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Ruger LCR: The Best ‘Snubnose’ Revolver Gun On Planet Earth?

The Ruger LCR represents a conundrum for this writer. I am a big fan of Strum Ruger, & Co’s full-sized double-action (DA) revolvers, particularly the GP-100 in .357 Magnum and a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum and consider them to be the finest revolvers in their respective calibers.

The Ruger LCR 9mm Revolver. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
The Ruger LCR 9mm Revolver. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Ruger LCR represents a conundrum for this writer. I am a big fan of Strum Ruger, & Co’s full-sized double-action (DA) revolvers, particularly the GP-100 in .357 Magnum and a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum and consider them to be the finest revolvers in their respective calibers.

Yet I’m not fond of snubnose revolvers, aka “snubbies,” even though objectively speaking I acknowledge that they can be quite effective for law enforcement and armed private citizen self-defense, especially in the concealed carry (CCW) realm.

And once again, I consider Ruger to be the best offering in the category, specifically the SP-101.

Ruger has come up with another snubby DA wheelgun that’s been generating quite a bit of positive buzz: the LCR. Being the glutton for punishment that I am I decided to finally see what all the fuss was about.

Ruger LCR History and Specifications

The LCR (“Lightweight Compact Revolver”) was designed in 2009 by Joseph Zajk and went into production in 2010. As per the manufacturer’s official info page: “Monolithic frame is made from aerospace-grade, 7000-series aluminum in .22 LR, .22 Magnum and .38 Special models and from 400-series stainless steel in the powerful .357 Magnum, 9mm Luger and .327 Federal Magnum models … High-strength stainless steel cylinder, featuring a PVD finish for excellent durability, is extensively fluted, reducing weight … Hogue Tamer Monogrip reduces perceived recoil.”

We’re talking a weight of a mere 13.5 to 17.1 ounces, along with a barrel length of either 1.875 inches or 3 inches, an overall length of 6.5 inches, a width of 1.28 inches, and a height of 4.5 inches.

Range Report/Personal Shooting Impressions

Part of the reason I’m finally getting around to test-firing the LCR is that a couple of buddies of mine encouraged me – heck, basically dared me – to try it out after reading my recent “5 Worst .38 Special Guns On Planet Earth” article. The two buddies in question are Itshak “Ike” Sarfati – Israel Defense Forces (IDF) combat veteran, and Lou Chiodo – former U.S. Marine Corps officer, retired California Highway Patrol (CHP) firearms instructor, and current President of Gunfighters Ltd. combat shooting school – both of whom I’ve quoted in multiple 19FortyFive articles

I even abided by Ike’s and Lou’s expressed wish that I would refrain from shooting it at 25 and 50 yards! It turns out that good ol’ Silver Eagle Group (SEG) in Ashburn, Virginia only had a .38 Special version of the LCR available for rental – specifically the “LCRx” exposed hammer version – not a 9mm like Ike’s.

So, I did my range eval as follows:

First target, familiarization fire/slow fire phase…

—15 rounds of head shots at 7 yards, all in DA mode

—10 rounds of center-torso shots at 15 yards, all SA mode

Second target, semi-rapid fire phase…

Since I was working with a 5-round cylinder instead of a 6-shooter, I couldn’t do back-to-back “Mozambique drills” (yes, I still use the old politically incorrect terminology), so instead …

—5 rounds strings of fire (repeated x5) at 5 yards, all DA mode, 2 to the chest, 2 to the head, 1 to the groin, as quickly as I could get a front sight index using the old Massad Ayoob “StressFire SightPoint” technique.

All shots were fired from Classic Weaver Stance, using Speer Lawman 125-gr total metal jacket (TMJ).

Since it was a rental gun, alas, holster and speedloader work weren’t options for me.

The trigger stung the heck out of my finger, I still wouldn’t consider it a truly fun gun to shoot, and I’m not going to rush out to buy one, but overall a comparatively more pleasant shooting experience than a J-frame Smith, Ruger SP-101, or Glock 27. And interestingly, the stinging session was less noticeable in SA slow-fire and DA rapid-fire alike than it was in DA slow-fire. 

Accuracy-wise, slow-fire and rapid-fire alike were quite pleasing, with all shots staying in the 5-zone. Indeed, half of my slow-fire shots and three of my rapid-fire shots took the dead-center tiebreaking 5x scoring ring of the ICE-QT target.

Reliability was flawless. The only other flaw (besides the stinging sensation) that I could kvetch about was that the extraction of the freshly fired empties was slow and sticky.

But in fairness, the gun had literally just been returned by a fellow range customer who had fired X-number of rounds through it, so maybe the chambers were in need of a scrubbing?

Shooting Buddies’ Impressions

Here’s what Ike has to say about his own experiences as an LCR owner: “I like the LCR because of a few things, first one being the smoother trigger and the gun if you can shoot it well is plenty accurate. I prefer the 9mm because of the Full moon clips that make loading or ejecting empties much faster and easier even than a speed loader and because the 9mm is more effective from shorter barrels. It is also easier to carry three or four full moon clips as back up and they take much less space.”

Lou adds this: “The Ruger LCR is an outstanding choice for those requiring a small snub nose revolver. It’s outstanding for pocket carry and has proven to be a reliable revolver available in multiple calibers based upon the user’s choice … While it is intrinsically accurate at distance, it is combat accurate in its role as a close-quarters personal defense handgun. It is controllable at true speed at distances that favor its use as a close-quarters handgun.”

Want Your Own?

True Gun Value states that “A RUGER LCR pistol is currently worth an average price of $608.44 new and $397.79 used. The 12-month average price is $603.45 new and $423.74 used.” MSRP is $739.00.

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).