Gun Review: Ruger SR9c

The Ruger SR9c is a deeply sexy handgun. Our two-tone tester’s perfect proportions, sleek striations and over-sized alphanumerics say Bond, James Bond, in a way that even the Walther PPK can’t match. In fact, the rugged yet suave Ruger shares many of the Bond gun’s best bits. It fires the most popular cartridge of its day (9mm), the thin frame and diminutive dimensions conceal easily and the gun oozes elegance. Did I mention that the SR9c is a good-looking gat? If it had any more sex appeal I’d have to buy a separate gun safe to keep the Austrians at bay. If you know what I mean . . .

The Ruger SR9c fits. The web of your gun hand sits perfectly under the SR9c’s slide, eliminating the need to “choke up” on the love handle. The righteous Ruger also lines up with the axis of your arm with unconscious ease; assuring proper positioning for another oft-neglected firearm fundamental. If you rest your trigger finger as high up on the barrel as poss, the Ruger’s ridge (between the frame and the slide) is home sweet home. If you prefer a curved back strap, simply remove, reverse and reattach the SR9c’s previously straight backstrap. Et voila!

The only ergonomic issue: the SR9c’s drum-tight slide and short height (4.51″ all in) makes racking the slide a decidedly dicey proposition. Using the hand-over-slide combat method, there’s no way you can avoid running your hand across the slide stop and safety. Combine a really firm grip and less than ideal positioning and this bitch bites. [Sam claims slide bite accounts for her too-loose grip in our opening snap.] This is the only pistol I’d consider pinching and grabbing the slide from the rear—which I don’t do for various strategic reasons.

Ruger ships the SR9c from Prescott, Arizona with two magazines: a California-compliant ten-round mag and a 17-bullet refill. While you can buy extensions for your baby Glock and XD Sub’s mini-mags, the SR9c’s fifth finger rest is standard equipment. Right answer. The extra pinky purchase makes all the difference for 10-yard-plus accuracy and adrenalin-addled confidence closer in. Unfortunately, the SR9c’s mag add-on looks like, well, an add-on. Fortunately, only OCD sufferers will notice, and the smaller mag’s addendum doesn’t diminish the gun’s concealability.

The same cannot be said for the 17-round magazine with its slide-on grip extension. The longer mag instantly transforms the SR9c from a compact to a full-sized gun. Forget barrel length (girls). Hiding that big honking handle is . . . problematic. On the positive side, the longer mag instantly transforms the baby Ruger from a compact to a full-sized gun. That big honking handle enables a perfect grip and contains plenty ‘o bullets. Carry two extra extra-long mags (as you should) and you’ll have 44 lead projectiles at your disposal. The Ruger SR9c is two guns–carry and home defense—in one.

Both of which shoot like Rafael Nadal plays tennis. The SR9c is an amazingly accurate, thoroughly consistent pistol. On the reliability front, regular readers will recall we had a double feed issue with Remington 15-grain UMC cartridges; a problem that’s nearasdammit impossible to fix in the heat of battle. Turns out the bullets were seriously short coming out of the factory. We fed the Ruger SR9c everything else we could find on the shelf at the local bullet emporium, including Vollmantel, Independence, TulAmmo, American Eagle, Winchester White Box, Hornady Critical Defense and Remington Golden Saber. No problems whatsoever. Except putting the gun down.

After firing well over 1000 rounds through the SR9c, I can state unequivocally that the little Ruger is the best semi-automatic the company has ever made. Some of you might indelicately suggest that’s not saying much. Try this instead: the Ruger SR9c’s as fine shooting as an equivalent Glock, Springfield, Smith & Wesson or any other mainstream pistol you can name. Maybe better, thanks to the SR9c’s aforementioned dimensions (less than an inch thick, excluding the safety) and the recoil-reducing dual spring plunger system. And a fantastic trigger.

On the initial run of full-size SR9s, the trigger was horrendous, perfect only for a True Grit remake. The SR9c’s go pedal is radically different from both the early full-size SR9s (since re-engineered) and its direct competitors. Surprisingly (literally), there’s no take-up. None. Pull. BANG! Once the trigger resets, you’re straight back to the break. Add in a relatively light trigger pull (5.2 lbs) and you have a compact 9mm semi-automatic pistol that shoots like a 1911. I won’t say rapid fire is child’s play, but anyone who takes more than three seconds to send the SR9c’s ten bullets downrange needs to lay off the Oxy.

The SR9c’s sights are for sore eyes. Of the three dots, the front circle is the largest and brightest, leading the shooter to put his or her focus where it should be: at the front. It’s easy to get an initial sight picture and not at all difficult to regain it after firing. The SR9c’s wind and elevation adjustable sights need tweaking straight out of the box. Once that’s done, your target’s gone, baby, gone. If you can’t hit what you’re aiming at with an SR9c at combat distance, you’re not aiming properly, squeezing the trigger in the proscribed manner or holding the gun as she begs to be held.

And now politics. Actually, before that, sex.

OK, so, the Ruger’s frame-mounted safety switch is completely inappropriate for a defensive handgun. It’s easy enough to disengage the ambidextrous safety with the thumb of your gun hand before punching paper down at the range. But I’d rate the chances of switching the safety off in a gunfight at no better than 50 percent. That’s IF you remember to do it. And to do THAT, you’ll have to train using the SR9c’s safety. Every. Single. Time. Because the safety switch is so small, chances are you’ll leave it off at the range and, perhaps, switch it on when you carry.

See the problem? If you don’t practice with the safety at the range, you might go to shoot the Ruger in an emergency, forget about the safety and . . . no bang. By the time you realize what’s wrong, if you realize what’s wrong, it’ll be too late.

You could leave the SR9c’s safety off entirely and forget about it. But then you (or someone else) might engage it, leading to the problem described above. Would you take that risk? In the same way you can overlook your partner’s character flaw (flaws?) in deference to their many wonderful maybe even singular attributes, ignoring the Chicklet from hell to enjoy one of the finest compact guns made is a no-brainer. Unless you’ve got the kind of brain that obsesses about such things. In which case it’s a ball—I mean, deal breaker.

Why? Dear Lord. Why? The Arizona gunmaker had enough sense to improve the SR9′s obstreperous mag release with a D-shaped design. Why not forgo the slide-mounted safety and bring the noise to Glock? A Glock gets along just fine with just a trigger safety (a feature also found on the Ruger). Oh well. Let’s chalk it up to the fact that the Ruger is manufactured in the Land of Litigants and the Home of the Ambulance Chasers, and let Glock retain its claim on cold, clinical perfection. For most people, the Ruger is close enough for rock and roll. More than that, the SR9c’s a deeply desirable firearm. Love conquers all. Except when it doesn’t.


Caliber: 9mm Luger
Grip Frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Length: 6.85″
Height: 4.61″
Width: 1.27″
Weight: 23.40 oz.
Barrel Length:3.50″
Twist: 1:10″ RH
Price: $525 msrp

RATINGS (Out of Five Stars)

Style * * * * *

Ergonomics (carry) * * * * *
Slim, trim and totally in. With the ten-round magazine, you’re good to stow.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * * *
You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the tight, quick trigger, but once that’s done anything else will seem slow and mushy.

Reliability * * * * *
I’m giving it the fifth star despite problems with the suspect Remington ammo. Otherwise, not a hitch or glitch.

Customize This * * *
You can slot white lights and laser units (e.g. Insight’s X2L) into the rail that’s molded into the dust cover, but why would you? This is a carry piece.

Perfect, save the frame-mounted safety.