If you are attached to the firearms industry in any way whatsoever, even if you are merely a guy with an opinion and the determination to convey it to anyone that will listen, you will eventually have a lot of guns. Collecting guns for pleasure, sport, defense, hunting, and just for its own sake is almost a requirement if you want to call yourself a gun writer or sustain a gun channel on YouTube. Another by-product of the culture and vocation is that you will, over time, carry a great variety of different handguns for self-defense. If the clear purpose of a handgun is that it be carried concealed for defensive purposes, then I like to do just that with it for some amount of time and under a variety of circumstances before I offer an opinion to the reader or viewer about it. The Ruger LC9s Pro is a pistol that I purchased a few years ago for the purpose of testing it out as a carry alternative and giving my review. I’ll be darned if the little bugger hasn’t found its way into my heart, my holster, and my pocket! Let me tell you why.
Details of the LC9s
First and foremost, because it is small. Beyond small – it’s tiny. Secondly, because it holds seven rounds in the magazine. That’s eight rounds in a loaded carry gun, with another seven in the pocket or pouch (and maybe seven more elsewhere, depending on your preferred level of preparedness). Third, because it has an incredible trigger – but more on that in a bit. Fourth, it has good ergonomics for a gun its size and decent sights. Lastly, because it has demonstrated itself to be reliable, durable, and accurate. Now, let’s take a look at each of these criteria in more detail.
Let’s start with its size. LC9s Pro has an overall length of just six inches. And while I will often tell you that length is the least important dimension of a concealed carry gun, it does become important for deep concealment – or pocket carry. The latter of those is a method I frequently employ when weather and/or clothing options dictate. I have more than one DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster that I use as my “go/no-go” gauge for pocket carry. The LC9s Pro fits into it – and my pocket, perfectly. Next, it has a height of just 4 ½ inches, which is the important dimension for inside-the-waistband (IWB) carry. Technically, it is also important for OWB carry, but if you’re carrying outside the waistband you’re likely wearing ample concealment garments to negate printing. Carrying IWB is the most common method used for concealed carry, but the one that brings with it the most challenges. A couple of critical measurements of the carry gun for IWB carry are height and thickness. Thickness is important because the gun and its holster have to fit inside your pants and still allow you to exhale occasionally. This tiny Ruger adds only 0.90” of extra companionship to your love handles. But remember, the holster adds to that. So, while the most comfortably constructed holsters imaginable (and I always consider Stealth Gear to top that list) might be your first choice, you could find your pants no longer fitting unless you’ve oversized them. However, with a razor-thin Kydex holster, you are adding very little thickness to the package and can often get away with closer to regular sized fit pants. In my favorite Multi Holster rig, I’m adding only 1.1” to the waist. The point is that the key to comfortable IWB carry starts with the thinnest gun possible, and the LC9 is about as thin as they come.
The flush mount magazine helps to better conceal the pistol, but the “pinky extension” baseplate provides a fuller feeling grip. Capacity is the same either way.
Back to the height – just 4 ½” with a flush magazine. This means minimal chance of printing when carried IWB or in the pocket. And amazingly, Ruger has managed to squeeze seven rounds into the magazine. With one in the chamber, which is the proper way to carry, you have a class-leading eight rounds of 9mm in the gun. That’s the same capacity as the best-selling M&P Shield and one more than a Glock 43. Because the magazines are so thin and small, there is no excuse not to carry that reload – or two. So, you get capacity without the sacrifice of size. And if you don’t think that extra round per magazine makes a difference, then you’re not reading enough after-action reports about shootings. You want all you can get.
The long trigger pull helps compensate for the pistol’s light weight trigger. The author strongly recommends extra training with it before carry.
