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Ruger’s Amer­i­can— Striker-Fired, Poly­mer and Semi-Auto—Pro­vides Rugged Re­li­a­bil­ity & Rapid Shots

Home Defender - - Home Defender - Story by Todd Bur­green & Pho­tos Cour­tesy of Ruger

There’s lit­tle doubt. Ruger has de­cided to en­ter the tac­ti­cal mar­ket in force over the last few years. The Prescott, Ari­zona-based com­pany’s lat­est of­fer­ings in the form of the Pre­ci­sion Bolt Ri­fle, SR-556, SR-762, AR-556, SR1911, Gun­site Scout Ri­fle and now the Ruger Amer­i­can pis­tol are ir­refutable proof.

Ruger was al­ready a well-es­tab­lished suc­cess­ful firearms man­u­fac­turer be­fore de­cid­ing to in­tro­duce its most re­cent tac­ti­cal of­fer­ings. In fact, by many mea­sures, Ruger is the largest U.S. firearms man­u­fac­turer. They of­fer 400 model vari­a­tions across 70 dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, en­cap­su­lated within 25 dis­tinct prod­uct lines. Their en­trenched place in the Amer­i­can gun psy­che lends added cre­dence to their prod­ucts com­pared to other man­u­fac­tur­ers that may not be as well known within the gen­eral shoot­ing pub­lic.

With the Amer­i­can pis­tol, Ruger has em­braced the ob­vi­ous pop­u­lar­ity of striker-fired, poly­mer-framed, high-ca­pac­ity semi-au­to­mat­ics, while also de­liv­er­ing Amer­i­can-made qual­ity and out­stand­ing cus­tomer ser­vice. This is not the 1980s, when peo­ple doubted the stay­ing power of the Glock of­fer­ing that de­fined the poly­mer-frame striker-fired hand­gun. Say­ing this now seems ab­surd, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing how striker-fired hand­guns dom­i­nate the law en­force­ment and civil­ian per­sonal-de­fense mar­ket.

It is not my in­tent to re­hash all the well-known de­sign char­ac­ter­is­tics of striker-fired poly­mer-frame hand­guns, only to point out that Ruger has added it own de­sign tweaks with their Amer­i­can pis­tol.

FIRST LOOK

The Ruger Amer­i­can is 100-per­cent Amer­i­can made, as it is man­u­fac­tured in their Ari­zona fac­tory. The hand­gun is cur­rently of­fered in 9mm and .45 ACP cham­ber­ings, with nu­mer­ous mod­els avail­able. The re­cently in­tro­duced Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact .45 is be­ing eval­u­ated for this ar­ti­cle.

Two mag­a­zines are shipped with the Amer­i­can Com­pact .45. One is a 10-rounder with fin­ger ex­ten­sion, and the other is a 7-round flush-fit­ting mag­a­zine. The gun’s pro­file re­sem­bles what we have come to ex­pect from a mod­ern semi-au­to­matic hand­gun, in­clud­ing in­te­gral MIL STD 1913 Pi­catinny frame rails. The tale of the tape shows the Amer­i­can Com­pact .45 with a 3.75inch bar­rel and over­all length of 7.25 inches. It weighs 29 ounces.

Two in­ter­change­able wrap-around grip mod­ules al­low the user to fit the Amer­i­can pis­tol to their hand size. No­vak LoMount Carry 3 dot iron sights are stan­dard. Am­bidex­trous slide stop and mag­a­zine re­lease al­low ac­tu­a­tion with ei­ther hand. Safety fea­tures in­clude an in­ter­nal, au­to­matic sear block sys­tem, man­ual safety and in­te­grated trig­ger safety. Along these same lines, pulling the trig­ger is not re­quired to field strip the Ruger Amer­i­can; this is an en­hance­ment over many com­peti­tors’ pis­tols.

Ruger de­signed the Amer­i­can pis­tol with the lat­est U.S. mil­i­tary stan­dards in mind. For ex­am­ple, the stain-

less-steel slide is black-ni­tride treated, of­fer­ing great re­sis­tance to wear as de­lin­eated by mil­i­tary spec­i­fi­ca­tions. In­ter­nal parts are also stain­less steel and ei­ther ni­tride or nickel-Te­flon coated.

