Ruger SR9 9mm: The Glock Beater at Last?

Sturm, Ruger, and Company has been a lot of things lately: all the right things, it seems. It is one thing when awards and accolades come from within the industry, but quite another when they are independent and mainstream. Forbes magazine, in their November 8, 2010 issue, named Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE: RGR) one of “America’s 100 Best Small Companies” in 2010. Ruger has no debt, their stock price has soared over the last couple of years, and in 2010 close to 25% of their sales were attributed to newly introduced product. They are doing a lot of things right and people are noticing, both in and outside the industry.

Over the years, I've had outstandingly good results from a variety of Ruger product. Their .22 rimfire autoloading pistols have been superb and the 10/22 rifle is as close to as a standard today as can be had in autoloading rimfire rifles. Their wheel-guns have been industry leading for some time. The Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Mag has been my favorite hunting handgun for many years. More recently, the Ruger LCR has gained high praise. The lightweight, snub-nose double action revolver has been done before, but never as good as the Ruger LCR.

Though the Ruger autoloading rimfires and several of their revolvers have been terrifically satisfying, their center-fire autoloading pistols have been largely forgettable, in my opinion, in times past. This includes the “P” series models and the original SR9 from October, 2009, that had trigger issues. Ruger offers a no-charge retrofit of the 2007-2008 SR9 to the new trigger with a free magazine as a thank you. This is apparently for SR9 models with serial numbers below 30,000.

All this past ambivalence has just changed, in a big way, with the current production SR-9. It's a full size 9mm Luger autoloader, with the following basic specifications:

SR9 | Model Number: 3301 | Caliber: 9mm Luger
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Brushed Stainless
Grip Frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 4.14"
Overall Length: 7.55"
Height: 5.52"
Width: 1.27"
Weight: 26.50 oz.
Capacity: 17+1
Twist: 1:10" RH
Grooves: 6

Suggested Retail: $525.00

Several things are notable about this model. Where the Ruger triggers have been rated from wonderfully adequate to wonderfully not quite adequate before, this 9mm has the Ruger rendition of the Glock “Safe Action” trigger, striker fired with the same trigger pull weight every shot. According my Lyman digital trigger gauge, it breaks right at five pounds and is noticeably lighter than my Glock 19, which is stiff by comparison towards the end of its trigger pull.

The Ruger SR9 is a great-looking pistol by comparison as well. The frame is glass-filled polymer; the slide is stainless steel. There are plenty of safety features including large flip-up chamber-loaded indicator you can quickly note by sight or by feel and an ambidextrous manual slide safety, a magazine disconnect “safety,” and a striker indicator. For many shooters this is all self-explanatory, the only thing to note is that when dry-firing your pistol keep an empty magazine in it or risk striker damage as Ruger warns.

The “bright white” three dot sights are very easy to use and are adjustable. You have an integral M1913 rail built into the front of the frame for mounting a tactical light and so forth. Accessories are widely available for the SR9. After the initial range work, I've already installed a set of Crimson Trace lasergrips. They are actually the LG-449 LaserGuard set designed for the compact version of the SR9, the SR9c.

The SR9 has a reversible rubber backstrap, I prefer it as supplied which is facing outward. Most of the initial shooting was at 15 yards with 147 grain Remington match ammo. The only way I can describe the handling and shooting characteristics of this gun is “wondrous.” Through a slim profile (the widest part is the ambidextrous manual safety), this gun has essentially no felt recoil. It is an effortless matter to keep the gunj on target and put 17 shots in a three to four inch area firing offhand at 15 yards just as fast as you can pull the trigger. It is the opposite of all those nasty little hand-slapping .380 ACP models that are out there. It is just plain fun to shoot and easy to hit with. We had no malfunctions whatsoever from the very first shot.

The 9mm Luger or “9 x 19mm” has been around, courtesy of Georgi Luger, since 1902. With the recent renewed interest in self-defense handguns, vast improvements have been made from the old hardball ammo. Most of out shooting was with Remington R9MM9 147 grain match ammo (990 fps) but there are better options for defense purposes, like the 115 grain Hornady Critical Defense loads (1140 fps) that offer 15% or so less free recoil than our primary test ammo, less muzzle flash, and positive expansion with penetration.

This Ruger SR9 is the most pleasurable, thoroughly satisfying 9mm Luger autoloading pistol I've tested in many, many years. Everyone who shot this pistol had the same gushing reaction: “I have to get one.” The build quality is confidence-inspiring, as is the Ruger name in general, and the SR9 is about as ambidextrous (including the magazine release) as one can hope for in a pistol of this platform.

The SR9 is a dream to shoot quickly, comfortably, and reliably. It is also easier on the eyes in this brushed stainless model than some of the tacti-cool not so cool offerings out there. The SR9 is made in the USA, while the two included 17 round magazines are from Mec-Gar in Brescia, Italy. They are superbly formed and function without fail. With $525 as retail, street price is more in the $425 - $450 area, making the SR9 a superb value in today's market as well. It is hard not to wax enthusiastic over this pistol. It lacks nothing, as far as I'm concerned, and as soon as you try one, you'll have to own one as well. The 2011 SR-9 is simply an outstanding offering from Ruger.


Copyright 2011 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.


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