Rugerís New SR9 Striker-Fired Lightweight 9mm Auto Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

November 1st, 2007




Click for video!

Sturm, Ruger & Company has been making centerfire auto pistols since 1985. One trait that most of them have, up until the P345 was introduced a little over three years ago, is that they are very robust pistols, overbuilt in just about every way to make them strong, reliable, and durable pistols. The P345 is a very good auto loading .45 ACP, but is slimmed down considerably from the .45 P90 pistol, and wears a plastic frame for lighter weight. It is really the first concealable Ruger auto pistol, being much slimmer than the earlier Ruger pistols.

Ruger has now introduced the much-anticipated SR9, which is unlike any Ruger auto pistol ever built. Up until the SR9, all Ruger pistols have been hammer-fired. Using a hammer is just fine and dandy, as pistols have been made that way for well over 100 years. However, the trend these days for auto pistols is towards a striker-fired system, and they are extremely popular. Plastic-framed striker-fired auto pistols lead the market both in new designs and in sales. Other such pistols now available include, but are not limited to, the Glock, S&W M&P, S&W Sigma, Walther P99, Springfield XD, and the Taurus 24/7.

Rugerís SR9 pistol has most of the traits of other popular striker-fired auto pistols, like a plastic (polymer) frame, light weight, accessory rail, and other features demanded by most shooters who buy such pistols.  While many shooters who buy an auto pistol want a light, crisp trigger with an almost undetectable trigger movement, most law enforcement  agencies do not. They want a trigger with a pull the is somewhere between a light single-action style pull and a long revolver-like double action pull. The SR9 complies with that requirement, having a trigger with a pull weight measuring seven pounds, ten ounces on my sample, with a trigger travel of about one-third of an inch. A trigger like this is a good idea on a fighting pistol. It is neither too light, nor too heavy for shooting quickly at combat pistol distances. It is not the best style of trigger for a paper-punching target gun, but the SR9, and other pistols such as its competitors, were not designed as paper-punchers.

While on the subject of the SR9 trigger, I have heard early reports from those who have handled, but not necessarily fired, the SR9 that the trigger pull is somewhat gritty. Mostly this is due to dry-firing the weapon without a magazine in place. Ruger warns SR9 owners to not dry-fire the pistol without the magazine in the gun.  The SR9 has a magazine safety, which is located in the slide. When inserted into the pistol, the magazine pushes the magazine safety upward, allowing the striker to hit the primer of the cartridge in the chamber. Without the magazine in place, the striker rubs on the mag safety, creating a harder, gritty trigger pull, which over time if done repeatedly, will degrade the SR9ís trigger pull. The trigger pull on my sample gun exhibited these same traits when dry-firing the pistol without a magazine in place. However, while actually firing the pistol, it has a pretty decent trigger pull. After shooting the SR9 extensively, the trigger pull has also improved somewhat. It compares favorably with the trigger pull on other pistols of its type. However, the trigger blade itself on the Ruger is better and more comfortable, in my opinion, to triggers on pistols that either have a blade insert, such as on the Glock, or that are articulated, as on the S&W and others. I like the plain, smooth trigger blade on the SR9 much better.

Another good feature of the SR9 is that it wears an ambidextrous thumb safety. There is also an internal striker blocking safety, so the owner of the SR9 does not have to use the manual thumb safety unless he wants to. I like the thumb safety. It is in a very good location to easily operate with the thumb of the shooting hand.  In the "ON" position, it locks the slide and prevents the trigger from being pulled. It is easily wiped downward to the "FIRE" position, but is a bit stiffer to place into the "ON" position, which is a good idea. It is stiff enough that it will not accidentally get bumped "ON" with the shooter's thumb during recoil, but a conscious effort places it into the "ON" position when desired. A pistol such as the SR9 with a manual safety could easily buy the owner a couple of seconds if the weapon is snatched by some thug and turned upon the gunís owner. This is especially a good idea on a copís gun. 

Another welcome feature on the SR9 is an ambidextrous magazine release. On standard models, the magazine holds seventeen rounds of 9mm ammunition, for a total loaded capacity of eighteen.  For those who desire, Ruger also offers a ten shot magazine model as an option. The SR9 comes with two magazines, and a mag loading tool, which is a welcome addition, as the magazine is pretty hard to load without it. I used my UpLula mag loader, as I do with all centerfire pistol magazines. When shooting large quantities of ammo in a session, it really saves wear and tear on the shooterís thumb. The magazines are made of steel, with a nylon follower and base plate.

The sights on the SR9 are a very good design. The front is drift adjustable for windage, and the rear is adjustable for windage and elevation. They are much better sights than those that are supplied with most competitive pistols.

The SR9 is easy to disassemble for cleaning. Lock the slide back and push the latch out the side. Release the slide while pulling the trigger, and it slides forward off the frame. The extractor and ejector on the SR9 are very robust, and should last forever. Atop the slide is a loaded chamber indicator that is easily seen and felt, to ascertain the condition of the chamber without retracting the slide. A cocking indicator is seen at the back of the slide.

