A Retro-Elegant Instant Heirloom
By Roy Huntington
In the November, 1949 issue of the American Rifleman, Major General J. S. Hatcher wrote a “Dope Bag” article on the new “.22 Ruger Pistol.” He said, in part, “Shaped like a Luger pistol, the gun looks good and handles splendidly. It hangs and balances just right, and points naturally, which is a great aid in quick shooting … it represents real value.”
And it did, at virtually every level. Bill Ruger pretty much single-handedly revolutionized personal .22 semi-auto pistols for the “everyman” market. At $37.50 (about $370 in 2017 money), it would still represent amazing value in a high-quality .22. Today, a basic Ruger MKIV (but with adjustable sights) costs around $549, translating to about $55 in 1949 dollars. So even “back then” the Ruger came in at a great price point. No wonder the first run sold out immediately.
In January of 1951 a new “Target Model” the Mark I Target, shipped. With adjustable sights and an improved trigger, it was the parent to today’s “Target” versions, like our sample. But our test gun is something very special indeed. Not only does it represent Ruger’s newest — their Mark IV design — allowing much simplified “one-button” take-down, but it features custom work by Turnbull Restoration & Manufacturing Company.
This new Mark IV design suddenly cures generations of frustrated Ruger owners of their affliction from the complicated and challenging take-down and assembly chores of the original design. Building on this new design, the Turnbull shop then takes this classically elegant shape — dressing it up considerably.
An ambi-safety, target sights and mag release in the classic “1911”
location keeps the Mark IV as modern as today. Gripframe is aluminum.
Turnbull’s compelling color case hardening applied to the receiver and barrel turn
the average into a collectible. Can you say instant family heirloom? Note safety
and slide release/lock. The magazine must also be inserted for the gun to fire.
A single button on the top apex of the grip allows a quick and painless take-
down, unlike the older models. The Mark IV goes back together just as easily.
I’ve known Doug Turnbull for 20 years or so. He started to change the rules about the quality and innovation in firearm restoration about 30 years ago though. Today, his company not only continues their ground-breaking, stunning restoration work but also manufactures their own lines of fine guns. In order to really understand the magic, you need to go to their website to look at the photos. Just remember to breathe while you’re looking.
What we have here is a stock Ruger Mark IV .22 Target Pistol, model 40101 to get technical. Doug’s team has carefully polished the receiver and heavy target barrel, then applied the astonishing Turnbull color case hardening. Shhh … it’s a secret how they do it. Doug basically “re-invented” this process all those years ago and built a business around it. There’s a richness and depth of color which is hard to achieve for most, yet Turnbull does it again and again.
Does it affect the function of the gun? Hardly, but what it does do is help to create something distinctly personal. While there are millions of Ruger .22 autos out there, there are very, very few like this, as this is a limited edition. It’s the blending of the epitome of the Ruger design with the custom touch of the Turnbull shop. And it’s simply understated grace and style, if you ask me.
Some say it’s impossible but Turnbull does it every day.
Check out the wreck of a Colt SAA
And the Turnbull shop’s restoration of the same gun
… No fooling, it’s the same gun!
The New Design
The take-down of the previous models usually meant three hands, a bench vise and cursing and fussing as appropriate for the occasion. Now it’s unload, cock the action, put the safety on and press the handy button at the rear of the bolt assembly (at the apex of the rear of the grip assembly). The barrel/receiver tilts up — sort of like an AR rifle — then lifts right off. The bolt comes out and you’re essentially finished and can clean, lube or just do it again since it’s so darn easy and enjoyable.
The sights are great and the trigger is good as it comes. But for a crisper pull I’d put a trigger “kit” into it or send it to your favorite ’smith. This is the only thing it needs, and it doesn’t really need that, I’m just being picky. This gun shoots less than 2″ at 25 yards and if I could still see and find the right ammo I have no doubt it would do much better. A squirrel killing machine for sure, and a plinker extraordinaire. Also top-notch for introducing new shooters to safe gun handling and the joys of the .22 pistol, all the while “accidently” instilling in them the delight of owning and shooting a beautiful gun.
At $595 from Doug’s shop (yes, that’s right, say it with me, “Five hundred and ninety five dollars is all”) to get the best of both breeds. Ruger’s latest iteration of their classic .22 — and a touch of Turnbull’s elegant craftsmanship — all in one package. So why are you still reading this when you should be calling them to reserve a gun for you and your family?
For more info: http://www.turnbullmfg.com/, Ph: (589) 496-1308.
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