The Browning Buckmark versus the Ruger MKIII

Find out what .22LR pistol the N.U.G.U.N. Blog recommends for new shooters!

Last week while in Connecticut my mother purchased a Browning Buckmark .22LR semi-automatic pistol.

Having access to a .22LR range, I suggested that she go with a semi-automatic over a revolver in order to help her overcome the unfamiliarity of semi-autos.  The result was a brand new Buckmark.

While one should always take the internet with a grain of salt. Most of the comments I saw regarding .22LR pistols recommended either a Ruger or a Browning Buckmark. Many comments cautioned against the Walther’s, Mosquitos and others.  I am sure a lot of people love their 22 calibers of different makes. However, I’d be a fool not to factor in what was a large consensus of opinion.

I own a Ruger MKIII Hunter. I love the gun. It is a beautiful & accurate firearm.  However, it is quite the !@#$% to dissassemble, clean and re-assemble.  For this reason I recommended the Buckmark to my mother based on 1) a few online and in-person comments to the effect that it was a bit easier to clean, and 2) because I can’t fathom much of anything being as complex as my MKIII.

So today we had the opportunity to go to the range and try out the Buckmark.  What can I say….I liked it!  And more importantly…so did my mom!

I’ll try to give a summary of the differences. The Buckmark comes with a soft cushiony rubber grip.  The weight is a bit lighter than my MK Hunter with a 6″ barrel.  The two tone appearance is attractive – in a more modern looking fashion. The Ruger has beautiful classic lines and what is one of the most attractive barrels I have ever seen.  It’s sort of like comparing a new BMW to a classic ‘vette.  No one is going to knock the BMW but the ‘vette is far sexier.

Both feature a fiber-optic front sight. With a rear adjustable sight. My MKIII Hunter has a v-notch in the rear and the Buckmark a square notch. Both work well and I’d be hard pressed to give you a preference of one over the other.  That said, I am a strong advocate for fiber-optic sights. I do believe they assist in sighting especially in reduced light conditions.

I happened to stumble upon a Walmart with a large stock of .22LR including a lone box of Federal Match .22LR.  (Okay, let me be honest, I hit up about 5 Walmarts while in Connecticut and walked away with 12 boxes of 9mm, 6 boxes of Federal .22LR, plus the match box.) I decided to shoot two magazines, for a total of 20 rounds each. The results are included in the two images below. Both were shot at 25ft.

First, the Browning Buckmark.  Not bad, I was shooting a bit up and to the right.

The results with the Ruger MKIII are notably better, albeit slightly low.

Mind you, take these results with a grain of salt.  First off, it’s quite possible that the Ruger liked the match ammo where as the Buckmark didn’t care for it so much.  Due to a lack of time, (actually money as we were paying hourly range fees), I was only able to utilize one type of ammo for the above test.  And I did have some pretty good results earlier with the standard Federal 550 block ammo.

Second, I’m a mediocre shot. I am also more familiar with my MKIII than I am with my mother’s new Browning Buckmark.  So that might have come into play as well.  Essentially, I found both pistols to be accurate and a lot of fun to shoot.

However, one gun would have a significant difference that would lead me to recommend it over the the other for new shooters. Find out why?


We arrived home, had some family time, and ate dinner.  Then we went upstairs to clean both .22LR, as well as my mom’s new LCR.  (And 5 other firearms that needed to be cleaned from an earlier shoot.)  It was totally awesome family time involving me, my mother and Otis.  That’s right, both of us were learning how to use our Otis Cleaning System for the very very first time.  (More on this in a later post…)


Cleaning the MKIII.  I hook my handy handmade wire loop over the backstrap of the mainspring and pop the lock.  Gotta do a few cock-a-doodle-do’s (insert magazine, pull trigger, remove magazine, etc).  Remove the bolt.  Okay, still not very accessible. So I take out the hammer and tap, tap, tap; until the upper receiver falls off the lower.  Finally I can get in and clean the gun, and even that requires a few narrow brushes and picks to get the numerous nooks and crannies.

