Ruger LCP II “Lite Rack” .22LR: Legit CCW or a Great Trainer? (Full Review)

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.

The LCP II “Lite Rack” is the kind of high-quality micro-gun we’ve come to enjoy in the concealed carry world.

Capacity: 10+1
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Overall Length: 5.20″
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Grip Frame: Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Grooves: 6
Feature: Lite Rack™ System
Slide Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Width: 0.81″
Sights: Integral
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Slide Finish: Blued
Barrel Finish: Satin Stainless
Height: 4″
Suggested Retail: $349.00

“Lite Rack”?

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.

The recoil spring is lightened, even for a .22LR.

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.

Concealed Carry?

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.

While I wouldn’t recommend carrying a .22LR for self-defense, the LCP II is small enough to disappear in the provided pocket holster.

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.

If the Smith & Wesson Shield is subcompact, the LCP II is sub-sub-compact.

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 trigger is surprisingly crisp, though a little heavy.

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 LCP II .22LR prioritizes safety and ease of use.

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.

Though I had some feeding issues with the polymer-coated Clean-22 CCI, that ammunition performed the best in the accuracy test. (Top: 10 yards. Bottom: 15 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.

The sights aren’t my favorite, and they tend to get lost against dark backgrounds.

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.

The jams I experienced all involved failures of the round to run up the feed ramp.

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.

Conclusion

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

Buy a Ruger LCP II on GunsAmerica!

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Pocketgunner May 11, 2020, 6:20 am

    The good: a trainer the same as the carry and a small pocket gun trainer as well. The Bad: The LCP ll trigger is ridiculous. A lot of free play then almost no wall. Hated to see Ruger go from the nice smooth DAO of the Gen 2 model to this insane trigger. Also the cost of this gun is also insanely high. This is a gun that sould be selling for less than their Single action Wrangler. Give me a break it is a LCP, which is one over rated Pocket gun. I have had so many of them and they fold like a weak lawn chair with any serious amount of ammo down range.
    My favorite trainer and Plinker is the Ruger LCR22. Now that, is a quality gun.
    Want a good little trainer and plinker? Get a Phoenix HPA22. I have two of them now for 10 yrs and thousands of rounds of standard velocity ammo. Run better than guns costing three times as much. Gun-Test gave them a A+ rating.
    I believe in training with the small barrel guns. But I am not paying the amount of money for this gun. For that amount of money it should NEVER jam.

  • Edward Burton May 8, 2020, 11:03 pm

    My tolerance for an unreliable firearm is virtually non-existent, no matter what the humble purpose of the particular model may be.
    Even for a dedicated plinker. You’d be surprised how quickly a new shooter can get turned off by having to hand you the gun to clear a jam every mag or so. And you feel foolish trying to explain to them why “It’s not TOTALLY that’s a piece of junk, it’s just that it’s form factor is just inherently unreliable, as is rimfire ammo”. I might as well wear a clown nose to the range.
    If the unreliability can’t be attributed to a reasonable break-in
    period, lack of lube, a feed ramp that could stand a polishing, the need for and availability of a slightly stronger hammer spring, or strictly a crappy batch of ammo, then I will become disgusted with the particular gun in short order.
    But I do find myself more interested in tiny handguns just for fun, like a hideaway or “tackle box” fun-gun.
    I know it’s comparing apples to oranges, but I’m far more interested in the new .22 Magnum 8 shot Taurus subcompact snub-nosed revolver for this type of recreation. The Taurus snub-nosed 38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers have earned a great reputation for reliability and functionality for years now.
    I’ve also been thinking about getting my hands on an NAA Pug .22LR/.22Mag with tritium front sight, just for sh1t$ & giggles, to get laughed at by range masters, and as a potential deep, DEEP concealment option.

  • Dit May 8, 2020, 1:12 pm

    I put 1000 rds thru it. First 500 had 50 FTF FTE. What a nightmare. I had to drop the mag, rack the slide and the extractor would not pick up the edge of the casing. I had to insert a cleaning rod and push them out myself. I thought Volquartsen could make a bundle making super sharp titanium extractors with strong springs for this gun. I returned my gun.

