Home » A Great Backup: The 9mm Ruger LCR

A Great Backup: The 9mm Ruger LCR

by Gregory Shaw
A Great Backup: The 9mm Ruger LCR

I have previously argued that a double-action, “snubby” revolver is frequently the ideal option for a backup gun (BUG) carried by a law enforcement officer. Obviously, there are no absolutes, and factors like as personal preferences, experience, training, and departmental rules have a significant impact on the selection of a BUG, but I believe the argument for the short-barreled revolver is rather convincing.

There are several snubby choices available on the market today. Manufacturers have reacted to the rising demand for snubby revolvers by developing several variants with an assortment of characteristics. Possessing options is advantageous, but an officer inexperienced with this type of pistol may find them bewildering.

To help narrow down the options, I’d like to draw your attention to the Ruger LCR, a very competent and popular snubby revolver with a number of attributes that make it a good candidate for a BUG. While the LCR (which stands for “Lightweight, Compact Revolver”) is available in a number of calibers (including.22 Long Rifle,.22 Magnum,.327 Federal Magnum,.38 Special, and.357 Magnum), let’s take a look at the oddball of the bunch – the 9mm Ruger LCR.

A Leading Contender

The metric LCR is distinct from its contemporaries since it is chambered for a rimless, auto-pistol cartridge — the wildly popular 9x19mm, often known as the 9mm Luger or 9mm Parabellum.

In the 1990s, the status of the 9mm in police service was dubious, as it appeared the cartridge will be replaced by the newly developed.

40 The company Smith & Wesson. However, the 9x19mm is (once again) the cartridge that receives the greatest attention and affection from R&D employees. Many influential agencies, including the FBI, are returning to the Parabellum cartridge, therefore it was prudent for Ruger to chamber their leading BUG contender in the cartridge with the most police sales and demand. The logistical advantages of having both service and backup firearms chambered in the same cartridge cannot be overlooked, and as the 9mm receives the most advanced technology first, it has an advantage over revolver cartridges.

Unique Armorial Bearings

The majority of LCRs are designed to fire rimmed cartridges, the conventional ammunition for revolvers. The ejector on these firearms forces spent cartridges out of the cylinder by pushing on their rims. During the 20th century, revolvers using this system (usually chambered in.38 Special) were issued to the vast majority of American law enforcement.

However, the 9mm cartridge is rimless, therefore the ejector has nothing to grasp. The rear of the 9mm LCR cylinder is eased to accommodate a star-shaped metal clip that retains five cartridges via their extractor grooves. The cartridges are retained in precise alignment in order to feed the complete assembly into the cylinder as a single unit. When all of the bullets have been discharged, the ejector pulls the clip out of the gun, taking all of the wasted brass with it.

This approach has both benefits and drawbacks. The greatest disadvantage is that the shooter must remove spent cartridges from the clip and replace them with new ones in order to prepare the clip for use. This is not tough, but neither is it quick. Officers participating in firearms training will need a plentiful supply of loaded clips (the LCR comes with three, but you’ll want more) to avoid delays and downtime during the course of fire.

The clips are designed to be made of rather thin metal, so you must be careful while handling them to prevent bending them. A bent clip may not keep the bullets in the correct alignment and may prevent the weapon from functioning correctly, therefore you cannot handle them roughly. They’re rather durable, and normal maintenance will keep them in good condition, but having a few spares wouldn’t hurt.

Positively, the clips allow a shooter to swiftly reload a depleted weapon – faster than with other speedloaders – and they do an excellent job of extracting expended casings. Since 9mm cases are significantly shorter than those of the most common rimmed cartridges (such as.38 Special or.357 Magnum), a clip full of used 9mm cases clears the cylinder swiftly and efficiently. This is a significant benefit, as the short ejector rod on a short-barreled revolver can make it difficult to extract longer, rimmed cartridges from the cylinder. This will not be an issue with the clip-fed, 9mm LCR; with one stroke of the ejector rod, the cylinder will be ready to take a fresh, loaded clip.

If required, cartridges can be placed straight into the LCR’s cylinder without a clip, and they will headspace off the case. They can be shot without the clip, but when it’s time to eject the spent shells, you’ll have to manually pull or poke each one out of the cylinder, since the ejector won’t be able to grasp them without the clip. Officers whose primary weapon is destroyed or lost and who need to reload the BUG with rounds from a spare magazine may find this feature beneficial as the last resort.

