TTAG’s Gun Doctor writes: The SR-Series design is sound. The handgun has good clearances and ergonomics. I’ve seen the SR9 run a 400-round competition in 95+ degree weather in the sandy world of a state champship USPSA match. The conditions were so nasty that the gun was spitting grit out the sides of slide and striker channel, pushing sand out the top of the magazines between stages. Other competitors were tearing down and cleaning thousands of dollars in custom guns after each stage—just to try and make it through the next stage. Some did. A lot didn’t. The SR9 ran the entire event without a problem. That speaks volumes for the accurate and reliable little 400 dollar American made gun . . .
I watched another SR9 run a 200-round match in the pouring rain—rain so hard we had to fish magazines out of the ponds on each stage. High dollar custom guns failed almost as fast as the rain was coming down. The SR9 coped without a problem, finishing the day without any drama. The owner sprayed it out with break cleaner in the parking lot, added a couple drops of oil to the slide rails and shot a indoor match two days after the rainy day match again without a problem.
Back at the shop, of the 30 or so Ruger SR-Series semi-automatic pistols I’ve handled, all have worked straight out of the box. Initial reliability has not been a problem—as you’d hope for a tool upon which buyers stake their life. However, there have been “issues.” Some of these defects are the kind of things you’d expect from a relatively new model from a mass market gunmaker. Sad but true. Call them mechanical mulligans. Others . . . well . . . I have a rubber stamp that leaves three letters on my highly confidential (except for you guys) notes: WTF.
– A few early pistols showed the so called barrel peening after 2000 or so rounds. As I’m a gunsmith not a wordsmith, I’ll let BronxBoy over at rugerforum.net explain the problem:
Peening is a process that reshapes or reforms metal. It is a cold process that uses mechanical force such as blows by a hammer, impact by forced shot (shot peening; glass peening) or other impact processes. In mechanics it is a useful process for relieving stresses after welding, grinding and other machining processes. Peening will also alter temper/hardness in the worked metals. The term takes on other meanings but generally peening results in the reshaping of metal.
When you set a rivet you are actually peening one end to either roll it or expand it to form a grip between two or more pieces. If the slide of a firearm is impacting the barrel as it cycles the force can be great enough to start deforming the barrel at the point of impact. The play of the slide, the play of the barrel, the angle of impact and the hardness of the metals involved all play a part in whether this will happen, how rapidly the deformation will occur and how severely the deformation will be.
Surface scars and slide marks are not signs of peening. Well defined indentations and specifically raised metal are signs of peening. I have never done a hardness test on a handgun barrel so I don not know the normal ranges of hardness for gun barrel steel. Peening on the surface of the barrel may or may not affect the bore dimensions but there is one thing that peening will do and that is to change the temper/hardness of the barrel steel. In my opinion, either situation is cause for concern but change in hardness is not easy to determine and peening could cause weaknesses in the area of deformation.
Changing the barrel would cure the symptoms but not necessarily the disease! The cure for the disease lies in the interaction and the alignment between the slide, the frame and the barrel. This analysis and fix is best left to the factory or an experienced gunsmith.
That’s me! Ruger made good for all repairs under warranty, I’m pleased to say.
– Several of my customers asked me to remove the magazine disconnect on early SR9-Series pistols. I found that the part has rough casting marks on it. Not good. Not good at all. The magazine disconnect is in direct contact with the striker; it should be smooth and polished. The striker should be too: it would remove some of the friction from the two interacting, reducing trigger pull and smoothing the trigger pull. It isn’t. The optimal solution: lose the magazine disconnect altogether. I can only imagine that it’s there for legal reasons.
– I’ve had two SR9’s come across with loose fire control blocks. I don’t mean you had to put a screw driver in and pry. You could pick the back of the slide up and move it around. One went home to be traded another day. The other I fixed in a manner that shall remain a trade secret. Suffice it to say, a thousand or so rounds later the owner is still happy with the results.
– I’ve detail stripped and cleaned some 20 SR9 and SR9c pistols. All have had some shavings and coolant residue in the striker housings at the bottom and sides of the striker spring channel. This accounts for some of the trigger’s gritty feel. A good cleaning of the striker, striker spring and striker channel is the sure fix. It sometimes fixes the gritty complaints.
– I recently received a box-fresh SR9c that would lock open every shot. Ruger had installed the slide lock spring incorrectly, causing the slide lock to spring up, locking the slide with a magazine or without a magazine (all you had to do was cycle the slide). I re-installed the spring correctly. Problem solved.
– A customer asked me to remove his never-fired SR9c’s mag disconnect and detail clean and oil it before he took it out to practice. When I tried to push out the locking pin, I discovered that it was firmly planted. A hammer and punch later I found the pin, retaining spring and locking block lacked alignment. A new retaining spring and some polishing/reaming I had a happy customer. Bonus! The trigger now was smoother without the hard spot at the beginning.
– While I didn’t personally handle it, a customer brought my attention to an internet post by an SR9 owner who could not load his pistol; Ruger didn’t ream the chamber. My WTF stamp quivered in sympathy.
Perspective people. Perspective. I’ve seen hundreds of SR-Series guns bought and used with nary a complaint. Most of the guns’ problems are easily resolved with a cleaning or magazine disconnect removed. Sometimes parts need polishing. Sometimes their owners just need some friendly instructions (they’ve seen too many movies).
I am a true fan of Ruger firearms. They’re American made with pride, backed by professional service. They’re affordable and reliable. While you’d think that most guns will run, I could go on about quality issues surrounding other brands of firearms, both American and imported. Stories that might get me sued or even make you reconsider pulling the trigger on your favorite uber reliable self defense gun.
The point is this: I believe in this new family of pistols. With some small changes and aftermarket support, the SR-Series could easily catapult Ruger to the top of the service and sport pistol market. I hope they step up to the call and vote of support from the many fans.