Ruger/Black Hills Ammunition, Mark IV 22/45 Lite Edition, by Pat Cascio

If you don’t have a .22 LR firearm in your survival battery, you should! We look today at an extremely limited, rare edition, of the Ruger Mark IV 22/45 pistol.

Survival Firearm

For more than 40 years now, folks have been asking me what type or kind of firearm should they purchase first for survival. Others ask if they only have funds to purchase one firearm, period, what would it be. My answer has changed, with knowledge, and I’m sure a lot of folks will disagree with me. For the longest time now, I’ve been recommending that folks purchase a good .22 LR rifle or handgun, if that’s all you have the funds for. Now, when we talk about “survival” it can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people.

If you are a bush pilot in Alaska, you will surely want something in a larger caliber if your plane goes down in bear infested areas. If you’re out walking a wilderness trail on a Sunday afternoon with only a fanny pack, you might think a .22 LR handgun is a good choice for fending for yourself if you get lost. Look, before all the hate mail comments start pouring in, there is no right or wrong answer here. This is just my take on it.

My First Firearm

My very first firearm was a .22 bolt-action rifle, which I purchased when I was only 15 years old from a hardware/auto parts store in Sturgis, Kentucky, when I was there on vacation with my grandmother who raised me. She went to visit family she hadn’t seen in more than 40 years, and I was walking around town and noticed the sign that said the hardware store carried “sporting goods”. To me, back then, it meant firearms.

This was before the 1968 Gun Control Act that changed the way we could purchase firearms. Keep this in mind. I had saved up money for the trip, from one of the part-time jobs I held after school, so I was prepared to buy whatever I wanted on this vacation, not realizing that there really wasn’t anything to buy. It was, and still is, a small rural town in Kentucky and not a tourist town.

The One

I readily spied the gun counter in this store and made my way to it. In short order, I found just what I needed. I can’t tell you the make or model of that .22 bolt-action rifle because I just don’t remember. However, it would take .22 short, .22 Long, and .22 Long Rifle ammo, which was great. The price was $15 and some change.

I asked the man behind the counter if I could purchase it and still remember what he said to this day. He said, “Son, I don’t think I know you. Who are your parents?”

I told him I was visiting my Aunt Catherine Calloway, who I’d just met. I had no idea she pretty much ran things, since her late husband owned the coal mine outside of town. So, this fellow called up my Aunt Catherine and asked about me, and if he should sell me the firearm. She told him, “If he has the money, then sell it to him.” Ah, my very first gun!

How Proud I Was

You see, back then, there wasn’t any age restriction on purchasing firearms, nor any paperwork. You put your money on the counter and walk out. And, I remember how proud I was, walking down the streets of downtown Sturgis, Kentucky with my “new” rifle. No one paid any attention. Back then we didn’t have mass shootings like we do today. I’m sure a SWAT team would be called on me today, if I walked down the streets with a gun in my hand now. My, how times have changed.

Never Enough Money To Buy All Firearms Wanted

Since 1967, and the purchase of my first firearm, I’ve owned hundreds, if not thousands, of firearms. Many folks believe I have a huge gun collection because I’m a gun writer. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’m a working stiff like most of you reading this, and I’ve raised a family over the years and never had enough money to buy all the firearms I wanted. So I’m an habitual gun trader and always will be.

I’m fortunate in that, as a gun writer, I have the opportunity to test a lot of firearms, and I can purchase them at a discounted cost if I want to buy the samples, or simply return them when I’m done with my testing, which is usually a 120-day period of time. So, this works out great for me. I get to play around with a lot of new guns before deciding if I can afford to buy them or return them to the gun company.

Back in the early 1970s, I think I might have owned 35 firearms at one time, maybe just maybe that many. Such is not the case these days.

