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Old 01-08-2021, 04:20 AM
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Default Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder - Ruger P85

Just wanted to show my latest acquisition, a second hand Ruger P85 that I picked up for $200 AUD ($155 USD in Jan 2021). I "bought it out of left field" due to the price and the fact it was Rugers first attempt at a Wondernine.

Does anyone know if these Rugers were ever used by any Police/LEO agencies or any military's? Thanks in advance.

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Old 01-08-2021, 07:04 AM
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I've had a couple of Ruger P-85's and P-89's over the years, great guns, very reliable. I remember when they first came out, first becoming available around 1987 or so, prices were through the roof, selling for way above MSRP. First ones I saw at gun shows (San Jose California Fair Grounds) priced at $500, a brand new Colt SP1 AR-15 was $440, I bought the AR-15.

I had to wait till 1990 or so to buy a P-89 when supply caught up with demand, paid $289 as I remember. Great pistol, cairried it frequently while canoeing the marshes of Northeastern North Carolina.

I saw Sherriff Deputies of the San Diego County (California) Sherriff's Department carrying P-89's in the early 1990's, like 1992....
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Old 01-08-2021, 07:13 AM
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My P-89 competes for my favorite with my 6906. The 6906 is more steamlined and a more refined looking gun. But I love the industrial, no nonsense looks of the Ruger. As usual for Ruger, the gun is a tank.
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Old 01-08-2021, 07:59 AM
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The "P" series pistols are cherished by lots of shooters. A LGS owner here has an extensive collection of them ( and most variations of each one ). They are on display in his shop. I've owned one over the years; the P-95. As per usual with me, I traded it off, now wish I had it back.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:08 AM
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I bought a P-89 yrs ago for $300 " out the door " . It's very reliable , takes anything I feed it and just as accurate as any other 9mm I've had . I had an HK VP9 . Very picky about OAL of the cartridge . If under 1.150" long , it was a " jam-o-matic " . It's gone . Regards Paul
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:11 AM
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That's actually not bad looking for a "black" gun. I like it. Hope it shoots good for you.
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Old 01-08-2021, 10:40 AM
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I have one in my office to use as back up... It has never and I mean NEVER jammed or anything....I took it to a firearms instructor course along with my victory model .38 revolver; you should have heard the hooting and hollering when I showed up with the P-85.....Lead instructor noted that the P85 never had a issue......Glocks,Sigs and others did, though.......
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:12 AM
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Nice find. When I taught at the FLETC, the Ruger P series pistols in DAO were standard issue for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They were a solid pistol, if a little bulky. Reliable as well, more so then some high dollar makes.

Larry
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Old 01-08-2021, 01:59 PM
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I've had a couple of the stainless versions. First one I had to send back to Ruger for the MKII recall. Second one was already stamped MKII.

If you swapped out the grips, they were less ugly.

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Old 01-08-2021, 02:08 PM
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While those aren’t my thing- you stole that thing OP. Very nice
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Old 01-08-2021, 02:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moo Moo View Post

Does anyone know if these Rugers were ever used by any Police/LEO agencies or any military's?
Yes they were but I don't have a list. I "think" city of Chicago was one but am sure there were others.

Here's a couple of pics of Ruger's Law Enforcements Products catalog dated 11/88.




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Old 01-08-2021, 03:42 PM
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I am a big fan of the Ruger P series pistols. Bought a stainless P95 when they first came out and foolishly sold it after 5 years or so. Had a chance to buy a used P93 at a very fair price last year and bought it. This one will remain with me.
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Old 01-08-2021, 03:49 PM
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I believe the P-85s share the usual two qualities of most Ruger handguns:

1. They work great.
2. They're really ugly (single actions excluded).

You really stole it for that price.
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Old 01-08-2021, 05:52 PM
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AIRC. the P85 was originally designed for the
U S Army pistol trials to replace the M1911A1.
While it did well, the Beretta was chosen. It was then marketed commecially.

I got one in 1987, and still have it. Almost 50,000 rounds - no jams, no stoppages and
no parts breakage. Still going strong today.
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Old 01-08-2021, 06:05 PM
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My P89 was a new purchase around 1990 or so. It is a bit bulky, but accurate enough and has never ever failed to work as it should. My step Dad wanted a handgun about 20 years or so ago, so I sold him the P89 and gave him about 500 reloads.

He passed on about 5 years ago, and Mom gave it back to me. The box & factory grips are MIA, but the Hogues feel pretty good, the ammo & brass is also gone. But the gun still looks new and shoots as good as ever.

I'm hanging onto it this time. It's a great truck gun.

