Ruger LC9

By Walt Rauch - Last updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - Save & Share - 26 Comments

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Summary: Walt Rauch’s review of and rating for the Ruger LC9 pistol, including a range report, photos, MSRP and specs, and user ratings and comments. (Click here to see all of Rauch’s handgun reviews.)

Editor’s Review

Saying the Ruger LCP (Lightweight Carry Pistol) chambered in .380 ACP was a success in the pocket handgun market is, if anything, a great understatement. At its unveiling at the 2008 SHOT Show, Ruger wrote 87,000 orders on the first day of the show, exceeding the entire forthcoming year’s production. Demand remains strong today.

Sales of the new LC9 in 9mm are also strong, and it too was well received at this year’s SHOT Show, albeit without the almost-hysterical crowd of two years ago. No doubt this was affected by a still-contracting economy as well as still quite strong sales of the LCP pistol. (A nice “problem” to have for any company.)

The “why” of this wellspring of demand for such a lightweight pocket pistol far exceeds the space allotted here, but suffice to say there was and still is an itch, and Ruger (along with other handgun manufacturers) is supplying the scratch.

It’s apparent many buyers think the LCP’s caliber meets their needs. Not everyone holds to this belief, however; those so disinclined include law enforcement officers and others whose daily lives are accompanied by the quite real possibility of having to use a firearm for self defense. They, as well as others not so strongly challenged, view the 9mm cartridge as the lowest-powered round for self-defense situations.

Ruger confirmed this line of thinking regarding the 9mm caliber through the Ruger Voice of the Customer program. According to Ruger CEO Michael Fifer, “They (those responding) wanted an LCP chambered in 9mm. They have it now in the Ruger LC9.”

The Details
The locked-breech LC9 semi-auto is double-action-only (DAO) and hammer-fired, with its external hammer fitting into and flush with the rear of the slide. It’s constructed of polymer and steel and weighs 17.1 oz. with an empty magazine. The LC9 measures 6″ in length, 4.5″ in height and .9″ thick. It sports a 3.12″ barrel.

Its overall appearance follows on the LCP while being slightly larger and holding one more round (7+1). The frame-stamped LC9 serial number is visible in a countersunk opening at the top of the right grip panel.

The LC9 has windage-adjustable sights mounted in dovetail cuts in the slide; the rear sight is further secured with an allen screw. The wide (1.63″) square-cut rear sight notch with two white dots on either side, when combined with the 1.25″ single-dot front sight, allows for coarse but very quick sighting, which is, more often than not, all you’re going to get when using such a handgun for self defense. The sights are large enough to provide a good sight picture, even for ageing eyes. (Note: Ruger now also offers the LC9 with the LaserMax Centerfire laser sight or the Crimson Trace Laserguard laser sight, both of which attach to the frame/trigger guard. —ed.)

The slide is made of through-hardened alloy steel and the barrel is alloy steel; both have blued finishes. Its glass-filled nylon frame is colored black. Two coil springs, one within the other, are non-captive on a polymer guide rod. A centrally-mounted loaded-chamber-indicator is at the rear of the slide. It’s thoughtfully marked “loaded when up” and, when so raised, displays red epoxy paint on either side.

Barrel lock-up occurs via the chamber hood abutting into the large ejection-port window. A passive firing pin safety is also in the slide. A pivoting external extractor is located at the lower right rear of the port. Eight wide diagonal grasping grooves occupy almost all the space on the slide from the rear of the ejection port to the back of the forward angled rear of the slide. The slide is nicely tapered at its muzzle and along its bottom edges.

These inward curves abut matching tapered edges at the top of the frame. This metal frame insert provides a base to contain various operating parts, including slide rails. The insert is held by two cross pins at the front and rear of the frame. A third and upper rear pin holds the semi-exposed spurless hammer.

