It seems that Umarex have produced a new single shot, break barrel, similar to the existing Buck Mark URX. This time, it’s a replica of the Ruger Mk IV target pistol.
Construction looks similar to the Buck Mark URX and this also seems to have a similar weight of around 1.35lbs (610g). It shoots only .177” pellets and has a claimed fps of 360.
It seems to have a 5.3” (135mm) rifled barrel and is provided with an adjustable rear sight and both front and rear sights have fibre-optic inserts. It appears that the manual safety is operational but all the other controls are moulded in place.
I’m excited about this one! The Ruger is a classic pistol and a .177 version would be great. My only reservation is the trigger. On my Buck Mark URX, out of the box, the trigger was too heavy for accurate shooting. If this has a better trigger, this could be one to look out for.
The only problem is that, although I spotted this for sale on the Pyramid Air site in the US (for $50), this replica doesn’t currently appear on either the Umarex or Umarex USA sites. I have emailed the nice people at Umarex to ask if it will be available in Europe and elsewhere, but so far, they haven’t replied.
Let’s hope it’s on the way…
Umarex tell me that this replica is currently available only in the US but that it should be available in Europe from “the beginning of 2022.” No information is currently available on price, though I’d expect this to be similar to the price of the existing Buck Mark URX.
In the meantime, here’s a link to a review of this replica in Hard Air Magazine, though it claims that overall weight is over 3lbs (which I don’t think is right) and there is no mention of how light or heavy the trigger is.
The replica I’ll be talking about in this review is the KJ Works MK 1, a replica of the Ruger MK I Target pistol. In many ways, this represents the shallow end of the replica gene pool. It’s non-blowback and of mainly plastic construction. It’s also very cheap – it’s available in most parts of the world for around the equivalent of €35. For these reasons, many people dismiss this as being a toy rather than a serious replica, but I think that’s probably a mistake. Visually and in terms of handling, it’s a wonderful copy of the firearm it replicates and it’s more powerful than you might expect for a simple, gas powered replica. So, let’s put aside preconceptions and take a look at the KJ Works MK 1.
The Ruger Standard/MK I
Bill Ruger had always been interested in firearms. While at college, he produced a design for a light machine gun. After a period working as a gun designer for Springfield Armory, he left and joined the Auto Ordnance Corporation in Bridgeport, Connecticut where he worked on an innovative design for a new machine gun. He completed the design in 1945, just as World War Two was ending and US Army interest in a new machine gun evaporated. Undaunted, Ruger began work on a new semi-automatic pistol. Ruger intended to produce a design for a .22” target pistol that would be inexpensive, reliable and rugged. Inspired by a Japanese Nambu pistol which he purchased from a returning US Marine, he completed the design in early 1946. The only problem was, he didn’t have any money to manufacture or market the new pistol. At that point, Ruger met Alex Sturm, a graduate of Yale Art School with a passion for firearms. The wealthy Sturm family agreed to lend the two men $50,000 and they started the Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc in 1946. In 1949 the company started marketing a single product: The Ruger Standard pistol.
The Japanese Nambu Pistol. Ugly old thing, isn’t it?
Few people in the industry were hopeful about the new company. After World war Two, America was awash with cheap military surplus guns. Would people really be willing to buy a small caliber target pistol from an unknown new company? In the event, the answer was an overwhelming ‘Yes!” The Ruger pistol was so successful that by the 1980s, when established firearms manufacturers like Colt and Winchester were facing bankruptcy, Ruger remained profitable and today is the fourth largest firearms manufacturer in the US. Of course, the company now makes far more than just target pistols, but it was the success of the original pistol that helped to establish the company. So, just what was so special about the Ruger Standard?
The original Ruger Standard. Now, that’s more like it. The Standard may be inspired by the Nambu, but it’s just a much more elegant looking pistol.
First of all, the Ruger looked different to most rimfire target pistols – that distinctive angled grip echoes the Luger pistol (due to the similarity in names, some people have assumed that there is some relationship, but the Ruger is clearly modelled on the Japanese Nambu, not the Luger). The lack of a moving slide also makes the Ruger look distinctive – just like the Nambu, it uses a bolt at the upper rear of the receiver. Most importantly, it felt good in the hand and, like all the best target shooters, it was a natural pointer. It also turned out to be simple, reliable, accurate and easy to maintain. And let’s not forget that the Ruger Standard was also very cheap compared to other contemporary semi-auto pistols. The first models sold for the very competitive price of $37.50, not much more than half the price of, for example, a contemporary Colt Woodsman.
