Browning Buck Mark
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  1. #1
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    Browning Buck Mark

    Winter, the 8-month rainy season, is coming to Oregon. During the dry season, I do most of my informal target shooting at our gun club’s outdoor action pistol ranges, practicing for USPSA matches by shooting Glocks (usually…) at cardboard and steel targets. For those of us not inclined to conduct our informal target shooting while standing in a puddle of water, it’s nearly time to move to the indoor ranges for recreation. Luckily, our club has a beautiful indoor .22 rimfire range, so I plan to be spending some time there, banging away at paper targets while remaining dry.

    My favorite .22 pistol for informal indoor shooting is the Browning Buck Mark featured in this post. Although I own the Ruger Mk III in a couple of configurations, I prefer the Buck Mark for informal shooting because it is accurate, reliable, and much easier to clean and maintain. You don’t need to be a three-handed magician with a keen sense of humor and a knack for problem solving to put this pistol together after stripping it for cleaning, as you do for the Ruger Mk III.

    My Buck Mark is the standard model, with a 5.5” barrel, decent adjustable sights, and surprisingly good ambidextrous target grips. It weighs 36.2 ounces empty, and came out of the box with a crisp, clean 3-pound trigger pull. This pistol has received exactly zero modifications or upgrades, I shoot it exactly as it came from the factory, which is something new for me. This model has a matte finish on most parts, with the exception of some nicely executed polishing on the sides of the slab-sided barrel. In my opinion, the Buck Mark is built to a higher standard of fit and finish than is the Ruger Mk III, although the Browning is usually a bit more expensive.

    Part of the charm of this pistol, I admit, is the ease with which it can be stripped for cleaning:

    1. Make sure the gun is empty; remove the magazine.
    2. Remove the two sight base screws and lift the sight base from the frame.
    3. Pull the slide back about an inch and lift the recoil rod upward from the slide.
    4. Lift the slide from the frame.

    That’s it. With the Buck Mark's slide removed, you still can't clean the barrel from the breech with a cleaning rod because a part of the frame obstructs the path of the rod (Buck Mark | World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories, Gun Parts and Gunsmithing Tools - BROWNELLS). You can insert a rod carefully through the muzzle, or you can use a Hoppe's Bore Snake to clean the barrel.

    Browning even provides the one hex wrench you need to remove the sight base screws. If you are a compulsive gun cleaner and maintainer, think about how important this simplicity might be to you.

    A word of warning is due, however: don't take the grips off without a really good reason. The grips hold some action pins in position just like they do on the Ruger Mk III, and if they fall out you are in for a challenging little reassembly session (see above, "three-handed magician"). This design quirk was apparently inherited from the 1911 and passed on to the Ruger Mk III and the Buck Mark. Since the name of the 1911's designer is on the side of the Buck Mark (that would be one Mr. John M. Browning...), I guess that shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

    I have seen the Buck Mark in use in our local steel matches, usually with open sights. If I was to shoot a steel match with an open sight .22, this is the gun I would use.

    The Buck Mark does not have a firing pin stop, and after some searching on the web and in the manual I cannot find clear authoritative guidance about dry-firing the Buck Mark, so I don’t do it except after cleaning the gun, just to drop the firing pin to take pressure off the spring. By contrast, the Ruger Mk III does have a firing pin stop, and it is safe to dry-fire.

    Without further comment, here is the gun:

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    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 09-13-2013 at 10:56 AM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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  2. #2
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    Beautiful. Something about it really appeals to me.

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    I have been thinking about getting a .22 for Steel Challenge for quite a while... The demise of .22 ammunition put me on hold... Thanks for providing info on the two pistols I have been considering (Ruger MkIII and Buck Mark).

    Very nice adjustable rear sight... The front sight looks like you could just remove the screw and swap another sight in. Have you ever thought about installing a fiber optic front sight? I'm guessing that they make them. I'm really used to FO front sights.