A Good .22 LR Firearm Should Be First Survival Firearm

So, this has been a long way of going about telling folks that a good .22 LR firearm should be your first purchase as a “survival” firearm. First of all, .22 LR ammo is inexpensive. The price has come down quite a bit since the Sandy Hook shootings. For several years, it was next to impossible to find any .22 LR ammo at any price. That was something I thought I’d never ever see happen. Gone are the days when you could buy a brick of 500 rounds of cheap .22 LR plinking ammo for under ten bucks, but you can find a brick for about $25, if you shop around. That’s a day’s worth of fun shooting out in the country, if you ask me. Even at today’s prices, you can stock up on plenty of .22 LR ammo for your future needs, and it takes up very little space.

As already mentioned, a day of fun on the range is good enough reason to own a .22 LR firearm, if you ask me. Then we have small game hunting and even self-defense. Yes, self-defense can be done with a .22 caliber firearms. I did some studies many years ago, in a big city, and found out that more people were shot and killed with some kind of .22 LR pistol than any other caliber. Wow! Now, I’m not recommending a .22 pistol as your first line of self-defense, but it sure beats a sharp stick or throw rocks at someone attacking you.

A .22 LR Pistol

I hate to admit it; however, I’ve been without a .22 LR pistol for several years now. There’s no excuse for that, either. Yes, we have .22 LR long guns, but I personally didn’t have a .22 LR handgun. The wife owns several.

Limited Edition Model of Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 LR Semi-Auto Handgun

Under review today is the Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 LR semi-auto handgun. This particular model has been around for several years now; however, it is new to me, especially this limited edition model, which was commissioned by Black Hills Ammunition and has a few special features.

Features of the Ruger 22/45 Mark IV Lite .22 Semi-Auto Handgun

Check out the line of 22/45 pistols on the Ruger website and you’ll come away impressed with what they have. Instead of going over all the features that are standard on this handgun, you can read them for yourself on the Ruger website. So, I’m only going to cover a few features.

One-Button Push Take-Down

First of all, I love the simple one-button push take-down feature. In the past, when I was doing gunsmithing and had a gun show, I couldn’t tell you how many guys brought in their Ruger .22 pistols that they took apart for cleaning and couldn’t put them back together. It wasn’t really complicated; it just took a little nudge at times to get the guns back together. I never charged anyone for doing this for them. So, this simple one-button push take-down feature is welcomed on this gun.


Now, the receiver on the 22/45 Lite is actually the upper part of the gun, not the lower, where you’d expect to find the serial number. The upper is anodized aluminum, and this really keeps the weight of the gun down to a mere 25 oz. There are also holes milled into the front of the receiver, to help lighten the gun’s weight. And, depending on which model you like, the holes can be of different configurations. The model that Black Hills Ammunition selected for their limited run is based on a special edition that is only sold by a big name distributor. It has an anodized OD green upper, and the lower is black polymer, which has the same feel as the grand ol’ 1911.


Also, it takes 1911 grips, albeit you will have to modify the grips a little bit to get them to fit this gun. The gun comes standard with black rubber Hogue grips, which I love. However, the BHA limited edition comes not only with the black rubber grips. It has a pair of gorgeous, smooth wood grips. The right grip panel has the BHA logo, and the left grip has the Ruger logo.

Barrel and Sights

The barrel is also threaded with a threat protector cap on it, if you desire to jump through all the red tape to purchase a sound suppressor for this pistol. I won’t! The front sight is a tall fixed one, and the rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The gun comes with a Picatinny rail mounted on top, if you desire to install a red dot or magnifying scope on it. I removed it, so I can just use the sights.

Mag and Safety

The drop-free magazine holds 10 rounds, and the gun comes with two mags. There is an ambidextrous safety; however, it can be converted to a single-side safety, if you want. And, there is the mag release, right behind the trigger guard, just like a 1911, for quick mag changes. The front strap has serrations, and the back strap is checkered, for a very sure grip in any weather conditions. Chambering a round is simple. Just grasp the dual charging handle/bolt on the rear of the receiver and pull it and release it; a round chambers.

