Firearms

Browning Buckmark: Field, Target, Tackdriver

Browning Buckmark .22 LR pistol left profile

When Browning introduced the Buckmark in 1985, I wasn’t slow to add it to my working battery. Later, a Browning Buckmark did yeoman service in my training classes. The Buckmark replaced the well-respected Challenger pistols. The Buckmark was intended to be affordable but deliver good performance. My version is the Field Target, a useful variation with a 4-inch heavy barrel and fully adjustable sights. There are at least 20 variations of the Buckmark. Surely, there is one for every shooter.

Bob Campbell holding a Browning Buckmark pistol while wearing red hearing protection
The controls are very ergonomic.

This bull barrel measures .90 inch in diameter. The result is an excellent balance. Each chamber, in every pistol, receives special attention and is properly cut.

The frame is manufactured from high-grade aluminum. The frame is anodized, and the barrel and receiver are blued. Browning designed the Pro Target rear sight to offer serious shooters greater adjustment, with 16 clicks rather than the standard 12.

The Buckmark is accurate enough to take advantage of this superior sight, as I soon learned. The front sight is a bold post that offers an excellent sight picture. The sights do not move with the slide. A solid Picatinny rail allows mounting a wide range of optics including red dot types.

Browning Buckmark safety and slide release lever
The controls are similar in layout to the 1911 pistol.

The controls are standard Browning types as found on the Browning Hi-Power and Colt 1911. The slide lock and magazine release are easily manipulated, and the manual safety is pressed upward for Safe and down to Fire. The safety solidly locks the sear when applied.

The pistol will not fire when the magazine is removed. This isn’t a bad feature on a target gun. Never dry fire a .22-caliber handgun without a snap cap or spent case to shield the firing pin’s impact. Since a .22 rimfire is ignited by the firing pin striking the edge of the cartridge rim, when the chamber isn’t loaded, the firing pin strikes the edge of the chamber, possibly damaging both the chamber and the firing pin.

The trigger action is nice and clean. There is minimal takeup and no creep. Trigger compression is a smooth 4 pounds.

I began the test at 10 yards in order to properly sight in the pistol. I began with a load I had on hand in good quantity, the CCI Mini-Mag. This is a great all-around, do-anything .22 Long Rifle high-velocity loading. I sighted in the pistol for the 6 o’clock hold.

Bob Campbell shooting the Browning Buckmark pistol with a two handed grip
Firing quickly offhand is great fun with the Buckmark .22.

I realized I was far too close to explore the accuracy potential of the Buckmark Field Target. As I moved to the 25-yard range and fired from a solid benchrest position, I experienced a number of excellent groups. The practical accuracy of the Browning Buckmark is surprising.

My best effort with the CCI Mini-Mag included a 1.1-inch group. Most groups were larger at an average 1.5 inches, some a bit larger. I felt that iron sights, eyesight, and human frailties limited the performance of the handgun and ammunition combination. Just the same, a five-shot group just over an inch at 25 yards is exceptional.

I also fired a number of other loadings including the hyper-velocity Stinger. This handgun is well worth adding an optic to. I enjoy iron-sight handguns, but I am looking forward to working up a light combination to complement this handgun.

Velocity of Various Loads
Mini-Mag 1,129 fps
Match Target 1,090 fps

A .22-caliber handgun is great fun and a sure small-game getter. The Browning Buckmark is among the best choices, and affordable at just over $300. Incidentally, I fired more than 200 cartridges in one range trip. There were no sore wrists or flinching, but a smile on my face.

Do you have a favorite .22 LR pistol? How does it compare with the Browning Buckmark? Share your answer in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog. "The Shooter's Log", is to provide information - not opinions - to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decicions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (8)

  1. I own a Challenger II purchased around 1979. Still my favorite 22 pistol ever. Lite trigger pull and very accurate. Fun gun to shoot and a trip to the range is relatively inexpensive.

  2. My first pistol was its cousin the Belgium Browning Challenger (original). Great looking and very accurate with any ammo put into it. No rails, but has faithfully worked for many decades. A little long in the tooth, but haven’t found anything to replace it (yes, I live in California).

  3. My go to is a MKII target. I’ve had two. This one for 25 years or so. I would never sell. Bone stock,
    and after thousands of rounds, I can still chase pop cans down to 50 yards and beyond.

  4. The first line of the sixth paragraph states “The pistol will not fire when the magazine is removed.”
    This seems to be incorrect.

  5. Still have the Buckmark I bought a few years after it was issued. Mine does its best with Hi-Vel ammo and is an accurate and easy to handle .22 semi-auto…

  6. I own a browning buckmark and it is exceptional an economical way to practice.
    I also own a colt match target 2nd series. A beautiful pistol worth a fair piece of cash now. My wife has adopted it as her own as she is extremely recoil sensitive and when she shoots anything just for pleasure, it’s always the colt. Both the colt and the browning are fantastic but still slightly different animals. The colt is finicky. It wants expensive ammunition and light strikes cheap ammo at about 30%. But it’s the finest feeling pistol I’ve Maybe ever held. The browning is an accurate workhorse and will digest almost any ammunition you feed it. By far one of the most important changes in modern 22’s is the addition of a sight rail. The browning sight rail is the best of the bunch, and my slab sided weapon holds an inexpensive but accurate holo sight.

    I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent at the range, but I can tell you that more than half of them were spent with these 22’s. An incredible value in ammo and a powerful training gun!

  7. I haven’t had the opportunity to fire a Buckmark. Having a 1927 High Standard Model B and a more modern Walther P22 in target configuration, it’s doubtful I’ll seek one out to buy. I enjoy shooting both, and I’m sure glad Granddad’s model B ended up in my hands rather than sitting in a drawer (not that I wouldn’t trade the gun for Granddad any day of the week, but at 96 when he passed, he’d had a good life, and stayed independent but for the last couple of months) Good article and it hit all the points that needed hitting. I enjoy your articles Bob, and look forward to many more.

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