Three For The Defense

9mm MVP? Ruger American, 9E or LC9s?
A family shootout settles the score. Almost …

Defense Ruger

The American is the newest of the Ruger 9mm trio. The ammo for the “family duel” consisted of American Eagle Syntech 115-gr. TSJ, Federal Hydra-Shok 147-gr. JHP and Black Hills 124-gr. JHP.

Defense ruger kids

Tale of the tape: Harrison (left) and Jack (right) did excellent work with their respective Ruger choices (Harrison with the 9E, Jack with the American).

Ruger Targets

The “beaten zone” indeed! Both paper targets and steel plates received the brunt of the Kakkuri family’s 9mm efforts.

What happens when a Ruger American, Ruger 9E, and Ruger LC9s all land in our home at the same time? A gentlemanly family feud,
of course.

My 17-year-old son, Jack, loves the Ruger American. He can get a solid grip on it, rack the slide easily, and make peppering a steel silhouette look downright easy.

My other son, 18-year-old Harrison, picks the Ruger 9E, a predecessor to the American. It’s just a bit lighter, sports an ambidextrous manual safety (Harrison’s a lefty) and has a distinct trigger reset.

Me? I like the Ruger LC9s, mainly because I have a CCW. Of course, it’s smaller and carries easier than the American and the 9E. But it shoots well too. The long DAO trigger stroke is smooth and predictable, and the little striker-fired pistol gets back on target quickly for follow-up shots.
Three guns. Three opinions. Maybe a couple hours at the range will help us determine the best. Best gun that is.

Ruger Defense

Ruger’s 9E is the predecessor to the American. It’s about 3 ounces lighter, yet has the same 17-round capacity, thanks to the double-stack magazine.

Ruger Handgun

Mark’s pick of the three is the single-stack LC9s, which he prefers for its “concealed carryability.”

Rounds Downrange

We warm up with some deliberate, slow-shooting drills. You know, just to get used to the feel of the guns, practice proper sight alignment, etc. As usual, this takes about 10 seconds. Then my sons go full-ballistic-IDPA-Zombie-Apocalypse on the targets. During a break in the action, my shooting buddy, Shane Preese, and I encourage them to try the other guns.

Harrison says, “I’m good with the 9E, Dad,” as he loads up another magazine.

Jack says nothing but continues to load and fire away with the American. Ping, ping, ping. He’s got a big smile on his face and empty cases litter the ground to his right. I pick one up and pretend to chuck it at him. He doesn’t flinch. Ping, ping.

I ask, loudly, “Do either of you want to try this LC9s?”


Apparently, not.

Ruger Defense

Despite the abbreviated size of Mark’s favored LC9s, it sports serious, easy to acquire sights and a nice broad sighting plane.

So I load up the LC9s magazine with seven rounds of 9mm. All three of these Rugers, incidentally, are 9mm, a cartridge fast becoming the cartridge it seems. We’re shooting American Eagle Syntech TSJ (Total Synthetic Jacket), a new Federal load featuring synthetic coated bullets which reduce copper and lead fouling. The cases are brass and the bullets are bright red. Every one of them feeds, fires and ejects as the bullets cut holes in our paper targets and disintegrate against the steel plates. Also in the mix: Federal Hydra-Shok 147-gr. JHP and Black Hills 124-gr. JHP.

Seven rounds, seven trigger squeezes, seven pings as the bullets strike exactly where I aim. Every time. Any ammo.

Meanwhile, next to me, Harrison steps up to take his turn with the 9E. Seventeen rounds later he puts the gun on the bench and watches Jack shoot the American.

Me? I think these guys have been playing too much Call of Duty.

Jack empties a mag. I ask him how he likes it. He says, “The American offers superior purchase and an ergonomic, well-balanced…”

Actually, he doesn’t say that at all. Really, it was more like, “I can get a great grip on this gun.” He hands the American to Harrison with the slide locked open. Harrison double-checks to verify the gun is not loaded (they learn quick!), assumes a Weaver stance and aims at a silhouette, squeezing into the grip with his left hand.

“Hmm,” he says, which translated means, “Yes, dear brother. I see you are correct, although I won’t admit it out loud.”

Harrison hands the 9E to Jack. “Run a mag through this and enjoy the trigger reset, bro.” Jack does exactly that, enjoying the very clear “click” as the reset occurs. Bang, click. Bang, click. Every round he fires finds its mark.

“Not too shabby,” Jack says.

ruger Grip

Despite the double-stack grip configuration of the 9E (above) and American (below), both Harrison and Jack found them easy and comfortable to shoot.

ruger 9E

Mark Shooting

Although not his pick, Mark did try his hand with the Ruger American and was impressed with its rapid-fire controllability.

Mark Shooting Ruger

Mark’s shooting buddy, Shane Preece, came along for the fun and also tried his hand with the American.

Ruger lock

Ease of fieldstripping is a hallmark of all three Rugers, and the new American is no exception.

Ruger Stripping

Ruger Revolver

After the sound and the fury was over, Mark’s wife weighed in with her favorite from out of left field — Ruger’s .38 Special LCRx revolver. It seems no one could agree on anything!

“Hey, would either of you like to try this LC9s?” I ask, sensing my opportunity. “You don’t know what you’re missing.” I make them stop and watch me do a James Bond — shooting one-handed at multiple targets.

“Nice, Dad. But the American and the 9E pack over twice as many rounds as your LC9s — in one mag.”

Kids these days! They’re all about capacity. I’m totally fine with the LC9s and its 7 rounds. But I secretly wonder if I could carry the American or the 9E concealed…

Back home we gather around the island in our kitchen, munching on nachos and comparing notes about our experience at the range. My sons stick to their guns (so to speak) as we debate the finer points of our range session with the three Rugers. We reach a philosophical impasse about which gun is superior, so I call my wife in to help settle the matter.

She says, “Well, I like the .38 Ruger LCRx revolver you had awhile back …”

ruger chart