Ruger MKIV Hunter (40118) Review Gittin' Yur' Groove On!

If you have read my review of the new Ruger MKIV Target 22 (Ruger MKIV Target (40101) Review The Best MK Yet!!:, you already know how excited I am with this new version of the “MK” line of Ruger pistols. The Ruger MKIV Hunter was also the inspiration for me to swap out the grip panels and front sight for the Ruger MKIV Target 22.  I was impressed enough by this pistol that I knew that the “Hunter” model was going to grace the stable; however, that has not always been the case.  I had been attracted to the “MK” target and hunting models in the past, but the effort with disassembling and assembling these pistols always dissuaded me from plunking down good cash.  The new Ruger MKIV changed all that; especially after handling the “Target” model.  Coupled with the new ease of disassembly and assembly, there is stainless steel. Stainless steel and wood firearms have always tugged at my sense of what a firearm’s higher calling should be.  Wood and blued steel is ideal, but stainless steel and wood…


The best place to start is with the basics of the Ruger MKIV Hunter from the manufacturer, and then embellish on the basics where I can.


Stylistic design has always been a challenge for firearm manufacturers.  While functionality is important, most shooters also want a firearm that is pleasing to look at – even with tactical-based firearms.

From the tip of the target-crowned barrel to the bottom of the grip, the Ruger MKIV Hunter just stands out from the .22 caliber pistol crowd to everyone that has seen it.  The eye-appeal of the Ruger MKIV Hunter is outstanding, in my opinion.   There is sleekness to the design, carried over from the original in 1949, and which has brought many first time and experienced shooters to the “Mark” series of pistols over the years.

The contrast between the brushed stainless steel with blackened sights, bolt lock, ambidextrous thumb safety levers, trigger, and various pins and screws is very pleasing. The wood grip panels add a pleasing warmth and are sculptured well to accommodate all operator controls.

It will be interesting to see how Ruger can better the current design, or even if it will.  The only area of improvement that comes to mind is the ambidextrous thumb safety, and this is the only area of contention that I have with the pistol. There is more to come on the ambidextrous thumb safety later in the review.


I could sum this subject up in two words; nearly flawless – simply because nothing is perfect.

The upper locks up to the lower tighter than a drum, as there is absolutely no play between the two.

The brushed stainless steel of the upper and lower is exceptionally well-done and blending of the upper and lower finish is seamless.


While the barrel of the MKIII “Hunter” exhibited a “slab-sided” barrel, the barrel of the MKIV “Hunter” is nicely grooved, which not only reduces weight but allows the barrel to cool faster than a not fluted barrel while adding a visual appeal to the looks of the barrel.

The grooves in the 6.88-inch barrel are finely cut, contoured, and highly-defined to the point that, I feel, a slight contouring of the edges might have been called for to reduce the sharpness of the edges.

The target-crowned muzzle is slightly inset to help protect the exit point of the pistol from damage.

Moving rearward into the chamber area, you will find that the MKIV Hunter is nicely drilled and tapped to receive an optic base (not included with the pistol).  Weaver and Picatinny scope bases can be found via Ruger or other online distributors.  Since this is the “Hunter” version, it would seem only plausible that hunters, and other shooters, would want an optic mounted although the provided sights are excellent (to be covered separately).

The ejection port allows for the positive ejection of spend cartridges just as well has it has in the past.

The bolt itself is nothing new and still remains as dependable as ever in chambering, firing, and extracting cartridges.  Contoured ejection port and easy-to-grasp bolt ears allow for durable and reliable operation round after round, just as it has in the past.


The sight system is, by far, one of my favorites – a simple front dot and a rear bar (sometimes called the dot-the-eye arrangement).  The front sight is a HI VIZ LITEWAVE™ Interchangeable Front Sight unit and a fully adjustable rear sight that incorporates a simple vertical bar.  Place the front dot on top of the rear bar and you are good to go. Ruger does provide two additional light pipes for the front sight; a white and green. A red fiber-optic sight is shipped with the pistol, but can be easily changed out with your desired color.  For the time being, the red pipe will remain in place.


The key to success of the entire MKIV platform is, of course, the recessed button in the back of the frame that allows the upper receiver to tilt up and off of the grip frame without the use of tools. This simple, one-button take-down makes for quick and easy field-stripping and proper chamber to muzzle cleaning. There is no longer a need for; paper clips, mallets, or an extensive library of cuss words.

When the Ruger MKIV pistol is deemed to be safe, and the magazine removed, the pistol needs to be cocked and the thumb safety lever placed in the “safe” position. Then, while holding the barrel with one hand, the thumb of the other hand presses a button inward to release the upper assembly.

