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Sturm, Ruger this week announced a new polymer-framed double stack 9mm that is poised to give most of the "combat" handguns on the market some serious competition.

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The New Ruger American Pistol, photo via The Gun Collective

Ruger's polymer evolution

Back in 1996, Ruger revamped their P85/89 line by trading in the traditional frame of that gun for a new frame made of a fiberglass-reinforced polyurethane, based on Dow's "Isoplast" formula. This new gun, the P95 managed to lower the price point (I picked up a new one at the time for $279) on the already affordable line to undercut the cost of the leading polymer 9mm guns of the time-- Glock's 17/19 series. The P95 was chunky but it was popular and you still see lots of them around.

Heck, production didn't end on these guns until 2013 when the last P95PR was made and the line was replaced by the more svelte and crowd-pleasing SR9 series.

When the SR9 came out, it was set to do what Ruger's P85/89/95 has never really pulled off-- being a large caliber pistol in a slim, ergonomic profile. Say what you want about the P85, it may have been reliable, inexpensive, and accurate, but it's darn bulky. Well the SR9 fixed that, producing a striker fired combat handgun that still used a large capacity double stacked magazine (that held 17+1 rounds) whose overall width was just 1.18-inches. Now that's slim, jack. Better yet, it tipped the scales at just 26.5 ounces.

Now, we have a new kid on the block

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The Ruger American Pistol

Dropped this week with much fanfare, the new American Pistol seems to be Ruger's take on the pending Army XM17 Modular Handgun System contract (though the company told investors they were not pursing the contract).

Designed with input from law enforcement and military trainers, the new gun has a number of engineering pluses that cater to a combat-style handgun including a recoil-reducing barrel cam to better control recoil, a low mass slide, low center of gravity and a low bore axis to provide better balance, less felt recoil and less muzzle flip than comparable pistols.

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"The Ruger American Pistol is the most advanced semi-auto pistol we have ever produced," noted Ruger CEO Mike Fifer in a statement obtained by Ruger Talk. "Rugged, reliable, and a great value in the finest Ruger tradition, the Ruger American Pistol is ready for duty anywhere in the world. Our customers deserve the opportunity to ensure their security with such a well-engineered pistol from an American company they can trust - Ruger," he concluded.

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As noted by Ruger, the new American Pistol features a pre-tensioned striker system, to allow for a short take-up trigger with positive reset, and a 3-panel replaceable modular wrap-around grip system that adjusts palm swell and trigger reach to fit a wide range of hand sizes. These guns are tested for sustained +P ammunition use.

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This is all right out of the Army's contract.

There are also nickel Teflon finished 17-shot (10-round for .45 Auto) double-stack magazines, mil-standard 1913 tactical rail, trigger safety, 3-dot style Novak low-profile combat sights dovetailed in place (which means they can be easily replaced if desired) and super aggressive slide grips. In addition, the American has fully ambi controls, which are common on Ruger carry guns. About the only thing we can find that's not in the Army contract is the fact that the gun does not come with a threaded barrel-- but that can be changed.

Let's take a look at the ...


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Capacity: 17+1 (9mm), 10+1 (.45)
Sights: Novak LoMount Carry 3-Dot
Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Black Nitride
Grip Frame: One-Piece, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Grip: Ergonomic Wrap-Around Grip Module
Barrel Length: 4.20" 9mm, 4.5" .45
Overall Length: 7.50", 8" .45
Height: 5.60", 5.70" .45
Width: 1.40" (Across Controls)
Weight: 30 oz. 9mm, 31.5 .45
Twist: 1:10" RH 9mm, 1:16"RH .45ACP
MA Approved : No
CA Approved: No
Grooves: 6
Ships with: Two mags; Small, Medium and Large Grip Modules; Hard Plastic Case
Suggested Retail: $579.00, which is about $60 more than the SR9.

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How does the gun stack up against the competition?

Some may be quick to call this a Ruger Glock 17, and indeed, it has a number of common features with the Gen.4 G17. Spec-wise, the G17 is longer, though a tad slimmer (but doesn't have ambi controls) and weighs a couple ounces less. Retail is also very close.

Some may say the gun looks like it has the front of a S&W M&P with the rear of a Steyr M9. Both of these guns, like the G17, have similar specs and price points to the new Ruger while the Smith picks up the bonus of also having ambi controls.

The FNS-9 from FNH-USA, same/same spec wise, though the retail of this gun is about $75 higher than the Ruger American.

Where the new Ruger picks up traction is in the "made-in-the-USA" factor that Steyr and to some extent Glock and FNH cannot match as they often use parts from overseas. Still, it looks like these guns are all set to have a case of heartburn with a new Ruger on the market that can meet and in some cases exceed their own for military, police and personal protection sales.

Best yet, Ruger wants to allow you a chance to test fire this bad boy at a range near you.


With the gun being embargoed until it was announced just before New Year's, there are a number of early reviews out there. This includes Dave Spaulding with Handgun Combatives (the first vid below) who advises there isn't a gun magazine safety on the pro-series.

David Higginbotham over at Guns America spends some quick time with the Ruger American in the second video, who confirms the lack of magazine safety disconnect. They have a great review up after the jump.

The Military Armament Channel (third vid) brings up the rear. Among Mac's complaints is that the trigger reset is unimpressive and that the new pistol is wider and heavier than the SR9 already on the market but he does like a lot of other features such as the fact that you don't have to pull the trigger to field strip the gun.
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