A Review of the Ruger LC9

ruger lc9 photo

Ruger's Compact 9mm Pocket Pistol

“The [Ruger] LC9 is a double-action-only, hammer-fired, locked-breech pistol with a smooth trigger pull. Control and confident handling of the Ruger LC9 are accomplished through reduced recoil and aggressive frame checkering for a positive grip in all conditions. The Ruger LC9 features smooth “melted” edges for ease of holstering, carrying and drawing.”

ruger lc9 open breechruger lc9 magazineruger lc9 open slide

If SHOT Show 2011 had a theme – at all – it was the rise of the pocket 9mm semi-automatic pistol. Rohrbaugh, Kel Tec, and Khar were among the few who had an “affordable” and “functioning” pocket 9mm.  I suppose 2011 was the year for Kimber, Sig Sauer, and Sturm, Ruger & Co. to reveal their pocket  9mm models.

I shot a few rounds out of the Ruger LC9 when I attended Media Day 2011. I wasn’t particularly impressed, but I didn’t discount Ruger’s efforts. While the rest of the free country have been very vocal about the internal locking mechanism, magazine disconnect and loaded chamber indicator, many non-free state folk appreciate that it complies with non-free state laws. Myself, included.

ruger lc9 loadedruger lc9 sideruger lc9 trigger

Concerning  9mm firearms, I comfortably carry a GLOCK 19, but I wondered if I was missing out. I spoke with the fine folks at Sturm, Ruger & Co. to play with a LC9.

The LC9 is a double-action only, hammer-fired pistol. The trigger pull is satisfactorily smooth, as is the break; you really can’t say that about a KelTec PF9 or a Khar PM9. The trigger reminds of me of the ParaUSA LDA’s mechanism, albeit not as light. With that said, it requires a full reset – longer than what I’m accustomed to. I’m aware some folks prefer a multi-strike capability, but I doubt the trigger would be as smooth at an affordable cost. Reportedly you may also remove the magazine disconnect for a better trigger pull. If the LC9 wasn’t a loaner, I would have removed it. If you’re an owner, or soon-to-be owner, I recommend you do so anyway – just in case the magazine becomes unseated somehow. You wouldn’t want that to happen in a high stress situation.

ruger lc9 side

The safety stands out like a sore thumb on this firearm. You can deactivate it with one hand, but not activate.  After switching it on and off several times sitting at a my desk, I’m convinced that it’s highly unlikely you’ll activate it, should you not use it.  Yup, that’s right.  You don’t have to use it.  Besides, you shouldn’t have anything else in your gun pocket if you’re carrying it in that manner.  Keys included.  Overtime, I doubt the external safety will bother most folks.

ruger lc9 catchruger lc9 safety

Checkering on front and back strap is perfect for me – has the feel of 40 DPI. It wasn’t too rough, and provided sufficient friction. Along with the melted contours, snag-free controls, and sights, I can see why many appreciate the Ruger LC9 for concealed carry.

Speaking of appreciation, a pinky rest is provided for the 7 round magazine; I didn’t have to buy it from an after market/factory source. Alternatively, you may use the provided flat magazine base if the extended pinky rest doesn’t conceal well. I must note that one magazine is disappointing! Most folks want an extra magazine with their firearm anyway, so why not bother including it? I would rather have another magazine than a gun case, fired casings, two internal locking mechanism keys and a pistol lock.

ruger lc9 hand sizeruger size comparison

At Media Day 2011, I disliked how stiff the slide catch/release was, even without the magazine seated. Speaking with the folks at Ruger, they related to me the pistol was meant to be palmed instead; hand over slide, pull back, let it fly forward – returning to battery.

This specific pistol, on the other hand, had no problem using my thumb to release the slide lock if the magazine follower wasn’t applying pressure. Otherwise, it will not budge. I think this is acceptable if it’s not a fluke.

ruger lc9 sightsruger lc9 hammerruger lc9 front sight

The loaded chamber indicator is, what it is. I can understand why some folks might think this will bugger the sight picture, but it won’t. If you wanted to, grinding down the tab will disable the loaded chamber indicator. Just be sure to not remove it all together. Courtesy of ebzona’s experience, I now know the LC9 won’t work since it holds a firing pin retainer. I wonder if Ruger could have engineered the extractor as a chamber indicator. Thoughts?

ruger lc9 9mm ammoruger lc9 magazes

Here’s ebzona running some point shooting drills with his LC9 and various loads of ammunition.

