2nd Amendment to the Constitution of The United States of America

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

"I ask sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few politicians."
- George Mason (father of the Bill of Rights and The Virginia Declaration of Rights)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Ruger LCR (Lightweight Carry Revolver)

"You're a (Ruger) Whore" ~Kev

Well boys and girls, I want to tell you a story about a guy that struggled with the idea of buying a S&W 442 centennial snub nosed .38 all month while they were on sale at Vance's in Columbus, Ohio.  He looked up every opinion he could find about them, watched countless videos over and over about them and finally convinced himself that getting one was something he was really willing to go deeper into debt to do.  He researched decided on which pair of rosewood grips he would eventually put on it.  He even sheepishly put his LC9 on gunlistings.org to see if there was any interest in it (there wasn't).  Unfortunately boys and girls, our hero took so long to decide that he forgot to really check the dates of the sale on the add.  When he got to the store he was aghast to find out the sale had ended the day before and the dream of getting his coveted 442 was over!! Fortunately for our hero one of the sales associates pointed out the Ruger LCR was on sale for the same amount the 442 had been!  Our hero cautiously picked up this odd looking piece of plastic and metal and decided....it was good.   He squeezed the trigger a few times and decided....it was pretty damn good.  It came home with him that night.

The End!

Well, not really the end, that would be a pretty strange post right there if it was.  Then again, maybe not seeing the way things have gone around here lately.  Anyways, if you haven't figured it out, the "hero" in the story above was yours truly.  You really do need to pay attention to the dates in those adds!  So a LCR has been added to the safe and a few more months onto the pay off date of the gun fund.
My Ruger pimp
OK, let me say this up front...I am NOT Ruger's whore...I am their bitch.  You want disclosure, ther's your disclosure.I want a SR1911 so bad I can taste it in my sleep.  My birthday is in a few days so anyone feeling generous take a note there... This is not saying I won't call a spade a spade when reviewing their products, its just that for some reason that company from Arizona has really grown on my this past year.

Secondly, this is not going to be a ground breaking review of this firearm..there are far too many of those on it already on the 'net and what you read here is just me waxing romantically over my new love of the snub.   I owned a S&W 637 a few years ago until I traded it to "upgrade" to the "firepower" of a LCP.  I have often thought about it since then and recently decided I like the idea of a simple, powerful CCW piece again that is a simple "point and shoot" weapon without any real concerns for ammo type or operation.  A lot of my thoughts on the J Frame revolver (using that term generically for small snub noses, including the Ruger, Charter Arms, Taurus and others...its just such a common name people can relate to for these small guns) are in that original article that I linked above that I will just let you re-read it if you haven't already.  Most of my views on it have not changed since then.

Back to the LCR, I can honestly say that while this pistol does have some different technology than the J Frame I have used before (excluding the newest Bodyguard .38 which also includes a partial polymer frame), that its use and utility are no better or worse than its S&W counterparts.  It has most of the same characteristics of the 637, except for it being DAO (I had the 637's hammer bobbed to make it pretty much the same anyway) and a bit lighter.  The grip and such are a personal preference that I would say overall is not a big factor in choosing one over the other. Any small .38 you shoot is not going to be a "comfort gun" at that the range (other than being a comfort to carry I guess) so reliability and build quality are more important in my book.  That being said, the Ruger is definitely more comfortable to shoot but would I trust my life to the reliability of one over the other?  Nope, both are worthy of staking your life on in a defensive shooting situation in my book (someday I will publish that book).

I guess maybe one area that it does have an advantage over the S&W is the trigger.  Honestly, the trigger of the gun in the store was...how should I say this?.....pretty fudging outstanding!! Of course it had been in the shelf for a while and probably had hundreds of pulls on it to smooth it out.  The one I got out of the box was pretty damn good itself and will probably smooth out over time as well.  Ruger redesigned the trigger for the LCR from the ground up instead of just adapting a trigger design from one of their other revolvers.

Guerrilla Gunsmithing Tip: Want to do a cheap trigger job on your revolver? Dry fire a lot!

 I know there is someone reading this that owns a Taurus 85 or Charter Arms Pug that is screaming at the screen right now to compare it to them, but lets face it..S&W is the biggest player in this arena, and for good reason.  S&W makes an outstanding line of revolvers and mainly due to that reason I have as much experience with them as with the Ruger line of revolvers, so I can speak equally confident on both of their wares.  Not so much for Taurus and other brands.

