Ruger P89: Military-Style Battle Tank

Author: Ian Hogg

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Ruger P89 was a state-of-art military-style pistol produced by Sturm, Ruger & Co. They began with a .22 automatic pistol and built up a reputation for excellent revolvers. In 1987 they announced a military-style automatic pistol, the Ruger P85, and since then, it has been steadily improved and is now the P89.

Introduction

The Ruger P89 was developed for military and police primarily; it is surprisingly light for its apparent bulk, a trade-off that was nicely pulled off. Its advantages are durability, reliability, and decent accuracy. The P89 was the improved version of the P85, Ruger’s entry to the US military trials in the 80s, which Beretta won. It was designed to be reliable and durable under military usage. P85 was also the first Ruger semi-auto pistol.

Ruger P85 pistol
Ruger P85 pistol (Photo: XY)

Design

Mechanically, Ruger P89 used the familiar Browning link swivel to draw down the rear end of the barrel as the slide and barrel recoil after firing. Still, instead of using lugs above the barrel to lock to the slide, the Ruger design uses a squared section around the chamber which locks into the ejection slot in the slide. The barrel is stainless steel, as are the hammer, trigger, and most internal components.

The frame is light-weight aluminum alloy, hardened to withstand wear, and finished in matt black. The slide is of chrome-moly steel, also finished in matt black. A safety catch is on the rear of the slide; this can be used by either hand and, when applied, locks the firing pin, blocks the hammer, and disconnects the trigger.

Ruger P89 9mm was a military-style pistol known for being overbuilt and its ability to function with just about any ammunition type
Ruger P89 9mm was a military-style pistol known for being overbuilt and its ability to function with just about any ammunition type (Photo: XY)

The firing mechanism is double-action, the trigger guard being large enough to allow firing in a gloved hand and reverse-curved to provide a grip for the non-firing hand. The magazine release is on the forward edge of the butt and can be operated by either hand.

Variants

Several variations have been developed in response to demand.

Ruger KP89

This model is the same as the basic Model P89 but with a stainless steel slide.

Ruger De-Cocker P89

This has a de-cocking lever on the slide in place of the usual safety catch. When pressed, this blocks the firing pin and lowers the hammer. After that, the pistol can be fired by a double-action pull on the trigger by thumb-cocking the hammer and firing single-action.

Ruger Double-Action-Only P89

This mechanism can only be fired by pulling through on the trigger; after each shot, the hammer follows the slide back and comes to rest in the down position,

Ruger KP90DAC

Like the De-cocker P89, this is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge.

Ruger KP91DAC

Like the KP90DAC, but chambered for the 10 mm Auto cartridge.

Review

The Ruger P89 is a tank. It is reliable and durable as hell. That gun could probably be functional for generations. It’s a big heavy gun, though. It’s not as easy to conceal as others. It’s heavy too. The trigger pull is dog shit. The safety on the slide makes it pretty easy to rack as well.

All in all, Ruger P89 is a gun that’ll probably always work, but that’s about it. Suppose you plan on open carrying or for home defense; it’s not a bad option. If you plan on concealing, I will look for something smaller and lighter.

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Technical specification: Ruger P89

Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Southport, CT 06490, United States
Type: recoil-operated, semi-automatic, double-action
Caliber: 9 mm Parabellum
Barrel: 4.49 in (114 mm)
Weight (empty): 32 oz (907 grams)
Capacity: 15 rounds
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8 thoughts on “Ruger P89: Military-Style Battle Tank”

  1. Your article failed to mention that the Ruger P89 is no longer produced. Okay article but could have been more detailed and interesting.

  2. amen love my p-89 – its a solid weapon . by far this is my best hand gun – compared to my daily g23 – there is no replacement. most accurate. a beast.

  3. The KP 91DAC is actually chambered in 40s&w. Same projectile as the 10mm but shorter cartridge. These guns are like old pickup trucks. They ain’t always pretty but they get the job done.

  4. Mine has been golden used over 30 years, never a jam and yes heavy enough you could knock an ox out by whacking it across the head. accuracy is a bit weak though.

  5. I have a Ruger p90. Solid gun. it certainly is a brick of a gun. Sights are …Ok.. I think the trigger is great with the hammer back but I can see how some would call it dog shit. Hammer home feels like 12lbs and hammer back is like 12oz.. lol If you’re used to striker fires like Glock you’re surely do a accidental double tap.
    The only issue I ever had with it was the guide rod. After “massaged” by a gunsmith it was fine. I have a soft spot for Rugers. I love my P90. It was my first gun. Tons of character. Deadly accurate. But it is a brick. Definitely a nightstand gun.

  6. A Ruger P89 was my first handgun. I bought it from an Army buddy of mine who had pawned it and couldn’t afford to get it out of hock. The thing was brand new, never having been fired when I got ahold of it. This was 1992 and the word “tacticool” had yet to be invented. This was so long ago, in fact that even those of us that worked with guns on a daily basis, called magazines clips, and no one kicked us in the junk for it.

    Well, times changed as have guns. Having spent 30 years in uniform, I have had a front row seat to many of these changes. Almost as I was setting my foot in the door of the US Military, they were switching to the Beretta. I can’t really say I have ever been a fan of that platform and wondered why they didn’t go with the P85. After buying the P89 it just worked. It ate everything I threw at it and hasn’t malfunctioned one time in all the years I’ve owned it.

    Was that good enough for me? Nope! when the military started fielding the Sig P226, I thought that was the bee’s knees so I ran out and got a P229 Equinox. It had a light rail and wooden grips… what a beautiful gun. So, I got another one as more of a work gun. Same gun, just not as pretty.

    What about Glock? Yep, as all my buddies were talking up the G-19 I jumped on that band wagon. Night sites, weapon light, extended controls, stippled this, customized that… so cool!

    in the meantime I had given my old but not quite forgotten P89 to my 18 year old daughter so she had something at her place for protection.

    She’s 27 now and very into Glocks and tacticool stuff herself, so she recently returned to me my aging, but still in great condition Ruger.

    Man, having it in my hands again just takes me back. People say it’s a heavy tank, but a Sig P229 is hardly lighter if at all. People say it’s hard to conceal, do they mean like a Glock 17? Yes, it is missing the accessory rail the other guns have, but I have night sights from Trijicon on their way for it, so there’s that.

    What is it exactly that makes a gun relevant in today’s tacticool meaning of the word? Reliability? Feeling natural in the hand? Easy to shoot, point, take apart and clean?

    Maybe I’m missing something, but the P89 seems just as up to date as anything anyone out there has in their holster.

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