Sturm, Ruger & Co. has just announced a product safety notice and recall for all of their popular new Mark IV™ pistols. This recall will include the new 22/45™ models of the Mark IV as well, and involves all pistols manufactured prior to June 1, 2017. Ruger has discovered these pistols have the potential to unintentionally discharge if the safety is not properly utilized.
The safety notice and recall sounds a lot like legalese to me. Obviously if a safety is not engaged correctly a pistol is primed to fire under the right conditions. This sounds a lot more like a part in the safety mechanism itself may not engage, leading the shooter to believe the pistol is on “safe” when in fact the safety is not engaged and the pistol is primed to fire.
This safety notice and recall DOES NOT include any of the previous Mark I, Mark II, or Mark III line of pistols. Read on for more details on this safety notice and recall.
Ruger Mark IV Safety Recall
According to Sturm, Ruger & Co. the potential hazard with the Mark IV pistols centers around the trigger being pulled when the safety lever is somewhere between “fire” and “safe.” This situation creates a safety that is not fully engaged, nor is it fully disengaged. That much seems pretty straight-forward. Again, this should not be a big surprise for any shooter carrying a pistol with a manual safety lever, though a misplaced safety lever is rare as they are most often designed to spring into place after overcoming a form of resistance.
Safety Lever in Midway Position – Failure to Fire
However, the true safety issue appears to be when the safety lever is in a midway point and then the trigger is pulled. There is a potential the pistol may not fire, when the shooter mistakenly believed the pistol was in the “fire” position. On the range this presents a “cease-fire” situation to safely analyze the situation. However, if the pistol is being used in a self-defense manner this creates a critical life-or-death flaw.
Safety Failure – Fire When Safety Activated After Trigger Pull
To complicate matters more, if the Mark IV pistol safety lever is in this midway condition and does not fire when the trigger is pulled, there is a potential for the pistol to immediately fire upon the safety lever being moved to the full “fire” position. Apparently the trigger can pre-set to fire (with released tension) that is only stopped by the minimal intrusion of the misplaced safety lever. When the safety lever is then moved out-of-the-way and into the “fire” position, the pre-set trigger completes the action and fires a round.
This condition is perhaps the most dangerous, as common firearms safety protocols mandate shooters place their firearm on “safe” after a misfire, prior to examining the firearm for its malfunction. Of course, the number one safety rule of “keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction at all times” still holds true, but one could easily see how a shooter attempting to make his pistol “safe” in these conditions could suffer an unintentional discharge where the muzzle may not be in an ideal position.
Safety Lever in Midway Position – Fire When Intended Safe
There is also a potential the pistol will fire as if the safety was in the “fire” position, when the shooter believed the safety was engaged. Since the midway safety lever is not fully engaged, the shooter is confronted with a variety of unintended discharge situations. If the shooter was intending to fire the safety flaw may not even be realized. However, if the shooter believed the pistol was on “safe” this could create a tragic accidental discharge (AD). I say accidental discharge here, do to a potential discharge resulting from a mechanical error rather than a safety violation performed by the shooter.
Ruger has stated that only a small percentage of Mark IV pistols have exhibited this condition, and the company is not aware of any injuries or deaths as a result of this malfunction.
Ruger’s Safety Notice and Recall
Ruger recently discovered that 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 that it is not subject to the recall, we strongly recommend that 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).
No firearms manufacturer wants a product to fail, especially in regards to safety features. However, Ruger appears to be moving quickly to get in front of this problem and to make things right. Owners of Ruger Mark IV pistols can visit Ruger’s website to determine if their firearm is effected, and if so how to return the pistol for Ruger to upgrade the pistol to make it safe. Have your pistol’s serial number handy.
Ruger has announced that newly manufactured Mark IV pistols will begin with a serial number of “500” and have already been retrofitted to meet safety requirements. In addition, the new Ruger Mark IV and 22/45 pistols will add a black “S” in the white safety dot on the side of the frame.
We applaud Ruger for moving quickly to announce this safety issue to the public, and to make things right by fixing their firearms. When a firearms manufacturer is open and forthright, and makes things right, we should applaud and continue to support them. Any manufacturing process can result in minor errors leading to big problems. The real test of a manufacturer’s worth is how they respond to that discovery. Ruger appears to be responding in stellar fashion.
This safety lever failure is eerily similar to the safety failure on Remington 700 rifles. That problem was noted for years without Remington’s acknowledgement. I personally witnessed one of our police department’s sniper rifles discharge when the safety lever was moved to “fire” and without the trigger being manipulated. Unfortunately, Remington chose to hide the error on one of their most popular firearms, and it took a court order for the safety notice and recall to be issued.