Gun Review: Ruger LCR-22

When Ruger released their LCR unto the world, gun pundits hailed the “Lightweight Compact Revolver” for possessing the world’s best wheelgun trigger. Better than Smith & Wesson’s best? Yup. The LCR’s patent-pending friction-reducing cam creates a positively glassine trigger pull without a hit of sticking or stacking. Added to a polymer housing, aluminum cylinder and stainless steel barrel, the LCR is, was and will be a perfectly practical pocket pistol. As the proud, happy owner of an LCR chambered for .357, I approached the LCR-22 with high hopes . . .

Initial impressions: more of the same. Despite the reduced (as in barely noticeable) recoil of the .22LR round, the LCR-22 comes equipped with the same Hogue Tamer Grip as its larger caliber cousins. The LCR-22′s front sight is a pinned blade; you can swap it out for another style if you please. As you’d expect for a pocket revolver, the LCR-22′s rear is a barrel length channel. Snubbie-loving sharpshooters may beg to differ, but chances are you won’t win any trophies for distance shooting with an LCR-22.

The significant difference between the LCR-22 and the same gun in .38/.357 calibers: weight. The smaller chambered revolver tips the scales at 14.9 ounces, versus 17.10 ounces for models offering more ballistic punch. A lighter weight lightweight gun in a less recoil-generating caliber. What’s not to like?

The design? The LCR’s parts bin aesthetic makes you wonder if Ruger told its designers to do everything possible to deny the LCR the classical elegance of a Smith & Wesson snub-nosed revolver. While I like the LCR’s space age looks, most gun folk reckon the revolver rivals the Chiappa Rhino on the other end of the “uh OK” scale. More troublesome: the $792 LCR-22′s finish is just average. The cylinder arm showed wear after just wiping it down with CLP after my first range session.

Upon unboxing, I noticed two small marks near the firing pin housing (when the cylinder is swung outward). I didn’t think much of it at the time. The extractor shaft was a tad tight into the cylinder. The extractor lacked the smoothness of the LCR .357. When I pushed on the plunger, I could hear a slight grating sound of metal on metal.

You don’t have to hit the range to know that the Ruger LCR-22′s trigger is, in a word, diabolical. While it’s as predictable and creep and grit-free as its bigger brother’s go pedal, contestants on The Biggest Loser start the show with less weight than the LCR-22′s trigger pull. James Bond’s bartender couldn’t pour a drink stiffer than this trigger. It’s so heavy it’s off the charts on a trigger pull gauge. Literally.

Not to belabor the point, but the LCR-22′s trigger pull is heavier than the pull on my Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum. And that’s saying something. Sure, a .22′s trigger needs more weight to ensure reliable ignition strikes on rimfire ammunition. But this is an LCR; the gun that revolutionized revolver triggers. In this case, not.

A strong wind was kicking-up dust during my first range session with the Ruger LCR-22. Even when I wasn’t shooting the revolver, the wheelgun was collecting a nice layer of sand and grit. Under those conditions, accuracy testing was relatively pointless.

I will simply say that the LCR will shoot to point of aim. If you’re plinking, you can fire away with a reasonable chance of hitting your target. As with any snub-nosed revolver, precision shots require a lot of experience and good technique. As a short-range self-defense weapon, the LCR gets it done.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LgxJPvx2vg

To check the LCR-22′s reliability, I shot 50 rounds (each) of CCI Stingers, Velocitors, Velocitor hollow point and .22LR Shot shells. No problems. Ditto Federal Premium Target Loads and Winchester Super X (Hyperspeed Hollowpoints). When I fired 100 rounds of CCI Mini Mags Solids, I had more than a few “duds.”

The LCR-22′s owner’s manual—well, the insert inside the standard LCR manual—points out that rimfire manufacturers use different types of brass for their cases and various lubricants on their bullets. The company advises LCR-22 owners to avoid ammunition with heavy coatings of bullet lubricants. (Thanks for that.) Ruger has one recommendation for any extraction issues or misfires: clean the weapon.

