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.

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95 Responses to Gun Review: Lionheart LH9

  1. ” There is a firing pin block, so the gun shouldn’t go off without the trigger being pulled.”

    A phrase that fills me with confidence. 8)

    • Well, I’m sure some of that was self-protection. If Nick had said “…won’t go off without the trigger,” there’d have instantly been a hundred keyboard commandos in here saying, “Yes it can…” and “I knew this guy…” and “I had my safety on and…”

  2. I always trust TTAG to pull no punches… sounds like the safety was a big issue. Was it mainly the size (too small), or was it also too stiff to actuate as well? Also, I’m surprised there’s no video with this review… might be helpful to see the safety being used since that seems to be the main issue.

    Bummer. I was hoping for a positive review of this gun since the manufacturer is pretty much located in my backyard here in WA state. I’ll probably still give it a try, but I’ll definitely be aware of how the safety works in conjunction with the gun when I do.

    Hopefully Lionheart will work out the kinks in its Mark II, the railed version they’re working on.

  3. Woof. Take a page out of Kia’s book, people. If you want to sell a hunk of inferior Korean metalwork, you’ve got to sell it cheap!

    • How is it inferior metalwork? Leghorn specifically PRAISES that aspect of the pistol.

      I got the distinct impression of “very well made, just poorly implemented”.

      I still agree that it should probably be a little cheaper, though.

    • Sure in 1992. When kia was unknown. Or Hyundai in 1986. Now they both make luxury sedans that compete with German, Japanese, and american cars costing 20k more.

      That is coming from a born and bred detroit born jeep and chevy truck driving guy. Do not blurry your head in the sand so long that you can’t rise again. It almost killed us big auto twice now.

      Your still in mid 90s. Hyundai has been good to very good and a value leader since 2001.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. So many guys out there think it’s cool to knock something that isn’t American made. Hello! They are living in the 70’s not the 90’s. This pistol’s trigger system is completely safe. If one has the brains to operate a remote for a television, they can easily master the trigger system. Leghorn sounds like a typical gun snob. If it doesn’t say, Glock, Springfield, Kimber or Sig on the side he’s gonna find something wrong with it. They still haven’t found where Croatia is on the map. You know the place where they make their venerable XDs. These Korean guns have more features than a Sig Sauer. They have a long track record of “hell and back” reliability and are half the price of a Sig. Oh by the way, they have Ceracote , ceramic finishes. But let the Tactical Teddy bears go on with there criticism. They’ll go the way of Triumph motorcycles. All but extinct, except for those nostalgia buyers reminiscing for the days of their black and white television youth. These are the same guys that slammed plastic guns. But that’s okay. Tupperware guns are all over the world now, the standard for PDs across America. Read part two of this guns review in the link provided. Leghorn ends up looking like a neanderthal . But I don’t mean that in a bad way.

        • ^ I agree with you. I actually own a LH9N and the double action + is simply an option, if you dont like it, dont use it. I wouldn’t overlook this handgun because Leghorn says so. I take all his reviews with a grain of salt because I feel he is more biased than honest.

          Pass this review and read part 2.

    • I have several of these pistols that I’ve given to family members. Far from inferior, this pistol is reliable, accurate and as safe as a gun can be while still maintaining its function. The South Korean military has no unusually high reports of negligent discharges, so I’m at a loss as to why Leghorn thinks it’s unsafe when he has a Glock as his favorite with zero external safety.

      Anyone who puts their hands on one can immediately see how well it’s made. The MKII is LionHeart Industries’ design as well. What’s different about the American version versus the one sent to the South Korean military? The grips, tactical rail, the sights, the magazine, the slide serrations and the Cerakote (courtesy of Mad Custom Coating) all for a price in 1988 dollars that’s even better than it was before it was upgraded.

      Nice job, LionHeart Industries!

  4. This pistol does look reeeeally cool. But boatloads of bad things have happened when the word “shouldn’t” was used. I do disagree with the idea of a safety being counterintuitive and possibly dangerous, every single time I grab my 1911 my thumb moves to the safety. Do I understand the appeal of having a gun that you can grab and shoot right away? Of course. But for me, the peace of mind of having that safety is worth the minuscule amount of time necessary to flick it down. As always, YMMV.

    • Same here on the safety, I disengage the safety on my PT-111 with my thumb as part of my drawing motion. That being said, the Sprinfield pistols with both a pressure plate on the back and trigger safety I think I could live with.

    • +1

      I have been shooting a 1911 for many years. You can train yourself to disengage the safety by using a drill 15 minutes a day for about 2 weeks. You repeatedly draw and push down with your thumb. It becomes automatic. It has become such a habit that I do it with every pistol I own including those without a safety. I realized I can’t use my wife’s M-9 because my thumb always push down on the draw. Beretta built a gun that engages the safety on the downstroke. Works for her but not for me.

      The safety is off before the barrel is out of the holster.

