My first of two 9mm Compact handgun reviews is of the Ruger SR9C 9mm auto loader.The SR9c is a striker-fired, double-stack design. I purchased mine a little over two years ago, and it is one of my favorite guns to carry and shoot. I have a couple holsters it fits, since it is the same size and style as my “Baby Glock”, the G26. The only difference is the accessory rail that the G26 doesn’t have.
The grip is only 1.18″ thick, making it one of the thinnest double-stack handguns available.
Overall length is 6.85″ (barrel is 3.5″), width (across safety levers) is 1.27″, height is 4.61″ It weighs just 23.4 oz. The full specs can be found at the Ruger website.
As stated in the title of this review, the SR9C is chambered for 9mm. The compact SR is also available in .40S&W for those who like the extra stopping power, but it just won’t carry as many rounds as the 9mm. The 40c is identical to the 9c in length, width, height and weight. The 9c is, to no surprise, a little tamer in recoil. Muzzle rise is reduced due to a low slide profile. Overall it is a very easy and fun gun to shoot. I found it to be more comfortable, and more accurate than my G26.
There are numerous safeties on this handgun. It has a Glock-like “trigger within the trigger”, internal trigger bar interlock and striker blocker, magazine disconnect safety, plus a visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide.
The thumb safety and magazine release are both ambidextrous, meaning you can use it flawlessly with either hand. The SR9c has a fairly short trigger pull compared to, say, an LC9, and because if this, some people like the manual thumb safety. I personally see no need for it because of the triple safeties built into the mechanism, similar to the Glock system. This safety, however, is small enough to not get in the way, but large enough to be easy to hit when you need to. In my experience with this gun, I found the safety moving from one position to the other by itself when the gun is drawn or reholstered. So I would prefer not to have it.
To me, reliability is the most important factor of a personal defense weapon. If I am going to stake my life (or that of my family) on the firearm then I need to know it will go “bang” and not “click”.
I have put several hundreds of rounds through this handgun, and I have yet to have a failure of any kind. If I could not say that about the gun I would not carry it. If a gun malfunctions at the range, then I will not carry it, or maybe not even keep it.
The grips have a fine, checkered texture. I find it is rough enough to have a solid handful of gun without being uncomfortable. It also has a reversible backstrap, allowing it to be adjusted to fit smaller hands. I prefer the larger of the two sides since it fills my hand the way I like.
It comes with two 10 round magazines to comply with some state laws.They both had extenders to give your fourth finger something to do. Also available are the 17 round magazines with a sleeve that slides down over the magazine to provide a full grip with all four fingers. I prefer this, but it does make the grip print a bit more when concealed under a light-weight shirt. So I just cant my holster a little forward to reduce the printing and it doesn’t affect my draw.
This gun also comes with a basic magazine loader. This is not essential but does make loading a little easier on the thumbs, especially with the 17-round magazine. I use a Maglula Loader. It’s much easier to use and works a little quicker.
As mentioned earlier, the SR9c has a magazine disconnect safety. This is one of the things some folks dislike about the weapon. They don’t like magazine disconnect safeties because they render the weapon unusable during a magazine change. Most handguns with this feature either prevent the trigger from being pulled or just do nothing when the trigger is pulled. This one “clicks” and decocks, requiring one to cycle the slide at least 1/2″ (potentially ejecting the round in the process if you retract the slide too far – easily done when the pressure is on…) to make the gun usable again. However, a reputable gunsmith should be able to disable this for you should you wish. The problem with modifying a gun you use for self-defense comes in the court system. The Prosecuting attorneys will use this against you due to the argument of making the gun more deadly for nefarious reasons.
The sights are of the regular 3-dot type. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage and the front sight is fixed, as in not adjustable.
Ruger states that the SR-series may safely be dry-fired, as long as the magazine is in place. Do not dry-fire without the magazine in place, as damage or wear to the magazine disconnect mechanism may occur. Just use a confirmed-empty magazine or use snap caps.
It also has an accessory rail for lights, lasers, etc.
They are available with brushed stainless or black nitride slides. For concealed carry I prefer the stainless slide. I’ve found the black nitride scuffs just a bit when drawing or reholstering, and sometimes just riding in the holster. Besides, I like the look of the stainless slide and it won’t rust from body sweat when carried IWB in the warmer weather.
The firearm is very easy to strip and clean. You need to remember to push the ejector down once the slide is retracted. The takedown pin is pushed through from the right-hand side of the gun. It can be a little stiff the first few times but it gets easier the more you do it. Like anything else, the more you do something, the easier it becomes.
My Personal Opinion
As you have probably noticed, I enjoy this gun. At the time, I bought it the MSRP was $525. I paid just under $500 + taxes. I think it’s worth every penny. It’s accurate, fits my hand well and the recoil is easy to handle.
One thing to be aware of is the factory lube. It’s a bit heavy and you’ll want to clean and lube the gun yourself before you use it the first time.
I am very impressed with this gun in fit, finish, and functionality. The price was right, too. . I trust it with my life. It was chosen as the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence’s Handgun of the Year in 2010, and I believe it earned the award. This is the first of today’s 9mm Compact handgun reviews. Next we’ll take a look at the Ruger LC9.
