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(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Travis Pike

I like weird guns. Always have and always will. What classifies as a weird gun is up to interpretation, but I plant revolvers chambered in automatic cartridges in that category. I’ve actually always wanted one, but times I’d find one and the money I had were never in line with each other.

That was until March of last year when I browsed the local gun store. I was already pretty positive I wanted a Ruger LCR, for all intents and purposes they have been credited as well made, affordably priced revolvers. Lo and behold my money path and desire for a revolver in an auto cartridge crossed paths and I left the happy owner of a Ruger LCR 9mm.

The LCR comes packaged in a cardboard box with the gun, instructions, warranty info, some NSSF brochures, a gun lock, and a soft padded case. You also, of course, get three full moon clips. The moon clips are at least a quarter of the reason I bought this gun. I like posting “ISO 9mm clips for my Ruger” and seeing the nomenclature Nazis lose their minds and be wrong at the same time.

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The LCR 9 is, of course, partially polymer and is all black. The LCR has a spartan appearance. It lacks the grace of an all metal revolver, but the fit and finish are certainly functional. Holster wear won’t be a worry because it’s already ugly. If GLOCK made a revolver it would be the LCR. The front sight is a standard snub nose blade and tipped with a little white rectangle.

Why did I purchase such a revolver? Is there any benefit over .38 Special? The answer to the first question is simply because I wanted it. The second answer is there is a slight ballistic advantage over .38 Special, but there is also a significant cost advantage. I also have way more options for ammo in both brand, size, and load. The majority of my handguns and a few rifles are 9mm, so it makes sense economically. Really though I just wanted it, I don’t need or have a real reason.

The grip is a bit short for my paws, which are yuge. For a better frame of reference I wear an XL glove. The grip itself is actually comfortable when it comes to shooting, but I can’t stand a hanging pinky. The revolver is lightweight, but it’s a heavy lightweight if that makes any sense. The LCR 9mm weighs 17.2 ounces which are almost four ounces heavier than the Ruger LCR .38 Special. In fact, it weighs .1 ounce more than the .357 Magnum variant. The other polymer revolver, the Smith & Wesson BODYGUARD 38 weighs 14.3 ounces.

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I still feel this revolver is light enough for near anyone to carry without complaint. I also feel the additional weight is added for a good reason. Dyspeptic can correct me if I’m wrong, but the additional weight is most likely because the revolver is chambered in 9mm. When a revolver is fired, the rounds in the cylinder are hit by some G forces. The lighter the revolver, the more G forces present. This can make the bullets separate from the unfired cartridge. This can cause all sorts of problems, one being the projectile protrudes from the cylinder and prevents the cylinder from rotating.

Most revolver ammo has a strong crimp to keep this from happening. The same can’t be said for ammunition made for automatics, so the projectile is more likely to loosen and separate. So the extra weight is to aid in preventing this.

Unfortunately, this has happened to me. I was teaching a friend some basic handgun shooting. She brought a box of Winchester White Box 147 grain jacketed hollow points. On the third full cylinder of firing, we had this occur with a single round. To date, I have over 500 rounds of ammunition through the gun and this is the only time this happened. This is also the only time it’s fired 147-grain rounds. The increased recoil of the heavy load certainly didn’t help in preventing this.

Another ammunition issue is this thing does not like steel or aluminum cased ammo. Tula steel and Federal aluminum tend to swell and expand in the cylinder. This makes it impossible to remove via ejector, and a dowel rod and some taps are needed. This is a great way to ruin moon clips. This doesn’t happen with every round, but one cylinder of each was enough. From here on out I just used brass cased ammo. With 115 and 124 grain ammunition the weapon has performed flawlessly.

The LCR DAO trigger is the DAO trigger all production guns should aim to achieve. It’s a little over nine pounds, but it is extremely smooth. It has a very nice break, and if your goal is an uninterrupted pull this is the revolver for you. This is apparently due to Ruger’s friction reducing trigger system.

I’ve come to love the moon clips when it comes to reloads. I’ve had issues in the past with speed loaders and J-frames, but the moon clips make reloading fast and easy. They tend to break easily but you can buy a pack of three for ten bucks.

