Who says the revolver is dead? Six guns still rule, or well, should I say five guns? Today’s subject of review might be one of the most modern revolvers on the market, the Ruger LCR. Lots of lightweight revolvers exist, but I’ve always loved the LCR. It mixes a modern, lightweight revolver that’s affordable and still simple and easy to use. The Ruger LCR comes in 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 327 Federal Magnum, 22LR, 22 WMR, and even 9mm.
Today I have the 9mm example of the Ruger LCR, and as such, I think this is the most modern J-frame out there for concealed carry. Rimless cartridges like the 9mm don’t usually work well in revolvers. Revolvers are naturally suited for cartridges like the 44 Special and 357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, etc., that have a projecting rime at the base. But many rimless cartridge revolvers have been tried over the years many with some success. My feeling is that if you are going to buy a rimless Revolver, this Ruger standby is probably the best bet. The polymer frame is always light shooting, and this gun is a real pleasure to shoot, in the potent 9mm cartridge. This gun uses moon clips instead of trying to headspace on the case mouth. It’s the smarter way to do it.
The Modern J-Frame
Revolvers don’t change much, and that’s why people tend to love them. It’s a barrel, an internal or external hammer, and a revolving cylinder. Not much to it, right? Ruger wanted to create a lightweight revolver, but they also wanted to produce an affordable model. Instead of using titanium or scandium, which drives up the revolvers’ price, they went with polymer. Most people call a pocketable revolver a J-Frame, even though it is a Smith & Wesson term, but it has become something like Kleenex, and these polymer guns are really the update to an old and proven design.
Why not? Polymer has proven to work with automatic handguns, cuts weight, and doesn’t cost a fortune. The Ruger LCR utilizes a polymer frame reinforced by steel. The cylinder and barrel are steel, obviously. Where they could safely, they used polymer to cut weight.
The 9mm chambering also brings in line with modern defensive loads. Sure 9mm is an old round, but it’s one that gets lots of attention due to its popularity. Lots of attention means lots of capable defensive loads and plenty of cheap plinking ammunition. A revolver in 9mm gives you revolver handling with modern defensive loads.
Plus, cheap plinking loads are nothing to sneeze at. On top of that, the gun obviously comes cut for moon clips because 9mm rounds lack a rim to catch the ejector. The full moon clips make unloading and reloading rapidly and become nearly as fast as an automatic handgun.
The Ruger LCR does use a double-action-only trigger, and the LCRx utilizes an exposed hammer. DAO guns are great for concealed carry and are poke-free for deep concealment.
Ruger LCR Specifications
Barrel Length – 1.87 inches
Overall Length – 6.5 inches
Weight – 17.2 ounces
Caliber – 9mm
Capacity – 5
MSRP – $809.00
Admittedly I didn’t have love at first grip when I picked up the Ruger LCR. The boot-style grips are way too short for my big hands. When I shot the gun, it would buck and jump and cause me to readjust my grip with every shot. This had to go!
I popped them off, slapped on a new set of Hogue Tamer grips, and never looked back. The longer grips increase the profile of the gun but make it oh so much more shootable. Bigger grips meant more control, and more control meant more accuracy and speed.
Moon clips might seem annoying, but they are extremely useful. The ejection rod slings them out and popping another five rounds in takes no time at all. Moon clips do add another level of must-have accessory to use the gun, but they are cheap and durable. I know it seems un-revolver like, but it feels like I’m just swapping magazines, and that makes it simple.
The cylinder release is a button instead of a pull or push tab. Ruger’s button-pressing design is better to me than either a push or pull system that Colt and S&W uses. Press the button, push the cylinder, and boom, that cylinder is waiting for a fresh new load of 9mm.
This is a small bonus, but the trigger guard is larger and accommodates gloved hands well. Winter gloves will not fill the trigger guard up, and you can easily fit your fingers into the trigger guard and start popping off 9mm rounds even in the snow.
Hitting The Range
Like all small J-frames, the Ruger LCR has some buck to it. Using 124 grain +P JHPs will give you a handful of jumpy gun with every shot. It’s not uncontrollable, but it’s not pleasant and feels like a solid high five to the hand. I prefer a 115-grain JHP load for self-defense. The increase in control is worth using the lighter round, especially when you start training single-handed shooting techniques.
DAO guns always have long trigger pulls, and sometimes that long trigger pull isn’t fun. The Ruger LCR does it differently with a long trigger pull that’s relatively light and short for its pull. It’s easily the best stock DAO trigger out there. I can’t get enough of it, and honestly, S&W, Colt, and others need to catch up and give me this kind of trigger.
The sights are okay. That’s about all I can say. The rear sight is a trench style, but it’s bigger than most. The front sight is massive and came with a white insert for high visibility. However, that popped off after a few hundred rounds. Luckily the front sight can be swapped, and plenty of high visibility examples exist out there.
A good trigger with half-decent sights makes the Ruger LCR pretty accurate for a J-frame. At 15 yards, I could make that dang 25% IPSC target ding and spin with all five rounds somewhat rapidly. That trigger pull is to die for, and the IPSC target stood zero chance. If I can hit this little target at 15 yards, then the gun is perfectly suitable for most concealed carry situations.
Once I dumped all five rounds, I could reload on the fly with a freshly loaded moon clip and rinse and repeat.
On the Subject of Moon Clips
The Ruger LCR 9mm will work without moon clips, and you can drop rounds into the chambers freely without any kind of issue. The real downside is that ejection might require a shake, a wiggle, or a stick to drive the cartridges outward.
Also, don’t use steel rounds with these things. The steel expands and sticks into the chambers. Driving them out requires a hammer and a cleaning rod. Stick to brass-cased ammo for the Ruger LCR 9mm.
Banging and Clanging
The Ruger LCR 9mm gives those who desire a revolver a modern option for the ole snub nose. It’s lightweight, has a great trigger, and provides you with a modern load of 9mm greatness. 9mm rounds offer a more potent round than the 38 Special and are much softer on the hand than 357 Magnum loads.
Add in a great trigger and quick reloads, and what more could you ask for?