Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ruger LC9 Range Report

I was able to get my hands on a Ruger LC9 from a friend that has recently obtained her permit to carry.  This will be her carry gun of choice and I wanted to put it through some testing so I could do a review and offer feedback to her on things to watch out for.  The first thing that I did was do some dry firing and manipulations to become familiar with the myriad of buttons and switches on this.  Yes, this one goes to 11 when it comes to levers and things.  For the Glock fans out there, this may be too much for you.  If you are the type that feels more comfortable with an external safety, then you're going to be ok with this little handgun.

Ruger says that the LC9 is a compact sized double action only (though to me not technically so), hammer fired locked breech hangun chambered in 9mm.  The action needs to cycle for the trigger to reset, so not really DAO but if Ruger says so...

So, here are some initial observations.  The LC9 has a loaded chamber indicator and this thing can't be missed.  It's one of the things that caught my eye the first time I saw an LC9 on TV.  I wasn't a fan.  I think this is just going to fall down to personal preference.  Some people may like them, some people won't and some will be indifferent.  This thing just sticks out a bit too much for my taste.  The second thing that stuck with me was that the LC9 has a magazine disconnect.  I'm not going to go down the bunny path of the mag disconnect and why I'm not a fan.  Weer'd did that in plenty of detail.  Suffice it to say that I'm in his camp on this.  I wish Ruger would not have let a couple of states drive the market for the rest of the country.  So, getting past those, let's go over other levers:

The safety:  I can say that the safety is easy to disconnect on the draw.  I had heard that they attempted to position it much like a 1911 and it seems to be right there.  The question of why you need a safety on a double-action only pistol is another debate we won't have right now, but I don't see the purpose.  Also, it may be easy to take off but it is a bear to engage again without rotating the gun or using your off hand.  This may not seem like that big of a deal at first.  I mean, it's really important to be able to take it off when you need it, right?  Well, if you are the type of person that relies on the safety (which you shouldn't) and it's difficult to engage, you might not do it.  So, if you think it's engaged and it isn't and you rely on that (which you shouldn't) that could be an issue.  If this were a gun I was planning to carry I would carry without the safety engaged in which case it really isn't different from carrying a revolver.

The slide release:  Again, this thing is a booger to disengage.  I'm only hoping that the stiffness of engaging the safety and pushing down the slide release will become easier with time as the sharp edges wear off.  For now, a fast magazine change might run into a snag.  Personally, I train to rack the slide with hand over the top of the rear of the slide and not use the mag release all that much, so I wouldn't notice this issue.  Actually, because of the difficulty doing it the way I usually do saves quite a bit of time.  Still, it could cause problems if you train to reload using the slide release.

The trigger:  Per the Ruger advertisement, the trigger is a smooth double action pull.  I've heard from some that the trigger is terrible, but that's not what I found.  The only thing I noticed is a small click at the end of the trigger pull that caught my attention.  I'm not sure what that is, but if you pull to the click and release, then pull again it doesn't click before the hammer falls.  *shrug*  I dunno.  It would catch my attention if I were making controlled, accurate shots but I don't think you'll notice it much if you're shooting at normal speed.  The only thing I can guess is it is related to the magazine disconnect, but I don't really know.

After having some range time, I was so very wrong about my initial thoughts on the trigger which you see struck out above.  The click is noticeable and distracting.  Especially since it comes just before the trigger actually breaks.  I'm not a fan at all.

Without the grip extension on the magazine, this is one of those guns where you will see "pinky swing".  In other words, the pinky doesn't rest on the grip.  I don't really have a problem with this, as I've found a technique that reduces my reliance on the pinky for grip.  However, this Ruger shipped with a magazine that has the pinky extension as well as the normal floor plate so, problem solved.

So, now on to the Range pictures.

Open Wiiiiide!

Yeah, so I think I've said most of what I need to say about the feel of the gun. All of that said, it does shoot just fine.  Not too much recoil.  Mrs. 45er wasn't too much of a fan, but she was able to control it just fine and keep it on target.

Bitty sights
It's kind of hard to get that picture and I was short on time.  Yeah, the sights are kind of small for ones that are dove-tailed into the slide.  The bases of the sights are actually pretty sizeable, but not the sights themselves.   They shoot just fine, though.

The flyer was all me.  This is the head square on the target and the grouping is a 5 shot group freehand at about 10 yards.  The 6th hole is me letting the trigger get to me.  I jumped a bit on the click before the shot broke. 

Fits ok in the hand
The size is ok and the grip with the extension works just fine.  Recoil is quite manageable in the 9mm for the size of the gun.  It is very concealable.

Gun Stack!
This is the Ruger LC9 with a Kel Tec P3AT on top for size comparison.  I'm in no way comparing the two against each other since it is apples and oranges, .380 vs 9mm and bigger calibers just have to be built different.