The plastic frame is made of a glass-filled nylon material, and it has plenty of molded-in checkering for a secure grip. When first holding the SR9, I was immediately impressed with the thinness of the grip area of the frame. The grip angle of the SR9 closely mimics that of the beloved 1911 auto pistol, but the grip of the SR9 is even thinner. The grip area of the SR9 frame measures just 1.18 inches. The slide measures just .991 inch. The SR9 is a thin pistol, especially when considering that it houses a seventeen-shot double stack magazine! The SR9 also has a reversible grip insert that allows for either an arched or flat backstrap as the shooter prefers. To change the insert, simply drift out the cross pin, which also serves as a lanyard attachment, and flip the insert over, reinsert the pin, and you are finished. Simple. It makes a pronounced difference in the feel of the pistol, just as changing the mainspring housing on a 1911 from arched to flat changes the feel of that weapon. The SR9 has an accessory rail at molded into the frame under the slide to attach lights and such, if the owner desires.

The SR9 has a four and one-eighth inch barrel, and the overall length measures seven and one-half inches.  The pistol weighs 26.5 ounces on my digital postal scale.

I have been shooting  the SR9 extensively for a couple of weeks now, and I like it better now than I did when the pistol first arrived. At first, I was impressed with the thinness of the SR9, but could see really nothing to get worked up about, as the market is flush with polymer fighting pistols. However, this SR9 has grown on me a bit. The trigger has improved. The gun is easy to shoot quickly and accurately. Shooting the SR9, I fed it every type of ammunition that I had available, from a variety of factory loads, to a bunch of lead-bullet handloads that I had. When I started, I had a pretty good stockpile of 9mm ammunition, and now, it is all but depleted.

I chronographed the factory ammunition over the eyes of my PACT Professional chronograph. The air temperature the day of the chronograph testing was around sixty degrees Fahrenheit, and the eyes were set up at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle. Chronograph results are listed below. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities are listed in feet per second. HP is hollowpoint. EPR is a specialty powdered tungsten core bullet. Glaser is a fragmented core bullet. I also attempted to chronograph some Cor-Bon 147 grain FMJ ammo, but by the time that I got the PACT to reading the shots, I was out of that ammunition. Chronographs can be the most frustrating machines on Earth sometimes, and more temperamental than a woman.

Ammunition Weight & Style Velocity
International Cartridge 100 HP  1183
Extreme Shock  115 EPR 1245.6
Cor-Bon 80 Glaser  1537.1
Cor-Bon 115 HP 1341
Cor-Bon 100 PowRBall 1428.6
Buffalo Bore +P+ 115  HP 1387.5
Buffalo Bore +P 115  HP 1182
Buffalo Bore +P+ 124 HP  1280.8

Any of the ammunition listed above would be good to use in a defensive pistol. Some "experts" do not like the 9mm, but I am neither an expert nor a detractor of the cartridge. When stoked with good high performance ammunition, the 9mm will do the job in capable hands.  In the SR9, it is fast and easy to shoot. The pistol holds eighteen cartridges, which should be plenty ammunition to solve most problems. Throughout the shooting of the new SR9, the pistol functioned perfectly; feeding, firing, and ejecting every type of ammo that I fed it. As you can see in the video, muzzle rise is low, and the pistol is very quick to get back onto target. Accuracy was not outstanding, with good combat ammo grouping in to about three inches at 25 yards for some loads, and opening up to about four and one-half inches for others from my sample gun. That is not match-grade accuracy, but is sufficient for social work, which is the intended use of the SR9. It is a gun with which to protect oneís life. It was easy to keep all shots on a reduced human silhouette target at twenty five yards offhand. It is reliable, slim, and very easy to shoot well. Holding the SR9 in one hand and a Glock 17, which is the most popular competitor to the SR9, in the other, there is no doubt that the Ruger is so much slimmer. The Glock is an excellent pistol, but the Ruger feels better in my hand. Your opinion might vary, but it pays to handle various weapons before choosing the one that best fits you. The market now offers many good choices in lightweight plastic-framed striker-fired auto pistols. Shooters have more choice than ever before, and I encourage those shopping for a new auto pistol to try every one that you can, but do not neglect to try this new Ruger SR9. I have only fired this one sample, but have handled a few others. They are brand new on the market, but they are already available from gun dealers. Ruger had the pistols in the supply pipeline before making the introduction. Mine is in the 3500 serial range, and reportedly about 4000 have already been shipped.

I like many features of the SR9. It is very user-friendly to left-handed shooters like me. It is slim. It is reliable, rugged, and  backed by the famous Ruger reputation for customer service. I like the thumb safety. I like the large trigger guard that can easily accommodate a gloved finger. I like the steel magazines.  I love the slim grip! I also like the fact that it is American made. I would like to see an optional black finish offered on the stainless slide. I would like to see tritium night sights offered as an option, but other than that, I can think of no other changes. I am not especially enamored of the magazine safety, but there are many other shooters who like such things, and I can certainly live it. I have never needed to fire an auto pistol without a magazine in place, and it can be a life-saving feature in certain situations.

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Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Ruger's new SR9 pistol comes with two mags, mag loading tool, and hard case.





The SR9 features (top to bottom): ambidextrous mag release, cocking indicator,  massive extractor, robust ejector, loaded chamber indicator, manual thumb safety & slide release, accessory rail, lanyard attachment, and magazine safety.





The SR9 also features a nifty reversible backstrap to allow the user to easily tailor the gun's fit to the hand. Just slide out pin to reverse from arched to flat.





Trigger travel measures just .315 inch.





Disassembly is easy and simple.



Chamber fully supports case head.





Ruger's SR9 compared to S&W's 9mm M&P.



Author tested the SR9 with a wide variety of ammo.



Quick double-tap head shot at seven yards shows the SR9 is capable of good combat accuracy.