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having handled both, i found the ergonomics on the Ruger Mk III 22/45 much better that the 22A. so i ended up buying the Ruger. personally i like the Ruger much better, but it comes down to what feels more comfortable to you. and if you decide on the 22A, Smith & Wesson has an excellent reputation for quality as well.
I used to own the 22A and hated it. There is a recoil buffer in the gun that is little more than a plastic pad. They crack so often that I'm told new guns come with several. Mine was an early release and it only had what was in the gun. Once the recoil buffer cracked it became a jam-o-matic.
Shame because other than the lack of reliability, it's a good gun. Except even in a .22 auto I expect to get through a whole magazine at least on occasion with jamming. My brother-in-law has it now and got replacement parts. He says it works much better but I've moved on to other guns.
If you're choice is a Ruger vs. S&W, go with the Ruger.
The 22a is a economy smith and wesson. It is desighned for people who cannot afford a model 41.The early 22a models had cracking problems that have been fixed. They are desighned to have the quick change barrels so you can have various barrels for them like a model 41.
I personaly would go with the ruger unless you are willing to spend the extra money for the model 41. The model 41 is definately the economy gun the ruger and 22a are but you dont get them at a economy price either. I own to model 41 smith and wessons.
I am still new to handguns and I asked shooters I know what is a good first gun for target shooting and they recommended the Ruger. I got the MKIII and have been very happy with. Fun and easy to shoot and I haven't had any problems with the cheaper ammo.
I did put a different front site on mine that was easier to see and found there were a number of different upgrades available for the Ruger, both sights and other parts.
I have a MkIII with target sites, 5.5" bull barrel, blue finish. It came drilled and tapped(came with the mount too) and two 10rnd mags. Shoots like a dream. It's a tack driver and will eat anything. Best part, I picked it up NIB for $289 a couple of years ago. Get a Ruger!