I mentioned the trigger and said it was a good one. For this pistol that bears some further explanation and some words of caution. The trigger on the LC9s Pro is light and crisp with a fairly long stroke. The latter is what redeems the pistol from being one I would scream at you to stay away from. When I say the trigger is light, I mean really light. Every time I take it out at the range for some live fire practice, I surprise myself with the light trigger break. On the flip side of this is the fact that many people that don’t have a great deal of hand strength can run this gun and make good hits, where much heavier and grittier triggers give them extreme difficulty and often send their shots wild. Worse, bad triggers often make it painful or intimidating to shoot the gun – so they don’t practice with it, and possibly even avoid carrying it. The redeeming feature, as I said, is the long trigger pull. The trigger on my copy of the LC9s Pro measured an average of 4 lbs. 13.6 oz. from five pulls with the Lyman digital gauge. That is still heavier than many 1911 and 1911 variant handguns that are routinely carried. The key difference here is that the “Pro” designation of the LC9 means that there is no external manual safety – which takes me back to my words of caution that if you plan to rely on this pistol for defense, you need to train with it extensively. Having said that, I would say that the LC9s Pro has likely the best trigger of any pistol in its class. For most shooters, this will translate to better accuracy, which can mean it is safer to carry.
Ruger LC9s Pro
- Chambering: 9mm
- Barrel: 3.12
- OA Length: 6″
- Width: 0.90″
- Weight: 17.2 oz
- Grips: Glass Filled Nylon
- Sights: 3-dot
- Action: Striker Fired
- Finish: Blued
- Capacity: 7+1
- MSRP: $479.00
SHOOTING THE LC9s Pro
A pistol as small and light as this one, chambered in 9mm and loaded with top brand self-defense rounds is likely to be snappy. And this little Ruger is – but in a more manageable way than I expected. You can’t change the laws of physics, but you can use those same laws to your advantage if you are a clever firearms engineer, and it seems they have some of those at Ruger.
The heavy recoil spring and a low bore help mitigate recoil and make the gun easier to shoot. The grip angle (about 72 degrees) and ergonomics of the pistol give the shooter a slightly canted wrist, which adds strength to the body’s resistance to being pushed around by the small gun’s kick. This by no means indicates that there isn’t recoil, but with proper grip and stance, it is a non-issue when shooting the gun. I also find that the shooter’s palm is not ferociously beaten by the backstrap, as can be the painful case with many micros. I carry SIG Sauer Elite Performance V-Crown 124 grain hollow point ammunition in my 9mm carry guns, and other than the expense of it, I could practice with a couple hundred rounds of it and not feel abused. Luckily, SIG makes FMJ ammo to the same specs and velocity, which is affordable for doing just that and training with what you carry from almost every perspective. I actually find the V-Crown ammo to be slightly more accurate than the ball.
Best group at 20 yards was printed with Speer Gold Dot LE.
Speaking of accuracy, it is good – not excellent – but most importantly it is consistent. At 20 yards out, the best group I shot on the day I did long-shot tests was over 3 inches (5 rounds of Speer Gold Dot LE, 115-grain GDHP), with the best three of those shots at just over an inch. Routinely over the past couple of years, shooting offhand at distances of 7 yards or so, I can shoot tight groups all day. That’s all I ask of a tiny carry pistol. I think the thin front sight blade combined with the wider rear sight notch contributes to this. At distances, there is too much air space on either side of the front post, and being off by just a little will translate to an inch or more downrange. I would prefer larger combat sights with much less air space.
Just my Opinion – CARRYING THE LC9s Pro
The LC9s Pro makes a great balance between easy concealment and adequate capacity. A good quality Kydex holster adds almost no thickness.
Because I frequently let the circumstances determine not only what gun I will carry, but how I will carry it – the LC9s Pro fits many needs. That statement is bound to light up the switchboards with calls from all those who chant the mantra, “same gun, same location, same gear, every time”.
Fire away guys – you obviously live in a one climate area and dress every day in tacticool garb. Not mad… jealous maybe. But those of us that live in a temperate zone and have jobs, social functions, and sometimes like to be comfortable in shorts and tee shirts require a bit more – or less – from our EDC. Inside the waistband in a thin Kydex holster, or in the pocket in a good pocket holster, and even tucked in deep cover using a compression tee shirt with ‘holster pockets’, the LC9s Pro can often go where other guns cannot. And it does so without sacrificing capacity. Eight rounds in the gun and seven more in a second magazine makes for an adequate level of preparedness for most days. The magazines are so razor thin that just dropping one into a pocket (left pocket with no other items, or sometimes cargo pocket) it virtually disappears and is easily retrieved. Because this pistol is slim, short, and light, it makes it one that you can carry when you might reconsider with that larger gun. We can all agree that the one you’ll carry beats the one you won’t every time.
This little Ruger is not just one that could, it’s one that can, and does.
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