        • A valid point. I do however draw a parallel between the practice I got playing water polo and practice using a firearm, in that yes, practice for the most part lacks the same intensity as a game (and of a gunfight, by a WIDE margin), but the manner in which I prepare for a shot in water polo is dictated precisely by how I prepared for shooting in practice. In this manner, I feel my athletic background is a major plus in practicing for using my firearms. One drawback for firearms training versus athletic training is that said firearms training costs substantially more than practicing water polo. Is that training worth it? Of course. But, financially speaking, it is FAR easier for me to practice and excel at water polo than it is to practice and excel with firearms. I am now, shooting-wise, at the level I was as a 10 year old water polo player (started playing polo as a seven year old). Is the raw material there? I’d like to think so. But it’s going to take many more years, and consequently many more Benjamins, to reach what I see as the high level of firearms proficiency that I wish to achieve.

        • All training is artificial since you aren’t going to die. If I know I am going into a fight the safety is off. In a real fight it’s all reflex so if have trained to hit to desafe your weapon you are going to act on instinct. There are a lot of German, Japanese, North Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese widows and orphans who understand this.

        • Let me know when water polo training can save your life, then we can talk about cost differences.
          I’m also guessing you’re not paying for the pool maintenance…

  5. “now being introduced to US buyers for the first time”

    Isn’t it more accurate to say ‘being introduced for the first time under this model name’? I have seen plenty of Daewoo’s in the DP-51 guise in the hands of US buyers. Which sure seems to be the same exact gun with different finish and grips. IIRC the DP-51 could use S&W 59XX mags. Is that true for the LH9 as well?

    • You are correct, the DP-51 was imported into the US back in the 1990’s. It was more affordable in those days, but the unique double action system never really caught on. The gun slipped quietly from the market until Lionheart reintroduced it. It’s the same gun as the DP-51, and it’s been used by the South Korean military as the K5 for a couple of decades.

      I don’t have an issue with the operating system. It’s unique, but I don’t find it to be particularly complex. I don’t think it would replace my G19 as my carry gun any time soon, but I do find it to be an interesting piece of military history and I would like to own one for that reason alone. I just wish the price were more attractive.

    • LionHeart did some real upgrades to this gun. They upgraded the slide, hammer, sights, grip and surface treatment. In essence, it’s a different gun to use, but functionally identical in the way that is most meaningful. It’s light, accurate, reliable and extremely durable. The machining and attention to detail are impressive for a gun that sells for about $679 in it’s most upgraded form.

  6. Dear lord, what a disaster of a gun… first you push the hammer forward trusting a safety to ensure the gun doesn’t fire. Then, when you are getting the gun ready to fire, you break the first rule of gun safety and you not only put your finger on the trigger, but you pull it… trusting that the gun will not go off the first time you pull the trigger, but it will the second. I am at a loss for words.

    • ht4, you wouldn’t (or shouldn’t!) actually ever pull the trigger to set the hammer back again in DA+ mode unless you’re actually going to take a shot.

      This system is a whole lot like FN’s SFS that they put into the Hi-power, except for the addition of a double action option as well.

      The SFS did not go over well, and I think FN dropped it after the inital run.

      • El Guapo, that’s all true… but try to think like the less gun-educated masses. When they hear a bump in the night and take out their gun, you know that the first thing they will do is pull the trigger (“to get the gun ready”)… but what if they don’t remember the first time they did it and do it again? or if they never decocked it? It’s an accident waiting to happen… make no mistake about that.

        • Ooooooo.

          That’s an ugly scenario you just lined out. Yeah, I think “unsafe” does sum it up.

        • ht4 you don’t seem to understand how it works, if the safety’s off and you pull the trigger it will go bang, there is no “first pull”. The pull of the trigger cocks the hammer and releases it just like normal double-action, it just doesn’t have to compress the hammer spring so the pull is very light, in fact if you pull slowly the trigger will actually “fall” back to the single action-position. functionally it works like Walthers “anti-stress” trigger on the famous P99 but with a frame-mounted safety rather than a slide-mounted decocker.

    • If you get a chance, you should put your hands on one at a local gun store. You’ll quickly see that your trepidation is not warranted. Yes, you can two-stage the trigger if you want to, but that’s not the way most people wind up using it. It has a manual safety – use it or don’t, it’s completely up to you and your personal manual of arms. If you’re like me, I keep the safety on while I holster the weapon. Once it’s securely in my holster and the trigger is covered up, I drop the safety. No matter how hard or forcefully you slam that hammer forward onto the firing pin, the gun will absolutely not fire unless the safety is off AND the trigger is pulled. That’s because like many modern guns, the firing pin is captive until it is release by squeezing the trigger all the way in.

      This is a deceptively simple and robust design.

  7. It seems to me that whomever came up with this action didn’t really understand the whole point of carrying with the hammer down (unless of course *I* missed the point). When carrying with the hammer down one has removed all the potential energy from the hammer, so you need to PUT energy into the hammer to make the firearm discharge thus making it “safe”. This whole automatic cocking of the hammer thing keeps that potential energy in the hammer, so I fail to see what the whole point is (maybe it’s more comfortable to carry without the hammer hanging out?)

    • Saying that a hammer resting in the ‘down’ position has potential energy makes as much sense as saying that a ball resting on the ground has potential energy.
      .
      Yes, the spring is still compressed in the LH9, but the hammer is down. The only way for the gun to fire is to pull the (very light) double-action trigger, thereby pulling the hammer back.

