The concealed-carry movement of the last 20 years may be one of the most underrated political movements in American history. Growing from only 2.7 million permit holders in 1999 to 18.7 million in 2019, the concealed carry population has exploded as more and more Americans get serious about their personal protection.
Ruger’s new .22LR LCP II “Lite Rack” represents the pinnacle of that movement. Not because it’s the perfect concealed carry handgun (it isn’t), but because it proves the popularity of responsible concealed carry. The .22LR LCP II is a carbon copy of Ruger’s ever-popular .380 Auto LCP II, which allows LCP II owners to practice their draw and marksmanship without spending money on .380 Auto cartridges. When a major American manufacturer sees a market for a practice CCW, you know there’s a real interest in carrying concealed.
The new “Lite Rack” is also designed to expand the concealed carry population by appealing to folks who would otherwise never consider picking up a handgun. The light recoil spring makes the .22LR LCP II easy to load and manipulate, negating a common complaint among those with weak hand strength or without previous experience.
Gone are the days when concealed carry aficionados strapped on a 1911 and called it good. Today’s CHL holders want to hone their skills and bring new shooters into the fold, and the LCP II “Lite Rack” allows them to do just that.
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Overall Length: 5.20″
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Grip Frame: Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Feature: Lite Rack™ System
Slide Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Width: 0.81″
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Slide Finish: Blued
Barrel Finish: Satin Stainless
Suggested Retail: $349.00
Slide manipulation is one of the most difficult tasks for anyone new to handgun use. While semi-auto handguns utilize an easy-to-understand design, revolvers are often recommended to first-time owners because wheel guns don’t require users to manipulate a slide. This can be a problem because revolvers often cannot hold as many rounds and are sometimes more difficult to shoot quickly than their semi-auto counterparts.
Recognizing this potential roadblock, gun manufacturers have been working to lighten the recoil springs on their most popular defensive handguns. Smith & Wesson, for example, first introduced the Shield EZ .380 Auto back in 2018 and more recently released a 9mm version of the same firearm.
Ruger’s LCP II “Lite Rack” takes advantage of the same kind of innovation. All .22LR handguns are easy to rack, of course, but the LCP II is even easier to load. You can see when GunsAmerica editor True Pearce tested the “Lite Rack” at SHOT Show 2020, he was able to pull back the slide with only two fingers. I found my test model to be equally as painless to manipulate.
The benefits of this design reach beyond the gun itself. My wife often struggles with pulling back a semi-auto handgun’s slide. The issue could be resolved with practice, but the initial difficulty makes practice, well… less than appealing.
When I gave her the LCP II “Lite Rack,” she was able to pull back the slide easily. That ease of use not only made her more willing to practice with the “Lite Rack,” but also more willing to try handguns with stiffer recoil springs. Using the LCP II .22LR builds both muscle memory and confidence, which can then be applied to different handguns in chamberings more suited to self-defense.
Ruger markets the “Lite Rack” as a CCW option, but I don’t think their heart is in it. While they give the nod to concealed carry, their promotion of this handgun has focused primarily on attaining the confidence that comes through consistent training.
That’s because, unless you’re physically unable to manipulate a handgun chambered in a larger caliber, there isn’t any reason to carry a .22LR. I’ve always ascribed to the “a handgun you have is better than a handgun you don’t” line of thinking, but there are so many options for CCW’s these days, you should be able to find something in at least .380 Auto. If you want something super small, the Ruger LCP II in .380 Auto is the exact same size as the Ruger LCP II “Lite Rack” .22LR.
I wouldn’t want to get shot with a .22LR. Nobody would. And if someone is so frail that they can’t handle the recoil from anything hotter than a .22LR, a super-fast 40g load like the CCI Velocitor will definitely do some damage.
But considering the market, there’s almost certainly a better option for anyone looking to effectively defend themselves.
Fit and Function
That’s not to say the Ruger LCP II isn’t worth it. For under $300 on the street, you’re getting a reliable trainer that’s a pleasure to shoot and simple to use. Plus, the box comes with a pocket holster, an extra 10-round steel magazine, and a speed loader (which I found to be essential during extended range sessions).
The first thing I always notice (even after testing the firearm for months) is the size. It’s tiny, a step smaller than sub-compact semi-autos like the Smith & Wesson Shield and the Springfield XDS.
