This Ruger model P85 was manufactured in September of 1989 according to the company records. It is a self-loading, recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol that is chambered for the .9mm Parabellum cartridge. The pistol has been designed to operate as either a double or single action firearm that utilizes an external hammer. The frame has a greyish black hard coat aluminum finish while the slide has been sand blasted for a matte black finish. The Patridge type 3 dot sighting system includes a blade front sight and a square notch rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage only. This P85 is fed by a staggered column after-market 18 round detachable box magazine. The original staggered column factory magazines came in two sizes and could hold either 10 or 15 rounds. On both sides of the pistol there is a push button magazine release located at the rear base of the trigger guard. The pistol also features an ambidextrous thumb safety located above each grip which also acts as a firing pin block and a decocking lever. The pistol came from the factory with a 4 1/2 inch barrel with 6 grooves and a right hand twist making one turn in 10 inches. The pistol has a total length of 7 3/4 inches and an unloaded weight of 32 ounces. This firearm incorporates a slide hold open mechanism to inform the operator that the last round has been fired. The rubber wrap around grips seen on this pistol are not original and were manufactured by Hogue. The grips on the P85 are set into the frame which will aid users with smaller hands to maintain a proper grip. The original grips were a molded General Electric Xenoy high impact plastic material.
The Sturm, Ruger company developed the P85 in 1985 but the pistols did not reach the market until December of 1987. In 1987 the company produced slightly over 2,100 pistols, in 1988 the total grew to 30,500 and by 1989, the same year as the pistol on this web page was made, the total had grown to 85,300 pistols. The P85 was the first in what has become a long line in P series pistol designs made by the Ruger company. The P85 used an investment cast, also known as lost wax cast aluminum frame, and made extensive use of cast parts as well as Ruger's proprietary alloys. Just about all of the internal parts, including the barrel, were made from stainless steel. The slide and ejector were made from carbon steel though. All of the P series pistols developed through the P97(1997) would be named for the year in which development was completed.
The P85 Mark II is essentially the same pistol but with a new safety installed, larger safety levers and improved accuracy. It was discovered in 1990 that on the original P85, if the firing pin broke in front of the firing pin block, and a shooter applied the decocker which drops the hammer, it could actually transfer enough energy to the broken firing pin to cause an accidental discharge. The P85 pistols made between 1987 and 1990 were recalled so that a new safety could be installed that prevented any contact between the firing pin and hammer during a decocking operation. The pistol on this page has not had this modification done. If your pistol is not a MK II and was made between 1987 and 1990, and does not have the letter "MKIIR" stamped on the manual safety, then it has not been modified and an accidental discharge could occur. Ruger will fix this problem free of charge. The only cost will be in shipping the pistol to Ruger. They will help compensate for that shipping charge by returning the pistol with an additional magazine. Give them a call at 928-778-6555 to see if your pistol is in need of this repair.
The P85 has been described as tank tough, solid performing and utterly reliable. The P85 was originally intended to compete as a 9 mm replacement for the U.S. military model 1911A1, but development was not finished on time, and the military chose the Beretta model M9 instead. The Ruger P series of pistols make an excellent choice for police, civilian self defense and recreational shooters. The P85 has been adopted by state police agencies in the U.S., governments of countries in Central America, Asia, Europe, and in the Middle East. The Israeli air force has even received a substantial number of the pistols.
A brief history of the Sturm, Ruger company.
After WWII in 1946, Ruger rented space in a barn in Southport, CT where he formed the Ruger Corporation. He started the company with the goal of producing sporting firearms. Shortly thereafter he perfected the design of the Ruger .22 caliber target pistol and obtained $50,000 in financing from the Sturm family. In October of 1949, Sturm, Ruger officially opened for business. Alexander Sturm who was a graduate of Yale Art School is responsible for designing the company's trademark. Later, an article about the new company in the American Rifleman brought in the first orders. Soon thereafter, the Southport post office was forced to expand just to handle the mail that the Ruger company was receiving. Within a year, Sturm, Ruger had repaid the Sturm family's $50,000 investment; this was also the last money that the company ever borrowed. Sturm died in November of 1951 at the young age of 29 from viral hepatitis. Ruger took over control of the company's management, while Sturm's estate retained its interest in the company. William B. Ruger continued to direct the company until his death in 2002.
William B. Ruger's credo was "Arms Makers for Responsible Sportsmen." He created firearms not only for hunters and target shooters, but for folks who purchased guns for their esthetics and their precision. The company stock has been publicly traded since 1969, then starting in 1990, Sturm, Ruger began trading on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker symbol of "RGR". So far, the Company has made a profit every year of its existence. Ruger has manufactured well over 20 million firearms for both sporting and law enforcement use. Today they have branched out into other endeavors such as the automotive parts market and manufacturing the cast titanium golf club heads for the BIG BERTHA drivers. The Company's corporate headquarters are still located in Southport, CT and that barn where it all started, well it is still standing today.
It would not be fair if I did not as well mention the controversy that Mr. Ruger created with his letter to members of the House and Senate on March 30th, 1989. In short, it is thought that his letter was the genesis for some parts of the legislation that was drafted 5 years later in the Assault Weapons Ban. Not only that, but in an interview with Tom Brokaw, Mr. Ruger went on to say that "no honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun" and "I never meant for simple civilians to have my 20 and 30 round magazines". These comments brought down the wrath from angry gun owners even though Mr. Ruger had actually advocated for a 15 round magazine limit. Still, it shocked the firearms community to hear such comments coming from an important firearms manufacturer. Today, the Ruger company no longer stands by this line of thinking and is actively selling high capacity magazines to the general public.