Disassembly. It’s a Ruger. Shall I end here? I suppose not. After sliding the take down cover, the LC9 requires a “tool,” to push out the pin holding the slide mechanism. You may use the internal locking mechanism key as the tool.  Once the pin is pushed out, the slide is free.  Don’t lose the pin.

No. It’s not as easy as installing a slide stop on a 1911. There’s a retaining wire inside the frame, so negotiating the pin back in, and aligning the slide, might be a challenge. I suppose you could get use to it – much like how everyone else has disassembling the Ruger Mark series.

ruger lc9 parts

Folks talk about the minor bite from the recoil. Personally, I’ve shot  9mm pistols that were just terrible for my hand (The Beast), and the LC9 ain’t one of them – even with Winchester Ranger JHP +P. Yes. The manual indicates you may shoot +P. +P+ is still a no-no.

The LC9 fired flawlessly for the first 100 rounds using S&B ball ammunition Lucky Gunner provided me. It wasn’t long after that it started to misfire. I identified the issue as light strikes. Upon inspection, the firing pin hole was obstructed with primer sealer. As soon as I cleared that out, it continued to fire another 250 that afternoon without issue. I’m sure ammunition had something to do with it, as it does with other pistols.  Chuck and others have noted similar issues on JayG‘s guest post at the Firearms Blog.

I am concerned about the internal locking mechanism, but I absolutely have nothing to substantiate those concerns with the LC9 at this time.

I certainly understand why the LC9 is a hit for most folks, and not with others. It’s smooth, reliable, and affordable.  It’s also a sad reflection on the demand for compliant firearms in an anti-gun state market.  Bummer.

Suggested retail price is $443.00; you’ll likely find one at your local gun store for around $340-$370. Maybe better deals on gun auctions sites! However, I can comfortably carry a GLOCK 29SF, GLOCK 19 or a Ruger LCR .357 magnum. In wardrobe situations, i.e. suit and tie, that require me to carry a Kel Tec P3AT instead of a 10mm,  9mm or .357 magnum, I doubt I can comfortably carry a LC9 effectively in a SmartCarry or in a pocket holster.  Needless to say, I didn’t purchase the loaner.

Though the LC9 wasn’t for me, I would wholeheartedly recommend it if you have the means to disable the magazine disconnect.  Also, be weary of the light strike issue.  It’s possible I was just lucky.

Special thanks to Beth and Ken at Ruger for providing me the firearm and Lucky Gunner for sending me several boxes of ammunition for this review.  In stock. Fast shipping.  110% guaranteed.

Rob at Golden State Tactical, California’s premier supplier for all of the Quality parts you’ll need to make your AR-15 “California Legal”, also made this review possible.

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Categories: Firearm Review, Firearms, Guns


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5 Comments on “A Review of the Ruger LC9”

  1. September 1, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Great review, Derek. The LC9 looks good to me, but living in Illinois, I won’t be buying a gun for concealed carry in the foreseeable future. Your remarks about the recoil are interesting. Bea bought an LCP, and the word on the internet is that it has snappy recoil. Mom can shoot it with no discomfort, and gets back on target just fine. You had no trouble with recoil in this light 9mm, and SR40 reviews say nice things about the recoil in that model. It looks to me that Ruger is consistently turning out good products that are very shooter friendly.

    Hickok45 over on YouTube reviewed the LC9, and is a hoot to watch him shooting his rifle gong at the far end of his range with a pocket pistol.

  2. ebzona
    September 1, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Derek, my LC9 also experienced the same light primer strike issue. That coupled with the LCI and manual safety were enough for me to sell it and move on. The trigger did get better when I removed the magazine disconnect safety. The Beretta nano looks promising, I may give it a try. For now I will continue to stick with the G29SF/LCR357/P3AT rotation until I can find a pocket nine to slip into the p3at’s role.

    • September 1, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Thanks for chiming in, Ebzona. It appears to be a blanket issue for most folks. Now I wonder had I shot more rounds, the light strike would continue.

      Maybe a Wolff spring upgrade would suffice should anyone want to keep their LC9?

  3. Deano
    March 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I bought the LC9 – I have shot about 100 rounds through it without one no fire – I have to admit, I’d like to see a bigger ding on the primer, but I have ran Speer, Federal through it without any misfires. Keep it clean, and use the right ammo, and you’ll be okay. I really like mine – and I have a friend who made a custom inside the waist holster for it – very comfortable.

    • March 11, 2012 at 11:36 pm #

      Good to hear you’re having a good experience with the LC9. Thanks for the comment!

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