The size makes the gun feel a bit like a toy, but the build quality is up to Ruger’s standards. There are no rough machining marks, and the trigger breaks cleanly and resets audibly. The trigger is perhaps heavier than most shooters prefer (mine runs around seven pounds), but it’s on par with other polymer semi-autos of the last five years.
Ruger achieves that clean trigger using the same hammer-fired, “Secure Action” system they used in the original LCP II. Unlike most hammer-fired handguns, the LCP II features an internal hammer. This design prohibits users from manually operating the hammer (as you might on a 1911, for example). For new shooters, the design eliminates another potentially confusing component and keeps the hammer safely tucked away from getting caught on clothing.
The LCP II .22LR also includes a number of additional features that might appeal to new shooters, all of which are geared towards comfort, ease of operation, and safety.
Along with aggressive serrations, the slide features “cocking ears” machined into the rear to assist with loading. The nicely textured grip was designed with small swells where the palm interacts with the grip, and all 10-round magazines are extended and textured. The LCP II “Lite Rack” also includes an external manual safety, a trigger safety, a magazine disconnect (gun won’t fire without inserted mag), a hammer catch, and a neutrally balanced sear with significant engagement and strong spring tension.
The plethora of safety features make it a great choice not only for new shooters but for young shooters as well. Youngsters will appreciate the size and ease of use while their parents will appreciate the extensive, overlapping safety measures. Semi-auto handguns are often the last type of firearm kids are taught to use, but once a kid is ready, the LCP II .22LR would be a great choice.
At the Range
Shooting the LCP II is a pleasure. After testing and owning a number of subcompact handguns in larger calibers, the light recoil from the .22LR is a nice change of pace. The consistent trigger also aids in getting shots on target, and as you can see from the results below, it’ll hit what you’re aiming at if you do your part.
All groups were shot on a rest from 10 yards.
The LCP II “Lite Rack” is overall a great value, but the handgun performed sub-optimally in two ways.
First, I’m not a fan of the sights. The front and rear sights are cut into the slide, which means they cannot be altered or removed. This is great for durability. There’s no chance of the sights moving or falling off even after being dropped or bumped. But they’re also short (or “low profile” in the proper parlance) and all black. I know both attributes might appeal to some shooters, but I’m not one of those shooters. I had a tough time picking up the sights quickly against darker backgrounds, and even in good light, I found them difficult to focus on. You might not have the same trouble, but I think it’s worth checking out these sights in-person before purchasing.
Second, reliability was an issue. Now, keep in mind that semi-auto .22LR handguns are infamous for failures to feed and failures to fire. The latter problem isn’t always the fault of the handgun. Rimfire cartridges, especially in bulk packages, frequently fail to go bang. And it isn’t uncommon for micro-handguns of any caliber to face reliability issues with certain types of ammunition.
Still, I should mention that I experienced seven or eight failures to feed throughout the course of my 400 (or so) round test. The majority of these failures occurred when the round failed to travel up the feed ramp and load in the chamber. I also found that the gun had a tough time loading the poly-coated “Clean-22” CCI.
Neither of these issues are deal-breakers for me. The gun didn’t fail so frequently that I found myself becoming frustrated, and a thorough scrubbing of the feed ramp should make for more consistent feeding. And, as with any sighting system, I became more proficient picking up the sights as I put more rounds through the gun.
You might rightly argue that 9mm is cheap enough to nullify the primary benefit of a .22LR trainer. That’s true, but it was truer when you could purchase 9mm for $0.16/round. These days, .22LR can be three to four times cheaper than 9mm, and the millions of gun owners who have been laid off in the last few months will welcome the opportunity to save money.
You might also argue that many air gun companies offer exact replicas of popular handguns, and air guns can also be used to practice in basements and garages. Air guns are a great option, but you also lose the capacity to practice controlling recoil. I also haven’t found replicas of many CCW’s, which means you couldn’t practice your draw from your concealed carry holster.
The LCP II .22LR won’t be for everyone, but I say the more the merrier. Anything that gets current shooters out to the range more often or gets new shooters to the range for the first time is a great idea in my book.
Check one out on GunsAmerica where I’ve seen them listed consistently for under $300.
Learn more at Ruger.com