Enhanced Capability

The small difficulty of firing the 9mm cartridge in a short-barreled revolver is compensated by the fact that the 9x19mm is a more powerful cartridge than the.38 Special, which is often used in these firearms. Even in its +P configurations, the.38 Special is a less competent cartridge than the 9mm, hence a 9mm LCR will strike harder than a.38 Special LCR.

Because the 9mm is more potent, the 9mm LCR’s monolithic frame is constructed from 400-series stainless steel, as opposed to the 7000-series aluminum used for the.38 Special variant. This adds nearly 4 ounces to the 9mm LCR’s weight, but the polymer fire control housing helps maintain the 9mm LCR’s weight to a manageable 17.2 ounces. This firearm will deliver a powerful punch without being cumbersome to carry.

Big Three

A defensive firearm that merits consideration must be dependable, have decent sights, and a good trigger. The 9mm LCR compares favorably to other BUG contenders in this area.

Since its introduction in 2009, the LCR has acquired a good reputation for dependability. The design of these widely used firearms has been carefully tested and proved effective.

Small semiautomatic handguns ideal for BUG usage are often more susceptible to malfunction than double-action revolvers like the LCR. In general, semiautomatic firearms are more prone to malfunctions caused by poor shooter skill, ammunition selection, magazine difficulties, fouling, and faulty maintenance and lubrication. No handgun is immune to the consequences of neglect and abuse, but experience has shown that double-action revolvers, like the LCR, withstand the rigors of BUG carry better and are generally more dependable than tiny autos.

The LCR’s sights are superior to those commonly seen on Ruger’s major competitors’ firearms. The front blade of the LCR is sufficiently broad and marked with a very visible white bar. This makes the LCR’s front sight more visible than other models’ thinner, plain aluminum or steel posts. A notable feature of the LCR is that the front sight is a separate, pinned-in component, rather than an integral part of the barrel. This allows the user to detach and replace the front sight with something they prefer more, such as fiber optics or night sights.

The LCR’s trigger is a substantial improvement over those found in snubby revolvers, which are notoriously hefty and difficult to manipulate. The LCR’s draw weight is less than we’re used to seeing, but more significantly, it’s smooth, with no jerks to disrupt our sight alignment.

The standard Smith & Wesson J-Frame trigger pull tends to “stack” when the trigger is drawn to the rear, meaning that the weight of the pull progressively rises as the trigger is drawn. In contrast, the draw weight of the LCR trigger is more constant and does not peak as high prior to the break. Ruger did this by modifying the form and geometry of the bearing surfaces in the trigger in order to minimize friction and increase leverage. The enhanced trigger pull helps maximize the LCR’s practical accuracy.

In The Field

Using the 9mm LCR is an enjoyable experience. The Hogue Tamer grips on this featherweight Parabellum are incredibly comfortable and do a fantastic job of reducing recoil. Even though the 9mm cartridge is hotter than the.38 Special, the additional weight of the steel frame helps to balance the recoil with the lighter aluminum frame of the.38 version of the same gun. The 9mm still packs a bit more punch, but the difference is minor and well within an officer’s capabilities.

The 9mm LCR’s sights are astonishingly well-regulated. Most snubby shooters are accustomed to making significant modifications to their point of aim since rounds seldom land where the sights are lined, but the metric LCR strikes precisely where the gun is pointed. Bravo, Ruger.

The LCR’s cylinder release button is functional, and the trigger pull is excellent, especially for a mass-produced firearm. Notably, many of the shooters I’ve introduced to snubby revolvers have favored the LCR over rival designs, mostly because of the trigger pull. This snub has excellent handling.

Ready To Go

The LCR is a fantastic choice for a BUG, regardless of caliber, but the 9mm variant seems particularly appropriate for a law enforcement officer who currently carries a 9mm service handgun. The ability to use the same ammo in both firearms, especially if it is given by the agency, is a significant benefit that cannot be disregarded. The clips require a small amount of labor, but the benefit of firing the more powerful and technologically sophisticated 9mm ammunition is well worth the effort.

I enthusiastically endorse the inexpensive LCR as a BUG, but if you want anything else, that’s OK. There are several reliable BUG options available, so choose one, train to competence with it, and carry it every day on duty. Make sure you have access to one of these essential, life-saving items before reporting for duty.

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