What is the best semiautomatic .22 handgun? I hear Ruger's are nice. It would be used for utility purposes (plinking, small game, etc.). Also, what is the price range? I've never bought a handgun before, I want to start small and work my way up.
You are right. Ruger Mark II is an excellent .22. It is a bit on the heavy side for a .22 pistol (35 oz.)
The Browning buck mark is also an excellent gun. It is a little lighter than the Mark II and it's trigger is one of the sweetest.
If you want a nice light but great .22, I would recommend looking at the Walther P22. It is really not meant for varmit shooting. It is more a light little plinker and fun to shoot.
The prices for these three run around $250 to $300. Just find a gun shop that doesn't charge you full retail.
There are others out there but I think you will not be dissatisfied with any of these three I mentioned.
Just don't go cheap and buy Jennings or Accu-tek or Phoenix Arms. You said semiauto but
there are also a handful of good revolvers. Smith and Wesson would be my first choice in that arena. Shop around and do your homework and buy Quality. You will be happier in the long run.
The BEST .22 semi is a S&W model 41, not to be confused with the other S&W .22s, which are less than perfect. Only downside is the 41 runs about $700 or so brand new (NIB).
Of the other brands available, Walther, Beretta, etc., Browning makes the best .22 for the money.
The Buckmark seems to just fit either the right or left handed shoter perfectly & balances well.
They're also accurate as hell. If you wanna put a scope on them, that's easy as they're already driiled & tapped for that.
A new Buckmark can be had for around $200-225 if you shop a bit or go to a gunshow.
The downside is, once you buy a Buckmark then you want a High Power in 9mm!
Here's my opinion, and it's worth every penny you paid for it.
Only accurate .22 pistols are interesting, and the Ruger Mk II Target is quite accurate for the money. There is an awesome array of aftermarket parts for them, they hold up very well, and aren't that expensive. The stainless target models run about $300-350. The SIG/Hammerli Trailsides are well over $400 around here.
The Ruger 22/45 is also a pretty good choice, and they tend to run about $200-250. I prefer the grip angle of the 22/45 but dislike the plastic frame for aesthetic reasons.