  • Reynaldo Martinez May 8, 2020, 9:09 am

    You suppose to clean and oil it. Duh!

  • Ej harbet May 4, 2020, 9:18 pm

    I bought one but havnt picked it up yet. I wanted one since i heard of it! I rented a dirty one at a range and i shot 100 mini mags and 50 cci standards. 1 malfunction a dud mini mag,was a good dent and it fired the second time. In my experience small 22 autos are jammers,ruger is going to sell boxcars of these.
    Before i fire mine its get its sight done with the most visable orange nail polish.
    Buying its fun and i like to hold out my fingers and ask the cashier if it looks good on me.lol. would i use mine for defense? Heck yes as the mood strikes me! I will shoot this enough to be confident of vital hits and for defense it gets interceptors from agulla. Never had a dud with them and ill make sure they feed.that being said my g42,19,34 arent being sold. But id recomend this ruger with the above caviats. Buy shoot to trust and if you feel right carry

  • Ben_Franklin_II May 4, 2020, 6:43 pm

    I already own an LCP 9, since it is compact….but other than size, I have found little to recommend it over any of my other handguns, at all. After my first range trip with this gun I had no more interest in shooting it. Meanwhile I have put a thousand rounds through my Glock 26 and 2,000 through my Beretta 92 (and another thousand through the Beretta .22 conversion slide) – my point being, I realized I just avoid shooting this gun without thinking about it anymore. Generally when I buy a new gun I like to shoot it as much as possible – but not the Ruger LCP… it is not a bad gun per se, but ultimately, I just don’t like it. The trigger is heavy and the pull is too long, in fact it is the worst trigger of any gun I’ve ever fired. And it just doesn’t feel good in the hand. $349 just for the .22 conversion kit? I’d sooner pay the extra and buy a Ruger Mark IV instead. (I already own a 22/45 or else I would). The Mark IV is accurate, good handling, and reliable and not an afterthought. But if you, like me, already bought this little gun I can’t fault you – but to me, buying the .22 conversion kit seems too close to turd-polishing. If you are in the market for a .22 autopistol, get a great one like the Mark IV! If you buy this kit, you’ll just have a mediocre one instead.

  • Punxsy May 4, 2020, 10:43 am

    Finally! The great photos I’ve been waiting for. Thanks!

  • Mike in a Truck May 4, 2020, 9:43 am

    Not all .22 ‘s are easy to rack. Try my Berreta Bobcat. It dosnt have a recoil spring/rod combination. It has flat springs on either side of its grips.Yes it’s a blowback extractorless pistol. I own several LCP 380’s gen2. I dont care for bladed triggers,especially in a pocket pistol.How Rugers lawyers let this slip by is beyond me.But otherwise I like Ruger products, especially its revolvers.

    • jrkmt1 May 5, 2020, 3:58 am

      I have a Beretta 3032 Tomcat in .32 ACP. I don’t even attempt to cycle the slide. I will cock the hammer, apply the safety, insert the loaded magazine and load the tip-up barrel.
      You are correct that not all .22 pistols are easy to cycle by hand. My 56 year old Ruger RST4 (pre-MkI) is a perfect example. Even though it has been well used, the recoil spring is still quite strong.

  • Daniel May 4, 2020, 9:21 am

    Paint the front sight while or whatever color suits you. I live where this gun is made and got one of the first ones. Totally reliable with CCI Mini Mag and Federal CPHP bulk. Bulk Winchester and Armscor was totally unacceptable. I really love this gun and always wanted a high quality mico 22 LR. Really was not anything. Carry it as a bac for my LCP 380s. Should have mentioned how much easier it is to get back on target with follower up shots with nominal recoil.

    • Jordan Michaels May 4, 2020, 1:00 pm

      All good points!

