Ruger P345 Compact .45 Auto Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

July 30th, 2004




For the past nineteen years, Ruger has been building some very good centerfire auto pistols. They have earned a well-deserved reputation for reliability, durability, and value. With the Ruger auto, the shooter has always received a good weapon at a fair price. The only drawback to the Ruger  P-series pistols has always been their bulk. Ruger designed these guns to be rugged and very stout, but I have always considered them to be duty-sized pistols; excellent for holster carry by an outdoorsman, hunter, or police officer, but not very good for concealment.

The latest centerfire auto pistol from Ruger differs in several ways from the earlier designs. While it is still a rugged double-action design, the P345 is much more compact, but is still chambered for the legendary .45 ACP cartridge.

With the new P345, Ruger has rectified the bulk problem of the earlier design, making the gun much more concealable for discreet carry of the weapon. The grip area of the P345 is also redesigned, providing for a much better feel, at least in my hand, than the earlier P-series guns. The magazine release on the P345 is in the familiar position preferred by American shooters, just behind the trigger guard on the left side, and is easily reached with the thumb of a right-handed shooter, or with the trigger finger of a southpaw.  In fact, it is a bit easier to reach than on several 1911 autos that I had available for comparison.

The P345 has a very comfortable grip that is integral with the polyurethane frame. The grip area has a large amount of molded-in checkering, and is sculpted and shaped to actually fit the human hand. I like it. The double-action trigger reach on the P345 is just 2.835 inches, which is almost identical to the trigger reach on a 1911 style auto. In the single-action (cocked) mode, the trigger reach on the Ruger is about three-eighths of an inch less. The barrel length on the .345 measures just a hair over four inches, 4.056" to be exact, and the overall length of the weapon is seven and five-eighths inches. The overall height is five and one-half inches. Where Ruger really made significant reductions in the bulk of the pistol is in the overall width of the pistol. The widest point on the weapon is across the ambidextrous safeties, where the gun measures a trim 1.154 inches, which is pretty slim for a double-action pistol chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. The grip is thinner and the trigger reach shorter than on the Glock model 37 that is chambered for the shorter .45 GAP cartridge, but the Ruger carries a magazine containing eight of the full-sized .45 ACP cartridges. The slide thickness on the P345 measures barely over an inch, at 1.024 inches. The underside of the frame in front of the trigger has an integral Picatinny rail on which the shooter can hang accessories such as lights and lasers, if he so desires.

The sights on the P345 are adjustable for windage, and are of the three-dot configuration, but have no low-light illumination. The hammer is grooved and dished for easier cocking, and the slide release is easy to reach with either the thumb of a right-handed shooter or the trigger finger of a lefty. The trigger is smooth on the surface, and is about three-eighths of an inch wide. The decocking safety is ambidextrous, and is easily reached with the thumb of the shooting hand.

Ruger has incorporated an integral lock into the P345 that is unobtrusive and almost invisible. Some shooters detest these integral locks, but other shooters like them, depending upon the situation and local laws regarding the security of firearms. With the thumb safety in the "safe" position, a key is inserted into the lever on the right side of the pistol and turned clockwise to lock the safety in this position. The safety lever will not move into the "fire" position until the key in rotated counter-clockwise to unlock the safety. It is very effective, well hidden, and can be either utilized or ignored as the shooter desires.

Atop the slide just to the rear of the chamber, the P345 had a loaded chamber indicator, which can be easily seen or felt to check to see if the chamber contains a cartridge or not.

Another safety feature of the P345, and the most controversial, is the incorporation of a magazine disconnect safety. Unless a magazine is fully inserted into the pistol, the gun will not fire, regardless of whether or not the chamber is loaded. While the trigger will function and the gun can be dry-fired with the magazine out, the firing pin will not strike the primer without the magazine in place. The only legitimate complaint against magazine disconnect safeties is that the gun cannot be fired in the middle of a magazine change, but it is really not that big of a deal. A good shooter can drop a magazine and insert a new one in a couple of seconds, and the gun is usually not pointed at the target during the operation. Anyway, it is another safety feature to prevent the weapon from being fired by an untrained shooter, and some do desire this feature. I have seen the magazine disconnect feature applauded by some police trainers as a way to render the gun inoperable if the officer is about to lose control of his weapon. By dropping the magazine, the gun cannot be turned against the officer. As I am not a police trainer, I cannot side either way on this advantage, but it is a consideration.

When I received the new P345, I was surprised at the compact size and light weight of the weapon. It is about the same size and bulk of a Commander-sized 1911, and at 29.4 ounces with an empty magazine, the Ruger weighs a bit less than a new Smith & Wesson Scandium lightweight 1911 that I had handy for comparison.

Shooting the P345 with a variety of factory and handloaded ammunition, the new Ruger proved to be absolutely reliable with everything tried. The double-action pull measured a smooth eight pounds and five ounces, and the single-action pull measured five pounds and six ounces. I shot the weapon from every possible angle, holding the gun upside down, vertical, and on either side to encourage a malfunction. The gun never stuttered. The cartridge is held by the large extractor while being fed from the magazine, offering a type of controlled-round feeding system, and it works very well. Recoil was brisk but easily manageable from the lightweight pistol, and rapid-fire drills were very easy to perform. The P345 was plenty accurate for social work, grouping a magazine load of ammo into less than three inches at twenty-five yards, with some loads grouping right at two and one-half inches.

Stripping the P345 down for cleaning is very easy, and Ruger provides detailed instructions with the gun. The locking system employs a cam block which is integral with the stainless guide rod, and it locks the gun into battery very securely, with no lateral or vertical play in the lockup. It appears to be, like most Ruger designs, very durable and rugged. There is absolutely no discernible play between the slide and frame when the pistol is in battery.

The Ruger P345 comes with two eight-round magazines, a hard plastic case, a cable lock, magazine loader, and instruction manual. Like all Ruger firearms, the P345 is an excellent value, and is built to last.

Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

Jeff Quinn


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Click pictures for a larger version.


Ruger's P345 compact .45 auto pistol



Ergonomically-designed grip is checkered for a very positive feel.



Magazine release is well-located and easy to operate by either right-handers or Southpaws like Jeff.



The forward section of the polymer frame features an integral accessory rail.



The P345's compact size is a welcome new design for those who are familiar with the earlier bulky Ruger semi-autos. In the lower picture, the P345 is hidden underneath the Commander-sized S&W 1911 Scandium, and actually weighs a bit less.



Sights are of the "three-dot" configuration, and are drift-adjustable for windage.



Thin-profile ambidextrous safety levers add little to the width of the gun, but are positive and easy to operate.



The P345 features a visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator.



Ruger's key locking system is simple, positive, unobtrusive, and easy to use or ignore as the shooter sees fit.



Barrel locks up with a cam block - a positive and rugged system.



Bushingless barrel design and full-length stainless guide rod offer reliability.



Magazine positions cartridges very close to the line of the chamber, and the barrel's integral feed ramp is polished for jam-free operation.



Author tested the P345 with a good variety of factory and handloaded ammunition. Reliability was 100% and accuracy was acceptable for the pistol's intended purpose.