The New Ruger Mark IV Is Hard To Improve,
But These Modifications Do So!
By Holt Bodinson
Independent, creative minds keep the firearms industry on its toes. Given the need to factory produce a product at a competitive price, even the latest, commercial firearm design can be enhanced and personalized relatively inexpensively.
While all Ruger Mark IV pistols made prior to June 1, 2017 are currently subject to recall to improve the safety system, Ruger aftermarket specialist, Majestic Arms has designed and brought to market a whole bundle of proprietary parts improving the overall performance of an already great design. Better yet, with the aid of Majestic’s hands-on video, Mark IV owners can readily install one or more of the new upgrades more easily themselves.
I recently had an opportunity to work with a Mark IV Target model with every current upgrade Majestic offers. Some of the enhancements like their “Master Trigger Kit” and “Bank Vault Locking Block” are designed to improve accuracy, others like their bolt racker, extended bolt stop and magazine releases facilitate better handling, and yet, others like their aluminum magazine ejector offers increased durability over the plastic, factory part. The neat thing about the Majestic upgrades is they’re relatively inexpensive, and you can pick and choose whatever upgrades are most important to enhancing your shooting performance, whether you shoot a Mark I, II, III or IV Ruger.
Dino Longueira, the creative mind behind Majestic Arms, Ltd. and I brainstormed a little bit about what might be termed the five most significant upgrades to the Mark IV.
One of the gunsmithing services includes recrowning the barrel. Notice the even
distribution of exiting gas from the new 11-degree crown.
The “Bank Vault Locking Block” (left) replaces the factory part and rigidly secures the
MK IV receiver to the frame. It is adjustable to take up slack as the pistol wears.
First and foremost was the factory Mark IV trigger. While it is the best trigger yet on a stock Ruger .22 autoloader, it is open to further improvement. Installation of Majestic’s “Master Grade Trigger Kit” accomplishes two ends: it produces a lighter trigger pull and by hand fitting the new disconnector bar and tab, shortens the stage-1 take-up of the 2-stage factory trigger perceptibly.
The last factory Mark IV I handled was the Hunter model. Its trigger averaged 4 pounds, 10 ounces on my Lyman electronic gauge. After 10 pull measurements on the Lyman gauge, the trigger of the Majestic modified Mark IV averaged 1 pound, 13-ounces, plus the first stage take-up was almost imperceptible and the reset lightning fast.
Longueira observed using the factory spring in his trigger unit would set the poundage to about 3.5 pounds, and that his trigger kit was supplied with two new trigger springs. One spring would average 2 pounds or a little over so the trigger would be legal for NRA-sanctioned matches and the other spring would be slightly lighter. As you can imagine, the 1-pound, 13-ounce trigger of the Majestic Mark IV was a dream to work with.
Majestic’s extended magazine base pad aids in positively seating and locking a
magazine in place. One of the gunsmithing services includes recrowning the barrel.
Notice the even distribution of exiting gas from the new 11-degree crown.
Majestic’s racker makes operating the Ruger bolt a lot easier, especially when a scope is used.
Bank Vault Lockup
The next essential upgrade was the replacement of the factory frame lug with Majestic’s “Bank Vault Locking Block.” The purpose of the factory frame lug located at the front of the frame is to rigidly secure the pivoting barreled receiver to the frame. In the factory model, a synthetic plug in the lug is compressed when the receiver is locked down on the frame to enhance rigidity. Longueira observed the synthetic plug would degrade over time and, short of replacing it, there was no way to take up eventual wear and loss of rigidity. There had to be a better way.
Five days later, he was sitting in his patent attorney’s office with an innovative solution. Longueira replaced the factory synthetic plug with a threaded, stainless steel column adjustable to bear on the bottom of the barreled receiver to virtually lock the receiver to the frame. After shooting thousands of rounds, a Mark IV owner could further adjust the column to take up any wear. The patent pending, proprietary “Bank Vault Locking Block” is made of heat-treated, stainless steel and replaces the factory lug in seconds. The provisional patent also addresses any firearm hinging system so Longueira’s invention could have much wider applications.
The Mark IV features a magazine disconnect safety preventing a discharge if the magazine is removed. Past systems of this type tended to apply friction to the magazine body not permitting the magazine to fall free when the release button was pressed. No more! Hitting the magazine release on the Mark IV expels the “drop-free” magazine with some vigor so be forewarned.
