Maybe you’re looking at buying a Ruger American semi-automatic pistol. Like me, you might have searched their website and… whoa! There are more than a dozen to choose from.
What’s the difference between them? And how can you make up your mind?
You should consider what you want to do with your Ruger. Are you after an on-duty weapon for law enforcement or security?
Or do you plan to carry it concealed for self-defense? The Ruger American offers numerous benefits for either of those applications.
This includes LoMount Carry three-dot sights, extended magazines, and recoil-reducing barrel. There are different barrel sizes to appeal to both concealed carry or on-duty folks.
Table of Contents
What to Remember When Purchasing
There are 11 models of the American in 9mm and 5 models in .45 ACP. If you want to know more about ammunition calibers, visit our bullets guide.
Some of these differences are in magazine capacity; Model 8618 holds only 10 rounds, while the 8605 has a 17-round magazine. This may not seem like a big deal if you’re carrying for self-defense, but for law enforcement, 17 rounds sound pretty good.
Some models, like the 8637, have shorter barrels. This might be a good option for concealed carry or even as a concealed backup. The shorter barreled pistols have a smaller magazine capacity, making them easier to conceal.
All models of the Ruger American come with a Picatinny accessory rail on the underside of the frame. This enables you to add features like a laser sight or flashlight.
There are holsters available that would enable you to carry the firearm with the accessories, but you’d have to check to make sure they would fit your Ruger and light combo.
All models of the American come with the same features, though some are 9mm and others are .45 ACP. They also vary in magazine capacity.
Let’s discuss the main features before we move on to the specific models. The Ruger American has…
- Trigger with short takeup and positive reset.
- Recoil-reducing barrel
- Tested for extended +P ammunition use
- NovakⓇ LoMount Carry 3-dot sights; interchangeable sights
- Modular grip system
- Easy no-tool or trigger pull breakdown
- Ambidextrous slide and magazine release
- 2 magazines
- Small (9mm only), medium, and large grip modules
- Powerful striker spring to lighten trigger pull
- Picatinny accessory rail
- Visual loaded/empty chamber indicator
- Trigger safety
NovakⓇ LoMount 3-dot Sights
NovakⓇ 3-dot sights are premium, user-friendly sights that won’t snag on clothing or holsters. They’re designed for quick front sight acquisition for fast and accurate shots.
These sights are finished with black nitride for ultimate sleekness. The white dots provide a high level of contrast.
Modular Grip System
Each Ruger American comes with an interchangeable modular grip system. 9mm firearms will come with small, medium, and large grip modules, making it easy to customize the grip. .45 caliber handguns come with the medium and large grips. The grips are easy to remove and replace.
Ambidextrous Slide and Magazine Release
Lefties have a difficult time in the right-handed world, but the Ruger American answers their challenge. Both the magazine and the slide stop (release) appear on both sides of the firearm. For those who shoot left-handed, this is a definite plus!
All Ruger American models come with a frame-molded Picatinny rail. It’s easy to slide on flashlights, laser sights (like this one), or infrared illuminators.
Recently, manufacturers have begun developing holsters that accommodate both gun and accessories. But, when you order one, make sure to find out if it will fit your firearm and accessory setup.
Ruger American Pro models don’t come with a manual safety, but those that do offer an ambidextrous safety. All models have an internal automatic sear block system and don’t require a trigger pull to complete the firearm breakdown process.
All models do come with the trigger safety.
Ruger American Models (Full List)
Now we’ll talk about each model of Ruger American.
- 8605: this is Pro model is a 9mm, 17-round capacity handgun with a 4-inch barrel; no manual safety
- 8607: also 9mm, this carries 10 rounds and has a 4-inch barrel, but it doesn’t have a manual safety
- 8608: this 17-round 9mm does include a manual safety and has a 4-inch barrel
- 8615: a .45 auto Pro model with a 10-round capacity and a 4.5-inch barrel, it does not have a manual safety
- 8618: also a .45 auto, this 10-round pistol has a 3.5-inch barrel and manual safety
- 8633: this 10-round 9mm compact pistol has a manual safety and 3.5-inch barrel
- 8635: a Pro model 9mm, this 3.5-inch, 17-round pistol doesn’t have a manual safety
- 8637: this 10-round 9mm has a 4-inch barrel and does not have a manual safety
- 8638: holds 10 rounds, this 9mm has a 4-inch barrel and manual safety
- 8639: this is a 17-round 9mm with a 3.5-inch barrel and a manual safety
- 8645: this new .45 auto Pro 10-round model has a 3.75-inch barrel, but no manual safety
- 8648: also new, this .45 auto 10-round has a manual safety and a 3.75-inch barrel
- 8661: a new 10-round 9mm with a 4-inch barrel and manual safety
- 8663: this new 9mm has a 10-round capacity, manual safety, and a 3.55-inch barrel
- 8680: a new 10-round .45, this pistol has a 4.5-inch barrel and a manual safety
- 8660: also new, this 17-round 9mm Pro model has a 4-inch barrel but no manual safety, and it’s a TALO Distributor Exclusive firearm. Another unique feature is the brown-colored slide.
You can see the wide variety of options available in the Ruger American. Different styles, magazine capacity, caliber, and barrel sizes means there’s likely one that’s a perfect fit for you.
Keep in mind, the Pro models do not come with the manual safety.
Alternatives to the Ruger American
In case you’d like to check out some guns that are like the American, we’ll give you a couple options for comparison. Both are in the same price range but offer different options.
1. Glock 21
The Glock 21 is a .45 caliber handgun with a 4.5-inch barrel and it’s widely used by law enforcement and military personnel. The 21 has either a 10- or 13-round capacity and it’s about the same in cost as the Ruger American.
2. Glock 17
The Glock 17 is the 9mm option with a 17-round capacity. It has a 4.5-inch barrel and a trigger safety. (Though when it comes down to it, I prefer the G19 for EDC).
The Springfield XD comes in both a 3-inch sub-compact and a 4-inch service model. It features the Ultra Safety Assurance (USA) Action Trigger System™ and has a grip safety in addition to a trigger safety. They’re priced about the same as a Glock.
If you’re a beginner with gun carrying and shooting, here are some other good choices.
Final Thoughts on the American
You can see the Ruger American has numerous options and upgrades to choose from. They’re available in 9mm or .45 auto have varying barrel sizes to accommodate most shooters.
The American comes with NovakⓇ LoMount 3-dot sights, with or without a manual safety, and two magazines, no matter if you choose the 10- or 13-round model.
No matter if you’re a self-defense or law enforcement carrier, the Ruger American might be an excellent choice for you. It’s easy to disassemble whether in the field or at home because it doesn’t require any special tools.
It also offers a recoil-reducing barrel, which makes shooting and then reacquiring the target quick and efficient.