Soft Shootin’ Big Bore

The Ruger SR45 .45 ACP.

The SR was the first non-P series Ruger semi-automatic pistol and as such is striker fired. Ruger’s SR series began with the SR9, followed by the SR40 and now the SR Trio is complete with the addition of the SR45.

This series has no external hammer, however the SR is equipped with what Ruger calls a “striker status indicator” at the back of a slide. The back of the striker can be seen through a small circular hole when it is cocked and disappears from view when it is not. There is also a “loaded chamber indicator” on the top of the slide. When the chamber is empty, it is flush with the top of the slide. When there is a round in the chamber, the front of the indicator protrudes slightly revealing a red spot. Whether by sight or by feel it is easy to tell when the chamber is loaded with a live round. Another safety feature is the ambidextrous 1911 style safety which, even though it is quite small, is easily operated by the side of the thumb of the shooting hand.

Because of internal safety features, the manual thumb safety is not necessary, however I like having it. Pistols are carried in many different ways besides a holster and this extra safety prevents the trigger from activating the striker should the SR45 be carried in a backpack where—although highly improbable—it is possible for some object to contact the trigger. It is not a good idea to ever carry any handgun, either sixgun or semi-automatic, in a backpack or pocket without using a holster. A quality holster protects the finish, in the case of pocket carry breaks up the outline, and if properly designed can prevent a negligent discharge. As the SR45 can’t be fired unless the lever in the center the trigger is positively depressed, for most uses the thumb safety would not be necessary, however it is good to have this extra-added safety feature. For experienced shooters used to the normal operation of a 1911, the normal carrying mode for the SR45 will feel quite comfortable when used with the thumb safety engaged.

Internal Safety

Ruger says of their internal safety features: “Your SR45 also is equipped with an internal striker blocker that prevents the striker from contacting the primer of a cartridge in the chamber until the trigger is pulled. An additional trigger safety blocks trigger bar movement until the trigger is pulled. An internal trigger bar interlock prevents the trigger bar from moving down to release the striker until it is moved back by trigger movement.” Ruger describes the SR45 as a “Semi-Double Action” due to a trigger pull rated at 6-1/2 pounds; the trigger pull on the test gun is right in the ballpark with a pull-weight of 6-3/4 pounds.

Capacity of the SR45 is 10+1 rounds of .45 ACP and it is relatively compact weighing less than 30 ounces with a slide width right at 1 inch and a maximum width, including thumb safety and slide release of 1-1/4 inches. Barrel length is 4 inches with a collar at the muzzle end to lock it tightly into the slide; there is no perceptible play between the barrel and slide.

There are two versions available, an all black SR45 and the KSR45 with the “K” denoting a stainless steel slide, the subject of our test. The slide is generously and nicely marked on the left side with “SR45” and there are also generous cocking serrations on both sides of the slide in front of the rear sight. The stainless steel slide is mated up with a frame Ruger describes as glass-filled nylon. The grip frame itself has a 17-degree angle and panels on both sides as well as the frontstrap have 22 LPI checkering, which provides a comfortable and secure hold.

On the left side of the frame are two levers with the front being the slide lock and the back one side of the ambidextrous safety. The SR comes with two interchangeable backstraps, one flat and one arched, which are easily changed by simply pushing out a retaining pin at the bottom of the backstrap and then removing and reversing the backstrap. The arched panel was in place and although I normally prefer a flatter profile I left it in place; it feels so good in my hand and the SR45 shoots so well I have never changed it. I have large stubby fingers, however I can reach the trigger of the SR45 easily.

Sights on the SR45 are just about perfect for such a pistol with the front sight being a white dot tapered post set in a dovetail and mated up with a square notch, double white dot rear sight. The rear sight is also set in a dovetail and drift adjustable for windage and has a screw for locking it in place; it is click adjustable for elevation. For my hold and eyes I had to move the sight slightly to the right and up two clicks. The corners of the rear sight as well as the front of the forward sight are both rounded off to prevent snagging in holster, or clothing, or worse, injuring the hand. For low-light shooting there is a 1-slot Picatinny rail to allow the attaching of a light or laser.

The SR45 is also equipped with an ambidextrous magazine release, which is located behind the trigger where it is easily pushed with the trigger finger or the thumb. When the button is pushed the 10-round magazine releases easily and drops free. I also like the fact the magazine is numbered on both sides and it is easy to see how many rounds are loaded with the numbers 4, 6, 8, and 10 on the right side below holes which reveal cartridges while the left side received the same treatment with the numbers 5, 7, and 9. The SR45 comes with standard equipment of two 10-round magazines as well as a magazine loader.

The SR45 is what I would call “soft shooting.” By that I mean it is quite comfortable to shoot and felt recoil should not be a problem except perhaps with +P loads which I do not recommend using much in polymer-framed .45 pistols. It has long been my contention polymer-frame pistols recoil less than heavier steel-frame .45s, however I have never tested this theory until now. I received the SR45 along with the new Ruger 1911 Commander .45, so it was very convenient to run them side-by-side. Using the same loads, the lighter SR45 exhibited significantly less felt recoil than the steel 1911 Commander. This coupled with its easy to reach trigger makes the SR45 an excellent choice for those with relatively small or weak hands who wish to use a .45.

