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Old December 29, 2018, 11:53 PM   #1
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A Range Report 20 Years In The Making...Sort Of....Ruger P97DC

So way back in a simpler time when cell phones didn't have camera's and we were all worried our toasters would short out and cause nuclear war I picked up the quintessential truck gun. That year was 1999.

I was poor, the assault weapon ban was in full effect and I wanted an inexpensive large bore semi auto. I didn't want a 1911 because I had cut my teeth on DA/SA SIGs and the like so I picked up a .45 caliber Ruger P97DC (Decock only). It was my first plastic pistol.

Well I liked it and shot it for years until I decided to store it in another location as sort of an in case stuff gets stolen gun. I loaded two mags up with 230 grain Golden Sabers and away it went. That was 12 or 13 years ago. I pulled the old girl out recently I decided to run her without any TLC right from storage just to see what would happen.

So on to my 20 years too late range report on a long since out of production, budget plastic pistol, because......well you know what Ole' Jack Burton always says....."What the hell."

So lets get to it. This is how she came out of storage. She's a looker ain't she. Honestly I never got the hate on the looks of the P94/P95/P97. I actually thought they all had pretty good lines, especially compared to the earlier Ruger P-series guns.

As always each score is out of 5 and completely my personal observations of this particular gun.

Even back in the day these were a solid value. They worked, had good company support and fairly priced mags and accessories.

The trigger on this particular gun is quite nice actually. Smooth double action pull, ok break, steel trigger, audible reset that isn't too far out for a DA/SA gun and all in all a pretty nice experience. Single action isn't super crisp but still certainly not a bad experience at all.

You know for a .45 caliber DA/SA gun in the earlier days of polymer(I know Glock and HK plastic fantastic really hit it's stride in the late 90's and early 2000's) it feels pretty good. The grip is easy for my small to medium hands to hold, the magazine release is shaped and placed in a way to make it easy to manipulate, decockers are ambi and work well. It's just a pretty decent feeling gun. Where it starts to fall apart is the plastic is very slick with no real gripping surface. In 2018 I would probably put some grip tape or Talon's on this.

So in the years I was running the gun it was very reliable. I cannot really remember any reliability issues at all. Now that being said part of my pulling out of storage and shooting cold was to test the gun, magazines and ammunition after sitting for more than a decade. The two magazines loaded with Golden Sabers fed and fired perfectly. A subsequent magazine of some 230 grain FMJ did yield one odd failure. The last round in the magazine sort of popped out and nosed down acting as a sort of un-fired upside down stovepipe failure. Either the magazine lips were slightly out of spec. or there is a possibility that the magazine wasn't assembled properly as when I was cleaning I noticed that either Ruger or I many years ago upon re-assembling may have not set the spring into the follower as it should be. (there is a small metal cut in the follower that the spring needs to sit against and I believe it wasn't.) At any rate I had one malfunction out of 61 rounds fired and the hollowpoints that had been loaded for so long fed and functioned perfectly. So probably a magazine issue, and quite possibly a re-assembly issue by me many moons ago.

Bad magazine or idiot assembly of said magazine? Surely couldn't have been ME! I mean that's just crazy talk.

The P97 is a fairly soft shooting gun. It does however have bit of muzzle flip and as much as I am not a bore axis is everything kind of guy I do feel the high bore axis in the P97. It certainly isn't punishing to shoot in any way even with defensive ammo.

I remember being fairly accurate with it when I was shooting it more regularly many years ago but as for pulling it out after not so much as touching it for more then a decade I was fairly happy with my and the guns shooting. Certainly not gonna win any trophy's but definitely MOA if need be. (Minute of arsehole)

It's not a small gun but it's not too heavy and being a single stack is fairly thin. Decent belt and holster and it wouldn't be a huge chore to carry. Not a first choice but not a CZ-97 either.

8+1 of pew pew isn't bad but as time as moved on we have found ways to make only slightly thicker 45's with double or stack and half capacity of 10 or greater. Back in the day 8+1 of .45 in a single stack was par or even 1 extra for the course. I wouldn't feel unarmed with 8+1 of .45 ACP but I feel there are better choices today, which frankly two decades later, there should be.

Decent steel three dot sights that shoot point of aim. They are a little small for my liking or more to the point my eyes are no longer 1999 eyes, sigh.....I had crappy eyes in 1999.....I digress. Point is they are steel, well made and put the little pieces of lead basically where the pointy end of the gun is pointing. Are they Trijicon HD's? Hell no. Are they Glock dovetail protectors.....also, thankfully, hell no.

It's a big, cast gun with an early polymer frame design. It rattles a bit, and the polymer frame could be finished better. The slide, however is put together well and looks pretty good. It is, as I have said the quintessential "truck gun" It's reliable, beefy but not so expensive or pretty that you really care about it. Its a good tool. DISCLAIMER - I use the term "truck gun" as a descriptor only. I don't believe anybody should leave a firearm unattended in a vehicle. It is too easy for them to be stolen and although you might not care about the monetary loss you should care about the people that weapon could harm. Wow, it's really hard to climb down from a horse this high.....sorry about the preaching.