Upper Receiver Marked with “Black Hills” and Serial Number

The rear of the upper receiver is marked with the “Black Hills” name, and there is a special serial number range starting with BH18-001 to BH18-200. Yes, that’s right. Only two hundred of these guns were commissioned by Black Hills Ammunition, so you won’t be able to buy one of these. However, you can find almost the same exact gun on the Ruger website without the special markings or serial numbers. On top of it all, this dandy pistol came with a chest harness holster from Badlands Leather that also has the Black Hills Ammunition logo on it. What a great addition to an already fine pistol.

Worth the Wait

I waited several months to get my hands on this limited edition .22 LR handgun, and it was worth the wait. I already had the holster in-hand, so it was hard to wait on the pistol to fill the holster. Uncharacteristically, I was really undecided on if I should even shoot this limited edition pistol. I really thought about just displaying it on my computer desk for all to admire. I contacted Jeff Hoffman, who owns BHA with his lovely wife, Kristi, and he flat out told me “A gun you can’t shoot, isn’t worth anything.” That made my mind up. This will be a shooter.

I did remove the beautiful wood grips before shooting the gun. They are just too nice to get buggered-up with dings and scratches. So, I installed the black rubber grips from Hogue Grips that came with the gun. I had a real hodge-podge of .22 LR ammo on-hand, as you would expect– everything from plinking lead standard velocity fodder to hollow point copper coated hi-velocity stuff– that I ran through this gun. This isn’t an on-going test of this gun. It is just a fun gun to shoot. Thus far, more than 400 rounds have gone down range without a hitch, and I didn’t expect any. It is a Ruger!


As for accuracy, I placed a paper target out at 25 yards and started shooting away, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. The trigger pull has some slack before it goes “bang”, and it was about 5-lbs, but I was easily able to get 2-inch groups without trying hard at all. If I hunkered down, I could easily get groups of 1.5 inches, and with the right ammo I’m positive I can get 1-inch groups. Targets of opportunity were easy to hit, even out to 100-yards. Head-sized rocks were hit with regularity.

A Real Winner

The Ruger 22/45 Lite is a real winner in my book, and it’s not an inexpensive handgun. It retails for about $550 but can be found discounted quite a bit. Even my local gun shop usually has them in-stock for about a hundred bucks below retail. Yeah, it’s still a good chunk of change, but this .22 LR pistol will easily give you a lifetime of shooting pleasure, and it’ll sure do for many survival purposes. You can pack a lot of .22 LR ammo in your pack, too. Check one out at your local gun shop, and remember, you can find a similar base model. You won’t find this limited edition version, since only 200 were made.


  1. Do your mags fit wherein you have to get them a REALLY good smack to make sure they are seated? They do on mine and I don’t really care for that.

    Mark II series have always been good weapons. We have a couple that have some pretty high mileage. When my wife was first learning how to shoot she took it to a 3 day Tactical pistol class. She wasn’t yet comfortable shooting something bigger at the time. And the best part was the ammo for her for the weekend only cost me about $30. (1990’s prices).

  2. Right on the mark, Pat. There’s just something special about the .22. When I found an old battle scarred, single shot pull-back bolt action pre-64, I snatched it for 45 bucks recently.

    There are two kinds of marksmen that really appreciate the 22: beginners and serious survivors.

    I love my High Standard Camp Gun and have used it in the wild for subsistence. But those Mark model Rugers! Amazing accuracy and reliability so are carried by many outdoor professionals, ranchers, trappers, and others who live outside. In the redoubt we EDC’d them on the prairies.

  3. I was concerned about take down for cleaning, as I’d heard horrible things about the Mk III vs the ease of the Mk II. But you answered that question in your review. Thank you.

  4. Thanks Pat for the article. I so remember the first .22 that I bought at 16 yrs. old that came from Western Auto which was a auto parts, hardware, sold firearms and ammo as well. I still own that bolt action rifle a model Revelation 115 produced by Savage arms. Its still going strong 44 years now.

  5. The .22 rimfire is another of the great American innovations! It is how we all learned to shoot, and in the ” good ole days” every high-school in America had a shooting team using .22 rimfire target rifles. Now every high-school in America teaches anti-gun philosophy! What the h*** happened to the USA????????????????

