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Lionheart LH9, courtesy Nick Leghorn

I had never heard of Lionheart firearms or their LH9 series until RF forwarded an email from them offering a gun for review. And even then, looking at the pictures online I wasn’t particularly impressed. In fact, even as I picked it up at the FFL I was still bewildered as to what was so new and cool. I mean, it’s a DA/SA gun with no apparent decocker and a frame-mounted safety. Whoop-de-friggin’ do. That is, until I finally figured out what makes it so interesting. There’s no decocker because it doesn’t need one. Simply push the hammer forward, and it drops just behind the firing pin, safely tucked away. Then, a light touch on the trigger and the hammer snaps back to full cock and single action mode. No need for double action at all. But time (and gunpowder) will tell. We’ll have a full report on how it works sometime in the next week or so. Stay tuned.

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  1. Sounds like SFS or the Daewoo system. So, unusual, but nothing new.

    Man, I am wishing I had bought a DP-51 now.

      • It looks rather Berreta 92ish and the mags on the site in the accessories picture have the same look to them. Does it use Beretta mags or are they using proprietary mags?

        • I just got word from a LionHeart rep that the LH9, including the LH9C (the compact version) and the MKII (the railed version) are compatible with S&W 59 series magazines. He also mentioned that LionHeart will be offering their own magazines soon, including their 10-round version for the LH9C with the shaped pinky extension.

  2. Very cool. I’m interested to see how effective such a system works in practice. I look forward to the review.

    My buddy has a berretta and I do find the difference in trigger pull on round 1 and everyone after beind different bothersome. However, since I’m usually inserting the mag with the slide locked back to begin with I have only found myself shooting in double action on round 1 when I deliberately decocked the hammer to see what it was like. I imagine if I kept it loaded in a safe with one in the chamber it would be decocked though.

  3. “Then, a light touch on the trigger and the hammer snaps back to full cock and single action mode. ”

    What could possibly go wrong with that?

    Holy Jesus. Keep your cotton pickin’ finger off the cotton pickin’ trigger!


    • Good intention, terrible idea. I’m seriously down on nines in the first place – too much velocity, too little mass. A through-and-through round.

  4. It looks exactly like the old Daewoo tri-action. Which were pretty good guns, only a little thick in the grip. They were sort of an Beretta / S&W mix. IIRC you could use slighlty modified S&W 59XX mags in it.

  5. That looks very similar to my Daewoo DH40. I’d be SUPER happy if the made a 40 cal version of that and the mags would fit my DH40.

  6. I spent hours yesterday looking for a rugged, compact handgun for carry in 9mm that fell somewhere in the 3.5″ – 4″ barrel range and had 1911-style controls. Wild that you just posted this today; now I’m eyeing the LH9C. Looking forward to hear your impressions of the full-sized LH9!

    • CZ has a few offerings that fit the bill here. Some of their compacts only have a decocker, which is not 1911-style obviously, but the 75 Compact, P-07 Duty, and Rami can be had with a 1911-style safety for cocked-and-locked carry. The P-07 can be swapped from decocker to safety pretty easily.

      These guns define rugged and reliable. They are also extremely accurate, and are priced right.

      • Thanks, JMS. I’m going to take a chance on one of these new LH9C models this week. If for some reason I don’t take to it, I’ll keep this in mind and try to hunt down a CZ 75 Compact at a local gun show.

  7. Lionheart appears to be the operating or marketing face of ST a South Korean arms maker. Lionheart’s US HQ is based in Redmond Washington.

  8. Hmmm. I’m interested. Can’t wait for the review, I may have to preorder one. Hope you Guys get to put at least 500 down the pipe. In the great ammo depression of 2013 though that may not happen :/

  9. 15 round double stack, eh?


    I’ll look forward to the review. Lots of photos and video, please. 🙂

      • Strange… my non-assault 8rd 1911 mags just sit around singing kumbayah all day. Those extra rounds really give your XDm mag a mean disposition huh?

    • According to my analysis of CA AB48, every magazine that’s big enough to hold >10 rounds will be illegal under this legislation, including the magazines which are factory-limited to 10 rounds.

  10. Where is the manufacturing process taking place on these? Seems like they are just importing through the company. Are these guns sold elsewhere with a different name on the slide?

  11. I like the looks of this one. It is more Browning HiPower than Beretta. I too want to see a review especially the reliability. I can see trading my XD/m compact for the 4.1″ barrel full sized version. I have no problem with the safety if the safe mode is up and not down like the M-9. The RoKs make good stuff.

  12. “Then, a light touch on the trigger and the hammer snaps back to full cock and single action mode.”

    Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a mishap waiting to happen.