    Thanks for starting another interesting thread!
    "While the anti-gunners seem very concerned about the "one life" that your firearm might take -- they are not very concerned about the lives it will save." Jon H. Gutmacher, Florida Firearms - Law, Use & Ownership

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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by __jb View Post
    .. The front sight looks like you could just remove the screw and swap another sight in. Have you ever thought about installing a fiber optic front sight? ...
    That's right, the front sight comes off easily. I haven't thought about using a fiber optic front sight on this, but if I used it in steel matches I would do that. They are available:

    Browning Buckmark Front Sights: MGW
    www.dawsonprecision.com SIGHTS FRONT:Browning Buckmark .22 Front Sights Category

    For open sight shooting in steel competition (at my level...), this gun would be my preference over the Ruger because it doesn't need any work, right out of the box it is good enough for me. You may be a little more accomplished at steel shooting than I am, however!

    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 09-13-2013 at 09:28 AM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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    Important Update: With the Buck Mark's slide removed, you still can't clean the barrel from the breech with a cleaning rod because a part of the frame obstructs the path of the rod (Buck Mark | World's Largest Supplier of Firearm Accessories, Gun Parts and Gunsmithing Tools - BROWNELLS).

    You can insert a rod carefully through the muzzle, or you can use a Hoppe's Bore Snake to clean the barrel.

    I'm sorry for this error, it has been some time since I've shot the Buck Mark (last winter), so I had forgotten the problem with getting a cleaning rod through the barrel.

    The barrel can be dismounted from the frame with one screw, but I have not done that yet and don't plan to because I can clean it well enough with a cleaning rod through the muzzle. That said, it's still a lot easier to strip and clean than the Ruger Mk III.

    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 09-13-2013 at 08:44 PM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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  7. #6
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    What kind of ammunition do you shoot in your BuckMark? For some reason 22's seem to jam a lot when I watch the 22 pistol shooters at a Steel Challenge match. I have some friends that shoot CCI in their Ruger Mark III's, but there are many, many different types of CCI 22LR ammunition...

    Curious what you've had the best results with...
    "While the anti-gunners seem very concerned about the "one life" that your firearm might take -- they are not very concerned about the lives it will save." Jon H. Gutmacher, Florida Firearms - Law, Use & Ownership

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by __jb View Post
    What kind of ammunition do you shoot in your BuckMark? For some reason 22's seem to jam a lot when I watch the 22 pistol shooters at a Steel Challenge match. I have some friends that shoot CCI in their Ruger Mark III's, but there are many, many different types of CCI 22LR ammunition...

    Curious what you've had the best results with...
    Prior to the Mosr Recent Ammo Crisis, I used CCI hollow points exclusively. I don't recall the bullet weight or velocity, but I will look it up when I get home later today. I recall that standard velocity target ammo didn't work well, but my memory could be faulty. I will go to the range this week, shoot up a variety of ammo, and report back. Stay tuned.

    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 09-21-2013 at 03:07 PM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

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  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cohland View Post
    Prior to the Mosr Recent Ammo Crisis, I used CCI hollow points exclusively. I don't recall the bullet weight or velocity, but I will look it up when I get home later today. I recall that standard velocity target ammo didn't work well, but my memory could be faulty. I will go to the range this week, shoot up a variety of ammo, and report back. Stay tuned.

    Chris
    Thanks, Chris...
    "While the anti-gunners seem very concerned about the "one life" that your firearm might take -- they are not very concerned about the lives it will save." Jon H. Gutmacher, Florida Firearms - Law, Use & Ownership

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by __jb View Post
    What kind of ammunition do you shoot in your BuckMark? For some reason 22's seem to jam a lot when I watch the 22 pistol shooters at a Steel Challenge match. I have some friends that shoot CCI in their Ruger Mark III's, but there are many, many different types of CCI 22LR ammunition...

    Curious what you've had the best results with...
    As promised, I ran a quick test with a variety of .22LR ammo this afternoon, the results are tabulated below, sorted in ascending power factor. The test was simple: since I have only two 10-round magazines for this pistol, I loaded each and fired 20 rounds, noting any Failure To Eject (FTE), the most common type of cycling failure for an autoloading .22 Pistol (or rifle, for that matter), in my experience.

    For this particular Buck Mark, I could shoot anything but the very low powered Federal Target ammo with one exception, the Winchester USA-marked ammo.

    The Federal Target stuff is newly available out here, and it seems like it's probably intended for single-shot rifle shooting. It just doesn't generate enough pressure to operate the simple blow-back design of the Buck Mark slide.