      And if you don’t like the Double-Action Plus system, the solution is simple: don’t use it. Just treat the gun like any other double-action pistol.

      • How can you use it like any other DA pistol? I love this gun, just ordered one actually from Bud’s, but I can’t see how you can get it into a traditional DA mode if you have to rack the slide to chamber a round and then pushing the hammer forward puts it in DA+ mode. How is the pistol decocked to enter a DA mode?

        • I haven’t used one of these guns, but I’d bet you carry hammer down the old fashioned way:

          1) Point muzzle in safe direction

          2) Hold hammer back with weak hand

          3) Press trigger and gently lower hammer.

  8. The gun business has to be one of the least innovative in the world. New releases have been an endless parade of single stack 380s/9mms, 1911s, ARs, and Glock knockoffs.

    Look at the last half dozen or so new releases from Ruger. A P3AT copy, a PF9 copy, a combination of those two copies, a Colt 1911 copy, and a J-frame imitation. And then everyone jumped in to copy Ruger’s copies.

    And what is Glock’s idea of innovation? Adding a spring and being the 114th company to offer replaceable backstraps.

    Practical or not, I’m happy to see that someone in the business had an original idea.

  9. This gun IS a Daewoo DP-51.

    And I’m not faulting Nick because I’ve yet to see a good description by anyone, but how the double action+ works and its function is not as “dangerous” nor as complicated as it sounds. I mean seriously, this is the issue sidearm for a country that’s been under constant threat of attack for half a century; its not perfect, but it’s not some ticking time bomb either.

  10. seriously, if you have a DA/SA gun with external hammer, and you really want to, or have time to, think about getting off a first shot in SA, just pull the friggin hammer back.

  11. Not every gun has to be defensive weapon. Most of us probably have a safe(s) full of capable CCW/HD/SHTF guns.

    It looks like it would be a fun range toy.

  12. $615 MSRP? No thanks, I’d prefer a CZ or Ruger for less bucks.
    A new feature, from a firm mostly unknown to the American gun community, without a real-world track record to consider the feature and manufacturer? No thanks, I prefer proven known guns.
    I’m no ones test kitchen meat loaf and thats the Truth.

    • Well thankfully not everyone thinks like you. If they did, there wouldn’t be any “proven” systems. If everyone was like you, the 1911 would be some nobody’s wacky, untested idea. Heck, the firearm itself wouldn’t even exist.
      .
      You don’t have to be an early adopter, but somebody does or progress never happens.

  13. Let’s see, $615 for an untested, unproven gun, $525 for a Glock, $500 for an M&P, $450 for an XD. No thanks.

        • My local gunshop had one of these in for $480, and last I checked the MSRP on a Glock was around $600…
          Comparing the MSRP on a new gun to the “I saw it for…” price of a well established gun is kinda pointless.

      • Well early 2000s they were about half price of a glock. On slick guns they had xds all the time for 400. I never see glocks for that price.

        Besides this is all metal. That costs more for materials, and eachbpass on a cnc.

        I will keep my sigs, cz, xd. But this is american made all steel. Compare it to other all steel american made handguns if we are nit picking price.

    • Untested and unproven? What makes you say that? This pistol has been the standard issued sidearm for the South Korean Military for over 20 years and being a South Korean myself, I have never, EVER heard of anyone talking about negligent discharges. Indeed, I did hear some negative comments on the barrel; heard someone saw a smooth bore K5 (LH9 is essentially an aesthetically improved K5 pistol), and realized that they haven’t replaced the barrel ever since it got issued 20 years ago and the rifling got scraped off from all the continuous firing. Nevertheless, the point I’m trying to make is that it isn’t untested and unproven… it may seem like it for the US customers, since the gun is new and all, but it is definitely ‘combat tested and proven’.

      • Thank you Jonah. This gun has been around for a long time. And if you don’t want to use the push forward hammer feature, you don’t have to.
        I’d rather have one of these than a Sig. It’s just as good and about $300.00 less. I could do some real practice with all of that.

    • This pistol is in an entirely different league than any plastic gun. Think Beretta 92 or Browning Hi Power. Don’t get me wrong I am a die hard Glock guy but a full frame steel 9mm pistol with a good SA trigger wins hands down in almost every category except CCW. Since American shooters are all about CCW the full frame metal guns usually take a backseat to the polymer guns. It boils down to preference and training of course but the Lion Hart is a smooth Cadillac and (insert any polymer pistol here) is a Honda Civic. Two different classes without doubt.

      P.S. the Lion Hart is on sale for $399 this Black Friday and no I don’t own one or have any affiliation with the company. Also the design is extremely well proven- don’t be silly.

    • Seeing since plastic guns cost a whole lot less to manufacture (Glocks cost about 80 bucks to make) than drop forged components do, I can’t for the life of me understand why you’d value a plastic gun that costs more than a forged metal gun which is CnC machined exact tolerances and then painstakingly fitted and tested to assure function and reliability and Cerakoted by the very best in the business – Mad Custom Coatings.

