Tuesday, February 23, 2010

REVIEW: Ruger LCR

The Purchase: I was at a local gun store to buy 9mm and while looking at pistols, my wife announced that she wanted to get her carry permit and thus wanted to buy a handgun. I was floored because for the past few years, I've been trying to get her to do it. The next step was to find a gun she liked and was right for it's intended purpose - personal defense.

We were in luck, the store just received 88 firearms earlier that morning so there was a lot in stock. The thing I didn't want to do was be overly suggestive to any one gun. I wanted my wife to look at a variety of items then narrow it down to two or three then I would make suggestions to help her pin it down to 'the one'.

The sales manager, Bob, was very helpful. He held nothing back. He sat gun after fun on the counter. She got to handle things like a baby Glock (grip too thick), Walther PPS (ugly), Kahr PM9 (reviewed here) and CW9 (too hard to pull the slide), Ruger LCP .380 (too small), Smith & Wesson .38 Feather Weight (trigger too hard to pull), Taurus PT709 Slim (slide too hard to pull) and on and on we searched. She mentioned to Bob that she didn't like having to pull a slide back and was a little concerned about jams that semi-autos can have. I bit my tongue and kept quiet as Bob's eyes lit up. "Hey, I have something that just came in that you might like, I'll be right back."

Bob reappeared with a white box with RUGER written in red letters on it. He sat the box down and opened it. My heart skipped a beat when he pulled out an LCR (the polymer framed Light Compact Revolver). I had read about them but had never handled one. It was all I could do to not to grab it out of my wife's hands. Bob said, "Go head and pull the trigger."

She did and her eyes lit up. "It's light like the Smith but easy to pull the trigger."

I couldn't stay quiet. I piped up, "They built a new trigger mechanism from scratch. It's supposed to be really light." I held out my hand, "Can I try it?" She handed over the polymer gun. Oh, it felt so nice in the hand. It was so light and the Hogue grip was very comfortable (this won't matter in the long run as you'll soon see).

We all three weighed the pros and cons of semi-autos vs. revolvers. Semi-autos: more capacity/lighter triggers - but can jam. Revolvers: fewer rounds - but work every time you pull the trigger/don't need to be as meticulously clean to work. The choice seemed simple and even better, it was my wife's decision alone. She went for the LCR. Deep inside I was thrilled.

The Gun: The revolver is revolutionary. From the inside out, it's been designed from scratch. But just like when the Glock came out in the 80s (like 'it's a plastic gun that can go through airport security), there is some misinformation about the LCR. It's not an all polymer revolver. The back/bottom part of the frame is polymer (grip, trigger guard and back part of the frame) while the top frame around the cylinder and outer barrel are aluminum. The cylinder, trigger and inner barrel are steel. For some reason, I thought the whole frame was polymer with the key stress parts being steel (in 2010 Taurus is releasing an all polymer framed .38 Special).

There are two things that set it apart from other small framed, snub-nosed revolvers - the trigger and the distribution of weight. Immediately you notice that steel snubs are front heavy while some of the UL models are actually too light and can really punish the palm of your hand. The LCR feels perfectly balanced and weighted. Second, the trigger pull is like nothing you've ever felt in a small frame revolver. After 500+ rounds, my Taurus Model 85 has a really smooth trigger, but the LCR is smoother and lighter right out of the box (and after 150 rounds and about 150 dry fire cycles - with snap caps - it's like butter).




Shooting it: Once loaded with target rounds, the guns weight shifts back a bit but it's still light. As I pulled the trigger for the first time, I was expecting that Smith & Wesson Feather Weight palm slap. But interestingly, recoil felt lighter than my Taurus Model 85 UltraLite. One reason is that I use a hard plastic Crimson Trace grip. The hard plastic won't catch on clothing but it won't absorb recoil either. Make no mistake, the gun kicks but it's very manageable. The Hogue grip really helps and the finger slots make it easy to keep ahold of the gun as it fires.

