Gun Review: Ruger SR40

When Porsche unveiled the Boxster, the mid-engined sports car was an automotive revelation. Unfortunately, the Boxster’s 2.7-liter powerplant was pathetic. Porsche had good solid marketing reasons for creating a gutless wonder, but it was the wrong choice. By the time the Sultans of Stuttgart blessed the Boxster with a proper engine, it was too late. The baby Porker was a “hairdresser’s car.” The Ruger SR40 is just like that: a great gun with a fatal flaw that runs the risk of defiling the brand for years to come.

I’m not sure what pistol sired Ruger’s SR series, but I sure am glad they put that ballistic bad boy out to stud. All three variants share the same elegant proportions and snake-hipped savoir faire. Unlike Porsche’s roadster, there’s no question which is the SR40’s business end. The slide’s aggressive serrations line up perfectly with the grip in both width and angle, giving the Ruger SR40 “it went thatta way” purposefulness.

As does the “SR40″ etched on the barrel’s left side. While some pistoleros are put off by the oversized graphic, I reckon it’s well judged. I’m also down with the blacked-out barrel-borne invitation to miserly morons to read the ‘effing manual (“available free”). And I’ve grown to like the “loaded when up” message on the chamber indicator so much that I’m thinking about having it tattooed on my penis. The only false note: the SR40’s jumbotron front site. Which serves its purpose well enough.

Speaking of ergonomics, the SR40 feels as natural in the hand as a snifter of Courvoisier L’Esprit—only a lot more deadly (depending on consumption levels) and profoundly less expensive. Officially, the SR40 is 1.17″ wide, including the Chicklet-sized ambidextrous external safety standing proud of the handgun’s frame. Subjectively, the SR40’s exactly perfect. Carry gun? Well . . .

The SR40 is a full-figured gal. The gun’s grip offers more real estate than Phoenix, with an ambidextrous magazine release of sufficient size, shape and position for one-handed release. The SR40’s hardened stainless steel slide and 4.14″ barrel make the weapon so heavy that the website designer saw fit to put the stat well below the “other” specs: 27.25 ounces or 1.7 pounds. Unloaded.

For comparison’s sake, a .40-caliber Glock 22 weighs 22.9 ounces. But Glocks are ugly. And by its manufacturer’s estimation, the drop-dead sexy SR40 is “possibly the easiest recoiling, smoothest shooting .40 on the market.” Possibly? That’s not much of a boast—especially as it’s true. Well, the “easiest recoiling” bit.

If you’re looking for a handgun that makes firing a .40-caliber bullet feel like unleashing a 9mm projectile, you can stop now. The Ruger’s extra weight and reduced slide velocity remove much of the round’s reviled snap. What’s more, the SR40 provides greater stopping power than the SR9 without a major loss of capacity: 15+1 vs. 17+1 cartridges. Other than ammo cost, hey, why not?

Trigger quality. The Ruger SR40’s game-on button is grittier than a John Wayne cowboy. The SR40’s trigger also stacks like a forklift at an Amazon.com warehouse. It has all the travel of a Springfield XD—with none of the Croat’s predictable smoothness. And the breaking point is as hard to predict as my next simile. Harder.

It’s the damnedest thing. The Ruger SR9c we tested had a fantastic 1911-style trigger: minimal take up and BANG! Ruger told us that the SR40’s trigger contains the exact same bits as the SR9 and SR9c, assembled the same way by the same people in the same factory. The discrepancy (and disappointment) was so profound that I returned the SR40 for another, wondering if “my” gun had fallen afoul of quality control issues. (Not just because SR40 slide bite put blood on steel, as above.) Nope. Same again.

All of which explains my skepticism re: the SR40’s “smoothest shooting” claim. I reckon trigger feel is as important to a gun’s overall shoot-ability as, well, anything else. For roughly the same money as the Ruger SR40, the Glock 22 offers a trigger with no stacking, greater predictability and unbeatable speed (in terms of initial travel and reset). Smith’s M&P costs more than the SR40, but the trigger’s miles better (provided you avoid the wretched 750-pound M&P Massachusetts trigger).

A gun with a lousy trigger is hard to shoot accurately. Wayne Buettner’s group may look good to you, but this is the same Army vet who can pick up a Glock, Springfield XD or just about any halfway decent handgun and put five bullets through the same hole at seven yards. If you doubt the Ruger’s built-to-a-price feel, try flicking the external safety— another mission critical feature that lacks haptic finesse.

Is the Ruger’s graunchy trigger a deal breaker? In a combat situation, trigger finesse is not exactly priority one. So if you’re shopping for reasonably accurate, aesthetically appealing .40-caliber handgun, the SR40 proves the truth of the old SNL line “It’s better to look good than to feel good.”

If, however, you’re used to a proper go-pedal and can’t wait for one of Ruger’s camp followers to step into the breach (so to speak), the SR40’s not for you. But then serious combat shooters will take one look at the SR40’s police-pleasing external safety and, in the immortal words of Lord Humongous, just walk away.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber:.40 S&W
Slide Material: Through-Hardened Stainless Steel
Grip frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Length: 7.55″<
Height: 5.52″
Width: 1.27″
Weight: 27.25 ounces
Grooves: 6
Barrel Length: 4.14″
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Price: $525 msrp

RATINGS (out of five)

Style * * * * *
A modern classic with perfect proportions and just the right amount of bling.

Ergonomics (carry) * * *
A heavy thing, to be sure, and snaggeriffic with it. But plenty of capacity (15+1) for some big ass bullets. A cop carry kinda gun that’s better bedside.

Ergonomics (firing) * *
Superb recoil control that brings .40-caliber to the masses. Crap trigger.

Reliability * * * * *
Six hundred rounds with nothing untoward to report. Ruger’s got this part of the equation wired.

Customize This
Nothing yet.

OVERALL RATING * * *
One star deducted for the sticky stacky trigger, another for the undersized slide-mounted safety. At the risk of stating the obvious, fix those and you’d have a five-star handgun.