Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ruger SR9 - First Impressions

On April 26, I stopped in at Bulls Eye in Tacoma to place an order for the Ruger SR9 pistol. I had been there the Saturday prior to take a look at one. I would have actually bought it that weekend, but the gun had an olive drab green frame. I personally wanted black.

These two trips to Bulls Eye were the culmination of months of research, which were sparked from an associate of mine telling me to "keep an open mind" about the Ruger SR9. I'm on record here talking about how I think about the Ruger's looks, so I won't be rehashing old topics.

This entry is dedicated to my first impressions of this gun. I was actually fortunate to have had to order this gun from the factory instead of buying what was under the glass cabinet at the shop. This gun hasn't been handled by every Tom, Dick, and Harry ogling (yes, I meant to say ogling) at every semi-automatic at the store. With that said, this gun arrived with not a scratch or flaw on it.
I must point out here, before going any further, that Ruger instituted a recall for SR9's that did not have the updated trigger with the inner blade, among other things. I'm happy to report that mine came with the upgraded parts and will not be required to go straight back. That would be a shame, although I am confident that Ruger's excellent customer service would make the process as painless as possible.
When I pick up the Ruger SR9, the first thing I notice is the heft of this gun. For a plastic gun, this one feels very durable. There is nothing cheap about it. The material is actually a glass-filled nylon, which makes it extremely durable, yet keeps the weight down. Yeah, I'm sort of contradicting myself when I say it's hefty, and then say it's light. It's both. My other firearms feel much heavier than this pistol.
The second thing that is immediately apparent is the feel of the grip on my hand. The grip is slim, it is checkered on the side panels and in the front, and on the back is a rubber back strap, which is reversible from flat to a sort of raised mound for the palm to rest in. Mine came with the strap oriented so it is raised. It seems to work for me, but I'd like to try it both ways during shooting to see if there is a difference.
I really don't know how Ruger did it: how did they squeeze 17 rounds into a magazine that fits into a grip so thin? At only 1 1/4" wide, I wouldn't have expected that.
Ruger also outfitted the gun with an ambidextrous magazine release, which can be operated from either the left or right hand naturally. So even if I had to use my weak hand to operate the release, it comes naturally to me and I don't have to think about it.
The safety is the same story. Okay, first off the frame-mounted safety seems sort of redundant to me. The gun already has trigger safety (that little blade that protrudes from it) and a firing pin block that will not allow the gun to fire unless the trigger is completely pulled. I tried to squeeze the trigger without depressing the little blade and it would not fire the gun (dry fire). But I also understand why they would put another manual (redundant) safety on the frame. The funny thing is that it doesn't bother me. It is so easy to manipulate that it just naturally releases under a little bit of thumb pressure during the draw (similar to 1911 style pistol safety). Okay, back to my point. The safety is also ambidextrous and can be manipulated by the weak hand thumb without thinking.
Moving on, the fit and finish of this gun is amazing. Jeez, for only $425, I would have expected this gun to have to kind of crappy finish you see on Glocks. Not so. This gun looks more like it was artfully crafted rather than manufactured. There are no sharp edges anywhere on the gun that your hand would contact. It's all smoothed out, rounded or beveled for ease of use, comfort, and ergonomics.
All Ruger SR9 pistols are stainless steel guns. That is, the metal slide on top of the nylon frame and many components are stainless. That's great for rust and corrosion resistance. The barrel is also stainless steel, and the only exposed part is finished dull (which is what I want) so it doesn't reflect light well. For my gun, it was coated in a black Nitrodox Pro Black finish, which is very hard. It will resist scratching from everyday use. This gun is meant to be carried, and I know it will get banged around, beat up, and scratched, so I opted for a little extra protection as well as concealable stealth.
The sights on this gun are purposeful and well built. They are a three dot highly visible combination. The front can be windage adjustable by drifting it. The rear is windage adjustable by drifting as well, but they can also adjusted for elevation via a screw on the top. The rear sights are protected by a hood that covers all except the top of the sights.
There is a very obvious loaded chamber indicator on top of the gun. While not the prettiest part of the weapon, it is extremely visual and tactile. I need not even look at the gun to know if a round is chambered or not. Note: always assume a gun is loaded, whether it is loaded or not (see my other blogs about this).
Up to the front is an accessory rail under the frame that accepts lights, lasers, or anything that will fit the 1913 Picatinny Standard Rail. I already have my heart set on a light/laser combo for this gun (stay tuned).
When dry-firing, the trigger pull is heavy, yet short and crisp. It is deliberate, which for all intents and purposes should be in a self-defense pistol. The gun is actually semi-cocked when ready to fire. Pulling the trigger all the way back finishes the cocking action and drops the striker onto the firing pin. At first, the trigger pull seems gritty, but I cleaned it and that went away, replaced then by a trigger that, while somewhat heavy, does the job well and provides instant feedback to me.
I field stripped the gun after getting it home. I'm a firm believer that you should know how your gun works and how to tear it down for cleaning, inspection, and field expedient repairs. The gun takes down fairly easy. My only gripe is that the take down pin has to be drifted out instead of just rotated down, like the Beretta 92. In theory, you can drift the pin out with your finger, but you must have skinny fingers to do so. I just used a .22 cartridge to get it moving a little so I could grab it on the other side and pull it all the way out. No worries though. I have no shortage of .22 ammo with me when I go shooting. In fact, I have six of them sitting on the base of my computer monitor right now! The gun field strips into all the usual components: barrel, slide, recoil spring. This makes for familiar reassembly and cleaning. Again, I don't have to think about it. The only thing that must be considered is the extractor, which must be rotated forward and down prior to slide removal.
So far, I'm impressed with the Ruger SR9. I went from being a hater to a disbeliever to having an open mind and now I love it. I can't wait to get it out to shoot it. Here's to hoping the love affair continues and that it does not disappoint.
I had been on record on a number of forums talking about how ugly the Ruger SR9 is. That opinion hasn't changed. There are a lot of guns out there that are prettier than this gun. However, as my knowledge of this gun increased, it began to take on a new image to me. Yeah, it is still butt-ugly, but it is ugly in an A-10 Thunderbolt II sort of way. It's ugly in a utilitarian P-51 Mustang sort of way. Yeah, the Ruger SR9 is ugly; no doubt about it. But it is so practical and so no-frills and so utilitarian that it uglied itself into a beautiful weapon. In the Ruger SR9, form followed function all the way to the end. Ruger sacrificed nothing to make this weapon a gun to be feared by all would-be bad guys out there. SR9 is an intimidating looking SOB, and that alone makes it one of the most beautiful guns out there.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the feedback...nice article. I disagree with the ugly part though. I just bought one and I was largely influenced by the gun's appearance. I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder.