Well, the Ruger American has been out just a little over two months, and I’ve personally owned the one pictured in this article for about a month and a half. I can tell you that so far I’m beyond impressed. But before I get into the review, let’s look at the pistol itself.
The Ruger American series pistols have been in development for the last three years, per Ruger’s website. Ruger took several industry professionals, got their ideas, got their input, and the result is what we see here. The Ruger American is a polymer striker fire, with no manual safety. Additionally the Ruger Americans can now be fired without a magazine. Per Ruger’s website the gun is 7.50″ long, with a 4.20″ barrel, with an empty weight of 30 oz. It comes with three interchangeable back straps and standard Novak dovetailed sights. The firearm also possess ambidextrous controls, except for the take down lever. It comes in a hard plastic box with two metal magazines. Out of the box mine averaged a usable and smooth trigger pull of 6.75lbs. The other aspect of this firearm is it’s a modular design, as designated by the US Military for up coming pistol trials. What this essentially means is that serialized part of this firearm is a self contained trigger group. In theory this would allow for any trigger group to be removed and placed into another frame for use. (Making it easy to move from a 9mm to a 45acp with basically one firearm and several frames, much like a Sig P320.)
So let’s start with the sights. Ruger stepped up their game by placing Novak quality sights, on this gun. These are the typical three dot variety with no integrated adjustment. (I believe every pistol needs a little sighting, but that’s for another article.) Ruger realized not everyone likes three dots, thus you can order all black or night sights from Rugers website. My complaint here is that while Novak’s are great sights, to me they aren’t fighting sights. What I mean is that I prefer a shelf sight, flat front edge, instead of the ramp style of Novak. My main reasoning is in a fighting situation I might have a forced opportunity that would cause me to use my sights as leverage to work the slide of my firearm. While this can be done with ramp sights, the effort invoked is significantly more. As previously stated I also like my rear sight to be blacked out, just how my eyes pickup things better. For me the solution was to use a black magic marker and color the dots. (Hey I’m an LEO and don’t make crazy money.)
Working our way down we come to the slide/action. The slide doesn’t have any fancy cocking serrations, as there are plenty at the rear where you won’t slip off and hurt yourself. The grip on the slide is aggressive enough as to not lose your grip, but not so aggressive I feel it would snag clothing. The action seems short and a little abrupt, but still somewhat smooth and familiar. The firearm sits lower in your grip, as compared to the old “P” series or SR series.
The next aspect is the grip. This is where the American shines. To start the grip is more squared, in ones hand, with aggressive texture at the front and rear. This seems to be a major complaint, on the internet by other reviewers, but for me it’s perfect. For the longest time I have tried to grip a pistol with a more rounded grip, call it lack of education. Issue is that grips can’t be round, if magazines are squared. So when I finally realized that I really needed to be gripping a pistol more front to back, I realized that most pistol grips aren’t made correctly. Well the Ruger, with it’s more squared grip, seems to really fill that need and fit, for me. It seemed to allow me to have more purchase on the front and back, allowing my hand better control. The next aspect of the grip are it’s backstarps. Here again I feel Ruger got it right. First, with the backstraps off no internal parts of the gun are exposed. This is very important to prevent damage to the internals in the event of a backstrap failure, which I’ve seen happen on the M&P. Second, the size of the backstraps seem to have been well thought out, in particular the size of the smallest strap. It seems that Ruger created this firearm with the realization of small handed persons. The best way I can tell my readers to compare the strap is to grip a Glock 17 magazine like you would grip a gun. In turn the largest backstrap makes the Ruger within a few 100th of an inch of my Glock 17, with the large grip. (I see most people shooting the Ruger with the middle strap. But that’s just my opinion.)
From there we get to the trigger. While not a competition gun, the Ruger trigger was a very consistent 6.75lbs. I know in the days of the light fast trigger, this does not seem to be “in the market.” But, what I felt was this trigger had a smooth and slightly gritty take-up that stacks with a smooth release. Ruger integrated a trigger over travel, in the frame of each gun. While not an ideal method, it is a great start to helping the average shooter with trigger control. The trigger is flat faced, with an integrated safety like most other strikers on the market. Since owning this gun, I feel the trigger has blended well and continues to smooth out, having less grit each time I shoot. Out of the box the triggers is very usable and will improve with use.
Magazines are just magazines. Here my only issue is cost, retail of $35. Other than that, they are metal, with springs, and plastic followers. I’ve dropped mine, kicked them, and other wise abused them.
Accuracy- This is another area the Ruger impresses me. While trying to sight this gun in, I was able to place three bullets into the same hole. For me, and how I shoot, this firearm shoots about 1/2″ low. For the average shooter this will be a non-issue and almost isn’t worth mentioning, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say anything. I attribute this more to my being use to a particular sight picture with my Glocks than I do the pistol.
One of the biggest downsides of a new firearm are holsters. Currently the only holster offerings are from Blade-Tech or the Safariland GLS Pro-Fit. I elected to contact Gray Man Solutions, who built me a custom kydex holster and magazine pouch. I figure it’s only a matter of time before we see a few more options available.
Below are my overall ratings and Pro’s and Con’s. Some of you might notice that there are a few features that I personally liked, but listed in the Con category. My reasoning is that while this might work for me, the average person will have a learning curve and might initially find a particular feature or aspect not as appealing. I do believe over time, some of those Con’s will be resolved. In my opinion, Ruger got this one right.