Caleb Giddings wrote up a brief review and discussed the details of Ruger’s new compact LC9 9mm pistol when it was first announced back in early January 2011. We just received our first shipment of LC9 pistols and took one out for testing and evaluation.
First, we took the new little shooter into the photo studio and opened the box to see what goodies Ruger included with their new pistol. It was a pleasant surprise to see that a Ruger branded soft sided case was included, along with the user manual and a single magazine. A standard cable-padlock is also included, as were two keys for the padlock and two more keys with the Ruger emblem on them. Further inspection revealed that these two Ruger branded keys fit a child safety lock on the rear of the right side of the pistol. They are also necessary to field strip the pistol, so don’t lose them!
A quick run through the function of the pistol: Ruger included a manual frame-mounted thumb safety on the LC9 that blocks the firing pin and locks the slide in place similar to the safety on a 1911. The trigger pull is a consistent and silky-smooth double-action pull, with no double-strike capability. The slide must be cycled for the action to be charged. This was a bit perplexing, since the LC9 is not a striker fired pistol and instead relies on a mainspring and hammer.
The LC9 is equipped with a California approved loaded chamber indicator that provides an unmistakable tactile and visual cue that the pistol has a round chambered. At first glance, it might appear that the chamber indicator might interfere with the front sight, but a quick glance after lining up the white 3-dot sights shows that it is low enough to remain out of the way.
The sights themselves are a simple 3-dot setup with a windage adjustable front and fixed rear sight.
Ruger’s new 9mm pistol is also equipped with a magazine disconnect safety that locks the action when the magazine is removed. The design still allows the gun to fire if the magazine is at least partially inserted. This prevents the LC9 from being disabled in a firefight if the mag release is inadvertently engaged or the mag is not fully seated. The magazine itself is a single stack design with a 7-round capacity. It comes from the factory with a finger grip extension installed on the baseplate to give the shooter more positive control. The grip extension can be easily removed to reduce printing when carrying concealed.
In fact, the entire pistol has been designed for concealed carry. Ruger added a slide lock/release lever and a small but easily usable frame mounted safety, both features requested by customers. With both a thumb safety and double-action trigger, along with a total width of just 0.9″, the new LC9 is perfect as a pocket-carry gun. The controls are low profile, and the edges have all been given a melt treatment and rounded smooth to eliminate snagging when drawing from concealment.
Out on the range, the LC9 performed flawlessly. Recoil was a bit snappy, though manageable, using 115 grain 9mm FMJ BVAC ammunition. Muzzle velocities averaged around 1125 FPS, which is just about right given the LC9′s short 3″ barrel. The sights on most pistols this size are marginal at best, but the bright 3-dot sight system on Ruger’s newest pistol was instinctive and were on target at 7 yards right out of the box. Groups measured 3″-6″ at 7 yards which, given the long double action trigger and small sight radius, is quite acceptable for this little pistol.
Disassembly of the LC9 is tedious, to say the least. Field stripping requires the use of the key provided with the pistol by Ruger, or if that is not available, a punch, nail, or other similar device will also work. A takedown panel on the left side of the pistol reveals a takedown pin, which must be lined up with a notch in the slide and then punched out from the other side using Ruger’s special tool.
After that, disassembly is fairly straightforward. The slide pulls forward off of the frame, and the dual recoil springs and guide rod assembly is easily removed, followed by the barrel.
Some have argued that Ruger missed the mark with this gun by their incorporation of a plethora of safety features and controls. The fault, however, lies with the gun’s creators. While Ruger performed the engineering and design needed to put the pistol into production, the features incorporated into the LC9 were drawn from their “Voice of the Customer” program. California and other states with restrictive gun control laws make up a large portion of Ruger’s customer base, and the inclusion of a large chamber indicator and child-safety lock ensured that this firearm met the legal guidelines for those states.
Ruger CEO Michael Fifer commented on the genesis of the LC9, saying, “On the heels of the overwhelming and on-going success of the LCP®, customers repeatedly requested a lightweight, compact 9mm pistol. Frankly, they wanted an LCP chambered in 9mm. Delivering an American-made, compact 9mm that provides the same legendary Ruger reliability as the award-winning LCP, LCR® and SR9® became our focus. Meeting customer expectations is our goal and key to Ruger’s continuing success.”
While some may dislike features such as the magazine disconnect and chamber loaded indicator, Ruger clearly listened to customer requests and heard the overwhelming majority request features that would ensure that the pistol would be available and legal in nearly any local jurisdiction. With the typical attention to performance and reliability, Ruger has developed yet another fantastic pistol that is sure to appeal to anyone seeking an easily concealed 9mm defensive handgun.
Ruger LC9 Specifications:
Overall length: 6.00″
Barrel length: 3.12″
Weight: 17.10 oz.
Rifling: 6 groove, 1:10 right hand twist