Finding a P series for $155 bucks is a heck of a deal!
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Old 01-08-2021, 06:45 PM
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My brother had one and it never failed in anyway. The only thing that I noticed was that it felt like the tolerances were a little loose. Maybe that was why it never jammed or failed.
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Old 01-08-2021, 06:52 PM
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I had one many years ago. One of the most reliable pistols I ever had. But they are ugly. I could have lived with the ugly but the ergonomics were terrible as well. Never could find a set of grips that would make it any better.

I had 2 hi-cap mags with it, and this was when hi-caps were a no-no. I only had about $175 into it. I found a gentleman with an early S&W Model 639 with fixed sights who offered to trade straight across. Made the trade and didn't look back. Still have the 639. If only Ruger had paid attention to ergonomics........
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:04 PM
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I have a book around here somewhere written by a EA-6B Pilot about his service in Desert Storm flying off of the USS Midway. Apparently most of the pilots in his squadron desired something with more firepower than the .38 revolver and pooled their money to buy P-85’s for themselves. So at least some Ruger P Series pistols went to war.
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Old 01-08-2021, 11:27 PM
Boudiepitbull Boudiepitbull is offline
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I have an old friend who is a retired LEO from a long family of LEOs. When I bought his Uncle's old S&W service revolvers from the late '40s and early 50's for my collection from him, he threw in his P-85 from the mid 80's to sweeten the pot a bit (or clean house...not exactly sure which.). He claims Ruger was offering them to police departments and he was forced to buy one, he took it to the range once and hated it and never touched it again until he gave it to me 35 years later. I grew to love it despite being clunky and ugly. It has become my go to sidearm for dog walking in the woods or otherwise banging around. Like someone said...it's built like a tank. Nothing elegant about it. It's the anthethisis of a safe queen. If I scratch it someday I probably won't shed a tear. It eats a steady diet of my 124 gr Acme and Bayou reloads and never skips a beat. It's sitting next to me now as I write this as my nightstand gun. Of all the pretty little CZ and Beretta 9mm semi autos in my safe I always seem to gravitate towards this old boat anchor. Go figure...

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Old 01-09-2021, 12:23 AM
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When Casper, WY PD authorized semiautos for uniformed officers in 1988 the P85 was one of those authorized, along with the Beretta 92 and 3rd Generation S&Ws.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:36 AM
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Life’s too short and there’re way too many options to have to settle for a Ruger P series; the only gun that makes a hi standard look attractive. But that’s just my opinion.
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Old 01-09-2021, 01:00 AM
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Very nice find! Our S/N's are close, I've had mine since 90, and it's a proven keeper. Eats anything, takes being my truck gun and comes back for more, every time. Like people, the prettiest aren't always the most capable, and I agree with the majority here, pretty it ain't!
I noticed that yours hasn't had the MKII revision, which is, at least in my opinion, well worth having. I don't know if they still would, or if you even care, but the Ruger factory used to do that safety revision free of charge, when you returned your gun to the factory. Might be worth looking into. The purpose was to reduce the chance of a discharge if the gun happened to drop, muzzle down. Allegedly the firing pin could break, striking the primer of a chambered round. I do carry with one in the pipe, always, makes sense to me.
Here's a decent write up, along with just a bit of history that will answer your original question.

Shooting Illustrated | Ruger P85

Hope this helps.
Best regards,
Bob

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Old 01-09-2021, 03:00 AM
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I love those big boxy pieces of junk! Notoriously reliable they can be had for a good deal! I tend to stay away from them because Rugers casting isnt the best IMHO but no casted gun is perfectly really. I usually go with forged frames myself and stick with high quality 1911s. However I would take a P-89 into combat for sure! By the way the P-85 had recalls on the safety so you might wanna look into yours if it had the recall mod done yet. Ruger will still honor the recall and fix your gun because its a safety related thing.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:06 AM
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The P-series Rugers are good FS service caliber guns. I have a P97DC in 45 ACP that is as good of a shooter as a Colt or a S&W. I like the DA/SA and the decocker.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:55 AM
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Out of curiosity, how did you buy a handgun in Australia? Is there a special permit process?
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Old 01-09-2021, 08:52 AM
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I have had the Ruger P series for years never a problem , My son works for Federal Bureau of Prisons in PA, he would always come and practice with my Ruger`s and always passed , I think they went to Smith and Wesson M/P 9 now , which he has one he shoots all the time .,The Rugers are good to go .
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Old 01-09-2021, 09:24 AM
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Affordable, reliable, accurate, and I happen to like how they look.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:04 PM
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In the early 90s, I bought a P-89 because I wanted to become familiar with 9mm semiauto operation. Our agency was in the process of transitioning from revolvers, but the Brass at the top of the food chain were taking their time making a selection. Ruger had their hat in the ring, and the local Fall River Co. SO carried the P-85. I liked the P-89, but our agency went with Sigs, and I ended up trading in the Ruger for a long gun. It's one of those guns I wished I'd kept. Shot to point of aim, never malfunctioned, and didn't cost a bundle.
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Old 01-09-2021, 12:52 PM
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They have their own look, and I happen to like it. Never owned one, but I'd buy one in a heartbeat were I to find one at a decent price. I've heard nothing but praise on their accuracy and reliability.
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Old 01-09-2021, 02:06 PM
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I've owned a P-85 back in the 80's and presently have a P-95DC. Both were purchased used $200 for the 85 and $250 for the 95 which also came with 2, 10 round mags, the plastic case, Owners manual, magazine reloader, (Which is Great BTW!), and that Cute little Useless Brass Lock for the case with 2 key's!! The lock even has the Ruger emblem stamped on it!!