As you’d imagine a lightweight revolver is going to have some recoil. Even 115-grain loads tend to slap the palm a bit. The stock rubber grips are wide and pretty good at displacing the recoil throughout your whole hand. I’ve never had to readjust my grip, even with +P loads.

What I really hated was three hundred rounds in that little white rectangle on the front sight popped off and disappeared as I rapid fired the gun. Fingernail polish replaced it for now. (Oddly, when I asked the lady at Walgreens what nail polish is best for guns she suggested white matte on the spot.)

The trigger aids greatly in accurately firing this bad boy. At 15 yards I could still hit clay pigeons on the berm with ease. That’s a bit better than minute of bad guy and is perfectly acceptable in my opinion. The rudimentary sights do make quick shooting at a small or distant target difficult as you could imagine it’d be with any snubby.

I like the little gun, even though it’s ammo picky, and I lost the front sight insert, and the grip is too short. It handles well, carries like a dream with my Alien Gear holster, and reloading is fast and easy. I love the trigger and shooting a snubby is always a fun challenge.

Specifications: Ruger LCR

Caliber: 9mm
Barrel: 1.87”
Overall Length: 6.50”
Weight: 17.2 ounces
Capacity: 5
Price: MSRP $669 (street price $500-ish, about $70 more than the .38 variant)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ergonomics: * * * * *
Easy to reload, the grips are great for recoil. The push button cylinder release is excellent, and the trigger rocks. I consider the grip being short subjective because of my large hands.

Reliability: * * * 1/2
This feels dishonest and slightly unfair. The gun always goes bang, the cylinder always turns, and it shoots straight. However, the fact one round of 147 disabled the weapon forces me, to be honest, and real. Plus steel and aluminum ammo is off limits as well. (Reliability is five stars with 115 and 124 grain.)

Customizable: * * * *
I reviewed the gun with stock grips but have since acquired some Hogue Overmold No groove grips. In my search, I found quite a few grip options for the LCR series of revolvers. There is also a wide variety of sights from XS, Hi Viz, Novak Mega Dots, and Ruger’s own Night sights. An XS big dot may be a new companion soon. Of course, you can get a grip laser or a laser mounted on the trigger guard.

Carry: * * * * *
I don’t carry this one often, but when I do it’s cause I’m lazy or going for a run. This thing is so light and comfortable in either my pocket holster or Alien Gear I forget about it. On runs, it goes in a small cross body bag.

Style: * * *
It’s the Glock of revolvers so….

Overall: * * * *
I wanna give it five stars, but the ammo issues are holding it back one step. The LCR in 38/357/327 are all probably five-star guns.

 

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67 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger LCR 9mm

  1. “If GLOCK made a revolver it would be the LCR.” I never would have thought of it like that, but it seems to fit this gun pretty well.

  2. It’s too light a revolver to be consistent with shooting 9mm ammo with the bullet crimp jump for a defensive situation and it’s too small to be a plinker. If I want a 9mm revolver, I’ll get a S&W, a Ruger Blackhawk, or a used SP101.

    • There are lighter revolvers shooting .357. Yes, the bullets do crimp jump. But they don’t do so enough to prevent you from emptying the cylinder, which is all you need from one in a defensive situation.

    • I totally and respectfully disagree with your post. I have the LCR9mm and have fallen in love with it. Yes, I also have the Blackhawk convertible as well. I have shot thousands of rounds through this gun with no problems once you finde the right ammo. And there are many out there. It shoots extremely well, once you get through the learning curve. I also reload a lot of 9mm ammo and it shoots all very well. Great gun, Thanks Ruger!

  3. My EDC gun is the LCR in .327 Federal – 6shots of a fairly effective load (1500fps), laser grips, light, reliable with all of the ammo I have tried in it (headspace on a rimmed case allows a serious crimp on the bullet), compact when carried in a DeSantis Belt Slide holster, and I pack an extra 8 rounds in an IHL flat belt pouch with a TuffStrip. with my arthritic hands, I can still shoot this round accurately and with minimal pain.

