*The Ruger P89 Pistol*
By: JonBot007

So you say you need an affordable reliable and accurate 9mm pistol with plenty of pre-ban high capacity magazines out there for it and a long service life so you don’t have to replace it in a few years? Step right up and take a look at the Ruger P-series of semi-automatic pistols. They are available in various calibers and slide lengths and in alloy to plastic framed versions as well. But we’ll be taking a look at one of the most common models in one of the most common chamberings…9mm Luger, parabellum, 9x19mm however you choose to say it…good old always easy to find NATO standard 9mm.

The P89 is a full sized service pistol and in use by many police departments for the simple reason that they work…they last…they are accurate enough for any sidearm…and they are a LOT cheaper than many other domestic and especially imported competitors (especially those of Austrian decent-LOL) barrel length is 4.5 inches and appears to be stainless grade steel in all models. Though there is a double action only version to accommodate some police department’s desires in that area, most commonly found P-series pistols are SA/DA in trigger arrangement…that is -the first shot with a round in the chamber is a long pull which both cocks and releases the trigger followed by “single action” shots in which the hammer remains cocked and only a short pull of the trigger releases the hammer to fire the following shot(s) as in a standard 1911 type .45 pistol. Speaking of trigger action I will warn you this is NOT a target pistol in feel…the double action pull is long and not amazingly precise feeling…and the follow up single action trigger pull is nothing to write home about either BUT…you will NEVER fire a shot without deciding to under high stress (which is more or less the idea on Ruger’s part…not caring to have any avoidable lawsuits. None the less -when you get used to the feel good work can be done with both ranges of operation and the pistols do exhibit above average accuracy…especially in this price range of weapon. Aside from the dreaded DAO version mentioned briefly above there is also the choice between a manual safety or decocker only versions on the P89. my choice was the decocker model…having handled a friend’s, I quickly realized that with a firing pin block being standard on all P-series pistols to limit the chances of an accidental discharge upon dropping a loaded P-89…there was no reason to have anything in the way of putting it into quick action….in the heat of the moment you’d be surprised how many have found themselves fiddling around with manual safeties or other gizmos and fancy holsters with over-done retention systems. I prefer the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) approach to firearms for serious use. And to that end, I carry my P89DC stainless in a Fobus paddle holster….draw and pull the trigger simple….yet it retains the weapon well enough that an accidental release or light handed grab from an opponent are unlikely to bring damaging results. If I were to upgrade anything I would probably start with a set of tritium night sites and perhaps at some point a set o Hogue grips inserts or maybe even a wrap around set…both are available and usually easy to find in stock at a larger gun store. But the pistol comes with clear fast sights and while the grip is a bit wide for small handed shooters…these guns are very well suited to those of us with large hands. While most service sidearms will have somewhere around a 10,000 round service life expectancy the P-series pistols will still be in excellent serviceable shape at that point and can handle just about any ammo you can find as long as it is 9mm and there is powder in the case…it will shoot reliably. A friend over seas once told me it along with the more expensive Glock pistols were about the only thing that would stand up to his military’s rather hot sub-machinegun ammo. (Barretta pistols have been known to suffer cracked slides and/or frames from the extreme recoil. As you can imagine then…I have never worried about carrying my favrite load in it…Gold Dot 124 grain JHP +P police ammo…an excellent combination of velocity and retained energy…and very consistent factory ammo as well….Federal Hydra-shock’s or one of Corbon’s excellent loads would of course be equally good choices depending on the shooters preferences of bullet weight. I prefer 124 grain because that is the weight projetile the 9mm Luger round was designed to use and I believe it to be the best compromise…especially in the +P’s higher pressure loading offering much of the velocity of the 115 grain loads.