    The single FTE with Winchester was using the bulk-packed "USA" branded ammo.

    Out here, I see a lot of CCI and Federal Champion used in steel matches, but with the shortage I'm sure that anything that goes "bang" will be found at the ranges.

    Make Bullet Type Bullet Weight in Grains Velocity in FPS Power Factor Brand or Description FTE in 20 Rounds Fired
    Federal Round Nose 40 1,080 43.20 Gold Medal Target 7
    Federal Round Nose 36 1,260 45.36 Champion 0
    CCI Hollow Point 36 1,260 45.36 Mini-Mag™ Varmint 0
    Remington Round Nose 40 1,150 46.00 22 Target 0
    Remington Hollow Point 36 1,280 46.08 Golden Bullet 0
    CCI Round Nose 40 1,235 49.40 Mini-Mag™ 0
    Winchester Hollow Point 40 1,280 51.20 USA 1
    Winchester Round Nose 40 1,300 52.00 Super Speed RN 0


    One other thing: I mentioned that the barrel could be removed with one screw, and it can, but it's an interesting looking screw. Don't attempt this without a gunsmith screwdriver that fits the screw perfectly, you may damage it or scratch the pistol;

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    Chris
    Last edited by cohland; 09-22-2013 at 07:14 PM.
    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt."

    Abraham Lincoln



  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cohland View Post
    As promised, I ran a quick test with a variety of .22LR ammo this afternoon, the results are tabulated below, sorted in ascending power factor. The test was simple: since I have only two 10-round magazines for this pistol, I loaded each and fired 20 rounds, noting any Failure To Eject (FTE), the most common type of cycling failure for an autoloading .22 Pistol (or rifle, for that matter), in my experience.

    For this particular Buck Mark, I could shoot anything but the very low powered Federal Target ammo with one exception, the Winchester USA-marked ammo.

    The Federal Target stuff is newly available out here, and it seems like it's probably intended for single-shot rifle shooting. It just doesn't generate enough pressure to operate the simple blow-back design of the Buck Mark slide.

    The single FTE with Winchester was using the bulk-packed "USA" branded ammo.

    Out here, I see a lot of CCI and Federal Champion used in steel matches, but with the shortage I'm sure that anything that goes "bang" will be found at the ranges.

    Make Bullet Type Bullet Weight in Grains Velocity in FPS Power Factor Brand or Description FTE in 20 Rounds Fired
    Federal Round Nose 40 1,080 43.20 Gold Medal Target 7
    Federal Round Nose 36 1,260 45.36 Champion 0
    CCI Hollow Point 36 1,260 45.36 Mini-Mag™ Varmint 0
    Remington Round Nose 40 1,150 46.00 22 Target 0
    Remington Hollow Point 36 1,280 46.08 Golden Bullet 0
    CCI Round Nose 40 1,235 49.40 Mini-Mag™ 0
    Winchester Hollow Point 40 1,280 51.20 USA 1
    Winchester Round Nose 40 1,300 52.00 Super Speed RN 0
    Thank you very much! As usual, you have gone way beyond the call of duty in supplying an answer... But I appreciate it... Good information... Makes me wonder if some of the jams I see at our local steel matches could be caused by the Gold Metal Target ammunition. Seven FTEs out of 20 is quite a high percentage.

    None of our local Walmart stores have had any 22LR ammunition for a long time. I've heard recently that some of them were getting new shipments 22LR stock in, but I have not been able to find any. May be time to check some of the local gun shops.

    Quote Originally Posted by cohland View Post
    One other thing: I mentioned that the barrel could be removed with one screw, and it can, but it's an interesting looking screw. Don't attempt this without a gunsmith screwdriver that fits the screw perfectly, you may damage it or scratch the pistol;

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    Chris
    I've never heard of a gunsmith screwdriver... Is this something sold by Browning specifically for the Buckmark? You have piqued my curiosity (once again!) with this comment.

    -john
    "While the anti-gunners seem very concerned about the "one life" that your firearm might take -- they are not very concerned about the lives it will save." Jon H. Gutmacher, Florida Firearms - Law, Use & Ownership

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