Ruger MK I Target with heavier 5.5” Bull Barrel. One of the most popular models up to the early 1980s.
The Ruger Standard remained in production until 1981, as did the first variant, the MK I Target, introduced in 1950. This was essentially the same as the Standard, with the addition of an adjustable trigger, an adjustable rear sight, an undercut front sight and a 6.8” tapered barrel. However, the most popular of the early versions of this pistol was the MK I Target with a heavier 5.5” Bull Barrel. The MK Target series went on to include the MK II (in 1982), the MK III (in 2004) and the MK IV (in 2016). By 2000, Ruger were offering 18 versions of this pistol in different finishes and barrel lengths and to date over 2 million have been sold, making it one of the most popular semi-auto .22” pistols ever made.
The KJ Works MK 1
This isn’t a licensed replica so you won’t find any Ruger markings here or any mention of the word “Ruger” on the box, packaging or on the replica itself. A full-size, drop-out magazine holds the gas and up to 17 BBs. The magazine latch is in the heel of the grip. A sliding manual safety is provided on the left side of the frame. When the safety is engaged, the trigger cannot be pulled. Adjustable hop-up is provided and adjusted using a 1mm hex key (not provided) via a small hole in the top of the receiver. The original version of this replica had a plastic hop-up chamber but later versions (including the version tested) have a metal hop-up chamber which is claimed to improve accuracy. If you have a version with the plastic hop-up, you can buy the metal hop-up casing as an upgrade from KJW.
Packaging and presentation (2/5)
This replica comes in a moulded polystyrene base with a colour printed card lid. Inside you’ll find the pistol, one magazine, a small box of KJW BBs, a user manual and a colour brochure for other KJW products. The User Manual is better than some, but it somehow manages not to mention how to adjust the rear sight or the hop-up (the illustrations in the manual actually show a Ruger Standard with a fixed rear sight). One thing that’s notably missing from the box is a 1mm hex key to adjust the hop-up.
Visual accuracy 8/10
This a very good visual replica of the Ruger MK I. Dimensionally and in terms of controls and everything else, it’s spot-on. Only the fact that the trigger sits so far forward in the released position gives away the fact that it’s a replica.
This isn’t a licensed replica, so it has no Ruger markings. In fact, mine has no markings at all other than a small KJW logo on the right grip. A nice touch is that, on most replicas, you’ll find that the front part of the barrel has a larger, recessed cut-away, to replicate a 9mm or .45” opening. There’s no need for that here – a 6mm BB is actually slightly larger than the tiny .22” round fired by the Ruger.
Functional accuracy 11/15
The only controls on the Ruger MK I (other than the trigger) are the magazine latch in the heel of the grip and a sliding manual safety on the left side of the frame. There are both accurately modeled in form and function on the KJW MK 1. This isn’t a blowback replica, so it doesn’t have a true single action trigger – the first part of the long trigger pull is used to move the barrel for firing and queue up the next BB for shooting. The bolt is a separate part, but it can’t be moved without disassembly.
Disassembly is, I believe, fairly similar to the original. The magazine must be removed then a tab on the backstrap is levered down and this allows the centre part of the backstrap to hinge up. This is attached to a post which runs through the receiver and bolt, locking both in place. When the post is removed, the receiver, bolt and barrel can be lifted off as one unit. The plastic bolt slides out of the back of the plastic receiver and the brass barrel and metal hop-up casing can also be slid out to the rear. Disassembly and reassembly are more fiddly than on a pistol with a conventional slide, but then you shouldn’t need to disassemble this often as it won’t need the kind of lubrication that a blowback replica does.
Loading the magazine on the MK 1 requires the follower to be held down – it can’t be locked. Up to 17 BBs are then dropped down just in front of the firing valve. Filling with gas happens without leaks or drama, and despite this being a fairly small magazine, you get more than two full magazines of BBs out of a single fill (I was getting 45 – 48 shots before power started to drop off). The magazine latches positively when it’s inserted, and you then only need to slide the manual safety down to the “Fire” position and you’re ready to shoot.
