The 9mm Ruger American Pistol Competition is a Ruger American with some upgrades designed to make it competitive in shooting matches. In fact, there are only two modifications that differentiate the 9mm Ruger American Duty from the 9mm Ruger American Competition: the 5-inch barrel length and ported slide. These same modifications also make it an effective tactical/self-defense pistol.
Ruger American Pistol Competition Specifications
The 5-inch barrel is only 0.8 inches longer than the Duty model’s barrel. That’s the same length as a standard 1911 .45, making it eminently carryable. And the ports in the slide? They are there for weight reduction. The barrel isn’t ported even though it looks at first glance like it is. But when I test-fired the Competition, it became obvious that a ported barrel isn’t needed.
Operating system: Pre-tensioned striker/trigger-lever safety/additional thumb safety optional
Grip frame: Black glass-filled nylon
Grips: Modular wrap-around grip system
Slide: Stainless steel black nitride with lightning ports
Barrel: 5-inch stainless steel competition/black nitride finish/1:16 twist
Magazine capacity: 17+1 (two nickel-Teflon plated steel magazines included)
Weight: 34.1 ounces
Slide width: 1.05 inches
Overall length: 8.31 inches
Height: 5.6 inches
Sights: Green fiber-optic front/adjustable target rear
Magazine release: Ambidextrous
Slide release: Ambidextrous
Details and Features of the Ruger American Competition
The Competition is set up about as good as it gets right out of the box. One of the first things I noticed when I opened the box was the nickel-Teflon coated magazines. The coating is not only slick but also makes reloading potentially lightning-quick. And it’s highly corrosion-resistant. I believe these Ruger mags are the best hi-cap mags on the market and would like to see all the Ruger American magazines have the same finish.
The ambidextrous slide release levers and magazine release buttons are easily accessed to aid in speed reloading. These are the same as those on the standard Ruger American pistols. This allows the Ruger American Competition to be carried in a standard-duty or concealment rig. If you can carry a 1911 concealed or on-duty, you can carry the American Competition … and it weighs 5 ounces less.
The Ruger American Competition balances very well in the hand thanks to the slide lightening ports. I enjoyed the extra barrel length, which helped my ability to focus on the front sight. Speaking of sights, the sight setup is the same type used on the Ruger-57. The green fiber-optic front sight glowed brightly on the sunny day I tested the Competition. If I were using the Competition for self-defense, I would replace the target sights with a set of tritium night sights.
The slide has a small set of serrations up front while the rear has the same set of excellent serrations found on the Ruger American .45 Compact. The design greatly improves the ability to grip and retract the slide under all conditions. And speaking of sure grip, the competition textured frame and grip modules ensured a non-slip grip on my test day, which was not only sunny but also hot — 87 degrees to be exact.
Ruger’s literature says the barrel cam “distributes recoil forces over a longer period of time to reduce felt recoil.” Sometimes you read statements like this from various manufacturers and think “advertising hype.” I’m here to tell you, in the case of the Ruger Competition, it’s not hype.
Competition at the Range
Since the Competition is “performance tested for sustained +P ammo use,” I decided that the hot SIG Sauer M17 9mm NATO 124-grain +P Ball ammo with a muzzle velocity of 1,198 feet per second was the perfect load for testing.
To cut to the chase, the Ruger Competition is perhaps one of the smoothest-shooting 9mms I have ever fired! I could feel the recoil being distributed across the slide’s motion in each shot. The additional slide length helped to remove any abruptness in firing — even with the +P M17 ammo. The sound of the slide cycling was also distinctive. It almost had a sort of pleasant “ring” to it (at least through the electronic ear protectors I used). It was a lot of fun to shoot!
The target sights, excellent trigger and lack of recoil allowed me to run some very good groups. My first group — at 30 feet, firing a full 17-round magazine — measured 3.5 inches. Subsequent six-shot groups at 21 feet measured in the 2-inch range or slightly less. There were no malfunctions.
MSRP is an amazing $579. It is a great tactical, defensive and stock competitive handgun, especially for the money. I highly recommend it.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.