May 8, 2013

Ruger SR9C KSR9C/3313 9mm, $525

We tested Ruger’s 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 Ruger’s 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.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The trigger outshines that of the full-size SR9. This is a very good pistol, offering variable capacity and deep concealment.

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 shooter’s 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.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The SR9C rear sight was windage adjustable by loosening the Allen screw atop the unit and driving it left or right. Elevation adjustment was simpler thanks to a click adjustable screw.

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 doesn’t 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 Ruger’s 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, we’d 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.

Comments (21)

I believe the write-up states the test was from 15 yards with a sandbag rest.

Posted by: Wendell S | May 16, 2013 3:41 PM    Report this comment

I believe the write-up states the test was from 15 yards with a sandbag rest.

Posted by: Wendell S | May 16, 2013 3:40 PM    Report this comment

It would be nice to know at what distance this test was done. I can get results almost this good with my Kel Tec 380 off sandbags at 7 yds.

Posted by: woodsmanron | May 9, 2013 10:02 PM    Report this comment

I think from the report and the comments from users that it is a fine pistol, however I will never buy one, except for safeties on my Browning High Powers and 1911's where I carry cocked and locked with the safety on, I refuse to have any safety on any other defensive pistol I own and carry. As I always carry with a holster that covers the trigger guard in every method of carry, even in pocket carry, a safety is just a not needed accessory, this after 40 years of concealed carry with a variety of handguns and holsters and no accidental discharges.

Posted by: Pointman | May 9, 2013 8:11 PM    Report this comment

I have had my sr9c for about a year. I have never had a problem with it. One determining issue in your buying decision they omitted is reliability. I feel confident of this pistol. I also had a part break on an old Ruger .22. I called Ruger about getting the part and they sent it right out to me at no charge. You can't beat that for service.

Posted by: MikeK | May 9, 2013 1:14 PM    Report this comment

I have had the SR40C for a year now and it has been a decided keeper over the CZ-75, Glock G27 or the Springfield XDM40 compact. I like the added thumb safety. I had better shooting results with the Ruger and never had any firing failures. Looks wise it looks better than the Glock IMO. It conceals easily which is my biggest concern. I liked the trigger better than most guns. Dry fire I thought the XDM trigger felt better, but in live fire the Ruger just beat the XDM hands down. The SR series is not a pocket gun so I don't try comparing apples to oranges. The trigger only safety on the Glock is IMO a poor safety noted by cops getting so called Glocked,shot, by their own gun. $405 with equal or better quality for the Ruger makes it a no brainer decision. I liked the recoil better with the Ruger also. Never noticed any trigger finger pinch as noticed with some other guns. As far as being a plastico gun that is not a problem but rather a plus. Light weight for carry while proven very tough construction. Bottom line is this SR40C is still a keeper while the others are gone without any 2nd thoughts. I don't favor any gun because of brand name. I favor a gun because how it meets or exceeds my expectations. The Ruger has yet to let me down.

Posted by: gary k | May 9, 2013 12:52 PM    Report this comment

I am a firearms instructor and as part of my classes, I have a pistol selection lesson. My students have an opportunity to handle both full size and compact pistols from all of the major manufacturers. 24 of my students ended up liking the SR9C and subsequently shooting it in the shooting drills. All of them then bought an SR9C. It handles very well in the point shooting drills that my students shoot. I have one with a laser and one without. It works well with either configuration. In short it is an excellent choice. It fits a wide variety of shooters and has one of the best out of the box triggers on any handgun. It only gets better the more it is shot.

Posted by: jbfla | May 9, 2013 11:47 AM    Report this comment

I have an SR9 full size. it functions well, the grip angle is comfortable and the sights are good. My complaint is- the trigger feels short to me, and the pad of my finger consistently touches the tip of the trigger, rather than rests in the curvature. no matter how I reposition my grip, my finger ends up near the tip of the trigger. It is VERY uncomfortable to me.

