I have never hidden the fact that I like the Ruger SR9 9mm pistol. While the reviews in various magazines were generally favorable, the word that spread across the Internet was that the gun was lacking, but this was not my experience. I shot several thousand rounds through the gun without a single failure and while the trigger was not the best out of the box, it did improve as the gun was fired. I took my SR9 to the famed Gunsite Training Center for their flagship 250 Defensive Pistol Course and its performance was exemplary. The only problem experienced was when Range Master Bill Halverson was giving the gun a small workout and the trigger pin worked its way out, rendering the gun inoperable. Yes, that would be a problem in a fight, but every new product has its problems and it’s always best to discover them during trial and error. The pin was replaced and I went on to not only finish the course, I received the coveted Gunsite “Expert” rating as well as winning the class shoot-off against some very expensive, high-end custom guns.
The fact is most criticisms of the SR9 centered on the trigger and I admit I had a few of my own. I felt that the striker let-off was too severe (a hard “glitch”) and the over-travel too great. I got the opportunity to voice my concerns to several Ruger executives and I was told they would take them under advisement. As it turned out, they addressed them sooner than I anticipated. It wasn’t long before Ruger recalled the SR9 due to a potential problem with the trigger system. If the gun were dropped on the rear of the slide, the gun could inadvertently fire. Ruger deserves a great deal of credit for what they did next. Instead of trying to subject their guns to a “retro fit” or issue a “safety warning,” they issued a complete recall of all of the guns affected and are currently replacing the trigger system of each gun while offering each customer a free high capacity magazine for the inconvenience! I had the opportunity to test one of the first guns to come off the assembly line with the updated trigger and, once again, I like what I see.
A number of parts in the trigger assembly were replaced, but the trigger itself is most notable among them. Although the original design was a two-piece trigger, it was comprised of an inner and outer “shoe,” with the inner one hidden. The updated design uses a visible inner trigger blade, which retards rearward travel unless it’s depressed. This design is similar to what is standard on a Glock pistol and to not make mention of this would be silly. The redesigned trigger system also offers reduced trigger over-travel that makes trigger control more positive and rapid follow-up shots easier to achieve. Additionally, once the inner trigger blade is depressed, the length-of-travel is noticeably reduced, a very pleasing new feature. Another upgraded feature is the magazine release button that has been modified from the original design. The first production buttons were quite stiff, requiring direct inward pressure by the thumb to release. Unless you have very large hands, a quick magazine exchange was problematic at best. Retrofitted pistols with the older latches will receive a newer version, which is easier to depress and will allow them to work well with any SR9 magazine variation. The magazine disconnect and disconnect spring have also been replaced with updated variations as have the striker blocker and striker blocker spring.
All of the upgrades are internal, thus the gun looks the same on the exterior, which is a real good thing. The SR9 is the slimmest high capacity 9mm pistol on the market. Not only does this make it easy to carry and conceal, it makes it easy for those with small hands to use well. Have a slightly larger hand? This is not a problem, as the SR9 has a reversible rubber backstrap that offers a pleasing arch. The best way to picture this in your mind is to equate the grip to a 1911 with either a straight or arched mainspring housing. Since few people complain about the grip of this famous pistol, Ruger made a good move in modeling the SR9 after it. The grip has nice, but not too sharp, checkering all around, which offers a positive grip surface in all kinds of weather. Dual safety levers are also used and are placed at the rear of the frame much the same as John Browning’s classic design. While some may find this feature a plus, I chose to just ignore the levers and carry the gun ready to fire. As I have said many, many times, safety is a function of the brain and not a mechanical device, so I just choose to keep my finger off the trigger until the gun is pointing at something I wish to shoot.
Sights & Such
Like most all modern pistols, the SR9 has a rail molded into the dust cover of the frame and will accept most any light or laser that will slide on and lock in place. The sights are of the standard, three white dot variety and are quite acceptable, but I admit that I don’t like the rear due to its adjustability. My background is in law enforcement and personal defense, so I see an adjustable sight as something that can be dislodged. Of course, I am being a bit selfish here and I have to thank Shooting Gallery host Michael Bane for pointing this out to me.
We were on the range at Gunsite and as I complained about the rear sight, Bill said, “Dave, I see your point, but you don’t see the viewpoint of the sport shooter. There are a large number of shooters who will take this gun to their local club and will zero it for a number of different loads. Since they will want it to shoot right to the point of aim, they will adjust the sight for each load they shoot. These folks find great enjoyment in this and it should not be ignored.” Of course, Bill was right. I was being short-sighted and in this regard, the rear adjustable sight used on the SR9 is a solid design. It is my understanding that at some point Ruger will offer a compact version of the SR9 and it will have a fixed sight as standard. Allegedly this sight will fit on the larger gun, so a solution to “my problem” will be resolved down the road. For right now, a custom sight is being offered for those who do not want to wait, which is a great addition to this exceptional gun.
Since all of the changes are on the inside of the SR9, the only way to find out if the upgrades are indeed improvements was to head to the range and find out. My shooting partner, Jack “Happy Jack” Yahle and I grabbed as many different factory ammo styles as I had in stock and we headed to the Miamisburg Sportsman’s Club for an afternoon of shooting. The 9mm is one of the few calibers that’s still reasonably priced when compared to .40 and .45, so I intended to shoot as much ammo as possible. To test the updated gun’s accuracy, I shot five-round groups from the Hornady Delta rest placed 25 yards from six-inch Birchwood Casey “Dirty Bird” targets. These targets, like their popular Shoot-N-C targets, change color when hit but have their own plastic backer and are not a peel and stick compound. Velocity of each load was tested across the sky screens of my compact Shooting Chrony chronograph that was 15 feet from the muzzle.
I’m not sure what was going on, but I could not seem to shoot a group without a single flier spoiling it! In the case of the Federal HST, I had a group just over one inch with my first four rounds before my last shot ended up several inches above the rest. I only point this out as I think the new SR9 is capable of better accuracy than what is displayed here if someone with greater skill had been at the controls! The fact is, I have never been very good at slow-style target shooting, so I used the SR9 to complete a number of skill drills as well as some basic fundamentals like holster skills and speed loading. Feeling a bit more in my element, I was quite happy with the updated SR9. It shot where I pointed it every time and in a fight that’s the single most important feature! In the end, Jack and I fired in excess of 1,000 rounds of various hollow point and FMJ styles through the SR9 without a single failure.
What I liked the best is that most all of the trigger over-travel is now gone! When the striker is released, the trigger stops and that’s how it should be. The trigger still has a bit of a glitch when first used, but after 200 or so rounds, the trigger smoothes out and ends up being quite manageable, especially for combative applications. Is the updated SR9 a better pistol? I would say so. I did, after all, buy the test gun.
For more information: Ruger, 1 Lacey Pl, Dept CH, Southport, CT 06890; 928-541-8820; www.ruger.com.