When the LCR-22 went click instead of bang, I took a small patch and wiped down the frame area by the firing pin and cylinder channel. The problem dissipated; I attributed these misfires as gunk build up.

And then I fired Federal Premium Game-Shok Solids. After a few cylinders, the trigger was almost impossible to pull. I had to use a small ammo box to push/force the plunger to extract the rounds. I didn’t make it through ten rounds.

Firing (or attempting to fire) Hollowpoint CCI Mini Mags led to total lockup. Another frame wipe didn’t solve the problem. I didn’t make it through 16 rounds.

After my range session, I checked the LCR-22 again to see how the finish held up. New marks had appeared. It seems that the starfish shaped ejector was cutting into the frame below the firing pin, causing the marks as the cylinder rotated during firing.

When I rotated the cylinder and tried to lock it back up into the frame on some chambers, the release button would pop out immediately (as it should). On others, the button would take a brief moment to pop back out (maybe half a second). Perhaps the cylinder was not fitted properly to the frame and/or the timing was off.

Other reviewers have recommended the LCR-22 for elderly or less-abled buyers looking as a relatively foolproof (compared to semi-automatic pistols) lower recoil (compared to higher caliber handguns) self-defense firearm. I don’t see it. The LCR-22′s ammo issues are deeply worrying. And there’s no getting around it: the revolver’s off-the-charts trigger pull makes the LCR-22 a no-go for shooters with limited hand strength.

Given LCR-22′s steep price of admission, RF’s identical trigger troubles with the SP-101 in .22, and Ralph’s condemnation of the SR-22′s stiff double-action trigger pull, I believe older or new shooters would be better off with a “regular” .38 caliber LCR—damn the recoil. Either that or a Smith & Wesson Airweight Model 351PD, seven-shot .22 Mag revolver.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Ruger LCR .22LR
Caliber: .22LR
Magazine capacity: 8 rounds
Materials: Polymer and Stainless Steel
Weight empty: 14.9 oz.
Barrel Length: 1.875”
Overall length: 6.5”
Sights:  Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
Action: Double Action only
Finish: Matte Black, synergistic Hard Coat
Price: $792 retail

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style  * * * *
A space-age futuristic concept revolver made real. Alternatively, fugly.

Ergonomics (carry)  * * * * *
A lightweight, easily concealed handgun that fits any LCR holster, of which there are many.

Ergonomics (firing)  * *
Heavy trigger pull ruins the gun. The effort required to make the LCR-22 go bang may reflect Ruger’s desire to avoid light primer strikes at any cost, but at $792 (retail) I expect more. Or less.

Reliability  * * *
Fired all types of ammo—save the mini mags and highly lubricated ammo.

Customize This  * *
Laser grips and that’s it. Not a big deal for a snubbie.

Overall Rating  * * *
Its big brothers offer the world’s best revolver trigger. The LCR-22 does not.

58 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger LCR-22

  1. avatarHulley says:

    Damn, I had been eyeing the LCR-22 to go with my LCR-38+P because I love shooting .22lr but not at this much hassle. Maybe I’ll go for the SP101 in .22lr instead.

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Caution! Same trigger trouble.

      • avatarBob says:

        I have an sp101 .22 and a gp100 .357. These triggers are super easy to fix with spring kits from wolffe.

    • avatarJerry says:

      I made the mistake of believing this gun would be a good gun for young shooters, in particular, my daughter.

      My gun has all the attributes I’d expect from a Ruger revolver, sound, sturdy, and ugly. The trigger that is touted about by Ruger themselves leaves a lot to be desired. My gun is no better than any other .22lr revolver I’ve fired. Whatever the friction reducung cam was suppose to do, it didn’t with the LCR 22.

      The ruger web site says you can change out the front sight with those offered on shopruger.com. This is not true, every sight option they offer for the LCR says they are not compatiable with the .22lr version.

      I’d rate my gun along the same lines of a Charter Arms Pathfinder but I paid more for this without any benefit.

    • avatarS.CROCK says:

      i WOULD recommend getting the lcr-22, not sp101-22. i have shot the sp101-22 and it had a super heavy trigger pull. i have dry fired the lcr-22, easy easy easy trigger pull.