Posted by: spike723 | December 9, 2010 8:13 PM    Report this comment

I agree on the backup concept. I almost bought one to keep in an ankle holster. After much consideration, I bought the SR9c and had a custom IWB holster made. Verrrry comfortable, and affordable. Keep a spare clip, shoot straight, and stay safe.

Posted by: Warren M | November 18, 2010 10:41 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Warren. Yeah the P-11 is short handled..but for me, it is a backup to a CCW. it's one I can take out of the door of the truck and drop in my pocket for those short trips. Might have to look at this one though and see how it feels. While the Kel-Tec is small (FWIW I would never consider a .380) it has a terrible trigger... strictly a very short range proposition.

Posted by: Markbo | November 17, 2010 8:45 PM    Report this comment

To Markbo, it's a little thicker with a longer barrel. I tried a P-11 and the grip was too short for my hand. I have the pinky extension on the 10 round clips, and the fit is exceptional. When I carry, it's in deep concealment. I want a gun that's light and reliable. I carry other tools that are defensive clubs. My meathooks have gotten me out of a scrape or two also. I shopped hard for about 6 months before I bought, and don't regret it one second. Made in USA, is not bad either. Remember, defensive weapon. Offensive, I'll get my 357 mag, or 12 ga. with 00 buck.

Posted by: Warren M | November 17, 2010 6:21 PM    Report this comment

Great point wild romanian, not just a club but dropping from a good distance, run over, tossed due to explosion. However, with good practice it can be also utilized as a boomerang. Never give up.

Posted by: Robert J | November 15, 2010 10:28 AM    Report this comment

If you have to use your pistol for a club, then you're already screwed because you seriously ****ed up.

Posted by: rocker69er | November 14, 2010 8:22 PM    Report this comment

Another point to consider is under real combat conditions you may have to use your pistol as a club. Plasticky pistols like the Glock have been known to lose there slides when used as a club. The small brittle carbide buttons break off coupled often with a flexing of the frame. The slide then takes off into the stratosphere. In one case the attacker broke out laughing when the fellow in question lost his slide.

Posted by: wild romanian | November 13, 2010 11:15 AM    Report this comment

Forgot to mention that striker fired pistols are generally much less reliable under severe combat conditions. The worlds militaries have traditionally gone with the bone crushing blows of the hammer fired designs. Doubt my word? Take a plasticky Glock and seat a high primer, no powder or bullet for safeties sake and then attempt to fire the gun. It will misfire every time compared to the bone crushing blow of a Browning High Power or 1911 pistol. I have not had a chance yet to try this with the Ruger plasticky sr9 but it would not surprise me if it too failed the high primer test.

Posted by: wild romanian | November 13, 2010 11:07 AM    Report this comment

Ruger has been plagued by recalls on all of its latest and greatest plasticky pistols including the small pocket gun they recently brought out. The Sr9 9mm also had a recall because it would fire when dropped.

It always pays to wait at least 2 years when any new model pistol comes out because manufactures rush to get the gun on the market to make money rather than wait and thoroughly test the gun for reliability and safety.

When you can buy an all steel pistol like the CZ line of pistols for roughly the same price why would you want a cheap looking plastiky one?

Posted by: wild romanian | November 13, 2010 8:05 AM    Report this comment

I've had mine for several months(about 2k rounds) with only 1 failure to eject which was one of my reloads. Two of the instructors at my range tried it and were really impressed with it. So much so that they(long time Sig shooters) bought themselves one.

Posted by: 2 seconds | November 12, 2010 10:27 PM    Report this comment

I have not seen one in person Warren. How does it compare in size to a Kel-Tec P11?

Posted by: Markbo | November 12, 2010 10:10 AM    Report this comment

I've had mine for months and love it. It will take anything I feed it. I think it's very atractive, but first and foremost, it's a very functional, defensive, concealable pistol.

Posted by: Warren M | November 12, 2010 10:01 AM    Report this comment

Ruger certainly has a knack for making unattractive auto pistols, don't they?

Posted by: Markbo | November 12, 2010 9:42 AM    Report this comment

Great article. I will have to go to a dealer to take a closer look at this.

Posted by: paccoastco | November 11, 2010 11:11 PM    Report this comment

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