by B. Gil Horman - Thursday, October 6, 2011
If you get something right the first time, then usually the idea is to make it bigger. While this principle generally holds true for Fortune 500 companies, restaurant chains and Dagwood sandwiches, handguns tend to work in the other direction. They start big and then get smaller. Ruger's popular line of SR pistols started off with the full-sized SR9 in 9 mm, followed by the more concealable SR9c. Last year, the line grew with the addition of the full-sized SR40, chambered for .40 S&W. This year marks the release of the compact SR40c.
Ruger was late getting on board with the whole striker-fired handgun movement. However, by biding its time, the company has built a pistol series with a desirable set of features. The overall fit and finish of the pistol is excellent. The stainless-steel slide features satin rounds and polished flats, with front and rear serrations for easy operation. The three-dot sights are of a rugged, black, metallic construction with a dove-tailed rear sight featuring a click adjustment screw for height. The frame, trigger and magazine release are all made of high-performance glass-filled nylon.
The external safeties include a trigger safety, and an ambidextrous thumb safety that blocks both the slide and trigger from moving. The thumb safety is very sleek, but easy to disengage or engage. The SR40c has one of the largest and most visible loaded chamber indicators I have ever seen on a handgun. If you are having difficulty finding this bar-shaped indicator, it's located on the top of the slide, behind the chamber opening, it's painted bright red on both sides and it has the words “LOADED WHEN UP” boldly engraved across the top.
The size of the loaded chamber indicator seems like overkill until you follow Ruger's suggestion of running your fingers across the top of the slide in the dark. Now it makes sense. The indicator rides just high enough that you can feel there's a round in the chamber without opening the slide. When the SR40c is cocked, the rounded tip of the striker is visible via a port in the rear slide plate. This provides yet another way to check the status of the pistol.
On the Range
The SR40c proved to be a pleasure to shoot. Many of the striker-fired .40 S&W pistols in this class can feel snappy or uncomfortable to work with. This is not the case with the SR40c. The expected level of recoil is present, but the pistol design mitigates the punishment of it quite well. The grip feels terrific, even in smaller hands like mine. The frame is smooth and slightly curved to let the thumb and trigger finger slide right into place. The texturing on the front strap and side panels provide just the right amount of roughness for the other three fingers to grab on to. The reversible rubber back strap is a bit of genius because it grips the palm effectively without chewing it up in the course of fire.
The three configurations for the steel magazines were comfortable to work with. The 15-round magazine with the grip extension sleeve worked nicely to make the grip feel like a duty-sized pistol. The nine-round magazine fitted with the finger extension felt just as good without any pinching or nibbling of the ring finger that some extensions can cause. Since the grip frame provides plenty of room for a full two-finger grip, the gun still felt comfortable and controllable with the flat magazine base in place on the nine-round magazine, but I liked the extension better. The D-shaped ambidextrous magazine release buttons are checkered and accessible, but do not accidentally bump-eject like some configurations.
It did take a little practice to get used to the SR40c trigger, but not for the reasons you might think. Saying this can sometimes imply the trigger is heavy, rough or strange somehow. In the case of the SR40c, the trigger surprised me because it felt lighter and faster than most striker-fired pistols.
Curious to understand the differences, I examined the SR40c against a Glock 23 after the shooting tests were concluded. I found the Glock has a 5-pound 8-ounce trigger, with a travel stroke of 1/2 inch, and a little over-travel at the end of the stroke. The SR40c has a 6-pound 4-ounce trigger, but the travel stroke is only 3/8 inch with no perceptible over-travel. So even though the SR40c is just a little heavier in the trigger, its smooth feel and shorter stroke distance make it feel crisp and quick. In other words, it is an excellent trigger for an out-of-the-box striker-fired pistol.
When it came to feeding the SR40c, it was content with everything I stuffed in the magazine. I tried a variety of practice-grade and full-metal jacket rounds, and they all fired and functioned without any hiccups. This pistol ran just as happily when sustained on a diet of defense-grade hollow points. There was not a single malfunction in the entire course of testing.
Accuracy testing provided consistent and satisfying results with five-shot groups fired from the bench at 25 yards. The best group average, at 2.58 inches, was provided by Hornady 165-grain FTX hollow points. This was followed by Winchester 165-grain PDX1 hollow points at 2.66 inches and Federal 155-grain Hydro Shok hollow points at 2.83 inches. The two best individual groups were provided by Winchester and Hornady, each at 2.25 inches. Not bad at all.
The SR40c arrives with the features and accessories needed to get right to work. The stainless steel slide and polymer frame are light and durable. The slim, contoured grip and overall ergonomics of the pistol are top notch and comfortable to work with. The trigger is excellent from the first shot forward. And the mix of magazines and magazine accessories are ready to go for concealed carry or for home defense. Best of all, the gun proved to be utterly reliable and accurate with all of the ammunition tested. The SR40 is another winning pistol in Ruger’s SR lineup.
Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.; Ruger.com
Action: Striker-Fired Double-Action Only
Caliber: 40 S&W
Slide Finish: Stainless Steel or Nitridox Pro Black Alloy Steel
Frame: Black High Performance Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 3.50”
Overall Length: 6.85”
Weight: 23.40 Ozs., Unloaded
Capacity: 15+1 Rounds, 9+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: One 15-Round Magazine with grip extension sleeve, one 9-round magzine with flat and extended base, magazine loader, lock
Suggested Retail Price: $525.00
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