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Summary: Dave Spaulding’s review of and rating for the Ruger SR9 pistols, including a range report, pros and cons, Ruger’s specs, photos and MSRP, and user ratings and comments. (Click here to see all Spaulding’s handgun reviews.)
Ruger‘s SR9 is a striker-fired, magazine-fed, recoil-operated semi-automatic pistol. A tilt-barrel design keeps the barrel and slide locked together at the moment of firing, while the cycling of the slide partially cocks the striker action so it’s ready to fire the next round in the chamber. Pressing the trigger to the rear completes the full throw of the trigger bar and striker while releasing the internal striker block, which keeps the gun from firing unless the trigger is manipulated. After the round leaves the barrel, the barrel is cammed downward from its locked position, permitting the slide to reciprocate, partially cock the striker and chamber the next round.
The SR9 measures 7.57 inches in overall length, 4.14 inches in barrel length and 5.52 inches in height. A magazine-disconnect safety is incorporated into the pistol’s design, a feature many officers will dislike but others will welcome because it can function as a weapon-retention device. Noted trainer Massad Ayoob provides a number of real-world examples where ejecting the magazine while fighting over a gun has saved police officers’ lives, so I feel arguing over the value of such a device may prove counterproductive. The real problem involves lack of awareness that it’s in place, but once it’s known, it can be made part of a training regime. In the end, if you deem the feature undesirable, simply remove it.
- Stainless-steel slide and nylon frame result in an almost maintenance-free finish
- Trigger action is easy to shoot well
- Grip is adjustable
- Gun points very well and sits low in the hand
- Price point is quite attractive
- I would have liked a gun that was a bit more compact
- The trigger travel was a bit longer than I would’ve liked
- Some won’t like the magazine-disconnect safety device
The gun’s slide is made from brushed or black stainless steel and is nicely rounded, removing all sharp edges. Space-age black or OD green glass-filled nylon comprises the gun’s frame, which incorporates an accessory rail on the dust cover and an interchangeable back strap at the rear.
“Back strap” might not be an accurate description because it’s actually an interchangeable insert into the back strap. It’s made from a piece of solid rubber that is somewhat tacky but holds the web of your hand solidly in place. The insert is molded to replicate the curved or flat back strap of the famed 1911 pistol; it’s a one-piece unit that actually slides out of the back strap and reverses. To turn it around, simply push a pin out of the rear of the grip (which also acts as a lanyard post), slide it out, flip it over, slide it back in place and replace the pin. It takes less than a minute, and it really does replicate the feel of the 1911 pistol.
The grip’s sides and front strap are nicely checkered, along with the Ruger logo molded in the side panels. Ruger worked hard to keep the grip as thin as possible. As a matter of fact, the entire gun is quite thin, measuring merely 1.25″ in width at the thumb-safety levers, while the slide itself measures less than an inch. Yes, the SR9 has ambidextrous safety levers at the rear of the slide, much like the 1911.
Like its .45 ACP model, the P-345, Ruger’s SR9 features a push-button magazine release that’s a big improvement over the small lever that was standard on the original Ruger semi-autos. The SR9’s release button is ambidextrous, serrated and tall enough to reach easily. The magazine well is nice and large with the grip shape offering a ready-made funnel at the bottom.
The slide-stop lever is on the left side of the frame near the tip of the shooting-hand thumb. While reduced in size, it’s large enough to use as a release if you choose to. If not, you can easily release the slide by pulling back on it. Deep serrations on the rear of the slide offer a positive gripping surface.
The SR9’s sights dovetail into the slide, but differ from similar guns in that the rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. You adjust the windage by tapping the sight in the dovetail to the left or right, while you alter the elevation by turning the screw on the top of the sight assembly. The sights are of the three-dot variety. The rear sight sports a swept-back, snag-free look.