    • avatarGary Cushing says:

      I bought a LCR 22 for my wife and I to try as a possible carry gun for her. She has no problem with the trigger pull and has had an issue with other double action revolvers. The low recoil has allowed her to concentrate on form and has improved her accuracy. I’m able to hit a 12×12 consistantly at 25 yards and I’m fairly new to hand guns. I have had some issues with ejecting some ammunitions but it has improved with use and cleaning, maybe some breakin time. The strong trigger pull for me is a good thing for a pocket gun.

  2. avatarMonty says:

    Four stars of style for being uglier than Sarah Jessica Carter after a bare knuckle boxing match?

  3. avatardon rap says:

    shame… hey, Ruger.. could you please make one in .32 acp, please

  4. avatarLeftShooter says:

    Steven:

    Very good & thorough review, thanks. I had looked forward to testing this gun myself for research I’m conducting about ease of trigger pull and I’m so sorry that the trigger on this one is so hard. To me the triggers on the .38 and .357 LCRs are not only very smooth, but they seem to offer more leverage to someone with a weak hand. And, there are some ammunition manufacturers (Buffalo Bore, among others) that sell standard .38 Special, short-barrel defensive ammunition that may be more manageable for those that are recoil-sensitive.

    I have my (purchase) sights set on the Ruger SP-101 in .22 caliber and I wanted to see Robert’s review that you mentioned, but I cannot find anywhere on the site the review for an SP-101 in .22 caliber. (Your link #2 takes me to a 2/21/11 review for an SP-101 in .357.) Is it possible for you to publish that specific link?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      Uh, well, I haven’t written it yet. In the interests of our readers, I took the gun to a gunsmith for a trigger job and added a Hogue grip. The initial mod didn’t work; at eight pounds—down from 14—certain types of ammo didn’t ignite. I’m picking it up again this week. Hopefully, done by Friday.

      • avatarLeftShooter says:

        Thanks, and I look forward to the review. (No pressure, just have it on my desk by 0700 on Friday!) ;-)

      • avatarAharon says:

        RF,

        I too am looking forward to your review of the SP101 in .22 caliber. A customized eight pound pull and certain types of ammo didn’t ignite? Interesting to know. Hope the second mod attempt works.

    • avatarScuba Steve says:

      Your Welcome. Glad you enjoyed the review.

  5. avatarCurzen says:

    It’s a shame that they went the SP101 route and ignored the LCR platform when they developed a 3″ revolver for the .327 magnum.

  6. avatarSteve L says:

    I’ve got a S&W Model 63, stainless steel, 3″ barrel, 8 shots. It’s as easy to conceal as any J frame and has a great trigger. After literally thousands of rounds, I’ve never had any ammo problems. It shoots accurately and is worth every penny of the $680 I paid for it. I love it.

  7. avatarTio Volatito says:

    Good review. The retail price of the LCR 22 without the laser grips is $525, with the street price under $450. That’s still not cheap, though, compared to the Taurus 94 revolvers. And a .22 plinker is about fun and value. I was fortunate enough to find a used 617-4, 4″ barrel, no lock, 10 rounds in good shape for a little over $500. Pricey, but it’s one of my favorites.

  8. avatarAharon says:

    Thanks for the review. I am a Ruger man (plan to buy more Rugers) and yet I really enjoyed reading a published review that criticized and found faults or weaknesses with one of Ruger’s guns. Personally, I have never seen a use for the LCR in .22 caliber. The LCR versions in 38 or 357/38 are only a few ounces heavier and make for a far superior defense weapon. The LCR 357 version is one I am considering for purchase in the future.

  9. avatarI_Like_Pie says:

    To author,

    Note that the weights that you are quoting for the .22 are correct, but there are two different variations in the models offered in .357 caliber. The models chambered in .357 have blackened stainless receivers to handle the extra pressure and recoil of the magnum chambering an weigh your quoted 17.1 ounces.

