You can't beat the Ruger Mark II pistol, preferably the bull barrel model. Accurate, durable, reliable and reasonably inexpensive. It can be improved somewhat by a trigger job, but is not bad out of the box.
Ruger Mark 11, bull barrel,,have one and it's shoots oh-so accurate. I put a Volquartsen full size rubber grips on it and my hand fits it great, and is really stable. I had to cut some of the grip around the mag well a little to better access the mag release, but I highly recommend these grips.
Another vote for the Ruger MkII. You'll find that 90% of your replies will go in this direction.
To make it interesting, you can get a Baikal competition pistol for the price of the best Ruger (under $400), or a Hammerli Trailside (made by Sig) for about $100 more. The latter two are cooler looking, but not really "better" than the Ruger.
S&W Model 41. Prices vary, but there are a lot of very nice used ones on the market. I just got one with a 7" barrel, and it is really a great gun. Mine is around 1985 vintage. Considered one of the best-not the year but the gun.
I had a Sig-Hammerli which was a nice gun, but nowhere near the classic quality of the M-41.
Good luck in your search.
[This message has been edited by FB3 (edited 11-23-2001).]
The best 22 target pistol is the Hammerli 208S. They're still available on the used market. Try Larry Carter http://www.larrysguns.com/ in Maine to see if he has any. Pardini makes some very good target guns; one of the fellows in our club shoots one and it's an excellent gun. They're available from Nygoods http://www.nygord-precision.com/ A popular one that won't break the bank is one of the High Standards made in Hamden, Conn. Victors and Citations are all popular. Next in line are the High Standards made in Hartford, Conn. (later production). I'd avoid the High Standards made in Houston (current production - they've had problems). Lots of these 22 target pistols don't like high velocity ammo; they crack when HV ammo is shot thru them. If you find a used one you like, inspect it carefully. If you can find a Smith and Wesson M41 and make it shoot reliably they're also very good. I believe Gil Hebard http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Dreyer_infonet/gilhebar.htm
still sells them and I'm sure if you get one from him it will work. You can find numerous examples of the various High Standards for sale on the net auction sites. I don't want to start an arguement, but the Rugers mentioned are not target pistols in any sense of the term - you can get one and have a Clark trigger put in and it might shoot good - but it might not. Good places to look for 22 target pistols are the various bullseye shooters clubs around the country; there is probably one near you. Show up at one of their shoots and try some of these guns out - it's a great way to find out what you like/don't like and these folks usually have something sitting around they'll sell. The SIG Trailside was mentioned; I haven't seen one used yet in competition and can't comment on them. SIG has a great name and it should be a good pistol. I should mention the IZH-35, a Russian 22 pistol. This gun - for $400 or less - shows a lot of promise as a good 22 target pistol. CDNN has them, I can't find their web page. I've been talking to users of these things for about a year - they are a gun that provides lots of opportunity for tinkering - which I like. Walther builds an expensive pistol (KSP-200) using the IZH-35 as a base gun, so they must be good. They've been around for a few years and the reports on them continue to get better. You can read all about the IZH-35 here http://home.dal.net/pcb/
The Bullseye list is here http://www.lava.net/~perrone/bullseye/
I've tried to give you a good start in finding one of these guns. Let me know when you go looking for 22 ammo...
Hankhan, the IZH russian pistol you mentioned is the Baikal pistol I mentioned. Do a search on Baikal and you'll find a few suppliers.
You're correct that the Rugers and other $300 pistols are not match- or olympic-grade pistols. Most people who are "thinking of getting a target pistol" aren't looking to spend $1000 or more on a gun. I'd love to have a real Hammerli or Walther, but I need to get REALLY good with my Ruger before I can justify that!
I have a S&W M41 and love it. It shoots great, and never jams. I really like the way it disassembles for cleaning. They can be spendy, but I usually see a few every year on the used market under $500.
Hi Standard .22 pistols are outstanding target pistols (the originals). My father has two that will outshoot my M41. They also have a nice take-down system for cleaning. The prices on those have started coming down in the last couple of years, since reproductions have hit the market. You can usually find a used Supermatic Trophy or Citation for under $500. The Victor model usually commands a much higher price.
A few friends of mine have various Browning BuckMark models. I have a regular, plain-jane BuckMark and it shoots fairly well and didn't cost a bunch. It requires tools to disassemble, but it is still pretty simple. Most of the BuckMark target models are under $450 brand new. For the money, these are nice guns.
I have shot a few Ruger MK II's, and they shoot great. I don't want to start trouble with the fans of the MK II, but personally, I think they can be a bit tricky to get back together after cleaning. This is the reason I prefer some of the other brands.
The MKII's are good accurate plinking guns. A friend has the goverment model in stainless and my only complaint is..it's heavy.
I have a Woodsman which shoots like a dream and is a lot lighter then a MK II. If you think the Ruger is a bear to strip and assemble..try a Woodsman. They will test your paitence.
Well, I just got rid of my Ruger; I really liked it, but... the grip angle was a bit different. I just got a Browning Buck Mark Camper (bull barrel). I love it. Feels so close to my 1911's that it just naturally points. Great fun shooter. New out the door for $220. I recommend it highly.