’s got to be made in China. All those old TS45′s smelled like that when new.
    Ruger’s air rifle is made in China so this one probably is too.

    Mike


  4. YAY a pistol :D
    I think I also have a preference for pistols, I like my carbines but I have a lot more pistols than I have rifles so I must have a preference for them.

    J-F


  5. I just bought one and it is easier than the Browning to cock,for the money it is a good buy,the
    power is close to the browning There is a lot more plastic but I am happy with it.I left the cocking
    aid on the same as I do with the Browning.It went thru both sides of a real tin can and the velocity
    is very close to advertised specs.In all a great buy if you don’t want to spend for the Browning or
    Walther LP 11


  6. I understand that the Hatsan 25 pistol is the hot ticket at 600fps in .22..Gasp ! Can you imagine the cocking effort…but the chatter is that the Ruger is junk. I have not had either. Not a pistol fan except in 1911A1 and P-38 firearms.
    Pete


    • Pete,

      I read the chatter about this Ruger and I wanted to look into it deeper. Already I’ve discovered that the pistol is not as hard to cock as some say.

      B.B.


    • I’ve read this chatter also, especially when Hatson’s started to get pushed in recent months. I don’t trust a lot of what I read because there is a consistent pattern with some of these posters and other reviewers. First of all, the claims that they make about Hatsons are unrealistic. Specifically, they write as if Hatsons are the ONLY airguns worth owning. Second of all, it seems that every time another manufacturers gun is promoted, these same people make claims that they are junk, and that you should get a Hatson instead. So there seems to be a concerted effort to push Hatson’s, while knocking everyone else. Also (aside from “customer” post’s), reviews of Hatson rifles have been written that aren’t reviews at all. They are pure promotions with absolutely no critique. Even worse, they then outright give the Hatson product 5 stars (can you say, BS)!

      This lack of honesty elsewhere is what keeps me here.


      • I’m one of those singing the Hatsan (with an “A” not Hatson with an “O”) PCP’s praise.
        I own one of their low powered (sub 500fps) springer that’s nothing to write home about, worlds away from the Bronco. I’d say on par with one of the “Beeman” (those made in China, that’s why I put the name in quotation marks, because to me these aren’t worthy of the Beeman name) rifles.
        The finish is very good, it’s fairly accurate for the price but that’s pretty much it. The shooting behavior is harsh and buzzy.
        BUT the PCP’s… they’re are great, from the one I own to the other one I tried to the reports from other Canadian buyers (Hatsan detuned a few pallets of their line of PCP’s for a small Canadian importer) and I didn’t hear ONE complaint about them.
        You can order them with a LW barrel for 60$ more but it’s apparently not worth it at less than 25yards.
        At 10M I’m getting sub 0.25 inch 10 shot groups.

        Our importer only sells their PCP line and the springers are kinda hard to find because for the price you can find better rifles.

        So I’d say Hatsan PCP = yes without a single doubt / Hatsan springer = only if you must own a cheap magnum springer

        J-F


        • J-F,
          Yes, I’ve read nothing but good things about the PCP’s (especially here). The chatter that we’re talking about is strictly with respect to springer’s. Again, I’m very suspicious about what’s going on in other places. It’s bad enough that they claim to write reviews, only giving high praise in every facet, giving 5 stars, but then to knock other manufacturers while adding that “you should get a Hatsan instead”. The whole thing stinks to High Heaven. And yes, I realized the misspelling right after I hit the submit button.
          Victor


  7. I bought one from Walmart when they first came out on the shelves, worst dieseling air pistol I have ever encountered. It shot ok until the barrel housing cracked after about 150 shots, right after it dieseled its last smoky breath. I have had much better luck with the Baikal 53 that I purchased for about the same price from Pyramid, which was lighter, more accurate and much easier to cock (I didn’t need the diesel induced power boost of the Ruger for targets anyway).



      • On mine the barrel shroud split started at the breech end on the left side (the thinnest part of the shroud). Since this could lead to separation of the shroud under considerable spring tension, I advise pointing the top of the pistol away from yourself as you cock it. Several of the reviews on the Walmart site had similar problems with breaks in the plastic barrel shroud and lock, but these were posted after I had already purchased mine. These may well be problems with early production examples which were lemons, that may have since been ironed out. Doesn’t hurt to be cautious though.


  8. A friend recently bought the “Ruger” .177 pellet rifle. So far, it seems to be working fine. It shoots better than the “Remington” pellet rifle, also from China, he tried first. It’s not up to the standard of my Diana 34 though, it’s well worth the extra money. Also, you can get the 34 in .22 cal. which I prefer.

    Mike


  9. I have owned this mark 1 for a few months, and yes it still smokes even after a major cleaning. I have over looked it, and figured it will stop sooner or later. I really enjoy shooting this gun, even with all it’s plastic parts it feels well balanced, and is accurate. It really takes some time to get used to this gun, the trigger, the bulky feel, the cocking device, but if you invest some time in it you will have a powerful, accurate gun under $100. I get better grouping with the cocking device off, and it’s no big deal taking it off or putting it on.


  10. Just got my second Ruger Mk 1 (the cocking mechanism locked up on the first one after 20 rds) from Wally World. Wanted another pistol to compliment my powerline 177 pistol (30 yrs+ and still a tack driver). Cocking not hard, HATE THE SIGHTS! Put a Aim Point on it, much better) now it looks like a man from UNCLE weapon. Anyway, adjusted the trigger pull all the way up for less travel. Trigger is good, but not great. Seems to have plenty of power. Hopefully accuracy will improve with use. Would really like to find a decent rear sight for this gun. Any ideas out there? Cleaned the barrel before shooting and the dieseling finally stopped after about 200 rds. For a low price pistol, not a bad deal>


  11. Does anyone have chronograph numbers for pellets fired from a Ruger Mark 1?
    I’m considering purchasing this gun for squirell hunting.
    Thanks


  12. After firing the first dozen pellets from my new Ruger Mark 1 pellet pistol, marveling at its accuracy, I was shocked when the small plastic part that holds the barrel closed broke while I was cocking the pistol. This could be a serious design flaw if others experience a similar failure of that part. Yes, I too found the trigger pull to be especially long.


  13. For a $65 springer action airgun I did not expect much – as a product manufactured under the Ruger name – I expected much more. I am so disappointed in this product. The trigger pull was unbelievably long and unreliable. There is no balance between power vs usability. No one I know will ever know I wasted actual money on this thing! I’ll spend my real cash on RWS/Diana!!!



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