I had been curious about Ruger’s new SR9 striker fired pistol so at a recent gun show I saw one for what I thought was a reasonable price and I decided to jump on it. This is Ruger’s first attempt at a striker-fired pistol. Historically Ruger has made polymer-framed pistols with a hammer, TDA (traditional double action), and a decocker. The SR9 represents one of the first “Post Bill” pistols (Bill Ruger, who was known for not wanting to go with newer designs) and is a solid attempt at entering the striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol market. The gun comes with a plastic case, two, 17-round standard capacity magazines, or two 10-round reduced-capacity magazines, a lock, and a magazine loader.
The SR9 stumbled out of the starting gate with the first batches of the gun requiring a recall. This kind of blunted any marketing news coming out of Ruger about this gun. However, Ruger handled it beautifully, paying shipping both ways and then giving a 17-round magazine to the owners for the trouble.
The SR9 is like many of the striker-fired pistols on the market today. It’s relatively lightweight at 26.5 ounces and it has an accessory rail, but unlike most of the other polymer pistols, it has a magazine safety, a manual ambidextrous thumb safety (more on this below), and an ambidextrous magazine release. The SR9 also has a trigger safety, the separate center piece that acts as part of the active safety system. Finally there is an internal firing pin safety to prevent accidental discharges if the gun is dropped.
The Barrel is 4.1 inches long and is made from stainless steel. Its overall length is 7.55 inches, height is 5.52 inches, and width is 1.27 inches if measured including the width of the thumb safeties. If one measures the slide thickness alone it’s only an inch thick. That's fairly thin for a double stack 9mm pistol. Compare that to the slide of a Kel-Tec P3AT at .72 inches--one of the smallest .380 ACP pistols ever made. The slide finish is available in brushed stainless or black stainless with two grip color choices: black and green. The one I purchased is brushed stainless on black:
Speaking of frames, the grip angle of the SR9 seems about the same as the 1911, at least it feels that way. The SR9’s backstrap can also be changed, much like some of the newer polymer framed pistols like the S&W M&P, Springfield XD-M, and the Walther P99. However, Ruger did it with a twist. Instead of having three grip panels in small, medium and large, the SR9 has the backstrap emulating a 1911’s arched or flat mainspring housings. The backstrap retaining pin is simply punched out with a punch and brass hammer, the backstrap slides out and is reversed to reveal either the “arched” or “flat” side. Simply slide it back into place and replace the retaining pin. No need to keep track of other parts, and I feel that the overall thinness of the grip coupled with the reversible backstrap will fit 80% of the hand sizes out there. I really like this feature of the SR9, it’s well thought out.
Fit and Finish on the gun seems rough in some places, like the slide serrations. They’re rough. I cut the skin on one of my fingers pulling the slide back. I feel that Ruger could have done more fit and finish on the slide itself as it just doesn’t feel all that smooth.
The manual thumb safety was very difficult to operate. I am not sure if this is deliberate to keep an article of clothing from brushing it from safe to fire, but it shouldn't take two fingers to push up. After cycling it a few times, it loosened up a bit but it was still stiff. If a manufacturer adds this kind of safety it should be easy to use.
The SR9 is a solid 9mm shooter. I put 200 rounds of CCI 115 Grain FMJ Blazer Brass and Blazer Aluminum ammo through this gun in one period. I had zero stoppages, failures to feed, or failures to extract. I would like to test more ammo in this gun prior to stating that it’s a reliable pistol, but out of the box it appears to be heading in that direction.
I found the gun to be very accurate. The sights are three Dot type (right) with the front drift adjustable for windage and the rear adjustable for both windage and elevation.
The sights are easy for me to acquire and follow-up shots are simple to make because felt recoil was light, better than the Glock 19, I thought. The pistol pointed naturally for me. The trigger is hard to describe without a trigger scale however I shall do my best. Many have reported that the trigger on the SR9 is rough. I have to confirm that. It’s a gritty pull to get it to fire, but it is consistent. The best comparison I can make is to a new Glock trigger...with a deliberately stronger spring...that hasn’t been pulled more than 10 times...and with grit in the trigger. The trigger base is also a little wider than a Glock or an XD. I am not a big fan of the SR9 trigger’s grittiness. However, I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it smooths up after another couple of hundred rounds.
The sights are easy for me to acquire and follow-up shots are simple to make because felt recoil was light, better than the Glock 19, I thought. The pistol pointed naturally for me.
The trigger is hard to describe without a trigger scale however I shall do my best. Many have reported that the trigger on the SR9 is rough. I have to confirm that. It’s a gritty pull to get it to fire, but it is consistent. The best comparison I can make is to a new Glock trigger...with a deliberately stronger spring...that hasn’t been pulled more than 10 times...and with grit in the trigger. The trigger base is also a little wider than a Glock or an XD. I am not a big fan of the SR9 trigger’s grittiness. However, I am going to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that it smooths up after another couple of hundred rounds.
Disassembly is simple but annoying because you have to open the slide, reach in, and push down on the extractor. However, you don't have to have to pull the trigger before disassembly. Kind of a nice feature!
In all I think this is a solid entry into the polymer pistol market. With some trigger tweaking, and some dulling of the slide serrations, Ruger will have a better pistol. Historically known for producing vanilla pistols that are reliable if nothing else, the SR9 represents a very tasty French Vanilla and Ruger should be applauded. (May 2009)
Update, July 2009: 600 rounds have been through my pistol now with zero failures. The trigger is also easing up a bit, with a lot of the grittiness going away. It's still a hard pull, but not like it used to be.