The American Series, Ruger’s flagship service pistol line, has been around for a while now. The series is duty-capable and available in both 9mm and .45 ACP calibers. There are three pistol types in the series: Duty, Compact and Competition. The Duty and Competition full-sized 9mm versions have 17+1-round magazine capacities, while the Duty .45 ACP version has a 10+1 capacity. The Compact 9mm has a 12+1-round capacity. And the Compact .45 has a 7+1 capacity. Both the 9mm and .45 variants can accept the full-sized Ruger American Hi-Capacity magazines.

American Compact vs. Duty .45

Like other manufacturers of successful duty-sized pistols, Ruger realized that a compact version of the American would find favor with the concealed carry or off-duty law enforcement user. Weight and overall length of the American Compact has been reduced from the original American Duty enough to provide more comfort for everyday carry than its larger brother … with the resultant loss of only three rounds of magazine capacity.

Model Ruger American Duty .45 Ruger American Compact .45
Operating system Pre-tensioned striker/trigger lever safety/additional thumb safety optional Pre-tensioned striker/trigger lever safety/additional thumb safety optional
Grip frame Black glass-filled nylon/Modular wrap-around grip system/Molded-in Picatinny rail Black glass-filled nylon/Modular wrap-around grip system/Molded-in Picatinny rail
Slide Stainless steel black nitride Gray Cerakote
Barrel 4.5 inches 3.75 inches
Magazine capacity 10+1 7+1/interchangeable finger extension bumper pads included
Weight 31.5 ounces 28.6 ounces
Slide width 1.05 inches 1.05 inches
Overall length 8 inches 7.25 inches
Height 5.7 inches 4.65 inches
Sights Novak LoMount Carry Three-Dot Novak LoMount Carry Three-Dot
Magazine release Ambidextrous Ambidextrous
Slide release Ambidextrous Ambidextrous


Gray Cerakote Finish

For the test gun, I requested the American Compact with the Gray Cerakote finish. I am a traditional “black and silver” finish kind of guy. But I wanted to see what it looked like in person to get a better feel than just relying on pictures. I can now say that I like it.

The Cerakote is a “Battleship Gray” color, and the glass-filled nylon frame matches up perfectly with the slide. It contrasts well with the black operating components of the American Compact as well as the interchangeable palmswell/backstrap. If you want to adopt the “Gray Man” philosophy, you might as well do it with a gray gun!

American Compact Operation

The Ruger American Compact’s operation is pretty straightforward and what I’ve come to expect in most 21st century pistol designs. The grip ergonomics are excellent. You don’t have to adapt to the grip. The grip adapts to you because of its great overall design and the interchangeable palmswell/backstraps.

The slide serrations are unique and very functional. It seems a series of small diamonds have been cut into the top of the grasping grooves for additional non-slip capability. It greatly increases the ability to grip the slide. This is especially nice for those who have hand- or finger-strength issues or for times when a shooter’s hands are wet or sweaty. The design is sheer genius.

All controls are easily accessed and operated, especially the ambidextrous slide release levers. These are just large enough to easily operate and are easy to reach. The trigger is pretty much standard for a striker-fired polymer pistol with a trigger lever safety. It is reasonably crisp and about 6 pounds. (A model with an additional ambidextrous 1911 thumb safety is also available.)

Taking the Ruger to the Range

I went to the range with Remington 230-grain FMJ practice ammo and Remington Golden Sabre Black Belt defensive ammo. The “black belt” on the bullet locks the jacket to the bullet core. Velocity is 875 feet per second at the muzzle with a resulting 391 foot-pounds of energy. The Golden Sabre Black Belt shoots very smoothly from my Remington R1 Executive Ultralight without churning up too much recoil.

The magazines loaded up easily to the full seven-round capacity. If you want a bit more ammo on tap, carry a couple of duty-sized 10-round American magazines for reloads. The American Compact chambered the first shot easily due to excellent slide serrations.

Firing revealed no surprises, and the standard-pressure ammunition I used allowed quick follow-up shots. If you want to use +P ammo, the Ruger American Compact has been “performance tested for sustained +P ammunition use.”

Although three-dot sighting systems are not my favorite these days, they worked well enough on the American Compact. I was able to maintain groups in the 3-inch to 3.5-inch range firing two-handed, unsupported, at 30 feet. There were no malfunctions with either load.

Wrap Up

If you are looking for a reliable and compact concealed carry/home-defense/trail handgun with more power than a 9mm and the capacity of the larger 1911 .45, the .45 ACP Ruger American Compact (regardless of color choice) might just be the gun for you. MSRP for the Gray Cerakote or Black Nitride Model is $579.



About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.