It is difficult to compare the Ruger LCR (Light Compact Revolver) in any caliber with any other snub-nose revolver on the market because there isn’t any other revolver made like the LCR. The 9mm model is compact, lightweight and, like all of the other LCR models in .22 LR, .22 Magnum, .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum, has literally rewritten the book on how revolvers are built.

While the LCR is still fundamentally the same concept as any other wheelgun, the Ruger takes a novel approach in its multi-platform construction and assembly. The LCR’s design began with a clean sheet of paper, one on which Ruger’s design and engineering team drafted a totally new way to build a revolver. The first LCR model (.38 Special +P) became one of the most popular concealed-carry models on the market in its first year of manufacture. The later .357 Magnum version gave up little to its .38 Special +P counterpart in terms of weight or recoil management, and the recent .22 models have added even more versatility to the line. The 9mm model, however, opens a door no LCR has walked through before—using the same ammunition as a semi-auto pistol.

9mm Upgrade

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The LCR is comprised of three major build components: a stainless steel cylinder frame sub-assembly with the barrel shroud being an integral part of the frame, a polymer fire control housing that contains the trigger, hammer, sear and mainspring, and a cylinder/crane sub-assembly. The stainless steel cylinder frame sub-assembly is actually the serial-numbered portion of the gun and is defined as a “firearm” by law; everything that surrounds it is removable.

The large Hogue Tamer rubber Monogrips, which are secured to the fire control housing grip peg by a single screw through the base, fill the hand without becoming a burden for concealed carry, even in a pocket holster. The contoured Hogue grips and LCR frame design give the strong hand plenty of gripping area, a thumb rest and enough triggerguard to allow a solid two-handed hold. The fully shrouded hammer also streamlines the Ruger for snag-free carry and draw.

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The new five-shot 9mm LCR model tips the scales at 17.2 ounces. With the shrouded, 1.875-inch barrel, the gun has an overall length of 6.5 inches, a height of 4.5 inches and a width of 1.28 inches. The exterior dimensions are identical to the .38 Special +P version, but the 9mm is 3.7 ounces heavier, about the same as the .357 Magnum LCR. The additional weight goes into the barrel, the re-contoured five-round 9mm cylinder, the front latch inner spring, the stainless steel (rather than aluminum) cylinder/frame assembly, the cylinder/crane assembly, the center locking pin and cylinder sub-assembly, all of which have been strengthened or modified to counter the greater pressures and recoil of 9mm cartridges.

Due to the LCR’s unique shape and deep, curved triggerguard, most holsters that would accommodate an S&W J-Frame-sized gun won’t work, however there are now a number of holsters made specifically for LCR models. For pocket carry, I tried the new Tuff Products 5075-TTA-10 designed for the general dimensions of J-Frame revolvers, the LCR and S&W 340PD. This is a slightly larger design than some J-Frame pocket holsters with a less defined contour, a smooth nylon interior for easy draw and a fabric-grabbing, non-slip laminate exterior that keeps the holster secured and upright in the pocket.

The Firing Line

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The switch from .38 Special +P to a 9mm is not a big one. Actually, it is a shorter cartridge (1.169 inches in length versus 1.55 inches for a .38 Special) but with higher velocity. The greater advantage is that 9mm is the most common pistol cartridge in use the world over both by civilians and the military, including NATO troops and U.S. forces.

For a small, lightweight revolver, the LCR is well balanced with a long but smooth double-action-only (DAO) trigger pull that averaged 9.3 pounds. The LCR’s deeply curved trigger travels 0.875 inches to rotate the cylinder (counterclockwise) and cycle the shrouded internal hammer. The trigger mechanism is designed to generate less friction than traditional DAO revolvers, thereby mitigating some of the resistance (stacking) generally experienced in firing compact double actions, and with practice, the trigger pull becomes very predicable. The gun is equipped with a standard notched rear sight channel and a new ramped front sight with a white insert for improved target acquisition. This new design is definitely preferable to the black front ramped sight on other LCR models and made target acquisition quicker.

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At 7 yards, the best five-shot group measured 1.75 inches.

Test ammo ranged from a traditional weight 9mm 115-grain Speer Gold Dot GDHP to slightly heavier 124-grain Sig Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown JHP and Hornady’s heavyweight 135-grain Critical Duty FlexLock rounds. All three are excellent choices in a 9mm semi-auto and putting them through a sub-2-inch snub-nose revolver is enlightening.

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For speed loading and ease of case extraction, the LCR 9mm comes with three full moon clips. The Ruger’s cylinder is also very easy to open with a single inward press of the crane latch, rather than having to slide it forward or back as on most revolvers. On the test range, Speer Gold Dot clocked 1,096 fps through the ProChrono chronograph’s traps, with Sig Sauer traveling downrange at 1,027 fps and Hornady Critical Duty slamming rounds into the target at 1,010 fps.

While delivering significant recoil, all three rounds offered consistent accuracy at a test distance of 7 yards. All tests were done using a Weaver stance, a two-handed hold and firing at one-second intervals. The best five-round groups on a B-27 silhouette placed in front of a Target Shooting Solutions BCS-36 bullet trap measured 1.75 inches with Sig Sauer, 2.5 inches with Speer (two overlapping and four of five at 2 inches) while the Hornady ammo placed five rounds at an evenly spaced 2.25 inches.

Semi-Auto Sidekick

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Recoil with 9mm defensive rounds, compared to .38 Special +P, is slightly more demanding of the shooter. Given the LCR 9mm’s additional weight and the fact that this particular frame configuration was also designed to withstand .357 Magnum rounds, the hottest 9mm can still make this a more manageable handgun than many lighter-weight .38 Special and .357 Mag snub-nose revolvers. It’s not much to give up a few added ounces of carry weight on this LCR version when you are already dealing with a lightweight compact revolver, and the ability to use the same ammo as a larger semi-auto duty or concealed-carry gun makes this latest LCR a very prudent option.

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