November 2012

Three More Small Nines: Ruger, Kel-Tec, And Sig Sauer Complete

A balky trigger put the P-11 a step behind Rugerís well-mannered LC9. A difficult takedown process put the P290RS in third.

The idea of a backup pistol is an old one, going back to the days of flintlocks. Modern shooters want something more useful than a single- or double-shot pocket flintlock, and there are lots of modern pocket pistols available, particularly in semiautomatic persuasion. Weíve been looking at small 9mm pistols over the past year or so, and this month weíve added a few more to the list. These three are the new Sig Sauer P290RS ($758), Rugerís LC9 ($443), and the Kel-Tec P-11 ($377). Some time back (April 2011) we wrung out a Ruger LC9 against the Kel-Tec PF-9 (which Ruger apparently copied), and the Kel-Tec won. We wondered if the ten-shot Kel-Tec P-11 would do as well as the slimmer PF-9.

These three test guns were all DAO, which means you canít cock them to get a light trigger pull. You simply have to heave on the trigger until the gun fires. This does nothing for helping you put your shots where you want Ďem, so that tends to make these guns best suited for close-range work. In short, we had our work cut out for us during our 15-yard accuracy testing.

All three guns locked their slides back after the last round. The Sig and Kel-Tec could drop their hammers a second time if the first strike failed to fire the round. Rugerís design required working the slide to eject the unfired round and load a new one, which tactically might be the better solution. If you have a bad round, get rid of it instead of beating a dead horse. We tested with Black Hillsí 147-grain JHP, Cor-Bonís 110-grain Pow-R-Ball, and with the Ultramax 115-grain RN lead-bullet loads. In addition we tried several unreported types of ammo. Hereís what we found.

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