Now for the Buckmark…

The manual instructs the user to pull the slide and lift the slide lock.  Then take a brush to the breech area.  Then run a few patches or a bore snake/weasel thru the barrel.  There is essentially no take down required in order to do routine maintenance.  It was even easier to clean than her new Ruger LCR (no disassembly required, just happens to have 5 extra chambers to clean seeing as it’s a revolver).  Can we say one very over-joyed mom!  (And one somewhat envious son. *LOL*)

For this reason we at the N.U.G.U.N. Blog if asked to recommend a .22LR pistol for a new shooter recommend the Browning Buckmark.  The Buckmark is a good, solid, 22 caliber pistol. Fun, accurate and easy to maintain.

That said, if you’re a gun nut (or know you’re on your way to becoming one). Than I would say go with the Ruger. It’s a beautiful firearm.  Extremely accurate. And every gun nut should know how to disassemble and clean a Ruger MK pistol.

NOTE: We purchased my mother’s  Browning Buckmark for $339, and the Ruger MK III Hunter 6″ stainless for $469. More basic Buckmark & MKIII models can be found for less.



Either way you choose, you’ll walk away with a good firearm. Browning offers a little simplicity initially, the Ruger is a beautiful and solid firearm that will last a lifetim.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 6:44 am  Comments (32)  
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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Today I took my mother to the range to try out the two firearms she purchased last week; a Browning Buckmark (range report) and a Ruger […]

  2. I clean my mk3 the same way you cleaned the Buckmark. I see all this endless bitching around the net about the takedown of the mk3 and I just don’t get it. I run a boresnake through and add a few drops oil every 500 rounds and take it down maybe every 2-3000. Installing a trigger upgrade last month was the first time I’ve *ever* taken the barrel off the frame, and I’ve had the gun for a year and a half and put over 10000 rounds through it.

    • I have had a similar experience with my MKIII. If you’re new to shooting/pistols buy a Ruger this is why: Take Down not required after EVERY shoot. Only bbl, breech, and exposed bolt need clean/lube after EVERY shoot, and Rugers work fine if you’re lazy and DONT clean it EVERY shoot. When you DO take down the Ruger MK Pistols, it is an enjoyable venture into mechanics not an aweful chore. You wont need to take down your Ruger until you’re familiar with it, and by that point it will be something you want to do and trust me it’s fun! Hopes this helps 🙂

  3. I used to feel much akin to how you feel. But there is a significant difference. With the MKIII you can clean from the ejection port. But only from one side. Where as with the Buckmark you can push the brush all the way through and run it back and forth.

    Furthermore, the MKIII has a lot of rounded edges, grooves, and small areas requiring a pick or pipe cleaner to really get all of it.

    The Buckmark is very flat and flush. It is significantly easier to quick clean.


    Granted, I’ll agree with the fact that Ruger MK pistols are extremely reliable. And will likely function with thousands of rounds unclean.

    They are wonderful guns. I love mine. But I do wish it was as easy to clean as the Buckmark.

  4. Consider yourself LUCKY to have obtained a Browning .22 semi-auto. We have a number of Ruger Mk II to Mk III & yes they are a bummer to take apart & put togeather. It is like a nightmare.

    I have a much older High Standard Victor to a Trophy though latter has locked up & out pistolsmith has moved back to Germany.

    In my mind of the few right after WWII purchased Brownings they are the best on the shooting table & I speak as the Club’s h/gun director/instructor for so many yrs.

  5. Opps for unfortunately I am from Canada with .22 in semi-auto, to 9mm, 38 Spl in PPC form to several custom made browning action 45ACP semi-auto guns PLUS my trusting S&W C-17 X 6″.

  6. just got a new buckmark, dealer doesn’t sell fiber optic sights, apparently some come in that way and some don’t, anybody know where i can get one for the front, don’t need a high end/expensive set as I just starting out here.

  7. got a new buckmark, stainless barrel (shouldn’t matter),
    changing front sight and find allen wrench that came with it is a little on the cheap side, anyone know the size of that wrench that I might pick up a better one.