The first time my wife pulled the trigger she flinched like crazy anticipating the recoil. After the first shot, she was amazed that it didn't hurt her hand and started gaining confidence with each shot. By the end of the day and 100 rounds, her hand was a little sore but geez, she shot 100 rounds!

The sights are VERY useable for a snub. The black sights provide lots of contrast and there's just enough light between the sides of the back and front sights to allow for pretty good aiming. My Model 85's sights are useless in anything but bright daylight. It's one reason I put a CT laser on it. I wrote earlier that the nice Hogue grips were not going to be an issue because we will be putting Crimsom Trace Laser Grips on the LCR too.

When push comes to shove, nothing beats the simplicity of laser sights. They allow you to keep your eye on the perp while aiming and shooting, they are great in low-light situations when a lot of crimes take place (black sights are useless at night unless they are illuminated by Tritium) and they increase the perceived threat level to the bad guy (for better or worse). The LCR will have them installed soon.

After some warm-up shots, we really tried to free hand some shots at a target 10 feet away. The results were acceptable for the distance, cadence of fire and newness to the firearm. See the accompanying picture (target rounds were used in the photo - 9 shots in the 8" ring, we never saw where the 10th hit).

We then switched to some +P Hornady Critical Defense rounds. I have to say, I really couldn't tell the difference in recoil. Next time, I'm going to have someone blind load the cylinder with both +P and target loads to see if I can tell which is which. Some say the polymer helps absorb the recoil, I don't know if its true, but the recoil is very tolerable for such a light weight gun.

I've shot many "exciting new guns" that were let downs in action. The Ruger LCR is not one of those. I was excited to shoot one and I hoped it lived up to the hype. It did. I was impressed with every aspect of the firearm. This is rare as guns are really an exercise in compromises.

If you need or want a conceal carry revolver, this is your gun. Skip the S&W Feather Weight, the trigger is way too heavy (especially for my wife and probably your wife/girlfriend too) and the thing kicks way too hard for the same wives. Ruger has built a perfect defense gun that will very likely change the future of revolvers. Just look at Taurus following suit (see photo to the left).



Start by finding one (good luck), then feel how nice it feels in your hand, then pull the trigger and feel the silky smooth action, then feel the money leaving your bank account as you walk out of the store with your new Ruger LCR...

UPDATE: We took the Ruger LCR back out for another workout. My wife shot 90 rounds through it again (I only got 10 this time). Her consistent accuracy was impressive. The trigger on the LCR continues to get smoother with every pull. Personally, I love shooting this revolver! The more rounds I put through it, the more you realize how nice it is. I think I'm going to try to sell my Taurus Model 85 and get one for myself.

16 comments:

  1. I agree with this review. I shot the same Ruger LCR this weekend and even though I am not a revolver guy, I really like this revolver. This or the new polymer Taurus coming out will be my next gun! Doug

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  2. I sold my S&W 638 and bought an LCR, best snub I have ever owned. +P's have some snap, but manageable. I like the mix of polymer, aluminum, and stainless. I noticed that the aluminum frame is thicker than my old 638. I also noticed no side-plate, this makes for a stronger gun. Ruger gave American Rifleman a LCR that had over 10,000 rounds of +P through it to evaluate--one tough gun. I also took a quick look at Tarsus’s offering, like S&W “new” Bodyguard they both seem more of a reaction than innovation.

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  3. Now all you need is some EYE PROTECTION for your range sessions.

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  4. Too funny, I agree with the lack of eye protection..

    As a female, the first time I picked up this gun was magic! I am currently a law enforcement officer and was looking for a good back-up to my duty weapon and also something I could easily conceal for day-to-day use. This light weight revolver fit all my needs and more. I didn't want something to put in my purse or on my waist. I wanted something that was truly concealable, something I could put around my calf/ankle without it being too noticeable. This LCR fit the bill. Recoil is a non-issue and the trigger pull is a snap. I bought the one with the crimson laser sights.

    Thanks Ruger for this wonderful product.

