Gun Review: Lionheart LH9

It’s not often that something “new” comes on the market. With the popularity of the AR-15 and other mostly modular firearms designs, gun manufacturers have taken to making small changes and calling the result a “new” gun. Which pisses me off to no end. But in this case, not only do we have a new manufacturer with a new gun for the U.S. market, but they have an interesting and actually “new” feature as well. The question: is it any good? . . .

Lionheart Industries is the American-based importer for S&T Daewoo, a Korean firearms manufacturer that’s been producing the K5 pistol since the 1980′s. The LH9 is the American version of that handgun, now being introduced to US buyers for the first time. And while there may be a stigma associated with Asian-manufactured firearms among some US gun owners, Daewoo has been known as a quality manufacturer for ages and makes some very nice stuff.

LH9, c Nick Leghorn

That manufacturing background certainly shines through with the LH9. Despite the rather involved machining required to create the handgun, everything feels nicely fit and polished. The slide moves back and forth freely, the parts are smooth and well formed and even the grips feel like they were hand fitted to the gun. The overall appearance of the LH9 is clean and polished, and I like it. Even the logo looks bad-ass.

In therms of the basic functions, the gun works, plain and simple. I had one failure to extract when I was running the gun, but since I was using remanufactured ammo I’m more likely to attribute that to a crappy case rim than any mechanical issue with the gun. After running hundreds of rounds without any other malfunctions, that seems like a fair conclusion.

LH9 Target, c Nick Leghorn

Accuracy in single action mode is pretty good as well. The standard 10 yard target shows 4 rounds through the same hole before I screwed up the group. Yes, I take full responsibility for pulling that shot.

Speaking of single action mode, while the single action trigger pull may not be the crispest I’ve ever felt, it isn’t half bad. There’s a pretty clean break and a nice positive reset. That said, the trigger system is the downfall of this gun.

LH9 hammer, c Nick Leghorn

The LH9 has a single action mode, where the trigger releases a cocked hammer. It also has a double action mode, where the trigger cocks the hammer and then releases it to fire the gun. And then it has a “double action+” mode that’s its claim to fame. Here’s how it works:

  1. Rack the slide, loading a live round into the chamber. This cocks the hammer back to full cock.
  2. DO NOT PULL THE TRIGGER. In fact, flip the safety on.
  3. Using your finger, push the hammer forward towards the firing pin. There is a firing pin block, so the gun shouldn’t go off without the trigger being pulled.
  4. When ready to fire, flip the safety off. A light touch of the trigger will snap the hammer back to full cock and give you a single action trigger pull.

Here’s a quick video of the system in action to give you a better idea of how it works:

In theory, this gives you all the benefits of a single action trigger and a double action trigger combined. In reality, though, it’s more like you get all of the drawbacks of both.

The trigger pull may be longer, but its much lighter. Even compared to the single action trigger pull, the double action + trigger feels much lighter as there’s really no break. Your finger is moving too fast to feel it. Something about momentum, I’m guessing. Anyway, the big advantage to double action is the weight of the trigger pull which keeps you from accidentally pulling the trigger acts as its own safety. This gun doesn’t have that.

LH9 safety, c Nick Leghorn

Since the “double action +” pull is lighter than a normal double action gun’s, you need to use the frame mounted safety. And in my opinion, the safety is impossible to use under stress. It’s simply too small to hit with any certainty when you’re hustling to take a shot. RF’s of the opinion that the 1911 is terrible for self defense because of the manual safety, and the only reason I disagree is that the safety on my Wilson Combat is MASSIVE. That makes it easy to find and disengage under pressure.

The LH9′s safety, on the other hand, is roughly the size of a Tic Tac. Even under the best of circumstances, it’s tough to find and flip it at the range. So if its tough in a no-pressure environment like the range, I shudder to think how it would work (or not) in the middle of the night with a home intruder bearing down on you.

LH9, c Nick Leghorn

I really wanted to like this gun. And on a flat range where punching holes in paper is your only concern, it’s pretty darned good. It feels nice, looks sharp and shoots well. But this gun is an accident waiting to happen. When you’re depending on a gun to save your life, you want something that works easily and intuitively. And thanks to the terrible safety and the way-too-light trigger in “double action +” mode, I wouldn’t recommend this handgun to anyone.

Note to the manufacturer:

  1. Bigger safety
  2. Decocker for full-on DA mode
  3. Did I say bigger safety?

Fix those and then we’ll talk. But for now, for the money, stick to a Glock.

Specifications:

Caliber: 9mm
Frame: Milled aluminum, black or FDE
Sights: 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 4.10″
Length:7.5″
Weight: 28.0 ounces unloaded
Capacity: 13 or 15 round mags
Price: $615 msrp

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Style * * * * *
It looks great. Everything from the slope of the frame to the design of the logo is top notch.

Ergonomics (firing) * * *
The gun feels good in the hand and recoil is mitigated very nicely. But that DA+ trigger pull is neither intuitive nor accurate. And the tiny safety . . . yikes.

Reliability * * * * *
Only one cycling issue, but I think that was ammo related.

Customize This
The sights are removable, but that’s about it. Right now there are no aftermarket parts.

Overall *
It looks good, but the word ‘dangerous’ comes to mind. I would hesitate to recommend this gun for anything except having fun at the range.