TFBTV: Ruger SR9 versus Glock 19 Mud Test:

Having noticed a recent trend of competitive (sub-$400) pricing with the Ruger SR9, James, a former SR9 owner, buys an SR9 again to revisit the platform.  Coincidentally, James also has a brand new in the box Glock 19, so, in addition to offering his observations about the Ruger SR9 generally, James also has an opportunity to compare the reliability of the two pistols after each is immersed in a bucket of mud. How does the SR9 stack up against the Glock?

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The full transcription of the video is below …

– Hey guys, it’s James again for TFB TV.

So, the other day, I see a Ruger SR9 for $350.

For those of you that don’t know the SR9, it’s Ruger’s full-size, 17+1 9mm pistol.

It’s a good gun, I used to have one.

It has a very low bore-axis, helps with the recoil mitigation.

It was accurate, it was reliable, sights are pretty good, 17+1 capacity.

But I sold it, because at the time I had Glocks and SIGs, and the Ruger was kind of redundant, kind of one-off.

I did like the gun, but seeing this one for $350, and by the way, I’ve noticed that there seem to be a lot of cheap Ruger SR9s around right now.

So I thought it’d be interesting to maybe take it out here and give it a little test, but to spice things up a little bit, I also have a brand new, in-the-box Glock 19.

I figure we could stack them up against each other.

This won’t be a torture test, per se.

I brought 300 rounds out for each of them.

This is all, by the way, as with all these TFB TV productions, nobody’s financing us.

I bought the Glock, I bought the SR9, I bought the ammo out of my own pocket.

So I figure, bring it out here to the Louisiana swamp and try this Glock 19, brand new, in-the-box, the gold standard for reliability, against this Ruger SR9.

There’s a bunch of fun stuff out here, we got some nasty mud.

I think I’m going to gunk these guns up a little bit, shoot them, and document it all, and we’ll see how they perform.

Since we’re all about fairness here at TFB TV, I think the best way to start this out is with a little non-chlorinated brake cleaner.

Get all that lube that came from the factory out of these guns, and that copper stuff that comes in the Glock slides.

We could start from square one and maybe shoot a box or two through these, completely unlubricated, see how they do, and then we’ll go from there.

Alright guys, first up, we’ve got the Ruger SR9.

I’m gonna run a box through it.

Completely dry, no lube, and let’s see how it does.

Well, there’s the first 17 down.

Did just fine.

The trigger actually is great, recoil mitigation’s great.

Like I said, it has a very low bore-axis.

I don’t know if I’m right or not, but it feels like the bore-axis is lower than that of the Glock, and that’s a nice touch.

So, so far, so good.

Here I am firing the second and third magazine from the first box through the SR9, and I’ve got to say, the trigger, it’s pretty good.

There’s a little bit of stacking towards the very end, but for the most part, it’s a nice, uniform, crisp pull.

We’re all familiar with the Glock trigger, and how there’s some slight take-up before that stacking, right at the end of the trigger pull.

You don’t have that with the Ruger.

To be perfectly honest, I think I prefer the SR9 trigger.

But so far, so good.

50 rounds down, completely dry.

Let’s get a little muddy.

Unsurprisingly, the SR9 and the Glock 19, completely dry, all the lube removed with brake cleaner, they performed flawlessly through the first box.

Now, we’re going to step it up a little bit, and we got some of that.

There we go.

We got some good-looking Mississippi mud here.

Actually, I don’t know what kind of mud this is, it’s just sludge we got out of this pond.

Probably got some kind of gross skin infection from touching it, but yeah, let’s go ahead.

This is going to break my heart a little bit, but gonna do it anyways.

Here we go.

Ohhh, oooh.

That’s pretty gross.

Alright, Ruger.

Of course, you’re going to check this for bore obstructions, to make sure I don’t blow my hand off whenever I shoot these things.

Give it a nice little, you know what, I’ll just leave them in there for a second.

There we go.

I’m not too optimistic about this.

The Ruger had a difficult time chambering this first round.

Let’s see what happens.

The magazine won’t stay in now.

(clicking) Nothing.

Won’t feed.

Yep, falling apart.

(chuckling briefly) I’m just going to load this first round manually and we’ll see what happens.

(clicking) Yeah, this isn’t working.

Dude, this things (bleep).

