The Venerable Ruger P95

The Venerable Ruger P95

I'm taking this opportunity to write about a classic 9mm pistol that some of you may not know was discontinued a few years ago: the Ruger P95.


Mechanicals


In 1996 the P95 joined Ruger's well-known P-Series auto pistols, which came to life in 1987 with the P85. The P95 was Ruger's first centerfire auto pistol with a polymer frame. It made a big splash and was featured on the covers of many gun magazines at the time, including Shooting Times.


The Ruger P95 was produced from 1996 until 2013, when it was dropped from the company's catalog. It's a recoil-operated autoloader with an external hammer, a 3.9-inch barrel, and a 10-round magazine. Magazine capacity was increased to 15 rounds in late 2005.

Features of the then-new pistol included a blued or stainless-steel slide, double action only (DAO) or decocker mechanisms, a 3.9-inch barrel, a three-dot sight system, and a polymer frame. The frame did not have any metal inserts or steel bearings in its rails and was described by Ruger back in 1996 as being a "magic" injection-molded, custom-compounded, high-strength polymer with long-strand fiberglass filler. It was tested extensively for strength and durability and outperformed other brands of polymer-framed pistols and even steel-framed models for durability. Eventually, Ruger offered a variation of the P95 with a manual safety, and in 2006 Ruger added an integral rail to the underside of the polymer frame.

One of the unique aspects of the Ruger P95 in operation is that when it's fired, its barrel and slide move rearward together for a short distance until an angled surface on the integral camblock of the full-length recoil spring guide engages the underlug on the barrel and cams its breech end downward and out of engagement with the slide. The slide then travels fully to the rear and ejects the spent case. This camblock system was totally new for Ruger back in 1996.

By the way, unlike so many of today's auto pistols that have magazine disconnect safeties, the Ruger P95 will fire with the magazine out.

The P95 was Ruger's first centerfire auto pistol with a polymer frame. Ruger spokesmen called the material "magic," and it consisted of an injection-molded, custom-compounded, high-strength polymer with long-strand fiberglass filler.

Provenance

The Ruger P95 I used for this report is one from my personal battery. It was given to me many years ago, and I've kept it all these years because it marks a milestone in my life. It's the decocker model with matte blue slide.

I've not been a big fan of 9mm auto pistols even though I've owned and fired a lot of them. In auto pistols I've always preferred the .45 ACP or the .40 S&W. Probably my favorite 9mm handgun was a Smith & Wesson Model 547 K-Frame double-action revolver with a 3-inch heavy barrel, but, as I've done so many times, I foolishly traded it off for some other gun more than 25 years ago.

Anyway, I've made a point of hanging onto the Ruger P95, and it and the Astra A-75 that I wrote about several years ago in this column are the only two 9mm pistols currently in my personal battery. (As I wrote in that installment, the A-75 also has an interchangeable .40 S&W slide and barrel assembly.)

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Rangetime

One of the reasons I've never really warmed up to the 9mm Luger round is that I've never been able to shoot it very accurately. Except for that S&W Model 547 revolver and a few of the newest striker-fired DA auto pistols, all the 9mm handguns I've shot have been marginally acceptable in the accuracy department, at least in my hands. Most have averaged well above the classic "4.25 at 25" accuracy standard. Maybe that's entirely due to my not-so-good shooting skills. When I first got the P95, it was no different. But to give it an unbiased appraisal for this column, I took it to the range and fired it with the most modern ammunition available.

Those loadings included brand-new boxes of Federal, Hornady, Winchester, and Fox River ammo with bullet weights and types ranging from 105-grain EFMJs (expanding full metal jackets) to 147-grain JHPs. (By the way, I was able to buy all of that ammunition except for the Fox River stuff at my local dealer's shop the day before I conducted the range session.) Overall average accuracy for the Ruger P95 was 3.79 inches for five-shot groups at 25 yards. Either my shooting skills have improved or the ammunition has gotten better from when I first fired this Ruger P95 18 years ago. I think it's the latter. Anyway, it turns out that the P95 is one of the more accurate 9mm autoloaders I have owned.

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Function-wise, the Ruger P95 was 100 percent reliable during the shooting session. I managed to fire close to 250 rounds during that session shooting for accuracy, obtaining the velocity data, and plinking on steel targets, so I'd say the P95 is as dependable as any Ruger firearm, and we are all aware that Ruger firearms are known to be incredibly rugged and reliable.

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