The Ruger Mark IV and Mark IV 22/45 .22 LR pistols are fine firearms straight from the factory. But as with production cars, factory guns generally require aftermarket upgrades to improve performance for “racing,” and the Kraken from Tandemkross can speed up your Ruger—with style.
Kraken is an aluminum pistol frame that replaces Ruger’s factory polymer frame. It comes fully assembled with extended bolt stop, extended magazine release, safety thumb ledge and “hiveGrip,” the latter a one-piece, wraparound grip. Tandemkross also installs its “Blast Pack,” composed of its adjustable Victory trigger and improved hammer and sear to reduce trigger pull weight. All these upgrades can be purchased separately from Tandemkross, but there’s a cost savings in buying the Kraken fully assembled.
For this evaluation, I installed a Kraken on a new Ruger Mark IV 22/45 Lite pistol barrel and receiver assembly. Kraken’s aluminum frame is machined from two pieces that are screwed together; fit is precisely executed without gaps or flashing. There is no takedown button as on Ruger’s frame; instead, an Allen-headed set screw located where the frame curves upward from the grip locks the Kraken to the barrel and receiver assembly. All screws in the Kraken are Allen-headed, and Tandemkross included two Allen wrenches with the Kraken. The larger wrench fits the locking set screw and all the frame screws, but not the grip screws.
Kraken’s trigger guard has a flat front with a small ledge to accommodate the weak-hand index finger. Flat-faced, serrated and skeletonized, the Kraken’s Victory trigger is adjustable for pre-travel and overtravel. A 1/16-inch wrench fit the overtravel adjustment screw, but the combination of the trigger guard and the trigger’s flat face made it impossible to maneuver the wrench to engage the trigger pre-travel adjustment screw at the upper front of the trigger. Tandemkross Marketing Manager, Alex Whiteside, said the company includes the proper wrench for the pre-travel adjustment screw in the Ultimate Trigger Kit for the Mark IVs, and may begin including them with the Kraken. Lacking that, cutting off much of the short leg of a 1/16-inch Allen wrench permits it to reach the pre-travel adjustment screw.
Tandemkross says the “Blast Pack” lightened hammer reduces lock time and is matched to the sear in both having radiused mating surfaces. Both also wear a lubricant coating. Trigger pull on Ruger’s factory frame measured 4½ pounds; the Kraken’s Victory trigger is indeed significantly lighter at 2½ pounds.
Every pistolero has his or her own opinion about magazine disconnects, and Tandemkross’s opinion is to do away with it in the Kraken. Magazines drop clear with satisfying authority when depressing the extended magazine release. Both slide release and thumb safety on the Kraken are superior to Ruger’s factory controls. From the factory, both slide release and thumb safety are too small and too close to the frame to allow the rapid, fumble-free manipulation needed for competition. Unlike most factory pistols, the Kraken’s extended thumb safety is easily pushed upwards with the shooting hand thumb to engage it, and is wide enough to serve effectively as a thumb rest as well. The slide release is aggressively serrated and slopes outward away from the frame, from top to bottom, providing exceptionally positive control.
It’s an axiom that form follows function, and the Tandemkross hiveGrip blends both into improved ergonomics for the Mark IV 22/45. The hiveGrip feels comfortable and natural in my medium-size hand. The texture is rubbery and also somewhat tacky, providing a confident hold even when I dampened my hand with water. Stippling is a pattern of hexagons, similar to cells in a beehive, hence the “hive” in “hiveGrip.” The grip’s left-side panel is scalloped, allowing the thumb to reach the extended magazine release without shifting grip on the pistol—advantageous for rapid mag changes. Similar to the grip, the extended magazine release button and grip screws are venues for artistic touches.
Ready-to-go Krakens are available in red, green, blue and basic black directly from Tandemkross for $599.99. Yes, the Kraken pretty much doubles the price of the factory Ruger Mark IV, but if you’re racing to win, you need more than factory performance, and the Kraken can add velocity to your game.