The SR9 was introduced in 2007 as Ruger's first striker-fired polymer pistol (some 20 years after Ruger started making centerfire autoloaders). The compact version arrived in 2010, coming late to the game against other compact polymer autos but bringing a distinctly Ruger flavor to the genre.
The good: Accuracy. Because it has both a trigger-mounted safety and a second physical safety, the Ruger does not require the ludicrously heavy MA trigger pull to conform to the Approved Firearms Roster, and this lighter trigger is noticeable on the range. It's discernibly easier to fire, both initial shots and followups, than other firearms with no safeties that require the heavier trigger. The SR9C showed remarkable accuracy (for its class fired by a duffer like your humble host) from day one:
This is a standard NRA B-34 target shot at 10 yards with 30 rounds of Tulammo 115 grain steel-cased ammo shot rapid-fire. All shots are in the black (at least touching!) and only two are outside the 7 ring; the vast majority can be covered by a fist. Every target shot with the SR9C was pretty much a clone of this one - the groups shrink a bit when taking slow, careful, aimed fire - under all circumstances the SR9C delivers consistent, accurate shots.
Interesting anecdote: I had a "polymer only" range day with Daniel in Brookline where I brought both M&Ps, the Sig P250, and the Rugers, and had the most success with the 4" steel plate at 25 yards using the Ruger SR9C. The full size M&P45 was a very close second, and even the M&P9C wasn't too far behind, but it was easiest to hit the plate with the diminutive Ruger!
Reliability. With one notable exception (more on this later), the SR9C ate up everything fed into it and spit it back out without hesitation. Brass cased, nickel cased, steel cased; it didn't matter what the cartridge was wearing, the little Ruger loaded, fired, and ejected everything with no problems. No failures to feed or eject were noted.
The not-so-good: Magazine safety. Ugh. Loaded chamber indicator. Double ugh. Magazine safeties are neither needed nor desired by the vast majority of non-LEO applications, so it's puzzling why Ruger's default is "include". The loaded chamber indicator is a bizarre red flag that sits atop the slide and literally pops up like a Thanksgiving turkey timer when a round is in the chamber.
I'll gladly trade having to manually inspect the chamber - which you should be doing anyways - for not having something else to potentially catch on clothing while drawing from concealment (note: in all of the practice I did with the SR9C this never happened; I'm only indicating that the potential is there).
The interesting: The muzzle flash on the SR9C is quite conspicuous. I had the Ruger on my club's outdoor pistol range as dusk approached, and the flash from the SR9C was lighting up the entire shooting bay. Now, it's not quite the "donut of death" of the S&W 360PD, and it wasn't severe enough to cause problems with follow-up shots, but it was still more significant than even the LC9.
I noticed some unusual wear on the bottom of the trigger guard.
Trigger guard wear
I’m not sure if I abraded the SR9C with one of the holsters used, or if I overlooked this when I received the firearm back in November. It doesn’t affect the function of the firearm, either in shooting or carrying, but was worth mentioning. Since the SR9C is obviously a concealed carry firearm, I actually prefer it to have some “character” (read: dings, scratches, etc.).
Carrying the SR9C.
The weight and size of the SR9C put it in the lighter and smaller end of concealable semi-autos. It walks the fine line between being small enough to conceal easily, like its smaller brother the LC9, and being large enough to shoot accurately. Most holsters designed for mid-sized or compact semi-automatic double-stack handguns will fit the Ruger - the Crossbreed SuperTuck I bought for the SW99C (which also fits the Glock 30) was a good fit for the SR9C, as was the Remora I recently tried out:
The weight of the gun - 23.4 ounces unloaded - is manageable for all-day carry, and the size does not present any issues with concealment. The fit and finish of the pistol for carrying is excellent, with edges rounded and smooth. The manual safety and the magazine release are both ambidextrous; however the slide release is right-handed only. Most holster manufacturers are carrying holsters for the SR series of pistols, and as with most, holsters that fit the SR9 will also accommodate the SR9C.
The sights on the SR9C are three dot adjustable sights, and appeared to hit just a bit high. This may be an artifact of my tendency to compensate for flinching and jerking the trigger by aiming high, or possibly that the sights were set for longer distances (50 - 75 feet). Accuracy with the little SR9C is excellent, with impacts to point-of-aim. Muzzle flash in low light is significant but not overwhelming.
The look of the trigger on the SR9C will be familiar to anyone conversant with the Glock or XD triggers; there's the requisite safety lever that must be depressed in order for the firearm to fire. It's a smooth, even pull, somewhere in the vicinity of 7-8 pounds, with a longish reset. The one issue I had with the SR9C had to do with the grip. The shape of the upper part of the Ruger backstrap lends to the grip digging into the base of my right thumb in a standard grip. It's noticeable after extended range sessions, and most evident when using a higher grip than normal.
Care of the SR9C.
The SR9C takes down fairly easily, with steps that differentiate it from other firearms. There's a sear disconnect akin to the M&P series that must be pushed down in order to field strip the SR9C for cleaning, but also a takedown pin that must be pushed out and removed. This is easily accomplished with a cartridge or pen cap, and the SR9C is otherwise quite simple to maintain. It breaks down into slide, barrel, spring and frame in moments.
SR9C field stripped
The SR9C was cleaned twice during the test period - once after the initial range trip of 100 rounds, and once after about 250 additional rounds. It didn't really need it - no stoppages or incidents - but guns were being cleaned anyways and it was dirty, so... Ruger recommends cleaning "at regular intervals"; this SR9C has gone approximately 400 rounds of several different types of ammunition without a hitch, and is likely to run quite a bit more before it needs cleaning.
With an MSRP of $529, and an off-the-shelf price closer to $400 (the gun shop where I picked the SR9C up has them for $399), the SR9C is an inexpensive option that is definitely not cheap. The accuracy is superb, the size is a good mix between concealably small and shootably large (and yes, I did just make those terms up), and the reliability is very good. It's a Ruger, which means that it has both superfluous safety features and is built like a tank.
For anyone in the market for a small 9mm polymer firearm, the SR9C is definitely worth investigation.
That is all.