Saturday, February 11, 2012

REVIEW: Browning Buck Mark–The Valentine's Day Gift

What'd you get your wife for Valentine's Day? Flowers? Chocolate covered strawberries? I've done all those things and they're great gifts but I went for something different this year. I got my wife a Browning Buck Mark and mounted a TruGlo reflex Red Dot sight on it. In addition, I got her three additional magazines and a thumb-saver loader. Happy Valentine's Day. I've already done a Buck Mark Review (click here) so I'm not going to completely re-review the gun. The reason for the purchase is that my wife loves to shoot .22. I do too for that matter. The problem was that my Ruger Mark III Hunter with 7" barrel was a little nose-heavy for her. Plus, it never hurts to have a couple different brands of .22 pistol in the house.

The stock Buck Mark:
Weight: 34 oz.
Overall Length: 9.5"
Barrel Length: 5.5"

The stock Mark III:
Weight: 41 oz.
Overall Length: 11.12"
Barrel Length: 6.88"

That extra seven ounces and couple of inches in length isn't immediately noticeable but after a fifty rounds or so I noticed that she'd begin to wobble a bit causing shots to fly. 

Since Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year, I though it'd be fun to get it sighted and broken in this weekend, so I gave her the gift early. It was a freezing cold day with snow flurries so we went to the indoor range at Shooter's Depot. I thought it'd be fun to see how it shot against my ever-reliable Ruger Mark III Hunter. We shot around 350 rounds, about 250 though the Buck Mark and about 100 through the Mark III. We were shooting while both standing and seated, bench-resting. 

First off, the Buck Mark was brand new and the Mark III has over 2,000 rounds through it.  Everything about the Buck Mark was stiff--the trigger, the slide and the magazine drop. So, the results are a little bit skewed, but not by much. I feel like the stiff trigger was the only think that effected groupings at the distance we were shooting. 

My first impressions were that I really like the soft Ultragrip RX (URX). The grip feels like it could have been made by the grip-masters at Houge. I also liked the crisp trigger release. Also, I loved the weight.

While standing, the Browning was significantly easier to keep on target. I felt like I could keep the red dot from wobbling with less effort than with the Ruger. If that was true for me, then I knew I had to be even more of a factor for my wife. After a few magazines, she smiled at me and said she liked the pistol. That's good. She seemed to be shooting it well. 

After about 15 magazines, we put the two guns head-to-head. Instantly we realized that while the Ruger was heavier, we were still producing tighter groups with it. While sitting and bench resting, the results were the same, the Ruger produced tighter groups. My assessment was that the lighter trigger, longer barrel and extended break in were the reasons but whatever the reason, it was a consistent result. 

Seated: On a two-inch target we were easily staying within the confines of the target and with a little concentration shooting one-inch to half-inch groups. Remember, we were only 21-feet away. The smallest group we could get out of the Buck Mark was just under an inch while the Ruger returned a several of .4" groups. 

Standing: We shot at 5.5" Caldwell Orange Peel Targets and were easily staying within the 5.5" inch target rings. The Buck Mark returned several scattered 4" groups but the Ruger gave us better gouts and sub 3-inch groups time after time.  Click on the images to enlarge them.

Toward the end of our time at the range I got an unpleasant surprise. When the Browning's slide blows back, it opens on both sides. My natural shooting grip put my left hand thumb in the bite of the closing slide. Look at the accompanying photo and you'll see what I mean. This isn't a big deal, but something to be aware of.

Despite the bite, I love the Buck Mark and look forward to seeing how it shoots after it gets broken in a bit more. I'll update the review once that happens.

UPDATE: February 16, 2012:
After 500 rounds two things have happened. First, the pistol is really dialed in. At 7-yards, We're consistently been getting tight 10-shot groups that I'm happy with. For an off the shelf shooter, it's performing well in regards to accuracy. Swap a Tactical Solutions barrel and shoot expensive ammo and those results could be improved, but for a fun gun, eh, close enough.

The second development is that we're getting regular misfires! It seems that the firing pin isn't hitting the rim of the .22 cartridge hard enough to fire the round. It was happening during the first trip to the range but I thought that maybe I hadn't cleaned the pistol thoroughly enough or something. So, I gave the gun an extra good scrubbing and it's still happening. I'd say once every 30 rounds. I'm going to Google this problem and look for a solution and see what I can do about it. I'm not opposed to some light gun smithing. I actually find it to be fun. No matter, I need to solve the problem soon.  I'll keep you posted. Post a comment if you've had this happen with your Buck Mark and what you did to solve it.


  1. I love my Buck Mark.

  2. I'm sure you've sorted this out by now, but if you have been dry firing the Buckmark, that's what is causing the misfires. Your firing pin is probably damaged and no longer hitting the rim properly. Being an owner of both of these guns, I found it hard to remember to NOT dry fire the Buckmark b/c it's okay to do so with the Ruger Mk3 Hunter (and necessary to disassemble).