A few years after my father-in-law died, my mother-in-law came out to Texas for a visit. As she was telling me about her journey via wagon train from Arizona to Texas (she’s old), she said “Tommy wanted you to have his gun. I think it’s a .45, I just need to find it.” It ended up being a Ruger Mark I, manufactured in 1963.
Wow, very cool. My father-in-law was a good guy. Former Air Force officer (I didn’t hold that against him), and spent the rest of his career in U.S. Customs. Cranky old guy. Believed that people are no damn good. I really liked him.
So, MIL finally found the “.45”. On her next visit out a year or so later, she unzipped her suitcase and pulled out a Tupperware container. Inside the Tupperware was this:
Just based on the size and age of the original box, I knew it wasn’t a .45. Opened the box and found a semi-rusty Ruger Mark I, no magazine. That weekend, I tore it down to the frame, cleaned it up, removed the surface rust and ordered a couple of magazines.
Original plastic grips. Sweet. The above pics are about as good as it’s going to get. For a pistol manufactured in 1963 and sat untouched in a closet for 20 years or so, it’s in great shape.
The Mark I/II/III/IIII series has an incredibly long run as a production pistol. From the Wikipedia article specific to the Mark I:
The Standard model is an atypical design, lacking the slide found on conventional pistols, instead sporting a cylindrical bolt which cycles inside a tubular receiver in a manner more characteristic of a rimfire rifle. The bolt of the pistol features protruding “ears” at its rear which are grasped and pulled rearward to feed the initial round and cock the action. Using the basic blowback form of operation, the Standard model originally came with a blued carbon steel finish and was equipped with a 4.75-inch (12.1 cm) tapered barrel.
The magazine held 9 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition and was held in place by a catch on the bottom of the grip frame. Standard models came with Patridge style fixed iron open sights with the rear sight securely mounted in a dovetail. The grip panels were hard black checkered Butaprene synthetic rubber, with pre-1950 pistols featuring the “Red Eagle” trademark as originally designed by Alex Sturm. The manual safety on the Standard model could be engaged only when the pistol was cocked, and the bolt could be locked open by activating the safety with the bolt held back.
The bolt was left “in the white” with the unfinished steel providing a visual contrast with the blued receiver. In 1954 a new model with a barrel length of 6 inches was added to the Standard lineup. In 1971, one of the few engineering changes ever made to the Standard model took place when the original 22-year-old receiver forming dies wore out. As a precursor to changes to come with the 1982 introduction of the MK II series, the slot for the magazine follower extension on the grip frame was moved from the right to the left side.
I’ve shot this one time since making it functional, and that was to make sure that it was still operational and safe. My oldest son was right about 12 when I got this back into firing condition and he immediately took to it and it became his go-to during range trips. I think he likes it for the sentimental value more than anything else.