Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ruger LCR Review

  I've had this Ruger LCR for a little over a year now, and have put about 400 - 500 rnds through it. I have very few complaints about this gun.
  Actually most of my reviews are similar in this regard. I generally do a lot of research before buying a firearm, and try to buy what I'm looking for the first time. There's a lot of pros with this handgun, but I do have a few cons worth mentioning.

Let's start off with the specs.

Caliber:    .38Spl +P
Capacity:  5 Rnds
Weight:    13.50oz
Height:     4.5"                                          
Sights:     Notch Type Rear Sight
                Pinned Front Sight
Grips:      Hogue Tamer (Rubber)
Trigger:   DAO
Price:      $400-$440
Barrel Length:    1.875"

  This little revolver is intended for concealed carry, and it shows. The LCR is very lightweight, and easily concealable. The edges are all smooth, and there's little or nothing to snag on your clothing. The materials are corrosion resistant.

  Let's start with the trigger. It's definitely the best that I've seen on a snub nosed revolver.
  The Ruger's trigger is very smooth, and has a lighter pull than it's competitors. IMO, the trigger is MUCH better than those on the guns that I compared it to.
  I was considering a S&W Airweight (Model 638), S&W Bodyguard, and LCR when looking for another CCW gun last year. All of them seemed like good choices, and I was very impressed with the Airweight. It came in second. I was unimpressed with the Bodyguard, and it took third place.
  Even though it wasn't a contender, I also compared a Taurus Model 85 to the Ruger. The Taurus is a heavier steel framed revolver.  It's also $100 cheaper, has the same 5 round capacity, and has a 2" barrel. I think that most people will check out the Taurus when it's sitting in the case next to the Rugers and S&W's, (even if it's not in the running).
  The trigger was clearly better on the LCR when doing a side by side comparison with the other models listed above. The S&W Airweight was close, and followed by the Bodyguard and Taurus Model 85.
  I own an older S&W Airweight (Model 38-2), and a family member has a Taurus Model 85. A new LCR still has a better trigger pull than these broken in handguns. BTW, sometime soon I'll do a head to head comparison of all 3 guns.

  (I decided to come back, and edit this in about a month after the initial Ruger review.
I had the opportunity to check out the polymer framed Taurus today. It's obviously intended as competition for the Ruger LCR.
  I prefer the sights on the Taurus over those on the LCR. Other than the sights I cannot find much to like about the gun. It seems a bit "Clunky," and while I didn't get to do a side by side comparision, it feels a bit bigger than the Ruger.
I have to wonder what the aftermarket will be like for this polymer framed Taurus. I doubt that the J frame stuff will fit it very well. If the model not a good seller then you'll be limited on holster choices.
I don't like the grips. They feel uncomfortable under the trigger guard. Of course this quick evalutation of the Taurus is based on handling the gun (and not shooting it). It may be a great gun, but after fondling it in Bass Pro Shops, I doubt that I would get one at it's current price point. I walked away from the counter even happier with my choice of the LCR).

  The weight was slightly better with the Ruger than the two S&W's that I was looking at. Naturally it's much lighter than the steel framed Taurus. For most of us, our carry guns have got to be lightweight. If they're not then the guns will be left at home once the novelty of carrying them concealed wears off. There are a few people that don't mind carrying full sized service pistols, or heavy handguns. The vast majority of us however don't fall into that catagory.
  The Ruger LCR is a VERY lightweight gun. The fire control housing is polymer and reasonably attractive for what it is.The frame is aluminum, and the heavily fluted cylinder is stainless steel. The shape of the cylinder was a little odd looking at first, but it kind of grows on you. BTW, you can easily tell the difference between the .38spl version and the .357 magnum LCR by the cylinder fluting.
  Despite being so lightweight, this gun does not have a cheap feel to it. Often we equate  lightness to appearing cheap or toy like. This gun just "Feels" like a well made quality firearm. "Feel" is a hard term to describe, but anyone that has picked up a quality made tool and compared it to a cheaply made Chinese copy will know what I mean.

  Lockup is tight. The cylinder release and ejector rod work easily. Spent cases drop out without any problems, and I have yet to get an empty case under the ejector. Everything works. Nuff said.

