Sturm Ruger has been making firearms a long time and I have owned and currently own several of them; the .22 LR/WMR to the .44 magnum that Harry Callahan consecrated as “the most powerful handgun in the World”. I have rifles, single-action revolvers, and double-action revolvers and they all will outlast me. I have not; however, owned or fired a Ruger semi-automatic pistol other than the venerable .22 LR series and a Ruger Charger (essentially a shortened 10/22, so this may not qualify). The Ruger P345 is to be a new shooting experience for me.
From the Manufacturer:
|Caliber:||.45 Auto (ACP)|
|Action:||Recoil operated semi-automatic|
|Width:||1.2 in (includes slide lever)|
|Height:||5.75 in (to the top of the rear sight)|
|Magazine Capacity:||8 rounds|
|Barrel Length:||4.25 in|
|Rifling:||6-grooves,1:16in RH twist|
|Sights:||White 3-dot, fixed front, drift adjustable rear|
|Weight:||without magazine: 26.8 oz|
|Weight:||with empty magazine: 29.4 oz|
|Weight loaded:||(1+8 rd magazine): 35.7 oz|
- Accessory rail.
- Polymer frame.
- Ambidextrous slide mounted decocking lever.
- Magazine disconnect safety.
- Loaded chamber indicator.
- Ruger Camblock recoil buffer.
- Recessed thumb rests.
- Bobbed hammer spur.
As I have never owned any of the Ruger P-Series firearms I cannot honestly give you a comparison between one against another. Therefore, do not expect to read one.
I am not going to tell you about advanced features including a comfortably rounded trigger and guard, redesigned front and rear white-dot sights, loaded chamber indicator and unobtrusive internal lock or that it also features a slim, contoured, satin-finished polymer frame with a re- contoured checkered grip for improved control and an exclusive Ruger Camblock design to reduce felt recoil. No, I am not going to tell you about that but I will give you an honest opinion based on my observations.
To me, Ruger has done a marvelous job in blending the slide to the frame and with the ergonomics of the gun. It almost has a sculptured look to it. Rather than it looking like a 2×4 on top of another 2×4, the P345 is rather pleasing to look at.
The version that I tested had a stainless steel slide over a polymer frame and the contrast looked good to me over the blue alloyed steel version of the gun. Although the specs state an accessory rail, this particular gun did not have one. I understand that the P345 can be ordered without a rail. Even so, the rail is integrated into the frame so well that it is hardly noticeable. (Note: I have E-mailed Ruger to see if the model can be ordered without the accessory rail.)
The contoured grips are adequate for my paw and felt good in the hand. Mild checkering adorns the grip on the sides, front, and back strap. A thumb groove that is above the checkering should work well for left or right-handed shooters. The grip is a full-length grip that accommodated all of the fingers of my shooting hand with no problem. The hand fits fully into the back strap and the slide of the gun is well above the hand.
The hammer is serrated, but I could not pull the hammer back with the thumb of the shooting hand while holding the gun one-handed. With a two-handed grip, I could pull the hammer back without a problem (Maybe my thumb is getting old). However, I have read reports about the difficulty of pulling the hammer back to a cocked position so it may not be just me. However, the design of the hammer is not conducive to cocking manually and that probably that is a good thing.
Ruger seems to play their cards close the chest and the controls on the P345 are no exception. All controls tuck in closely to the pistol and are as slim in profile as possible.
Mounting on the left side of the frame is the slide lock lever and magazine release button. Although close to the frame, the lever has a slight lip that enables the shooter to get a good purchase on it to release the slide from its rearward position. The slide lock lever was slightly forward of my thumb but was reached easily. The slide lock lever is serves to release the slide during disassembly of the pistol; removing the lever allows the slide assembly to slide off from the frame. I could operate it easily with the thumb or index finger of the right hand (right-handed shooter) or the index finger of the left hand when getting ready to fire.
