The Ruger SR9C - Affordable, Reliable, Shootable
One of the more recent entries into the concealed carry market, and certainly among the more affordable, is Ruger’s SR9C. It is a semi-compact version of their SR9 9X19mm pistol released a year ago this January. Real world pricing on the SR9C is in the $400-425 range before taxes and related fees. I have always had good luck with Ruger semi-auto handguns be it my MKII or the P89 I got for my father a number of years ago for self defense. I purchased the SR9C with high expectations.
The dimensions of the SR9C are conducive to concealed carry. It, like its bigger sibling, is only 1.16" wide at its widest point in the grip. It measures 6.85" from the muzzle to the end of its beavertail-like tip and is 4.61" tall. Do note that the supplied pinky extension will add about one inch to the height of the pistol when placed on the ten round magazine. The unloaded weight of the full size SR9 is 26.5 oz. compared to the SR9C at 23.4 oz.
The overall dimensions of the Ruger compares favorably with its competition. The Glock 26, for example, is 6.29" long by 1.18" wide by 4.17" tall. Its stock weight is 19.75 oz. empty.
Along with the above mentioned first impressions there are some design features that are definite positives for the SR9C and worth mentioning. I think it deserves high marks for having ambidextrous thumb safeties and magazine release. This should help it appeal to both right and left handed shooters alike.One minor (and albeit cosmetic) complaint though: If you are going to have ambidextrous safeties why have the color coding (red for fire/white for safe) on only one side? Do only right handed shooters need visual confirmation of the safety’s status?
I also like the idea of the cocked striker indicator at the rear of the slide. It is supposed to give the shooter a visual indication (and a tactile indication) of the state of the pistol. Like the left side safety, however, the striker indicator is left uncolored. It is black plastic like the rear slide plate making it hard to see. A contrasting color would help with visual confirmation of the striker’s condition particularly in low light.
I would like to add that the “cocked” position of the indicator is also on the shallow side making a finger swipe a bit suspect. The indicator should be more pronounced in the “cocked” position to aid in feeling the state of the striker when visual confirmation is not possible. It is visually useless in low light and not very positive as a tactile indicator.
The SR9C has two other safety features of note. One is a loaded chamber indicator located atop the slide directly behind the chamber. It is rather large, in my opinion, though certainly quite visible and easily detected using one’s fingers. I do not know why it has to be so large given that other designs are a smaller pin-like protrudence.
The SR9C is also equipped with a magazine disconnect safety. It will not fire a chambered round without the gun’s magazine in place. The merits of a magazine safety have been debated and argued for decades. My opinion on the subject certainly is not going to solve the issue nor be the last word on the subject. The point is: It’s there. Take it or leave it.
Like so many other polymer framed pistols these days the SR9C has a removable backstrap. It is not as versatile as some other designs with small, medium and large panels. The Ruger design is simply of an arched or flat design. The user simply removes a pin and flips the backstrap to the side he or she desires.
Another design feature to note is the extractor. Ruger is well known for its oversized extractors in its P series pistols. The SR9C’s extractor is quite large compared to other 9mm pistols in my collection. Its design, as with other Ruger semi-autos, should provide for very positive extraction. Add to this the typical Ruger over-sized ejection port and I predict very reliable feeding and ejection.
A further design element I like is the magazine system of the SR9C. If you live in a non-ban state you will receive a compact SR9C ten round magazine and full capacity SR9 17 round magazine with your purchase. The ten round magazine comes with a flat floor plate to aid in concealing the pistol or an extended floor plate to give added length for the pinky of your grip hand. The 17 round magazine comes with a grip sleeve that fills the gap of the longer magazine and it forms a full sized SR9 grip when inserted into the magazine well.
With just two magazines the carrier can have 10+1 rounds at the ready in the firearm and an additional 17 rounds in a spare magazine if need be. The first magazine maintains the concealability of the firearm while the second magazine gives the carrier ample reload capability with just one spare. Some may not like this setup but I find carrying just one spare magazine a boon over multiple magazines. I also like the idea of the second magazine being of maximum capacity if and when it is needed.
