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