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  5. A self defense revolver should have a heavy trigger.

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  6. why are you deleting legitimate, respectful, on-topic comments? boo!

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  7. I recall deleting a spam post but nothing relevant. I don't recall what you are referring to. Was is your post?

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  8. I know you also own a Kahr PM9 - I bought one recently, but I am seriously considering selling it and buying myself an LCR.
    Since you own both, what do you recommend?

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  9. That is a great question. The LCR is my wife's and she not only loves it, she's lethal shooting it. Personally, for concealed carry purposes, I like the Kahr PM9. It's thinner, easier to hide and can be reloaded quicker. For simplicity and unfailing function, it's hard to beat a revolver...and the LCR is one of the best revolvers I've ever shot.

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  10. Wanted a very concealable, reliable firearm for carry. Picked up the LCR and really liked the feel and fit. Shoots smoothly and is plenty accurate for its design ...close range defense. Super easy to conceal, easy to draw (even with the factory grips, reasonable recoil for a snub, and with the smooth trigger pull, double taps on target are easy with some practice. Looking forward to seeing how the +P rounds feel.

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  11. Hello,

    Thanks for the review.
    I too am looking for a gun for my wife. I am away alot and thought a home defense gun would be a good idea. I couldnt justify buying the sr9c as my first gun b/c she had trouble releasing the slide. So the guy at the shop rec. the lcr. My only question is that ruger has 4 available. Which one did you shoot? do you know the difference in the other three? one of them is out of my price range but the first 3 arent.

    thanks,

    K.Y.

    http://www.ruger.com/products/lcr/models.html

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  12. Great questions. My wife too has trouble chambering some semi-autos. She loves her LCR. Here are the differences.
    - The LCR-XS has a Tritium (glowing for low light, front sight) for aiming in low light.
    - The KLCR-357 is chambered for .357. If a person has trouble chambering a semi-auto, then shooting a .357 won't work. Too much recoil. But you can shoot .38 special from it so you have a gun that shoots both, but it's heavier, which is something to consider if it's a CCW.
    - The LCR is a straight, .38 special. It will handle +P loads. (My wife owns this model)
    - The LCR-LG is the LCR with Crimson Trace Laser Grips. I highly recommend Laser Grips but they do add significant cost to the product.

    I hope this helps.

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  13. I sold my Walther PPK and bought the Ruger LCR. I absolutely love it! As a female massage therapist I need soemthing I can conceal easily that is not too heavy to carry on my ankle. The trigger pull is long, but not too hard. Mine came with night sights, which I love. Right out of the box, I was insanely accurate with this gun. The +P rounds kick a little bit more, but still very manageable. I highly recommend this gun!!

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  14. Absolutely a great gun!
    I researched this gun to death over the winter. Finally picked one up in April and have loved every minute of owning it. The trigger is all they say and more. For CC the 13.5oz weight is ideal. As for accuracy I find a slow deliberate pull is the way to go. With practice I guess speed can improve. Recoil is existent though very manageable when held high. Pick one up you will not regret it!

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  15. It may interest you to know that the USA is one of the few countries in the world that allows concealed carry of weapons. You should enjoy and exercise that right. It's in the 1689 English Bill of Rights, but is not recognized in the New Zealand Bill of Rights . To my mind the Ruger LCR is an excellent choice for this purpose. Here there are very difficult and stringent rules to follow to obtain a pistol license ( I have a rifle and shotgun license) and we cannot buy a pistol or revolver with a barrel lenght of less than 4", and we cannot carry them under any circumstances. I'm not sure our relative safety is any compensation.

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  16. I've got the LCR 357mag model.......but keep it defensively loaded with Hornady 38sp 90 grain HP Lites ( pink tipped ). Quick on-target shots with minimum recoil on account of the extra s.s. built into this model. At 17 ounces I don't notice it in my front pocket. It's the perfect concealed POCKET CARRY defensive weapon with maximum REVOLVER EASE & RELIABILITY for the MOST high stress episode you may ever face.

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