    Not a hi-cap 9, but it is with me every day. And the best carry gun is the one you are actually going to carry – every day.

    • That’s a load I sure wish would takeoff to drive down prices. Most of the power of a lighter 357 load with higher capacity. A model 1873 from Uberti to match with it would be a very pleasant shooter.

  4. Had an LCR .357. Trigger is out of this world, easily concealable, and reliable as all get out.

    When I went to qualify with it as a backup gun, which involved drawing and shooting 2 rounds in 3 seconds upon turn of the target, an issue for me reared its ugly head. When I would let the trigger out, it would make a discernible click. Having put thousands of rounds through the pipe of Glocks using their trigger reset, I instinctively pulled again. To my horror, the cylinder skipped the next round while making a click noise. I had to pull again to fire the next chamber after that. I sold it shortly thereafter.

    Don’t get me wrong, the LCR is still a fantastic gun. I just couldn’t retrain myself to shoot that trigger quickly without risking compromising my Glock technique, which is what my work pistol is, and the one I am more likely to end up firing in a messy situation.

    • I see that a lot with folks that “ride the reset” after shooting Glock (or other striker-fired pistols).

      The LCR has a much lighter (to me) trigger return spring than Smith or Colt snubs.

      My LCR 357 (early one) has a 9 lb trigger pull and is much easier to “short stroke” than my newer LCRx with a 10lb pull and heavier trigger return.

      I wonder is Ruger has increased the trigger return weight to alleviate some of the problem.

      Interestingly, I am more accurate in fast shooting with the heavier trigger of the LCRx as it is smoother and breaks cleaner than the 357.

      I shoot all handguns (for speed) the way I learned to shoot revolvers back in the day. One smooth motion and then release fully. Short-stroking cost you a round in competition, maybe more on the street.

  5. I work at the local range and have access to rental guns.

    I chronographed Speer Gold Dots through the LCR’s. .357 125g. .38Spl 125g +P. 9mm 124g +P.

    .357Mag: 1133 fps.
    9mm: 1090 fps.
    .38Spl: 868 fps.

    115g Hornady Critical Defense: 1106 fps.

    Winchester 127g +P+ RA9TA: 1175 fps. No flash. No magnum recoil!

      • I expected a little less velocity out of such a short barrel. Usually the cylinder gap wastes enough energy to offset the longer barrel+cylinder length. But it still puts the 9 mm LCR in a range where many loads won’t expand reliably. I’d be interested in an SP 101 with a 2.25″ barrel in 9 mm if they made one. An extra 30fps doesn’t seem like much but it should be just enough to make expansion reliable. Plus the extra weight should just about eliminate bullets jumping crimp. A .40S&W SP would be intriguing as well. .357 just looses too much velocity in 2″ barrels to be worth it.

        • LCR has a bunch of possible options when they have the capacity. I would love to see both .22 LR and .22 Mag with a 3″, maybe 3.5″ bbl, for a lightweight purse gun you could actually shoot!

      • Yes. Two rounds of the .357 HURT. Five rounds of the +P+ did NOT at all.

        And…no flame from all that unspent .357 powder.

        We were scratching our heads too.

      • jwtaylor,

        While unlikely, it IS possible. It would depend on the weight of the powder charge in each cartridge.

        The .357 Magnum has a larger case capacity than the 9mm, so in the rare cases where velocities are equal (or nearly so), it generally uses more powder to get the same velocity at the same bullet weight. However, it MIGHT be using significantly MORE gunpowder, depending on the exact load. Various sources of handloading data show charge weights for .357 Mag/125 grain bullet loads to vary from 6.5 grains to more than 21 grains (!), where 9mm/127 grain loads show much smaller charge weights (6 to 9 grains; with the smaller case, the 9mm CAN be more efficient; again, depending on the load).

        If you disassemble the two loads and weigh the charges, and the .357 has twice as much powder as the 9mm, then it can change the recoil calculation by a significant amount, even to where the 9mm could have up to 5% less recoil, in some cases. But as ammo makers don’t use the same gunpowders used by reloaders, it’s impossible to make the exact call without more investigation (weighing the exact powder charges used in each cartridge, and using the slightly different gun weights in each calculation, as well).

