Carrying the SR9 Part 1 of 3: The Ruger SR9
Since I have a raging headache and don't feel like doing anything active because of it, I just thought I'd spew some stuff from my keyboard regarding what will by my EDC and IDPA setup: a Ruger SR9 in a Crossbreed Supertuck IWB. I'm going to try doing this in three parts, to keep the post size down, and will likely post each part in it's appropriate section. This will focus on the gun itself.
I've already posted a picture of my SR9 in my first attempt at handgun photography here: SR9 pr0n
I used to shoot a borrowed Armscor 1911 in .45ACP for IDPA, as I did not yet have my own handgun. One reason is being married to someone who is not particularly fond of handguns (I'm working on it!). The other reason is money: I have very little disposable income.
I finally got my wife around to the idea of me having a handgun, and we finally got some funds to purchase one. I was originally thinking of a Rock Island Armory Tactical 1911. This is essentially an Armscor gun distributed under a different name in the U.S. Why? No clue. I just knew I was very happy with the borrowed Armscor I had used in the past, and that RIA has a VERY good reputation for customer support.
However, after talking at length with my martial arts instructor (the Armscor's owner and also my defensive handgun instructor) over caliber and handgun choices, I determined that while I really like .45ACP as a defensive carry round, with my current financial situation, though I could very well afford the RIA 1911, I wouldn't be able to afford to shoot the bloody thing as often as I'd like. I settled on 9mm, with modern defensive ammunition being a vast improvement from the time the 9mm vs. .45ACP arguments started, back in the paleolithic era, when cavemen were arguing over the size of throwing rocks.
My instructor shoots a M&P9. Actually, he shoots two...a regular M&P9 that he shoots for competition (IDPA, IPSC, 3-gun), with a light trigger, and another M&P9 that he modified severely himself, cutting the grip by about 1/2 inch to get it to a Glock 19 size, and then having a friend modify and weld up the magazines to match the reduced grip frame. I thought about going that route myself, particularly because of the rebate and free magazines they were offering. Right about this time, Ruger announced the SR9, and I decided to give that a look as well.
The last handgun I owned, years ago, was a Beretta 92FS. Never carried it, as I didn't have my permit at the time. Nice, solid gun. I'm pretty sure I could use it as a hammer to do roofing, and still shoot it just fine afterwards. Ended up selling it.
I was used to a 1911. In many respects, you could say I was spoiled by a 1911. The grip angle was just right for me, the gun was slim, the trigger system was sweet. Before I decided on 9mm, I went shopping at a gun store for the RIA Tactical. The shop didn't have one...just the GI model, which they were WAY overpriced on. However, they did have the SR9. I held it, and it felt GOOD. A little top heavy for me, being used to a steel frame, but the angle and grip feel were NICE. The checkered panels and front strap felt good, and combined with the serrated rubber backstrap, the overall grip feel was very comfortable. I noticed it had a very low bore axis, and the manual thumb safety roughly in a 1911 position was a big plus. The trigger was okay, but I was unfamiliar with a striker-fired action, so I had no way of knowing if it was really good or bad. I actually thought about buying it then, but left without buying anything that day.
Okay, so eventually I decide that I will be shopping for 9mm, having abandoned .45ACP for the time being. I start hearing about some growing pains with the SR9, being a completely new gun for Ruger. The big issue was with the magazines. Apparently, they were freakishly difficult to load, requiring the use of the included mag loader. Furthermore, the mag catch hole on the mag tended to shave the tips off of FMJ rounds, though JHP loaded with no problems, other than the Herculean strength required to push the rounds in. Still, Ruger seemed to be taking care of that issue on a case by case basis, and eventually, they redesigned the magazines and mag catch on the SR9, and soon people were able to determine which guns had the new mag catch and magazines (around serial no. 13xxx and with a test fire date of 12/19/07 and on).