Note that the Takedown Button is under spring tension; enough so that the Takedown button won’t be pushed easily and accidentally releasing the upper assembly.

Once the upper assembly is free from the Bolt Stop, the upper assembly can be removed from the frame.  Once the upper assembly is removed from the frame, the bolt can be removed from the upper assembly. That’s it and is as simple as that.

To reassemble, place the bolt into the upper assembly.

Place the barrel/receiver assembly on top of the frame so that the notch in the receiver aligns with the pivot pin in the grip frame.

Rotate the barrel/receiver assembly down on to the bolt-stop pin in the grip frame.

Gently squeeze the barrel/receiver assembly and the grip frame assembly together so that a click is heard and check to ensure that they are firmly together and cannot be pulled apart.

Replace the empty magazine into the magazine well, point the pistol in a safe direction, place the safety in the “off” position to expose the red dot, and pull the trigger to de-cock the gun. Note that Ruger claims that no damage will occur by dry-firing the pistol.


The new Ruger MKIV comes with an ambidextrous thumb safety lever – not a button as on previous versions.  However, there is a feature that some stone-cold right-handed shooters may like – the right side safety lever can be removed.

The safety lever are extended and neither seemed to interfere with the thumb of my shooting hand using a low-thumb shooting grip.  I did find the safety lever difficult to move from the “fire” position into the “Safe” position when using the thumb of the shooting hand.  I also had difficulty pushing the safety down with the thumb of the shooting hand. It seemed to be best, for me, to use the thumb of the support hand to operate the safety lever or support the barrel of the pistol and then move the thumb safety in whatever direction necessary.  With that said, the right-side safety lever did pinch my shooting hand on several occasions when moving the safety lever down into the “Fire” position. For me, the right side safety lever will be removed; one should be able to operate the safety lever without having to shift the shooting hand out of the way of the safety lever.  I simply find the right side safety lever bothersome.

To remove the right-side safety lever, the right-side grip panel must be removed.  Removal of the grip panels require the use of a 3/32” Allen wrench. Next, remove the right side lever using a 1/16” hex Allen wrench. Then, install a spacer (provided with the pistol) in place of the safety lever. Finally, install the right side grip panel using the original screws.

With that said, it is best to have a qualified gun smith do this for you.  While the grip panel is easy to remove and replace, the screw for the right side thumb safety lever is very small and the hex-head screw slot can be easily rounded out, as it started to on my MKIV Hunter, and is the reason that the right side thumb safety lever will remain on the pistol, much to my chagrin. With the MKIV “Target” version, the right-side thumb safety lever was removed easily.


The Bolt Stop lever is extended and should be within reach of most thumbs. Note that the Bolt Stop is a lever-actuated device and not a button as was previous MK II versions and is much better defined than the Bolt Stop Lever of the MK III.


Unlike previous Ruger MK pistol, the grip frame (the lower) is now a one-piece CNC machined lower.  The lower of the “Target” model is aluminum; whereas, the “Hunter” version lower is one-piece CNC machined stainless-steel.


The grip panels are of wood with the Ruger logo. The grip panels are fastened to the frame with 3/32” hex screws.

The texture of the grip panels is, to me, a perfect blend of smoothness and checkering where needed.

I was impressed by the grip panels of the MKIV Hunter so much that I ordered a set and replaced the plastic grip panel of the “Target” model with them. I expect that we shall see more custom grip panels (and full grips) in the future.  The lack of the rear take-down mechanism may result in wrap-around grips becoming available, which will help out those of us with larger hands than some.

Note that grip and grip panels for the MKIII will not work with the MKIV due to differences in operating controls (Bolt Stop Lever and ambidextrous thumb safety levers).

With all this said, Ruger has introduced a very nice wraparound finger grove grip of wood that will eventually find its way onto this pistol.


The Ruger MKIV ships with two, 10-round magazines. Note that the Ruger MKIV also uses MKIII magazines.  The magazines have a polymer base plate and the magazine can be disassembled for maintenance or parts replacement.

The Magazine Release Button, which is located just rearward of the trigger guard, is extended and sits very close the left-side grip panel. I had no problem releasing magazines without changing my shooting grip when the need arose.  The magazines spring outward from the frame when they are released. There is no more grabbing the magazine bottom to extract it from the pistol.


I was not going to expend a great amount of time, as I did with the MKIV “Target” model, in testing ammunition compatibility; it was proven that the MKIV will feed, fire, extract, and eject any .22 caliber long rifle ammunition that you can throw into it.

Since this model was supposed to be a “Hunter” model, I was interested in “hunting” type ammunition, and CCI Mini-Mag ammunition seemed to be a good place to start.