      But what you value is really none of my business.

  14. While I have rarely, if ever, disagreed with Nick I have to this time. I was at my LGS today when they got 2 of these L9’s in. The owner and I unpacked them, wiped them down and proceeded to go over them for functionality.
    I have carried and shot 1911’s for year(since 1981), and currently carry an SAR K2/45 which I absolutely love, having replaced my compact 1911 carry gun with the K2.
    After an hour or so of the owner and I playing with the L9’s I like the system!! We dry fired(usig snap caps), these probably 100 times each and never had any type of problems. The thumb safety is a tad small for me( kinda big thumbs, size 12 1/2 ring), but after three or four times I was natural to drop the safety as I drew.
    Now being in town we did not get to actually shoot them but otherwise it seems to be a viable carry gun with a little practice, as with any new firearm.
    My only real gripe just from handling them is adapting to operating it left handed, otherwise when the price drops a little may end up with one for shots and giggles.
    Just my opinion and as always ymmv!

  15. Another review of the pistol, in its Daewoo Dp-51 form.

    The guy is a bit goofy, but does a pretty thorough video review:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRKD_4IvE9I

    Reservations about the safety manipulation aside, I’m still itching to try one… if for nothing else to try to support a local gun manufacturer that trying to do something new. Mmm, Cerakote!

    • Heh, figured someone would link the firydeth video. I don’t suppose the magazines will be compatible w/the DP-51?

      • I’m guessing that will probably be. The gun’s design hasn’t been modified that much that the magazines would NOT be compatible… but then again, we’d someone with an original Daewoo DP51 to test it.

  16. Um, you want cocked and locked? There’s a gun for that. You want hammer down for the first shot? There’s a gun for that. You want a gun that requires odd manipulations to achieve the first two? What in blazes is wrong with you.

    If my finger’s on the trigger, I’m squeezing through to the shot. Staging the trigger in a questionable situation makes no sense.

    • Uh…I think your not understanding how the DA+ works. Its basically a ‘mode’ to carry the pistol in, so you can have a better, perhaps more comfortable first shot. You can carry this pistol cocked and locked. You can carry it in DA with safety off. But if you want to have the gun cocked but have the hammer down, safety off without worrying about ND, DA+ is the answer. You have the same length of pull as a DA, but have the weight of an SA. Of course, you’ll need a decent holster that covers up the trigger well, but otherwise its kind of like a striker fired pistol, like a glock. Summing up, DA+ is kinda like putting the pistol in a striker fire mode. So LH9 is like a gun that can be fired and carried in DA, SA, or like a glock, at least for the first round.

  17. Anything a human operates is an accident wanting to happen; you can’t tell me that you yourself have never screwed up, right?
    I’ve owned a LH9C from the first week they were in the local gun shop, Beararms.
    I had a Glock 19 Gen. 3 that I sold and don’t miss one bit now owning this little Asian hot rod.
    I don’t need another hand gun, one of these is just plain right, very concealable, you know you didn’t leave home without it, just plain fun at the range, different ways to get the rounds off, straight shooter with less recoil, faster action and better rail axis balance than any composite frame.
    My ability to operate the slide lock, mag release, and trigger safety with no problem, now that I have broken the 1000 rounds down the tube the safety works even smoother and easier.
    I shoot all over the target cause 50 holes in the same spot is a waste of paper.
    As for the heavy trigger weight of double action operation, snap cap practice, lots of it.
    No problem at all, then when it glides into single action on the second round you’re now in the WEEEeee mode, thing will do a full dump almost like a turbo kicking in at 3 grand in an STi.

    You’re low and left of the Bull on this one.
    “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.”

    • You’re definitely right about this one. I bought one early on and now have 8,000 rounds through mine with nary a hiccup, accident or glitch. I use it as my concealed 9mm and upgraded the Novak sights to Tritium. My little LH9C just feels right. I have one of just about every gun out there, but I have to admit this little guy is my all time favorite conceal carry piece.

  18. This weapon is exactly the same as the Daewoo DP-51, with slightly different grips, hammer, and slide serrations, I’m pretty sure every part is interchangable, they are identical, The (originally called and still probably more appropriate) tri-action trigger is the coolest thing since sliced bread! But it’s hardly a new concept, I’ve had my DP-51 for close to 20 years, it has the exact same trigger (cuz it’s the same gun). I have never had a problem with the action and it is much more pleasant to shoot then say a double action only Glock, Carrying with a round in the chamber is not a problem, you had to rake the slide to get it in there, it’s already in Tri or DA+ mode or whatever you want ot call it, all you have to do is flip up the safety, you’re cocked and locked. As soon as you take the safety off and put your finger on the trigger with the hammer back already, there is a very short trigger pull, it breaks clean, and it’s a hell of a lot quicker getting your first shot off, subsequent shots after that are normal double action. If you have moved the hammer back with your thumb to start position, there is staging, but not with the hammer back already. This concept might be a little different on first use, but nobody that has a weapon waits until a panic situation to first use it, a couple of trips to the range and you are good to go. If you use it as your self defense weapon, you know how it works, it doesn’t take any extra thinking or manipulation.