    The .38 special model is made with the same aluminum receiver as the .22 and weighs almost the same as your .22. The only weight difference being the material in the cylinder due to chamber size.

  10. avatarRalph says:

    Steve, thanks for a very revealing review. As you noted, I was extremely disappointed with the DA trigger on the SR22 pistol, and you had similar issues and worse problems with the LCR-22. I cannot understand why Ruger would risk a brilliant reputation that it’s nurtured since 1949 by bringing guns to market with such poor triggers and sketchy manufacturing.

    Ruger’s management has been widely (and IMO correctly) regarded as superb, top notch and investment worthy. They need to get out in front of this situation now, before we change our minds.

    • avatarAustin says:

      I am getting to be of the opinion that people shouldn’t get their hopes up with a double action .22. As mentioned above, rimfire requires more energy to ignite the primer, so all the springs have to be stiffer. In the case of the LCR, there isn’t a hammer spur to cock for single action shooting, so there was bound to be disappointment.

  11. avatarTTACer says:

    $800 for a .22 revolver that is not reliable, no thanks.

    • avatarkoolaidguzzler says:

      800 for a .22 period = no thanks.
      Though of course it could probably be had for 500-600.

    • avatarS.CROCK says:

      msrp for the lcr-22 with laser grips is $792, but with the regular grips, its $525. but you can get $100 off of those prices at the actual dealer. a family member of mine got this gun and the final total with tax, background check, and a stupid handling fee was only $508

      • avatarS.CROCK says:

        a friend of mine got it. 2nd one i have shot now. LOVE both. my friend got it for $400 used w/ 2 speed loaders.

  12. avatarIdahoPete says:

    “With the gold standard .22 caliber Smith & Wesson Model 617 weighing in at 39 ounces and costing another $100, what choice is there?”

    The Smith & Wesson Model 351PD, 7-shot .22 Mag revolver in airweight configuration, with a hammer, and a fiber optic front sight. Used with the Hornady defense loads, about the same ballistics as a .380.

    About $500.

  13. avatarApf says:

    Bought one today and put 100 rounds of remington golden saber plinking. Nice to shoot and more accurate than I thought it would be. Experienced some problems extracting the cases.

    • avatarScuba Steve says:

      Make sure you try different ammo in this pistol. Remember that Mini-Mags and highly lubricated ammo caused this gun to lock up completely.

  14. avatarangel71rs says:

    My LCR22 has been problematic. Difficult extraction with different types of ammo. And cylinder binds up. Sent it in for service, came back Friday, shot it again Saturday. Improved, but problems still there. Going to send it in again, if they don’t get it right, will sell off at a loss (with disclosure). Very disappointed.

  15. avatarBryan Jones says:

    Thanks for the review. I have the LCR .357 and .22. The .22 allows me to get lots of range time practicing with the short site radius of a snubbie. Additionally, the trigger may be a little heavier, but after shooting 500 rounds with the .22 when I switch to the .357 I find I am right on, and have better trigger technique because of the heavier trigger on the .22. Perhaps not for everyone, but it works for me. I have shot over 3000 rounds without any problems, nor would I expect any with a Ruger. I have some wear marks as you mentioned, but, I am ok with that. This is a gun that gets a lot of use at the range.

  16. avatarTerry Lichtenberger says:

    I havent shot as many rounds as some have but the counts somewhere close the 500 mark and myself have found it to be accurate, maybe not a target gun but what distance are you shooting a little sub 2″ snubbie? The trigger is heavy yes but my wife has strengh problems in her arms and hands do to health issues and for years has shot her 4″ Smith but it’s too heavy for her to hold steady. She looked at others and found she liked the little LCR22 so much that she bought one as well I did also, both of us like plinking with them.
    I think some are trying to get something out of it thats not thereand never will be, if i want to punchholes in paper or animals then I will get the long bbl’d Ruger target out but for screwing around these are great. By the way I feel the same way about the SR22p but then like others these are just my opinions.

  17. avatarWiebelhaus says:

    I really want this but damn it’s effin’ expensive.

