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Preview – Ruger American A9

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

The American A9 Duty Might Be the Handgun to Finally Put Ruger in the Running

Ruger’s semiautos have always had a reputation for being worthy, but dull. Since they introduced the P-series in 1985, they’ve struggled with a well-deserved public image of making very reliable, immensely strong pistols that never quite caught on, due to possessing all the charm and elegance of a dumpster-full of construction waste. In recent years, this has changed, and the Prescott, Arizona, plant has turned out some pretty creditable designs, all of which have been completely ignored by operating operators.

True, their SR9 series has failed to set the world on fire, but this has more to do with public perception than the innate qualities of the gun — it can hold its own against anything in its price range. And the LC9S has by far the best trigger of any of the current crop of single-stack nines, plus it’s affordable and feature-rich. It’s just that, well, it’s a Ruger.

When an email popped up in my inbox asking if I’d be interested in shooting one of the new Ruger American pistols, I have to confess a certain
degree of ennui, but figured what the hell, as they’re going to sell a bunch of them anyway. Its spec sheet was less than inspiring — a polymer-framed, striker-fired, double-stack 9mm with a 4-inch barrel. Just. Like. Everyone. Else.

rugerproduty rugera9

It pays, however, to look past first impressions, and with the A9 Pro-Duty, Ruger has finally gotten it right. Once you pull the slide off the frame, the effort that went into meeting the Army’s Modular Handgun solicitation is evident, and like SIG’s P320, it’s built around a frame insert or chassis that can be swapped around to create anything from a longslide to subcompact, using the same serialized part. Unlike SIG’s effort, however, this one employs a CNC-machined, stainless casting, which makes for a hella stout unit with 1911-length rails, rather than the usual sheetmetal tabs that are found everywhere else. Note to kitchen table gunsmiths; the trigger bar spring on the right side of the chassis is prone to disappearing into the darkest recesses of your abode — ask us how we know.

Slide to frame fit is tight, which on a striker-fired gun produces an accuracy bonus that goes beyond mere mechanical repeatability. If you look at, say, the ubiquitous Glock, pressing the trigger causes its cruciform sear to move backward and down, releasing the striker. As it does so, the slide also gets dragged downward, and any slop in its fit against the frame rails is taken up until it can move no more. By removing this slop with smaller clearances, aftermarket slides can produce noticeably better trigger pulls — even without changing anything else. The Ruger’s already there.

One other aspect of its design that makes for an improved trigger pull is its use of a fully pre-cocked striker. Glock’s design requires the trigger to push the striker from its partially cocked position then release it, whereas the A9’s striker is already at the end of its stroke, much like the Springfield XD. In order to fire, the trigger has only to clear the mechanical safety formed by the sear actuator, and pull the sear out of engagement with the striker tail. The sear itself has a positive engagement angle with the striker tail, so a ’smith should be able to quickly and easily drop the pull weight through careful stoning of these surfaces.


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