    I do disagree with the issue of the safety. I feel the safety is very easy to locate and quite natural to hit from your draw, it’s almost exactly the same as a 1911 but smoother. BUT I think your comfort level with this is also very dependent on your hand size. The main reason I bought my 51 was because I have small hands (size 8 ring), I can manipulate the safety, the hammer, the slide and the mag releases without having to move or tilt my hand, everything is just in the right place and very natural. This was not designed for big football player hands (origin -> Korea), If you have small to medium hands, everything is almost perfect. If you have big meaty hands (12.5 ring), this gun will probably not be for you. Easier, if you can palm a basketball, your fingers are just plain going to be in the wrong place to be really comfortable. Then again, YMMV, I’ve always had small hands so I really don’t know, but it works for me.

    This weapon concept was used by the Korean army for over ten years, I’d have to say it is safe, it was not made to be a cheap knock-off, it is an issued military grade weapon, I can easily say I’ve gone through thousands of rounds in the last 20 years and it has held up remarkable well, through a huge range of ammo loads and brands and I think I can count the FTE or FTF on one hand (still putting that off to reloads), very dependable. Now it’s being manufactured in the States instead of Korea, pretty much the only difference, it is exactly the same in form, fit and function as the DP-51.

    Now, 20 years ago, I bought mine for right around $250, so it was a pretty good deal! Then again I bought my SKS NIB at the same time and paid $90, we all know times and climate have changed dramactically. The case is pretty cool though, not many manufacturers are doing that. Now with the Lionheart LH9 in the market at least maybe I’ll be able to find more readily available mags.

    • It’s not manufactured in the states, it’s imported by lionheart and they put their name on it. Not that it’s necessarily bad to have a foreign made gun (I’ve never understood the problem with foreign products, aside from quality concerns), but just to get that out there. It’s still made by Daewoo, in Korea. They just put Lionheart’s name on it, and Lionheart imports and distributes it.

      • Oh, they do a whole lot more than just throw their name on it. The slide is different, their MKII is their own design. The sights are different, the grips, hammer and internals are all treated differently. This is more than a simply rebranded AK style clone gun. But you have to put one in your hands to know the difference. I’ve handled both and really like the LionHeart a whole lot more.

  19. tdiinva says:
    March 4, 2013 at 20:50

    All training is artificial since you aren’t going to die. If I know I am going into a fight the safety is off. In a real fight it’s all reflex so if have trained to hit to desafe your weapon you are going to act on instinct. There are a lot of German, Japanese, North Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese widows and orphans who understand this.

    “Yep, that is the answer I am looking for” I am off to buy one! Thanks!

  20. I am a bit confused… Throughout the whole review, I got the feeling the reviewer actually LIKED the weapon, commenting on its appearance, its feel, its accuracy etc. etc. – even its logo! But then at the end, as an overall rating, he gives it only a 1 star, indicating it is an ok weapon to play with at the range. I gather that the reviewer’s biggest concern is a “small safety”? This weapon has many safety features on-board that are no less designed for the safety of the shooter (and everyone else) than any other quality firearm out there. Personally, I like the smaller, out of the way, ambidextrous safety lever. In a tactical draw, it’s a simple process to deactivate the safety as you clear the holster and bring the weapon on target, then to reactivate the safety in a tactical re-holster. Personally, I prefer this “tiny” safety lever to the little push-button safety so many other weapons have. I don’t think the lever has anything to do with the blocking mechanism inside the weapon. You’re exhibiting a personal opinion on a safety feature of this weapon. I don’t think it’s fair to beat the weapon to death with 1 star and call it a range weapon because you don’t like the safety lever.
    There was no comment on how closely the LH9 (and Daewoo DP51) are “related” to the Smith & Wesson 5906 (it’s a copy)… They can even share magazines and likely some other parts. In my opinion, the S&W 5906 was a superior weapon to others in its class in many ways. The 5906 was trusted by me as a duty weapon while I was a Police Officer. Now, I have the predecessor to the LH9, the Daewoo Dp51, which follows the S&W 5906 in dependability. The Lionheart LH9 is exactly the same weapon in form and function as the DP51, including the “Double Action+” feature. It is manufactured by the same company, with only a slightly different outwardly appearance, so this is not a NEW weapon with NEW features. It’s an old, reliable car with a new paint job. The only difference is, the LH9 has a more tactical appearance than the DP51. Other than that, it’s a tried and true design and was the side-arm of choice of the South Korean military and law enforcement agencies.
    I have personally never had a single safety issue with the DP51. I trust it with my safety as it is often my CCW. I have no concerns with carrying this weapon for protection. It’s remarkably accurate, dependable and it eats any ammunition I put in it with no issues.

  21. I recently held one of these at a gun store recently and I was really impressed with the overall feel and size of this gun.

    Personally I’m a no-safety or safety always off kinda guy. How do you feel about this gun if you were to never engage the safety? It seems like the safety was your biggest qualm, and by eliminating that issue, then only the trigger (which felt amazing in store) is the issue.