When firing the last shot and the magazine is empty, the slide stop automatically holds the slide open. Moving the slide to the rear when there is an empty magazine, the slide stop will also automatically hold the slide open. Inserting a loaded magazine in the pistol when the slide is closed and the slide is then retracted fully, the slide stop will not automatically hold open the slide. The user can actuate the slide stop mechanism to hold the slide open at any time by retracting the slide and pushing the slide stop up.
The decocking/safety lever has two position; safe and fire. Pressing the decocking/safety lever, when the gun is cocked, quickly drops the hammer to the safe position. Although the decocking/safety lever is close to the slide, it has a large enough footprint the moving the lever up (fire) or down (decock/safe) is no problem. The decocking/safety lever is ambidextrous to accommodate right or left-handed shooters. On the right side of the pistol and beneath the decocking/safety lever lies the Ruger internal lock. The lever has to be in the safe position to access the lock with a key that is provided by Ruger.
Move either the right- or left-hand safety lever downward and fully to the “safe” position. When the safety is moved fully downward to the “safe” position, the white dot is exposed through the hole in the side of the left safety lever. In this position: (1) the firing pin is blocked from moving forward; (2) the hammer is blocked from contacting the firing pin; (3) the trigger cannot be pulled back far enough to release the hammer (at this point, the hammer will fall to its forward (decocked) position); and (4) you can engage the internal lock.
Mounted on the left side of the frame is the magazine release. The magazine release is not ambidextrous. However, I did not have a problem reaching it with the thumb of the shooting hand and the magazine fell freely when the button is pushed. Nestled just behind the trigger guard, the magazine release button is not obtrusive and I did not encounter any problems with inadvertent magazine even with the support hand being in its support position.
A Loaded Chamber Indicator protrudes from the top of the slide and provides a visual and tactile indication when a round is present in the firing chamber. The Loaded Chamber Indicator sits well below the sights. It will not “scuff” a holster as some had claimed.
A large, external extractor holds the cartridge while being fed from the magazine, offering a type of controlled-round feeding system, and it works very well. I have read reports that cleaning the extractor should be part of routine maintenance as it does get dirty.
Trigger Housing and Trigger:
The trigger housing is rounded and large enough to hold a gloved finger.
The trigger is well curved and felt quite comfortable. The trigger is DA/SA and had about 0.54 inches of slack before feeling some resistance in double-action mode. From resistance to fire is about .080 inches of travel with more than 8 pounds of smooth pull. There is very little over-travel. The reset point was about .010 inch from full rearward stop and there is an audible click when the trigger resets. The possibility of achieving Very fast single-action fired with this trigger is high.
In single-action mode there is a very slight amount of take-up (0.20 inches approximate) until feeling mild resistance. Moving another 0.30 inches and four pounds of pull later drops the hammer. In this particular gun, the trigger broke clean and was not mushy or gritty.
According to Ruger: Factory specifications are: Single-Action – 4 to 7 pounds, Double-Action – 9 to 15 pounds. A certain amount of ‘slack’ in the trigger pull is characteristic of these types of Military/Police style pistols.
The sights are of the 3-dot arrangement and were somewhat small for these old eyes. Nevertheless, they are usable as the arrangement is typical of the front-post rear notch arrangement that has been around for a long time. The 3-dots just give you something else to line up.
The rear sight is adjustable for windage by loosening a screw and then drifting the sight in the needed direction. The front sight is fixed. The front sight on this particular gun was just a little loose but not enough to be bothersome.
It was time to do some shooting. The magazine allows you to load eight rounds of your favorite .45 acp ammunition without the use of an assistant like an upLula loader.
Two slight detents in the magazine let you know when a round is loaded correctly and seated flush with the back of the magazine. The magazine is of stainless steel and a stainless steel magazine follower guarantees proper loading.
