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The New, Super-Low-Maintenance Ruger 9mm That Conceals Easily

The Super-Low-Maintenance Ruger 9mm That Conceals Easily

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Ruger caught up with the times in 2015 when the company released a full-size polymer frame, striker-fired, easy-maintenance 9mm. In late 2016, the compact version of the Ruger American was unveiled, and it does everything its big brother can do — while doubling as a concealable handgun.

Last fall, I got to handle and fire the new Ruger American Compact 9mm at the Blue August gun writers’ conference. Factory reps explained the method behind Ruger’s seeming madness of delaying their foray into the striker-fired pistol market: customers who use modern pistols now know exactly what they want, and Ruger sought to provide it on the first try.

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Ruger American pistols incorporate common requests the company collected in its extensive pre-design market research. Here are ways in which the company says design is wrapped around customer demand:

  • Modular grip system. Three choices of grip panel that wrap around the rear and sides come with every gun. Grip can thus be customized for different hand sizes.
  • Quality trigger with clear reset. The trigger features a safety lever, a common feature on many mass-market, striker-fired handguns. It has moderate travel, about 4.5 pounds of pull, and a clear reset that’s comparable to triggers in the Springfield XD series. I think it’s a great trigger for both defensive use and range practice.
  • A prominent magazine release. The mag release is easy to feel and operate. Operation is ambidextrous with no changes required. This is my only criticism of the firearm. Too many people have reported that an exposed mag release caused the magazine to unseat as a result of pressure from a seatbelt or an attacker.
  • A no-cost optional slide safety. The Pro model of the Ruger American Compact Pistol has no safety lever other than the passively operated one on the trigger. The standard model has a sizeable safety lever on both sides. People feel strongly one way or another about having a safety. With the Ruger American, folks on both sides of that argument can have it their way.
  • Easy racking. The recoil spring is tensioned to ensure both dependable operation and light racking action. Although this is mostly an appeal to folks who haven’t learned good technique, it is a common complaint among novice gun owners, and Ruger is to be commended for aiming to encourage entry-level shooters.
  • Recoil reduction. Slide and frame design increases the time from striker hit to return of the slide. Though there is no perceivable delay while shooting, this reduces muzzle rise, ultimately making fast follow-up shots easier.
  • Accessory-friendly. A Picatinny rail allows installation of a light or light/laser combo.
  • +P-rated. Use +P ammo if you want, and the Ruger American Compact will handle it.
  • Easy takedown. The gun breaks down quickly with no trigger activation, and is easy to clean and reassemble.
  • Tough. Ruger reps swear the company didn’t design the American platform with the intent of competing for the coveted U.S. Army contract. Nevertheless, the gun meets or exceed U.S. Army modular handgun standards.
  • User-friendly sights. Ruger was wise to choose Novak’s Lo-mount sights. This snag-resistant, highly visible, durable sight set adds real value. Ruger’s custom shop allows buyers to upgrade to tritium sights if they want.
  • Pinky rests. The shorter magazine has a pinky rest, which some shooters feel is necessary for comfortable firing.
  • Big capacity. The Compact’s mag holds 12 rounds. It accommodates the standard Ruger American 17-round magazine. One of each is included with a new 9mm pistol.
  • Caliber choices. The popular, affordable 9mm was the first to roll out in 2016. It’s also available in 45 ACP.

Here are the specs:

Barrel length: 3.25 inches.

Slide: 1.05 inches of stainless steel with black Nitride finish.

Overall length: 6.65 inches.

Height: 4.48 inches.

Weight, unloaded: 28.7 ounces.

MSRP: $579. Real prices are in the mid-$400s.

The Ruger American Compact is a superb choice for anyone seeking low-maintenance, dependable mileage from their carry gun. It fits just about anyone and is easy to operate, but has none of the oddball features some other “easy” guns have. Those features often punish the muscle memory of experienced shooters. It’s great for families who share a pistol for home defense. For the money, it’s as good or better than similar choices on the market.

What do you think about the Ruger American Compact? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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  1. You stated too many people have reported that an exposed mag release caused the magazine to unseat as a result of pressure from a seatbelt or an attacker. Does this mean there is no holster for this gun that covers the mag release or is it just a matter of it being carried loosely out of a holster, and being jarred loose? I would love to buy this as my first gun, but it’s important to me that a holster covers both the trigger and the mag release. Please let me know what you mean specifically about this issue,

    Thanks so mich

    • A rigid holster that covers the mag release should correct any risk if unintended mag release. This is not a likely problem, but one you don’t want to have at a critical moment.

    • I honestly agree Patrick M’s statement below my statement. I would buy a high point all day over another American pistol or another Taurus (owned 2 revolvers and an auto, only 1 of the revolvers worked fine and didn’t need to be returned to factory which is another huge nightmare I won’t get into). Or a Glock. And I’m not a huge fan of them. Honestly save your money and get a gun that will hit what you point it at. Glock, SA xd / xdm, S&W m and p, or do yourself a huge favor and just get a SIG

      • I meant buy a glock. Even though I’m not a huge fan of m, they are accurate and almost indestructible (short of a tourch or hacksaw…). I won’t troll any gun mfg, I’ve just been around a lot of guns and have seen what works (also do Cerakote in my spare time so get to see what guns are easy to work on/with and which guns will have issues. Advise is free all you gotta do is ask)

  2. After extensive research and shooting lots of my friends’ 9’s, i purchased an American pistol. I am definitely no “noob” to hand guns; been shootin m since I was 8, starting with 38 specials outta my dads old Colt trooper. Bought my first pistol at 21 years, a 44 mag. I’m no operator by any means so won’t talk crap I don’t know about. But with this P-shooter you’re probably going to be glad it has 17 rounds per mag. I’ve been patient and thought may be it just has a long break in or it doesn’t like what I’m feeding it. Nope. No matter the ammo (federal, Winchester white box, win clean, ppu, PMC…), no matter the bullet weight/profile, +P or standard, the gun shoots it all low and left. And this seems to be pretty standard for others’ experience with the new ruger. I didn’t jump on here to troll (although I sure could cuz the new rugers in my arsenal seem to have some interesting quirks that older models do not, and seeing a few crappy things on ruger guns some customers have brought to me for cerakote) just to state that before anybody buys a new ruger (anything) maybe look for performance reviews and try to find 1 to test shoot

  3. I have owned two Ruger auto’s in the past a P-89 (9mm), and a MkII (.22LR). Both pistols gave me problems, the barrel link pin worked out on the 9mm making disassembly almost impossible, finally got it apart and staked the pin in; sold it very soon after. The MkII had a rear site problem in that it kept drifting out, dove tail cut was garbage, sold it as well.

    Ruger revolvers are fantastic and I like my GP-100 and .22 SA a bunch, but their auto’s leave a bit to be desired, I’d buy a Hi-Point or Taurus auto before I gambled my money on another Ruger auto.

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