Fairly easy. There is an internal piece that is folded down in the mag well that is a bit odd, but beyond that, pull slide back to take down point, remove slide stop, remove slide........take down and clean like most every other DA/SA type gun. You don't need 3 hands or tools or an engineering degree. You will not reassemble incorrectly or loose parts.

The oddest thing about the P97 is the fact that the frame rails are polymer. GIANT THICK POLYMER RAILS. It's almost odd looking at them today. That being said 20 years later and they didn't break so I guess I cannot really fault them.

For those who ask about rotating defensive ammo or ammo shelf life, I shot sixteen rounds of Remington Golden Saber and it shot like the day it was made which was probably damn near fifteen years ago.

The Ruger P97 was a good honest gun in 1999 and in 2018 its......a good honest gun. Will it stir your soul? Probably not? Will it be at Rock Island in years to come? Doubt it. Is it a fun gun to shoot that is reliable and still viable after all these years, I would say absolutely.

Sometimes praise can be a subtle thing. Something doesn't have to be spectacular or warrant an emotional bond to be worth while. Sometimes just being a good tool is, in and of itself, high praise. So I will end by saying of my Ruger P97......"That'll do pig."
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Old December 30, 2018, 10:42 AM   #2
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Great write up.

I have a P89DC which is just about as old as your 97 and structurally, very similar. One of my favorite pistols and one of the best pistols I have to teach people when they want to move up from .22LR guns.

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Old December 30, 2018, 02:05 PM   #3
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I have a P89, P90, and a P94. Mine are all reliable and cost me very little used.

Thanks to the OP for the nice write-up. They are a very good deal on the used market right now. Like Wag said, it's a great choice for an inexpensive first "real pistol".
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Old December 30, 2018, 02:16 PM   #4
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OP thanks for the write-up. Like you, I always liked the look of the P95 and P97. I shot a few at the range over the years and found them to be very accurate and reliable. If I found one in good shape at a reasonable price I wouldn't hesitate picking one up.
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Old December 30, 2018, 08:10 PM   #5
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Thanks for sharing.

I have a P95DC that I bought new in '99 or 2000, which my family lovingly refers to as "The Brick."
It looks a little blocky.
But, more importantly, it will happily run on anything we feed it. -- From mild to wild. And it just keeps on truckin'...
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Old December 31, 2018, 06:19 AM   #6
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Thanks for the review. I actually wouldn't mind picking one of these up, just to put it through its paces. (Though I will admit, this one's somewhere down in the "to be bought from disposable, extra cash" category.)
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Old December 31, 2018, 03:49 PM   #7
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I enjoyed reading the informative feed-back. I am curious as to the range (distance) the accuracy report was done at.
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Old December 31, 2018, 04:13 PM   #8
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I have a friend that bring one he daily carries but evidently shoots seldom over for a range trip. It was jamming like crazy. All types. I have a KP90 and I knew his 97 shouldn't be acting this way.

Remembered he has a habit of throwing his SS guns in the dish washer and asked him to take it apart. Yep, dry as a year old bone.

He says since it has polymer rails it doesn't need oiling.
I oiled it up any way and it took off as it should. Couple of hundred rounds later and he's now convinced it just might need some oil.
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Old December 31, 2018, 05:45 PM   #9
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Days of yore! I love these old Ruger P guns. I've got a stainless P89DC and a P90DC. Kudos to the OP for that great range report on the P97! Like him, I recently pulled the P90 out of the safe, dusted off the cobwebs and took her to the range a few months back. I always remembered the 90 as being an accurate shooter, and she didn't fail me this time, either, even after such a long sleep.

Long forgotten, but still completely serviceable guns. The trigger is a bit stiff, but is completely manageable with some concentration. The P90 and one of its targets, ammo was S&B 230 grain FMJ...

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Old December 31, 2018, 07:42 PM   #10
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I am curious as to the range (distance) the accuracy report was done at.
Somewhere between 8 and 10 yards. I marked 8y on the target.
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Old January 4, 2019, 12:33 AM   #11
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The P89 was the very first centerfire pistol I rented when shopping for my first handgun. Frankly the main thing I noticed was the grip shape, basically a 2x4. I ended up with an early XD9, but couldn't shoot that thing worth a darn. Got a CZ, the rest is history.
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Old January 21, 2019, 04:54 PM   #12
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Shot an entire magazine from a friends P90 in the day into the 8 ring of a B27 target at a measured 123 yards prone...Lucky yeah but those things were accurate
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Old January 22, 2019, 08:19 AM   #13
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Bought one about ten days ago for $300. Just because it was a 45 ACP auto of known quality for only $300. Great pistol.
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