My first centerfire Ruger pistol was a P89 in 9mm Luger. I picked it up because I had just sold my only 9mm pistol that morning, and the P89 was a pretty good deal. I've had the gun for years, and could never learn to like it much. It's chunky, it's clunky, it has angles and corners and things sticking out hither and yon, it has a stupid-looking hammer, some of the parts look unfinished, and it's just plain ugly. Oh, it's reliable - goes bang every time - but I never could love it.
Production of the P345 began in 2004, and it was landing in the hands of shooters by early 2005. The P89 began production in 1993. Ruger worked out a lot of bugs during the intervening years. The P345, while not perfect, does a great job of addressing many of the issues I have with the P89, presenting a pistol that packs more punch in a slimmer, lighter, more comfortable, and better-looking package. Internal parts, while still beefy, have also been trimmed down a bit.
What better gun to compare the P345 with than the venerable Colt 1911 Government Model? Just to give some perspective on the similarities and differences, I mean. In the accompanying photo, you can see the left side of both pistols. I like me some 1911, but it's not my ideal all-around semi-auto. I like a popper that offers double action on the first shot. The P345 does that; the 1911 doesn't. It's a minor point to some, but it could be very important in a pinch.
Weight-wise, the P345 wins out. This is not surprising, given the 1911's steel frame and the polymer frame of the P345. The Colt shown was Dad's, and it weighs in at 40.7 ounces (2.54 lbs). The Ruger weighs just 29.2 ounces (1.83 lbs). Both guns were weighed with empty magazines in them. The P345 mag holds eight rounds, while the standard 1911 mag holds seven.
When it comes to width, the 1911 is the winner, with a slide width of 0.91". The P345's slide measures 1.02" wide, and the safety/decocker makes it about 1.2" wide overall.
When it comes to streamlining, Ruger didn't do a bad job, but the slide release could (and should) have been made more trim. As the photo shows, the P345's slide release maintains its wide profile along its length, while John Browning's creation is only made wide where it needs to be - at the rear, where your thumb or finger will engage it.
The left side of the P345's slide has "RUGER P345" clearly marked in large lettering. The grip portion of the frame bears the company's phoenix logo with red background, the name RUGER in the slimmer portion, and the obligatory "read the manual" message above that, at the top rear of the frame.