The first thing you’ll notice is the long, relatively heavy trigger pull. This replica uses a unique (as far as I’m aware and apart from the KJW MK 2 which uses the same system) moving barrel system. All the other replicas I have tried which use a moving barrel involve the barrel moving forwards until it reaches a release point whereupon it snaps back against a spring and hits the front of the firing valve, causing the replica to fire. On this one, the inner brass barrel moves backwards as you pull the trigger, collecting a BB from the magazine and pressing the rear of the barrel against the front of the firing valve. A conventional internal hammer then strikes the back of the firing valve and the replica shoots. This gives a very long pull and the pistol doesn’t fire until the trigger is back almost touching the frame – you do need to use the ball of your finger on the trigger to get to the release point. It’s not horrible, and it is lighter than some other moving barrel design replicas I have tried, but it can get tiring if you’re shooting for an extended period and it is a challenge to keep the sights on-target during the long pull.
The notch and post sights are clear and easy to read, but they lack white dots or any form of aiming aid which can be a problem if you’re shooting against a dark background. The fact that the rear sight is fully adjustable is a nice touch though on mine, even fully adjusted I could not get the point of aim and the point of impact to coincide.
Accuracy is variable and only acceptable provided you learn to deal with the trigger pull and/or use a rest when shooting. When I first got my KJW MK 1, it grouped at a very respectable 1¼” at 6m. However, when I took it out to re-shoot it for this review, it is producing groups closer to 2” and I have no idea why. Everything works as it should and it was throroughly cleaned, but the groups now just aren’t as tight as they were when I first used it.
Ten shots, 6m, free-standing, 0.3g BBs. Aim point was the centre of the black circle.
At this range and even with the rear sight adjusted as much as possible, mine was hitting around 2” above and 1” to the right of the point of aim even with heavier 0.3g BBs. I did try adjusting the hop-up to drop the point of impact, but on mine at least, this did not have any noticeable effect. A 1mm hex key is required, but the adjustment screw was so stiff that I when I first tried to turn it, the hex key started to rotate inside the soft metal screw. Not very impressive. With a different hex key, I was able to turn the adjustment screw, but I could see no difference in shot placement at 6m.
Early versions of this replica had a plastic hop-up casing. Later versions have a metal casing like this which is claimed to improve accuracy. I have also seen claims that earlier versions had longer mainsprings, which made the trigger pull even heavier. I have no idea if that’s true – mine seems to be a later version, but the trigger pull still felt long and heavy to me.
The KJW MK 1 is moderately loud – it has a sharp crack that’s satisfying but not so loud that it will annoy the neighbours. One of the claimed benefits of the moving barrel system used on this replica is that it is said to improve power. I have read several claims for the power of this replica, ranging from 400 – 500fps. Mine didn’t manage that – in fairly warm (around 28˚C) conditions using 0.2g BBs it consistently recorded between 380 and 400 fps. It was very consistent, generally between 385 and 390 fps with only occasional shots above or below this range. Which is fine for target shooting, but probably makes this replica too powerful for skirmishing (though I believe that using Duster Gas can reduce power to acceptable skirmishing levels).
When you’re finished shooting, removing the magazine is a two-hand job; the small sprung catch in the heel of the grip needs to be held to the rear and then the magazine can be pulled out. It’s a tight fit and it needs a good grip on the serrations on either side of the bottom of the magazine to get it out. However, this is just as it is on the original, so I can’t fault the KJW MK 1 for that.
I enjoyed shooting the KJW MK 1, despite the long and heavy trigger. Getting good groups was a matter of staying focused on the target throughout the long trigger pull. This replica is very similar to the Marushin Sturm Ruger MK 1 and I know that there is a “Light Trigger Kit” available for that replica which is also claimed to fit this one. The kit provides a set of replacement springs, and I’d certainly be interested to try that kit to see if it did significantly improve the trigger pull. There are also several potential internal improvements which are said to make this replica a more pleasant and accurate shooter – you’ll find a link to an article on some of these at the end of this review.