– [Voiceover] You talking to me? – Yeah.

– [Voiceover] What did you say? – This thing’s (bleep) Alright, so we completely struck out with the SR9, unfortunately.

It’s really tight.

That grit really got in there, and I might have to rinse it out.

The Glock feels like it might be functional.

The SR9 was (groaning briefly) Wow, that feels terrible.

The SR9 was in pretty rough shape.

The slide wouldn’t even reciprocate whenever we got it out.

Glock’s looking pretty strong.

It looks like the SR9, at this point, is pretty much toast, unless I completely break it down.

I might blast it out with more brake cleaner, see if I can get it back in the game, but it looks like it’s done for.

Let’s go ahead and give this Glock a try.

(click) Uh, striker fired, but nothing.

(click) Nothing.

There it is.

Got one off, failure to eject, perfect stovepipe.

(click) There we go, and I think we cycled.

(click) Nope.

Alright, we got a round in.

Failure to feed.

Failure to feed.

There we go.

Fired again, another stovepipe.

Wonder if we’ll ever get two rounds out of this thing.

Probably not.

Oh, oh! It just fed! That was the first time we’ve had two in a row.

The SR9 I think is dead.

I sprayed it out with some brake cleaner, sprayed all the guts with some brake cleaner.

Not exactly the best way to clean up a gun, but I was hoping that it would get some of the gunk out.

The SR9 is just, she’s refusing to eat and refusing to function.

Now the Glock, so far, not so far so good, but it’s at least firing.

Dude, that Glock just went through that.

– [Voiceover] Nice.

– [James] The Glock hasn’t been cleaned up at all.

Okay, the Glock’s been shooting itself clean, for lack of a better term.

It’s been working, it’s been feeding, and I haven’t done anything to it as far as rinsing it off or putting any oil on it, anything like that.

You’ve got a question, whether or not there’s a bell curve of performance, where it’s filthy and it starts to shoot itself clean, and then the fowling gets it to taper off in terms of performance.

After all that, you probably expected me to conclude, “There you have it, once again the Glock proves “that it’s a better gun.” I’m not going to do that.

In fact, I’m going to split the baby on this one and say, from a pure shooting experience, the SR9 was actually the better gun.

The ergonomics are better.

Like I said, subjectively, the recoil mitigation felt better, and almost objectively, the trigger was better.

It’s a smoother, more uniform trigger than the Glock by a large margin, and that’s just out of the box.

Of course, there are plenty of after-market options for the Glock.

I did like shooting the SR9 better, and I feel like if you can get one for under $400, you should do it.

You should absolutely do it.

As far as what that test proved with the mud, a lot of you would probably conclude, correctly, that it didn’t prove anything, because we’re talking a sample size of one and a non-scientific test.

However, it’s my opinion, being familiar with Glocks, being familiar with the SR9, having done this, when you feel that Glock slide rack up positively after you’ve drenched it in mud, whereas the Ruger, you couldn’t even get to cycle, it really reaffirms your faith in that platform, and you see why Glock has that golden reputation for reliability that it does.

My personal opinion, whether or not it’s with a good basis, is that the Glock is the more reliable gun, and that may matter more to some of you than the better shooting experience that you get out of the SR9.

On the other hand, the SR9 is, right now, $150, $200 cheaper, and that was really the point of this video, is there were so many of them that were cheap.

It was somewhat topical, and I think that’s a great buy.

A few other observations.

We did about two hours’ worth of video, and the Ruger did eventually start running again, but that was only after we really drenched it with water, with clean water, and sprayed it out with some Rem Oil.

Then it started working again, whereas the Glock, towards the end of the day, as you saw in that clip, it was shooting full magazines, not being cleaned at all.

It literally shot the grit out of itself, it shot itself into reliability.

The big problem for the SR9 was grit in the trigger mechanism.

The trigger felt like it was about 20 pounds, and then compounding the problem would be grit in the firing pin channel.

So if you did actually manage to get that trigger mechanism working and get that firing pin to go forward, it would come forward so pitifully that it wouldn’t even put a ding in the primer.

So those were big problems.

Also, a really weak point in the SR9, the magazine release.

I’m going to see if I can put a shot of it in this video, but the magazine release spring is not nearly as robust as the Glock.