  22. I’ve always wanted to have a Sig P228 but it is very expensive here in the Philippines. The hell and back reliability slogan of the gun manufacturer really proves the quality of their guns.. I fired a P226 a lot in the range (guns 4 rent), more on the 1911s, few glocks.. Navy seals use the P226 Navy, the British SAS use the P228, making me an avid fan of a Sig. I own a cal. 22 magnum as back up, a cal. 357 magnum, and a cal. 45 Colt 1911 pistol. I used to carry the 1911 almost all the time especially on military duties. Then I decided to buy a new pistol in cal. 9mm but still can’t afford to buy a Sig which I always wanted. A local gunsmith who happens to be a friend of mine offered a second hand 9mm pistol. I am not quite familiar with the model for I thought it was just a shortened version of a 92fs beretta or old Smith & Wesson pistol, it was a DAEWOO K5 (DP51). I laugh a bit at it knowing that Daewoo is a known heavy equipment and car manufacturer that now produces guns? So, i declined the offer. Two weeks later, he again offered the same pistol and its kinda cheap. I started to research on the gun’s history and am I stupid and admitting my ignorance, this is the pistol used by the ROK Army for the last 20 years! Range tested, combat reliable, war proven pistol. They are the same manufacturers that designed the hybrid Ak-47 and M16 combination of the DAEWOO K5 that caught popularity in various countries worldwide. So I got interested to investigate further the pistol. I surfed the net for blogs and videos to educate my ignorance about this little guy. And indeed this is a high grade meat. A combination of two very reliable good guns, Browning Hi-Power 9mm pistol (which the British SAS also use, that really caught my interest), and Smith & Wesson 39 model. So, i asked this friend to take it in the range and I’ll test it first to satisfy my curiousity. The gun is really damn accurate, once on sight itsurely hits the right spot. Not much recoil, it fires like a Sig P226! Even though it feeds on a hi cap mags, it fits my small hands just right. I don’t usually like hi-cap pistols because its to big for my hands, but this guy seems to fit just right. I didn’t see any problem with the safety cause as I have mention earlier I used to carry a 1911 pistol, with a few minutes of training, my thumb seemed to adjust easily with it. My only concern was the trigger. I am used to DAO system of the Sig so I found it confusing to the finger double action with a very soft trigger pull? I told a friend to give me a day or two to think about it but honestly I already have second thoughts of procuring the guy. So I went home surfed youtube and found FIRYDETH’s review on Daewoo DP51. Again, due to my ignorance to this gun, I found out later in the video that it uses a unique trigger system same as in FN’s, the triple action (fast action trigger system). If I only knew it from the beginning I should have tested it on the range. Getting myself familiar on how the pistol functions, I played the video over and over. The next day I asked my friend to take it again on the range maybe we could fire it again. That day I am more confident to use the gun having been educated in the blogs and videos, haha! Training myself to get familiar with its trigger system, I find it cool and unique. The double action system(triple action/fast action system) is in fact single action system that is why I was confused before for it to be so soft to pull. I love Sigs though I would admit it is indeed hard to hit the target accurately because of the heavy trigger pull on the first shot. ut this guy, it was way to easy having a consistent trigger pull. We left the range but I did not leave the DAEWOO K5 anymore, I bought it. I found this guy sweet. Not as bulky as the 92fs beretta or thick as a Glock, its more like a Sig P228. Very easy to conceal and you can carry it loaded without worrying your self to get an accidental fire anytime.
    Sad to say, I have read lots of bad comments regarding this gun from people who are not even acquainted to it. Its easy to make a comment on things we’ve heard about something but haven’t able to test the gun itself. I think many had enjoyed this gun as I do, depending on your training and preference. I believe if your a Sig, 1911, M&P, S&W, H&K USP, Walther user, you will very much appreciate this gun. But if your a Glock user, this may not be the gun of your preference. But who knows, you might like one. My daewoo is almost thirty years old now, but still I haven’t found any major problems with it. Very durable gun you can pass to your children or maybe your grandchildren. One more thing, almost everybody loves the Colt M16s, M4s.. Good news guys, they are the same company in South Korea that made the Daewoo DP51 when Colt left that country and now they call it the LIONHEART INDUSTRIES’ LH9 Pistol.. They are after all of the same material used in manufacturing the famous Colt M16s based in Korea.. I would say, I am lucky to have one.. I carry it every day on duty and off duty. Stay safe guys!

  23. Comment about the Daewoo “double action plus” safety system being like the original Walther P99 “anti-stress” trigger system is apt.

    Under ordinary use Walther 99 is a conventional DA/SA system with slide mounted decocker. After decocking the gun, the first shot is DA, with all subsequent ones being SA.

    The “catch” is that *IF YOU LIKE* (and only if you want to use it), you can activate the unique “Anti-stress” mode. The way you do that is just decock the gun normally over a live round, then rack the slide back about 1/4″. This cocks the internal striker, and causes the trigger to spring forward into the A/S mode.

    If you pull the trigger in the A/S mode there is several pounds of resistance, then suddenly the trigger jumps rearward with a very distinct feeling “pop” putting the gun into conventional single action mode. Pull AGAIN, and the gun fires with a standard SA pull, and every subsequent pull gives you another SA pull.

