[3/25/27] Ruger caught up with the times in 2015 when the company released a full-size polymer frame, striker-fired, easy-maintenance 9mm. In late 2016, the compact version of the Ruger American was unveiled, and it does everything its big brother can do — while doubling as a concealable handgun.
Last fall, I got to handle and fire the new Ruger American Compact 9mm at the Blue August gun writers’ conference. Factory reps explained the method behind Ruger’s seeming madness of delaying their foray into the striker-fired pistol market: customers who use modern pistols now know exactly what they want, and Ruger sought to provide it on the first try.
Ruger American pistols incorporate common requests the company collected in its extensive pre-design market research. Here are ways in which the company says design is wrapped around customer demand:
- Modular grip system. Three choices of grip panel that wrap around the rear and sides come with every gun. Grip can thus be customized for different hand sizes.
- Quality trigger with clear reset. The trigger features a safety lever, a common feature on many mass-market, striker-fired handguns. It has moderate travel, about 4.5 pounds of pull, and a clear reset that’s comparable to triggers in the Springfield XD series. I think it’s a great trigger for both defensive use and range practice.
- A prominent magazine release. The mag release is easy to feel and operate. Operation is ambidextrous with no changes required. This is my only criticism of the firearm. Too many people have reported that an exposed mag release caused the magazine to unseat as a result of pressure from a seatbelt or an attacker.
- A no-cost optional slide safety. The Pro model of the Ruger American Compact Pistol has no safety lever other than the passively operated one on the trigger. The standard model has a sizeable safety lever on both sides. People feel strongly one way or another about having a safety. With the Ruger American, folks on both sides of that argument can have it their way.