Ruger American Pistol 9mm Full-Size Duty Pistol – Gun Review

Made to compete for the U.S. Military’s Joint Combat Pistol Specification and Modular Handgun System (MHS) programs, the Ruger American Pistol is a full size strikerfire handgun. Available in 9mm, the Ruger American Pistol has a capacity of 17+1 and utilizes a Browning-type lock-breech action.

Ruger American Pistol
Ruger American Pistol

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- Say what you want about Ruger, they prove the old adage that “specialization is for insects”. Ruger has always had a diverse offering of single action revolvers, double action revolvers, bolt action rifles, semiautomatic rifles, 1911 pistols, double-barreled shotguns, 22 target pistols, rimfire suppressors and now a striker fired, polymer framed pistol.

The Ruger American Pistol

The pistol is very “un Ruger-like” if you have not pulled your head out of the sand to take a look at the company's offerings over the past decade. They are moving by leaps and bounds in the correct direction. They could have easily built this pistol on the SR-9 platform, but it appears to be a completely new design built from the ground up.

There is no external thumb safety, no magazine disconnects and no “Warning” on the barrel. This new design may seem familiar with respect to other pistols on the market, but the design is a complete departure from Ruger’s older semiautomatic pistols.

In essence, it is a full-size semi-automatic that utilizes a Browning-type locked-breech action.

Another thing we noticed is that it sports a patent-pending barrel cam that is intended to reduce felt recoil.

This cam spreads the recoil impulse out by controlling the rearward movement of the slide as the shot is fired. So rather than have the brunt of the recoil driven into the shooting hand it reduces the amount of felt recoil. A secondary benefit is that It allows the use of a lighter slide.

The Good

One of the good things about the Ruger American Pistol is that it is a chassis pistol like the SIG 250 and 320 and this internal chassis is the serialized part. We have not seen replacement frames offered, but when they are, swapping to another size or configuration should be cheap and easy. Disassembly for field-stripping requires no tools and you do not even have to pull the trigger to take it down.

Ruger American Pistol RAPC has a safe easy take down with no tools or trigger pull required
Ruger American Pistol RAPC has a safe easy take down with no tools or trigger takedownired

Ruger's trigger on the American breaks even at 5.5 pounds with a medium take up and reset. It is very nice for an out of the box trigger on a striker-fired handgun with our favorite still being the one found on the Steyr S9-A1.

This trigger incorporates a safety like many other striker-fired designs and there is an automatic seer block. The grip profile is very similar to the Steyr Arms M-series.

Ruger American Pistol RAPC Trigger features a positve reset
Ruger American Pistol RAPC Trigger features a positive reset

Another feature we really liked that Ruger went with on the American Pistol is the ambidextrous slide stop. This is a great upgrade for left-handed shooters and we are glad to see more manufacturers adding this feature.

The texture of the polymer frame is just-right, not too soft or overly aggressive. As the trend goes with polymer framed handguns for the past 7 or 8 years, the back straps are interchangeable. The frame can be stippled if you like. We particularly liked the machining job for the rear cocking serrations.

As is the trend on polymer framed handguns for the past 7 or 8 years, the back straps are interchangeable on the Ruger American Pistol.
As is the trend on polymer framed handguns for the past 7 or 8 years, the back straps are interchangeable on the Ruger American Pistol.

Sights are metallic Novak style three-dot types. Set in a dovetail, Ruger is supposed to offer different variations as upgrades through their website in the coming months.

The steel magazines are Teflon coated and they have polymer bases. They hold 17 rounds, which is a refreshing change from ten on a Ruger semi-auto pistol.

Ruger American Pistol
Ruger American Pistol

The Bad

Ruger’s American pistol has been out for a while, but the extras to capitalize on its features do not seem to be found. We have a serialized chassis which allows for replacement frames, but we have yet to see them. It’s the same deal for caliber conversion kits, barrels and the like.  This pistol truly has the potential to deliver on all those accessories. Maybe the aftermarket will get to work on this before Ruger does.

The Reality

The Ruger American Pistol is a well thought out and executed pistol. Reliability was excellent and accuracy was more than acceptable. We tried a variety of ammunition types including Hornady XTP (115 grains), Freedom Munitions 147 Grain subsonic and a few Remington 115 FMJs. Best accuracy went to Hornady.

On almost any other design from Ruger we would predict huge sales and Ruger should rightfully capitalize on the “Made in America” aspect of this handgun. However, so much of the market share has been swallowed up by another company in this regard and brand loyalty is a funny thing.

Perhaps this could change if Ruger’s loyal customers who have not jumped on the polymer pistol bandwagon show up for this one in droves.

Ruger’s American is an extremely well made and reliable pistol, it’s a shame they did not bring this product to market years earlier, as it could have been a serious contender for a police duty pistol.

The steel magazines ore Teflon coated and they have polymer bases. They hold 17 rounds, which is a refreshing change from ten on a Ruger semi-auto pistol.
The steel magazines ore Teflon coated and they have polymer bases. They hold 17 rounds, which is a refreshing change from ten on a Ruger semi-auto pistol.

Law enforcement trainers put a lot of “what they want to see in a duty handgun” during the design phase for Ruger’s engineering team and much of those specs made the cut for the final product.

Ruger started this design in order to compete for the U.S. Military’s Joint Combat Pistol Specification and Modular Handgun System (MHS) programs. It is easy to see that their end goal was producing a pistol that would meet or exceed the military’s requirements.

We strongly hope that this design remains in the company’s lineup for a long time. Versions are available in a more compact size as well as in the 45 ACP chambering.


Hickock45: Ruger American Pistol


Ruger American Pistol Specs:

  • Capacity:17+1
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Weight: 30 oz
  • Length: 7.5″
  • Width: 1.4″
  • Height: 5.6″
  • Barrel length: 4.2″
  • MSRP $579.00

About Mike SearsonMike Searson

Mike Searson's career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

  • 8 thoughts on “Ruger American Pistol 9mm Full-Size Duty Pistol – Gun Review

    1. Warming: The Ruger American pistol has a trigger that may not be able to be pressed by people with short fingers. It has been my experience that any lateral pressure on the trigger safety while trying to press the trigger will result in the trigger safety to block the trigger press. This may be by design, but in my experience other manufacturers don’t allow for any play in how the trigger safety fits the trigger. In my opinion this could get someone killed when they need their firearm to work under pressure and it won’t.

      You should thoroughly test this before trusting this firearm to protect your life.

    2. I have the 9mm compact version. Easy to carry with the shorter mag in an Alien Gear IWB holster, and still have the 17 round magazine as back up or for home defense (comes with both mags). I love the ergonomics and reliability of this pistol.

    3. I happily agree witb the authors overview of this weapon. Out of the box accuracy, comfort, and ambidextrous features are impressive. My complaint is the aftermarket availability of holsters. If you make the mistake of adding a tactical light your options now drop to zero offerings. Ruger or someone needs to correct this issue- Now!

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