Bullseye GunReview Ruger’s SR45: The SR Series Grows Up
By Steve Tracy
Sturm, Ruger and Company has become rather predictable; in a good way. Following on the success of their glass-filled nylon frame and striker-fired SR9 (9mm) and SR40 (.40 S&W) pistols comes the SR45 in the traditional American large caliber of .45 ACP. Compact versions of the 9mm and .40 caliber pistols (SR9c and SR40c respectively) came after each pistol’s initial presentation and it would seem inevitable that an SR45c will arrive one day as well.
Ruger firearms are predictably reliable, accurate, and well made. Because of this, the company announced increased earnings of 77 percent in 2012 over the previous year. The New Haven, Conn. firearms manufacturer stated that a significant component of their sales growth has come from new products. Offering the SR pistol in the three most popular pistol cartridges proves Ruger’s awareness of the marketplace.
The Specs = It Just Feels Good
The SR45 is just slightly larger in most dimensions than the original SR9, first introduced in 2007. Because the barrel is 4.5 inches long, the overall length of the .45 at 8 inches is around a half-inch longer than the 9mm/40 version. The .45 is one quarter-inch taller at 5.75 inches in height than the smaller caliber pistols. Amazingly, the SR45’s width is listed at 1.27 inches and is exactly the same as the SR9/SR40, although the .45’s magazines hold 10 rounds of ammunition. The lightest gun is the SR9, the SR40 weighs just slightly more, and the new big bore .45 weighs 3-4 ounces more at 30.15 ounces unloaded. The SR45 weighs more than the Glock 21 at 26.46 ounces and it weighs less than a Colt Government 1911 at 38 ounces.
Officers with varying hand sizes tried the SR45 and they all commented on how thin the grip felt. The hard numbers cannot convey the way the gun feels when held and fired. Measuring the grip’s girth with a string wrapped around the face of the trigger and the back of the grip revealed the SR45 had the exact same trigger reach as a 1911 with a long trigger. The 1911-style pistol is considered the standard for a single-stack .45, while the SR45 packs 10 rounds in its box magazine.
Using the same string, the SR45 was found to be a full one-half of an inch shorter in girth than a Glock 21SF. The “short frame” version of the big Glock is already shorter than the standard Model 21. The wider frame of the Glock houses its double-stack 13-round magazine.
This third caliber entry follows the pattern of previous SR pistols. Stainless-steel slides are available in your choice of silver or black. The standard 3-white dot sights are fully adjustable for windage and elevation. Tritium night sights are available from the major aftermarket suppliers like Trijicon, Meprolight and X/S.
A loaded chamber indicator pops up at the rear of the ejection port with a red flag when there is a cartridge ready to fire in the chamber. Ever since Walther included a protruding loaded chamber indicator on their PP series pistols in 1929, it’s been beneficial to have both visual and tactile confirmation that your pistol is ready to fire.
The semi-automatic action is based on the Browning tilt barrel and features a large external extractor. The striker firing mechanism can be seen at the rear of the slide when cocked and an ambidextrous manual-slide safety works similarly to a 1911’s. My big hands had no problem applying or swiping the safety off naturally.
The slide lock is only on the left side of the frame, but the button magazine release is located on both sides at the rear of the trigger guard for ease of use by left-handed officers. Empty 10-round magazines eject under spring pressure, but the pistol will not fire with its magazine removed. Two magazines are included inside each SR45’s hard plastic case, along with a stamped steel-magazine loading aid tool.
Ruger notes in the instruction manual that dry firing the SR pistols for practice will not cause damage as long as an empty magazine is inserted in the magazine well.
The obligatory tactical rail mounts a light or laser. The grip’s front strap is checkered as part of the polymer frame, as are the sides. A rather large half-moon shaped area is dished out at the front of each side to accommodate your fingertips as they wrap around the grip. The rear rubberized back strap has a retaining pin that can also function as a lanyard. A paperclip can be used to push the pin out to either side, letting the back strap slide out the bottom (be careful not to lose the cylindrical bushing). The back strap can then be flipped over for your choice of either a flat or arched rear grip.
The area underneath the trigger guard is generously dished out and the rear of the grip tang is quite high. These two features combine to provide a high grip on the pistol to help control recoil by lowering the pistol in your hands. Using a string to check the SR45’s overall grip girth found it to match a 1911 pistol equipped with a long trigger. Both measured 7 inches.
