Sometimes you come across something that you just know is right even before you have a chance to hold it or see it up close, as it was for me and the Ruger SR9. I first saw a television commercial about the Ruger SR9 that intrigued me. I soon thereafter read some pieces on the gun. I finally found one in a favorite gun store and I got to handle it. I knew then that this would be my next handgun. It wasn’t until almost six months later that I was finally able to take mine home from the gun dealer to enjoy because I still wanted to look at some others.
I looked at a number of guns including, the S&W M&P, Springfield XD, and the Glock. I have shot Glocks a number of times also, so I am very familiar with them. Therefore, most of my comparisons in this review will be comparing the SR9 to the Glock 17.
What struck me first about this gun was the ergonomics. It just seems to feel so right in my hand. I have a medium size hand and some larger guns can sometimes feel like I have less control. It has a reversible back strap that once I turned it around to expose the flat side, it fit perfectly in my hand. And even though the magazine is a double stack magazine, the handle is slightly slimmer than other similar double stack handguns such as the Glock 17.
Another thing that appealed to me is its look. The SR9 is a sexy looking gun, with its shiny brushed stainless steel slide, softer corners, rounded top on the slide, and the SR9 logo prominently etched on the side of the slide – unlike the Glock which simply looks like a block of steel painted black and some grip serrations cut into the side. I know the Glock is liked by many, but I also hear from people that say it’s not a sexy looking gun. After all, it doesn’t need to be if it’s going to be carried by law enforcement on a daily basis. But the general public wants something that looks cool too, in addition to its prime reason for existence, firing bullets. But how a gun looks or fits in your hand is not the only criteria by which you should judge it.
When you first get the SR9 home, you open the injection molded carrying case, which is typical for most Rugers, and see that it comes with two magazines and a magazine loading tool. Standard equipment is two 17 round magazines, which is just like the Glock. However, some states, such as California, require that it be shipped with 10 round magazines. Either way, you get two of them. It also comes with a long bolt padlock, similar to the old style bicycle locks I had when I was a kid. And of course, there is the Owner’s Manual and other pertinent documentation.
Speaking again to the ergonomics, which is one of the things that first sold me on this gun, the SR9 fits the web of my hand perfectly. The overall width of the gun is 1.27” wide. But that measurement is taken at the ambidextrous safety levers – not where you grip the gun. The width at the thumb/finger channel at the top of the grip is closer to 1.00”. Lower on the grip where your fingers wrap is 1.18”, making the grip very comfortable even in smaller hands.
As I mentioned above, SR9 has an ambidextrous safety, meaning there is a safety switch lever on both sides. The safety is conveniently located at the rear of the gun just below the slide making it easy to engage and disengage with your thumb, regardless which hand you shoot with. The slide lock is on the left side only however. I like the position of the slide lock as I can reach it easily with my thumb and release the slide, rather than racking the slide and allowing it to spring forward. I find that method easier, unlike with my 1911 that I have to rack as I can’t easily reach the slide lock.
To hold the gun is one thing. Now you want to fire it – send some lead down range, so to speak. But first you need ammunition, so to loading the magazines. I found that when loading ammunition into the magazines, the magazine loading tool is a handy thing to have. For some reason, the tension on the magazine spring is substantial, and trying to load those last few rounds into the magazine can be difficult without the tool. The tool definitely helps.
Slide the mag into the handle grip firmly and you hear a definite click when it is seated. The magazine seats easily negating the need to slap it hard, but a friendly slap or bump with the palm of your hand wouldn’t hurt. If the slide is locked back, you need only to release the slide lock with your thumb which will seat a round into the chamber. If the slide is at rest in the firing position, you will need to rack the slide, as with any semi-auto, to charge a round into the firing chamber, which brings us to another minor concern.
The tension of the recoil spring in the slide is pretty strong. My girlfriend has some problem with pulling the slide back. But then she can’t rack my 1911 at all, unless the hammer is cocked.
The angled serrations on the slide are deep and sharply cut. After a while I see a slight build up of dirt and skin in the grooves. But at least you know you won’t slip your grip. Rack the slide, seat a round and you are ready to go. If you are not going to fire the pistol immediately, push the Manual Safety up with your thumb, and acquire your site of the target. The Manual Safety can only be engaged when the gun is “cocked”, which in the case of the SR9 is really only “half cocked”, as I will describe below.
Acquiring your site is easily done with the three dot adjustable sites. Of the three dots, the front site is the largest allowing you to put your focus where it should be – at the front on the target. Actually, when the site is properly aligned, all three dots will appear to be the same size because of distance from the rear dots. The rear site is adjustable for elevation and windage. The front site can be adjusted for windage only. Out of the box, I found the sites to be right on for 7 – 10 yards, eliminating any need for me to adjust the sites.