  18. avatarangel71rs says:

    Problems still there after 2nd service return. Details, pics and vids here for anyone interested: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=486885

  19. avatarDavid says:

    I think it’s Great little revolver. Light and very accurate. The only thing that irritates me is ejecting the spent rounds. They stick! I have to knock out the spent shells then . . lube it with G96 Gun Treatment. Is there something better to lube the cylinder eject?

  20. avatarThomas says:

    Extraction problems seem to be a common problem with these air-lite .22 revolvers, I have the same extraction problems with the S&W model 317, after 16 rounds I have to use either a handerchief to force the extractor or tap it with a small hammer to eject the shells, what causes this ?

  21. avatarThomas says:

    Seems with these air-lite .22 revolvers after they have been shot after several cylinder reloadings the cylinder expands from heat and extraction becomes more and more difficult especially with the brass casing .22 bullets, today I used the .22 CCI stinger ammo which has nickel plated .22 shells, I did not have any extraction problems, try CCI stinger ammo and avoid the cheaper bulk ammo, 500 rounds etc !

  22. avatarDerek says:

    I bought this little LCR for my wife…..I like the gun, but my wife and daughters have a real issue with the trigger pull, in fact they have to use both their trigger fingers to pull the trigger. (Not the proper technique, I know!! I know!!) The other thing that I dislike is the extractor… it seems like the brass is suck inside the cylinder, its almost like the firing pin squishes the brass between the cylinder and the chamber.

  23. avatarLouise says:

    I bought one and so far it is great. I have extremely compromised hand strength but no problem with the trigger pull or recoil. I am a jeweler and my thumbs are nearly out of commission, so could not use a hammer. The Judge makes my hands sore for days. Mine may just be a fluke, but we get along fine.

  24. avatarBigtime99 says:

    Wow… Glad I did not read this review prior to buying the revolver. These negative remarks would have stopped me and I would have possibly been deprived of this very cool handgun. I have had it for one week and have shot 1000 rounds through it with about 20 different kinds of ammo. No issues at all. The trigger pull is no where near as bad as these comments would suggest. In fact, I like it and can shoot this pistol just as accurately as my Walther P22 which has a longer barrel and has a much easier trigger pull. This gun is fun to shoot and feels great in the hand.

    I did have some of the cheaper ammo stick in the cylinders but nothing that a little tap on the shell extractor wouldn’t resolve. Which happens on my Smith air light 442 and my Ruger New Vaquero as well. And the comment above about the gun totally locking up due to oily or greasy ammo is just ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with my Ruger LCR 22.

    • avatardave says:

      I agree. I bought this as my first handgun. Plan on also buying the 357 version but thought this would be a good way to start. first day at the range i fired almost 400 rounds with no problems at all. My friends who went with me are seasoned gun owner and all thought it was a great little revolver. I see the crazy high prices listed for this gun. I paid $420…Thought that was fair. Can’t wait for the weather to get better again so I can get back to the range.

  25. avatarjoesam says:

    i don’t know where you guys are buying your ruger lcr, but you are getting hosed by your dealer paying 7 to 800 for them. i bought the 22 and 38 for under 420 each. my 2 daughters and my wife shoot them both with no trouble with trigger. somebody is blowing smoke about trigger pull.

  26. avatarJulie says:

    Love this gun! I have a S&W 9 mm and a S&W 357 revolver. I wanted something for self defense to carry. This is lightweight but has no recoil. My 357 has enough kick that, as a woman, I anticipate that kick sometimes. I didn’t want to have to think about the slide being locked in on the 9 mm. I didn’t want anything that would deter me from my objective, which is to pull a trigger at close range and get the job done. The trigger is smooth and not at all hard to pull. It goes with me wherever I go. My daughter shot mine and is now buying one too. btw I only paid $450 NEW so somebody took you to the cleaners.