The next of my 9mm Compact Handgun Reviews is of the Ruger LC9 auto loader.
The locked-breech LC9 semi-auto is double-action-only (DAO) and hammer-fired, with its external hammer flush with the rear of the slide. It’s constructed of polymer and steel and weighs 17.1 oz. with an empty magazine. The LC9 measures 6″ in length, 4.5″ in height and .9″ thick. It sports a 3.12″ barrel. additional specs can be found at the Ruger website.
Its appearance is similar to the LCP (.380) but just a little larger and holding one more round (7+1).
The LC9 has 3-dot sights with adjustment for windage. The rear sight notch with two white dots on either side, when combined with the single-dot front sight, allows for very quick sighting, which is, more often than not, all you’re going to get when using this gun for self-defense. The sights are large enough to provide a good sight picture, even for aging eyes. For an extra $50.00, you can get the LC9 with a built-in laser.
The slide and barrel are made of hardened alloy steel with a blued finish. I found on my LC9 that the blueing on the slide is somewhat thin, and is disappearing slightly at the muzzle and the top edges. This doesn’t, of course, hinder the operation. It’s just a noticeable deficiency.
There is a double recoil spring on a polymer guide rod and a “loaded-chamber-indicator” just in front of the rear sights. It’s marked “loaded when up” and, when raised, displays red markings on either side.
A passive firing pin safety is also in the slide. A pivoting external extractor is located at the lower right rear of the port. There are serrations at the rear of the slide to make it easier to grasp and pull back. The slide is nicely tapered at its muzzle for a smoother draw and reholstering.
The slide catch is located on the frame’s left side, centered above the grip area. It catches the slide as well as the barrel for secure locking to the rear.
The thumb safety is partially grooved and when down or off safe, it exposes a red oval on the frame showing the pistol can be fired. When up or on safe, a white oval on the frame is exposed and visible. The safety is easy to use and moved in a positive manner, with a definite click in both directions.
The magazine catch at the lower rear of the trigger guard is grooved on the surface for secure engagement. The takedown plate is forward of the slide lock lever and covers the take-down pin
The slide locks open on an empty magazine and the external slide stop is easy to reach, but is not so easy to operate, since it does n’t protrude very far. The LC9 has a magazine disconnect, which means you can’t fire the pistol unless the magazine is fully seated.
The seven-round, single-column magazine has a metal body with six cartridge witness holes on either side numbered 2–7. Its follower and removable base plate are made of glass-filled nylon. A finger-grip-extension base plate is also supplied. Adding the finger-grip base plate allows you to get a three-finger grip on the gun, compared to using the flat base plate, which only allowed me to have a two-finger grip. The LC9 ships with one magazine. a 9-round magazine is also available as an option and extends further to afford a full-handed grip.
The front strap, back strap and the lower two-thirds of the side panels have checkering to enhance the security of the grip. This grip is somewhat thin in comparison to other handguns, so another option is a rubber sleeve that fits over the grip to thicken it and fill the hand a bit better. I personally prefer to use the sleeve.
Just above the texture of the grip, the frame curves inward lengthwise from the trigger guard back to the backstrap to give the thumb a place to park. The backstrap is also shaped such that the web of my shooting hand is well under the area of slide movement. This eliminates the possibility of slide bite. However, if you use the rubber sleeve as I do, you will never see or feel the front or back straps. All these grip features combine to allow the user to maintain a good grip on the gun. The trigger is hinged, smooth-faced and curved, and usually measures about 10 lbs.
The manual safety was discussed earlier in the article. The LC9 also has an internal gun lock with its keyhole at the top right rear of the frame. To engage the internal lock, you must apply the manual safety, which in turn requires the pistol to be cocked. Insert one of two supplied keys into the small keyhole, then rotate the key clockwise one-fourth of a turn. This makes the gun completely non-functional, as the trigger cannot work as designed. To deactivate, rotate the key counter-clockwise. When the internal lock is engaged, the trigger will move freely and will not function.
To disassemble, after ensuring the gun is empty and the magazine removed, press down on the takedown plate and, using the internal gun lock key or another suitable push pin, push out the takedown pin from the right side of the frame. This requires moving the slide rearward just slightly to align the pin to the groove. You can now move the slide assembly forward off the frame.Next, slightly compress the dual recoil springs on their polymer guide rod and remove. Move the barrel slightly forward, which allows the barrel to be lifted up and out rearward. Further disassembly is not necessary or advised.
The LC9 has a long trigger pull, but the stroke was smooth enough to make the 10-lb. trigger weight manageable. The LC9 trigger action requires the trigger to run almost fully forward to reset in order to fire again. In essence, shoot the LC9 as you would pull the double-action trigger of a revolver.
My Final Thoughts
The Ruger LC9 is, to me, a better choice than the LCP, not only in caliber but in a more user-friendly platform. It’s also just a bit larger and fits my hand better. I, too, prefer to carry a 9mm for the added stopping power above the .380. I like the LC9 for its size and I use it as a backup. I still prefer to carry my Glock or the Sr9C as my EDC.
Please add your comments below with your thoughts about these reviews.