Both these guns, 9mm, were Great in that they were fairly accurate and functioned well which made them rate High in my Opinion!!

And while these guns might not win any Beauty Contest's, They'll beat the Stuffing out of a Glock for looks in a Heartbeat!!!!!

I think yer gonna Like that Gun!!! Congrat's!!!

Edit: Sorry.. I forgot Pic's!!
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:30 PM
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I had an early P85 that couldn't hit a barn from the inside. It was very loose, all over. I sold it. Have shot several borrowed P89's and P95's since, and all were sturdy and accurate. I'd like to find one now. Would buy it in a second if the price was good.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:45 PM
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I owned one, purchased form a Gunnery Sgt at WTBN Quantico....it shot just fine, accurate enough for field or range for sure, and I had put some nice looking after market stocks on it maybe Pachmeyer’s- no logos, just a very fine texture of cross hatching texture....improved it’s homely aesthetics of the factory stocks, anyways, I was handling the gun at my apt one evening, and letting the slide go home from the open position, muzzle pointed down at my dinner table, when I pushed the safety down to engage the hammer/drop safe mode, wasn’t I surprised to see the firing pin fly out and bounce with authority across the table to the kitchen floor! Well, I called Ruger customer service (in Az I think it was) and explained what had just transpired whereupon the guy on the other line says hold on a moment, he gives the phone to someone else who asks me what happened again? I old him the firing pin broke in half and shot out of my bbl when I engaged the hammer drop safety and that “I’m sure glad I hadn’t put a loaded mag in the gun like I usually did”....he said that he had not heard of this happening to any of the P85’s yet and that he wanted to send out a box for me to mail it to them immediately....so I did....and about two weeks later, upon reaching my door after work on the ground level was my returned P85 pistol with a new firing pin and no paper of description other than replaced firing pin note hand written...glad I got to see the box on the ground before some passerby did(this was an apt complex in Fredericksburg, Va.)
Well, I traded the pistol straight across to another Gunny for an 8-3/8” model 657 with a 5Bhl Bianchi holster and was done with it.....this was about 1990-‘91...about 20 or more years later, I found a large book at a store called “Ruger and his Guns”, which I bought....Ruger was quoted a lot in the books describing many things about weapons and stuff and he mentioned the 1st center fire Ruger pistols being the P85 as a fairly well received robust pistol that they really had no major malfunctions or design changes/flaws with except that at one time, a single pistol was sent back for a broken firing pin when the safety was engaged that it broke and shot out of the bbl...and that they changed the temper of hardening on the part and never heard of the issue again.....that was funny to me. I love Ruger firearms but my brother had a later 9mm Ruger pistol(P89, P90 or 91?) very similar to my P85 that he had bought and enjoyed-he was excited for me to shoot it and when he opened the plastic Ruger box and lifted the gun, the rotating hammer drop safety fell out onto the ground which sealed my opinion of the center fire Ruger pistols from my interest in future acquisitions of same brand....I own maybe 20 or close to that of various other Ruger revolvers, rimfire autos and rifles and love them though....and my cost for the P85 back then was $250 bucks....also the best trade for a Smith and Wesson I have made!

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Old 01-09-2021, 03:46 PM
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In the early 90s the Ruger P89 DAO was issued by the NYPD as part of the semi automatic pistol pilot program. The guys that had them loved them but ultimately the final choices approved were the S&W 5946, Glock 19 and Sig P226 DAO.
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:14 PM
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I have a P95DC that makes any P85 look classy. The P95 is living proof that you can overbuild a plastic gun. Mine is ugly, rattles, accurate enough, goes bang every time and is easy to rack with gentle recoil. The last two features make it ideal to take the fear out of new shooters. Oh, and I got it cheap, so what's not to like?
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:49 PM
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The P90 was my first handgun. I've had the P89DC model on my short list for a long time. I have "nicer" pistols now but just can't seem to let go of that big beast!

