December 29, 2021
By James Tarr
Ruger knows how to make competition pistols. The Koenig 1911 from its Custom Shop is as good a single-stack as you’re going to find for the money anywhere, and its GP100 Match Champion is a fabulous wheelgun. But the Competition version of the American pistol isn’t necessarily just a competition gun. Ruger had to call it something, and “competition” rolls off the tongue easier than “longslide optics-ready model with better, adjustable sights.” But no matter the name, even if you’re not interested in competition, you should give it a look.
This is a polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol chambered in 9mm. It is 8.3 inches long and 5.6 inches tall. It is fed by stainless 17-round magazines, and two magazines are provided with the pistol. Both the slide stop and magazine release are ambidextrous, with an unobtrusive takedown lever on the left.
With the Competition model Ruger has stretched the barrel of the American from 4.2 inches to five inches. The slide has been extended to match, but you’ll see some lightening cuts: four small ovals on each of the top corners of the slide.
The slide is stainless steel with a black nitride finish. The barrel is stainless steel as well. On other models the barrel is left in the white, but on this model it is given a black nitride finish.
The standard gun features steel fixed three-dot sights. The Competition gives you a green fiber-optic insert in the front sight, and the rear sight is a plain black, fully adjustable steel model.
The slide does not taper at the back.It goes straight up to form a shelf for whichever red dot you choose to mount. The pistol comes from the factory with a steel cover plate in place. Remove that and you’ll see the slide is drilled and tapped for direct mounting of any red dot that uses the Docter footprint, which is a lot of them. Between the longer slide and beefier back end to support a red dot, the Competition model at 34.1 ounces is four ounces heavier than the standard gun.
This pistol doesn’t offer interchangeable backstraps but rather replaceable grip modules. They wrap around most of the frame, and come in small, medium and large sizes, with the medium installed at the factory.
The grip modules and the frontstrap sport aggressive texturing that keeps your hand in place while you’re shooting. This texturing is specific to the Competition model, but I think it should be standard on all models because the only real complaint I’ve had about the standard American is the slick gripping surface.
I’ve spent a lot of time pulling the triggers of American pistols, and most of them run between six and seven pounds. There is no mention by Ruger of an improved trigger pull in the Competition version, and the trigger pull on my sample was 6.25 pounds. For a dedicated competition pistol I’d want a lighter trigger, but for every other use it’s more than acceptable and comparable to the trigger pulls of most striker-fired guns on the market.
The only aspect of this pistol that wouldn’t serve a competitor well is the size of the mag well opening. It’s a bit tight compared to some, with no real flare. But unless you’re a diehard competitor, you won’t even notice it.
The Competition is currently offered only in a Pro configuration, which means it lacks a manual thumb safety, but you’ve got a safety lever on the trigger and an internal sear block.
This pistol has the same four-slot rail on the frame as every other full-size American pistol, so if you want to clamp on a light, no matter the size, it will fit. To me, between this pistol’s ability to mount a red-dot optic and a weapon light, it is as well suited as a defensive/nightstand role as it is competition. The interesting thing to me is that no matter which size of American pistol you’re interested in—whether the Compact, Standard or Competition—they all are the same price: $579.
My trips to the range were uneventful. The Ruger proved itself completely reliable. As the American is somewhat heavy for a polymer-frame pistol, recoil was soft. You could shoot this pistol all day long. And with the aggressive texturing, it just does not move in your hands.
For whatever reason, the Ruger American pistol doesn’t get much attention. I think that’s a mistake. The Compact handles and shoots better than some full-size pistols, and this new Competition model offers all the features consumers are demanding in modern semiautos—for competition or self-defense—at a price below that of most competitors.
Ruger American Pistol Competition Specification
- Type: striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 17
- Barrel: 5 in. stainless steel
- OAL/Height/Width: 8.31/5.6/1.2 in.
- Weight: 34.1 oz.
- Construction: polymer frame, oxide-coated stainless steel slide
- Sights: fully adjustable rear, green fiber-optic front
- Trigger pull: 6.25 lb. pull (measured)
- Safety: trigger lever, internal striker safety
- Price: $579
- Manufacturer: Ruger, ruger.com