With the Glock, you could get that mag in, it would lock positively into place, you would depress the magazine release, and it would shoot back out.

It would return to its normal position, whereas with the SR9, if you hit that magazine release, there just wasn’t enough spring pressure for the magazine release to return to its normal position.

As you saw, I had a comical amount of trouble with the magazine firing the SR9 after it had been dipped in the mud.

I guess, in conclusion, these are both good guns.

Ruger as usual, putting out an excellent product and Glock living up to its reputation for utmost reliability.

You can’t go wrong with either one, but especially with the Ruger prices, the SR9 prices being what they are right now, if you can pick one up for under $400, you’re really getting a steal and I would advise you do it and give it a shot.

For that cheap, it isn’t like you’re going to be losing money.

Anyways, thanks for watching, guys.

I really do appreciate it, and if you like this video, please subscribe, leave comments, whatever.

If you don’t like this video, then go somewhere else.

Nah, I’m kidding.

You can leave your comments to whatever.

But thanks again for watching, I really do appreciate it and I hope you guys enjoyed the video.

I’ll see you guys soon.

James Reeves

• NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, 2011
• “Co-Director” [air quotes] of TFBTV
• Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
• Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
• GLOCK® Certified Pistol Operator, 2017-2022
• Lawyer
► Instagram: jjreevesii
► Twitter: @jjreeves
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  • Esh325

    Honestly I hate these tests because most of the time they are done for marketing and views and arent in anyway done in a scientific manner where they have repeatable results

    • James R.

      I thought about that (and made that same disclaimer in the video), but, at the other end of the spectrum, I don’t believe the level of precision some people demand from “adverse condition evaluation” videos is sensible for purposes of the subject. Handguns are tools, not chemical compounds or your mom’s favorite cake recipe – you don’t have to be spot on to replicate it. I don’t believe the evaluation process has to be very precise inasmuch as it has to be fair, documented, and comparative. I wish there were more comparative tests like this so we could make generalizations from a larger sample size in somewhat similar conditions, even if one guy is using mud and another guy is using baked beans.

      • nadnerbus

        Totally. While this one may be anecdote, many of them become data, at least when done in a reasonably transparent and documented way. The more different sources the better.

      • Drew

        Next time, please do as little editing as possible.

        It may make the video long, but it makes sure everything is out there for us to see, no possible tricks.

        Not that I don’t trust y’all, but it’s still better to have the evidence on your side.


        • James R.

          I took, minimally, two hours of video. Most of it is painfully boring. I’d rather have a few people not trust my results than have no one ever see those results. I do understand your perspective, however, and I thank you for your comment.

  • Bill Middleton

    When you get your $5 million scientific test lab up and running be sure to provide a link to your videos.

    • Michael R. Zupcak

      Another believer in ridiculously overpriced taxpayer funded government testing facilities, I see.

  • ShootingFromTheHip

    Did anyone else notice the super weak extraction from the ruger? It was crapping brass all over the shooter’s hand.

    • James R.

      Glad you posted this. I realize I did a disservice to the SR9 in posting it shooting without lube but not the Glock, because the Glock did the same thing (see towards the end of the video, once the Glock started shooting reliably again – same type of weak extraction).

      If anything, that was an interesting take-away from the video – when you strip these pistols of lube, it really does impact extraction, even though these guns still functioned reliably. I shot a Kahr CW380 “dry” as well (see my review of it), and had similar results with extraction.

      • Tom of Toms

        It is likely that without an extractor at all that both guns would run just fine. This is proven with blowback, semi-automatic pistols. The extractor is simply guidance and encouragement.

        • patrickiv

          Aren’t they recoil operated though?

          • tom of toms

            Yup. Theory is that residual pressure will still pop them out.

          • Pete Sheppard

            No; by the time the slide unlocks, the chamber pressure has been relieved.

          • Cal S.

            At that point maybe the next round in the magazine would pop it out fast enough?

        • James R.

          Neither is blowback, both are Browning-type locked breech, but I see your point anyways. People make the same claims about pistols with fluted chambers like the P7. I may test this out and see if you are right, Tom. Thanks for your comment, and I will let you know the result.

          • tom of toms

            Looking forward to it!

    • Cal S.

      My SR40, properly maintained, throws the brass out with authority. I’ve never had my face or hands slapped with brass lazily flowing out of the chamber.

