Tuesday, February 23, 2010
REVIEW: Ruger LCR
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'.
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.
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.