A New Trio From Ruger


Ruger’s new semi-auto trio — the Mark IV .22 Hunter, American Compact 9 and LCP II .380.

Usually when manufacturers bring out something new and improved it’s anything but, so it’s a very special occasion when it’s actually accomplished. And this is exactly what Ruger has done with their latest .22 semi-auto pistol. Bill Ruger changed everything on the firearms playing field when he brought out his Standard Model .22 Pistol in 1949. It was certainly accurate and definitely inexpensive, however it had a few shortcomings.

Instead of 10 rounds, the magazine held nine rounds, the top of the magazine was very sharp making it hard on fingers while loading and there was no holding open of the slide at the last shot. It, and following models, were also difficult to take-down — and worse to reassemble again! A cottage industry has developed building special “Ruger take-down tools” to help legions of Ruger auto shooters!

Full-sized Ruger American compared to the Compact 9 version.

Mark IV Model

As of the first day of fall 2016 we have the Mark IV Model .22 and it’s definitely both new and improved, addressing a couple of issues from past models. There will be several versions, including a 51/2″ Bull Barrel Target model in both blue and stainless, a Competition Model and the test gun in hand which is the Mark IV Hunter Model. All of these have the same form as this long line of .22’s from Ruger, however even though the form has been maintained there has been a major change which will relieve the frustration of a lot of shooters.

Takedown has been simplified! A recessed button in the back of the frame allows the upper receiver to tilt up and off of the grip frame without the use of tools, and even more importantly it goes back together simply and easily with no frustration whatsoever. Thank you Ruger engineers!

This stainless steel Hunter Model has a one-piece CNC machined grip frame — no stamping here — checkered wood grip panels, contoured ejection port, ambidextrous manual safety, pushbutton magazine release on the left side of the frame allowing the magazine to drop positively and freely and two 10-round magazines are included. The bolt stop is located on the left side of the frame above the grip panel. Gone is the loaded chamber indicator, however, the magazine disconnect remains meaning the pistol cannot be fired if the magazine has been removed.

The fluted stainless steel barrel is 67/8″ in length with six grooves and a 1:16″ right-hand twist. My FFL holder/gunsmith was particularly impressed with the quality of the barrel rifling and an extra-added, most desirable feature is the recessed barrel crown, something usually only found on custom pistols. Sights are the typical Hunter style used on other Ruger handguns, consisting of a red fiber-optic front sight matched up with a V-notch rear sight. I’ve never been able to handle this sight combination as well as those which feature a square notch rear and this was evident in the tests I carried out. I first did all the shooting with the V-notch rear sight in place and then replaced it with the standard square notch. Targets fired with the latter had groups which were 30 percent tighter.

The Ruger American Compact 9 comes with two magazines and three
back-straps to custom fit your specific hand size.

The sights are mounted on the upper receiver and do not move when the cylindrical bolt operates, and the ears on the back of the bolt allow for ease of manipulation of the bolt for chambering a round. In addition to the sights the receiver is also drilled and tapped for a Weaver or Picatinny-style base for the use of optics.

Shooting the Mark IV was pure pleasure with no functioning problems whatsoever and it has proven to be an exceptionally accurate pistol. The most accurate ammunition used was Federal Champion HPs which grouped in 5/8″ for nine shots at 20 yards followed by CCI’s SGB and Winchester’s “333” bulk pack hollow points both of which grouped in 7/8″. One-inch groups were registered with three CCI .22’s, namely Standard Velocity, Mini-Mags and Mini-Mag HP’s. These were duplicated by CIL Match and Remington Thunderbolts while the American Eagle HP’s and Winchesters Copper Plated RN’s both came in just over 1″. All in all a most satisfying experience and this newest Ruger matches or exceeds any other Ruger .22’s I have.

The LCP II .380 comes from Ruger with this nifty pocket holster.
John added a spare magazine.

New American Compact

The Ruger Mark IV was only the first semi-auto to be announced and within two weeks two more new/improved models came forth. In 2015 Ruger introduced their American semi-auto chambered in .45 ACP and 9mm. This model has been highly successful and proven to be both durable and reliable and has now been joined by a new version, the Compact American 9.

This is an easy-handling, low-recoiling pistol large enough to be comfortable to shoot and small enough to conceal. This 9mm pistol is just over 61/2″ long with a height of just under 41/2″ and with its 31/2″ barrel, weighs in at just under 28 ounces with an empty magazine. For an individually tailored feel the Compact 9 comes with small, medium and large replaceable grip backstraps. For my use the medium backstrap works fine. Backstraps are easily changed by using the small hex wrench provided.

Two nickel-Teflon plated steel magazines are provided with one having a 12-round capacity while the other is an extended 17-round version with a grip extension slipping over the magazine giving a longer more comfortable grip. After shooting it extensively with both magazines, I prefer to carry it with the smaller magazine, with the extended magazine used as a backup. The 12-round magazine has a small extension giving a perfect resting place for my little finger. Everything, pistol, extra magazines and extra back straps, comes in a sturdy hard case.

