First Impressions: Ruger’s New American Compact

Ruger American Compact

Ruger recently added a Compact model to the American Pistol line of handguns. The company was good enough to send me one in 9mm for testing (the ‘pro’ model without the external safety). So far, I’ve had the gun for about a week and taken it to the range once for about 400 rounds. Here are a few of my initial impressions.

Weight

The gun is heavier than I expected. According to the company, the gun weighs 28.7 ounces (unloaded.) This is five full ounces heavier than a Glock 19 Gen4 – a pistol that is larger and has a greater capacity. I checked the gun on my postal scale and with the small grip panel and magazine, the gun weighed in at 27.8 ounces.

As one might expect with a polymer grip frame and steel slide, the gun is top heavy. Ruger states the gun is “performance tested for sustained +P ammunition use,” so I can only assume the weight is there to ensure the gun lasts a lifetime of hard living.

Reliability

Through the first 400 or so rounds, the gun has been completely reliable. I’ve shot about 250 rounds of FMJ (Blazer Brass and American Eagle mostly) and about 150 rounds of self defense loads including HST, Gold Dot, Critical Defense and PDX1. The gun feeds all of it without any hints of a problem.

Ruger shooting

Accuracy

I haven’t done any bench testing with it, but it shoots very well. The sights are typical 3-dot with a good deal of light through the rear sight.

Trigger

The trigger is pretty good. There is a fair amount of take up, a reasonable pull length and little over travel. There is a trigger stop built in to the trigger guard which prevents nearly all potential over travel.

Ergonomics/Fit

Ruger uses a modular wrap-around grip that changes both trigger reach and fill in the hands. For me, the medium size is ok, but the small works best. My hand locks into the grip nicely and does not shift during firing.

This is just a first impression look at the Ruger American Compact, and is not a thorough test of it. I will have the gun back on the range for more shooting and will be carrying it to see how the weight plays out for a CCW piece. So far, though, the gun is a good performer.



Richard Johnson

An advocate of gun proliferation zones, Richard is a long time shooter, former cop and internet entrepreneur. Among the many places he calls home is http://www.gunsholstersandgear.com/.


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  • Drew Coleman

    How’s the reset on the trigger?

    • RP

      Long. Much like an XD. The gun specs sate a short reset but in practice it feels at least twice as long as a Glock’s.

  • Anonymoose

    I’d like to see how it handles in .45, since it’s such a chunk.

  • AC97

    Why does this, a “compact” polymer-framed pistol, weigh more than say, a CZ 75 P-01?

    • CourtLively

      Because Ruger

    • mig1nc

      It’s also thicker than an alloy framed P-01 when using the thin grips.

      • Joshua Knott

        I’m probably going to tick off a few ,but I wrote of their handguns once I fired and bought a cz,albeit I love and own their rifles .and I wuv them

    • Harry’s Holsters

      To a lot of people Ruger means affordable quality. Weight also means quality so I’m guessing they wanted to make it hefty to assert it’s quality.

      • Zachary marrs

        Quality

      • Phillip Cooper

        Nah, Ruger just builds their junk like a damn tank. They seem to be the American Kalashnikov in that respect. If you run out of bullets but are in range, you can always beat your attacker to death with it.

    • AD

      “Weight is sign of reliability. And if it doesn’t work, you can always hit him with it.”

      • olivehead

        I handled one the other day, and my first thought was that it was an ideal gun for pistol whipping.

    • iksnilol

      Ruger and lightweight don’t go together since they cast whatever they can cast. Castings are usually heavier for the same durability.

      • valorius

        Ever picked up an LCP?

        • iksnilol

          Does nay count. Only metal in that one is basically the barrel and screws… That’s what you get for copying Kel-Tec.

          • valorius

            LOVE my LCP. greatest carry gun ever devised IMO.

          • iksnilol

            Didn’t say nothin’ bad ’bout it. Just saying it is neither a Ruger design or Ruger construction.

          • valorius

            I view it as a product improved kel tec.

  • Jeff Smith

    I remember Tim from the Military Arms Channel mentioning that the full size version dug into the web of his hand while firing. Any sign of that?

    • Harry’s Holsters

      I’m guessing that depends on how high you grip the gun. I grip very high and have problems with the Walther PPQ digging in so I’m sure this would be even worse. The layout doesn’t look like it’d work with my grip.

      • Jeff Smith

        Ah, that makes sense! Thanks! This is the first time I’ve actually heard an explanation for why it digs in.

        • Harry’s Holsters

          Look at the average person shooting and they don’t grip the gun high enough for optimal recoil control. This gun should feel fine for them.

      • Minuteman

        Get a P226/7/9, 1911 or CZ75/97. Can’t go wrong with either of those. Wouldn’t know about LH9N MKII or Rex Zero 1. They seem to be solid guns by the looks of it, but I’m not convinced by support. Being a logistics finicky guy service as well as constant parts and accessories availability are make/brake for me. Going with either of the 3 aforementioned guns will save you a lot of headaches in that realm. No point running a gun that simply isn’t supported. YMMV.