Quality and reliability 12/15
Other than the hop-up adjustment screw which initially wouldn’t move on mine, I didn’t have any problems with this replica. It loads and shoots without any issues though a couple of occasions, the first shot with a full magazine would shoot two BBs. The only minor irritation is that, when loading the magazine, you have to be careful to release the follower gently, otherwise one or more BBs are likely to be ejected from the top.
Although it’s mainly plastic external construction, everything seems robust and well-made and the mouldings are sharp and clean. I don’t know what sort of plastic is used, but when the replica is assembled, it actually feels like a pistol, not a toy. The internals are relatively simple, so there isn’t much here to break and of course, being plastic, the finish won’t scratch or rub off. Overall, this feels like a higher quality replica than the low price would suggest.
Overall impression 13/15
When I ordered this on-line, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s plastic and the quoted weight (which varies from place to place) is generally given as between 600 and 700g (1.3 – 1.6lbs). However, on my scales and with the magazine in place, it is just 546g (1.2lbs). That’s very light indeed and I was afraid that this would feel very toy-like. However, it doesn’t, but I’m not sure why. For example, the Umarex Walther PPQ M2 which you’ll also find reviewed on this site is over 100g heavier than the MK 1, and I complained that the PPQ felt too light. Strangely, this one doesn’t. I found it to have sufficient heft and balance to make a reasonable replica. Go figure.
Overall, this is a simple, well-made replica of a simple, well-made pistol. It looks good, it feels good, it shoots fairly well and it appears to be reliable. What more could you want for the price? Of course I’d like a full blow-back version of the Ruger Mk 1, but that’s not what this is. Cheap isn’t always cheerful but in this case, the KJW MK 1 does usually put a smile on my face.
This isn’t a perfect replica by any means. It lacks blowback, it’s made of plastic and the moving barrel system gives a long and heavy trigger pull. I did try disassembling and oiling and greasing all parts of the trigger and moving barrel assembly. This perhaps made the trigger pull a little smoother, but it was still just as long and heavy. However, it shoots reasonably nicely and with good power and it seems well made and put together. Best of all, it’s a spot-on visual replica of a classic pistol and it inherits all the great handling and pointability for which the original is so famous. It’s a pity it isn’t a licensed replica with the correct markings, but if it was, it would probably sell for twice the price.
If you like replicas of historic pistols (and they don’t get much more classic than the Ruger MK I) then this probably deserves a place in your collection. The good news is that it’s cheap as chips too. There just aren’t many sub-$50 replicas out there which are worth having, but this is one. If you can put up with its idiosyncrasies, or perhaps if you fancy trying your hand at some improvements, then you are probably going to want one of these.
Long, heavy trigger makes consistent shooting challenging.
All plastic external construction.
Great visual replica of a classic pistol.
Seems well made and reliable.
Can be upgraded/improved.
The KJW MK 1 is a popular replica to improve. A number of sites provide guidance on improving the trigger pull, power and accuracy, but this one provides a good overall guide to lots of internal modifications (and these also apply to the KJW MK 2):
I had been looking for a Ruger Superhawk for some time. I liked the Umarex 586 I owned, and my Umarex TRR8 BB shooter was just amazingly accurate. So, I reasoned, the Superhawk had to be even better. I read reports which mentioned lots of power and, with a barrel that long, surely it was bound to be accurate? Finally I got hold of a well-used black 8″ version. It was a huge disappointment. Power was very good but accuracy was, well, let’s be charitable and say indifferent. Some time later I had the opportunity to buy another 8″ version, this time virtually new and in the shiny polished finish. Surely this one would be better…
Real steel background
Sturm Ruger & Co. was founded in 1949 in Connecticut, USA. One of the partners, Bill Ruger, had become interested in the possibility of manufacturing firearms after successfully making copies of a Japanese Nambu pistol in a rented machine shop. With Alexander Sturm, he designed the .22 calibre Ruger Standard, which borrowed design features from the Colt Woodsman pistol and the German Luger. The Ruger Standard became so successful that almost on its own it enabled the company to become commercially viable. The Mark 3 version of the Ruger Standard is still sold by Ruger today.
