They say nothing lasts forever, but when it comes to firearms there is at least one company that has set out to disprove this axiom once and for all: Sturm, Ruger & Company. Bill Ruger, who founded the company in 1949 with Alexander McCormick Sturm, set out from the start to build innovative and tough-as-nails firearms that performed time after time.
Today, more than 60 years later, there can be little doubt that Ruger succeeded beyond measure. Indeed, when the company decided to jump into the pocket pistol market, it did so with the same full-throated gusto and all-out ingenuity—hallmarks from its previous offerings.
For pocket revolver fans Ruger introduced in 2009 the LCR, or Lightweight Compact Revolver, which incorporated a first-of-its-kind polymer frame. This brought all of the benefits of a polymer-framed pistol to the revolver, including significantly reduced weight and a higher weight-to-strength ratio than steel, in addition to being impervious to corrosion and moisture.
The LCR was designed from the ground up to serve as the ideal pocket revolver. Its profile is virtually snag-proof with a completely hidden hammer and double-action-only (DAO) operation. The sights also are designed to be snag-proof for a faster and easier draw from concealment. The rear sight is a simple U-notch integral to the top of the frame; the front sight is a replaceable pinned ramp.
When carrying a gun in a pocket, weight and size are the two crucial factors. The LCR in .38 Special is only 13.5 ounces. The .357 Magnum model only weighs 17.1 ounces. With a five-shot cylinder, it is still only 1.28 inches wide and sports a 1.88-inch barrel. The stainless steel cylinder has been heavily fluted for further weight reduction while maintaining optimal strength. They are also finished in Ruger’s own Target Grey finish, which provides outstanding corrosion resistance. The Hogue Tamer grip included with the standard LCR also does an excellent job of taming perceived recoil, especially given the revolver’s light weight and the heavier-kicking .357 Magnum loading.
Of course, when it comes to the ultimate in pocket pistol concealability, you just can’t beat a semi-auto. Here Ruger offers the outstanding LCP (Lightweight Carry Pistol), a DAO, nylon-framed semi-auto chambered in .380 ACP with a 6+1 capacity. Ruger also added one very welcome and rarely seen on pocket pistols feature: a manual slide hold-open. While it will not lock the slide open on the last shot, it does add a high degree of safety, especially on the range.
The LCP really shines in terms of its snag-free profile and miniscule dimensions. Weighing less than 10 ounces empty and with a total length of just over 5 inches, the LCP manages to almost disappear inside a front pocket. When combined with a good holster, the world will think it’s a wallet. The DAO design is also built to be very safe. The action of the slide partially charges the hammer, which is shrouded but visible from the rear to confirm a ready position. There is no double-strike capability, however.
In keeping with the pistol’s simple controls, there is no external or manual safety. There is a small window on the right side of the slide, at the back of the chamber, that can serve as a loaded-chamber indicator. The hammer’s half-cock does also provide some safety to prevent it from striking the firing pin on a live round. When test-firing this pistol, it had a very smooth trigger with no stacking or creep and a full inch of travel. On the range, the LCP performed without any malfunction of any sort with a mix of defensive ammo. In terms of accuracy, the LCP also performed admirably from a benchrest at a distance of 7 yards. My best five-shot group of the day was barely more than half an inch.
Some folks prefer 9mm ammunition for its power over the .380, so Ruger followed up with the LC9. The LC9 is a larger sibling of the LCP with a 7+1 capacity. The LC9 delivers more power and greater capacity in a package that is only ever so slightly larger and still easily concealable as a pocket pistol. The checkered and serrated glass-filled nylon black grip frame also helps keep the gun’s weight at just over 17 ounces empty, and the steel alloy barrel and slide both feature a very smooth black oxide finish.
In handling the LC9, there is clearly a lot of attention to detail in its design. Other features include a blued, through-hardened alloy steel slide and an included magazine finger-grip extension. All of the edges have been smoothed out, giving the gun almost a slightly melted look. Towards the muzzle, the slide is also tapered to aid with holstering. The high-visibility, three-dot sights feature a wider rear aperture to help the user acquire a sight picture faster, sight alignment and front sight focus. The sights also have a low, snag-free profile, and the rear sight is drift-adjustable for windage.
Safeties include a firing pin block, which prevents the gun from firing unless the trigger is squeezed, a magazine disconnect, which prevents firing unless a magazine is loaded, and a left-side thumb safety. A loaded-chamber indicator on top of the slide provides both visual and tactile awareness that a cartridge is in the chamber. Finally, the LC9 also includes Ruger’s internal lock, which disengages the trigger bar from the hammer and completely deactivates the gun with a turn of the supplied key.
I also had the opportunity to test-fire this pistol on several occasions and found the double-action trigger to be smooth and consistent at 7.5 pounds. The LC9 performed with no malfunctions of any sort firing both off-hand and from the bench. The ergonomics of the gun also help reduce recoil, and the grip frame, which is aggressively checkered, noticeably widens toward the back, filling the palm of the shooting hand. The pistol produced tight groups at 15 yards. Ruger firearms continue to grow in popularity, and with this level of innovation and high-quality construction, that is certainly no surprise. For more information, visit ruger.com or call 928-541-8892.