The LCP, the SR9 Compact, the LCR and the LCR-357 are all great carry guns. But Ruger still hasn’t lost its momentum. The latest entry in the concealed carry line is the Ruger LC9, which stands for “Lightweight Compact 9.”
The Ruger LC9 is a logical follow-up to the wildly successful Lightweight Compact Pistol (LCP) chambered in .380 Auto. The LC9 bears a definite family resemblance but is now large enough to accommodate the 9mm Luger cartridge. This is the gun that many people were clamoring for — an up-sized LCP in a full-power defensive caliber.
Safe Firearm Design
Ruger’s newest 9mm is based upon the proven LCP platform and features a polymer frame. The Ruger LC9 is not striker-fired like many polymer guns but has an external hammer that is recessed into the rear of the slide. Although classified as a double-action pistol, the hammer is partially cocked by operation of the slide.
Unlike some micro-sized 9mm pistols, the Ruger has all the typical controls of a full-sized gun, including a slide release and magazine release, both in the traditional location. Magazine capacity is an impressive seven rounds, which is one more round than many 9mm pocket guns. The LC9 ships with one magazine but two magazine bases. One base is flat for maximum concealment. The other has a curved finger hook to allow for a full grip if you have average-sized hands.
The LC9 is equipped with standard three-dot fixed sights. The sights are dovetailed and drift adjustable by tapping the sights within the dovetail. It’s not easy but it’s possible. The sights are large for this type of gun and work quite well. Night sights are not yet offered as a factory option.
If the Ruger LC9 had a grip safety, I think it would have every safety device possible on a pistol. In fact, if the LC9 had any more safety devices, it would require a note from your mother to fire. I can live with all the safety devices … but I could live without them too.
The LC9 has a traditional thumb safety. The safety is small and not ambidextrous. The safety must be swiped off with the right-hand thumb, pushing the lever down into the firing position. Although the safety works fine, I am not sure it is necessary. The 7-pound double-action trigger pull is far from a “hair trigger.” It provides an adequate level of safety on its own. In fact, the LC9 trigger is not noticeably lighter or shorter than the trigger in the LCP, which does not have a manual safety. If you are not used to carrying a gun with a thumb safety, you need to practice with this pistol to fully ingrain the habit of swiping off the safety at the appropriate time.
Ruger also included a magazine safety, which means the gun cannot fire without a fully seated magazine. I am not sure that the ability to fire in the midst of a reload is really all that important as a tactical matter, but the magazine safety simply introduces another possible point of failure.
If those safeties weren’t enough, Ruger also included an internal lock. By using the supplied internal lock key, the gun can be disabled for storage. Given all the criticism that Smith & Wesson has taken over the internal locks on its revolvers, I am somewhat surprised Ruger would incorporate this. I think that responsible gun owners should have a better way of securing their firearms … like a safe.
Although not an active safety device, the Ruger LC9 also has a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. I think that printing “LOADED WHEN UP” is a bit of overkill. Standard gun handling practices would say not to rely on such an indicator anyway and to always do a visual check of the chamber when loading or unloading.
The LC9 performs admirably, as I expect from Ruger firearms. This pistol functioned flawlessly with a variety of self-defense ammo and some commercial reloads. Small pistols can be ammo sensitive, but this one showed no signs of such an affliction.
Pocket pistols are always more difficult to shoot because of their size. But even my large hands found the controls easy enough to operate. I can’t really get three fingers around the grip, whether I use the extended magazine base or not. Nevertheless, I felt comfortable shooting the gun and could run it through all the standard drills, including speed reloads and simulated malfunction clearance.
The perceived recoil in a 9mm pistol this small is necessarily brisk. Shooting the Ruger LC9 will get your attention. It may not be enjoyable for the recoil-sensitive shooter. However, the smooth edges on the gun are helpful. Shooting this gun didn’t really hurt my hand or draw any blood, even over an extended range session. I did not shoot any +P loads, though the manual states that +P is acceptable in limited quantities. I am not sure that the performance benefit of +P loadings would outweigh the additional felt recoil in a gun this size.
The LC9’s trigger is manageable but not great. The trigger isn’t overly heavy at 7 pounds, but the pull is very long and stacks considerably toward the end. For a defensive gun of this type, the trigger pull is acceptable and not likely to result in an accidental discharge.
Carrying the LC9
The size of the LC9 opens up many possibilities for concealed carry. Many holsters in my “holster drawer” worked fine, including the Tuff Products Pocket-Roo. This gun is well suited to pocket carry as long as you don’t have small pockets.
A pocket holster is definitely necessary, both to cover the trigger and to keep the gun oriented properly in the pocket. Most people of average build or larger should have no problem with pocket carry of this gun. You should, however, make sure you have a good belt because the weight of this gun will drag down your pants a bit.
The Ruger LC9 is also great for other deep concealment methods, such as a belly band or “below the waistband” type holster. My vintage Smart Carry holster also worked very well, and the gun seemed to be a good size for under the pants carry. Of course, this is one time that I appreciated the LC9’s thumb safety!
Safe Gun Purchase
The LC9 is competitively priced, with a suggested retail of $443. Street prices will be less than $400. For this price, the LC9 comes with one magazine (two interchangeable bases) and a zippered nylon carrying case. Of course, Ruger stands behind its products with a lifetime warranty.
A lot of manufacturers have recently introduced pocket-sized 9mm pistols. Few of them, however, can match the price or value of the LC9. Ruger’s newest pocket gun is a very safe bet for consumers. I predict the LC9 will be another run-away success for a company that has really produced some excellent new firearms in the past few years.
If you are looking for one of the new breed of very concealable micro-9mm pistols, put this one on your shopping list. With the proper training and mindset, the Ruger LC9 can be an important tool to help keep you and your family safe. And after all, isn’t safety what this is all about?
**The Ruger LC9 was provided by the manufacturer, with an option to purchase at a discounted price. The holster pictured was provided by Tuff Products at no charge in connection with a previous review. The Smart Carry holster was purchased at retail many years ago. Some of the ammo for testing was provided at no charge by Hornady, Speer and Winchester.