  13. Intriguing! I’m glad you guys do reviews of interesting, lesser-known products that fly somewhat beneath the radar or I might have otherwise never heard of the Lionheart. My LGS’s don’t stock these types of non-mainstream firearms, so internet reviews from trusted sources like TTAG are extremely important to me. Any chance you guys can review the Boberg XR9-S? It looks as if the design may have some flaws, but also some serious promise. Any of the readers out there have any experience with the Boberg XR9?

      • Wow, thanks so much for digging that up, Matt. Totally slipped by me! Can’t believe I never noticed TTAG did a review of the Boberg! Insert the picture of Captain Picard doing his facepalm here.

        • Quantum, I also own a Boberg and my experiences with the gun while imperfect were pretty different from Eric’s.

        • Sure thing Quantum. I would say that with my gun, the Onyx (all black) version the gun out of the box wouldn’t function, but that ended up being me using too viscous an oil and using a non-approved ammo type. If this were a range toy that would have really pissed me off since I don’t want to put expensive stuff down a plinker. But it’s a carry piece and somewhat expected. I found the gun to be completely reliable when used with +P ammo. The 3 varities I put through the gun with good success were Winchester +P NATO spec, Federal Hydrashok, and Hornady TAP +P all of which I believe were 147 grain variety. The disconnector in the gun is very very tight and so if you run the gun with heavy grease and a contagion gets introduced the gun’s trigger will lock back occasionally. I cleaned the be-jesus out of it, de-greased it, and used a dry Teflon lubricant which prevented the trigger mechanism from binding.

          Now comes the part about the gun I don’t love. If you don’t pull the slide allllllll the way back when chambering a round (easier than you’d think, the slide goes through 2 stages of resistance because it’s operating the feed elevator (as opposed to a static ramp in a traditional gun)) the gun will bind and you’ll not only have to tap and rack the hell out of the gun, but you might need to dig a finger down and push the round, which is being captured the elevator, partially back into alignment with the chamber. Once you get the hang of it, and once the gun has been shot over 500 times (and thus properly broken in), the action is easier to work and the gun runs problem free. I carry mine every day in conjunction with my Smith 442. Just FYI, the old rule of running your gun trouble free with 300 carry rounds before carrying is extra important in such an unproven system.

        • Sorry for the late reply–had to work!

          Thanks a lot for the review and your input, James. I appreciate your input with the Broberg. Do you have any experience with Frog Lube or SEAL-1? I switched almost exclusively to those products, I’m curious to see how they would perform in the Broberg.

          How would you characterize the pistol’s recoil? And do you have to be careful with your support hand that you don’t extend it to the muzzle since the barrel is so comparatively short?

        • I asked Frog Lube for a product sample a few months back I should be receiving one eventually, but other than that I haven’t used it, nor have I tried that SEAL-1.

          Recoil with the gun is significantly less than that of a snub-nosed .38 revolver with defensive ammo. I find that with my small hands, thumbs forward doesn’t pass the muzzle. But I would caution against using your support index finger on the trigger guard as it would be awfully close to the muzzle and depending on the thickness of ones fingers may obstruct the muzzle. I don’t know where you live Quantum but if you’re anywhere near South Carolina I could meet you at a range and you could try it for yourself.

        • Once again, thanks for the good review James. I am going to keep my eyes peeled at my LGS’s and ask around to find out others’ experiences with the Bobergs.

          I am sadly entrenched in Connecticut trying to fight the good fight, or I’d definitely take you up on that offer! Our legislative task force will be introducing their new civilian disarmament agenda shortly in the next weeks. The majority of the Dems actually think what New York did was a GOOD thing! And because Newtown happened here, in Connecticut, WE MUST DO SOMETHING! FOR THE CHILDREN! I may be looking for a new state of residence, I’ll definitely let you know if I am in the SC area :-/ Thanks again James.

  14. I’ll maybe consider a South Korean arms maker’s guns when South Korea begins to reimburse American taxpayers for the decades long cost to station troops and defenses in their country.

    • But I am sure you have no trouble buying a Glock despite the fact that Austria was willing partner in the Third Reich.

      • No, I don’t own a Glock and won’t buy one. Even if I liked the Glock design (which I don’t) I would seek out an American gun from so many choices. All of my guns that I own have been made in the USA. Almost all of my ammo has been made in the USA though the metal tool box which I keep the ammo in was made overseas. The locks that I secure the tool box with were made in the USA.

        My Ka-Bar Becker knives have also been made in the USA. The next knife I buy will probably be from a part-time American craftsman who hand builds his own knives.

    • @Aharon

      S Korean govt has been paying US for about 40%-50% of the operating cost of US troops in S Korea with cash, local civilian workforce, housing, fuel etc etc, every year for the last 3 decades or so. And you know USFK doesn’t exactly use resource judiciously when it doesn’t come from US govt.

      And since 1970’s, S Korean govt has been paying (airfare, hotel, food, guide) for veterans from all 16 nations (that sent troops to Korean War) to visit S Korea. A spouse can accompany and get half the cost reimbursed. It’s a way to thank the veterans.