Ruger expanded to become a major force in the production of .22 rimfire rifles and pistols in the US, and later added large calibre revolvers to its range. Ruger products are famed for their very high quality and the company has regularly won the handgun and manufacturer of the year titles in the US Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Awards.
Ruger Super Redhawk
Ruger don’t make a revolver called a Superhawk, though they do produce the Super Redhawk, a double action revolver with modern styling. The Stainless Steel Super Redhawk is available in barrel lengths from 2½” – 9½” and chambered for .480 Ruger, .44 Magnum and .454 Casull rounds. It’s a massively powerful handgun, popular for both target shooting and hunting and often fitted with optical sights.
Umarex Ruger Superhawk
The Umarex Ruger Superhawk is an all metal, licensed replica which has accurate Ruger markings and Ruger logos on the grips. It’s available in 6″ and 8″ form, but only in 6mm calibre. Finish is either black (which is actually a speckled dark grey) or polished alloy. CO2 is retained in the grip and is accessed by sliding the plastic grip to the rear. CO2 is placed inside the grip and pierced and tightened by turning a small plastic tab. An optional accessory rail to mount on top of the barrel is provided. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage and the front sight incorporates a red dot. The cylinder swings out on a loading crane and up to eight 6mm BBs are loaded into a plastic carrier which is then fitted to the rear of the cylinder.
My first Superhawk
The inner barrel is sprung so that it locates firmly into the front of the cylinder face, to prevent loss of gas pressure. The plastic pellet carrier also features soft lips which help to seal round the BBs, again preventing loss of gas. These features certainly seem to work, as the Superhawk is one of the most powerful replicas I have ever tested.
The overall look and function of the Ruger Superhawk is very similar to the ASG range of Dan Wesson revolvers (though the Superhawk doesn’t have removable shells). That’s probably unsurprising as both are manufactured by Taiwanese company Wingun on behalf of their respective distributors.
Capacity: 8 BBs
Barrel length: 6″/8″
Weight: 918g (6″), 1kg (8″)
Overall length: 295mm (6″), 345mm (8″)
Sights: Front: Blade, fixed, red dot. Rear: Notch, adjustable for elevation and windage.
Packaging and presentation 2.5/5
The Umarex Ruger Superhawk comes in a serviceable cardboard box which features the Ruger logo. It is provided with a brief user manual, an upper picatinny rail and an allen key for rail fixing/removal. One nice touch is that the Superhawk comes with three BB carriers. Overall, packaging and presentation are adequate but nothing special.
Visual accuracy 7/10
It’s difficult to rate the visual accuracy of the Superhawk as, despite the Ruger markings, it isn’t a replica of a specific Ruger product. The polished version of the Superhawk does look a little like the stainless steel Super Redhawk, but it really isn’t close enough to be considered a replica of that pistol. It does look good and the full size revolving cylinder, contoured grips and coloured grip medallions do help to improve the visual appeal.
My second Superhawk
It’s probably fair to say that it does look like a firearm revolver, so the mark above is assigned on that basis.
Functional accuracy 10/15
The Ruger Superhawk has a full-size revolving cylinder which swings out on a loading crane, mimicing the function of a real revolver. However, unlike (for example) the ASG Dan Wesson replicas or the Umarex S&W TRR8, it doesn’t have shells which can be removed and loaded. The trigger, hammer and cylinder lock work as they would on a real revolver. The Superhawk has good weight, with the 8″ version weighing over 2.2lbs.
Loading CO2 in the Superhawk is easy – the plastic grips are slid back, giving access to the CO2 chamber and CO2 is tightened and pierced using a slightly flimsy plastic tab. When the grip is closed, there is still some slight movement from the rear part as the pistol is gripped. BBs are loaded into the plastic carrier, which is then inserted in the rear of the cylinder (an ejector rod is provided to assist in removing the carrier from the cylinder). The cylinder is then closed and the pistol is ready to shoot.
The sights are clear and easy to read, and the rear sight is fully adjustable. The pistol can be fired in single or double action, though the double action pull is a little notchy. The pistol fires with a satisfying bang.
Having such a long barrel certainly gives plenty of speed to BBs. I have chronoed .12g BBs from this pistol at over 600fps on a warm afternoon, the highest speed I have seen for any replica air pistol. Even much heavier 0.3g aluminium BBs fire in the range 450 – 470fps.
