Ruger's NEW American Compact 9mm Semi-Automatic Pistol 

& Ruger American Pistol 9x19mm Semi-Automatic Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 1st, 2016

UPDATED September 29th, 2016




Click pictures for a larger version.





Steel Novak Lo-Mount sights.





Ambidextrous slide lock.





Disassembly lever.





Ambidextrous magazine release.







Recessed lanyard attachment point.





Today, shooters are blessed with a wealth of new semi-automatic pistols from which to choose. Most of the popular centerfire pistols on the market today were not even available ten short years ago, excepting the excellent 1911. Even the Glock, which has been available in the US for three decades, is relatively "new" in the world of guns. Now, a polymer-framed striker-fired pistol is the norm, as the things work, and work well. Improvements in the manufacturing processes make quality pistols less expensive, in real money, than they have ever been.

Featured here is the new American pistol from Ruger. Ruger has had great success with their line of American rifles, and it seems that they got everything right with this newest striker-fired American pistol. Not built to a price point, nor to be the cheapest pistol on the market, the Ruger American still represents a good value in a world-class pistol.

The pistol is not called "American" to differentiate it from Ruger's other pistols because of nation-of-origin, as all Ruger firearms are made in the USA. Instead, the American is what an American pistol should be; Rugged, reliable, accurate, a good value, and competitive with the best pistols of its type from anywhere in the world. Little details make a difference to me, and on this Ruger, I think they got the details just right. No one thing jumps out at me as revolutionary. Inside, it does have the recoil cam which reduces felt recoil, but I have never been very sensitive to recoil. To some, this might make a big difference in pistol selection. To me, it is the combination of the details of the little things, like not having to pull the trigger to disassemble the pistol, as is required on some competing designs. This pistol is very easy to disassemble and to reassemble. Nothing to align. No fighting the recoil spring. Just lock the slide open, drop the mag, and rotate the disassembly lever. Then just grasp the slide and move it rearward slightly, and it slides right off the frame. Just as easy to reassemble. Little things like using steel instead of plastic for the trigger and the sights. I like how the pistol sits low in the hand, and with the medium grip installed, it points very naturally for me. The trigger pull is dang-near perfect for such a pistol. Smooth, light, and with a short, positive reset. The pull weight measures 5.75 pounds on both my Lyman and Timney trigger scales, but feels lighter. I like the ambidextrous magazine release, so even right-handed shooters can release the mag using the trigger finger, which is easier and more-natural, once one gets used to doing it that way. I like the steel-bodied nickel-Teflon plated magazines, two of which are included with each pistol. I like the stainless steel black-nitrided frame insert which carries the load and houses the fire control group. I like the design of the sights; not necessarily the three-white-dot pattern, but the Novak design. I like the black-nitride finish on the stainless steel slide. I like the ambidextrous slide lock. I like that the accessory rail is 1913 Picatinny spec instead of some convoluted proprietary rail. I like the fact that the trigger does not pinch my finger. I like the texture on the grip. It is coarse enough for a positive hold, but not abrasive to the hand nor clothing.

Critical specifications for the American Pistol are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces, and includes the empty magazine. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale and confirmed with my Timney mechanical trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and magazine base with the magazine in place. Maximum grip width is measured across the grip frame palm swells, with the medium-sized grip module installed. Maximum width is measured across the ambidextrous slide lock levers. Trigger reach is with the medium grip module installed.