        • The amount of powder in the case is irrelevant to the amount of powder burned.
          I have no cause for doubt that Dell is telling the truth, but I, like him, am left scratching my head.

        • Even if the powder charge was not consumed at all, yet was somehow magically ejected out the front of the muzzle along with the bullet (and at the same speed), it would contribute to the recoil of the weapon. Whether it takes the form of gasses moving at 4000+ FPS, or unburned powder granules being pushed by those powder gasses, the vast majority of it exits the front of the handgun, just like the bullet, and contributes to the recoil.

      • .357 Magnum max SAAMI pressure is 35,000 psi.
        9mm +P max SAAMI pressure is 38,500 psi, or 10% higher than .357 Magnum.

        There are no specifics for +P+ but Wikipedia says 42,000 psi, or 20% above .357 Magnum. The 9mm LCR had to be built on a .357 cylinder because just a +P can exceed .357 Magnum chamber pressures.

        As the 9mm indexes on the case mouth, my guess would be that the extra 0.1oz in the 9mm is the short segment of the cylinder that is only bored to bullet diameter, not case diameter. With 5 cylinders, that comes to about 0.02oz of steel left in the end of each cylinder.

        There is no way the recoil energy is less than a .357 Magnum, but it is likely experienced differently. A harder push, but not for as long. It may better be described as “snappy” rather than painful.

        A very happy 9mm LCR owner here.

    • Thanks for posting the chrono results.

      The 9mm is a closer kin to the 357 than 38+P.

      That small case is just more efficient.

      I wish we had the 9mm Federal Rimmed back, but evidently it would fit into 38 S&W chambers. THAT could be a disaster.

      • How would that be a disaster? 9mm boolits are .355, right? .38 Spl .357? Sounds like it would work pretty fine, a bit inaccurate but usable. Now, if the .38 Spl would fit in the 9 mm we may have a problem, but I can’t imagine a 9 mm chamber that long.

        OOps, that was .38 S&W, I’m not familiar. Is that smaller than .355? Nope, .361.

        • Bullet diameter is not the only concern, it’s also the pressure difference. I’m not sure what the pressure is for 9mm Federal Rimmed, but based on the pictures, it basically looks like a half-rimmed 9x19mm round, so I guess it would be close to that. If so, the maximum pressure would be almost 3x that of .38 S&W – I seriously doubt any gun designed for the latter would withstand it without undergoing catastrophic failure, most likely blowing up the cylinder (and a finger or two off the person holding the gun).

        • 9mm rimmed is a duplicate of 9×19 except for the rimmed case. Just as the .45 auto rim was a duplicate of the .45 acp with a rimmed case.

          Both rounds were intended to use in revolvers so that you didn’t have to use the clips. .45 auto rim gave people that owned surplus 1917 Smiths and Colts an ammo option that didn’t use the clips.

          I vaguely remember hearing that the 9mm rimmed came to be because of a requirement for a possible new standardized police revolver for India. A lucrative market had it came to pass.

  6. What was the issue with steel-cased ammo?

    Also, buy a 10-pack of SpeedBeez moonclips (solid, no cut between rounds) with their unloading tool and breakage will become far less frequent.

    • I’ve had the same issue with a 357 LCR and SP101. When fired, the steel case expands and gets stuck in the chamber. Even a heavy tap on the ejector rod won’t eject them. It takes a cleaning rod and some muscle to free them. My guess is that brass has a natural lubricity, while steel is bone dry. Steel cartridges against a steel chamber in these instances result in stuck cases.

  7. My airweight j frame had a bullet walk out and bind the cylinder. It was a +p all lead load. Apparently this creep happens in the lead +p loads cause the whip of the recoil can overpower any crimp. It only happened the 1 time but the Chicago loads are now reserved for my k frame.

    I prefer the speed strips for the reload. They aren’t as bulky.

