By John Taffin
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1911 in 2011, Ruger brought out their first version of the 1911. It was a full-sized, stainless steel .45 with what we have come to call tactical sights. I was one, however, who could not be totally satisfied without having a Ruger SR1911 with adjustable sights. I also asked for Commander versions and other chamberings. We always want what they aren’t building! The latter came first as we saw the addition of Rugers in 9mm as well as Commanders. I was still waiting for an adjustable-sighted SR1911 .45 ACP and good things really do come to those who wait. Enter the Ruger SR 1911 Target Model.
It’s exactly what I wanted, however if you think I’m totally “super” satisfied I’m not simply because I want to see the same Target Model pistol chambered in .38 Super and 9mm, and I certainly would not turn down a 10mm version. In fact I wrote the following in this space two years ago: “What does the future hold for the Ruger 1911? I hope they get to the point they will offer adjustable sighted versions not only in .45 but .38 Super and 9 mm as well. I would not be adverse to also seeing an adjustable sighted version chambered in 10mm.” It always pays to let Ruger know one’s wishes.
The Ruger Target Model .45 shoots great and the adjustable sights allow
precise changes to point of impact.
The Compact American .45 packs a hard wallop and handles well at John’s
7-yard testing range.
With the standard 5″ barrel the weight is right at 39 ounces. Just as with the standard SR 1911, the Target Model strips, shoots, handles and holsters just like a 1911. The two most important features, for me at least, on any handgun are the sights and the trigger. Normally the sights are personally considered to be the most important. I can live with a poor trigger much easier than I can handle hard-to- see sights.
Even though the original SR Ruger 1911 sights are not fully adjustable they are still excellent. But they’re not fully adjustable which is what I normally prefer on any handgun, except a pocket pistol. The Target Model addresses this with the use of a BoMar-style fully adjustable rear sight. I prefer a setup like this as it allows me to dial in the exact point of impact with everything from 135-grain high-speed loads up to 230-grain JHP+P’s, and any weight or muzzle velocity in between. This versatility is very important to me. Unlike the BoMar sights of my mis-spent youth, these are set low in the slide and do not interfere with holstering.
The trigger is skeletonized aluminum with an adjustable over-travel stop. The quality of the sights are matched by a clean, crisp trigger measuring 41/2 pounds. The combination of excellent sites and a good trigger made it very easy to get good results when shooting.
Ruger’s frames are cast by their sister company, Pine Tree Castings, and then CNC machines are used to provide a precise slide-to-frame fit. Ruger advises the stainless steel barrel and bushing are produced from the same piece of bar stock on the same machine which also helps to provide accuracy.
The Ruger has the mandatory beavertail grip safety with a cut-out to accept the back of the skeletonized hammer. The beavertail is not as wide as found on most 1911’s today, but works just fine. That beavertail, as well as the slightly extended ambidextrous thumb safety, slide lock and magazine release are all blue steel while the slide and frame are stainless steel.
The firing pin is titanium and is matched up with a heavy firing pin spring, elimating the need for a firing pin block. Ruger says this offers “… an updated safety feature to the original ‘Series 70’ design without compromising trigger pull weight.” One of the mild arguments these days is whether the old original internal extractor should be used or an external extractor. Ruger has stayed with the tried and true original design. Since the Ruger SR 1911 first arrived, I have had considerable experience with several of the standard models, the newer Commanders, and now this Target Model. The extractor has continued to work flawlessly in all of them.
I prefer the checkered flat mainspring housing as supplied on all Ruger 1911’s including our test gun. Grip panels on all previous Ruger .45 1911’s have been nicely checkered CocoBolo with the diamond pattern and the Ruger emblem. Those found on the Target Model deviate are checkered G10. It’s a very attractive design with checkering covering about half of the grip panel, with a Ruger emblem found in the center of the checkering itself. The finish on these grips matched the checkered flat mainspring housing, providing a very secure grip.
Our test gun came with two magazines; a flush fitting 7-rounder and an 8-round version with a butt pad. For my use I would carry it with the 7-round magazine and the 8-round as a backup. Fobus provides a very lightweight and secure polymer holster for carrying the SR 1911, as well as many other makers.
The Ruger Compact American performed successfully with these
radical new self-defense loads from Black Hills and Ruger.