Now, let me say some stuff about the gun itself.  When you get it handed to you across the counter the gun comes in the now familiar Ruger "we perfected the cardboard box" cardboard box.  Once again I will state that the exclusion of a hard case is not a big deal to me, some people however have complained about this..to which I say "go buy a range bag".  Anyway, you do get the Ruger soft sided case as with other pistols from Ruger.  On my particular soft case, its black as opposed to the tan ones I have seen from earlier models.  It does have a document flap with velcro spot on the rear, for what purpose? I don't know, but its there. In addition you get a good manual, the Ruger BAL (big ass lock) and keys for the internal lock.

Ruger...we know white boxes!

Soft sided case, manual, keys and BAL (not shown) included.

Internal lock? Yep, not pointed out by many people and I found out by actually reading the manual (as the gun tells you do on the barrel as has become the Ruger norm).   The lock is assessed by removing the grip and exposing the "grip peg".  Inside the frame of the grip is the lock that the key fits.  Turning it 180 degress will lock the action.  One side of the key has a small flat slotted point to help in the removal of the screw that holds the grip onto the frame.  Now, my question is this..."WTH Ruger?!?!"  How is a lock that requires the user to remove the grip supposed to be convenient enough to use as intended?  If someone can answer this please let me know.  I mean, the Hogue Tamer grips (more on them in a bit) were specifically designed for the LCR to begin with.  Couldn't they have left a provision for the lock to be accessed via a hole in the grip?
Small gripe for me as I will probably never use it being that I will have to remove the grip just to access it.
Look I read the manual and learned something!

Good lock I guess...bad location
Now, as for that grip.  The Hogue Tamer grip is pretty excellent in and of itself and almost worthy of a its own post to review it.  This grip is custom designed for the LCR and provides a palm swell on the sides as well as full coverage for the back strap of the frame against the users hand.  It also has a super soft and spongy insert where the pistol would recoil against the web of the shooter's hand.  This pad is clearly visible on the inside of the grip and is much appreciated when shooting +P ammo.   The grip itself is oversized and stippled for a secure and comfortable grip.  Although often though of as a pocket pistol, I think this grip is better suited for carry in a holster as the oversized molding and stippling may snag on drawing.

Hogue marks each grip with Ruger's logo

Blue is the color of comfort...
Ruger does offer a "boot grip" which I have ordered and will report back on when it arrives.  Its a bit smaller in size and has smoother sides.  The simplicity of removing a screw and just jamming whichever grip is appropriate for your carry method on the grip peg is very appealing to me. the boot grip is still a Hogue grip and branded for Ruger so I am sure the quality is going to be good.  Here is a pic of it from the net on a LCR.
Boot grip

OK, most people review guns top down and I am starting at the bottom...lets head back up top and pull back a bit and take a more general look at the LCR.

The Lightweight Carry Revolver (LCR) is a polymer and aluminum framed pistol with a steel cylinder and barrel insert that weighs in at a very manageable 13.5 ounces.  It is (to the best of my knowledge) the first production revolver to incorporate polymer components in the frame, which is its claim to fame.  S&W has since introduced the Bodyguard .38 which also uses a partial polymer frame and I am sure others will follow.   At this point polymer has been used in handgun designs for over a quarter of a century and its almost a mystery at this point why it took so long to incorporate it into wheel guns.  Its has a 1 7/8" steel barrel insert embedded in the aluminum barrel shroud.  Although long range accuracy is not to be expected with this or any other snubby, these pistols are generally better shooters than most give them credit for.
In case you forget to read the manual you are reminded on the barrel shroud..

 As is par for the small frame .38/.357 course in these revolvers, it holds 5 rounds of ammo in its steel cylinder.  The cylinder itself is quite remarkable in its appearance, having deeply scalloped sides to reduce the weight of the gun.  The pistol will shoot both regular and +P .38 ammo.  A .357 magnum version is available that will bring an all steel frame and a few ounces to the design. For my use, a .38 +P round of good quality is all I require of it so that is what I got...that and it was the model on sale as I pointed out earlier.

The cylinder is not only deeply scalloped but also uniquely
finished to avoid wear and resist corrosion 
The barrel liner is the other major steel component in the pistol

OK, I said I will call a spade a spade and here is one of my first gripes with the pistol.  The cylinder latch is a bit small for me.  I know, minor bitch, but still.  For a weapons designed to be used in a CCW situation with adrenaline flowing and the like, I would like a bigger release for my fat thumb to find.  Also, on a side note from what I have read and not via personal experience, apparently the stock Tamer grip does not allow the use of a speed loader very effectively, most use (and I use because they are easier to carry and conceal) speed strips because of this.  Again minor gripes but just so you can't say I am blindly in love with Ruger or its products enough to be bias in my review.
a bit bigger please on the latch...