    The idea is that in A/S mode the trigger ITSELF acts as a sort of manual safety. Instead of flipping a lever on the frame or slide to disengage the safety you give the trigger itself a distinct pull to accomplish the same thing. In other words, carrying the gun in A/S mode is somewhat analogous to carrying it “cocked and locked”. . .even though it has no external hammer OR conventional external safety!

    The other supposed advantage is that if you’re holding the gun with your finger on the trigger (say you’re covering a perp at gunpoint, or maybe you’re just being negligent with your gun handling. . .you shouldn’t be, but in the real world sometimes people are), and there is a loud noise or something else that creates a “startle” response. With the A/S trigger activated, instead of discharging the gun, your reflex trigger finger squeeze will just pop the gun into SA mode, hence the name “anti-stress”.

    This explanation sounds very complicated, but in practice the “feel” is good and the A/S system is actually quite intuitive to use. Pull once to put the gun into fire mode, and again to actually fire it. If you’re in a pinch, you can pull all the way back and just fire it, though this gives you a pretty distinct “two stage” pull. If you don’t like a DA/SA trigger system, this is a lot better than carrying cocked and UNLOCKED, and since pulling the trigger is itself intuitive, no special conditioning is necessary to learn how to take the gun off “safe” into fire.

    But again, if you prefer a standard DA/SA system, then you simply don’t have to activate the “A/S” mode.

    Getting back to the Lionheart/DP51, its the same thing. If you like a conventional DA/SA system you can carry that way and entirely disregard the “DA+” system. If you want to go cocked and locked, again. . .same thing. But if you want something that gives you quick access to an SA-like pull without having to worry about disengaging a manual safety under stress, but that’s still safe to carry, the DA+ system provides that option to you.

  24. People are getting so caught up on pushing the hammer forward with the double action + mode. It is my understanding it isn’t even necessary and can still be used in standard DA/SA without ever having to use the double action +. So it seems it is an option available to those that might want it. For those that don’t, don’t…

  25. I have had a Daewoo DP5 (K5) back in the 90’s and I loved the sidearm, the only reason I didn’t keep it was that I was going overseas and no PDW’s were allowed and I sold it now skip forward to December 2012 I was shooting at my local indoor range and on a break I took a walk in the showroom, (as I always do, just to window shop) and in the case a DP51 well I asked the clerk if I could take a look at it. First thing was the pistol was in excellent condition but not loved the ramp was dirty as all get out and you could tell it was in someone’s drawer but hardly any rack/slide marks and the bore was clean and strong rifling, I racked it and pushed the hammer forward, well the clerk almost lost it never saw a pistol do that and I explained to him what the tri-action was and he laughed about it and then said oh well it is a “Daewoo” cant be a great gun, well I smiled and let him put in back in the case.

    I went home later on and while I was cleaning my Caspian Custom 1911 Commander, (a retirement gift from my family) I told the wife I saw a ghost and told her about the Daewoo, she also remembered the pistol and joked on how I used to love to shoot and carry it and she even remembers how down I looked when I sold it before we PCS it brought back memories of the her and the kids and such, we had a good trip down memory lane…(now comes the best part. did I mention I have the best wife in the world)

    The next day I was at work when I got a text with photo of the Daewoo in it asking if I have seen this ghost gun, I laughed and I said yes and what did she find a old photo of mine, she texted back and said no that she just bought it for me at the range and it will be waiting for me when I got home, talked about a long day at work.

    After spending about 3 hours cleaning and polishing it, it looked brand new and my wife sat next to me the whole time, talking about the “old days”. Well I took that Daewoo back to the range and showed not only the clerk but also the owner of the range and he also never heard of it, well after a few times using the tri-action trigger they both wanted to buy the gun back and I told them never (the wife worked them down to 200 plus tax and transfer) that this is my new carry, and to this date it is , yes the safety is a bit small but once your used to that tri-action you can send rounds faster then superman down range and as far as accurate they will do a 3″ group of 15 rounds at 15 to 20 yards shooting NATO 124gr.

    If the Lionheart is anything like its Grandfather (K5) then I would recommend this sidearm to them with no reservations.

  26. Funny to hear a Glock guy saying this is gun is “an accident waiting to happen”, since all Glocks are accidents waiting to happen and have happened over and over again…

  27. YOU GIRLS WORRY TOO MUCH. IT’S A GREAT FIREARM….JUST LIKE ANY OTHER, YOU PRACTICE WITH IT AND BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO IT’S FEATURES. IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE SAFETY, DON’T USE IT; HOWEVER, IT’S NICE TO KNOW THAT IT’S THERE. I CARRY THE DP51 OVER ALL OF MY OTHER HANDGUNS…I HAVE MANY…I NEVER USE THE SAFETY. THE DP51 LH9 MKII IS LIKE UNDERWEAR, PUT IT ON AND GO.
    I LOOK FORWARD TO ADDING MORE TO MY COLLECTION

    • I agree with you Tom. The write must have an axe to grind with the company. I am of the opinion the company is great and the gun is as well. It is a tool and a far better tool than many out there today. The writer was slanderous in my opinion.

