The Ruger American Pistol has been out a couple of years now, but when it was released Ruger was tight lipped about it, and we had to order it without knowing exactly what we were ordering. Naturally, once we received it, we had to torture test it.

So how does it shoot, and is it durable?   

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Ruger American Pistol

We took a new, never fired, Ruger American 9mm full sized model to the range and fed it some Aguila 124gr FMJ, Federal Hydra-Shok 115 Gr HP, and 100gr Cor-Bon Pow’R Ball.  The gun ate them all without a hiccup.  So for dessert we loaded a mag with a random mixture of the above ammo and it ate all of that too.

Then Barron proceeded to do things to a brand new American built firearm that should make gun lovers wince.  He dropped it, dropped kicked it, and flung it against the wooden range backstop for good measure.  It ran flawlessly. Not being deterred, Barron decided to throw it to the ground, and really grind some dirt into the mechanism with his foot.  The result?  After a bit of difficulty racking the slide due to dirt build up…yawn…it fired five rounds as fast as he could (safely) squeeze the trigger.

After that… things…terrible things, were done to the pistol. Ever wondered what being frozen in block of ice will do to a nice American made pistol?  What does a half a can of fine cut tobacco, and a tall boy of beer do to a pistol? Watch the video to find out.

If the video made you want to know more, read on for the details and specs

So It’s pretty tough, how does it compare to the competition?

The Ruger American is a clean sheet design, not a reworking of an existing Ruger model.  Ruger designed it with an apparent eye toward entering it into the Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS) program.  As a result, the Ruger American Pistol checks off all of the requirements of that program.  The MHS was the Army’s search for its next service pistol.  Ultimately, Ruger made the decision that competing in the MHS Program was a very expensive undertaking and they had a small chance of winning the contract due to DOD preferences.  Sadly, we will never know how the Army would have chosen.  At any rate Sig got the contract beating out S&W, Glock, and several others.   During the design phase Ruger also sought out feedback and suggestions from the law enforcement community on what they might like in a duty pistol. So what did they end up with?

It is a polymer-framed, semi-automatic pistol, chambered in either 9mm or .45 and offered in either a full size or a compact. It has a picatinny rail and genuine Novak® sights.  It has modular adjustable grips- meaning it comes with three easily swappable backstraps to get the palm swell and trigger reach just right for both the small handed and the ham fisted.  It has good serrations on the rear, and front, of the slide. You get two 17 round Nickel -Teflon® coated magazines with the full size Ruger American, in locales where the full glory of the 2nd amendment is allowed.  The compact 9mm version holds 12 rounds. This coating should allow for a much smoother insertion and release and a more durable finish. So far, that probably sounds like a dozen other pistols already in the market.  However, this pistol has several features which really do set it apart from the crowded field of Smith & Wessons, Springfields, and the ever popular Glocks it is often compared against.

Lefties rejoice! What really sets it apart from most of its direct competitors is that The Ruger American is completely ambidextrous, it has a magazine release as well as slide stop controls on both sides of the pistol at a much (much) cheaper price point than H&K’s VP9. Another feature that is not common is that all of the steel parts are built into a modular chassis vs. molding sheet metal inserts into the polymer frame. This chassis allows for more strength. One reason for this design is better ability of large Law Enforcement Agencies and the Military to maintain the gun and replace broken parts.  However, for the average user this modular design has the added benefit of allowing a thinner grip for smaller handed shooters.

Ruger designed the mechanism to produce a shorter and crisper trigger pull by allowing the slide to completely cock the pistol (Single Action).  This is similar to a Walther PPQ, or a Springfield XD. This differs from most striker fired pistols where the trigger does half the job of cocking (Double Action). Another feature is that the (patent pending) barrel locking mechanism allows the slide to be lighter without affecting felt recoil.




The Ruger American requires no  tools or complicated manipulations to field strip.  Takedown is simply and easily performed, similar to the process in a (much more expensive) Sig, by removing the magazine, locking the slide open, turning the takedown lever downward (it has a very nice positive detent click), and sliding the slide forward off of the frame rails.  The recoil spring and barrel lift out like any other short recoil operated pistol.

It is a great pistol, get yours today at Liberty Tree


What we liked:

  • The finish is tough
  • Fully ambidextrous controls
  • Unique Ruger hard case
  • 2 -17 round magazines
  • Adjustable grips
  • Very easy field strip and reassembly

What we didn’t like:

  • Nothing much, Eli thought the recoil felt a little odd in his hand

Disclaimer:  We do not recommend you freeze your gun, throw your gun, cram chew into it, or pour beer on it.  Don’t purposefully drop you firearm in a mud puddle.   Let us do that. Enjoy your firearms responsibly.

Liberty Tree