The local gun show rolled around, and I went shopping again, pretty much decided upon the SR9. I found two dealers offering the gun...one at a fairly ridiculous price ($460), and another at a better price of $425. While I was intending to buy the blackened stainless version, all the dealer had was the one stainless model. I checked the mags, and they were of the new design. Better yet, the test fire date was on the first week of that month, so the gun was pretty much fresh off the assembly line. Forked over my dough, showed the dealer my permit, and I was able to walk out with my new gun.
- The gun comes with two 17-round magazines, because I'm lucky enough to live in a state without that IDIOTIC 10-round magazine limit.
- I'm thinking the stainless slide and glass-filled nylon frame would help with corrosion resistance in the humid FL environment.
- The gun is MUCH lighter than an all-steel 1911. This is a good thing for everyday carry.
- Manual thumb-safety. I'm used to swiping off a safety when presenting the gun, and I'm unfamiliar with the Glock-type trigger system, so I like the idea of a manual safety on the gun.
- Made in the U.S.A. Not a requirement, but a nice bonus.
- The gun shoots better than I do. Recoil is very manageable...more so now that I've improved my grip. I'm still getting used to shooting a non-1911 trigger.
- Fully adjustable rear sights. While it may not be necessary, I like having the option, if it ever DOES become necessary.
- SLIM. Very, very slim grip.
- VERY easy field strip.
- Mag disconnect comes out in about 30 seconds. Useless feature for me, that would actually become a PITA for IDPA.
- Fully ambidextrous mag release and manual safety.
- Many of the edges are VERY sharp. Seriously, if you do woodwork, you can take the slide off and use the serrations as a plane. This will actually be something of note in a later post.
- The recoil spring is stiff, potentially making slide manipulation difficult for some. Luckily, it works out and loosens up a bit over time.
- Manual safety. Though the safety is nearly in the same position on the frame as a 1911, it doesn't quite match, which is understandable. It's not a 1911, after all. The safety lever is SMALL. You can't ride your thumb on it as you would a 1911. Some people may have difficulty manipulating it because of the small size. While I had no trouble taking the safety off, using the edge of my thumb joint, activating the safety was a chore. Luckily, this eventually becomes easier with use. Operating the ambi-safety while holding the gun in my left hand is still a bit difficult, but that could be more from me being right-handed.
- Trigger. Some people complained about grittiness in the trigger, but I've never experienced any. It has a bit of take-up, which I'm still getting used to, then has a fairly heavy trigger break. However, the trigger break for me was very crisp, as is the reset. The reset is longer than I'm used to, but very positive...not spongy or iffy at all. By all accounts, including mine, the trigger improves substantially with use.
- Mag disconnect. I'm sorry, but this is an utterly useless feature for me. Also, with the mag disconnect in, dry-firing will damage the striker assembly unless there is a mag in the gun. That's an accident waiting to happen, in my opinion. Luckily, as mentioned above, the thing comes out very easily. Also, it isn't connected to the trigger system at all.
- Mag release button sticking. My mag release button tries to stick sometimes. I've read account of others having issues with the button sticking in one position. Mine never got locked into the release position, but you could feel it trying to. However, that was more than enough to create a problem, I think. Basically, because it sometimes delays in resetting, I think the magazine catch doesn't lock into the magazine sometimes, which has caused a loaded magazine to drop unexpectedly on me a few times. This would be annoying if the gun was purely for IDPA, but as this will also be my carry gun, that's a BIG issue. I've called Ruger and explained the problem. They are sending me a new mag catch for free. I did disassembly the mag release on my gun (THAT was fun, but a story for another time), and I noticed that there were some tooling marks on the surface of the catch that contacts the button. I think this was causing the 'sticking'. I ran a fine stone over it, and while I didn't take the tooling marks out, I did smooth them noticeably. It feels better now, but I won't know for sure until I head to the range again.
Ironically, I tried to do this in parts to keep the posts from being overly long. Upon previewing this one, it's ending up as an inordinately large post, so that's enough rambling from me.
Hey! My headache is gone!