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.

Conclusion

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.

19 Responses to TTAG Gun Doctor Examines the Ruger SR9-Series Pistols

  1. "The optimal solution: lose the magazine disconnect altogether." BAD NEWS. Disabling any safety can be used against you in court to establish negligence: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. The defendant was so negligent in his use of guns that he purposely disabled a vital safety mechanism designed to save lives….

    It does not matter if what the prosecutor says is true or not. At best, it puts doubt in the jury's mind even if counter argued by the defendant. Another argument; The defendant is so arrogant that he thinks he knows more about making firearms than the manufacturer. Safeties should NOT be disabled on defensive weapons.

    • You mean the “safety” that nearly no other firearm has and that is restricted by many law enforcement agencies? Ill take my chances with the jury rather than with a gun with an unnecessary and potentially disabling “feature”.

  2. I agree with Rabbi, disabling ANY safety device can come back to haunt you. I simply choose to carry firearms that don't have them, which I guess could also be used against you in court ("ladies and gents, Mr. XXXX wants to be a cowboy, carrying around a pistol with user-selected safety devices and an extra magazine with 13 rounds!")

  3. RF – I'm going to have to disagree with you some. I want to like Ruger, I really do. They're American made and Ruger has a huge facility less than 100 miles from my house. Ruger may have a nice design on their hands – the SR pistols sure do look good enough, but I still feel they (along with Remington and some others) need to implement a higher QC/QA standard. I checked their website and called the Prescott office and found out that they aren't ISO9001 certified. When I asked the customer relations representative if they are working on ISO-certification or if they are using another QC system, they said they didn't know. You mentioned "speaking volumes", well I must say that that right there does speak volumes. A corporate relations officer in a publicly traded company doesn't even know the quality policy! Everyone knows that shit runs down hill, well so does policy and leadership. If upper management isn't pushing quality (and safety, etc) down and out through the ranks, Ruger will unfortunately still be sending out pistols with high failure rates.

  4. As for my sr9 2 years, a little over 4500 rounds and no problems. My granddaughter can shoot it quite well and she is 10. A good all around self defense weapon.

  5. The mag disconnect (MD) is dangerous period. Suggesting that a weapon can not be fired due to a device that is exposed to debris, and possibly get hung up, is simply wrong! You can’t dry fire train with that device in any structured training situation because any instructor in their right mind would not let a student shove a mag into their firearm in a dry fire scenario. Ruger should offer the MD as an option.

  6. No threaded barrel, don’t want it. No optics rail, don’t want it. Adding both to a gun adds next to no cost, you’d have to be a fool manufacturer not to do both in this day and age. Barrel is wayyy too short for any kind of accuracy.

    • Not everyone is all swept up in the mall-ninja scene like yourself, therefore we don’t need a threaded barrel nor an optic rail lol. If Ruger is such a “fool” manufacturer, then why are their guns sellings like hotcakes? I don’t see you manufacturing and selling any guns… Barrel too short for any kind of accuracy? LMAO!! Care to stand 30 yds in front of me and my SR9? Doubt it.

    • Lysander, supressors are good for one thing – keeping the range quiet. When they are legal in the Netherlands (for exactly that reason) and you insist on a threaded barrel for the ‘tacticool’ factor, you know your watching too many movies. Btw, the SR9 and SR9c do have a light rails! And my SR9c (emphasis on the ‘C’!) blew away my expectations as a compact pistol out to 50 yards on a human shape target. Show me a perfect firearms manufacturer and I’ll trade every firearm I have for that name. l bet my life on the SR9c everyday and will continue to do so. Lastly – a word to the wise about throwing in your two cents about pistol reviews – you better have at the very least picked one up and shot it before you trash the product.

  7. How is the SR9 with cheap ammo or reloads? I hear the Glock and XD are picky about the quality of ammo fired through them and Ruger has a reputation for eating anything you feed it.

    • Mine has eaten a half dozen (or so) different types of ammo – cheap and highquality, no reloads – and I haven’t had a single malfunction. It produced some brass shavings in the action during the break-in period but that went away. Hickok45 on YouTube says that he put many of his reloads through his without a problem. I went out on a limb when I bought my SR9c and have been very pleasantly surprised. Plus the availability of the different magazines and grips makes it a super versitile EDC pistol!

  8. How is the SR9 with cheap ammo or reloads? I hear the Glock and XD are picky about the quality of ammo fired through them and Ruger has a reputation for eating anything you feed it….

  9. My slide keeps locking back after each shot like stated above. How do u fix this issue and is it possible to do at home?

  10. I’ve had my SR9 for 3 months now. Before I fired it the first time, it was stripped, thoroughly cleaned and the magazine disconnect removed. I’ve fired 8 different brands and weights of ammo including reloaded and have experienced exactly 1 FTE out of 2100 rounds. After each session of 300-400 rds, I pull the barrel (no tools and takes 30 seconds) to clean it and the slide. I’ve pulled the striker twice (paper clip and 2 minutes) and use Permatex Ultraslick grease on all contact surfaces. No signs of barrel peening but there are what I would consider perfectly normal rub marks. All in all, I’m happy with this gun. It fits my hands better than the others and has proven to be accurate and reliable.

  11. SR40 9000 rds and counting. Bought new in 2012. Only malfunction I’ve ever had with it was with a bad box of Fiochii ammo (I normally used federal and a brand I will not disclose). It eats everything else I’ve put through it with no problems, including aluminum cased. Installed a Galloway precision trigger kit and ghost 3.5 rocket reset after about the 3000 round mark, and it shoots as fast as I can pull it, but faster than stock, and smooooth. It is my favorite gun. Liked it so much I bought the 40c too. My only dislike is the mag disconnect (removed it the first day), and the safety. Striker fired guns should only have safety’s as an option like S&W does it.

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