Firing the SR9 will require that you release the ambidextrous safety and depress the Trigger Safety to squeeze the trigger. Squeezing the trigger fully cocks the striker, and ultimately releases the striker, causing the firing pin to strike the ammunition, thereby firing the gun. This cannot be done if the Manual Safety is engaged. What is more, the trigger will only travel back when the Trigger Safety is depressed. This Trigger Safety system was something that came about in response to a brief recall on the pistols that was in October and April of 2008 to fix a drop issue. It actually resembles the trigger safety on the Glock.
The SR9 is considered to be a double action pistol, unlike the 1911 and other hammer fired pistols which are single action. As I mentioned above, squeezing the trigger is what completes the cocking action started by the slide racking. Racking the slide either with your hand or through firing the pistol resets the trigger system. The striker still needs to be cocked and pulled back by the action of pulling the trigger. Therefore, there is a approximately 3/8 of an inch in take up before the trigger breaks and fires the gun. The trigger pull is relatively light for a double action pistol at 5.2 pounds. Accurate rapid fire is no problem with this pistol.
I have actually had my SR9 for several months now. I wanted to run a few thousand rounds through the gun before I wrote about it. I’ve actually put about 2800 rounds through the gun and in that time, I have not experienced even one jam, malfunction or stove pipe. I can’t say that about the Glocks I have fired. Twice in shooting Glocks I have gotten a ‘stovepipe’ requiring me to clear the gun before it would fire again, and two misfires. The misfires could have been faulty ammunition though, but could also be the striker. I did not own the Glocks so I really didn’t know the last time they had been cleaned or what abuse they may have seen. So far though, my SR9 has performed flawlessly. I have cleaned the gun four times in this period which also speaks to the fact that cleaning after every shooting event is just not necessary to keep it happy, although a reasonable amount of cleaning is good for any gun. Looking at mine now, it could probably stand to be cleaned again.
Another safety feature of the SR9 is the Loaded Chamber Indicator. When a round is in the firing chamber, a lever pops up on top of the slide with red paint each side and the words “LOADED WHEN UP”. This little feature is even detectable in the dark since you can feel it’s presence in the dark, when you can’t otherwise see it.
Field stripping the SR9 is fairly easy. To begin you need to remove the magazine, and lock the slide back. At this point you can either reach inside and press the ejector down or pull the trigger. Press the take down pin on the right side of the gun above the trigger guard and pull it out on from the left side. The slide will now pull forward and off the polymer frame. Take the recoil spring and rod out of the slide and this will enable you to remove the barrel. The gun is now disassembled for cleaning.
As I stated above, I have fired somewhere in the range of 2800 rounds through this perky little gun using many different kinds of ammo, and so far I love it. I say ‘little’ but this is a full size gun and I have shot several different brands of new American ammo, foreign ammo and reloads and so far not one jam. A lot of people I know shoot Glocks and they say they think the Ruger SR9 is sub-par. On the other hand, I see them having feed issues, stovepipes and other misfires such that they have to tap and rack to get to the next round. I have even had them myself on the Glock and I have not shot Glocks nearly as much as I have my SR9.
The SR9 is a full size gun that fits nicely in my hand. It is comfortable to handle and comfortable to shoot. First time out of the box I cleaned a good size hole out of the ten spot on a target at 7 yards so I find it exceptionally accurate. At 26.2 ounces, it’s not as light as the Glock but I still find it comfortable to carry all day.
I do have one minor complaint in that the magazine release on mine sometimes seems a little hard to activate. Other guns, including my 1911 release very easily. This could be a problem if you were to use this in competition or even need it in an actual gun fight when your life is depending on it. I am thinking of taking it in to my favorite gunsmith and having him look at it. What is odd is that is not difficult all the time, especially when the slide is locked back.
Overall though, I would recommend this saucy gun to anyone who is looking for a reliable 9MM. The Ruger SR9 is certainly one of the more newsworthy additions to the polymer frame, striker fired, service pistol line that is of significant value. If sales are any indication, this is a popular gun. I have sometimes had a hard time finding it in stock in the stainless steel option at some gun stores. Gallery of Guns has even had it on allocation until just recently. It could be that Ruger is picking up production because lately it has become a little easier to find.
Check one out the next time you’re in your favorite gun shop. I think you’ll like it.
Caliber: 9 x 19mm Parabellum (9mm Luger)
Action: Double Action Only Semi-Automatic (Striker fired)
Finish (slide): Stainless Steel or Black Nitride
Grip: Black, High Performance, Glass-filled Nylon
Weight: 26.25 oz
Barrel Length: 4.14”
Twist: 1:10″ RH
Sites: Adjustable 3-Dot