I got to thinking the other day – something I’m not prone to do – that it’s been quite a while since I’ve written about a .22 rimfire here at Gun Digest. That oversight needs to change since, short of a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons with the sharpener in the back, there are few things on the planet nicer than a .22 rimfire.
I have had – and still have – my fair share of .22s. They’re somewhere around this big old schoolhouse we call home – the Schmidt EIG E15 revolver, the H&R M922 nine-shooter, the Remington M514 bolt-action, the Ruger 10/22, and that modern day reminder of the Wild West, Winchester’s Model 9422 lever-action.
All are what I’d consider Old School guns; not antiques, but certainly not new by any stretch of the imagination.
Recently, though, I had occasion to plink for an afternoon with two very impressive .22 rimfires, both of which are quite a bit more modern than are the Long Rifles and pistols to which I’m accustomed. Browning’s Buck Mark pistols, and a sister long gun, were introduced in 1985.
For you mathematicians, that’s 91 years after John M. Browning invented his first auto-loading pistol. The Buck Mark pistols are offered in a dozen different configurations, ranging from the plain Jane Camper model – my personal favorite – to the semi-futuristic looking Buck Mark Lite, complete with fluted alloy barrel and nitrile rubber grips.
As for the Buck Mark Rifle, she’s more than simply an auto-loading pistol with a stock attached, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In terms of technical operation – in fact, in terms of general overall appearance and operation – both the Buck Mark pistols and rifles are quite similar. Both cycle rounds via a reliable blowback action. Both short and long versions position a slide lock (stop open latch) and a manual sear block safety on the left side of the receiver directly above and slightly behind the top of the left grip.
The magazine release, again on both, is a checkered push-button located behind and integral to the trigger guard, on the left side. Both use a 10-round coil-spring magazine; a spring assist helps drive the cartridge supply out of the magazine well with no hesitation.
During my time with the pistols, I had the opportunity to work with the Buck Mark Plus UDX (Ultragrip Deluxe wood, ambidextrous), as well as the slightly less expensive – $469 versus $509 – but heavier by four ounces, Hunter model.
Visually, the UDX, with her squared “Slabside” barrel, grooved walnut grips, gold trigger, and green fiber optic front sight is quite the looker – Old School, but not ancient. The Hunter model, on the other hand, with her matte finish rounded bull barrel, integral scope mount, and silky smooth laminate grips, appears, at least to me, a bit more of a Speed Gun.
As for the Buck Mark rifle, the most eye-catching characteristic was the skeletonized stock structure, which attaches a high-comb walnut short stock directly to the pistol frame.
Technically, everything about the rifle mirrors the pistol; gone, however, is the Hunter’s 7-1/4-inch barrel, replaced with an 18-inch flat matte finish heavy target tube, complete with recessed crown. All that’s missing here are the weight-reducing barrel flutes, but I’m certain those are just a matter of time.
My Personal Report Card
Granted, I like every .22 rimfire, no matter how slowly or quickly she fires, or how fancy she looks. However, the folks in Morgan, Utah, have made it really easy to fall in love with these little guns – and for several reasons.
One, they work, and they worked each and every time our group of a dozen shooters pulled the little gold trigger. That particular afternoon, we were feeding both the pistols and the Buck Mark Target Rifle a never-ending supply of Winchester’s 40-grain Power Point/High-Velocity rounds. And as far as I know, the better part of 1,000 rounds, went downrange with nary a hiccup. That, folks, is what I’m looking for in an old-fashioned plink’n rimfire.
Secondly, they’re accurate little guns. The Buck Mark rifle, our test model topped with a Bushnell Elite 3-9, particularly so. While I would have preferred a full day on the range with the Brownings, the short time I spent in front of the targets proved all of the models more than capable cottontail and squirrel pieces, with most of the shooters being able to keep everything inside a golf ball sized circle at 25 feet with the pistols, and 50 yards – once we got the long gun dialed in – with the Target Rifle.
And third, they’re mechanically simple, a design characteristic for which Mr. Browning was well known. Disassembly for routine maintenance involves breaking the pistols down into five major parts – frame, barrel, sight base, recoil rod/firing pin housing, and operating slide – and requires, with some practice, less than 60 seconds. It’s as easy as tying your shoe. Hell, it’s as easy as Velcroing your shoe, and you folks know me – I like simple.
Price? True, it’s more than you’ll pay for a Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic or a Nylon 66, but then again, you’re not buying either of those long guns here. Browning’s suggested retail for the Buck Mark pistols ranges from $359 to $549, depending upon the model. A bit more expensive, the Buck Mark Rifle will wear a price tag of roughly $650. Internet prices were on par with MSRP, however, many of the websites I called up listed the Buck Mark pistols as being Out of Stock. That probably says something about the popularity and quality of the little guns, now doesn’t it?
By the numbers
Make/model – Buck Mark Hunter Pistol
Action/design – Semi-automatic
Caliber – .22 rimfire
Operation – Blowback
Overall length – 11-1/4 inches
Barrel – 7-1/4 inches
Weight – 38 ounces
Magazine – Detachable; 10 round
Trigger pull – 4.0 pounds
Sights – Tru-Glo fiber optic front; fully adjustable rear
Additional sights – None; aftermarket scope rail
Finish – Matte blued
Grips – Cocobolo with Buck Mark logo
Safety – Sear block (thumb operated; left side of receiver)