  9. Am not…

    When you’ve spent over a year hitting Walmart’s nearly once a week if not more. And have visited nearly a 1/2 dozen different Walmarts.

    One deserves to find some ammo now and then. Especially since it was nearly a year before I found .45 ACP.

  10. i have owned a buckmark 22 for 10 yaears now and no problems w firing ith it. but the firing pin is uchbroken & the exttractor came aeepart.i have takin very good care of this pistol please let me know what i need to do to get the for my gun. thank you very much tim horton

  11. You could try MidwayUSA, I believe they may have the parts you need.

    This link is the results for a search for Buckmark extractor at MidwayUSA

  12. […] That’s why, we can’t recommend a better handgun than a 22LR for fun and practice. So what 22 pistol does the N.U.G.U.N. Blog recommend for new shooters? Find out here… […]

  13. Great info, my next purchase for a plinker handgun will be the browning!

  14. I have a buck mark and my dad has a ruger.Ive killed sqerrels with the ruger at 60 yards but the buck mark I have used on small game at 100-150 yards. I have to say I love both but I like the buck mark better due to weight and the more simple action. More simple equals less to go wrong.

  15. […] Here it is, my review of the Ruger MKIII Hunter and Browning Buckmark […]

  16. My wife and I put 400 rounds a week through our Buckmark Hunter every week since February 2009. At around 45000 rounds I discovered a slight crack in the slide and ordered one from Browning along with extractor, extractor spring and the spring end device, ejector (origional broke), firing pin and spring, recoil spring and guide rod. Parts are very reasonably priced at Browning and their people are helpful. Installing the parts is reasonably simple…the disassembly every 4000 or 5000 rounds of the top end for cleaning exposes all of the above. Video on Youtube shows disassembly is easy. My wife shoots a 1 inch group at 7 yards every week. I’m still trying. Moral? Don’t let them shoot your favorite pistol…now it HER favorite pistol. The trigger is much better now than when it was new. We really like the light gathering green front site, available from Browning, also.

    • Excellent comment by the way.

      Thanks Mike In FL

  17. Nice topic. Someone should mention the Tactical Solutions after market barrels with the oh, so cool compensators. An aluminum barrel that is super light & even comes in colors. I have a used Browning hunter. Came with a heavy bull target barrel. Very nice but very heavy.
    That barrel is now a paper weight. Check out tactical solutions on the web. They also make ruger barrels.

    • Greetings Doug,

      While after market modifications have their use. This blog is primarily focused with the newer shooter who is unlikely to expend such. The primary benefit of lighter weight barrels is that they way less to carry. As most full frame 22 pistols are used for sport/training/exercise, and not carry/self-defense the weight is usually a non-issue.

      Ported barrels with recoil compensation can add a benefit. But one would lose a lot of recoil reduction by lightening the barrel. Now, if you have a weak wrist, the weight of a long barrel may come into play. And having a long and light barrel can alleviate that issue.

      All that said, such modifications are a LOT OF FUN….

      In the future, when you mention a company, feel free to toss up a link – as long as it’s relevant to the blog’s topics. I believe this is who you are referring to:

      BTW, if I were to recommend any modification to a 22 firearm that can benefit even a new shooter, it would probably be a trigger job. There are many after market companies that offer improved trigger mechanisms. The good ones, do not simply lighten the trigger pull, but make it a smoother action.

      Thanks for the feedback – and I’d argue the barrel isn’t a paperweight. It just needs you to buy another gun to mount it on. 😉

