Review: Ruger American Compact Pistol

    The Ruger American Compact adds another choice in polymer framed pistols for today’s shooter. IN the near future James will be reviewing the Ruger Compact without the thumb safety. That will be on TFBTV. The reason, of course, is we wanted to present both models to our readers so they could not only have two viewpoints they can also weigh the merits of the model with the thumb safety and without the thumb safety. Both pistols are chambered in 9mm.

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    There has been some misunderstanding as to the capacity of this compact pistol so let me clear that up. The Ruger Compact comes with a flush fitting magazine which holds 12 rounds while the second magazine holds 17 rounds with an extension collar so the longer magazine makes it look as if the grip has been extended in length.

    With 17 round magazine and attached sleeve which is removable.

    With 17 round magazine and attached sleeve which is removable.

    As mentioned the thumb safety is placed in a similar position to the 1911 but does require a bit more reach to manipulate. The thumb safety is ambidextrous as is the magazine release. The thumb safety has a fairly short throw so it’s fairly easy to use depending on your hand size. Letting your shooting hands thumb rest on top of the safety isn’t practical because of the reach and grip size. The other accessory is the choice of backstraps. The compact comes with a small, medium and large insert. Using the small insert allows the use of the thumb safety as you would use a thumb safety on a 1911.

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    Specs for the Ruger Compact:

    Ruger® Ruger American Pistol®   Centerfire Pistol Model 8639

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    So, what do I like about the compact? First, let me say I like the thumb safety. I know many will disagree and should that be the case that’s fine we all have our preferences. Even if you purchase the thumb safety model it doesn’t mean you have to use it and it doesn’t change the price. Unlike the Glock at least Ruger has provided the consumer the choice to have a manual safety or not. Both models have a rail to attach a compact light or laser to the pistol. While the trigger does feel better than a stock Glock it still has that unexpected break as the striker is released. Not bad it just takes getting used to. The trigger shape I certainly do like. It isn’t as curved as many polymer pistols. The curve is minimal providing better feedback.

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    After taking the pistol apart and lubing it I took it to the range on several occasions firing a total of 500 rounds of Armscor ammo as well as some of the new Creedmoor JHP rounds(more on this new ammo later). During the testing I had no malfunctions of any kind. It fired all the types of ammo I had without a problem. I prefer a fairly straight backstrap which you can only get with the compact if you use the small grip insert. Using the medium insert the hump it creates is a bit much for my preference but I’m sure many will find it works well for them. I do like the idea of including a flush magazine with your second magazine the large capacity type of the full-size pistol.

    While not a match pistol it is combat accurate and will get the job done well at social distances. Between it’s very good reliability and good accuracy this compact Ruger will get the job done without a doubt. It should instill confidence in it’s owner. As with any carry gun practice, practice and more practice!

    The MSRP is $579 which means a street price closer to $500–$525 or so. This places it firmly in the same price range as a Glock and other polymer, striker fired pistols.

    Ruger American Compact Website

    Phil White

    Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.


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