        • Harry’s Holsters

          Not a big fan of the 226/229 or other hammer fired sigs. I do like CZ75s and 1911s. I’ve got a Cajunized P07 coming so I’ll see how I like that long term.

          • iksnilol

            Cajunized? Used to hunt gators and cousins with?

          • Phillip Cooper

            Yeah I was wondering what “Cajunized” means as well.
            Presumably it’s not blackened and spiced to the bejesus belt.

          • Harry’s Holsters

            Cajun Gun Works the master gunsmiths of CZs. Based in Monroe LA.

          • Minuteman

            ROFL

          • Minuteman

            Roger that. Whatever floats your boat.

    • No I’ve had no problems with that.

  • Sasquatch

    Its nice, but for a ccw I would like some weight reduction.

    • PersonCommenting

      Some profile reduction too. This thing looks huge.

      • olivehead

        It is. I handled one a couple days ago and really can’t see why you’d pick this over a Glock 19 or 26, or an FNS compact, or for a gun with a removable chassis, a SIG P320 subcompact. But to each his own.

        • PersonCommenting

          Well with the American you can get a quality brand name for under 450 so thats nice. I just dont know why they went so big and bulky with it. Reminds me of a P95 a little.

        • valorius

          Because you A) Like how it looks, B) like rugers in general.

  • Swarf

    Glock redesigned by a spider.

    • Anonymoose

      I thought that was the VP9?

      • iksnilol

        That’s the TEUTONIC GLOCK.

  • Ben Loong

    Important question: How’s the build quality/quality control on the new guns?

    Because that’s the one thing biggest complaint I have with the SR9. Mine had both the barrel/slide peening problem and broken striker tab problem. Both within two months of purchase and just 200 rounds through the gun.

    • PersonCommenting

      While Ruger has their problems I have had nothing but good things to say about Ruger customer service on the two guns I had to send back over the years.

      • Ben Loong

        I’ll take your word on it. Me, I’m still waiting to get mine back from my retailer, who are still waiting to receive the replacement parts they need to fix my pistol.

        • PersonCommenting

          Why would the retailers replace it? Just one of their policies? Ruger usually has your guns back in 1-3 weeks.

          • Ben Loong

            I don’t live in the U.S., the retailer I bought it from is the local distributor for Ruger products. They’re the ones who are supposed to service it here. Availability of spare parts kind of depends on their stock and they didn’t have a spare striker available.

            Also the gun was still covered by the store warranty.

          • PersonCommenting

            Makes more sense. Yeah that would be frustrating.

      • Minuteman

        They’re like Springfield and S&W: if something’s wrong, they’ll bend over backwards, no questions asked.

    • It’s actually very good quality and well finished.

  • James Swan

    I only own 2 rugers,both are gp100 modles. I feel this may be a good alternative to other makes out there. I own only hk semi auto firearms but I will give this a try. I am not a gun snob and not brand myopic. I just wish more gun enthusiasts would be open minded and not so quick to dismiss just because it’s not a standard polymer gun.

    • PersonCommenting

      Depending on what HKs you own this will be nothing special just something to add to the collection for some variety which is fun but this striker fired ruger wont have anything that an HK wont.

  • PersonCommenting

    I wonder if the SR9C will go the way of the P series. Not much reason to keep it unless they make it their Sigma model like Smith did to their line with the M&P being the higher end model.

  • i’ll stick with the sr9. they’re selling for about 350 now

  • TW

    I have never seen the point of this gun. Why didnt they take the SR9 and run with that.

    • The full size American Pistol was their entry for the Pentagon’s latest sidearm contract competition, so it was purpose-designed to fit those requirements; it’s being sold to the general public as a new model so that they don’t have to eat the development costs if it doesn’t win the contract.

      • TW

        Ruger never entered into the M9 replacment. Plus my point is if they wanted to enter the compition they should of submitted a upgraded version of the SR9.

  • Mark Horning

    I’ve played with the SR9, SR9c, and full size Ruger American. (obviously never held this brand new compact version)

    I don’t see the point. The SR9 is a superior pistol in every way as far as I can tell. Better handling, considerably better trigger. And the SR9 is lighter as well.

  • Minuteman

    Looks like they want to compete with the PPS M2.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Glad to see this review, I’ve been considering this or, hate to say, a Glock.

  • RocketScientist

    And a modular serialized fire control system. And interchangeable backstraps.

    • Hoplopfheil

      SR series had changeable back straps, and I’ve never seen the removable FCG come in handy.

      Does anybody make an alternate frame for the SIG P230 yet?

  • olivehead

    “The trigger is pretty good.”
    I realize that’s a fairly generic statement, but I have to say on the one I handled the other day, I’d have to characterize it as one of the worst triggers out there. Long take up, long reset, mushy. I guess it just goes to show how subjective these things are. But I would not call it even a “good” trigger.

  • valorius

    Where is the safety?