World history has included the Stone, Bronze, and Iron ages, we are now in the Polymer Age.  We now have plastic bumpers for cars, plastic joints for knee replacement, and plastic frames for handguns.  Advanced composites are so versatile that most manufacturers of handguns produce models with polymer frames.  Ruger has done this quite successfully with the P97, P345, and other models.  The result is a durable, lightweight pistol that has excellent ergonomics and durability.

At the range, the P345 proved to be utterly reliable and handled very well.
At the range, the P345 proved to be utterly reliable and handled very well.

Why is the P345 not more highly regarded and in greater demand?  I do not believe it lacks durability, reliability, looks, or accuracy because it has all of these in large measure.  Perhaps it is because the Ruger name was so closely identified with .22s, single-shot and bolt-action rifles, and single-action revolvers for so long.  Entering the highly competitive centerfire autoloader market rather late made Ruger the new kid on the block and shooters who had used other brands for so long simply turned noses upward and yawned.  Moreover, some of the Ruger models, quite frankly, lacked the refinement of some competitors, and there is a plethora of models from which to choose.

For many of us, the question of how a pistol performs is paramount.  Having always been pleased with my P97, I am pleased to say that the newer P345 performs at least as well and possibly better.  However, with a handgun held in quivering hands and sights aligned by imperfect eyes, accuracy is more an aspect of the shooter than of the handgun.  However, the accompanying photo shows a couple of the three-shot groups made by my P345 that measure less than 2 inches at 25 yards.

The Ruger has sufficient accuracy for any application that is appropriate for a pistol of this type.  The assessment of durability will have to wait until I do a lot more shooting, but function has been perfect with both factory ammunition and my handloads.  To date, the best accuracy has been with a 230-grain Rainier Ballistics bullet pushed by 6.1 grains of Alliant Unique.

Is my Ruger P345 the equal of my S&W 4506?  Absolutely not, but I am not sure what .45 autoloader is.  But with the MSRP of $577 and $617 for the blue and stainless versions, the P345 should be considered as a competent, relatively inexpensive autoloader for defensive uses.

The usual retail prices are about $100 below the MSRP, and I consider the P345 a very good value.  It comes with two magazines, a magazine loader, a large external lock, and a hard case.  Centerfire autoloaders are the hot handguns so I just hope that the Ruger P345 gets the respect it deserves before it becomes one of those highly praised pistols that passes quietly into oblivion.

This article appeared in the December 6, 2010 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine. Click here to learn more.

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