While the multitude of .22 pistol options available on the market today flood magazines and online advertising with copycat style and look to their higher caliber counterparts, few pistols have a distinct enough look to compare with the Browning Buckmark. A distinct enough look makes the gun (or series of guns) instantly recognizable – as most Browning guns are – but few have the meat to back up the look of a distinct pistol with the features that truly make a plinking pistol a great one.
Ripping open the box and getting our paws on the grips of the Buckmark, we can’t help but feel that the synthetic grips (standard) were injection molded to our hands. Lightweight, balanced, full-fitted, tactile purchase and overall comfort are all things that come to mind when handling the Buckmark. In cold weather it does not get so cold that it is uncomfortable to hold and shoot – one of the great blessings of a synthetic grip. In hot weather the grip contours also prevent slippage if you are prone to sweaty palms.
When it comes to shooting the Buckmark, you will first notice the lovely trigger action that the pistol has – an unfortunate rarity in .22 pistols – and the transitional ease that you will have when switching from controlled, patient shooting to the giggle-inducing rapid-fire that empties a magazine all too quickly. Almost no creep and just the tiniest bit of overtravel makes this one of the best out-of-the-box triggers that we’ve ever had the chance to shoot. A crisp break with every shot and a tactile “click” when the sear resets will spoil you quickly.
Easily shooting 1” groups at 25 feet, ammo is not a huge concern unless you are planning on using the Buckmark for serious competition. Lead of slightly higher quality will make your overall experience a little neater, nicer and tighter, but for plinking anything will work. We recommend using the Federal bulk pack (cheap and on the dirty side) and CCI blazer (almost as cheap and a little less dirty). CCI “standard” through this gun is like premium gas in your high-end car.
So far the Buckmark seems like the perfect gun. So perfect in fact that you’d think we had stock in the company. But, we must point out the closeted skeleton of the Buckmark. Disassembly and cleaning.
The whole process of takedown and cleaning of the Buckmark Standard, while not involving an inordinate amount of parts, is still akin to self-dental surgery. Once the screws and lock-washers are out and placed somewhere safe, the mainspring carefully removed and set aside, the plastic buffer mounted in the slide removed and placed with the safety of the screws, the slide removed and, if necessary, the barrel removed, then you can finally start cleaning.
The blowback design of where the slide meets the frame is best described as “flat metal surface against flat metal surface”. This means that both flat metal surfaces are going to have hot gunk smashed in between them again and again, every time the gun fires. The problem? Hot gunk gets everywhere and gets hard. You will need some serious solvent and good cleaning technique to get this baby spic and span. A good set of plastic or metal pics is a good investment for this pistol. There are lots of nooks and crannies to get gooped up. Oh, and be sure to clean all the parts you took off as well. Don’t drop them on the floor where the cat can swat them under the heating unit. Then you can try to put it all back together.
The same design that makes the Buckmark a good shooter and a bad cleaner is also responsible for the one other tiny flaw we found in this slugthrower, and that is a question of reliability. You see, because of the inherent dirtiness of .22 ammo, the aforementioned goop will get all over the action in the pistol. The extractor and ejector can have some issues when you have “forgotten” to clean this pistol a few hundred rounds ago. Misfeeds, stovepipes, non-ejections and erectile dysfunction can all occur due to unsanitary habits with the Buckmark. So, make sure you keep the gun clean if you want to be a happy shooter.
That all being said, let’s get back to the good stuff, why don’t we? Durability! Can this pistol take a pounding? Yes and no.
This gun is a Browning. Aside from being exceptionally well built, it is not a “cheap” gun and replacement parts can be just shy of a mortgage payment if you really want to put things to the grinding wheel. Our advice? While it probably can take a fall or two (hopefully not loaded though), why take the chance. Like with any pistol, a delicate touch dictates the difference between years of good service and months of good service.
As far as accessories go, you’ve got way more than you could ever fit on a dozen guns. A few simple internet searches will show you things that can make your gun completely unrecognizable to you.
The big, final and most important question – Is it a fun gun for plinking? Yes! Especially for the money you will spend, the unmodified Browning Buckmark is definitely a fun, reliable and versatile .22 pistol that is great for beginners, gun nuts, young shooters, early competition shooters or old crabby men. You ladies–yeah, there are pink grips for it too. Trust us, you’ll love this gun.