No mistake about it! The .45ACP is still one of America's favorite cartridges, and there are many different handgun platforms that shoot this popular round, and for good reason, it is a proven man stopper. I recently reviewed the Ruger SR1911C hand, and I love the 1911 platform, however, it is not the only one that catches my attention these days. One problem I run across with .45 ACP handguns that carry a lot of rounds is that, they are too fat for my hand and trigger reach is a bit of a stretch for me - which means I can't properly grip the pistol the way I want to.
Several years ago, Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc. came out with their first striker-fired handguns, the SR9 and it was an immediate hit. Only problem was, there were a few glitches with the first ones. Ruger was very fast in issuing a recall, and made some upgrades to the SR9 and there have been no other problems. I had one of the first SR9 samples and I sent mine in and it was returned in less than two weeks. Ruger is to be applauded for doing the right thing - and doing it fast! However, the SR was "only" a 9mm and people wanted more - so Ruger came out with the SR40 - another great step, because it was in .40S&W caliber. But handgunners still were satisfied - they wanted an SR in .45 ACP and Ruger listened! I received the SR45 several months ago for testing and it is an outstanding pistol in all respects.
Let's get the boring stuff out of the way, the SR45 is a full-sized service pistol, not a small concealed carry piece, although I've carried my sample undetected under light clothing - amazing what the right holster and cover garment can do. My SR45 sample has the stainless steel slide - and another model has a blackened alloy slide. I prefer the stainless slide because of the wet climate I live in, in Western Oregon. The frame is manufactured out of black, high performance, glass-filled Nylon, and is finely checkered for a good grip. The barrel is 4.50-inches long. Height is 5.75-inches and the gun weighs-in at slightly over 30-ounces empty with a 10 round magazine - and you get two with each gun. However, my sample was shipped with only one mag, and I contacted the Ruger Customer Service Department and a second mag was shipped right out to me. (Ruger has some of the best customer service staff around.) The overall length of the SR45 is 8-inches, and width is 1.27-inches. I compared the SR45 to a full-sized 1911 and a Commander-sized 1911 and it is closer in size to the Commander-sized 1911s. Three dot adjustable front/rear sights adorn the slide and they are fast to pick-up and pretty much snag-free, too. Sights were dead on for my shooting and needed no adjustments. There is also a Picatinny rail under the dust cover, for attaching lights or lasers to the SR45.
The SR45 has a massive extractor, and there is a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide, so you can tell if there is a round in the chamber. An ambidextrous safety lever is there, and the trigger has a little safety lever in the face. The magazine release is also ambidextrous as well - nice touch. Additionally, the checkered rubber backstrap can be reversed from the arched to the flat side - I changed mine to the flat side and it only takes a minute to do, simply push out the retaining pin, slide the backstrap off and reverse it and slide it back on and replace the retaining pin. The front sides of the grip frame are also dishes out, making it easier to get a proper grip on the SR45 - again, super-nice touch, Ruger!
I was fortunate in that, during this great ammo drought, I still had a good selection of various .45ACP loads on-hand, from Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Black Hills Ammunition for testing in the SR45. Still, I was a bit conservative with my ammo supply, as getting resupplied these days is tough - even for gun writers - ammo companies are making ammo as fast as they can, but they still can't keep up with supply and demand. In many of my gun articles, I fire at least 500 rounds, and in some tests, I've fired more than a thousand rounds, however, for the time being, those days are over, until I can get a steady ammo supply coming in to replace the ammo I shoot-up in my articles. Still, I had a great selection of ammo on-hand for testing over several months and I fired-up more than 300 rounds in my testing - I wanted to give this SR45 a good work out.
From Black Hills, I had their outstanding, and almost match-grade 230-grain FMJ load, and this one has always been a fine performer for me. I also had their steel-cased 230-grain FMJ load. In the 185-grain bullet weight, I had their JHP brass-cased and steel-cased ammo. And, my favorite Black Hills .45 ACP load is their 185-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP +P load. From Buffalo Bore, I had a wide assortment of .45ACP to run through the SR45. I had their brand-new 160-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP low recoil, standard pressure load, their 185-grain FMJ FN low-recoil, standard pressure load. The 185-grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP +P load - I like this one - a lot! A 200-grain JHP +P load, and this is fast becoming my favorite .45 ACP loading from Buffalo Bore. Their 230-grain FMJ FN +P load and their outstanding 255-grain Hard Cast +P load. So, as you can see, I had a wide assortment of .45 ACP ammo to test in my sample SR45.
