The J frame revolver is a very classic design. It was one of the first widely accepted concealed carry guns and the remains a popular choice. Revolvers are simple right? How exactly can you make such an old design better? Well, you can make the frame polymer. I already hear the Fudds light their torches, how dare I bring plastic to the world of wheel guns.
Well, I didn’t personally, but Ruger, S&W and even Taurus have. Today we are looking at the Ruger LCR 9mm. It’s already a weird gun being a polymer frame revolver, but then we are going to chamber it into a cartridge designed for automatic pistols.
Why polymer? It makes the gun lighter, way lighter than an all-metal gun. Some metal like Scandium is super light, and the S&W Airweight line is proof that they work, but damn are they expensive. A polymer revolver is lightweight and plenty affordable. The Ruger LCR is by far my favorite modern J frame revolver. It incorporates everything that is good with the J frame design, as well as modernizing it.
The Ruger LCR 9mm is a concealed carry gun. It’s small, lightweight, and perfect for daily carry. The design of the J frame has always been for a lighter, lower profile gun in a reliable platform. Revolvers back in the day were the smallest powerhouses you could get. Remember the Colt 1903? That was a 380. It was massive for a 380 and chambered in a somewhat anemic round. The J frame was smaller and chambered in the popular and more powerful 38 Special. This model takes it a step forward and chambers it in the even more potent 9mm round.
LCR even stands for Lightweight, Compact, Revolver, which is a very appropriate name for the gun. The brand Ruger is a well-known and well-respected brand, with many different firearms that have a lot of influence behind it. If it were any smaller company, the idea would be laughed off the table. Ruger started something awesome with this gun and what started with a simple 38 Special has grown into a variety of different designs and in different calibers. This leads us to the 9mm variant.
Why would I choose a revolver is a cartridge made specifically for an automatic? Well, first because of America! I wanted a revolver and the fact I could choose one in a caliber I already own and shoot a ton of was just a convenience factor. Also, 9mm is way cheaper than 38 Special and more potent overall. You can find a wider variety of defensive rounds for the 9mm as well. To me it just made sense.
The Ruger LCR is a nice small gun that is perfect for even the smallest person to conceal and carry comfortably.
Barrel Length – 1.87 inches
Overall Length – 6.5 inches
Height – 5.5 inches
Weight – 17.2 ounces
Capacity – 5 rounds
The Ruger LCR is a modern revolver but is still just a revolver. This model is a double-action-only revolver that has a concealed hammer. You aren’t going to find a wide variety of different features on this gun, but its what’s on the inside that counts. Inside the Ruger is their patented friction-reducing cam. This gives you one of the best DA triggers on the market.
The Ruger LCR does have a metal cylinder and a metal barrel liner surrounded by polymer. Most of the gun is a polymer, but there is plenty of steel components where it counts and where they are needed. The LCR is matte black, but they do have a variety of different finishes available from different distributors.
The cylinder is of course cut for full moon clips. These clips are there to accommodate automatic cartridges. Since the 9mm round doesn’t have a pronounced rim, the gun has nothing to grip and eject the rounds from. The moon clip adds what is essentially a rim that allows the ejector to engage the rounds. The gun comes with three of these, and they are widely available and quite affordable. Best of all they can be used as speed loaders for on the fly reloads. In fact, to me, these moon clips are much faster than a speed loader. Competitors agree, and you’ll find standard 38 Special, and 357 Magnum revolvers cut for moon clips too.
The Ruger comes with a black polymer sight with a white insert to increase visibility. This sight is pinned on and easily removed and replaced by a night sight, or high viz fiber optic sight. The grips are Hogue Tamers which are made of a soft rubber overall.
Fit and Finish
This revolver is ugly. Sorry, but a polymer frame revolver does lose some of that sexiness associated with a rich blue finish or a beautiful stainless steel gun. From a vanity point that is a bad thing, but as a concealed carry gun it doesn’t matter. It’s meant to be concealed and not seen anyway. It’s the Glock of revolvers. The cylinder shows hints of that old world revolver with it’s rich and glossy PVD finish. PVD is a tough and strong finish that is perfect for this gun in general. Concealed carry guns are held tight to the body, the body sweats, what does sweat do? It destroys things, and PVD prevents that.
The Ruger LCR label across the barrel doesn’t bother me, but the Read Instruction manual on the other side does. It’s dumb, and lawyers ruin everything. As I mentioned before the grip is great. The cylinder locks up extremely tight, and the cylinder release button is quick and easy to access. Overall the gun is well built and looks as good as a mutt can look.
The Ruger LCR 9mm is a small and convenient little gun, but small guns always have a few big problems. Small guns sacrifice controllability and comfort for concealment. That’s my first issue with the gun, and the grip is too small for my big hands. It’s usable, but I hate my pinky hanging so switched for some slightly longer and thinner Hogue grips. I have to judge the gun as a stock gun though, and it needs to be noted.
Beyond that, the gun is easy to use. One of the best features of any revolver is the fact that they are superbly simple guns. It doesn’t take long to long how one functions. The thumb can reach and press the cylinder release button with ease, and the slight tilt or push allows the cylinder to slide out.
Loading the gun via moon clip is very easy to do and easily one of the most ergonomic ways to reload a revolver period. It’s almost identical to reloading an automatic with a magazine. Eject the empties, dop in the moon clip, and get back to shooting. It’s very quick and easy to do. The fact that all of the cases are combined with the moon clip means they all fall out at the same time. Revolvers can fail to eject every round using just the ejector rod perfectly. Sometimes you grab one or two of the casings and clear them yourself. This isn’t an issue with the Ruger LCR 9mm.
On the Range
Shooting the Ruger LCR 9mm is a lot of fun. Revolvers are just cool guns, and the J frame history of being a detective’s gun always appeals to me. Shooting one is a challenge, almost the direct opposite of using one. Shooting is mechanically easy. Pull the trigger, and it goes bang. However, these guns are tricky to shoot accurately. The front sight is pleasant, but the trench rear sight is pitiful.
This makes shots beyond 25 yards challenging even on man-sized targets for a lot of shooters. At the average self-defense range it’s easy to place shots into the chest and torso area of a target. Even rapidly so. One significant benefit of this gun is that excellent trigger. In my opinion, the Ruger LCR has the best stock double-action revolver trigger on the market. It’s 9 pounds apparently but feels much lighter and its incredibly smooth. There is very little stacking, and the trigger breaks cleanly.
Recoil wise the 9mm falls between a 357 Magnum and a 38 Special. It’s much less painful than a 357 Magnum but has a little more oomph than a 38 Special. Standard 115 grain FMJs are comfortable and easy to shoot. Higher powered 124-grain JHPs are a bit more of a handful. The good news is with 9mm you can easily find reduced recoil 9mm defensive loads.
The gun is somewhat ammo picky. First, 9mm rounds don’t have the crimp a standard revolver round has. This can cause the recoil of the gun to eject the projectile from the cartridge. This happens with heavier rounds and in my experience has only happened with one 147 grain round one time.
Next, the gun will handle steel cased rounds but they tend to swell, and this makes them somewhat difficult to eject. Not impossible, but bring a pencil to poke them out. Other than that the gun is plenty reliable and capable.
I do find it fun to shoot the gun and then speed reload. With a little practice, I got pretty fast, and it is fun to shoot and use this revolver as a defensive firearm. My favorite drill is a failure to stop on two targets. The drill requires six shots, two in the chest and one in the head of each target. This drill forces a reload with the Ruger LCR 9mm and is plenty challenging.
The Ruger LCR 9mm is a fun gun and its an effective one for self-defense. If you are dead set on a revolver for concealed carry the Ruger LCR 9mm is a modern, lightweight, and affordable choice.
Rating Each Category
Looks: 3 out of 5
It’s like an ugly herding dog. It’s ugly, but it works well. It’s hard to hate on something that works as hard as this gun does. The Ruger LCR isn’t a bad looking gun, and I could add an entire extra point if I didn’t have to see the words “Read Instruction Manual.” On the other side.
Ergonomics: 4 out of 5
The ergos are simple but reliable. The short grip of the gun takes a solid point away. Everything pops, clicks and opens with ease. The means of reloading the LCR are a major plus when it comes to this gun. This modern take on the classic revolver is impressive.
Accuracy: 3 out of 5
With a 1.87 inch barrel, this is about as accurate as it’s going to get. The short barrel, short sight radius, and crappy sights are a bit detriment to this gun’s accuracy. However, the trigger is amazing, and this certainly lends to the gun’s accuracy and ease of use.
Reliability: 4 out of 5
It’s a revolver, so reliability is very high already, it’s also a revolver made from a reputable company. So why doesn’t it score a 5 out of 5? Well, there is the potential for the projectile to unseat from the case. 5 out of 5 is perfect, and even if it never happens again, it happened once, and that’s enough for me.
Customization: 2 out of 5
Again, I feel like I can start most of these with, “It’s a revolver,” Revolvers aren’t known for being highly customizable. This gun has a wide variety of grip available for it, as well as front sights, and holsters. This gives you a little opportunity to customize the gun.
Price: 3 out of 5
The Ruger LCR is generally a cheap revolver, and the 9mm model is a bit more expensive. The standard LCR can be found for about $450, and the 9mm model costs about $550. This is a bit of a gap for me, but it’s still an affordable gun in my opinion when compared to other higher priced firearms, like Sigs.
The Ruger LCR 9mm is one of the most modern revolvers on the market. It’s light, easy to conceal and features the best stock DA trigger on the market. The LCR 9mm is an odd gun, but the 9mm round is a great defensive cartridge, even in a revolver.
Many find small 357s too powerful and then the 38 Special is a bit anemic, but the 9mm is like Goldilocks’ porridge, just right.