  27. avatarMax says:

    First, the “reviewer” should not quite his day job. this was a very poorly written review. Secondly, it was . . . only one guy’s . . . limited experience with this revolver. Before moving my daughter up to my 640 I bought this for her to practice with something similar. As an inexpensive trainer, this revolver fills the bill. Would I trust it beyond that, no. I have read several dozen personla accounts of this revolver buying it and this is without the most biased. More trugger pull required than a GP100, put the crack pipe down, clean out, and review it with a clear head.
    BTW, I paid $430 for it and it was a LOT cheaper than a S&W J-Frame .22 . . . Have fun!

  28. avatarpadpakmu says:

    It was very misleading about the sight when XS sight system had an ad in the box and I bought the pistol because I intended to install that sight ! Very misleading for Ruger to allow them to do that to me. NOT happy. Can’t put that sight on the .22. or at least XS told me.

  29. avatarPhyllis R says:

    Just bought the LCR 22 by Ruger and am anxious to pick it up in a couple of days. I did find the trigger
    quite heavy and a bit hard to pull at the gun shop, but I think I can manage it. Am a beginner and like
    this little piece a lot. I had wanted Ruger 22/44 Lite, but I have read and was told by gun shop owner that they are a bear to get back together after taking apart..so the revolver won out. I paid $479 for mine. The
    MSRP is $525 and I know they can be had for a bit cheaper.

  30. avatarcjm says:

    I’ve had several Rugers over the course of 30 year.and as of today I own none of their products.quality control as well as some other new designs have went to hell since the introduction of Prescott Arizona facility.and I know I’m not the only one that sees that.

  31. avatarPhyllis R says:

    Okay, took my new Ruger LCR 22 to shoot at the range for the first time yesterday. I absolutely love
    this piece. Used CCI 22 LR and it performed flawlessly, aside from casings sticking a couple of times when I went to unload. I am a beginning shooter and hit the target fairly well with this baby at 30 feet and even got a couple of bullseyes. Today I will receive a trigger mount laser which goes in front of the
    trigger and which cost me $79 through Amazon. Can’t wait to get it and go shooting again.

    Somewhere I read that 22 short ammo should not be used with this gun. I did purchase some of this
    ammo bc it was cheap, but am hesitant to try it. Has anyone used 22 short in this piece.

  32. avatarDave Dubya says:

    I have this in 22lr and 357. Love them both, tho the trigger pull in each are completely different. Paid 409 for 22 and 439 for the 357.

  33. avatarDavid says:

    LMAO! If anybody here thinks that the LCR-22 has a stiff trigger pull? Then you have never handled or shot the smith and wesson 317, or for that matter the smith and wesson model 63!! The LCR has the best double action of any 22 on the market period!

  34. avatarBill T says:

    I haven’t had the extraction problems at all with at least 8 different ammo brands and types including shorts and shot loads. I had to send the gun back to Ruger because the cylinder would slide off the crane with pressure. Got the gun back in less than a week good to go. I did have the little screw under the cylinder release button back out, but a little lock tite solved that. Accuracy is good. 15 yards, 3″ and 25 yards about 5-6″ depending on the ammo. I bought the gun to carry in a back pack and in my game vest while hunting and for this its great, Very fun gun to shoot. I think a extraction problem could be easily fixed by polishing the chambers with some Flitz, much like one would do to and auto’s feed ramp. The trigger is stiff but with practice, can be staged and shot like a single action.

  35. avatarMark says:

    Can’t quite relate to any of what you’re saying, but maybe Ruger has made improvements to later models of the LCR 22. Fit and finish seem very good. The trigger pull is heavy initially but the break point is short so you don’t have to cope with that heavy pull all the way through. I’ve put about 400 rounds through mine and not had a single misfire so far. I also only paid $400 for mine, so I think you got ripped off price wise. My youngest son, who has never shot, tried this gun on his first trip to the range and loved it. He had no trouble with the trigger pull and, at 7 yards, consistently put his shots inside the 8 ring at worst. All this from a total beginner. I think you might be expecting too much from a snubbie. They’re always crude and rough, but challenging and fun to shot. My only complaint with the LCR 22 is the aluminum cylinder heats up considerably after you shot it a lot, kind of like the aluminum cylinder block in my friend’s old Chevy Vega that was always leaking and overheating.

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