The Ruger Mark III is the third generation of Sturm, Ruger & Co.'s oldest line of pistols that effectively built the Ruger name. The Mark III can trace its basic design all the way back to the Ruger Standard (designed in the 1950's) although various mechanisms and materials have been incorporated into the design of the Mark III. The Mark III was discontinued in 2016 and has since been replaced by the Ruger Mark IV.
The Mark III has remained, in essence, the same basic pistol that the original Standard had been. The same (but improved) blowback operating system is used along with the same 1:16 ratio rifling twist barrel and frame design. Many improvments to the Standard were made when the Ruger MK II was released, however the Mark III has been developed to refine that design still further.
Major changes were made to the location of the magazine release and safety activation mechanisms to make the Mark III more usable to a wider group of customers. The magazine release has been moved to behind the trigger guard to make it more accessible, while there was also a newly developed system to prevent the Mark III from being fired without the magazine being inserted. The various safety mechanisms have been improved with the addition of an internal lock, which can be used to lock the Mark III safe when a key is used.
The Mark III was also fitted with a new loaded chamber indicator, designed to let the shooter know if a round has been chambered and hence mean that the Mark III would be ready to fire. This was also combined with a smooth contour ejection port, designed to ease the ejection of spent rounds as there was less chance of the cartridge cases from potentially being deflected back into the chamber, causing a jam. This was aided by the inclusion of a Weaver style tactical rail, to allow the fitting of custom scopes.
The Mark III, like its predecessors the Standard and the Mark II, fires the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, a popular target pistol caliber. The .22 Long Rifle rounds are fired from a 10 round magazine which slots into the underside of the grip.
The Ruger Mark III is sold in four different formats, with the Mark III being named differently for each specification of the Mark III design.
Mark III StandardEdit
The basic version of the Mark III, featuring fixed iron sights and a choice of either a 120mm (4.75in) or 150mm (6.0in) barrel. All of the basic features (ie loaded chamber indicator, contoured ejector port etc.) are fitted to the Mark III Standard.
Mark III TargetEdit
The Mark III Target was the second version of the Mark III released, featuring a shaped grip and a 140mm (5.5in) barrel. Finished in blued or satin stainless steel, the MK III Target was also produced with basic iron sights (fixed front sight and adjustable rear sight) with a pre-fitted Weaver adapter for custom sights.
Mark III HunterEdit
The Mark III Hunter was a slightly more tuned version of the Mark III Target, having been fitted with fibre optic sights and a fluted 175mm (6.9in) barrel. The Hunter also featured the same, specifically shaped, grip as the Mark III Target.
MK III CompetitionEdit
The Mark III Competition was the most tuned, factory specification version of the Mark III, featuring a slab-sided 175mm (6.9in) barrel to reduce weight and a uniquely shaped grip to better fit the shooter's hand. The MK III Competition was also fitted with the same sights as the Mark III Hunter along with a Weaver conversion kit to allow the mounting of custom/aftermarket sights.
The Mark III entered production in 2004, replacing the aging Mark II originally produced in the 1980's. The Mark III was intended to cement Ruger's reputation in the .22 Long Rifle pistol market, which it has successfully done. The four versions of the Mark III that have been produced prompted Ruger to open a new line of 22/45 rimfire pistols also chambered in .22 Long Rifle. These versions, however, are designed to be used in other applications rather than just target shooting as the MK III has become popularly used.