  The sights are what you would expect on a snub nosed revolver. There is a serrated ramp type front sight and a U shaped notch at the rear. The front sight, however, is pinned and changeable. Ruger offers a model with a tritium night sight on the front. There is also a version with Crimson Trace laser grips available.
  The sights are OK. They're definitely on par with the competition. As usual, the black on black sights are hard to pick up when shooting at dark targets.
  Ruger recommends a 6 o'clock hold with this gun, and I found that to be necessary. I still shoot high with this handgun however.
  The target on the left is at 10 yds, and while the grouping is nothing to be that proud of, it's still OK for defensive accuracy. As I stated earlier the sights are very hard to see against a black background, and I shoot high with this gun.






  Excuse time:
  I generally carry my Kahr, and this gun is brought out when I'm in the mood for something different. It's not my regular shooter at the range, and only gets out every few months.
  The target pictured above sucks, and I can do much better. I'll replace it, and edit this review in a few weeks. Reviews without targets are largely BS, so there it is.
  The LCR was shot at the end of a long day of shooting M1911's and blah, blah, blah, middle aged eyes, excuses, excuses.

  The rubber grips work OK for what they are. They're better than the normal boot grips that I've used on some J frames. Hogue did a very good job with these.
  Only two fingers will fit on the grips. Recoil is a little heavy without being too punishing.
  As I stated above, the grips are rubber, and if I had to describe them I would say that they are a medium softness. They're soft enough to dampen the recoil somewhat without being so soft and gummy that they cling and snag on clothing.

 Most of the time, my LCR is carried with an Uncle Mike's pocket holster, and I have no problems with the rubber grips being too clingy in the pocket. The weight is also not an issue, and I don't feel like the gun is constantly dragging my pants down. This handgun is carried IWB when I want to do something a little different, or carry a third reload.

  Did I mention that this lightweight polymer and aluminum revolver is +P rated?

  This is a double action only (DAO) handgun. If you like to shoot your double action revolvers as a single action, then this is not the weapon for you. On the other hand being a DAO makes this gun a lot less likely to snag when drawing it under pressure.
  Buying a DOA revolver simplifies training. I see a lot of revolver owners shooting their guns only as a single action. This is usually more accurate, and they get better groups on the range. The problem is that they aren't really shooting as they would during a defensive encounter. It's hard to make everything realistic, but neglecting to practice with the double action trigger is a poor habit to get into.

  There is an internal locking device inside the grip. The standard grip is removed with a single flat head screw at the bottom.  It's not a fast procedure.
  Are you really going to come home, take the grip off of your handgun, lock it and then put it back together the next day when you go out again? Doubtful.
  I believe that it was probably added just to satisfy the laws of some of the more socialistic nanny states in our country. Some states require a built in locking device on new handgun models. I don't like them and never use them. Others may appreciate having a device that is slow to disengage, and requires partial disassembly of the gun. Stranger things have happened.
  Let's be realistic about firearms with a built in key lock. If you quickly need to access a gun locked with one of these systems, you'll be out of both luck and time.
  It's likely that you're locking the firearm because of a fear of children finding the gun. That's admirable but...  they'll find the key.  Sorry, kids always know where everything is. I prefer using a safe for a firearm that needs securing, but that's just my opinion. To each his own. You know what your storage/safety needs are better than I do.


  So what don't I like about this gun (Other than the key lock)?

    It's not a J frame, so most of the countless accessories on the market won't work with this handgun. The trigger guard is different from J frame revolvers, so make sure the holsters will fit before buying them. Ruger's website has some decent holsters, and the TK IWB model in the picture works OK for me.
It's not a Crossbreed though. Then again the TK holster didn't cost what a Crossbreed holster would.

  I have yet to see anyone other than Crimson Trace ($$$) offer any aftermarket grips for this gun (and I've done a lot of looking).