The trigger’s configuration is straighter than some other striker-fired guns. I like how it feels. Reaching the trigger proves easy to manipulate because of the slender grip-frame, even for those with small hands, and its flat face makes it easier to press independently to the rear. According to Ruger, the trigger should break at 6.5 lbs. with a .48″ length of travel and reset. Some will consider this break a bit long, but for police officers or military personnel the trigger action will work just fine. As a matter of fact, one could argue that the SR9’s trigger action can actually act as a deterrent to negligent discharges. Certainly the SR9 trigger is vastly superior to many of the double-action pistol triggers I’ve shot over the past decade or so.
Out on the range, I began by testing the SR9 for combat accuracy by shooting five-round groups at 50 feet. While some prefer to see a gun tested at 25 yards by placing it in a bench rest, I believe an integral part of a gun’s accuracy is your ability to work through its trigger action and still hold the gun on target. A Ransom Rest eliminates this test, and the truth is, I want to know.
I selected loads I consider some of the best currently available for defensive purposes. Here are the results:
- Black Hills 115-grain XTP HP +P: 1.75″ group
- Corbon 115-grain DPX HP +P: 2.5″ group
- Speer 124-grain Gold Dot HP +P: 1″ group
- Winchester 127-grain SXT HP +P+: 1.25″ group
- Buffalo Bore 147-grain Gold Dot HP +P+: 2.25″ group
I ended up shooting 500 rounds of various 9mm ammo through the SR9 without a single malfunction. I conclude the gun proves very reliable.
I also liked the grip angle and the way it pointed. During a number of fast-draw and multiple-shot drills, I appreciated the way the gun felt as it cleared the holster and pointed toward the target. It felt quite natural to me, with the front sight appearing just where I wanted it.
I really liked the Ruger SR9. I’m not too concerned about the whole 9mm vs. .40-plus caliber debate—I’ve come to realize handgun incapacitation power is a product of shot placement. The gun’s flat profile and thin grip are quite appealing, as is its 18-round (17+1) capacity. This is a whole lot of gun for a reasonable amount of money.
Dave Spaulding is a 28-year law-enforcement veteran, retiring at the rank of lieutenant. He’s worked in all facets of law enforcement—corrections, communications, patrol, evidence collection, investigations, undercover operations, training and SWAT. He currently operates Handgun Combatives, a handgun-combat training program, and he’s authored more than 800 articles for various firearm and law enforcement periodicals. In 2010 Spaulding received the Law Officer Trainer of the Year award, and he’s also the author of the best-selling books Defensive Living and Handgun Combatives.
|9mm||17+1, 10+1||4.14″||7.55″||5.52″||1.27″||26.5 oz.|
Pricing & Shopping
Retail: $429 (black frame and slide) @ Brownells—
22 thoughts on “Ruger SR9”
Ruger nailed it with this pistol. Reminds me of the classic Browning HiPower in most ways including size and ergonomics. Great accuracy right out of the box and fun to shoot as well
I know nine stars seem a lot for this gun, but I think it’s well worth it.
I have over 2500 rnds through mine, with zero issues.
The initial “scratchy” trigger is now silky smooth, and the gun puts rounds where I point it with no supprises.
Maintanance is as easy as you could want, and even when neglected, the pistol still works like clockwork.
Great gun…I was gonna get a G-17 but will buy this gun instead…fits my hand fine. I like the added safety switch.
I have about 250 rounds through mine. lots of jams when using Winchester super X 147gr. at least 1 out of 10 shots is a stove pipe. I have had far less jams using Blazer 115gr
Mine has only failed to fully go to battery once since 2010 in thousands of rounds. It has never stovepipes. My only knock is it isn’t the most accurate pistol for me, but I’m not an amazing pistol shot, so it’s probably me.
Haven’t shot a semi-auto since SE Asia. I carefully shopped but stopped looking at the SR9. Fits my hand nicely, muzzle flip is about what I expected. My wife even likes the way it shoots, what more can I ask?
I likely will hang a laser from the rail, my eyes are getting old. Any suggestions?
Mark, thanks for the SR9 info! For laser info and help narrowing down the choices, check out our laser sight site: http://handgunlasers.net/
Now I have tried a few other types of ammo and it works flawless. Just won’t work with winchester super x ammo.