The gun features a magazine disconnect that prevent the gun from firing should the magazine be out of the gun. This feature may appeal to some (like myself and LEOs) and not to others. In the version that I was to fire, you could pull the trigger but, like the using decocker/safety, the gun would not fire; the hammer simply would not drop.
** The instruction manual for the P345 states that you must insert and seat the magazine before dry-firing the gun. This will prevent damage to the firing pin or other components.
CAUTION: Dry firing your RUGER® P345TM with the magazine removed may result in damage or unnecessary wear to the firing pin blocking mechanism.
I dry-fired the gun several times in double-action and single-action modes to get used to the trigger and sights. I then loaded the magazine with three rounds of Georgia Arms 230 grain JHP for the first accuracy group. I slid the slide home by grabbing the rear slide serrations, pulling the slide rearward and then releasing the slide (Ruger’s recommendation). The slide slid fully into battery with no problem. Since the first shot was to be double-action, I pressed downward on the decocking/safety lever to de-cock the gun.
Note: The chamber of the P345 fully supports the cartridge. The magazine nicely positions the round to the chamber to accommodate easy chambering.
Bench resting the gun and aligning the top of the sights with the cross hair in the X-ring, I pressed the decocking/safety lever to the fire position. With a greater than eight pound trigger pull, I expected the trigger to be a bear to keep the sights aligned as I pulled the trigger. I was pleasantly surprised when the hammer fell and that fist shot was on its way downrange. The trigger pull, albeit heavy, was smooth.
The gun recoiled back into my hand, the expended round went over my head, the slide went forward without hesitating, and the gun was cocked for single-action fire. I pressed the lever into the “safe” position that, of course, de-cocked the pistol. There was this hole about 1″ high of center. It had to be the first round that I shot, as it was not a hole from the target holder. I moved the sight down to the bottom of the X-ring (6 o’clock sight picture), pushed the decocking/safety lever to the fire position, firmly grabbed the gun with the left hand, and manually cocked the hammer to set up for the second single-action shot. Note: With the decocking/safety lever in the “safe” position, the trigger can be pulled, but the pistol will not fire. The hammer can be pulled back, but will not lock into a cocked position. Even if you inadvertently release the hammer, the gun would not fire because of the hammer block.
Single-action shooting on this gun is sweet. There is the take-up, a little resistance, a little four-pound creep from there, and then the hammer drops. The second shot went through the target in the X-ring. The third shot was almost on top of the second shot. This gun is accurate. It is more accurate than I expected. See below.
I loaded the magazine to its full eight-round capacity and decided to see what capability this gun really has. The target you see above is the result of 3-round sight alignment test and 8-rounds of unsupported, two-handed slow fire with a lot of concentration on the sight picture. I really cannot say a lot more about this gun’s accuracy; the picture says it all.
Recoil is surprisingly mild and coming back on target quickly is no chore.
The bad: Expended casings came straight back at me. Most cleared my head since I keep my head somewhat down during firing, but several hit my face and one bounced off the earmuffs. I would rather they went up and right but that was not the case (pardon the pun) at times. During a combat situation, this might not be an issue, but it is aggravating when you are trying to run in a pistol or when practicing.
I was pleasantly surprised with the Ruger P345. I did not expect the quality and accuracy of this gun for the, what some would consider, a moderately priced handgun. When I held the gun while firing, it did remind me somewhat of firing a 1911. Had Ruger made the safety push down to fire, I could have closed my eyes and almost – almost thought that I was firing a 1911. It was that close for me.
If you are in the market for a good .45 acp pistol, you may want to give the Ruger P345 a look. In fact, when times get better for me, I may add one to the collection. Somehow, I could envision carrying this in the appendix position if the holster had somewhat of a negative cant to accommodate the barrel and grip when sitting or a Cross Breed Super Tuck Deluxe and, as it just so happens, Cross Breed makes one for it.
Read Jeff Quinn’s review on the Ruger P345.
Check the gun out at Ruger’s website.