In useless form
The breakdown is simple.  There is a switch forward of the slide release that is flipped down and the retaining pin can be dropped out allowing the slide to come off of the frame.  From this point, disassembly is pretty typical.

So, would I get this one?  Probably not.  It is a fine gun and seems to work just fine.  There are too many compromises made by Ruger that I don't like.  To me, it equates to getting away from simplicity which means just more gadgets to cause a failure or problem.  The magazine disconnect seems simple enough to remove, but why when there are so many other options in a growing market?

Thanks to Uncle for the link and the Uncleanche.


  1. How's it for sharp edges and such? I see nothing obvious in the pics.

    Great review.

  2. Great detailed review! Thanks for the info.

  3. Nice report, and since the The Wife (That Gal?) is looking for a CCW piece, it gives us a lot to think about.

    BTW, did I leave my target template at your place?

  4. TJ - The lines are very reminiscent of the old Walther PPK (at least to me). Ruger took serious steps to round all of the edges off of the gun and then some. It appears they kept on rounding edges in order to reduce weight. The only little edges I feel are the rear sights and the outside of the extractor. Both of these are pretty minor and I didn't have any problems with snagging. I did check for draw on pocket carry even though it is a bit big for true pocket carry and had no problems with snagging.

  5. Keads - anytime, hope it helps someone. It's just my grain of salt.

    That Guy - I can get it any time if she wants to try it out. Funny you mention the template, I was digging around looking for my staple gun for the range trip this weekend and saw the bag with your template and other necessary accoutrements in my garage.

  6. You've just saved me money, thanks. I was thinking about one for Sweet Wife...not now.

  7. Stephen - you may see if you can find one to try. I'd hate to wave you off of an option. The lady that owns this one loves it which is what really matters. She's not as concerned as ied as I am about things like an unnecessary mag disconnect. I just don't know about getting past that trigger. That's a hurdle.

  8. I just bought one for carrying when I don't feel like carrying a gun (my usual carry is a Springer V10 compact .45). Other than the mag-disconnect, I absolutely love the LC9.

    It's got over 500 rounds of every kind of 9mm I could put through it, without a single stoppage of any kind, FTF or FTE. The only time it didn't go "bang" was a hard primer (or maybe defective round) of Czech ball ammo. Good primer strike, but no bang. I put 115 FMJ, 115 JHP, 124 FMJ, 147 JHP. It's all cycled and fed just fine.

    The grips and frame are AGGRESSIVELY checkered, to the point where shooting more than 200 rounds at a time starts to chafe/scrape the palm where the backstrap is. I actaully like this, since it makes it easy to hold onto during a fast string of fire. Otherwise the 9mm is much easier to shoot than the LCP, which I literally had a hard time holding on to.

    Yup, the trigger sucks big rocks off the ground, but it's much more akin to the DA pull of a revolver than an auto-pistol. The safety goes off very easily on the draw-stroke, but I do have to use my off-hand to put it back on.

    Its main advantage is that it's so light and thin that it's easy to conceal, and then easy to carry all day long.

    One drawback is that it only comes with one magazine, and finding spares has been like finding hen's teeth.

  9. Anon - it sounds like yours mirrored most of what I found in my short time with the Ruger. I never want to push someone away from a gun that is practically flawlesss in performance. I can see how this would be a great little carry gun. Funny you mention the fail to fire on the primer strike. I had a couple with the Sellier & Bellot ammo I was using but did not mention it because the gun did strike the primer so I did not want to attribute the failure to the Ruger. I did not have problems with other ammo I tested.

  10. 45er:

    I just got my FedEx from Midway...three (3) spare mags for the LC9. With the one I found at a Cabelas, and the one that came with it, I now have a bare sufficiency to use it as a real-live carry gun. "Two is one, and one is none" applies to mags as well as pistols, and I like to rotate through them regularly.

    Yup, it was the S&B ball that went "click" instead of "bang". But only one round out of 50, and I fed it through my Model 92 afterwards, and it STILL didn't go "bang". I'm thinking a bad/hard primer

    While it's definitely not my first choice in a carry-gun, I just took it for a one-hour urban hike of 4 miles (trying to get my fat butt into shape for deer season). It's so light and thin you can literally forget that it' there, until you click over from "yellow" to "orange" on the situational awareness. Then it's a reassuring presence.


  11. Blackwing, glad to hear you got some mags. I've had that stunning realization happen with a handgun before (The mags are HOW MUCH?). My thoughts on this one are that I wouldn't be upset if I owned it. It's reliable and light. It's just got more whiz-bangs than I like. I think these little bitty things are spoiling conceal carriers. I got a pocket .380 recently and it sure is incredibly easy to carry. I need to strap on the big Glock again and get back with the program. :)