  • Nicks87

    Muuhahahaa! Glock wins again beotches! Maybe next time add a 1911 to that test and we can watch it fail even worse than the ruger.

    • HKGuns

      Typical gLoCker.

    • David Knuth

      You must not have watched the same video I did. In his video the glock was having failures to feed and fire all over the damn place.

  • Dogthecynic

    I’d be curious to see a test across different platforms (SA Revolver, DA revolver, Striker Fired, DA/SA). Might be interesting to see if conventional wisdom is true.

  • Gabriel

    Thanks for running the test, I enjoyed watching it. It’s always fun watching these tests. Even though their validity is suspect, it is very entertaining. Would you do a similar test with AR15 and AK47? First with the actions closed, then again with the actions open. I’m guessing AK will pass both, while AR will pass only if the action is closed. Thanks again for dirtying up your guns for our amusement.

    • James R.

      Gabe, thanks for the comment. You and I are in agreement in that tests like this are hardly determinative, but they are, at a minimum, fun. And yeah, it sucks to get brand new guns dirty, so I appreciate your appreciation of the fact that I crudded up two pistols (that belong to me, too… again, nothing was provided by anybody but me for this video).

      Depending on how much viewership this video gets, an AR versus AK video is not out of the question, especially with the cost of either being rock bottom at the moment. I share your AR/AK prediction, although I warn you that I was dead wrong about the SR9/Glock 19 test. I thought both would feed 100% reliably after the mud dip. This was a surprise for me.

  • I wanna like the SR9 and if they do what they did with the LC9S Pro edition I really would. I just think a manual safety and a trigger safety are redundant, and they ugly it up with that big loaded chamber indicator.

    • Paul White

      The SR9c is still a sweet shooting gun. And it’s easy to just leave the damn safety off (which is what I do). I have wondered if I could remove/disable the loaded chamber indicator.

  • gunsandrockets

    Good fair review.

    I would like to see a repeat of the torture test with the following modifications: pistols first lubricated, pistols loaded before mud dunked (but empty chambers for safety), then a brief rinse by dunking in clear water before firing.

  • patrickiv

    I appreciate you and the other TFB contributors making videos like these. I like them much more than the shooting videos in which every target explodes (save for Carnik Con).

  • Captain Obvious

    All this video proved is that guns soaked in mud don’t always work. That’s all.

  • Don Ward

    I’d like a realistic “torture test” that features carrying both weapons in an inside the waistband holster for a month or so without cleaning and then firing it to simulate a scenario that actually occurs.

  • Jim_Macklin

    Field expedient cleaning… beer, urine, wooden stick and pocket knife. Been shooting about 60 years and can’t think of a time when cleaning was not possible. If it is really that muddy, carry a canteen or two.
    A tree branch and pocket knife will clean your Vitbram soles and slide.

  • Joshua

    Watching that mag drop over and over was like a bad sitcom…..I rost.

  • uisconfruzed

    I wonder if there’d be a difference if a couple hundred rounds in each weapon before the mud test.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Good video, very well balanced. Thanks!

  • Cal S.

    Well, I guess I’ll buy lots of
    ammo with the money I saved with buying Ruger instead of Glock and just
    not drop my pistol in the mud while reloading, then stomp on it, lose it
    for several minutes, all while having forgotten to properly maintain it
    ahead of time with proper lubrication.

    Frankly, I’d just assume that any firearm recovered from muddy environments would be inoperable prior to thorough maintenance since I probably might not have time to clear barrel obstructions in those situations.

  • James R.

    Aww, thanks, mom. I know this is you.

  • J-

    What did we learn here? That if you deliberately fill a handgun with silt and mud, it will fail to function. I know that sounds sarcastic, but it was really a good test to prove that. I am tired of hearing the “You can do ANYTHING to a Glock, even fill it with cement and let it harden, and it will NEVER fail to fire” from the more rabid Glock fanboys.

    With modern manufacturing techniques, I bet if you took 100 pistols from each quality manufacturer (Glock, Ruger, H&K, SIG, Beretta, S&W) and put all the guns through the same tests (mud, sand, run dry, etc.) the statistical failure rate between them would be about the same. One Glock might run slightly better than one Ruger or one SIG, but in a statistically significant sampling, I’m sure they’d all come out about the same.