The Amer­i­can’s mag­a­zines are ex­am­ples of parts re­ceiv­ing the nickel-Te­flon coat­ing. Ruger’s goal with the Amer­i­can was to have a hand­gun with less felt re­coil and muz­zle flip. As such, the Ruger Amer­i­can has a re­coil-re­duc­ing bar­rel cam that spreads re­coil en­ergy out as the slide un­locks and moves rear­ward, a low mass slide min­i­mizes muz­zle flip/ dip, and a low cen­ter of grav­ity and bore axis al­lows the Amer­i­can to sit low in the user’s hand, of­fer­ing a more in line re­coil im­pulse. All of this con­trib­utes to rugged re­li­a­bil­ity, com­bined with an er­gonomic hand­gun that en­ables man­age­able rapid shots on tar­get; the rai­son d’être of any re­spectable tac­ti­cal per­sonal de­fense hand­gun. The Ruger Amer­i­can func­tions via a short re­coil locked breech de­sign. John Brown­ing, as many of you know, pi­o­neered this op­er­a­tional method for hand­guns. With Brown­ing’s de­sign, the bar­rel and slide move to­gether rear­ward for a short dis­tance be­fore the bar­rel un­locks from the slide.

The slide con­tin­ues rear­ward to eject empty cas­ing be­fore load­ing a fresh car­tridge on its way back for­ward. Ruger has slightly mod­i­fied Brown­ing’s de­sign by mov­ing the lock­ing re­cess from the bar­rel as Brown­ing orig­i­nal did it; in­stead, Ruger has cho­sen to

“...THE RUGER AMER­I­CAN COM­PACT REP­RE­SENTS THE QUIN­TES­SEN­TIAL BAL­ANCE OF SIZE, WEIGHT, CA­PAC­ITY AND CAR­TRIDGE

PO­TENCY.”

uti­lize a sin­gle lock­ing lug milled above the bar­rel's cham­ber us­ing the slide's large over­head ejec­tion port as its lock­ing re­cess. The front con­tour of the bar­rel lug cam slot has been cut square to di­rect counter-re­coil­ing forces up and for­ward into the bar­rel it­self to re­duce stress on the lug.

For me, the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact rep­re­sents the quin­tes­sen­tial bal­ance of size, weight, ca­pac­ity and car­tridge po­tency. An ex­tended mag­a­zine loaded with one in the cham­ber adds up to 11 rounds of po­tent .45 ACP fire­power in a frame smaller than a Com­man­der-sized 1911.

TEST PREP

I test fired the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact ex­ten­sively us­ing Winch­ester, Black Hills Am­mu­ni­tion, Hor­na­day and SIG SAUER am­mu­ni­tion. Loads fired ranged from 185 grain to 230 grain, and I used both hol­low points and FMJ bul­let types. I fired ap­prox­i­mately 500 rounds for this ar­ti­cle. There were no mal­func­tions.

A weapon like the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact .45 should be fired as it is de­signed to be used—from the hand while mov­ing or only briefly paus­ing to en­gage tar­gets.

Test­ing con­sisted of mo­not­o­nous ham­mer­ing of steel-plate racks and pop­per tar­gets at 7, 15 and 25 yards. This quickly shows if any re­li­a­bil­ity is­sues ex­ist. This is the true mea­sure of ac­cu­racy, com­bin­ing trig­ger pull, grip and sights.

An in­for­mal ac­cu­racy test was con­ducted from a rudi­men­tary bench po­si­tion us­ing a Cham­pion pedestal rest. The Ruger Amer­i­can de­liv­ered by con­stantly keep­ing a full mag­a­zine worth of am­mu­ni­tion at 3.5 inches or bet­ter at 25 yards. A 100-per­cent rat­ing over a 60-round law en­force­ment pro­fi­ciency test is pos­si­ble with the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact. The test is timed fire from the hol­ster at var­i­ous ranges, stretch­ing from 5 yards back to 30 yards. I was pleased with the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact’s per­for­mance.

While a con­cealed carry pis­tol’s re­li­a­bil­ity must be be­yond re­proach, carry abil­ity is just as im­por­tant con­sid­er­ing the hours spent with the weapon hol­stered. The Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact .45 was car­ried in a Comp-Tac Vic­tory Gear Spar­tan, which was com­fort­able. The Comp-Tac hol­ster re­mains se­cure on the belt and the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact is re­tained with a pres­sure point around the trig­ger guard. Its open top de­sign al­lows quick ac­cess. Re­mem­ber the de­fender is re­act­ing to an at­tack and must over­come the re­ac­tionary curve.

The Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact is more con­ducive to con­cealed carry and will min­i­mize the chance of print­ing un­der a cover gar­ment. Ruger’s de­ci­sion to of­fer two mag­a­zines, one with less ca­pac­ity to fur­ther re­duce chance of print­ing, is sound.

TEST­ING DATA

I con­ducted the T&E at Echo Val­ley

Train­ing Cen­ter, a pri­vate range lo­cated near Winch­ester, VA, where many lo­cal and fed­eral law en­force­ment tac­ti­cal team mem­bers train. I ded­i­cated some time eval­u­at­ing the Ruger Amer­i­can us­ing sev­eral drills I ex­pe­ri­enced while train­ing with Suarez In­ter­na­tional, Tac­ti­cal Re­sponse, Gra­ham Com­bat, Pat McNa­mara and other schools. These in­cluded work­ing around breach­ing fa­cades, door en­tries and other CQB ac­tiv­i­ties typ­i­fied by ex­pe­ri­ences en­coun­tered in shoot house en­vi­ron­ments. The nat­u­ral point abil­ity of the Amer­i­can comes into its own in this realm. A pre­mium is placed on a quick han­dling ac­cu­rate hand­gun, such as the Ruger Amer­i­can, as I dis­cov­ered it was the norm to put a tar­get down with mul­ti­ple rounds fired in quick suc­ces­sion.

The Ruger Amer­i­can has an in­dus­try-lead­ing short take-up trig­ger that fa­cil­i­tates rapid shot place­ment. Reload­ing the Amer­i­can dur­ing high vol­ume drills ex­hib­ited no is­sues, and the mag­a­zine re­lease but­ton is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. The hand­gun im­pres­sively han­dled all am­mu­ni­tion brands, bul­let types and weights with equal aplomb. The beaver­tail grip frame and over­all bal­ance of the Amer­i­can Com­pact al­lowed for nat­u­ral point of aim. The Amer­i­can’s slide re­cip­ro­cated smoothly with the sights, track­ing smoothly be­tween shots fired. As with most things when it comes to firearms, per­sonal pref­er­ence seems to hold sway on what feels best. The in­ter­change­able grip pan­els as­sist in this. I used a can full of as­sorted loose am­mu­ni­tion—rang­ing from steel, alu­minum and brass caseloads—while eval­u­at­ing the hand­gun. To ver­ify that the Amer­i­can was not sen­si­tive to grip—in terms of re­li­a­bil­ity—I one-handed the Ruger Amer­i­can, in­clud­ing us­ing my non-dom­i­nant hand.

OVER­ALL AS­SESS­MENT

Many pun­dits point to cer­tain fun­da­men­tal “truths” when de­cid­ing on what type of hand­gun to con­sider for per­sonal de­fense or duty use. They are as fol­lows:

1) A hand­gun must be rea­son­ably sized and weighted or it will not be dili­gently car­ried;

2) A lethal force en­counter will oc­cur in low­light and come as a sur­prise, and the am­mu­ni­tion will de­cide the out­come;

3) Size mat­ters with the .45 ACP rep­re­sent­ing the op­ti­mum in terms of ef­fec­tive fight-stop­ping abil­ity;

4) There will be a need to fire mul­ti­ple times when re­spond­ing to an at­tack.

The Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact .45 sat­is­fies these guide­lines. It rep­re­sents porta­bil­ity, re­li­a­bil­ity, con­trol­la­bil­ity and lethal­ity, which is a per­fect com­bi­na­tion for a per­sonal de­fense hand­gun. The Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact com­bines the time-proven .45 ACP car­tridge with a carry plat­form that ben­e­fits from nearly a cen­tury of re­fine­ment from the its orig­i­nal gen­e­sis in the 1911. HD

“ALL OF THIS CON­TRIB­UTES TO RUGGED RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY …”

Ruger of­fers var­i­ous Amer­i­can mod­els in 9mm and .45 ACP. This model is the Com­pact .45 with man­ual safety.

No­vak LoMount 3 dot sights are stan­dard equip­ment with the Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact.

The Ruger Amer­i­can Com­pact com­bines the time-proven .45

ACP car­tridge with a carry plat­form that ben­e­fits from nearly a cen­tury of re­fine­ment from the .45 ACP’s orig­i­nal gen­e­sis in the 1911.

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