The magazine ejector is a spring loaded, plastic part under the right grip frame. Longueira is long on durability so he designed a magazine ejector made of 6061 aluminum. The downside to a magazine ejector is when you insert a magazine, you are compressing the spring of the ejector so there’s a bit of resistance as the magazine is fully seated and locked in place. Depending upon the experience of the shooter and the strength of their hand, there’s the possibility the magazine will not be fully seated.
Rimfires are finicky and unpredictable with regard to their tastes in ammunition.
Majestic upgrades on our test pistol include master-grade trigger, extended bolt stop
and magazine releases, racker, Picatinny rail, HIVIZ express sights and custom grips.
Majestic’s low Picatinny rail permits use of the open sights while serving as a rigid
Longueira’s solution is a proprietary, extended, aluminum, magazine base pad supplied both as a magazine replacement part as well as a completely assembled magazine for the Mark II, III and IV Rugers. The extended base pad gives the shooter the leverage to insure their magazine is fully seated and locked in place plus the logo-marked base pads are darn good looking.
Mark IV accuracy is dependent on a good barrel and a good chamber. Longueira addresses both as a gunsmithing service. He recuts the barrel crown at an 11-degree angle. Back in the 1970’s, barrel maker Ed Shilen experimented with a variety of barrel crown designs for the benchrest rifles he was building. He found an 11-degree crown optimized the uniform release of gas at the muzzle which can be seen as a uniform, star-like, deposit of carbon on the muzzle. Frankly, as much as I understand the benefits of an 11-degree crown, I simply appreciate its good looks, especially in stainless.
At the chamber end of the barrel, Longueira cleans-up the factory chamber with a special reamer to achieve uniformity and polishes the chamber to reduce fouling build-up and improve extraction.
The final, two enhancements I really like in the Majestic make-over are their slide racker and proprietary Picatinny rail. The serrations at the back of the Ruger bolt are pretty sharp. Plus, for many hands, there’s not a lot of leverage available when retracting the bolt. Majestic’s racker addresses both issues. It covers the factory serrations, dramatically improves leverage and can be adjusted to the offside for holster carry.
While Ruger autoloaders are now drilled and tapped for optic bases, Ruger no longer adds a base in their boxes. Majestic’s Picatinny rail is the perfect solution. It fits the receiver so low the open sights can still be used and snuggles up to the rear sight base so tightly the sight and the rail appear as one. Add in Majestic’s Bushnell red dot sight package in quick detachable rings, and you really have an outstanding optics system.
How did the Majestic makeover shoot? The 5-shot groups fired at 20 yards speak for themselves. The one unpredictable factor in rimfires is which ammunition they will group the tightest. In this case, I would have said, “Pistol match.” Was not to be. With a 4-shot group measuring 0.32 inch, the Remington, high-velocity, Golden Bullet brand was king-of-the-day.
If you own a Ruger .22 autoloader, you should get to know Majestic Arms, Ltd. Their products and services will enhance the performance of any “Mark” you happen to own, even the latest and greatest Ruger Mark IV.
101 A Ellis St.
Staten Island, NY 10307
Mark IV Recall
Ruger discovered all Mark IV pistols (including 22/45 models) manufactured prior to June 1, 2017 have the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly. In particular, if the trigger is pulled while the safety lever is midway between the “safe” and “fire” positions (that is, the safety is not fully engaged or fully disengaged), then the pistol may not fire when the trigger is pulled. However, if the trigger is released and the safety lever is then moved from the mid position to the “fire” position, the pistol may fire at that time. Although only a small percentage of pistols appear to be affected and we are not aware of any injuries, Ruger is firmly committed to safety and would like to retrofit all potentially affected pistols with an updated safety mechanism.
Until your Mark IV pistol has been retrofitted or you verify it is not subject to the recall, we strongly recommend you not use your pistol. All Mark IV pistols produced prior to June 1, 2017 are potentially affected and therefore are being recalled. This includes Mark IV Target, Hunter, Competition, 22/45, 22/45 Lite and 22/45 Tactical models. These models bear serial numbers beginning with “401” (2017 models) or “WBR” (2016 models).
Firearms not subject to the recall include newly manufactured Mark IV pistols that begin with serial number “500.” Thus, if you have a Mark IV or 22/45 pistol with a serial number beginning with the number “5,” your pistol is not subject to the recall.
Mark IV and 22/45 pistols retrofitted with the updated safety mechanism are easily identified by the letter “S” in the white safety dot visible when the safety is engaged.
Ruger, Recall Call Center (800) 784-3701, www.ruger.com