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When Ruger introduced the LCP, after I had the chance to garner some shooting and handloading experience with the gun during a product review, I bought one… Then I bought another one for my wife. The LCP is a slick little gun that meets the objectives of a reliable and easy to conceal backup firearm. Of greatest importance, The LCP offers substantial protection and doesn’t make my pants fall down when it is anchored to my belt; belt drop, the bane of a mature male’s egg shaped body. While the LCP is always close at hand, the 380 ACP cartridge remains a tad light for primary defense duty. At least from my perspective.

 

Ruger’s LC9 9mm autoloader is larger than the diminutive LCP, but not by much. The reference, “Don’t make a spectacle of yourself” which was intended to underscore how easy it is to conceal carry an LCP, clearly fits the LC9 as well.

The same type of extended magazine floor plate, as show on the LCP, is also included with the LC9. Installation of the piece takes only a few second. The assumption, going in, was that this support surface would be necessary to affect the best control and to achieve the best accuracy. I was wrong. Despite the heavy and long double action trigger pull, the best groups in slow and rapid fire were recorded without the extender.

Below, I am not a left handed shooter, I am a right handed photographer.

How quickly they grow up… sniffle, sniffle

I could have placed the LC9 alongside of a full size 1911 type for dramatic effect, but I thought parking it next to a very compact 9mm CZ 2075 RAMI would be a more relevant comparison. The Ruger is not only much thinner at the grip, which may be more of a reflection of magazine capacity, but the gun is much more trim at the slide. The weight difference between the poly frame Ruger and the alloy frame CZ is monumental.

 

Specifications Ruger CZ
Model Ruger LC9 CZ 2075
Construction Poly/Steel Alloy/Steel
Type Action Preset Hammer Single/Double
Caliber 9mm 9mm
Capacity 7 10
Barrel Length 3.12″ 3.00″
Rifling 1:10″ RH 1:9.7″ RH
Sights Adj Three Dot Adj Three Dot
Overall Length 6.00″ 6.5″
Overall Height 4.50″ 4.70″
Thickness “ 0.90 1.30″
Weight Lbs 1.10 1.60
MSRP $443 $585

The Ruger LC9 is significantly smaller than the already quite small CZ RAMI. The Ruger is 30% thinner than the CZ and it weighs 32% less. A full half inch shorter in overall length than the CZ, the Ruger barrel is actually 0.120″ longer, which explains, respectively, the 1075 fps and 1076 fps muzzle velocities clocked over the chronograph readings that initially put a puzzled look on my face. For context; a lot of things put a puzzled look on my face.

 

The LC9 is listed as double action by Ruger, however, it is a presetting action, different than a Glock or Smith & Wesson. A Glock’s cycling slide partially cocks the gun’s striker, but it’s the trigger pull that fully retracts and releases the striker. The cycling slide of the LC9 partially cocks the hammer, but it is the trigger pull that carries the hammer the rest of the way to fully cocked and initiates its release. Once the hammer is released, the trigger cannot be pulled again without the slide moving rearward enough to partially cock the hammer again. There will be no double striking a stubborn primer with the LC9 without partially cycling the slide to preset the hammer which means correction for a misfire is racking the slide and clearing the chamber.

 

Magazine capacity is always an issue… for people who have a hard time shooting straight or feel they need to defend with a hail of bullets. Sarcasm aside, the Ruger’s 7+1 capacity is more than satisfactory for a compact carry gun, or a backpack gun or a tackle box gun. The RAMI is often configured with a 14 round extended magazine that gives it almost the height of a 1911 45 ACP; too big for a little gun and the cartridge is too little for a big gun. I think the RAMI makes more sense as a powerful and very compact 40 S&W where the extra firearm mass is tolerable where the gain in power is deemed necessary.

 

So, Joe, why not just carry the tiny LCP… you big duh?

 

Hey! Don’t call me “duh”. I didn’t call you “duh” I was merely using the term as dramatic pause to reflect upon your missing the potential of an obvious solution. Right, I got that, but the 380 ACP and the 9mm are significantly different rounds delivering significantly different ballistic performance.

 

Cartridge 380 ACP 9mm Luger
Case Length “ 0.681 0.754
Overall Length “ 0.984 1.169
*Bullet Weight – Grains 95 115
*Muzzle Velocity – FPS 955 1190
*Muzzle Energy – Ft/Lbs 190 362
Maximum PSI SAAMI 19580 35,000

Winchester Ammunition

Yes, there are lots of specialty loads available for both cartridges but the spread grows disproportionately larger as performance is pushed. The 380 ACP in any form never approaches the lowest level of 9mm Luger performance that is indicated on the table.

 

While the 9mm may not earn a spot in the one shot stopper hall of fame, it has been proven time and time again in combat and in police work as the cartridge of choice where a diverse group of shooters, across a multitude of settings, must be considered.

 

Disassembly is easy…  No, really.

 

 

Initially, the gun’s lock key packaged with the LC9 was required for disassembly; rack slide open and check chamber, pull magazine, close slide and push out the takedown pin (right to left) with the tip of the key. I also had to use a nylon drift to push the push down the takedown plate. After two cycles of assembly/disassembly, the plate could be moved with bare finger pressure and the pin dropped out with only the influence of gravity and tipping the gun over on its side.

The Ruger is supplied with two keys, both with the same functions; lock and unlock the gun and serve as a disassembly tool. The rear sights are secured dovetail and set screw, the front is secured in a dovetail. The rear sight is windage adjustable. The sights are actually very good; easy to spot as a function of size and color contrast against dark or light backgrounds.

Shooting impressions

 

The Ruger is easier to control than I anticipated. I assumed a small envelope and light weight 9mm would jump around a bit, but the LC9 is actually a pretty soft shooting gun. As I mentioned previously, the gun performed best without the extended magazine floorplate in place. The slide reliably locked open on empty for ease of reload. The gun cannot be fired with the magazine removed. Between the integral gun lock, the trigger and thumb safeties and the loaded chamber indicator this is a very safe gun to carry.

Trigger pull is.. interesting. Like every other preset action gun I’ve fired, it reminds me of the old Beatles song, “The long and winding road”. Trigger travel measured 0.875″ with pull just under 6 lbs, making the pull not at all heavy for a double action autoloader. More so, the first 2/3rds of travel offers less than 2 lbs of resistance. In the end, neither my single action conditioned grip or trigger pull seemed to matter as the gun really delivered in accuracy.

In the end. issues of trigger pull and grip size really didn’t matter much. These three shot groups were shot at seven yards from a modified Weaver stance in slow fire. I don’t shoot handguns well enough to expect the group on the right, so I’ll give the credit to the Ruger LC9. I would be remiss to say I am not all that ashamed of the group on the left. My last through on this subject? I can’t wait to see what Ruger introduces next. Good gun.