  8. jwt, it looks like he listed it as a 125 grain load in the top line (he needs some commas/semi-colons as separators, there; read them as caliber/weight, caliber/weight, caliber/weight).

    I’d like to know the brand, load name, and “model code” (from the box) identifying each load, as that .357 looks surprisingly slow for the bullet weight listed (maybe it’s a low-recoil load?). I know you’re not going to get 1400+ FPS out of a snubbie revolver, but in my experience with full-powered defensive .357 loads, it’s pretty rare to see less than 1200 FPS.

  9. Interesting take on this revolver.

    It will likely be my next purchase.

    As posted above, the ballistics of the 9mm far outpace a 38 special +P (maybe not Buffalo Bore).

    The frame is heavier stainless because the aluminum alloy frame of the 38 and 22 versions wont stand the pressure.

    Lower felt recoil may have something to do with the recoil impulse. Not just the foot pounds but the speed at which it ignites. I have felt that with different 357 125 grain loads all traveling with 20 fps of each other. Go figure.

    I’ll try the 9mm LCR. If I dont have a problem with binding or ejection. The increased speed of reload would be nice.

    Then I’ll have to figure out where to carry the loaded clips. Ahhh. 1st world problems.

    • I load buffalo bore in my .38 k frame when I’m tramping around in the woods. But honestly, if you feel the need for buffalo bores you should probably be carrying a .357. I keep arguing with myself to get a new magnum but my practical side wins out.

      Maybe if I find an honest used magnum I’ll take it.

      • I was thinking of their 125 +P.

        My reloads equal the BB 158 +P LHP.

        I load them as well in the model 10s and 15 that I have for home defense.

        This load out of my LCRx clocks the same as Win 158+p out of my 4inch model 10.

        But has the recoil or my LCR 357 with 125s. Stings a bit.

        • I have the LCR in the .357 variety, and that thing is downright painful when shooting magnum loads…

        • If you want to know what truly painful recoil from a handgun is, get S&W 340PD – that’s 11.4 oz (for comparison, LCR is 17 oz) – and load it with some hot .357.

      • >> But honestly, if you feel the need for buffalo bores you should probably be carrying a .357

        Yeah, but then you’ll want their loads in .357, because why not? Which, um… don’t try the 180gr hard cast from a snubby. Just don’t.

        • These days I only use standard pressure stuff in the snubbie j frames. I reserve stuff like the BB for medium or larger framed guns with 4 inch or longer barrels.

  10. I’m kind of taking a bet with myself to see how many of these reviews give their gun a 4 star review. Guess what? It’s pretty much all of them.

    • Well, given that most of these people own the test guns, and most people don’t deliberately go out and buy guns that are known in advance as crappy guns, is it really surprising that they end up rating guns they’ve carefully selected for personal use as better-than-average?

  11. I keep an LCR in .357 in the drawer at work (locked up real tight in the desk with my office door locked when I’m not there) and I have full faith in it. They are great little snubbies and recoil isn’t bad in the .357. I’ve even pocket carried it before around town, easily concealable. While I normally carry, and prefer, higher cap pistols, for CC and SD purposes it’s hard to go wrong with the LCR’s.

    • Own GP100, SP101’s & the LCR all in .357 Magnum–I do not find recoil with the .357 LCR uncomfortable at all, not even full house 158 gr JSP’s. I have a 5’2″ 120# niece that that enjoys shooting these loads in the LCR, saying ‘I like this!’. I have videod muzzle flash in total darkness with most of my handguns and was surprised not to find a huge fireball with the .357’s from the LCR; I had never fired it in total darkness and I was expecting a blinding flash that never occurred. I have a lot of Rugers and not one of them has ever disappointed me–can not say the same for a bunch of other brands that I sold off. I put a Tritium night sight and a LaserMax laser on mine for a best of both worlds.

  12. I have handled several, but never fired an LCR. I have found their cylinder release button stiff awkward vs. the push-forward S&W in my Mod. 10 .38. Does it loosen up after a couple hundred presses? I think I’m still angling towards an SP101 in .357 for the extra ounces to soak up recoil.