My original Ruger SR1911 has been fired with many different factory loads and handloads over the past six years. With proper ammunition it has never failed to feed, fire, or extract; performance is absolutely flawless. It shoots, and shoots and shoots. The Target Model is falling right into these familiar footsteps. Indeed, this Target Model fits right into my definition of a Perfect Packin’ Pistol.
In testing this Target Model, which was a most enjoyable time, 15 factory loads and three of my handloads where used. Most of these loads shot right at 11/4″ for five shots at 20 yards. The most accurate loads proved to be the Black Hills 185 JHP at 928 fps; Black Hills 230 JHP, 821 fps; HPR 185 JHP, 946 fps; Sig Sauer 200 JHP, 882 fps and the Sig Sauer 230 FMJ at 842 fps. My handload consisting of the Oregon Trail 200 SWC over a very easy shooting 4.0 grains of Bullseye for just over 700 fps and a 1″ group was particularly satisfying. I also fired the Ruger Target Model with the new Ruger ARX 118-grain bullet at just under 1,400 fps. This self-defense load groups into an excellent 1-1/4″.
The Ruger Target Model SR 1911 was test-fired with a variety of .45 ACP ammunition.
There’s a wealth of high-quality defensive and practice ammo available these days!
The Ruger Target Model .45 comes with two magazines; one is flush-fitted with
a 7-round capacity, while the other has a buttpad and holds 8-rounds.
In 2015 Ruger introduced their “American” semi-auto pistol chambered in .45 ACP and 9mm. This model proved to be both durable and reliable and was then joined by a new version, the Compact American 9. The quartet has now been made complete with the addition of a Compact American .45 ACP. This easy-handling .45 is smaller than the 1911 Target Model, however it’s large enough to be comfortable to shoot and still small enough to easily conceal.
This polymer framed .45 pistol is 71/4″ long with a height of just over 41/2″ and, with its 33/4″ barrel, weighs in at just under 281/2 ounces with an empty magazine. For an individually tailored feel the Compact .45 comes with medium and large replaceable backstraps. For my use the medium backstrap works fine.
Two nickel-Teflon plated steel magazines are provided, with one having a 7-round capacity while the other is a slightly extended 8-round version with a grip extension. The 7-round magazine has a small extension giving a perfect resting place for my little finger. Everything, pistol, extra magazines and extra backstrap, comes in a sturdy hard case. Fobus also provides a secure lightweight polymer holster for the .45 Compact American with either a belt slot or paddle design.
The frame of the .45 Compact American is one-piece black nitride, glass-filled nylon, with stainless steel 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 3-dot system. 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. The trigger pull on this Compact .45 measures right at seven pounds, but feels lighter to my finger, and has a short take-up with a positive reset.
For manual operation of the slide, cocking serrations are found on the back of the slide, and the frame-mounted thumb safety is ambidextrous as is the pushbutton magazine release. The magazine drops positively, however the magazine release is not as easy for me to operate as the one found on my Compact 9. This is basically a self-defense pistol and as such does not have a magazine disconnect. That is, if the magazine is lost the Compact .45 can still be used as a single shot pistol.
Front and rear sights are set in dovetails and the former has a locking screw to allow for windage adjustment. The interchangeable backstraps and the integral front strap both have molded-in texturing. There’s also an abbreviated Picatinny Rail in front of the trigger guard.
Unlike the SR 1911 Target Model .45 a versatile pistol which can be put to many uses such as self-defense, hunting, target shooting, or just as an every day packin’ pistol, the .45 American Compact was approached as a self-defense pistol and as such was test-fired at seven yards.
Two of the newest self-defense loads are the Ruger ARX 118-grain and the Black Hills 135-grain Honey Badger. The former clocks out at just over 1,300 fps and the latter right at 1,250 fps from the relatively short barrel of the Compact American .45. Both of these loads are right at 2″ for five shots at seven yards which makes them more than adequate for self-defense use. Either one would be my choice for carry in this newest Ruger .45. My practice load consisting of the Oregon Trail 200-grain RNFP over 5.5 grains of WW231 clocks out just under 800 fps with a 5-shot group of just over 1″ at seven yards. I’m sure this gun will shoot fine at 20 or 25 yards, but it’s not really what it’s for in my opinion.
Two more excellent .45’s from Ruger. It pays to not be satisfied — but just keep asking for new things! Let’s especially hope for a .38 Super Target Model!
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index