First thing I noticed with the SR45 is how crisp the trigger pull was, and how short the pull was. And unlike the very first SR9 samples, there was no grittiness at all in the trigger pull - great job, Ruger! Accuracy - everyone wants to know about accuracy! First of all, I look at "combat" accuracy - this means, will a handgun, at least a full-sized service-style handgun, hold 5-rounds inside of 4-inches at 25-yards. The SR45 easily did this and better. All my accuracy testing was conducted at 25-yards, over the hood of my SUV with a padded rest. I will say, I was very surprised at how accurate the SR45 was - and it was consistently accurate with all loads. I could easily contain most of my 5 round groups in 3-inches if I did my part, on my various outings over several months. Was there a winner in the accuracy department? Well, sorta! The Black Hills 230-grain FMJ would give me groups just slightly under 3-inches and I mean, ever so slightly under 3-inches and the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P load did the same for me - as did the 185-grain low recoil, standard pressure load. So, in reality, there wasn't a clear winner in the accuracy department - the SR45 was a pretty consistent shooter in the accuracy department. I did have some bad days on the range, and some of my groups opened-up to more than 4-inches, but it was me, and not the gun and ammo - even gun writers have bad days!
I will admit, I had some misgivings with the new Buffalo Bore 160-grain low recoil, standard pressure TAC-XP all-copper hollow point Barnes load. It is, very low recoiling, and I didn't think this load would give the slide enough "umph" to load the next round from the magazine into the chamber - but it never failed me. And, this is the load I keep in the SR45 as my bedside gun. And, there are no fears that this very light 160-grain bullet will over-penetrate, but it will still get the job down - even at velocities below 800 FPS - I was impressed with this load, and I also carry it in my Kahr CW45 and it is a pussycat to shoot...low recoil means low recoil with this round.
At the opposite end of my ammo was the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P and their 255-grain Hard Cast +P loads, and both of those loads get your attention - no doubt about it. These are the loads you want if you are out hiking in the boonies - they can easily penetrate the skull of a black bear, and make other large dangerous game wish they had picked an easier meal.
Now for street carry with the SR45, I loaded it with the Black Hills 185-grain TAC-XP all copper Barnes hollow point +P load. I just like this load and like it a lot and have confidence in it - I've tested it extensively in water-filled milk jugs, and into wet newspaper and it reliably expands and stays together - I've tested this load more than any other Black Hills .45ACP loads. I'm sorry to say, at this writing, Black Hills is out of this loading, but I'm on the waiting list. I have half a box of this ammo left, and it won't be used for any more handgun articles - it is being saved for my carry guns in .45ACP. I also like the Black Hills steel-cased loads, the steel cases come from Russia, but this is not dirty-shooting Russian ammo - it is made in the Black Hills factory. The reason Black Hills went to the steel-cased loads was because they couldn't get enough once-fired .45 ACP brass - so they went with steel-cased loads to save the consumer some money, and there is nothing wrong with these loads. I'd carry the JHP load without hesitation.
So, how did the SR45 stack-up in my testing? There were no malfunctions of any sort to speak of. The only problem I encountered was one of the magazines wouldn't consistently lock-open after the last round was fired, and it happened with a variety of loads, not just one particular load. The other magazine had no problems, and I suspect the problem magazine will work better after it gets broke-in - I've had this problem with other handgun magazines - sometimes they just need to get broken-in a bit. So, when I carry the SR45, that magazine is my spare. The SR45 was a pleasure to shoot, and the recoil wasn't nearly as bad as you think it would be for a polymer-type framed handgun. The low bore to axis lets the gun sit low in your hand, and that helps tame the recoil.
As an aside, there is one thing worth note, and that is, the SR45 just grows on your. I can't put my finger on any single thing about the SR45, but there is just "something" about the SR45 that makes you want to shoot, and shoot, and shoot it!!! The darn gun just kept calling out to me. Even when I was testing guns for other articles, I'd toss the SR45 in my bag and shoot a magazine or two through it - and I still do it. I think Ruger was smart to only go with a 10 round magazine, too. It gives you more rounds than a standard 1911 does, and it gives you a full grip you can get on the gun - it doesn't feel like a larger capacity .45ACP handgun for some reason. Ruger did the SR45 up right if you ask me. The gun just keeps on perking along, and it keeps on calling out to me, to be shot more and more. There's nothing not to like about the SR45, and full-retail is only $529.
Now for the "bad" news! As many SurvivalBlog readers may know, Ruger is backlogged about two million guns these days. (We have the crowd in DC to thank for this latest run on guns and ammo.) If you can find an SR45 in your local gun shop, don't put it down, start the paperwork and take it home. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio