Ruger Mark I pellet pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

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

Before I begin, here’s a followup to yesterday’s blog on the importance of stock length. I discovered, thanks to blog reader Mike, that the No. 4 SMLE has both a long and a short stock. Apparently, when there are complaints that the rifle kicks, the stock is always a short one. I tested that at the range yesterday with a friend of mine. He had a hard-kicking Mark III and, sure enough, it has a short stock. But my No. 4 stock is at least .75 inches longer and feels like a mild 30/30 when shot.

Okay, on to today’s blog.

There’s a lot of interest in this pellet pistol, and I’ve learned a lot more while testing it. Before I did this report I read as many reviews of this Ruger Mark I pellet pistol as I could find — both on this site and on others. I discovered something while doing that. There’s a sharp difference of opinion about the gun that divides around the age and airgun experience of the person writing the review. Those who are either young or have little experience with airguns say the Ruger is hard to cock and not very accurate, but they all praise the power they think it has. But veteran airgunners who own chronographs have learned that the pistol isn’t as powerful as advertised, but it’s easy to cock (very easy for the power, if you use the cocking aid) and also relatively accurate. So, come with me today while I show you what the Ruger can do.

I shot the gun for accuracy at 10 meters, because most of the reviews I read talked about shooting at distances from 25 feet to 10 meters. In the end, 10 meters turned out to be exactly the right distance for the gun.

I shot off a bag rest with both hands holding the pistol out just past the bag, so there was no contact between the bag and the gun. My forearms were resting on the bag. The sights are fiberoptic; but when held at arm’s length, the front sight just fills the rear notch perfectly. It’s possible to get a precise sight picture that can be repeated with every shot.

Trigger and cocking effort
The trigger-pull is very heavy — to the point of being a distraction. Blog reader Victor asked me to report on the trigger-pull and cocking effort after this test; I guess because he wanted to see if there was any change during break-in. After this accuracy test was completed, the gun had a total of about 140 shots on it. The trigger-pull measured 5 lbs., 13 oz., and the cocking effort with the aid installed is 26 lbs. That’s a pound higher for cocking, and the trigger is a half-pound heavier than the last time I checked. Both numbers are probably just due to how they were measured and no real change has occurred.

The nice thing about testing a gun with open sights is that it’s usually on the paper right out of the box, where a scope can be almost anywhere. This pistol was shooting high and left, but it was on the paper at 10 meters. It took a little elevation reduction and a lot of right adjustment to get the pellet to land in the bull. I sighted-in with RWS Hobbys. Then, I shot the first group of 10.

The first group surprised me, but that was when I realized that many of the reviews had been written by new shooters. I say that because the Ruger Mark I is an accurate air pistol when you use the correct holding technique. You hold the pistol firmly but do not try to prevent it from bouncing around in recoil. It’s not as accurate as a Beeman P1 or an RWS LP8, but it’s accurate, nonetheless. But only the experienced pistol shooters will know how to get this pistol to perform its best.

Ten RWS Hobbys grouped in a 1.073-inch group at 10 meters for me. The group is open but also nice and round. It was a lot better than I’d expected.

Ten RWS Hobby pellets made this nice round 1.073-inch group at 10 meters.

Following the Hobbys, I was in the right frame of mind for all further shooting. Next up was the JSB Exact RS domed pellet. We know from past experience that this pellet often does well in lower-powered springers, though I don’t think I’ve tried it in a pistol before now.

This time, the RS pellet did very well, indeed. In fact, it was the most accurate pellet of the three I tested. Ten made a group measuring 1.059 inches between centers. Though this group isn’t much smaller than the Hobby group, the smaller holes made by the domes make it appear smaller.

Ten JSB Exact RS domes made the best group of the test. It measures 1.059 inches between centers.

The last pellet I tried was the Gamo Match wadcutter. Sometimes, they surprise me by being the very best pellets in a gun, but this wasn’t one of those times. Ten pellets grouped in 1.595 inches between centers — hardly in the running with the first two pellets.

It only looks like nine holes because two pellets went through the same hole next to the number 7 at the bottom of the bull. Gamo Match pellets were not in the running, with this 1.595-inch group.

At this point in the test, my trigger finger was hurting from the weight of the pull, and I was concerned that further shooting would be affected by it. So, I ended the test. It sounds like it shouldn’t have hurt, but the pull is so long that it really does hurt.

The bottom line
If you want a powerful spring pistol at a budget price, I don’t think you can do any better than the Ruger Mark I. It demands good shooting technique and rewards it with decent accuracy. The power is respectable, and the cocking effort is low for the power generated. The trigger is heavy and the sights aren’t perfect, but they do adjust and the pistol does respond to them very well.

Most shooters will like the shape of the grip, which is reminiscent of the Luger. The Ruger Mark I is just about right in the weight and balance department and encourages plinking with its surprising accuracy.