    • SP101’s are marvelous. I totally dislike S&W’s cylinder release. I have SP101’s & the LCR in.357 Mag & both are great. I find that the SP101 snub nose with a spurless hammer carriers just about the same as the LCR, but you do need to have a good belt & tighten it good with the extra weight.

  13. Have LCR 38 special when they first came out. Added Ruger LCR 9mm 10-2015, pocket carry had added EAA Witness Pavona 9mm Luger 4-2015 Sapphire Blue with silver sparkles. It’s too big for pocket carry, not compact enough for inside waist band, only holstered Open Carry is going to be comfortable, might have a light cover shirt on if lots of tourist in Fredericksburg. I don’t worry about local police, if they stop me it’s just they have probably never seen a “pretty gun” before. It’s handgun I’m most accurate with so that’s what I carry

    • owned the same, it was absolutely brutal to shoot so I sold it. Anything this one does better than semi auto comp? It seems like shield/glock 43 outperforms on every measure and is cheaper and easier to carry too.

    • What size pockets do you have? I find the LCR .357 extremely easy to pocket carry; just about totally disappears in size & weight.

  14. “I like posting “ISO 9mm clips for my Ruger” and seeing the nomenclature Nazis lose their minds and be wrong at the same time.”

    My favorite part of the review.

  15. Hogue Tamer grip and Polycase 80gr ARX are the only way I can get through more than 5 rounds 5 times at the range. Stay away from cheap ammo (steel and white box) unless you bring a mallet to drive the extractor on a hot cylinder.

    I’ve found the SpeedBeez clips to be very difficult to work with. The Ruger OEM seem thinner, the SBz often bind up the cylinder by the 2nd run of 5. The Moonclip tool is very nice, especially if you are actually going to practice with an LCR.

    Never had a crip jump. Fiber Optic front sight is worth the $. Unfortunately the Tritium sight won’t work without significant Kentucky Windage according to the mfg.

    Going from anything semi-auto to an LCR trigger is problematic. Relearning trigger slap vs riding the reset-yeah, I’ve had those half pulls with no bang at the end.

    Lightweight power, easy to carry IWB (Blackhawk! 4) + a DelFatti PMC for the reload clip is pretty usual after dark around here for me. Probably would have been happier with a LC9s if they had been out at that time.

    Would like the LCRx 9mm @ 3″ barrel someday. Color me somewhat satisfied that it fits my 9mm only appetite, but wishing I had much more confidence in the Moonclip system, especially on a hot cylinder. Maybe Sig could build us something….

  16. You’re right that the extra weight is because it’s chambered in 9mm, but it’s not to tame recoil and prevent bullets from jumping the crimp.

    It’s because the 9mm LCR uses the same steel frame as the .357 version – both cartridges have similar high pressures, and the aluminum frame of the .38 Special models can’t handle the higher pressure. The extra weight does help a little to reduce bullet creep, but that’s just a side effect of building the gun strong enough to not tear itself apart.

  17. I bought the LCR 9 soon after they were released and love the moon clips and the little gun. I pocket carry some but mostly keep it in a drawer. I have put about 350 rounds through it and had 5 bullets separate, all from two boxes (2 different lots but bought at the same time) of Blazer Brass. The bullet(s) would come loose after 3 or 4 shots jamming the cylinder. I contacted Blazer and they said, send it back. They sent two new boxes and said they tested as weak crimp. I have shot Blazer Brass since with no problems and 6 other brands, including FreedomMunitions remanufactured. Mostly 115g but also a box of 147 Winchester T all with no problems. Those 5 bad bullets do make me doubt it as a primary defence gun.

  18. Thanks for the review. You have convinced me that moon-clip 9mm revolvers are not a good choice. A .357 or .327 is a better choice for a revolver.

    I had a moon-clip 45 ACP revolver once upon a time, and it was not reliable either.

    • I have to say, LCR looks much better, aesthetically speaking, with that fingerless longer grip, compared to the stock one. To the point where it’s not even ugly, but kinda sleek. Perhaps Ruger should switch to that for their standard model.

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