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Ruger American Competition Pistol 5″ 9mm – Review

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Ruger American Competition Pistol
Ruger American Competition Pistol

U.S.A.-( It’s a good life as a gun reviewer, getting to shoot on the clock and getting experience on a much wider variety of guns than I’d be able to afford on my own (short of reenlisting into Uncle Sam’s gun club).  One category of firearms that doesn’t drop onto my workbench too often is competition guns.  I expected something a little more gaudy when I opened the Ruger American’s box, something a little more “race gun”.  What I got was an impressive machine with an understated appearance.

Ruger American Competition Pistol

Since there are multiple versions of the Ruger American handgun, let’s cover the specifics of model #8672, the competition pistol.

Ruger American
Ruger American Competition Pistol

Tech Specs:

  • Capacity: 17+1
  • Slide Material:  Stainless Steel
  • Barrel Length:  5″
  • Grip Frame:  One-Piece, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
  • Grips:  Ergonomic Wrap-Around Grip Module
  • Slide Finish:  Black Nitride
  • Slide Width:  1.05″
  • Sights:  Fiber Optic Front, Adjustable Target Rear
  • Weight:  34.1 oz.
  • Overall Length:  8.31″
  • Height:  5.60″
  • Twist:  1:16″ RH, 6-grooves
  • Suggested Retail:  $579.00

Let’s unpack a little on the intro.  This is a competition gun, but doesn’t come looking like a tricked out race gun.  The Ruger American is set up to be a fantastic entry-level competition shooter, with modularity built-in to match your progress down the road.  The slide is drilled and tapped for mounting micro red dot optics (MRDS) that have become very popular in recent years, and the grip has interchangeable modules to fit your hand.

Ruger American
Ruger American Competition Pistol Magazines

Besides more competition-oriented features, the Ruger American has a lot going for it, even from the perspective of a more casual shooter.  The grip texture is the best I’ve ever felt, bar none.  I like the newer textures from Glock and Sig, and have felt some good skin-shavers on Walthers.  The Ruger American has a texture that is incredibly “sandpaper-y”, but doesn’t leave your hand shredded at the end of the day.  I don’t know how exactly they managed it, but it works.

The trigger ain’t bad, it’s actually the closest to a 2-stage trigger that I’ve felt in a handgun.  That second stage though, is a little heavy.  It’s by no means a bad trigger!  There’s a little take up, a solid wall, then a clean break.  The trigger does lend itself well to accurate shooting, if at the expense of “top speed”.

The sights are a major plus here, with the front fiber optic being bright and “eye-catching” for fast shooting and follow-ups.  The rear sight is windage and elevation adjustable, so  you can dial it in to your favorite ammo.

Ruger American
Ruger American Competition Pistol Sights

The slide has been ported for weight reduction and recoil minimization.  There’s actually a pretty light recoil spring in here, made possible with the barrel cam cutting down on the peak forces rearward.  The recoil force is more evenly spread through the gun’s action cycle, making recoil less “snap” and more “push”.

I dig ambi controls, and the mag catch and slide stop/release are both ambi.  They’re well done, even from a non-ambi consideration as they’re easy to reach and press.  That they’re so easy to use from both sides is just a bonus!

Enough about features and specs.  Range day!  The Ruger American stood out during a packed couple of testing sessions, both in terms of accuracy and comfort.  The recoil on the American is a considerably different impulse than what I’d consider normal, and that’s a good thing.  The force is more evenly applied throughout the cycle, not that there’s a whole lot of recoil to begin with here.

Ruger American
Ruger American Competition Pistol

Regarding accuracy, the Ruger American pulls the tightest groups I’ve even seen in a handgun, with mid-grade ammo.  With the Corona-crunch and pre-election panic buying I’ve run out of high-end ammo, but the Federal American Eagle  and Ammo Inc Streak both dropped a number of groups at 7 yards offhand that measured from .5″ to 1.2″ at a moderate pace of fire.  I’m not an expert group shooter, so to see this much of an improvement over my CCW piece or my favorite target pistol was impressive.  The American is a natural shooter!

Ruger American
Ruger American Competition Pistol

After hitting the paper for those groups, I set up a couple small steel targets from CTS Targets.  No major IPSC course or an IDPA lane, just a couple targets to practice speed shooting and target transitions.  The Ruger American is really well balanced, swinging between targets left-to-right smoothly.

Quite simply, the Ruger American is a Cadillac.  Sure this is a bit big for a carry gun, but it’s not designed for that.  This is a fantastic entry-level competition gun, an extraordinary range gun, and a great deal with a street price of ~$480.  If you’re looking to break out of the “yet-another-polymer-gun” rut, check out the Ruger American.

Jens Hammer

About Rex Nanorum

Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fisheries and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”

-Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer


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