34 thoughts on “Ruger Mark I pellet pistol: Part 3”

  1. {Why am I not in bed?}

    I suppose I’d have to overlay a P.08 (or either my Ruger MK-II Gov’t Comp. Target .22 or my father’s old Stoeger .22 Luger) to see the grip angle… The photo sure doesn’t look like it is raked that far back… I’ll admit it doesn’t look like the near 90deg 1911 grip angle, but compare: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruger_MK_II

    • Wulfraed,

      It isn’t just the angle of the Luger’s grip that makes it point and feel so good. The width of the grip, combined with a lower-powered cartridge that already has low recoil, completes the equation.

      That was what I was referring to.


      • I’d try arguing that “low recoil” for the 9mm cartridge, but I don’t really have the fairest comparison… My S&W 459 (2nd generation, 9mm) is an alloy frame vs the S&W 4006 steel frame (3rd generation, .40S&W). Both have the “wing protected” adjustable rear sight and nearly identical external dimensions.

        However, when I had both at the range, the felt impression was that the 459 was slapping my hand, while the 4006 gave a push. How much of that is due to the alloy vs steel frame and how much is due to the 115gr 9mm ~1200fps vs 180gr .40 ~750fps

        Not something really applicable to the current discussion subject…

        • Wulfraed,

          My 9MM Smith was a model 39 and alloy, and it had a light recoil. I’ve never seen a nine that I would call heavy, but perhaps those micro pocket pistols do snap a bit.

          Maybe it’s what you are used to. My 1911 also recoils on the light side in my eyes, but I know some folks think it’s a real kicker.


          • 124 Gr. +P+ ammo in the 9 mm will give a pretty good pop. With this load, you are pushing .357 Mag. velocities. Penetration in gelatin is withing one inch of the .357 Mag.


            • I don’t think one would want to run that load through a first (39 or 59) or second generation alloy frame (439, 459) S&W… Third generation (3904, 5904) maybe. Steel frame (6×9, x906) okay… {39 is single stack, 59 is double stack magazine)

  2. Wow that may explain a lot (the SMLE short stock).
    This past weekend I went shooting with my buddy and his Enfield. Not having a lot of big bore (if you’d consider the .303 big bore?) experience I tried following his directions to firmly plant the stock in the socket of my shoulder. But it just didn’t seem comfortable…when I did this I was much too close to the sights.
    Well…suffice to say I didn’t exacty follow his directions…and I have a 3″ diameter bruise on my shoulder that is sore as heck 😉

  3. Kevin tried to post this comment but couldn’t, so I’m posting it for him.

    “This is one of those articles that reminds me how hard B.B.’s job really is.
    Test results are what they are.
    The hard part is spoon feeding the results to the broadband of airgunners that read the results.

    To disseminate crucial airgun information in one form across an analgous land of experienced farmers, suburban gardeners and apartment dwellers with the goal to relate to them simultaneously is admirable. B.B. communicates effectively in this article to all levels of airgunners in this article. Read closely if you are inexperienced with this airgun like I am.

    There are many thinly veiled references for novice airgunners like break-in period for the trigger pull, cocking effort vs. power, the optical illusion of group sizes when wadcutters are used and domed pellets are used and insight to the proper hold for this type of pistol “I shot off a bag rest with both hands holding the pistol out just past the bag, so there was no contact between the bag and the gun. My forearms were resting on the bag.”
    It’s easy for me to overlook these subtle but important insights that not only apply to this airgun being tested but provides experienced information that can translate to all airguns. May not work, but should be techniques in your reportoire when shooting any airgun for accuracy.
    I’m guilty many times of focusing on the topic, in this instance the “The Ruger Mark I pellet pistol”, and ignore the numerous pearls of wisdom that are interspersed in the report. Yes, I’m an idiot at times.”


    • I agree wholeheartedly with Kevin’s observations.
      This is one of many reasons why I find this to be the most helpful shooting blog around…b.b., when he reports his result tells you his methodology in a manner that is easily translatable into the way I shoot.
      So many testers (or just people reporting on their guns ability) leave it at the near useless (IMO)…”the gun shoots 1/2″MOA all day long.
      They don’t tell you:
      -off a bench
      -in a leadsled
      -using match ammo
      -they have 20 years of shooting experience.
      All of which leaves the new guy shooting his overpowered springer offhand wondering what he’s doing wrong or if his gun is a dud.
      Kudos to b.b. (and Edith, who is supportive to this blog in so many ways)

      • Exactly! Not many of us hunt off of a lead-sled… Even those spring prairie dogs. We’re more likely to use a mono, bi, tripod, shooting sticks, our even just leaning against a handy tree. Myself, almost every shot I take is of of a walking stick/mono-pod and my groups just don’t compare to a rested group…

  4. When someone suggested you put an unused pellet next to the target I didn’t tought it would add much to the pic but now that I’m seeing it I think it’s a very nice addition and accompanies the dime very well.