The trigger has a built-in safety tab that prevents it from firing unless the tab is first depressed by the shooter’s trigger finger. The trigger pull averaged 6 pounds, 7 ounces and there is a bit of movement prior to let-off that is typical of striker-fired handguns. The trigger breaks consistently and is absent of any over travel. Trigger reset is not short by any means, but this is a fighting pistol, not a competition gaming gun.
A Great Shooter
At the range, the SR45’s grip angle was found to point intuitively and the sights were quick to pick up and aim. The combat trigger’s slightly heavy pull worked well because of its clean break and lack of over travel. Recoil management was as expected. The slide is a huge chunk of stainless steel. The .45 ACP cartridge is no lightweight in any of its combat loadings. Eight different loads ran through the SR45 without fail. The heavier the bullet, the more recoil was felt. Speer 230-grain +P hollowpoints were the most powerful, but they were found to be quite manageable. Everyone who shot the Ruger found its recoil easily managed. The high grip certainly helps tone down the pistol’s kick.
One particular shooter, who swears by blued steel and walnut, gave the big Ruger a try. He had been firing his semi-custom 1911 and a super-custom 1911 and clearly stated his distain for polymer frame, striker-fired handguns as he loaded up the SR45. When his group was smaller with the Ruger than with the brace of 1911s he had just finished firing, the surprise showed on his face.
He gazed at the SR45 in his hand and was a bit confused. This modern Ruger just outshot his trusty, century-old-design pistol. The SR45 functioned smoothly and without problems with eight types of ammo.
Simple Field Stripping for Cleaning
After the range session, the Ruger .45 was field stripped for cleaning. Some pistols are a real pain to disassemble and clean, but this Ruger was a pleasure. As always, the magazine was removed, the slide locked to the rear, and the chamber inspected to be sure it was empty. The ejector must be pushed downward in the chamber to begin the field stripping process. Because the chamber is made to accommodate .45 rounds, the ejection port area is rather big. Even I could get my big sausage fingers inside to flick the ejector down.
The takedown pin on the right side of the frame can then be pushed to the left with just finger pressure. The flat tab on the left side will move outward and can be grasped with your fingertips and pulled all the way out.
At this point the slide is gently eased forward and off the frame. The captive recoil spring lifts out from under the barrel where it’s squeezed between the muzzle and the barrel’s rear lug. There is no fear of zinging the spring under a workbench or into someone’s eye. Finally, the barrel lifts out of the slide to complete disassembly.
Cleaning with solvent on a toothbrush was straightforward without many nooks and crannies to get into. Proper lubrication and re-assembly in reverse of the field stripping process got the SR45 back into a ready state for firing again.
Quality and Value
The Ruger SR45’s reliability and accuracy are necessities for police officers. The outstanding sights and good combat trigger pull combine with superior ergonomics (for all officers, regardless of left- or right-hand dominance and hand size) to make the .45 a winner.
The suggested retail price of the SR45 is $529; however, actual stores’ sales are often $100 or more under that recommendation. That makes the SR45 one of the least-expensive .45 caliber semi-autos on the market. The SR offers features that law enforcement officers desire and the gun’s reasonable price adds to that desirability. The SR45 was found to fit and work properly in the Uncle Mike’s Pro-3 Slimline security duty holster sized for the Glock 17 or for the S&W M&P. It may take some trial and error, but the Ruger will probably fit similar-sized duty holsters equipped to handle mounted tactical lights too.
We don’t need a crystal ball to predict that Ruger will sell plenty of these large-caliber SR series pistols and that they will continue their sales success into 2013. PM
1. Ruger’s new SR45 fits officers with different hand sizes and is completely ambidextrous for left-handed shooters.
2. The striker-fired SR45’s trigger has the same pull from first shot until the last.
3. Magazine release and 1911-style thumb safety are also on the left side of the pistol.
4. Drifting a retaining pin allows the back strap to slide out so it can be flipped between flat or arched to fit any size hand.
5. No tools are required to quickly field strip the SR45 for cleaning.
6. A red indicator pops up for visual and tactile confirmation that the pistol’s chamber is loaded.
7. The SR45 fits and works well in the Uncle Mike’s Pro-3 Slimline duty holster sized for the Glock 17 and S&W M&P.