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The Ruger LCR has proven to be an excellent defensive firearm; a modern materials lightweight with a robust design that permits chambering the LCR in 22 LR, 22 Win Mag, 38 Special +P and 357 Magnum. The addition of the 9mm Luger to the list of available calibers is very good news as it represents a well balanced combination of hardware and cartridge. Initially the Ruger LCR 9mm is supplied with a Hogue® Tamer™ Monogrip®, however, the Crimson Trace® Lasergrips® sighting system is available as an owner installable accessory at this time.

The hardware…

The Ruger Lightweight Compact Revolver is a natural carry firearm. Very narrow in profile with a 1.28″ wide cylinder, rounded in hammerless outline and small in perimeter envelop, it is a revolver that tucks away, concealed or open carry, and it won’t poke or jab its owner in the course of an active day.

Ruger LCR 9mm

Manufacturer Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Item # / Catalog # 5456 / KLCR-9
Country of Origin Newport, NH U.S.A.
Type Double Action
Actuation Trigger – Hammerless
Caliber 9mm Luger Including +P
Capacity 5
Barrel Length 1.875″
Rifling 1:16″ RH
Weight 17.2 Oz
Overall Length 6.5″
Height 4.5″
Grips Hogue® Tamer™ Monogrip®
Frame Material Series 400 SS
Barrel Material Carpenter 465 SS
Cylinder Material Carpenter 465 SS
Grip Frame Material Glass Filled Poly
Rear Sight U Notch Integral
Front Sight Ramped Pinned Blade
Trigger Pull 8Lbs 13 Oz (Actual)
MSRP $599

Nominal values unless noted

Despite its compact size and light weight, it is a built to last firearm, modularly constructed from highly durable materials; fiber filled polymer fire control housing, 400 series stainless steel one piece frame and Carpenter 465 stainless steel cylinder and barrel… the same stainless steel used in Ruger’s 454 Casull revolvers. The revolver’s front latching system is made of titanium pieces. 

The camming trigger pull is not like any other double action. It is smooth and uniform in pressure until let off.  Close to 9 lbs as measured, it feels significantly lighter than a pull gauge reads, making it easy to hold on target and shoot accurately.

The fiber filled poly grip frame holds all of the fire control pieces as part of the Ruger LCR’s modular design. The approach makes for easy maintenance or repair if ever required. For me, the poly grip frame seems to damped a lot of the shock associated with lightweight snub nose revolvers, making it easy to go through a box of ammo without feeling hand spanked. The peg type grip provides a good deal of latitude in grip design and form.

The monolithic stainless steel  frame is one piece; no access panels to weaken the structure or complicate the assembly.  Below, an earlier model of the LCR that demonstrates the products modular construction. Rim fire through 38 Special +P versions receive a Series 7000 aircraft aluminum  alloy frame. The 9mm and 357 Magnum version frames are made of stainless steel as previously noted.

The earlier model frame had an internal hammer lock in the grip frame that was to be used, or not, at the owners discretion. The lock is NOT present in the LCR 9mm. I can’t say I felt strongly about the lock, one way or another, however, I also never used the feature. I am sure a good number of folks will be happy to see its demise.

The backside of the Ruger’s cylinder is relieved to accommodate moon clips. The purpose of moon clip is to assure reliable extraction of rimless cartridges, a method that is standard fare for revolvers.

The LCR 9mm is supplied with 3 steel moon clips; good for about 5,000 rounds of wear and tear. They are easy to load and no tools are required. Replacements are available at the Ruger Store for $19.95 for a set of 3. I almost always shoot revolvers with rimmed cases so I rarely use moon clips. Still, I found them easy to load and unload and preloaded the three that came with the LCR to keep things briskly moving along; loading and unloading 5 rounds at a time is a speedy process.

 

The rear sight is a basic U notch in the frame, the front sight is serrated along the ramp to kill glare and pinned to facilitate change, should the need arise. Sharp in contrast and non reflective, the sight set up is actually pretty good, making the LCR 9mm a lot more than a point and shoot snubby.

More specifics follow, but the group sizes below are representative of Ruger LCR 9mm’s 7 yard accuracy; 2 1/8″ and 1 1/8″ from two different brands of ammo and two different bullet weights. Since these were shot solely for group size, no attempt was made to adjust for shift in point of impact as we worked our way through different brands and types of ammunition.

