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The Ruger P85

8333 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  rachilders
Well since I get an involuntary day off and it would be ill advised to go anywhere with the roads like they are (I've got plenty of emergency food anyway if I need it), I thought I'd showcase something which is a mere gun to the rest of the world, but a priceless relic to me.

The tool in question is a pistol chambered in 9x19, a Ruger P85 Mark II to be exact. You won't find these for sale (new) anymore.

You see, this was my late father's pistol, and now it is mine. I always knew this gun would be mine someday. That day just came too soon.

Using's Gallery service, here's some visuals.

Here it is. This isn't all of the accessories I inherited for it, but this is all of the original factory gear he had for it. Everything you see came from the Ruger factory. Back then the pistol only came one way: with 15 round magazines. They didn't sell them with 10 rounders yet.

The blocky stylings that would be the hallmark of the future P series models are evident here.

I have shot this gun before, but the most remarkable thing I've observed about this gun versus the P89 I used to have is that this older gun actually seems a lot "tighter" for lack of a better word. It's like the P89 should have preceded this gun, as the older one seems to be a slight refinement.

The trigger is noticeably different. It's not as good as the trigger on my XD (then again this is a true double action pistol vs. what is technically a single action pistol), but it's smoother than other Rugers I've handled. This trigger isn't going to win anyone over, but it is noticeably better.

The controls, slide stop, safety, etc. seem to be more responsive and less prone to rattling.

It's still made out of cast parts, and it's still quite thick and blocky.

The infamous Ruger warning label is visible on this early model. I've encountered many who believe that label is strictly a modern phenomenon. Nope.

The lanyard ring is a little bit unusual to me. Don't see that on too many modern pistols any more.

On the left we have a modern P series magazine, and on the right one of the three original 15 rounders.

The original magazines work much, much better. The other ones will feed, but the problem is you have to really shove them in there good to get them to stay in there.

I wonder if filing a little bit on them wouldn't make them work better. There seems to be a catch on the front of the magazines that's in a slightly different place.

Theoretically any P89/95 etc. magazine should work in the P85, but I had the same problem with my P89. The aftermarket mags certainly worked and fed well, but simply inserting the magazine in a hurry necessitated slamming the magazine in quite forcefully.

It's not much of an issue as I will never CCW this gun. I will however shoot it, and keep it ready to go as my father did.

I will however look for the accessories and like in due time. The reason why is I will never sell this gun at any price. It served him for a lifetime, so taking care of me should be a cake walk for this pistol.

I have associated this gun with protection and safety from the things that go bump in the night for my entire life. I'm not about to stop now.
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

· Super Moderator
19,365 Posts
nice clean looking gun there. Nice to have family heirlooms. I know the 12 ga. model 12's my dad owns are real special too. As they were owned by my grand father and great grand father. Worn bluing, scratches and other character marks showing a lifetime of use.

· Registered
17,530 Posts
Good Pistol there one of the toughest 9mm's out there ..

When it was first produced the techs at ruger threaded the inner bore on on and run in a steel plug and then fired 15 rounds in the barrel didnt even bulge gun was totaly serviceable.

Good to have heirlooms and a good looking piece

· Premium Member
26,492 Posts
Nice looking weapon. I'd thought about one years ago.

I got one of my Father's pistols when he passed. It's a 9 shot .22 wheel gun. Still have it!

· Premium Member
25,596 Posts
Nice to have that Euc - a tangible link and as you say - not one for sale.

Can you put an approx birth date on that? I am not even sure when the P series officially came along, other than it was ''some time ago"!!

· Registered
933 Posts
I own two P-85's, an original and a MKII. Here's a little story about them.

I bought the original model when they first came out in the late 80's. I lived near Philadelphia at the time but in 1990 moved to New Orleans (transferred actually, I was in the navy). A year later, the P-85 and a number of other guns were stolen during a burglary while I was out of town. A few months passed, I ordered the MK11 as a replacement and gave the other up for lost.

About five years later, I received a call from the NOPD saying my gun had been recovered and I could either claim it or have them dispose of it. I decided to keep the gun and when I went to the station, I almost cried. My perfectly maintained P-85 was scratched, the grips were almost worn smooth and the barrel and action was filled with mud that was as hard as concrete. The police couldn't even get the slide to open! I was told the gun had been used in a number of shootings, robbery's and hold ups over the past few years by a local gang. A gangbanger was caught dealing and while being pursued be the PD, he’d tossed the gun into a canal, where it sat for almost a year before being found by city workers clearing out some trash.

It looked REALLY bad and I was tempted to let it be destroyed. Instead, I took it home figuring I might be able to save some of it for parts. I put the gun in a pail of water and let it soak for a day or so to loosen the mud, then began to use a water hose to knock away some of the dirt and crud. Eventually, the dirt loosened enough that I could get the slide to operate and I removed the barrel. More soaking, washing and rubbing with a tooth brush got out most of the crud and I began to use turpentine and degreaser to get the small parts loose. Soon, the gun didn't look half bad and the action and slide were becoming useable. Not a spot of rust was to be seen and aside from some wear on the slide, it had most of it's finish. Finally, I dried everything off, let it sit for a few days by a window and after several goings over with oil, put everything back together.

To my surprise, everything seemed to work exactly the way it was suppose to. I had a friend, a gunsmith, go over it and he could see nothing that would make it unsafe to fire. We took it to his indoor range, loaded it up and gave it a test firing. He fired one shot, checked it over again, then fired off 3-4 more rounds and it shot like a new gun as far as we could see. I went home, replaced the worn rips with a set of Uncle Mike's and headed to a range. Two mags (30+ rounds) later, it was actually getting tighter groups than the MKII!

I still have that gun, which my wife usually refers to as the "murder weapon" and have probably shot another 2,000 rounds with it since then. In all that time I've never had a single FTF, FTE or misfire and can shoot 3" groups with it at 25 yards. I have around 40 handguns to choose from, but that P-85 is the gun my wife chooses when she qualifies for her CC permit and is the gun she like to bring when we go on road trips. If only ALL guns were made that way!!

It’s story is different than that of Euclidean’s Ruger, but I’m sure if both could talk, they’d have some very interesting stories to tell. As for my gun, when it comes time to pass it on to one of my kids, I hope they can appreciate what it went through and to paraphrase the old Timex watch commercials, “took a licking but kept on ticking"!
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