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In Part I, the Ruger SR9c was found to be a well mannered and reliably operating compact autoloader. It clearly has aesthetic appeal and quality is exemplary. As a compact autoloader with a 3.5″ barrel, the Ruger’s mechanical specifics and intended range of uses needed to be considered while developing handloads. In this case the intended application was self defense, primarily as a firearm kept in the home.

Bullet design for short barreled handguns…

A bullet that will work effectively in a short barrel firearm is not easy to design. Core, jacket and manufacturing process have to combine to make a bullet that will expand at a modest velocity without unintentionally fragmenting. A bullet that will penetrate a target without penetrating much beyond the target. With twenty five types and weights of 0.355″ bullets on the Real Guns loading bench, twenty percent are known not to expand regardless barrel length and/or velocity. sixty percent expand as advertised, but only in 9mm autoloaders where barrel length surpasses 4.5″ and loads are pushed to +P pressure levels. The remaining twenty percent expand when fired from short barrel guns, 3.5″, when loaded to +P levels, of which four were selected for this project.

Four loads optimized for the Ruger SR9c

For my purposes, only good basic ammunition needed to be assembled. The ammo needed to feed and cycle with absolute reliability. Bullets selected would have to expand in the target while holding together reliably. Penetration? A wheelbarrow couldn’t carry all of the public and private sector published data regarding lethality and bullet penetration and those conclusions are revised frequently. Since the compilation of experts seem to concur that penetration should be somewhere between 8″ and 16″ when tested in ballistic gelatin, I picked 12″ because it is consistent with the depth of the human torso from most angles, relative to the location of vital organs… my wife makes me watch Grey’s Anatomy. No, this is not an absolute, just my frame of reference when I am evaluating ammunition.

Bullet Mfg # $/100 Weight COL Powder Charge Velocity Wet Box
25′ Three
Shot Group
Winchester JHP WB9JHP 13 115 1.125 Power Pistol 7.0 1211 14″ 0.604 0.75″
Speer GDHP 3994 18 115 1.125 Power Pistol 7.0 1265 12″ 0.607 1.50″
Remington GS 23934 17 124 1.140 Power Pistol 6.5 1139 11.5″ 0.625 1.00″
Speer GDHP 4002 20 147 1.130 Power Pistol 5.0 967 13.5″ 0.540 0.70″

All Loads – CCI 500 Primers


Recovered bullets in order listed within the table, L-R. The picture perfect expansion belongs to the Remington Golden Saber, but penetration and kinetic energy winners were the 115 grain loads. Any of the three, I suspect would fare as well. The 147 grain Gold Dot, much like tested but not detailed Hornady and Remington jacketed hollow points, expanded little, probably the a result of low velocity. Bullet weight was not sufficient to offset low velocity with higher kinetic energy. In all cases, virtually  no weight loss occurred. My choice is the Golden Saber only because it expands the same way, every time and it expands the same in water saturated corrugated, ballistic gelatin, ballistic gelatin substitute and on smaller game animals and varmints.

Corrugated filled perpetrators… Hey, it could happen

The wet box used for testing a limited number of handgun bullets was made from a five gallon pail, filled with water saturated single wall corrugated cardboard. What is “water saturated” corrugated? Water weighs approximately 8 lbs/gal. The compressed rectangular cardboard cutouts that lay flat and fill the bucket from top to bottom weigh approximately 7 lbs and displace 4 gallons, 56 lbs, of water when dry. The bucket is loaded with weighted down cardboard, then filled and refilled until the weight of the bucket increases by  40 to 42 lbs which is approximately 80% cardboard saturation. Using warm water and adding a squirt of liquid dishwashing detergent accelerates water absorption. The bucket is sealed with a  liquid tight lid… because I hate getting sprayed. For single shot recovery, and maybe up to four shots if the pace is quick, one bucket can be topped with another to extend penetration range. If water loss from the container is significant, the test is not realistic.

The nice part about this arrangement is that bullet recovery is fast, multiple projectiles can be recovered from the same session, particularly when it is a single container and a handgun is the firearm utilized. The cost is low, even if a new $5 plastic five gallon pail is sacrificed in to the process.

Out of ammo. An appropriate place to stop

Eighteen rounds of this level of +P performance is a lot of firepower, but not firepower that is hard to manage or learn to shoot accurately in concert with the SR9c. The sights are highly visible and easy to hold on target. Hand controls were within easy reach and a lot of grip shifting is not required. The gun seemed as tight when the dust settled as it did when the shooting began.

The Ruger went through days of shooting, lots of types of ammo with differing bullet geometry, length and power levels. It cycled cleanly every time, never jammed and never failed to go empty with the slide locked open. There were no signs of wear and tear through use. The gun shot well for me, it shot well for my wife and she was impressed by the lack of felt recoil. This is a high quality firearm that exudes pride of ownership and makes practice shooting fun. It seems perfect for concealed carry where a bulkier model gun would not be desired and it is as compact as a nine can be without going sub-compact and having no place for a proper grip. This isn’t a gun that needs to be relegated to backup gun status, it can easily fit the role of a primary weapon.

This and any of the other firearms seen on the site are available from the gun shop. Not my areas of the business, but I am sure Cindy, Cindy@RealGuns.Com, would be glad to assist by answering questions, or locating your next firearm.

Ruger’s SR9c Part 1
Ruger’s SR9c Part 11