Some folks will jump on the size of these groups and produce personal targets with 1/2″ clusters of 10, shot rapid fire, off hand… from horseback. In our little universe there are 12″ to the foot and 3′ to the yard and no telltale powder burns on the targets. 7 yard groups, two hand hold, from a steady rest. In comparison to other groups shot recently with other short barrel revolvers, these are very good.

The cartridge…

There are more types of factory ammunition available for the 9mm Luger than any other cartridge, handgun or rifle; more than the 45 Auto or 357 Mag, more than even the 223 Remington or 308 Winchester. There are approximately 183 combinations of factory loads offered by 32 manufacturers, for the purpose of plinking, match, self defense and even shot shells and the 9mm Luger is commonly stocked at retailers the world over. Lots of choice to fit virtually every application.

Widely adopted by local, state and federal government law enforcement agencies, and in high demand by civilian consumers, the round will be readily available for a long, long time. The huge demand for 9mm Luger ammunition also places the 9mm Luger at the forefront of manufacturers’ ammunition and component development. High volume production creates lower cost through economy of scale. Subsequently, type for type,  9mm ammo is less expensive than many other centerfire cartridges.

Autoloaders chambered for the 9mm are extremely popular. The use of a compact revolver like the Ruger LCR as an alternative primary or backup firearm means the owner of both gets commonality of ammunition. If the same person is a handloader, the Ruger LCR 9mm means common components, tools and equipment. In recent comparisons to a 38 Special +P snub nose, the 9mm Luger outperformed the 38 Special in both external and terminal quantified ballistics.

Bang, bang… bang

Five types of factory ammo were shot through the Ruger LCR to quantify the Ruger’s 7 yard accuracy and short barrel velocity. We also measured bullet penetration and expansion in Clear Ballistics FBI blocks, a synthetic product that is a substitute for organic ordnance 240A 10% ballistic gelatin. We followed the criteria for FBI Test 1; bare gelatin, shots fired from a distance of 10 feet. The cartridges and spent bullets appear on the table below in the order pictured left to right… no, your other right.

Ammunition

Type Bullet
Weight
Grains
Recorded
MV fps
Measured
Penetration “
Terminal
Diameter “
Retained
Weight
Grains
7 Yard
3 Shot
Group “
Hornady Critical Defense FTX 115 1055 11.5 0.500 115.0 2
PMC Bronze JHP 115 1020 17.0 0.355 114.2 2 1/8
Remington Ultimate Defense BJHP 124 1117 18.0 0.620 123.6 1 1/8
Hornady Critical Duty FlexLock 135 1022 17.0 0.568 133.9 1 7/8
Winchester Train & Defense JHP 147 867 17.0 0.355 146.8 1 1/8
Penetration Clear Ballistics FBI blocks, 10 Feet from muzzle, standard plain gel test distance.
Terminal Diameter = Maximum full diameter of recovered bullet.

The 9mm Luger factory loads, with the exception of the Train & Defense Winchester load, held a 100+ fps edge over the 38 Special +P testing we conducted with another 2″ barrel snub nose a few weeks ago. The deepest penetration recorded for the 38 Special +P was 12″ and maximum bullet expansion was 0.455″. There are at least three type of ammo on the table I wouldn’t hesitate to use for defensive applications.

The Hornady 115 grain results were interesting. While the bullet stopped at 11.5″, the plastic core went 2″ farther. I’ve had good luck with Remington Ultimate Defense ammo for defensive applications these days. Penetration is good and they expand reliably over a broad velocity range, while shedding very little weight.

OK, Joe. That’s enough, so wrap it up…

There is no laundry list of things I would like to see changed. The Ruger LCR 9mm represents a solid  integration of features for the purpose of self defense. A hammer might provide emotional appeasement for folks who can’t let go, but the LCR is made to shoot double action and this trigger system is something virtually anyone can master. Perhaps a bit of trigger overtravel could be removed as a refinement. The sights are fine. Any attempts to embellish them would not suit this revolver’s purpose. The same applies to any increases in capacity or increasing the size of the grip.

On balance, the Ruger LCR 9mm is certainly a firearm that warrants a close look. More power than the 38 Special, not as challenging to a shooter as a 357 Magnum. Ammunition costs are low, ammunition is readily available. Shooting proficiency comes quickly with use. Yup, nice revolver. For further information on the Ruger LCR 9mm, check out the Ruger site. For additional coverage of the Ruger’s LCR on RealGuns.Com, search on “LCR”.