Ruger’s new American Compact Pro is very likely the most solidly built polymer-framed handgun on today’s market. From its glass-filled nylon grip frame to its stainless steel chassis and slide, it’s very clear that this is one pistol that’s made for a lifetime of shooting under all conditions. But the American Compact Pro isn’t just rugged—it’s also versatile. If you’re right- or left-handed, you’ll be able to easily operate this pistol. Need a light or a laser? Just attach it to the integral Picatinny rail on the underside of the dust cover. Long or short fingers? No problem. Three interchangeable backstraps allow you to adjust the trigger reach to fit a wide variety of hand sizes. Want new sights? Just drift out the factory Novak sights and install whatever you desire. Add to this the fact that the test sample sent to me is chambered in the widely available, mild-kicking 9mm, and the American Compact Pro comes very close to being an all-around defensive pistol for everyone—civilians and professionals alike.

State Of The Art American Compact Pro

american compact pro pistol
Ruger designed the American Compact Pro with a low-mass slide, a special barrel cam and an undercut triggerguard to help reduce recoil as well as muzzle flip.

The ruggedness and versatility of the American Compact Pro arises from the fact that the entire American Pistol line was built to meet the requirements of the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System. These requirements were developed to provide a broad range of soldiers with an easy-to-use self-defense pistol that can function under unforgiving conditions.

Ease of use is facilitated by a variety of features. The gun has a 6-pound trigger with a smooth take-up, a clean break and a short reset. In addition, the American Compact Pro has special recoil-reducing features. The cam on the barrel lug is designed to keep the slide and barrel together a little longer and distribute recoil more evenly. The undercut triggerguard facilitates a high hold on the grip and helps reduce muzzle flip. And the dual recoil spring helps tame the stoutest +P loads. All of these features make the American Compact Pro a gun that’s easy to operate and shoot well.

One unique feature is the pistol’s fully pre-tensioned striker. It offers two important benefits not found in striker-fired pistols with partially tensioned strikers. First, the fully pre-tensioned striker does not require the trigger to be pulled to decock the striker before the pistol can be disassembled. This can be dangerous if the gun has been improperly unloaded. Second, the American Compact Pro does not require its user to stick a tool through the ejection port to lower an internal lever in order to decock the pistol during disassembly. This avoids the potential of damaging the firing mechanism. With the American Compact Pro, you just lock the slide open and turn the takedown lever 90 degrees and it automatically decocks the gun, making it very safe to field-strip.

ruger american compact pro 9mm
Note the ambidextrous magazine and slide releases as well as the grip sleeve included with the extended 17-round magazine

Other important features include the sturdy, one-piece, stainless steel chassis. It contains the frame rails and fire control mechanism. The chassis is surrounded by an equally sturdy grip frame made of high-performance glass-filled nylon that maintains its dimensions under all environmental conditions and also provides a sturdy and consistent mount for accessories. Also, the external surfaces of the slide are nitride coated. This increases the pistol’s ability to resist corrosion and produces a non-reflective matte black surface that reduces glare.

Finally, the American Compact Pro’s magazines are well built. The steel magazine components are nickel-teflon coated for smooth insertion and extraction from the magazine well. The short, compact magazine holds 12 rounds, which is two more than most guns of its size. This pistol also comes with one of the full-sized, 17-round magazines used in the standard-sized Ruger American Pistol. A sturdy magazine sleeve is provided with the 17-rounder to extend the gripping area further and offer a sure hold during rapid fire. Altogether, this is one pistol that’s designed to be user friendly and reliable in the field.

Like what you’re reading? Check out the rest of this article in ‘Combat Handguns’ May/June 2017. To subscribe, visit

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