Ruger SR9C KSR9C/3313 9mm, $525
We tested Rugers SR9 pistol in our December 2007 issue. The SR9 fit 17 rounds of 9mm into a frame that was narrow enough to belong to a 1911-style pistol. The SR9 should have been a breakthrough pistol, but was overshadowed by the wave of enthusiasm for Rugers 380 ACP LCP, which came out about the same time. Sales were also slowed by a recall some time later.
We liked the SR9 overall, but felt the gun was hampered by a balky trigger. The first time we handled the SR9C, we pulled back the slide to make sure it was empty, reset the slide and pulled the trigger. We were impressed and immediately called Ruger to find out if we could retrofit our original SR9 with the same trigger. No dice, they said. The SR9C has a completely different trigger group.
The SR9C fires from a 3.5-inch barrel. That makes it the smallest, most concealable, pistol in our test. But if you remove the 10-round magazine and insert the 17-rounder, the grip will become longer by about 1 inch. The short magazine was shipped with a flat basepad for a flush-to-frame fit. But an alternate base pad was included in the package that added a finger groove, which should accommodate the pinky of most shooters. The long magazine was fit with a collar to lengthen the grip. Fit was nearly seamless, and we shot the SR9C with this combination in place most of the time. The collar was removable, so it could be transferred to other magazines when needed. Not being fixed to the magazine, we worried that it would move around beneath our grip, but the connection was stable and solid.
Several experts felt the rough trigger on the original SR9 was caused by interaction with the magazine disconnect feature. But the SR9C will not fire without the magazine in place either. Yet the SR9C trigger was well above average, in our view. The face of the trigger carried a safety much like the Glock and Springfield Armory pistols. But unlike the long arc of most hinged triggers, the SR9C trigger offered a short travel of firm takeup followed by a break point that was easily overcome. We measured trigger resistance to be about 5.5 pounds, but it felt like less. We think that is because the thin narrow grip helped us get a lot more leverage on the trigger than was applied by the hook on our Chatillon trigger scale. As we pressed the trigger, we could see the striker indicator move rearward through the relief in the slide as it readied to strike.
The Ruger SR9C pistol frame was constructed of glass-filled nylon. There was a small but usable accessory rail along the dust cover. The SR9C pistols are available with a blackened alloy steel slide or a stainless steel brushed slide. Cocking serrations were front and rear. The sights were low mounted and snag resistant. The rear unit was adjustable for elevation via a screw on its topmost surface. Immediately forward of the elevation screw was an Allen type windage lock screw. Once loosened, the entire unit could be impact drifted left or right.
Ambidextrous thumb safeties were positioned on the frame where the beavertail reached over the web of the shooters hand. We had an easier time turning the safety on and off than we did on the original SR9. Some shooters may choose to ignore the thumb safeties, but our recommendation is to integrate them fully into your manual of arms. Our desire was to be able to raise the levers for on-safe and keep our thumb beneath them to maintain a safe condition. To raise the safety, our staff utilized the bulge of the first knuckle at the inside of our strong hand thumb. In our attempts to lower the safety, we found that this design does not permit a sweep or a rotational movement, such as when deactivating the thumb safety on a 1911-style pistol. Instead, we learned to bend the thumb so that it was parallel with the bore and pressed directly downward. Having to bend the thumb did tend to open our grip, but we were able to recover quickly, closing the hand to full contact against the back strap.
The slide release was small but easily accessed. Takedown of the SR9C called for first locking back the slide. Looking down through the ejection port we could see the ejector protruding above the empty magazine well. The manual instructs the operator to push down on the ejector with a pencil. It will move easily enough so that you do not need additional leverage, but we surmised that Ruger doesnt want anyone accidentally closing the slide on their fingers. But we think this was a non-issue. Once the ejector is down, the slide stop can be pushed out of the frame from right to left. After lowering the slide-release lever, no further manipulation was required to remove the top end.
From the bench we had some very good results. Our 115-grain rounds from Black Hills and Remington supplied an AGR of less than 0.90 inches. Consistency was excellent, showing that we were shooting 10-shot groups that measured about 2.25 inches across on average. The 124-grain rounds lagged slightly, but the SR9C did prefer the American Eagle rounds over the Black Hills 124-grain remanufactured ammunition. Shooting the Rugers least favorite round in our action tests nevertheless resulted in very good performance. Hits in the lower A-zone showed a circular group of eight shots measuring about four inches in diameter. One shot was higher but still in the A-zone and another was left of the A-zone by about one-half inch. The upper A-zone showed seven hits in the cranial pocket with three more on the center line but one high and two low of the 4x2 inch border. Our first run took 2.11 seconds, but eight of our runs overall were clocked at less than 2 seconds. Average time was 1.92 seconds. Our fastest perfect runs lasted 1.77 seconds and 1.79 seconds, respectively. Our Team Said: In this hard-fought matchup, where each gun is worth buying, wed pick the SR9C first if any of these factors are the major determining issue in your buying decision: a very good trigger, smaller size than the others, ambidextrous thumb safeties, flexibility in terms of grip size and capacity (10+1 or 17+1), slim profile, or low price.