As I said the P-89 features a firing pin block that will keep the firing pin from being able to travel far enough foreward to contact the chambered bullet’s primer unless the trgger is pulled fully rearward….The action is a tilting block design very similar to a 1911 pistol. Upon firing the pressure and velocity will cause the slide to begin moving rearward along the frame rails and after somewhere close to ¼” of travel this allows the barrel to tilt downward unlocking the barrel from the slide assembly…..the rear of the case will impact the spent case being pulled rearward in the slide (having been grasped by the extractor from the moment it was stripped from the magazine OR from the time the slide rammed shut on the chamber if the round was loaded by hand in the chamber) This action will eject the empty shell casing rather smartly slightly up and mostly right from the pistol (in a notably consistent fashion I might add…making retrieving empty brass for reloading an easy task) upon traveling all the way rearward the slide impacts the locking area of the barrel which do to the relation of the slide stop and link pin ends the trip back with a brisk contact…the recoil spring takes over at this point spending it’s stored energy to move the slide robustly forward stripping a new round from the magazine and inserting it in the chamber…qickly followed by the finall foreward travel of the barrel as far forward as it will go before the slide stop catches and forces the barrel up to complete it’s final foreward movement and this again locks the action closed in the ready to fire condition. The first shot having been cocked and released by the initial double action trigger pull, the hammer has now remained fully cocked and a short single stage pull will drop the hamer for all follow up shots until the magazine’s capacity of ammunition has been exhausted. You of course…can press the decocker down to safely drop the hammer and return the gun to carry mode if you wish…you should NEVER carry a P89 decocker version with a loaded round in the chamber and a cocked hammer…the lack of a manual safety makes this unsafe…but you can decock the pistol and if follow up shots are called for only a double action pull is between you and your next shot…much like a revolver…you could manually cock the hammer but this is NOT recommended…there is a firing pin safety but there is no half cock position in the hammers sear engagement area like on a 1911…meaning should you drop the hammer at some point before fully cocked it might be possible for the gun to discharge if the firing pin safety were to fail.

1) as with any firearm be sure it is unloaded and confirm this again!! No rounds in magazine…empty chamber…UNLOADED (ok?? ;)

2) remove the magazine and set aside

3) pull slide fully rearward…visually re-checking that the gun is EMPTY of all round and then with your right thumb press the slide stop lever up manually an allow the slide to move foreward locking the action open.

4) Looking in from the top of the ejection port you will see the timy ejection arm…carefully press it foreward/down moving the plate it is part of fully down and forward…it should stay in this position when you take your finger back out.

5) Now grab the gun in your right hand and the slide in your left hand…with your pointer finger right hand put a slight inward pressure on the slide stop button on the right side of the frame below the slide whilemoving the slide back a fraction of an inch…it should pop to the inside of the frame and the slide should stay locked open (if you’re lucky…if not make sure you don’t get part of your hand pinched when the action slams shut if the button is not pressed enough inside the frame ;)

6) Now the part that will make you look awkward or experienced depending on how many times you’ve done this…you’ll grab the gun with your left hand (thumb against the rear of the ejection port opening in the slide to hold it open with you three smallest fingers around the back of the grip area…you can now put just a bit of thumb pressure on the slide to release the slide catch while still holding the action open manually…grab the slide release with your right hand and pull it fully out…it stays in the frame unlike a 1911 (it doesn’t come off) but you now can carefully release the slide so as not to get your left hand caught in the open action as it slide forward…you can pull it free from the frame now.

7) Hold the slide upside down and grasp the resoil spring/guide-rod assembly and remove (careful it’s under a bit of tension)…and lift the rear of the barrel up and out of the slide.

8) Assembly is the reverse (note- the ejector arm/plate will be moved back to it’s up position when you insert the magazine into the gun. Cleaning and lubrication is standard like any semi auto pistol…I recommend Breakfree or simple ATF…but any decent gun oil will do just fine.

OK OK….enough manual of arms babble….how does it shoot? Quite well for a gun that can be had used in like new condition for $250 to $315 dollars depending on whether it is the blued finish…the stainless “terhune” anti-corro steel (I’m told by someone in the metal industry that both steels used are very high and hard grades…the terhune/stainless uses a bit of nickel as a hardener which adds to it’s handling of sweat andmoisture in general) Price will also varry a bit regionally and depending on whether it comes with pre-ban 15 round magazines or the post ban 10 rounders….For what it’s worth I have tried several brands of aftermarket and due to the ambidextrous mag release layout which locks the magazine by a hole in the front center…all seem to feed and work well….I have used Promag, stainless USA mags, and was impressed with the factory mags (found for $40 new in package…and the very similar Mec-Gar brand which were going for $35 a piece new in the package. (USA and Promags were $20 a piece roughly)

So there you have the whole story of the P89…which replaced the too similar to mention P85 about a decade and a half ago. Affordable, rugged and reliable, accurate as anything you’ll find new or used in the $300 neighborhood of sidearms …certainly more than enough to accomplish it’s task of defending it’s owner from arms length to 25 yards….not that you can’t count on hit beyond that but you should be reaching for a long arm or contemplating a tactical withdraw at that point I should think (run away!!-LOL ;) in closing I’ll say that 9mm is NOT my favorite round and the P89 is not my favorite gun….but it is certainly an excellent choice for someone on a budget (or that refuses to drop over $500 or hunk of autrian plastic but still needs a 9mm in the collection for ammo interchange with others. Besides…they grow on you…trust me (don’t they all though ;)

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