  • Cary Kieffer May 4, 2020, 9:15 am

    I bought one, on day 1 I thought it must have had a weak firing pin spring. I went out with 500 rds of CCI Stingers and had a 20% failure to fire rate. Turned out to be the Stingers..they wouldn’t fire in anything. I tried them in Smith AR 22, Savage Bolt action TR MK 2, Ruger MK 1 and the new Keltec CP33. Fail, fail fail….just a bad batch I guess. Not what I’ve ever had happen with Stingers, thats for sure. Anyway, mine has run 15-20 boxes of other ammo without a single hitch including Stingers from another lot. Fun little gun.

  • Teresa. Pullins May 4, 2020, 6:37 am

    I’m disabled I live in home alone I just would like to know do you have an automatic rouger are do you have one that is light enough for me to handle I’m a female who live alone

    • Jordan Michaels May 4, 2020, 8:18 am

      Hi Teresa. Others can chime in here, but yes, Ruger has lots of handguns that may be suitable for you. Ruger and any of the other major gun companies (Smith&Wesson, Springfield, Glock, Sig Sauer, to name a few) all make quality, reliable firearms. I wouldn’t have any qualms about purchasing any of their new handguns. But without knowing exactly your situation, it’s tough for me to make a specific recommendation. Do you know anyone who might be able to help with this?

    • Angel May 4, 2020, 8:35 am
    • Thomas Breithaupt May 4, 2020, 9:45 am

      Teresa: The Smith and Wesson M&P, 380 Shield EZ (.380 caliber) is designed from the start as one of the easiest to load, rack, and shoot handguns ever made. It is not a “mouse gun” with a tiny size that is easy to conceal but more a “mid-size” that has enough heft to prevent severe recoil but not too much to be considered heavy or bulky. Every retired/older person I have recommended this to in Florida has LOVED it but they are often sold out for their reasonable price around $350. The .380 round is certainly strong enough to protect you but soft enough to practice with to stay confident and safe.

      • jrkmt1 May 5, 2020, 4:16 am

        I have three midsize/compact pistols in .380 ACP, a Jimenez T-380, a Russian Makarov IJ70-17A by Imez, and a CZ83. All three fit the hand nicely, have mild recoil, and are very accurate.
        The CZ is a bit more comfortable to hold as it has a slightly wider grip due to its use of a 12 round double stack magazine. This is beneficial for me as I have arthritis in three fingers on each hand and tendon problems in two fingers of each hand.
        The slide of any semiauto pistol can be difficult for me to cycle so I use a neat little product called the Handi-Racker. Slip the appropriate slot over the front of the slide, place the front of the Racker against a firm object, and push smartly on the pistol. A round is now chambered and you’re ready to rock.

  • Anthony W Rose May 4, 2020, 6:31 am

    Pictured is NOT a failure to feed. The slide did cycle back far enough to grab the case from the rim. This can be cause by many things; too heavy of recoil spring for that ammo, dirty/unlubed rails, occasional weak round, rough chamber, and probably the hardest to diagnose, a mag issue. The mag can too weak of spring to lift next round into position or too stiff of spring causing drag of the next round on the bottom of slide during extraction. But it aint a failure to feed until the slide is pushing the round from the back, not the middle.

    • Jordan Michaels May 4, 2020, 8:21 am

      I see your distinction, and I experienced both issues on a few occasions. I didn’t include the image, but the “Clean-22” CCI (the pink stuff) would sometimes get caught in the mouth of the chamber after travelling up the feed ramp.

      • Liberty May 8, 2020, 9:08 am

        The failure pictured is definitely a short stroke. On mine, Ruger recommends using high velocity ammo like CCI Blazer or Mini-Mag. Standard velocity stuff might not have enough oomph for this gun.

  • Mike V May 3, 2020, 10:26 pm

    This isn’t blowback is it? Doesn’t look like it from the pictures.

    • Jordan Michaels May 4, 2020, 8:25 am

      Nope, not blowback.

    • Liberty May 8, 2020, 8:50 am

      It is a blowback, it just has a tilting barrel rather than a fixed barrel. The barrel and slide do not lock together like a traditional locked breech gun such as the 380 version.

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