The lower polymer portion of the revolver, what Ruger calls the "Fire Control Group" includes a uniquely designed hammer and sear with camming surfaces that creates an unusually smooth trigger pull, even right out of the box.  As I earlier mentioned, the store pistol in the case had been pulled many times and it was very smooth, mine seems to be coming along nicely itself with dry fire drills. The FCG also encloses the hammer in a shroud to allow for snag free drawing.  This also dictates that the pistol is a DAO shooter.  This pistol was not designed as a target gun with a light single action pull.  It was designed from the ground up as a CCW and defensive piece where a smooth double action trigger would be what its use required...and that is what Ruger delivered on the LCR.

Here is minor gripe number two.  As someone who has become used to trying and "capture" the reset on triggers with my semi-autos and rifles the trigger on the LCR does not like this.  You will release the trigger and think that its reset but you will find that pulling again on the trigger at that point is futile as the weapon is locked up.  This is similar as to the reset on the LC9 I have as well.  In order for it to fully reset you must let the trigger fully out each time.  Again, not a major gripe and something that can obviously be trained to overcome, but a gripe none the less.

Since I am on the topic of double action triggers, let me say a bit on the practice of "staging" a trigger.  Many people stage double action triggers to try and obtain increased accuracy by trying to best measure where a trigger and sear engage right before breaking and holding the trigger at that point to get a new sight picture before firing.  I have been "guilty" of this practice myself.  A while back I was at the Powder Room and ran into an old cop there shooting an old S&W .38.  He saw my model 64 and we struck up a bit of conversation.  He saw me shooting single action and asked me if my target would stand still while I took the extra time.  He followed up saying that he had always been taught to pull directly and smoothly through the trigger he entire career when he was issued a revolver.  He was able to generated groupings on a target to back up his claim and method.  I now have 3 CCW pistol (all Rugers, LCP, LC9 and now the LCR) that are DAO guns.  I have started to apply this method to all of them and I think its a good practice to follow.  Right now I am struggling a bit but with practice I will get better, especially with the LCR I hope.

The sights are what most have come to expect from this type of pistol with a simple, serrated front ramp pinned to the barrel and a square notched  rear sight performing the aiming duties.  Other sights are offered by Ruger on it and available for purchase including a XS big dot sight, which is what I will most likely get for this gun. For now I threw some orange sight paint on the front ramp and it has made the front post much easier for my aging eyes to pick up.

At the range I shot a variety of .38 regular and +P ammo.  All reacted about as well as I thought with +P rounds producing a large flash, loud report and noticeable increase in recoil.  Between the polymer frame absorbing some of the recoil and the grips, the pistol is not uncomfortable to shoot.  That being said, I did not shoot it as well as my other guns.  To adequately use a snub you need to dedicate some range time and effort to mastering it.  I will need to relearn this skill before I can really feel comfortable carrying this pistol as a CCW piece.

Speaking of carrying it, right now I have a Blackhawk Size 4 pocket holster for it which is what is recommended by Ruger and actually sold in their on line store.  One area that the LCR differs from the S&W line of small revolvers is in holster selection.  Its not a clone of the J-Frame so many custom or molded holsters for it will not work.  I used to have a IWB Don Humme leather holster for my 637 that I loved.   Checking with them yesterday I found the LCR version on a 4 month backorder....bummer.

Minor gripe three here. While on the range I noticed that the fired cases seemed not to want to extract out of the cylinder on their own and the extractor is not long enough to fully unseat them on its own.  This is fairly common on most compact revolvers.  The common solution is to point the gun upward and give a rapid smack on the ejector rod with you other hand once the cylinder is open and hopefully the force of the rod being smacked with act with gravity to get the rounds out.  Else you need to pull them out by hand.  The gripe is this, the end of the ejector rod on the LCR is concave and smacking it kind of hurts and puts a dent in my hand.  Again, not a big thing but would it be so hard to round it off and make it a bit more comfortable?

So overall, what do I think of the LCR?  Well count me among the hundreds if not thousands of folks across the net that have given this pistol a thumbs up.  It does not have the aesthetically pleasing lines of say a 442 with rosewood grips, but for what it is designed to do it looks and acts the part of a CCW piece and in the long run that's what really counts.

I'm too lazy to make my own video to put along side of the hundreds on YouTube on the LCR, here you can watch Ruger's own...


JesseL said...

My S&W M&P (.38 revolver not the new poly pistol) does the same thing when trying to capture the reset.

Kosmo said...

I have had the same issue with "capturing" the trigger reset. I have had to re-learn after shooting Glocks for 20 years. But I still like the LCR.

Now if we can just get Galco to make a Classic Lite shoulder holster for the LCR!...

Galco Classic Lite Shoulder System for the Ruger LCR: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au8UFEsT7RM