Ruger American Pistol Review
Part 5 - Range Tests
April 7, 2016

Ruger American Pistol Review: Rear View    Ruger American Pistol Review: Right View    Ruger American Pistol Review: Front View

In this part of my review I range tested the new Ruger American Pistol.  This particular pistol was chambered in 9mm Luger.  For my range tests, I wanted to get a feel for the accuracy potential, reliability and overall shoot-ability of this new pistol.  To start out, I shot a couple of boxes of American Eagle 115 FMJ to get a feel for the pistol and was immediately pleased with the overall feel of the handgun.  As I mentioned in Part 3 of the review, some people have experienced an uncomfortable-ness with the rear beavertail area of this handgun, but I found this to not be an issue for my hand size and grip style.  One thing I did notice was that my shots seemed to be printing slightly to the left (more later).


Next I moved to the bench to try and evaluate the overall accuracy potential for this pistol.  During my range tests I shot a variety of Hornady premium defensive ammunition that varied in bullet style, bullet weight and chamber pressure (normal and +P) along with some more of the American Eagle FMJs.  The photo below shows my ammo selection for bench shooting.

Figure 1

This next photo shows my range setup.  The chronograph was about 10 feet from the muzzle and the target was 25 yards down range.  I shot with the Picatinny rail of the pistol resting on a padded bar and my hands resting on my green bag.  I feel this may be a slight compromise between true sand bagged bench shooting and simply supported, but overall I have been pleased with the results over the years.  I'm not trying to make excuses, but my biggest struggle when bench shooting has to do with my bifocal.  It seem like when I can see my front sight good, the target is a little more blurred than I like.

Figure 2

The table below summarizes my bench test results.  Overall I was pleased with the accuracy of this Ruger American Pistol and my total group average for sixteen 5-shot groups at 25 yards was 3.05".  To give you an idea on how this stacked up against some recent published reviews. you can checkout their results below:

  • March 2016, American Rifleman, average of 2.91" based on twenty 5-shot groups
  • March 2016, Guns & Ammo, average of 2.59" based on twenty five 5-shot groups
  • May 2016, Shooting Times, average of 2.24" based on twenty one 3-shot groups

OK... they out shot me, but I bet their sandbag setup was superior and they had better eyes.  Regardless, the Ruger American Pistol clearly has more than enough accuracy for it's intended duty.  One thing to note when looking at the table below was that I didn't report any accuracy data on the +P ammunition.  I found the recoil of the pistol to be causing my point of impacts to be about 4.5" higher than the point of aim.  Unfortunately I didn't bring enough large targets to the range with me that day to get good data, so I decided to get some velocity data and save my ammo for the future.  I did also notice that you could feel the difference in recoil of the handgun when shooting the +P ammunition and the article in the March 2016 issue of American Rifleman also noted that the +P rounds gave a more "snappy comeback".  Personally, I will be happy loading the pistol with the Hornady American Gunner 115gr XTP rounds which gave the best overall group average.

Ammunition Velocity (ft/sec) 5-Shot Group Size (in)
      Max Min Avg
American Eagle 115gr FMJ 1210 10 3.86 1.74 2.75
Hornady American Gunner 115gr XTP 1119 13 3.05 1.81 2.50
Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX 1148 13 4.05 3.30 3.71
Hornady Critical Duty +P 135gr FlexLock 1057 8 - - -
Hornady Custom 147gr XTP 979 15 3.94 2.81 3.24
Average for all sixteen 5-shot groups  3.05 

Depending on what type of ammunition I was using, the point of impact would shift vertically on the target which is expected with the +P ammunition giving the highest impact.  The two groups below are the best ones I shot that day and the group with the 115gr FMJ ammunition happened to be my first group of the day and also the best group of the day which was a great start to my bench tests.  You can also see that these groups were printing about 3" to 3.5" to the left at 25 yards.  These were shot with me using the medium grip module.  When I switched to the large grip module later in my tests, my groups were centering about 2" to the left.  I still have not adjusted the sights because 2" to the left at 25 yards is actually not bad, also I don't consider the Ruger American to be a target pistol and lastly because I want to get more rounds down range before I start tweaking sights.

Figure 3 - American Eagle 115gr FMJ

Figure 4 - Hornady American Gunner 115gr XTP

After the bench testing was finished, I headed to my steel target range where I shot about another 100 rounds that day.  Throughout all my range testing (multiple days), I never had a single issue of any type.  I have since been to the range several more times and probably have about 500 rounds through the pistol and it still has functioned flawlessly.  I have also let several other people shoot the Ruger American pistol and none have indicated any issue with the comfort of the rear portion of the pistol.



Everything I have seen indicates that the Ruger American Pistol is an accurate and reliable handgun that will feed a variety of ammunition without issue.  I found the trigger pull to be good and it allowed for quick follow-up shots. The pistol was comfortable to shoot due to it's low bore axis and weight.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments below.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 

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