  6. There was a time when K-Mart first opened and had racks of military surplus rifles; I was 14 and had a whopping $25.00 burning a hole in my pocket. I traded that silver money for a fine M-1A, two mags, and a box of ammo. The guy at the counter very sternly look at me and admonished me “don’t kill yourself.”
    My dad laughed when I got home and basically told me the same thing. I did’t kill my self though I did find out about recoil and good spot weld to shoulder science the hard way. But my first and still owned rifle was a Sears .22 bolt action single shot …. it still shoots as accurate as hen I first bought it.

  7. I remember buying my first gun from a Firestone Tire store when I was fourteen, no questions ask. Of course everyone in our small town knew everyone. I bought a Winchester Model 94 Golden Spike for, as I recall, $140 dollars. It is in my safe to this day.

  8. Sturgis,KY! I bought my first .22 at a western auto about 20 miles down the road at Marion, KY. Brings back some great memories. Thanks for the article.

  9. Logic and common sense forbids me from sending you any hate mail about your liking of .22LR. But having been on the web for some time now, I understand your reticence about even saying you like .22LR at all. I admit that long ago, I got in flame wars with other people, especially the 5.56 vs 7.62 variety. Having used the 5.56 in the jungles of VN, I can attest to it’s lethality, but that never seemed to allay the devotees of the one true religion of .30 caliber who had never used it in an actual gun fight. .22 is great in all the ways you describe, and more. I taught all my children and grandchildren to shoot using the .22 pistols and rifles, and I still shoot those .22’s to stay in practice.

  10. I had been without a 22 pistol since I gave my girls my Smith and Wesson model 41’s when they came of age. I was intrigued by the 22/45 lite at a gun store a few months back and purchased it. What a fun and accurate gun this is. Best gun purchase I’ve made in a long time

  11. Love .22s. I have two favorites

    Have a Ruger 10/22 with peep sights and an improved trigger and a Ruger MkII that I installed adjustable sights on. Someday I will put a better trigger on it as well but the one that is in it is pretty good as it is. Both weapons were used when I bought them. I think I paid $100 for the 10/22 and I traded a set of heads that head been setting in my garage for 10+ years for the MkII.

  12. Back when I was a young’un, my brothers and I were restricted to bb guns for every day use. We had shotguns for bird hunting, me a Mod 37 Win in 410 and my brother an LC Smith double in 20 ga. (what a gun) Deer rifles were whatever we could borrow, ususally old 30-30 or 32 levers. We were forbidden to associate with 22’s as my Dad’s brother had been killed with one and he didn’t like them……….One Saturday afternoon in 1963, my parents were off shopping, I was doodling in the back yard. A neighbor three houses up yelled at me and asked if I wanted to buy a gun….I hopped fences and he presented a Win Mod 67 22 in pretty good shape. He wanted the princely sum of $5.00. I bounced back home and came up with $4.87 and was the proud owner of a 22!

    Now what to do with it…….I originally hid it, then realizing the consequences, I stood it in a corner till my parents got home, then I told the old man I had bought a gun, a 22 rifle, and told him how much. He wasn’t the least bit upset……..It was a year or so before I was able to go solo with it, but when I did! That gun accounted for more gophers and chipmunks than I can count, I learned that it was lethal on deer with careful shot placement, (deer were a prime source of meat back then, in season or out) porcupines were never safe and squirrels and rabbits were food, too! I kept and used this gun till I was into my late 20’s at which time I had it modified for my young son: Shorten and crown the barrel behind a slight bulge that had always been there but which didn’t affect fit or function, shorten the stock…. great for a kid. The gun was passed from my son to his daughter and while the current rage is all about hi cap mags, black composites and add on’s of all types, the old Mod 67 just keeps on, slow but sure. I would truthfully guess that over 10,000 rounds have been sent down range. Couldn’t ask for anything better for a first gun!

