I’m a 1911/.45 ACP kind of guy.
I was one of a handful of deputies who lobbied our sheriff to have the big gun approved for carry and, when it was finally allowed, I carried it for years on patrol and also as a member of my department’s SWAT team. Properly maintained, it has never let me down.
Although the 1911 remains my primary “go to” handgun, there are times when a lighter compact handgun of modern design accompanies me.
Such occasions usually have to do with how I must dress, and my usual cover garment does not fit in. Sometimes I carry an already heavy briefcase to cover an event. It’s at these times I prefer a lightweight 9mm over the “man gun.”
One that I have recently spent a lot of time with and have come to rely on is the Ruger SR9C, the compact version of Ruger’s popular SR9. With a stainless steel slide and a frame made of glass-filled nylon, the SR9C has a weight of only 23.4 ounces, which is 13 ounces—almost a full pound—lighter than a 1911.
Each SR9C comes complete with a ten-round magazine with a “finger grip” baseplate, as well as a flush-fitting baseplate for less chance of printing when carrying concealed.
An additional bonus is the inclusion of a 17-round SR9 magazine. The standard-capacity SR9 magazine is fitted with an adapter that stops the magazine at the proper position for reliable operation. Another advantage of the magazine adapter, besides allowing it to carry 17 rounds, is that it transforms the compact grip into a full-sized grip.
Two ten-round magazines are shipped to states that do not allow their citizens to own standard-capacity magazines.
Also included are a magazine loader, fitted hard plastic case, gunlock, and manual.
Sights are of the high visibility three-dot type. The front sight is a fixed blade, while the low-profile rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation.
Like SR9, SR9C has ambidextrous 1911-type safety lever.
The slide has fore and aft serrations for easy manipulation and performing a chamber check (press check).
The frame has an integral molded rail. Due to its compact size, the rail only has one slot, but it is toward the front and should accommodate most small lasers and lights.
Like its big brother the full-size SR9, the SR9C has ambidextrous 1911-type safety levers. The pistol also features an internal trigger bar interlock and striker blocker, Glock-type trigger safety, magazine disconnect, and a visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator.
Due to the SR9C’s 3.5-inch barrel, some velocity and resultant power are lost when compared to a full-size service pistol, but not as much as some folks believe.
Generally speaking, a 9mm Parabellum round will lose about 50 feet-per-second (fps) per inch of barrel. Consider, if you will, that the majority of nines have either a four- or five-inch barrel. This means that only 25 to 75 fps will be lost and, since the average 9mm leaves the muzzle at around 1,200 fps, I believe it is too negligible to worry about.
SR9C features visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator.
For carrying the SR9C while testing, I obtained Galco’s new TacSlide™ holster. This is a hybrid holster that mates a Kydex® holster pocket to a slotted steer-hide backplate. It’s fast, concealable, and very economical.
The belt slots on the TacSlide accommodate a 1¾-inch belt. Since the slots are at the end of the leather backplate, the holster hugs the body like few other belt holsters.
For carrying extra magazines, I went with Galco’s DCM™ dual mag pouch. A wraparound design, the DCM can be worn with thinner belts using belt slots on the rear of the pouch, or with wider belts using a belt slot.
My first experience with a Ruger SR9 was at a writer’s symposium sponsored by Ruger at Gunsite. At that time, I observed that the ambidextrous safety lever was, for me at least, too small to reliably ensure the safety was moved to the “off” position, and extremely hard to move when wearing gloves.
With adapter on 17-round standard-capacity magazine, SR9C grip is transformed into full-size grip.
The levers on the SR9C are the same size as the SR9, and I again found them harder to manipulate than a safety on, for example, a 1911.
Because the SR9C has the typical long—though very usable—trigger pull found on striker-fired pistols, my solution was to carry the SR9C with the safety in the “off” position. Some may cringe at the thought, but since the SR9C also has a trigger safety, it is no more unsafe than carrying a Glock that has no external safety except the trigger safety.
I do not recommend this practice as a general rule, and if you have no problem manipulating the safety, then by all means use it! It goes without saying that strict adherence to Rule 3 should be observed.
I went to the range with an assortment of 9mm ammunition in various bullet weights from ASYM Precision, Black Hills, Federal, Hornady, Remington, and one handload with cast lead bullets.
Low-profile rear sight is fully adjustable.
The SR9C easily chambered every type of ammunition I had on hand and extraction was positive.
Magazines ejected easily with both the left and right magazine release buttons.
Accuracy was more than acceptable, and I was able to place all rounds into six inches at 15 yards. Considering this is four to five times the distance of the “average” gunfight, I was more than satisfied.
Felt recoil was minimal (it is a 9mm), but the SR9C did not display the muzzle whip that some compact pistols do when firing service ammo. It behaved more like a full-size pistol. Firing double-taps was easy, and controlled pairs were a snap.
Front sight is a blade with white dot.
I also fired the SR9C with a LaserMax Genesis rechargeable green laser. This compact laser sight is only about 1½ inches long, just over an inch high, just wide enough to fit on a rail, and recharges with a mini USB adapter.
In terms of visibility—especially in bright light—green lasers beat red lasers hands down. As soon as I find a suitable holster, the Genesis will reside permanently on the SR9C.
Throughout this article, I have referred to the pistol as “the SR9C.” I could just as easily have said “my SR9C.”
Pistol ships with a hard case, standard-capacity 17-round magazine, 10-round magazine with two baseplates, and a magazine loader.
As mentioned earlier, my first exposure to the SR9 was at a conference at Gunsite. I first fired the SR9C at a similar event. But I developed pneumonia on the first day and was not able to return for the last two days of the seminar. Still, I had already put a lot of rounds downrange with the SR9C, and it had impressed me enough that I ordered the one evaluated here a couple of months later. I can’t give any product a higher recommendation than that I purchased it with my own hard-earned dollars.
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
ASYM Precision Ammunition
Black Hills Ammunition
Federal Cartridge Company
Hornady Mfg. Co.
Remington Arms Company, Inc.