Chambering 9x19mm (9mm Luger)
Weight w/ Empty Magazine 30.7 ounces
Trigger Pull 5.75 pounds
Barrel Length 4.2 inches
Barrel Diameter 0.585 inch
Overall Height 5.61 inches
Overall Length 7.5 inches
Grip Width 1.28 inches
Frame Width 1.2 inches
Slide Width 1.06 inches
Maximum Width 1.37 inches
Trigger Reach 2.66 inches
Magazine Capacity 17
Magazines Supplied 2
Magazine Disconnect Safety No
Manual Thumb Safety No
Accessory Rail 1913 Picatinny Spec
Extras Supplied Hard case, cable lock, instruction manual, decals, three grip modules, wrench
MSRP as of January 2016 $579.00 US

I fired the American Pistol with a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX, Buffalo Bore Lead Free, and Double Tap and Barnes Tac-XP  are hollow nose homogenous copper bullets that are made by Barnes Bullets. Guard Dog is a FMJ with a soft plastic core to promote rapid expansion. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FMJ-FN is a full metal jacket flat nose Buffalo Bore Penetrator bullet. PB is Pow’RBall, a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon. Glaser is a pre-fragmented bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of thirty-seven degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of seventy percent. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.


Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP +P 95 1436
Buffalo Bore Lead Free HP +P+ 115 1300
Buffalo Bore JHP +P+ 124 1323
Barnes TAC-XP 115 1052
Sig JHP 115 1250
CCI Blazer Brass FMJ 115 1135
Federal Guard Dog 105 1156
Double Tap TAC-XP +P 115 1162
Double Tap FMJ +P 147 1073
Remington Home Defense 124 1116
Atomic HP +P 124 1211
WCC NATO FMJ 124 1107
Fiocchi FMJ 115 1046
Buffalo Bore FMJ-FN 124 1277
Buffalo Bore JHP +P+ 115 1444
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 147 1062
Cor-Bon Glaser +P 80 1578
Cor-Bon JHP +P 115 1312
Cor-Bon Pow'RBall +P 100 1301
Cor-Bon DPX +P 115 1132
Cor-Bon JHP +P 125 1278
Stryker JHP 115 1011
International Cartridge FP 100 1043
Stryker FMJ 115 1078

Shooting the American Pistol was a real pleasure. Recoil is soft. Ruger says there is a recoil-reducing cam that attenuates felt recoil, and whatever it is, it works. Even Buffalo Bore 124 grain +P+ ammo is soft-shooting. While the 9x19mm cartridge is easy for most shooters to handle, some can not, but there is simply no pain at all inflicted in firing this pistol. Every cartridge tested fed, fired, and ejected flawlessly. There were no failures or stoppages of any kind.

Accuracy was very good. Slow-fire standing at seven yards, shooting an entire magazine of CCI Blazer Brass FMJ into one ragged hole was no problem. At twenty-five yards from the bench, groups measured from a low of 1.25 to a high of 2.75 inches spread for five shots, depending upon the ammunition. This American pistol is match-accurate, if the ammo is up to the task.

In the paragraphs above, I listed a few things that I really like about this pistol, but it is the culmination of all those details that makes this pistol a great pistol. It is difficult to quantify; to put into words, but perhaps it was summed up for me when my wife of 36 years handled the pistol. Lots of guns come through here; sometimes several in a week's time, and she doesn't usually get excited about any of them. To her, guns are just tools. If something needs a hole in it, she will pick up a gun and fire it, but does not shoot just for the pleasure of it. I saw a different look on her face while handling this pistol. She liked the feel, the weight, the balance, and the operation of the weapon. I didn't think much about it, but in response to my Facebook post on the American Pistol, she stated, "I like this gun. As many pistols that have come through this house...I really like this one. Feels great in my hand. Love the way it breaks down (disassembles ~ jq). Think I'd like to own one...Jeff Quinn, can you make that happen?" I think I can make that happen. 

These pistols have shipped in quantity by the time you are reading this. They are on dealer's shelves, and at hundreds of public ranges across the country.

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the American Pistol online, click on the GUN GENIE at

To order quality ammunition, go to,,,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



The Ruger American Pistol comes with hard case, two magazines, cable lock, decal, instruction manual, extra grip modules, and wrench.







Grip modules are changed quickly and easily to adjust the grip to the shooter's hand.





Disassembly is quick, easy, and safe.