Friday, March 6, 2015

Ruger LCR Review

  I've had this Ruger LCR for a few years now, and have put about 1,000 rnds through it. While that may not be a huge amount of ammunition over the last couple of years, it is enough to create a very informed opinion of the weapon.
  That opinion is almost 100% positive.
  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 LCR'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. It is, however, still a double action only trigger and will seem obscenely heavy to those used to shooting M1911s or even Glocks. It is what it is.
  I was considering a S&W Airweight (Model 638), S&W Bodyguard, and LCR when looking for another CCW gun. 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 the same overall size. I think that a lot of 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, 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.  I'll eventually do a head to head comparison of all 3 guns.

 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. Ruger makes the LCRx for that crowd.
  I like the DAO set up. The lack of an external hammer 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.

  (I decided to come back, and edit this in after the initial Ruger review.
I had the opportunity to check out the polymer framed Taurus at a local gun store. It's obviously intended as competition for the Ruger LCR.
  I prefer the sights on the Taurus over those on the LCR. Other than that, I cannot find much to like about the gun. It seemed a bit "Clunky," and while I didn't get to do a side by side comparision, it felt  a bit bigger than the Ruger.
 I didn't like the grips on the Taurus. They felt 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 one in Bass Pro Shops, I doubt that I'll ever buy one. 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's. 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 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 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. I think that it has a very functional, businesslike look.
  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 other models 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. 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. I have never had any issues with this weapon.
  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 few night sights or fiber optic replacement sights on their webpage. 
  The factory sights are OK. I wouldn't say that they're anything to brag about. They are 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 from the 10 yard line, 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.

  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 is from one of my first range trips with this revolver. I thought about not including it, but 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.

2" Orange Center
  This target was shot a few months later. It's a good representation of what I usually do with this weapon now. 
  You've probably noticed that the front sight blade is different in some of the pictures. It was replaced several months ago with a night sight. I highly recommend the upgrade, and the new sight makes a huge difference for these middle aged eyes. I'll edit in a current target or two over the next month.

  The rubber grips work well 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, as is the case with most snub nosed revolvers.
  If I had to describe the rubber grips, 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.
  Hogue offers some slightly larger (and more attractive) grips for the LCR. The G10 grips are making me think long and hard about an upgrade. If I was sure that pocket carry wouldn't be an issue, then those grips would already be on order.

  Most of the time, my LCR is carried in an Uncle Mike's or Blackhawk pocket holster.  I have no problems with the factory 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. I find myself bringing this pistol out a lot more in the summertime when I'm wearing lighter clothing. It simply an easy gun to conceal.

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

  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 that children will find the weapon. 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.

    The LCR is not a J frame. The trigger guard (and a few other items) is differently shaped, so make sure the holster you choose will fit before buying it. Ruger's website has some decent examples of what's out there. The TK IWB model in the picture works fine for me. There's plenty of other options available. This gun is popular enough that finding a quality holster will not be a problem.

  The HKS speedloaders that I use in my S&W Airweight 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 ( 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 handgun. Some people wonder about that when shopping for LCRs. 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 is normal for a lightweight snub nosed revolver. If 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 at the range. It will definitely slow down my follow up shots if I ever use this gun in a defensive encounter.
 The Daywalker hates using this handgun, even though she's been shooting for several years. The DaywalkersMom will only practice with snubbies enough to retain proficiency. She doesn't like them either.
  A good friend of mine shoots regularly, and carries a Glock G23 (.40cal). He couldn't put this gun down fast enough, after firing 5 rounds during our last trip to the range (and also couldn't hit with it).
  Most people will love the size and weight of this gun. They'll be fans of the LCR's concealability, and ease of carry. A lot of them, however, will not enjoy shooting the weapon.
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.
  It's reliable, and accurate enough for defensive work. The weapon is simple to operate, and easily concealable. This Ruger is not the least expensive snub nosed revolver on the market, but the price is reasonable for what you're getting. The materials offer a lot of corrosion resistance which is extremely 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 very mediocre case.
  The handgun isn't perfect. Like with all snub nosed revolvers, you'll have to deal with limited capacity, slow reloads (compared to a semi auto), and stiff recoil.
  It's a very good gun, but's it's not the best choice for everyone. It may, however, be the best choice among other revolvers in it's class.


Too 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 that half of these pictures were taken at the range.

Update:   It's Sept 2017, and I still love this gun. I shoot it better now than when this review was posted. I estimate that I probably carry this gun about 50% of the time. I really can't say anything bad about this revolver.