This writer thinks highly of the Sturm, Ruger & Co Inc’s full-sized double-action (DA) revolvers, particularly their GP-100 .357 Magnum and Redhawk .44 Magnum, which I consider to be the finest handguns in those calibers.
Ruger has also made some pretty good semiautomatic pistols over the years as well, from their enduring classic .22 LR to their SR 1911 .45 ACP to their old-school “P-series” traditional double-action (TDA) autopistols, including the current subject of discussion, the P97DC .45 ACP.
Ruger P97DC History and Specifications
The Ruger P97DC made its debut in 1997 and remained in production until 2004. (“DC” stands for “De-Cocker;” i.e. the slide-mounted decocking lever does not do double-duty as a safety catch, in contrast to many TDA autopistols such as the Beretta M9.)
Specifications include a barrel length of 4.2 inches, an overall length of 7.6”, and a width of 1.2”. Empty weight is 30.5 ounces. The standard magazine capacity is 8+1 rounds.
How I Became the Owner of a P97DC
Well, it was almost by accident, or more accurately, a stroke of bad luck that unveiled a proverbial silver lining behind the cloud. I had originally set out to purchase the predecessor gun, the P90DC, as I had such a fond shooting experience with that gun back in the summer of 1992. Alas, my attempt to find a surplus P90 for sale ran me afoul of a fraudulent gun seller – which I promptly reported to StopGunScams.Com – so instead I wound up settling for the P97DC, which I found on a legitimate website, Guns.Com. I paid a subtotal of $350.99 and a grand total of $400.98 (inclusive of tax, shipping, package protection, and “firearm processing” fees).
It turned out to be not only a blessing in disguise but a nice 48th birthday present to myself.
Range Report/Personal Shooting Impressions
So, once again it was off to dear ol’ Cindy’s Hot Shots indoor shooting facility in Glen Burnie, Maryland to test-fire my birthday gift-to-self, purchasing 50 rounds of PMC Bronze 230-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) “hardball” ammo (to supplement the 38 rounds of ball ammo I had left over from a range outing with my Tommy Gun the previous weekend), an IPSC practice target, and a Thompson Target Basic Training Silhouette. (which is described by the maker as “Life size self-defense target with vital and critical aim points”).
This was my first range session since re-aggravating an old volleyball injury to the middle finger of my strong hand (“the most important finger of them all,” as I half-jokingly tell people), so I first burned up those 38 leftover rounds as a “warmup” session on the IPSC target before starting the “official” evaluation session with the full 50-round box of ammo. That official stage was divvied into 25 rounds of head shots at 7 yards and 25 rounds of center-torso shots at 25 yards, fired from Classic Weaver Stance.
Accuracy was VERY pleasing, which evoked fond memories of that aforementioned P90DC experience, aided by the surprisingly smooth DA trigger and reasonably crisp SA trigger, along with the highly visible three-dot sights and ergonomically pleasing grip. The 7-yard string of fire was beautifully centered, absolutely obliterating the brain of the target, with only two of the 25 rounds going just astray enough to keep it from being a one-hole group. At 25 yards, six rounds took the heart, and 16 of the remaining 19 rounds struck the lungs; as for the remaining three, one actually went into a gap between the lungs but would’ve still been a solid punch to the proverbial “breadbasket,” one went high left into the clavicle, and the last proverbial “black sheep” strayed from the flock into the neckline. All-in-all, my accuracy results got me kudos from the range staff, including a retired Maryland police officer.
Racking the slide was easy enough, as was loading shells into the magazine and inserting the magazine into the mag well. With quite a few semiauto pistols – including some highly-touted factory custom M1911s – “topping off,” i.e. loading the magazine to full capacity with a round in the chamber requires a good bit of extra “oomph” to properly seat the magazine, but with this gun, no problem at all. My only gripe was that the slide stop was a tad challenging to reach and manipulate with the thumb of my firing hand.
Reliability was 100 percent, which is to be expected from good ol’ roundnose hardball. I intend to test her reliability in the near future with jacketed hollowpoints (JHPs) such as the Federal Hydra-Shok.
All-in-all, the Ruger P90DC provides excellent bang for the buck, both literally and figuratively. I very much look forward to doing additional accuracy tests with her, including 50-testing, Mozambique drills, and one-handed drills (weak hand and strong hand alike), as well as doing side-by-side showdowns against my other personally-owned .45 ACP pistols, namely my Springfield Armory M1911A1 Mil-Spec and WWI Colt M1911 as well as my tack-driving Glock 21SF.
As my friend Lou Chidoo, President of Gunfighters Ltd, stated after I posted pics of my range outing on Facebook, “That’s a keeper.”
Want Your Own?
True Gun Value states that “A RUGER P97 pistol is currently worth an average price of $8.27 used. The 12-month average price is $8.27 used.” That makes absolutely zero sense, so it makes me wonder if that usually reliable website is currently experiencing some kind of glitch, especially considering that scrolling down further on the same page reveals 10 different P97s sold, from a low of $226.45 to a high of $429.99, thus averaging out to $313.10. GunsAmerica.Com currently lists one at $375.00.
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.
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