When working with the SR9C for this review one is reminded of a truism: The trigger on many striker fired pistols is a weak point. They tend to be somewhat spongy and their pull weights vary from gun to gun. One can do some work on the trigger system or upgrade some parts with aftermarket accessories but most factory triggers are a bit spongy. The test gun’s trigger pull averaged around 5.5 pounds. The spongy nature of the trigger really is not noticed too much during live fire.
There is a difference between a critical review of something and its real world use. It is like recoil at the range with a deer rifle and taking that shot at a big buck in the field. You begin to notice the thump on your shoulder after a few shots at the range but how many of you actually remember the recoil of that one shot you took at that big buck you put down?
I think it is the same with a firearm in reviews such as this. A reviewer can complain about certain aspects of the gun but in reality how noticeable are they in live-fire exercises? I think that is the real test of how “bad” a flaw truly is. So, how did the SR9C perform at the range? Simply put, it performed quite well.
Being new I decided that I would put 100 rounds of ball ammo through the pistol to break it in and to give it an initial function test. As predicted the SR9C cycled the first hundred rounds flawlessly. There were no failures to feed, extract, or eject. All the empty cases ejected consistently about ten feet to the right and slightly to the rear. That big ejector and wide port functioned as expected.
The only issue during the first 100 rounds was that the 17 round magazine failed three out of four times to lock the slide back after the last round was fired. Testing the magazine without the grip sleeve revealed that it might be the likely culprit. While the magazine locks into the magwell positively there seems to be some downward pressure from the sleeve that is enough to prevent the slide from locking back. Testing showed that the slide would lock back on the 17 round magazine when used without the sleeve.
Aside from the magazine issue, shooting the SR9C was actually rather pleasant. The SR9C is well balanced particularly with the 17 round magazine and the full size grip. The shaped grip fits the hand nicely and it sits well back into the web of the hand. The molded checkering aided purchase but was not overly abrasive. Muzzle flip was quite controllable and a return to the sights/target was rather quick for follow up shots.
I know most gun reviews have a section of the article devoted to accuracy. That is all well and good except for the fact that most of us do not use concealed carry pistols for target matches nor do we get the opportunity to shoot them from a benchrest in a showdown with a bad guy. Shooting a compact gun from a benchrest at 25 yards does seem a bit excessive to me.
Certainly one wants their defensive weapon to have a minimal amount of accuracy. As such accuracy testing is still helpful. For the purposes of this article, however, the accuracy test was done using a simple rest attached to a portable range bench at “combat range” (seven yards). Shooting conditions on the day of the accuracy testing were overcast with calm winds and a temperature of +18̊F.
Three loads were used in this phase of testing (It was all I had on hand). Break-in and the first set of accuracy testing was done with Remington 250 round yellow box bulk pack 115gr FMJ rounds. The smallest group measured .96" from center to center and the largest measured 1.71". The next round used was from a couple of old boxes of PMC 124gr. Starfire hollow points. The smallest group measured 1.08" and the largest was 1.76". The third round used was a handload I developed target practice and casual plinking. It is a simple formula of Accurate Arms No. 5 under 124gr. Winchester FMJ bullets. The smallest group for this load was 1.21" and the largest was 1,.93".
While I have other 9mm's that are more accurate, the Ruger’s numbers are certainly respectable. It is more than accurate enough for its intended purpose.
So, what’s the final verdict on the SR9C? It is well made, affordable, comfortable to shoot, accurate, reliable (so far), and concealable. My only real gripes are mostly cosmetic or minor in nature and its only functional deficiency was easy to diagnose and is just as fixable. It will serve its designed purpose well and I recommend it without reservation for some one wanting an inexpensive but serviceable concealed carry 9mm.
Posted 01-13-2011 at 08:30 by dugo
Posted 04-14-2012 at 05:24 by cluznar
Posted 04-14-2012 at 07:40 by methodius