  28. I may be a bit late to the party.
    I’ve had a DP51 for about six or seven years now. I rarely shoot it any more, but it has been reliable during its admittedly low round count.
    It is an extremely comfortable pistol to shoot and carry. Can you think of anything good to say about the CZ75?
    Say it about the DP51, except lighter, more compact, and more comfortable in the hand.
    The safety IS a bit on the smallish side, though it is not quite as bad as the review made it sound, IMO. That said, it is neither my first nor second choice for carry.
    The “Quick Action” mode, as Daewoo literature referred to it, is interesting, but I’m not entirely sure how useful it is. To me, it seems like CZ’s SA/DA…neat on paper, but not actually useful. That said, I would love it if this pistol caught on (which I doubt it will)…it would be great to actually find magazines and parts for it.

  29. This review is an absolute hack job. Nick, your score doesn’t make sense. You’re hurting a great company with a great product with no evidence to show for a score that not even a Hi-Point has received on this site. Suck eggs, and go shoot your SCAR some more before FN cuts you from the team. Hate to get personal, but this review’s final score has stripped any respect I had for you as a blogger.

  30. This review of a very nice pistol totally confuses me. I had a DP51 and there was nothing wrong at all with it.

  31. The Lionheart is indeed a US K5 Version…the author is incorrect about this being the first time the K5 or it’s variant has been available to the US market….back in the 80’s, Daewoo long guns and the the K5 were imported to the US…I sold them the couple years they were available

  32. There is functionally and mechanically zero first shot difference between Double Action+ and an HK light LEM. Cocked mainspring, hammer down, long DA pull.

    • Owning both guns, there is a world of difference. Both are good, but I prefer the LionHeart system by a wide margin over the LEM H&K Light DA system.

  33. I bought a DP 51 in 91′. Never had trouble with it that wasn’t ammunition related. As for the Tri-action (Daewoo’s term), there is a hammer block so carrying the pistol with the hammer dropped is not an issue. In Tri-action mode when the trigger is pulled there is a slight bump and visually you can see the hammer cock. With a little training you can cock the hammer and stop without firing, why you would do that I don’t know but it is an option. With the safety engaged the trigger will pull but not engage. The trigger pull on mine in Tri-action is right at 4 pounds which takes getting used to. Yes the safety is a bit small, however if you can use the one on your 1911 it shouldn’t be a problem. The whole reason for the system is a quick and accurate first shot. S&W 9501 magazines will fit with maybe a quarter inch gap between the mag well and mag. I have heard that most of the mags in the 9500 series will work too. Got mine for $450 back then.

  34. This reviewer is terrible. He seems to say its an amazing pistol, but its not a glock so its not safe. I cant wait to get one of these it seems like it will be great.

  35. The writer seed very biased in his review. The manner in which he wrote clearly shows his bias. I got the impression he did not want to write the review but as a result be reluctantly wrote it and as a result it showed a less than accurate strongly opinion based review of what is not a perfect gun but deserves a fair review. I am also of the opinion that no gun is perfect for everyone. The Loinheart is certainly not a bad gun and while the safety is not big it is easily manipulated. The arrogance of the writer saying “Fix those and then we’ll talk. But for now, for the money, stick to a Glock.” in my opinion completely discredits the entire article as he is to biased to write a fair review. So I say to the writer, in words he understands…Grow up and stop acting like a child not getting his way and i will read your stuff again.

  36. Dangerous, really? What makes this any more or less dangerous than any other gun? If you think this gun is somehow more dangerous then a glock without a safety then you shouldn’t be handling firearms at all.

  37. Most of the commenters who are reacting negatively to the Lionheart have obviously never even handled it, let alone fired it. I purchased one brand new and have put over 400 rounds of factory ammo through it. It has not had a single hiccup. That’s right – no failure to feed or extract, no misfire, no problems. It breaks down and cleans very easily. It is beautifully made, machined to perfection. The double action plus feature is an option, so for all of you nervous types, just don’t use it. However, I use it and I carry it. With the safety on, there is absolutely no more risk than any other semi-automatic pistol. The only knock I have is that the safety is a bit small and stiff. However, with practice this is easy to get used to. BTW, I do not own stock in the company nor am I a gun reviewer. I own many different kinds of pistols, some that cost me twice as much as the Lionheart. It is the only pistol I have that has not had some kind of problem during the first two hundred rounds of firing.

  38. Its kinda funny to see a glock guy calling a pistol with a 1911 style safety unsafe. This pistol is as safe as you want it to be, just gives you an extra option. you can carry it cocked and locked, you can carry it in double action with heavy trigger pull, you can carry it int he + mode with the safety (marginally safer than normal condition 1 because of the long trigger pull), or if you want you can indeed carry it in the double action + mode, no safety. i dont really see how this mode is any less safe than a glock.. you still have to put your finger on the trigger and pull, its not just going to go off on its own. you should rethink the premise of your article

  39. Never had a problem flipping the safety on or off. Flipping in the on position is a little stiff but tiring it off is very easy.

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