I guess the alloy framed P series just didn't make enough of the dough rey me. I was sorry to see them go.

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Old 01-09-2021, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan Zulu View Post
Out of curiosity, how did you buy a handgun in Australia? Is there a special permit process?
Handgun ownership in Australia is no easy feat. It is less difficult to own rifles and shot-guns (accept Semi-auto) but not by much.

All firearms cannot be owned purely for self-defence. Generally, they must be owned for Target Shooting, Collecting, and/or Hunting.

To Obtain a handgun in my state (New South Wales), it must be for Target Shooting (as hunting with a handgun is not allowed). To do this:-

1. Join an approved Pistol Club and got through their training sessions to get a Pistol Safety Certificate.

2. Obtain a Probationary Firearms Licence in which you need to complete a number of shooting sessions within 6 months. You can only purchase 1 x Handgun during this period.

3. Purchase a safe (to handgun safe storage security level), install it, and have local Police come and inspect it to make sure it is securely fasten and meets the minimum standards.

4. To buy a firearm, submit an on-line "Permit to Acquire" from the Firearms Registry. Once you have received the permit, you can go to a dealer and purchase your handgun.

5. After 6 months, you can get a full Firearms Handgun Licence and purchase more handguns.

6. Generally, Target Shooter Handgun licence limits the barrel length (4" for revolvers and 5" for semi-autos) and calibre allowed. There are other permits if you need a higher calibre handgun to shoot a particular match; eg, 45 Long Colt for SASS.

7. Also, in order to maintain your Firearms Licence, you must compete a minimum number of matches per year (usually 6).

So, you really must be committed to this as a "sport" in order to go through all of this bureaucracy.
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Old 01-10-2021, 01:53 AM
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Interesting, thanks for the information.
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Old 01-10-2021, 10:11 AM
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The Ruger P85 that I had was the worst gun I have ever owned.
It went back to the factory twice and they still couldn't fix it.
I sold it at a loss and Ruger lost a customer for life.
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Old 01-10-2021, 12:59 PM
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A San Diego PD officer told me in they use the Ruger semi auto 9mm don't know which model exactly. Told me this in the late 90's.
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Old 01-10-2021, 01:06 PM
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Pretty is as pretty does.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:43 PM
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Pretty is as pretty does.
Funny, didn't apply to some of the girls I dated or cars that I've run.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:48 PM
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My first high capacity pistol was a P-89 and I scored 246 out of 250 with it on my first Texas CHL test. As I acquired other hi-caps I let it go to a friend for 300 bucks. Probably 20 years ago. Great pistol!
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:07 AM
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Thanks for everyone's contributions to this thread.
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Old 01-11-2021, 04:31 PM
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One of the patrol officers I worked with had a P series Ruger as a backup gun for several years. It was a confiscated gun that was issued. He turned it back in when he transferred to another agency. We had several of the Rugers, not sure what happened to them after I left property and evidence.
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Old 01-11-2021, 04:46 PM
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I had a P89DC that I purchased in the early 1990's . It worked well, but I never warmed up to it. I traded it in on a Glock 17. I know that there are many Glock detractors, but that 17 felt right, and is still in my possession.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
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In the early 90s the Ruger P89 DAO was issued by the NYPD as part of the semi automatic pistol pilot program. The guys that had them loved them but ultimately the final choices approved were the S&W 5946, Glock 19 and Sig P226 DAO.
Hey, Lou! You're a fountain of NYPD info!
A NYPD guy stopped into the station one night in the early 90s, said he was in the pilot program and loved his DAO Ruger. He wasn't a Glock fan at all. We had G19s at the time and he said to dump them, LOL.
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Old 01-11-2021, 05:56 PM
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I love those big boxy pieces of junk! Notoriously reliable they can be had for a good deal! I tend to stay away from them because Rugers casting isnt the best IMHO but no casted gun is perfectly really. I usually go with forged frames myself and stick with high quality 1911s. However I would take a P-89 into combat for sure! By the way the P-85 had recalls on the safety so you might wanna look into yours if it had the recall mod done yet. Ruger will still honor the recall and fix your gun because its a safety related thing.
Rugers casting isn't the best?? Who would be the BEST in casting, in your expert opinion? Pine Tree is a company owned by Ruger, and they make castings for LOTS of gun companies, including the frames for the Desert Eagle, and the frames of one of the most accurate revolvers, EVER, the Freedom Arms revolvers! Also precision castings for folks outside the firearms field.
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