      • The barrel isn’t a paperweight, it just needs another gun to mount it on… This would imply another Buckmark, no doubt. Would the Hunter barrel fit ANY OTHER Buckmark? Is the hole in the barrel for the top plate screw the same size and placement as all top plates? I notice that the top plate is called Sight Mounting Base Buckmark Std & Plus ($9.25), whereas the listing for the Hunter reads Rib Hunter SE ($86.25). The next listing on Brownings parts and IPB list reads Rib Scope Base Varmint (obsolete when supply exhausted). I noticed on my hunter the socket head screws are supposed to stay tight with a standard split ring lock washer and some of the other models have flat head screws with a tapered star lock washer, or at least that is what it looks like on the internet, quite different from the set-up on the Hunter. I have another broken slide on my Hunter after only 5,200 more rounds. The sad news is my pistol must be worn out. I would love to buy a cheap Browning Buckmark and install my barrel and grips on it but after doing a little searching in their parts list and noticing the difference in the rear sight mounting plates and watching the you-tube videos I don’t think my barrel will just screw right on. An asside…the barrel I have looks like the shiniest mirror I have ever seen. Evidently the material is quite special…brighter than my Sig, Walther, or Barreta, even after polishing them with clean bore mops until the barrels heat up. If anyone has information to clear up this assumption, please let me know. I really like the Hunter and would love to buy a less expensive Buckmark and do the conversion and make a 4 or 5 inch paperweight instead of 7 & 1/8th.

  18. just bought a buckmark used made in 1992. i have trouble pulling

    the slide back first time. but after that, it is quite easy. any comments


    • Congratulations Dave….

      .22 Plinkers are some of the most fun guns to shoot and train with.


  19. I have never fired a Buckmark, but I have an older MkII from the mid-80s, just the standard 4.5″ barrel. It does seem to exhibit a strong preference for the Federal Match ammunition, even over the Eley and Remington labels.

  20. I choose Ruger. Little can be done with a buckmark outside of polishing internals, and its barrel is held on with screws. I find that in and of itself to be a grevious error with its design. It also lacks the aftermarket support with wide availability that is the mainstay of the Ruger mark series since its inception.

    I can easily find magazines (for 4 dollars cheaper) and all kinds of grips, commercial and custom, as well as various spring kits, sears, hammers, triggers, and ergonomic mag releases. Mounting optics is expected and provided for with most models.

    Ruger offers something for everyone right out of the box, The buckmarks design flaws, lack of aftermarket support, and limited customization do not lend itself to my liking.

    Once you own the Ruger for awhile, you can eventually add optics and many accuracy enhancing features like a competition trigger kit for relatively cheap. Those mods on the buckmark will be difficult, many, that are expected by the market, are non-existent for the browning.

    No browning will ever hold up to bullseye competition shooting like a smith and wesson model 41….several rugers have been turned into tricked out race guns that will take on this legendary Olympian Target Pistol without a hitch.

    Its like asking if a Cobalt can take on a Civic…..sure… if we each get a thousand dollars to blow on our rides?….good, meet you at the quarter mile on saturday.

  21. Tried to buy a Ruger 22/45 locally (Shreveport, Louisiana), but they’re rare as hen’s teeth. Academy, e.g., will perhaps get one (1) from Ruger, who knows when. My next trip there will investigate availability of Buckmark Campers. What I’ve read in the interim at your site and others leads me to believe the Browning is the handgun for me. Thanks for all the info! – Alte Oberst

  22. Answering my own comments, I bought the Buckmark Camper. I like the way it fits my hand and its overall matte finish. Reading the owner’s manual is — well, interesting, primarily where Browning makes no mention of field stripping! Cleaning instructions, however, are detailed. I’m thinking of getting a Hoppes boresnake outfit (and one for my Winchester 9422). Buckmark book also says a 1/16th” Allen wrench is included; not in mine. I’m a long-retired USAF type who last shot expert with a Combat Masterpiece in the last century, and wants to get back at targets in his eighties. Any comments gladly received.
    – Alte Oberst

  23. I have had the MKII Target and now have the Buckmark, The rugar is a pain to cean if you break it down, I shot many thousands of rounds through it, good pistol. However what sold me on the buckmark is that I can shoot 20 rounds through the 1 inch center bulls at 25 yards, I never could get close to that with the MKIITarget.

  24. My MKIII has always been very accurate. But glad to hear you’re enjoying your Buckmark.


    • I haven’t noticed that issue. But I will say it is a bit sensitive to the magazines being seatef properly.

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