Ruger P345 KP345PR .45 ACP
This was one sharp-looking pistol, and fit and finish were well done, we thought. The frame was black polymer and the slide was stainless steel. Both components had sculptured panels and functional cutouts, giving the gun a modern look. Ruger has several versions of the P345. One has a blued slide; another has a spring-loaded decocker instead of our version’s non-rebounding, hammer-dropping, ambidextrous safety; yet another is DAO. Our test gun cannot be carried cocked and locked. Your first shot must be double action, unless you take time to manually cock the gun, nothing you’d want to try in a hurry. This P345 had a decent single-action trigger.
The P345’s two magazines each held eight rounds. The fixed, white-dotted sights were bold, and easily seen. The rear was driftable and locked with a set screw. The front was also set into a dovetail. To our joy, the top of the slide was smooth enough that it would not gouge the hand during clearance drills. To our sorrow, the gun could not be fired with the magazine removed, a tactical blunder that many won’t like.
As noted in our previous report, takedown is a bit unusual, though easily done. The odd part is having to reach inside the gun to tip the ejector forward. Inside we found much innovation, from the clever self-retained spring (held within the slide-spring guide) that holds the main cross pin in place; to the flat-wound buffer spring wrapped beneath the slide spring. The guide rod also contained the barrel lockup, and eliminated a lot of the tricky machining of other designs.
Some shooters prefer steel frames on full-size autos. However, a well-designed and constructed polymer frame has advantages, including lower cost to the buyer, inclusion of checkering, weight reduction, and more. The complaints are that plastic frames cannot easily be changed if you don’t like the shape, and often the gun has a top-heavy feel. This latter did not apply to the Ruger P345, which we thought balanced well even when unloaded.
One of the oddest items we found was the fact that there is no steel within the polymer frame where it touches the stainless slide. The slide runs in plastic. Damnably strong plastic, however, and the system seems to work well.
The P345 tended to shoot high for some of us, especially when in a hurry. We believe the high shots experienced by both test teams came from the shape of the trigger guard, which forced a large gap between the index and second finger. This could be improved if the guard were undercut, so the gun would sit lower in the hand, but that may not be possible. We thought the P345’s grip was nothing like that of a 1911, though they are similar in size.
We shot the three guns with Hungarian 230-grain ball by MFS, PMC’s 185-grain JHP, and with a handload consisting of a 200-grain SWC cast lead bullet traveling at just under 800 fps. The Ruger functioned perfectly with everything. The magazines were easy to load, and we liked the magazine release. We liked the finger cutouts in the polymer frame, and had complete control of our trigger finger. But we didn’t like the Ruger’s DA trigger pull. Just under 12 pounds, it stacked just before the break. The two-stage, single-action trigger required a take-up of 2.3 pounds, and finally broke at 4.8 pounds. Creep was minimal.