The firm of Sturm, Ruger has been in the polymer framed pistol game for a generation. Their P95 series of pistol, which took their legacy P89 and gave it a pair of Dow Chemical Isoplast pants, has been relatively popular at the $399 MSRP range for nearly twenty years. Even before this, a polymer lower version of the Ruger MkII, dubbed the 22/45, was introduced and is still in production. With all of this, you can see the lineage of Ruger’s newest polymer framed pistol, the SR9.
Ergonomics and Recoil
The SR9, introduced in 2007, seems to be something of an evolutionary polymer pistol buffet of choices. Like almost every gun in its class, it has the standard double stack 9mm magazine, an often unused under barrel accessory rail, and a steel slide over polymer frame with steel inserts. From the Glock/XD, you see the DAO two-stage safety trigger and striker fired internals. From the CZ you see the slim grip and overall profile. Like the PX4, you see a rounded trigger guard and modular component groups. From the previous P95 series, you see truly ambidextrous mag and slide releases. A tactile loaded chamber indicator is atop the slide.
The SR9 points well and rather resemble the Lone Wolf lowers sold for custom builds on Glock uppers. Instead of the popular feature of replaceable palm swells found on other modern polymer guns, the Ruger uses a novel reversible phenolic backstrap. Recoil is a non-issue and the gun, like the CZ Phantom, is initially only offered in 9mm. A field test of the SR40 and SR45, larger caliber pistols built on the same frame with the same design, was not possible.
Trigger and Accuracy
When first introduced (up to serial number 30,000), the SR9 had a thin trigger that resembled the one on the P95. After 2008, a redesign came about due to safety reasons and guns that left the line after that have a trigger similar to that on the Glock and XD. It takes up a little long but breaks clean.
The sights that come standard on the pistol are some of the best offered in their class. They are fully adjustable 3-dot type with click-screw adjustments on the rear for elevation. Of the guns tested, the Ruger had superior standard sights. The only bad thing to say about the lightswas the fact they were not augmented for low light use.
Reloading and Disassembly
Ruger ships these guns currently with two nicely made 17-round mags. Unlike some other pistols, they seem easy to load fully right out of the box. The end user, without gunsmithing if desired, can remove the standard magazine safety.
The pistol fieldstrips with a removable takedown pin found on the left hand side of the center slide. For those who have used a Ruger LCP 380, you will find it most familiar. Once the firearm is cleared and safely unloaded, the pin can be pulled out and slide removed with ease. Reassembly is just as simply accomplished.
Reliability and Durability
In testing on the range, the Ruger polymer pistol held up well and was a joy to shoot. Functioning was flawless with all types of ammunition used, including both heavy and light grain FMJs and JHPs. It is in range time that you see the logic behind the SR9s borrowing of features that have worked on other pistols over the decades. It eats up 9mm Parabellum brass, spits it out, and leaves nice tight groups in the paper.
Internally the SR9 uses a tried and true cam-block recoil-operated tilt-lock method of action that leads to few issues in the short term. Long term the SR9 has something of an asterisk by it as it is only six years old and already has had one very large recall to address safety issues. Some users report slide/barrel peening after just a few hundred rounds. Ruger does not officially warranty their firearms, but they do have a reputation for correcting defective guns promptly.
The SR9 is a more fully evolved pistol than either the Glock or XD when they were introduced. It is a nice and slim piece that has a good natural balance that in turn leads to excellent point shooting. Pricewise, it is lower than most of its competition, even if just a little. The newness of its design is the only warning issued and hopefully it will have a long life once the bugs are worked out.