  13. My first was a beautiful Remington 550-1 semi-auto .22 rifle. My Uncle Manford had bought it years before, but had never shot it! In the summer of ’72, he offered me this rifle, if I would agree to mow his grass for the whole summer (his yard was about 1/2 acre). This was a no-brainer for the 13 year old that was me, way back then! He demanded a good job, complete with trimming (in the days before Weedeaters!) every week. With the first frost, the rifle was MINE! Perhaps I overpaid a bit, but I was happy, and he seemed to be also, so it was a good trade.
    Call me dumb, but back then nobody told me how to clean the rifle…or even that it needed to be cleaned! After living mostly in the closet for 30 years, I took it out to the range and found that it shot < 1 " groups at 25 yds and cycled flawlessly! Afterwards, I downloaded a manual, and took her apart for cleaning (probably the first time). I was amazed – the only lubricant in the rifle was soot! Shame on me! She's now in much better shape, and lives happily in my safe…and gets to come out and play much more often than every 30 years!!

  14. Not much a fan of $550 .22LR pistols, but really do love the concept. I’ve educated two youths on the proper handling and care of a handgun with it, and will very selectively continue to educate on such where I can.

    I found the S&W Compact .22LR (the newer one made by SW, not the ones made by Walther) has been flawless, and shoots straight as an arrow.

    I think that is one of the things people fail to understand about certain handguns. They assume that they will shoot straight right out of the box. Few do, and not a single Glock I’ve owned has. One high left, the other low right, etc…

    Every single .22LR handgun I’ve fired and/or owned shot true from the first round. I’m not a gunsmith, so don’t ask why.

    I can’t agree more with the assessment that a .22LR pistol or rifle is an excellent first prepper firearm. Cheap to fire, easy to operate (thinking .22LR bolt gun), unintimidating for the nervous, and puts smiles on faces for less money than a ticket to a movie.

  15. Marlin Model 60. The old version that held 18 in the tube. No other gun will ever be the same for me. I still have it to this day. It will be passed on to my son.

  16. I have a Ruger mk2 great shooting handgun, and this is the gun I pack in my get home bag,plus 400 rounds of mini mags to feed it. Be prepared and ready. Keep your powder dry.

  17. Yep, a 22 as a first gun is the ticket. I received a Winchester 1890 pump as a birthday present from my grandfather when I was 12. This Winchester had been a shooting gallery 22 short. My grandfather has it converted to 22 LR sometime in the ’40’s. Funny though I found out I could put half a pencil eraser in the lifting gate and it would shot 22 shorts like crazy. I bought three WW2 .30 cal ammo cans of 22 short from Western Auto in Black Mountain, NC in 1976 for $5 a can. The owner said they had been sitting around for years and no one wanted them. I shot every one of those, must have been 3,000 rounds in each can, that summer with my 2 brothers. By the end we were all capable marksman.

    Fast forward to 2018. Still have the rifle, still am a capable marksman. The rifle sits in the safe next to 4 Henry 22 pumps and I sit next to 4 sons. Each learned to shoot on the Winchester. Each one had their Henry ordered within a few hours of being born. First son is about to graduate college (no firearms on campus) and the Second son is 1 year into a 3 year hitch in the US Army. Sons three and four are a senior and a junior in HS. It won’t be long before that Winchester and I sit alone.

    Now they have moved on to other rifles, shotguns and pistols, but they still reach for their 22 frequently. My wife and I look forward to them returning to home now and then bringing their children to learn to shoot on those Henrys as their first experience.

    When we last updated our wills, my wife and I included instructions to the boys to fairly distribute our firearms amongst themselves or any other family/friends as the see fit. The nice part about working so hard to raise responsible, respectful, reverent children is you see the fruits of your labor as the grow up into adults. My wife and know they will be fair to each other. But we still worried about who would end up with the Winchester that they all shot first. It was my wife’s idea and it was instantly settled. After our passing, all four boys will meet behind the machine shed at the family range. Best marksman wins the Winchester.

    Buy, sell, trade, collect, borrow, any firearm. Shoot milsup, vintage, modern, long range, cowboy, three gun, tactical, and anything else. They are all something unique. But if you want something special get a 22 for your first firearm and never let it go.

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