    I’ll try posting pics of my 1701P with the great shoulder stock I had made for it, the pics aren’t even close to doing this wood piece justice.
    Think I can get better group than these with it at 10M? Perhaps with a better scope? These are 10 shot groups:


      • Man would I be happy to to say I made it… sadly it isn’t so, I’m not even close to having the talent to carve wood like that (my wood working skills are closer to what was done to the Bronco in order to fit the peepsight on it).
        I’ve been telling the guy who made it for me there’s some money to be made for him there but he’s not quite ready to make the jump yet… soon I hope as I already asked for another one and so did at least one of the 4 original stock buyers (he had made 4 like it).

        How much do you guys think a stock like that could be worth?


  5. Just wanted to let everyone know that Pyramyd Air’s IT department is trying to track the reason the entire Airgun Academy site goes down almost on a daily (and sometimes twice daily) basis. I was told last night that they’re very close to homing in on the cause…and hopefully that means they’re close to a solution, too.


  6. Nice shooting. My pistols are all gas guns, so it’s hard for me to imagine what a spring pistol would feel like.

    What exactly is the nature of the contest between Boris and Gene and the various rifles from different countries on the PA site? Are Boris and Gene competing against each other? Are the countries competing each other? Both?

    Victor, that business with the fundamentals makes shooting quite the democratic sport. So what did you think of the AMU instructors? Don’t they give classes at Camp Perry? But I suppose they must be heavily overenrolled.

    Desertdweller, you talk like a man who has been behind the wheel of a stock car! Is this true? That would be pretty intense.

    Fred DPRofNJ, yargghh, don’t make it too gruesome. Spine pulled out of the body?! There is a martial arts move that involves grabbing the head and twisting. It is technically a throw, but done right, the subject will throw himself. Once you feel your spine being controlled from your head, you will do anything instinctively to keep it in place without even thinking. I can only hope Dale Earnhardt Jr. never knew what hit him. As for the seat belt business, I understand that America’s all-time great fighter ace, Richard Bong, was killed because he forgot to throw some routine switch before test-flying a P-80 jet fighter. It flamed out on take-off, and he had no chance. Gives me the creeps.


    • I can only hope Dale Earnhardt Jr. never knew what hit him.

      Pardon — weren’t we discussing SR?

      JR is supposed to be running in the “Feed the Children” race in two days…

    • Matt61,

      Regarding the Pyramyd Air Airgun Championship: Countries are competing against each other via their air rifles. However, to make things “fair,” we’re using 2 shooters who will shoot each country’s guns and then swap to the other country’s guns so that each country has a chance to win. That way, we can’t say that one team did better because one man is a better shot than the other. With both men shooting all the guns, each country gets the same chance, and the championship runs a better chance of being decided solely on the guns.


    • Matt61,

      The classes were very practical because they made strong cases for things that should be common sense, which as you say makes shooting a very democratic sport. I’m sure that some (a small percentage) have a disability that will prevent them from every being very good, but the vast majority can take the sport as far as they want. But of that vast majority, the difference is purely personal, and in particular has to do with their will and desire to be a champion. Most people really don’t have that fire in their belly. You have to be really motivated to be patient and determined to solve your problems. This is pretty basic and not unlike anything else. The committed will learn to fully understand and appreciate the concept and experience of plateau’s.


    • Yes. I raced dirt-track stock cars for two years in the 1970’s, then in the 1990’s got involved with the SCCA in Texas and Mississippi. I did better with the sports cars in Autocross. We ran a three-state travelling series every fall (Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee). I won class championships in this series in 1999 and 2000.

      I also ran a couple of National Tour events those years. The first one I was totally blown away with just being there. F/A 18’s did a low-level flyover. I was so excited I couldn’t concentrate, and really got beaten badly. The second time, I was able to keep my concentration, and although I got beaten again, I didn’t embarrass myself, just didn’t win.

      Driving a race car is much like target shooting. While there is undeniably a mechanical aspect, most of both activities is mental attitude and self-control. When you start out in the sport, the car will go faster than you are able to drive it. As you master it, you will be better than the car, and you will find yourself trying to urge the car to go faster. That tells you it is time to move up to a faster car. My first win came in my third car.

      You will also have good days and bad days. Just like target shooting, you can have the best equipment available, but if you can’t keep your focus you cannot win.


  7. Believe it or not…..

    American Airgunner today at 4:30 on channel 240 PRST (what ever that is on Dish network).
    Includes a pig hunt, it says. Eastern time.


  8. Anyone know what’s happened to kenholmz? He hasn’t posted a comment in over a month. He was so active on the blog, that his lack of comments stands out.


    • Hi Edith, I am working backwards here. I would have written sooner but, I confess, I have not been able to keep up with all of the comments as well as I had. These things go in cycles (although not overly predictable) and I know I want to keep up with what is happening here.

      I have had a rough patch, but am doing better now. I appreciate your asking.


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