  The HKS speedloaders that I use in my J frame S&W will fit this Ruger. But... they just don't work that well in my opinion.
  I use the outstanding speedloaders from 5StarFirearms instead. They're faster and work much better (http://www.5starfirearms.com/357_j_2.html). Of course they are also more expensive, and not available at every gun store from coast to coast as the HKS models are.
There are other speedloaders on the market. These are the only two types that I've used, and I generally stay with the HKS brand for my revolvers. If I liked the way that they worked with the LCR, I would never had looked at alternatives.

  There is a rattle in this gun. Some people wonder about that when shopping for LCR's. It's normal.

  There's not much that I don't like about this weapon. I feel that one thing is worth mentioning for non shooters or beginners. The Ruger's recoil isn't horrible for a lightweight snub nosed revolver. If however this is your first gun or if you usually shoot full sized handguns, then you'll probably hate how it kicks.
  I'm a regular shooter, and think that the recoil is just heavy enough to make it fun and interesting (after mostly practicing with M1911's and full sized service pistols) at the range. It will however slow down my follow up shots if I ever use this gun in a defensive encounter.
 The Daywalker hates firing this handgun, even though she's been shooting for several years. The Daywalker's Mom only practices with snubbies to retain proficiency. She doesn't like them either.
  I wouldn't recommend training a beginner with the LCR if you have other options. If possible, start them off with a nice, heavy, 4" .38/.357 revolver, and some .38spl ammunition. Once they're used to that, then let them try the snubbie.
  The advice above should be a given, but I've seen a husband start his (non shooting) wife off with a snub nosed titanium framed .357 magnum. Guess what it was loaded with?
  125gr JHP.
  Want to guess how long she  shot it?
  10 rnds.
  She then quit, and I don't think that she's been to a range since then.

  As much as I like the Ruger LCR, it wouldn't be my first pick for a primary home defense handgun. Something with more ammo capacity, better sights, and less recoil would be chosen. I'd much prefer a full sized service pistol, or 4" revolver for that role. If I could only afford one handgun at this time for a combination of home defense and CCW, I would pick my Kahr CW9, or perhaps a Glock 26.
  I'm fortunate enough to own several handguns, so I can pick and choose what gun I want for whatever activity I'm doing. That's the only good thing about aging. You get to build up a few decades worth of goodies.


  In conclusion, it's a good gun. I recommend it, and have absolutely no buyer's remorse about purchasing it. That's odd for me.
It's reliable, and accurate enough even when having a bad day at the range. It's simple to operate, and easily concealable. This Ruger is not the least expensive snub nosed revolver on the market, but it's reasonable for what you're getting. The materials offer a lot of corrosion resistance which is important in a carry gun. This is my first pick for a snub nosed revolver  that is intended for CCW.

 

The weapon comes with the normal literature, a lock, keys for the internal locking device, and this mediocre case.







                   
 
 
Too funny.....my wife was looking at the rug that the LCR is sitting on in the pics, and was on the verge of shampooing our carpet. She thought that the dirty oil stained rugs in the pictures were from our dining room carpet. I should have waited until she finished before telling her the pictures were taken at the range.
 
2" Orange Center
 
Edit: It's been a couple of months since this review was posted, and I've put about 300 more rounds through the LCR.  A few friends have decided to get their CCW permits so I've been shooting the little guns with them a lot lately.
There's nothing to report on the reliability front. The Ruger still runs great despite very sporadic cleaning, and a lot of dirty reloads. My groups have gotten a bit better even though I still shoot slightly high most of the time.
The target above was shot at 7 yds. That's a 2" bullseye in the center, and this is representative of how I shoot with this gun now. I can eliminate the flyer about half of the time. A little practice goes a long way. When I can consistently keep it in the orange, there will be another edit.
BTW, I mentioned that I've been shooting a lot of CCW guns lately. The LCR is still my favorite when placed against the S&W and Taurus revolvers that I've recently shot.
 

5 comments:

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  2. You have a great review of Ruger LCR Gun with all the specs and clear images make this post more appealing to read.

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  3. I Love my LCR .357 For my Conceal carry Weapon, Very reliable, though it does take a little training to be accurate with it, I dad add the lasermax laser to mine, more For the intimidation factor than anything. Good for person carry Defense, but for home defense Ill Still rely on my Glock 21 (.45 ACP) or my MagPul Remingtion 870 12 gauge

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