I was interested to see if the 6.88-inch barrel would be more accurate than the 5.50-inch barrel of the “Target” model. Of course, most firearms are more accurate than the person operating them and I expected that using a new set of sights and trigger might affect my accuracy with the pistol.  As I get older, I need all of the excuses I can conjure up.

The trigger is a curved affair with a serrated face that provides a nice surface for the trigger finger, and like the “Target” model, there is about 3/8” of slack until the trigger encounters resistance. From that point, there is an ever-so-slightly feeling of mushiness until the trigger breaks clean at approximately 4-pounds and fifteen ounces. The trigger feels light when actually pulling it than what is measure on my digital trigger pull weight device.

Because of the magazine disconnect safety, the Ruger MKIV cannot be fired with the magazine out of the pistol.

The pistol performed flawlessly with CCI Mini-Mag 40-grain CPHP. I did have one fail to fire with Winchester 40-grain CPHP, but it was with a single cartridge.  I re-cycled the cartridge in another magazine, but it, again, failed to fire.  This was through no fault of the pistol, but simply a defective cartridge. I was having issues keeping the sights in focus as best I could. Indoor fluorescent rage lighting plays havoc with my eyes. In natural lighting; however, the sights are as plain and clear as day.

I did have to adjust the rear sight up three clicks to get my desired POI as close to my desired POA as possible. I was also shooting slightly left and two clicks of right windage adjustment on the rear sight took care of that issue. I think that with a good pistol optic, and a solid rest, the Ruger MKIV “Hunter” could show its true colors, which would be much better than what I was able to produce this range day.

When I stripped the MKIV “Hunter” for cleaning after I returned home, which is incredibly easy, I notice a slight peening of the bolt at the front, lower left corner. I perceived this as more of a clearance issue than anything else. A few swipes with an ultra-fine Emory board and a bit of polish work with a Dremel tool, and the world was right again. I blacked the area where the peening occurred and ran the bolt through several cycles. No evidence of mete-to-metal contact was found, and I called it good to go.


I am not 22Plinkster who has gobs of .22 caliber pistols. In fact, my selection of .22 caliber pistols over the years has been, well, wanting you might say – wanting more but being careful with my wanting.

The Ruger MKIV “Target” and “Hunter” are actually two pistols that I look forward to spending time with.  The simplicity of disassembly and assembly, I feel, was a definite turning point in my impression of the “MK” series of pistols. I won’t be adding magnified optics on the Ruger MKIV “Target” and “Hunter,” but it will be looking at changing the sight system on the “Target” to something more like that of the “Hunter” to make my range sessions more pleasurable.

In a way, I have to thank Smith & Wesson for their “Victory” pistol. As some have mentioned, the SW22 Victory may have been the reason for Ruger to finally move forward with changes to the “MK” pistol; changes that, I believe, will be widely accepted throughout the rimfire pistol community. I see the MKIV as a beginning of a long history of use and customizing efforts for this pistol.

Is the Ruger MKIV Hunter right for you? I can’t answer that, because that is a personal choice.  Is the price if the Ruger MKIV Hunter worth it, as compared to the SW22 Victory, or any other 22 caliber pistol for that matter? Once again, I really cannot answer that because that is up to the prospective purchaser, or current user, to decide. With my blatant high regard for an all stainless steel handgun of proven reliability, and want for a pistol that is not ammunition finicky, the purchase of the Ruger MKIV Hunter was the right choice for me.

Now, I am not going to say that the Ruger MKIV Hunter is the ultimate .22 caliber pistol. The trigger, although much better than the MKIII, could use some work or even replacement with a better trigger unit. The ambidextrous thumb safety could be a little less dominant that what it is. But, given the distance that the MKIV has come over previous versions, and the fact that it is a production pistol, I can honestly say that it is near perfect for what it is. I am not a competition shooter or a hunter. I am simply someone who likes to put holes in targets the best that I can and the Ruger MKIV Hunter allows me to do that.

So, there you have it, my not-quite-glowing review of the Ruger MKIV Hunter.  I think that if you get to handle this new Ruger product, you are really going to appreciate what Ruger did with it.


Slowly, but surely, reviews regarding the new Ruger MKIV “Hunter” are making it out for public viewing.  Here are a few that I found at the time of this review.


Ruger Mark IV™ Hunter:


About Taurian

Taurian is a U.S. Army veteran and former LEO and Defensive Tactics Instructor. Taurian also has over fifty years of experience as a Technical Writer and Training Program Developer. After leaving home at the age of ten without any shoes, Taurian continues on with many years devoted to the keeping and bearing of arms.

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