Ruger Superhawk, eight shots, 6yds, free standing, two-handed grip with Cybergun 0.12g plastic BBs. Outer circle diameter is 6”. Only seven shots have hit the A4 sized target, number eight hit the backstop somewhere outside the area.
Sadly, this power doesn’t seem to translate into accuracy. The Superhawk isn’t just the most powerful replica air pistol I have tried, it’s also one of the least accurate. Using .12g BBs at six yards, I was seeing groupings of around 3″, but with around one in three shots being a flyer which hit anything up 8″from the point of aim. Shooting at a target printed on an A4 sheet at this range, it was unusual to have all eight shots actually hit the paper, not just the target area. Accuracy was a little better with 0.3g aluminium BBs – groups were generally around 2″ – 2½” though two or more shots out of every eight landed anywhere up to 5″ from the point of aim.
Ruger Superhawk, eight shots, 6yds, free standing, two-handed grip with 0.3g aluminium BBs. Outer circle diameter is 6”. Again, only seven of the eight shots have hit the A4 sized target.
I was very disappointed with the lack of accuracy with this replica. Occasionally, it’s possible to get a reasonable group with maybe six of the eight shots, but there always seem to be fliers which spread out much further. I have no idea what causes this – mechanically the Superhawk seems good, though the inner barrel is very flimsy compared to, for example, the barrel on the very accurate Umarex S&W TRR8 revolver. It is also possible that the fairly lightly sprung inner barrel is moving as the pistol is fired. There certainly appears to be some issue which unpredictably causes a proportion of shots go very wide.
Adjustable sights are great, but there is little point in having them if you can’t reliably hit where you are aiming. And as for fitting a red-dot or telescopic sight – forget it. It might look cool, but the BBs still aren’t going to go where you aim. At six yards, accuracy is so poor that it’s even difficult to reliably hit a target the size of a beer can, so even as a plinker, this leaves something to be desired.
The 8″ Superhawk is also very heavy, and most of the weight is carried forward, so it doesn’t feel well balanced. After a relatively few shots, my wrists and arms became tired, which probably also contributed to the poor accuracy. Although I also tested it from a rested position to check this, and it still produced a regular crop of fliers.
I’m aware that other folk have reported very different, and much better results using the Superhawk, but I can honestly say that both mine were woefully inaccurate. Perhaps I was just unlucky, but I would suggest that you may want to try before you buy if you’re looking for an accurate shooter.
Quality and reliability 13/15
The Umarex Superhawk appears to be very well made and finished. The finish on the black version is very hard wearing and the polished version looks very good indeed. The release and locking action of the cylinder is good and the trigger and hammer action are good.
The grip does feel a little flimsy, and there is noticeable movement as you grip the pistol. The double action trigger pull is notably notchy, but the single action pull is clean and short.
I had no problems or issues with either of my Superhawks and I’m not aware of any problems in general. This feels like a well finished, well made and generally reliable replica.
Overall Impression 7.5/15
There are lots of things to like about the Superhawk – it’s hefty, it looks good and it appears to be well made. The supply of extra BB carriers is a nice touch, as is the inclusion of a fully adjustable rear sight. But on the examples I owned, accuracy was so poor that it was a replica I seldom chose to shoot. If you can find one that is more accurate than either of mine, you may be happy. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to recommend the Ruger Superhawk.
I wanted to like this one so much! Umarex make some really decent replicas and four Joules of power and over 600fps sound great. A pistol on which you can mount a red-dot or even a telescopic sight is very tempting. And of course a massive, shiny revolver looks good in anyone’s collection. Sadly, the reality just didn’t live up to the expectation and it’s difficult to see who this replica is intended for – it’s way too powerful for skirmishing, and it doesn’t have the accuracy for target shooting.
So, if what you want is a replica that makes a striking wall ornament and which allows you to quote huge power figures, this may be the one for you. If however you want a pistol which is capable of shooting in the general vicinity of where you’re aiming, it may be better to look elsewhere: the Umarex S&W TRR8 and the ASG Dan Wesson revolvers for example, are better replicas in every way.