The frame is glass-filled nylon with integral frame rails and fire-control housing. The slide is stainless steel coated with a non-glare black finish. Sights consist of a Novak LoMount Carry three-dot system. There’s also an integral frame rail for adding a light or laser. In addition to the frame-mounted safety there’s also the typical “safety trigger” in which the center bar in the trigger must be pressed before the gun will fire. Most of the time when shooting a traditional trigger I use the tip of my finger for better feel in control of the trigger, however with any of these modern style triggers it’s necessary for me to use the first joint of my trigger for optimum control and comfort when shooting.

The trigger pull on this Compact 9 measures right at six pounds, but feels lighter to my finger, and has a short take-up with a positive reset which means you don’t have to take your finger completely off the trigger but with a little practice can feel just how far forward the trigger has to go before it re-sets, allowing for fast action.

For manual operation, the slide cocking serrations are found on the back of the slide, and the welcomed frame-mounted thumb safety is ambidextrous, as is the pushbutton magazine release. The magazine drops positively and since this pistol is mainly destined to be used for self-defense, thankfully there is no magazine disconnect.

Front and rear sights are set in dovetails and the rear has a locking screw to allow for windage adjustment. The interchangeable back straps and the integral front strap both have molded-in texturing.

I shot the Ruger Compact 9 at seven yards using typical self-defense ammunition. Black Hills 115 JHP +P clocked out at 1,245 fps with five shots in 3/4″; HPR 115 JHP, 1,118 fps, 5/8″; Wilson Combat 125 HAP Match HP, 1,108 fps 3/4″; three SIG SAUER loads were particularly consistent with the 115 JHP +P V-Crown at 1,178 fps and 3/4″; 124 JHP V-Crown, 1,157 fps and also 3/4″ and finally SIG SAUER’s 147 JHP V-Crown registered 973 fps on the LabRadar with a 5-shot, 7-yard group of 7/8″. The RNP Sport-Utility Frangible 84-grain load measured 1,163 fps and shot into a very accurate 5/8″. This latter load is designed for practice and shooting steel with no concerns about splash back.

As expected from Ruger, the American Compact is a well-made 9mm self-defense pistol and one I find particularly attractive as an everyday, concealed carry pistol, a house or car gun. It carries securely in a kydex inside-the-pants holster by Nick Hoffer/Hoftac Industries, which I used during testing. This particular holster has an American stars pattern imprinted on it, which is certainly apropos for the carrying of a Ruger American pistol.

The upper receiver of the Ruger Mark IV pivots when the takedown
button is pressed, much easier than prior models!

Fired at 20 yards with the Ruger .22 Mark IV Hunter, John found this
newest Ruger to be accurate, reliable and easy to operate.


We have an excellent shooting .22, an easily concealed self-defense pistol, however Ruger wasn’t finished introducing new autos. Their third offering is a deep cover, very small self-defense.380 which can be easily concealed, especially in summer weather when for many the choice of clothing is shorts and a T-shirt. I’m not affected as I dress the same winter or summer, however I do find this third edition particularly appealing as a backup to my main concealed firearm as it’s small enough to tuck away and large enough to be effective.

In 2006 Ruger introduced their .380 LCP which was an immediate hit. Now comes the LCP II with several improvements. This version has an exceptionally good short crisp trigger not usually found on such small pistols. Ruger also added much better sights with a good square sight picture very easy to see. The grip surface has been enlarged for better control and distribution of recoil, the slide is very easy to operate and an improved slide stop has been added which holds the slide open when the last round is fired.

The LCP II is a very compact package with an overall length of just over 5″, height of 33/4″, barrel length of 23/4″ and the weight well under 11 ounces. The chassis is one-piece, machined, anodized aluminum with integral frame rails. It features a hardened alloy steel slide and glass-filled nylon grip frame and has a finger grip extension which helps immensely in controlling this little pistol. Capacity is 6 +1 rounds.

This .380 was also shot at seven yards and with its small size and weight exhibits much more recoil than the Compact 9. Best results were accomplished with the CCI 95 TMJ load which put five shots in an incredible 5/8″ — incredible that is for such a small pistol. This load clocks out at just barely over 900 fps. Several jacketed hollowpoint loads were tried with the following results: CCI 88 JHP with a muzzle velocity of 843 fps and five shots in 11/4″; Federal 90 JHP, 855 fps, 17/8″; Hornady XTP 90 JHP, 876 fps, 13/8″; HPR 90 JHP, 793 fps, 11/2″; and Winchester 95 SXT clocked 827 fps with a 11/2″ 5-shot, 7-yard group.

With so many firearms manufacturers, competition serves to provide newer models regularly. It’s obvious Ruger is not sitting back on its laurels but actually listening to shooters.

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