Equipped with a tactical light along with proper training in its use should make it an excellent option for older shooters who feel the need for a defensive firearm for home defense. I have kept a .45 ACP Ruger KP345 so equipped beside my bed since it was introduced nearly 10 years ago. I sleep a lot better knowing it is within reach and I certainly would not have any problem using the SR45 in like manner especially with something like the new LaserMax Genesis in place with its pulsating green light. However, the SR45 will probably spend most of its time riding in my waist belt.

Overleaf: The SR45 is shown with a Stream light TLR-4, 110 lumen weaponlight
and a Spyderco Matriarch 2W knife.

The SR45 was tested extensively using both handloads and factory loads. When I earlier tested the SR9 performance was absolutely flawless. One thing I particularly appreciated about the old original Ruger P85 was its absolute reliability. No matter what it’s fed it has always proven 100 percent reliable. The same is true of the SR9. Factory load or handload, standard load or +P, 90-grain or 147-grain or anything in between, all perform the same in the SR9. It never failed to feed, it never stuttered, it never hiccupped, it never stovepiped, it just plain works. The same can’t be said for the SR45 but only when it came to some of my handloads equipped with semi-wadcutter bullets. The same loads that work fine in the Ruger SR1911 Commander were apparently too large for the relatively tight chamber of the SR45, so I will attribute this problem to ammunition not pistol. All factory loads performed perfectly with no failures to feed, shoot, or eject.

March in Southwest Idaho is normally not conducive to quality testing of handguns especially. However, after some pretty miserable cold days in January and February we started getting some 40-degree weather and this coupled with the setting up of a Shooting Shack complete with a propane heater allowed for some pretty pleasant shooting days. The Shack is set up for three people to comfortably shoot side-by-side and, even with all the front panels opened allowing exposure to the weather across the front, it is a big improvement over trying to fight cold weather and wind at the same time. Shoot a few rounds, warm up the hands at the propane heater, and then go back to shooting works out pretty well. I just wish we had these 30 years earlier.
In testing the SR45 I used a total of 15 loads—nine handloads and six factory loads. It is a known fact custom-built 1911s can be made to shoot very accurately. The Ruger SR45 is certainly not a target pistol, however several of my loads shot as well as I could expect from a highly customized .45, and this with a price tag of just over $500. This is one case in which we definitely get more than we pay for.

Three of my handloads put five shots in a 7/8-inch group at 20 yards. These were the Hornady 230-grain FMJ over 8.0 grains of AA5 for a muzzle velocity of just under 800 fps. The Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC with 5.5 grains of Bullseye and 944 fps, and the Oregon Trail 200-grain RN over 4.0 grains of Bullseye for a very easy shooting 759 fps. Bullseye powder has been around since the turn of the century (the last century that is not this one). It is definitely a proven performer and for roaming the desert, foothills, forest and mountains a 200-grain SWC that shoots exceptionally accurate with the muzzle velocity right at 950 fps is a most comforting everyday packin’ load. The most accurate factory loads proved to be the Winchester 185- and 230-grain FMJ Target Loads at 948 fps and a group of 1 inch and 843 fps and 1-1/8 inch respectively. Of the factory loads tested I would probably go with the Black Hills 230-grain JHP at just over 800 fps for every day carry.

As so often happens, after I had finished this article and turned it in, some new .45 ACP ammunition from Atomic Ammunition arrived in the form of 185-grain +P bonded JHPs. These are rated at 1,200+ fps and I’m pleased to report they perform exceptionally well in the Ruger SR45 with no malfunctions whatsoever while shooting into very small clusters on a miniature silhouette target. Good stuff!

Over the years of testing the SR trio of 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, I have been pleased enough to purchase them for Taffin Family use. I like them all and the relatively low felt recoil provided by the glass-filled nylon when compared to a steel frame coupled with the light weight making them especially attractive for all-day carry coupled with the flawless performance with proper loads makes the SRs and especially the SR45 top choices as an every day packin’ pistol.
John Taffin
Photos By Joseph R. Novelozo

Atomic Ammunition
506 W. Whispering Wind Dr., Ste. 115
Phoenix, AZ 85085
(632) 580-8888

Black Hills Ammunition
P.O. Box 3090, Rapid City, SD 57709
(605) 348-5150

Buffalo Bore
P.O. Box 1480, St. Ignatius, MT 59865
(406) 745-2666

Lyman Products
475 Smith St.
Middletown, CT 06457
(800) 225-9626

Oregon Trail Bullet Company
P.O. Box 529, Baker City, OR 97814
(800) 811-0548

605 Oro Dam Blvd., Oroville, CA 95965
(800) 553-5000

Winchester Ammunition
600 Powder Mill Rd.
East Alton, IL 62024

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