About five years ago, my now sixteen-year old daughter was reaching the age, ability, and maturity to handle a full-size centerfire pistol for both recreation and personal defense. Rather than everyone in the family having a different handgun with different ammo sizes and magazines, the gals and I were looking for standard semi-auto handgun that worked well for all of us.
We had quite a few different handguns already and had access to most pistols from major manufacturers in the popular and common calibers of 9mm, .40S&W, and .45ACP. At the time I was really looking hard at the Glock 17 and 19 models, but the gals weren't big fans of either gun in terms of ergonomics. Admitting my bias for everything and anything Ruger, I was still hesitant about the new SR9 due to it's early recall in the first year of production.
I purchased the first full-size SR9 about four years ago... a post recall model. The gals really loved shooting that gun. After a year or so we decided the Ruger SR9 and Ruger SR9c centerfire pistols would be our primary defensive handguns for the family around the home and for concealed carry.
We all have access to the same guns that operate the same way, take the same cartridge, use the same magazines, take-down and re-assemble the same way... well, you get the point... when we're together at home or out and about... our family can work as a defensive unit... not as three folks who have no idea what the other folks are trying or likely to do.
Now there's dozens of reviews already out there if you're looking for the specifications, general impressions, cool photos, and other information. What I'm talkin' bout here is our experiences with these guns, along with our impressions and thoughts... both good and bad.
We've now had extensive experience firing several of these guns. With over a thousand rounds through every SR9 or SR9c we own, we have had no practical problems whatsoever. One of our SR9's now has over ten-thousand rounds through it as our primary practice gun... in fact, it is the gun I used to go after Todd Green's 2,000 Round Challenge a while back. You can see the rules here.
I did violate his first rule because I didn't clean and lubricate the SR9 before beginning the test, we just took it out of the box, checked the bore, and started shootin'... and after about five-hundred rounds each week... we hit two-thousand... and... and nothing. No stoppages, no stove pipes, no failure to feeds... failures to extract or eject... no broken parts, no problems.
I decided to keep going past 2,000 and after 2,619 rounds... number 2,620 ended with a stove-pipe. We fed that SR9 Winchester white box, Federal, and American Eagle 115 grain 9mm FMJ's, Federal 147 grain Hydra-Shoks, and our current defensive handgun cartridge of choice... 124 grain +P, bonded bullet, hollow-point Winchester PDX1's.
We cleaned that dirty and gritty SR9 up and now... a few rounds past 10,200 through it... it still runs like new... and we've had only three stoppages... the stove-pipe at 2,620 and two failure to fires during the next 7,000 rounds fired with two Winchester white box cartridges that both had clear, deep primer punch marks from the firing pin... so I'm countin' them as duds. What can I say, we're very happy with the performance of these guns.
I should also mention that this particular SR9 has a Streamlight TLR-1s weapon light mounted to the rail... as do all our home defense handguns... which has been through over 7,000 of those 10,000-plus rounds fired with the light having been on for probably 1,000 rounds without any problems from the light or the gun.
The SR9c is an excellent companion to the SR9 for concealed carry, although I've personally carried both concealed with no real problems. The SR9c has three magazine options including the ten-round flat floor-plate option, the ten-round finger-extension floor-plate option, and seventeen-round full-length with grip extension option. With the ten-round magazine and one in the chamber on my right side and the seventeen-round magazine on my left side... I've got twenty-eight rounds ready when carrying concealed with the SR9c.
One thing I do like about the SR9c is that it is smaller, but still feels like a full-size gun to us... unlike the Ruger LC9, the Sig Sauer 238, the Kel-Tec PF-9, Glock 26, or the Smith & Wesson Shield... which feel a bit small in the hand. The SR9c's sight radius is only one-half inch shorter than the full-size SR9. I typically carry our Ruger SR9's and SR9c's concealed in a Galco Cop Slot 3 holster, my Maxpedition VersiPack Jumbo, or a Fobus Holster. I'm in the process of looking at purchasing a Raven holster and magazine holder to try out which will likely result in more new additions to the holster box.
The triggers on all of our SR9's and SR9c's have been terrific right out of the box and I'm pleased with the consistent reset. The precision and accuracy with these guns has been great for all three of us. The SR9 can produce groups off the bench rest at twenty-five yards that are better than most shooters can produce off-hand at twenty-five feet.
While I'm not personally the biggest fan of three-dot sights, we still have the original sights on all of our guns...although some of those white dots have met their demise. I've been looking at some tritium replacements, but with the weapon lights... the tritium sights seem less needed, but I may add just a tritium front sight on each gun... still in the evaluation process there and considering AmeriGlo.
Now let's talk about the good and the not so good...
The Good: The SR9 and SR9c have great reliability, incredible precision, and accuracy... while you can measure with a ruler, they are and feel slender in the hand, particularly where the web of the hand meets the grip, with a good grip texture which pleases me and the gals... a good, consistent trigger pull and break... easy break down for cleaning with no tools... you can "feel" these guns in the dark with the loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide and cocked striker indicator at the rear of the slide... we love the holes in the magazines that give a visual of how many rounds are still loaded... the rear sight is easily adjusted with a screw-driver for elevation and drifted left or right by loosening a set screw... there's a reversible back-strap insert that can be changed from flat to arched... and the guns have ambidextrous safeties and magazine releases... you can get the guns in either stainless or blackened stainless... I've had a number of students in my NRA/Ohio CCW courses use these guns and everyone who has tried them like the ease of operation, accuracy, and they shoot pretty well with them... like everything Ruger, they have a great company backing them up and are one-hundred percent made in America...
The Not So Good: These guns are available in all fifty states which means they have a magazine disconnect which prevents you from firing a round still in the chamber while switching magazines... Ruger makes both the SR9/SR40 and the SR9c/SR40c for law enforcement without the magazine disconnect... oh, don't get me started... also, the slide stop is just that, a slide stop, not a release so you have to cycle the slide fully to the rear with your hand to chamber a cartridge rather than just hit the slide release... now that is a deal-breaker for some, but I've timed myself and there is about a half-second difference for me when reloading and I'm gettin' old... so that's something else you'll have to consider about these guns... Ruger recommends you have an empty magazine inserted when dry-firing the gun, which we do for practice... and finally, I wish Ruger had also put the SR9c's front slide serrations on the SR9 to compliment the rear serrations on both guns...
While I admit my Ruger bias... I'll go beyond the rhetoric... 'cause we're bettin' our lives on the... Ruger SR9 and SR9c Centerfire Pistols...