      Lastly, S Korea kept 2 army divisions and a Marine Brigade in vietnam for over 10 years. Officially 5099 S Koreans soldiers/marines were killed. Many more maimed.

      Lastly for your reading pleasure;

  15. Hay nick looks like the frame is a direct Beretta 92FS knock off and so this looks more like a South African Star copy of the Beretta new slide and barrel system same frame.

  16. Sounds cool. I’ll be keeping an eye on this. Though I am curious what the advantage to this system is over a SAO.

  17. For those that live in western Washington, Norpoint shooting range will be getting in a few that you can rent.

  18. Morning all, bought a LH9C yesterday to replace my carry 19, went to the range, just fifty rd’s due to time constraints of the day, fits my hand better than the G-19, really like the grip texture, recoil less than the 19, thus a tighter group.
    A quick field strip, ample lube everywhere, lighter slide assembly than the 19, Bill the smith took a peek at it, may not be able to replace the front sight with an upgrade.
    Fits in the Blackhawk Serpa Concealment holster for the 19, little loose, but the only one I could find that fit it close enough to use until Blackhawk puts a model out for the LH9C or the LH9.
    Comes with very clear instructions, good exploded view of all the parts inside, replaceable grips will make for easy upgrades there for your personal preferences.

    Field stripping is easy, did it a few times last night with my eyes closed, takes practice.

    Any questions feel free to ask, oh, btw, sold the G-19 with 2 15rd mags for more than I paid for the LH9C.

  19. Ok I’ll admit my first review was bias, so I’ll try to be more objective in this one.

    The magazines are thin, they are classified as a double stack mag but real close to a single stack. The top groove of the mag catches your thumb a lot during loading, Speed loaders need to be shimmed to keep the mag centered under the plunger.
    The control levers are an easy reach, grip, and operation with the thumb, safety is back a bit, it is up to be on, for me that’s a plus.
    Mag release very nice, sticks out far enough for the thumb to find.
    The trigger pull could be eased/lightened off a bit ,
    A very easy to grip slide pull on the rear of the slide.
    The Tri-action feature for the hammer, single and double action is really all you need, having the pre cocked hammer spring and light trigger pull are an accident waiting to happen, but why not have the option for those that do want it, after all not everyone has to use that third action.
    Profile wise, thinner, taller, longer than composite frame weapons of the same barrel length.
    The sights will cost more to have changed out to aftermarket ones, if it can be done at all.
    The sights are low on the slide, the front sight dot should be a different color than the rear sight dots.
    No rail for lights and lasers.
    Part of the trigger arm/lever is exposed on the right side, could cause some problems, and I don’t see it as any kind of difficult solution for the factory to modify the right side grip plate to extend forward to enclose that part of the trigger mechanism.
    I kinda wonder what the designer was trying to accomplish by having this section of the trigger operation exposed to the elements?
    The trigger assembly grease keeps bleeding out during break in, if your going to take it out of the box and do a 1K rd rapid fire test, take a rag along.
    It is very stable with the diamond cut of the grip surface,the recoil buck is more controllable.

    Field stripping it is not near as mindless as a glock. For some of you this wil suck.
    As a carry goes, it is heavier than the composite counter parts in the market, you know it’s on your person.
    Price wise, what do you get for your money?
    Reliability of operation, simple action, simple design, good machine work inside where it counts.
    In the panic buy market we’re in right now for weapons and ammo, I think you get a little more with the LH9 & LH9C for your dollar.
    As for my opinion of this weapon, who am I?
    A blue collar worker over fifty-five who up until a month ago saw no need for a carry.
    No, I don’t have an extensive back ground in modern handguns, I just went around to every gun shop in a forty mile drive from my house, fought my way up to the gun counter and checked out all of the semi-automatics until one felt righ in my hand.
    If your going to pay $600 or more for a handgun to carry, check this one out before you buy.

  20. My LGS got the Lionheart lineup in this week. The owner spoke highly of them, but you have to keep in mind it’s the only thing he can get in stock to sell. Looking forward to a full review and stress test.

  21. Looks like an excellent piece, but at that pricepoint, the Bersa pistols ( which are virtually the same in full size and compact–and with a decocker safety) are a better value at a little less than half the price. Plus, you can find them almost anywhere, and they have a proven reputation for reliability, durability and customer satisfaction!! I own several, and LOVE ’em! Angus

  22. I have both the LH9C and LH9 – Around 300 rounds total down the pipe so far and it has been flawless. Very low recoil and reminds me a lot of my SIGP226 with a mix of 1911. Very ergonomic and feels amazing.

    Im loving the tri-action as well, I never cared for the hard double-action pull. With a little practice I am asily able to draw, pull the trigger pop the gun into single-action easily…. Its not an accident waiting to happen in my eyes.

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