Traded in my PPQ M2 for a Ruger SR9 and must say I like the SR9 better. Nice pistol well made, reliable and surprisingly accurate. It’s a keeper!
been thinking about purchasing an sr9. can i shoot lead bullets out of this weapon?
At AL: Thanx for the reminder. Was shooting a few weeks ago and the SR9 did not eject a spent round. Not a stovepipe, didn’t even grab the puppy. And guess what? I had thrown some Winchester rounds into my collection.
Will reserve those for the Beretta in future.
No problem. I can shoot the cheapest blazers flawless. just can’t cycle the Winchester. Mark L, where you using super x as well?
I had to go look, I can never remember what I have.
Winchester — 9mm — Full Metal Jacket — 115 grain
I also shoot
Federal — 9mm — FMJ RN — 115 grain
Blazer Brass — 9mm — FMJ — 115 grain
As you can see, all target rounds. Nothing special. (I watch the counter at Walmart, and when they have a sale on I go buy a bunch)
And oddly, I didn’t think to look at what was expended when it happened. Next time, though, I’ll be all over it.
posted September 1 2015: today is the third year(to the day) with my SR9. I have shot 300 rounds through her and it jammed ONCE after about 50 rounds … I will blame myself. I have been told a few times that I am a good shot … I give ALL credit to the SR9. After 1 year , my father purchased a RUGER P95
I purchased mine in 2007, # 330- under 700 ,..the original plastic guide rod was poor quality and I replaced it with a Galloway Precision 22 lb. recoil spring assembly unit .to date I have fired over 20k rounds through it with out a SINGLE STOPPAGE WHAT SO EVER .
My only complaint is that I immediately found peening where the barrel meets the chamber. And that my gun smith polished that out., I’m a retired Vt. State police detective and I carry an sr9 .
Officer Prairie, thank you for your service!
The 22lb spring, is that stronger than the original?
Yes , the 22lb. is considerably stiffer and does not interfere w/ performance.
thank you, sir!
Just purchased a SR-9 for my wife she loves it. Put a CTC , CMR-201 laser and at 10 yds. its nearly all bull eyes . I like it better than the LC-9 I carry and it is a bunch easy to shoot accurately. It even works well as a winter CCW gun.
The SR9 is a fine pistol. Have had mine for about 2.5 years. Feels comfortable in my hand and is accurate. To date, i have run through about 2000 rounds. My SR9 does not like aluminium casing rounds by Federal as I had several misfeeds. Works well with all other ammo.
I shoot well for an amateur and can punch out bulls eyes pretty quickly at 10 yards. Thought I was pretty good until a retired cop in his late 60s began shooting next to me with the very same gun. Felt pretty inadequate compared to him. The point though is the SR9 works well for both of us.
Frankly, I don’t think there’s a better gun out there for the price.
Also want to say to our boys in blue, I support ya’ll and keep your heads up. We need you.
Love my SR9. I have big palms but short fingers. SR9 fits as well as a 1911 which is my previous choice for fit. Bought a SR40c after the SR9 and mostly use the full size mag w/ extender- ditto for that one. Both shoot better than I can. Great pistols for a reasonable price- pretty much like all Rugers.
I think that if you dry fire this pistol a lot you will break the striker. Possibly if you shoot a lot of live ammunition the same thing will happen. The owner’s manual tells you that you should not dry fire an SR-9 without a magazine in place. That is because the pistol comes from the factory with a magazine disconnect safety, and that stops the striker from going forward,
The magazine disconnect safety can be removed, and some people do that. I am telling you that if you dry fire this pistol, with or without a magazine, with or without the magazine disconnect safety that you will break the striker.
The striker is a poor design. The base of the striker is hollowed out and the striker spring is inside, rather than being wrapped around the outside as on most pistols. There is a small metal nib attached to the rear of this hollow tube and that is what the sear grabs. It is a weak design.
I am not the only owner who has snapped off the engagement surface of the striker, it is apparently a common problem according to my local gun shop.
It’s too bad because some of the design features of this pistol are excellent. the striker design just isn’t one of them. Apparently neither was the original trigger mechanism design.
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