Ruger P89: Military-Style Battle Tank

Ian Hogg

Ruger P89 pistol

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.


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)


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.


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.


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.

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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12 thoughts on “Ruger P89: Military-Style Battle Tank”

  1. I love the Ruger P series. Kind of a “Poor Man’s SIG” , but nonetheless just as reliable in my opinion. My first pistol was a P series. Heavy double action, but a deadly single action. 3.5-4.5lbs Not bad for a 30+yr old gun. Many say the accuracy is decent, but I’ve gotten super tight groups with mine. After you acclimate to the trigger and the weight, it’s VERY accurate. The sights are left to be desired, But Meprolight still makes some. I don’t mind the stock sights. I colored the dots with a flourescent paint pen and I was good.
    IMHO the best Ruger pistol made. I had an American 9mm. Striker fired. 6.5lbs trigger pull.. Meh. Wound up finding a p89dc. Ruger needs to reissue these. Alloy frame. If Bersa can do it, Ruger can. And better.

  2. pulled my p89 out of the nightstand drawer to tell it I hadn’t forgotten about it and decided to see what other owners have thought. Brings a smile to my face to read other happy comments about this piece. Feels good in my large hands, i like the weight, love the look. I carry my g26, but if I had to take a handgun into a battle it would be my p89. Even over my 1911 or g19.

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