The slide catch is located on the frame’s left side, centered above the grip area. The thumb safety is partially grooved and when down or off safe, it exposes a red oval on the frame showing the pistol can be fired. When up or on safe, a white oval on the frame is exposed and visible. The safety was easy to use and moved in a positive manner, both on and off safe.

The front strap is checkered, and the magazine extension provides extra grip room.

The non-ambidextrous magazine catch at the lower rear of the good-sized trigger guard is vertically grooved on its pressing surface. The takedown plate is forward on the frame; it covers the takedown pin.

The slide locks open on an empty magazine and the external slide stop is easy to reach and manipulate for positive firearm functioning. The LC9 has a magazine disconnect, which means you can’t fire the pistol unless the magazine is fully seated.

The seven-round, single-column magazine has a metal body with six cartridge witness holes on either side numbered 2–7. Its follower and removable base plate are also made of the glass-filled nylon substance. A finger-grip-extension base plate is also supplied. Adding the finger-grip base plate allowed me to get a three-finger grip on the gun, compared to using the flat base plate, which only allowed me to have a two-finger grip. The LC9 ships with one magazine.

The frontstrap, backstrap and the lower two-thirds of the side panels wear closely-spaced checkering. In the top quarter section, the frame curves inward lengthwise from the trigger guard back to the backstrap. The backstrap is also shaped such that the web of my shooting hand is well under the area of slide movement. For me, and probably for others as well, this eliminates the possibility of slide bite. All these grip features combine to allow the user to take and maintain a good grip on the gun. The trigger is hinged, smooth-faced and curved, and on this sample measured 8 lbs.

The manual safety.

The LC9 has an internal gun lock with its keyhole at the top right rear of the frame. To engage the internal lock, you must apply the manual safety, which in turn requires the pistol to be cocked. Insert one of two supplied keys into the small keyhole, then rotate the key clockwise one-fourth of a rotation. To deactivate, rotate the key counter-clockwise one-fourth of a rotation. When the internal lock is engaged, the trigger will move freely and will not function.

To disassemble, after ensuring the gun is empty and the magazine removed, press down on the takedown plate and, using the internal gun lock key, push out the takedown pin from the right side of the frame. (Take care doing this, for with my sample the takedown pin simply fell out when I tilted the gun.) You can now move the slide assembly forward off the frame.

Next, slightly compress the dual recoil springs on their polymer guide rod and remove. Move the barrel slightly forward, which allows the barrel to be lifted up and out rearward. Further disassembly is not necessary or advised.

Range Report
At the range, I found the LC9 performed better than I’d expected in a few areas. After firing 14 rounds of Winchester and Remington 115-grain FMJ ammo, I didn’t experience the anticipated hand stinging I’ve come to expect from shooting some (but not all) of the current crop of micro and mini handguns. My associate, AJ Stuart, volunteered to do the chronograph work using a Competition Electronics chronograph. As he finished the seventh batch of five rounds, he commented his hand began to sting on each of the last five shots he fired, which were with CCI Gold Dot +P ammunition.

Here are our chrono results:

Note: The LC9 instruction book states the gun is rated for and can handle +P ammunition, but cautions “… a steady diet of +P ammunition will shorten the endurance life …” The manual also clearly states (in red ink) “Do not use +P+ ammunition.” It goes on to explain there is no SAMMI or CIP pressure limits on +P+ and use of this ammunition could result in serious injury. While most users will not find such ammunition available for purchase (it’s only made for and at the request of some “official” agencies), keep this in mind if you’re reloading 9mm.

Typical target results fired at 17 yards ran from 2.5″–4″ groups.

Speaking of reloads, another friend with us at the range had some of his 9mm reloads, which he loads to be mild. The LC9 functioned with these and as a bonus made shooting the LC9 very pleasant. (The factory warranty is, of course, void if you use reloads.)

AJ and I shot for groups at 17 yards and then a more realistic 10 yards. At 17 yards shooting indoors under fluorescent lighting while seated with arms supported on the shooting bench, our five-shot groups ranged from 2.25″–3.5″. In most defensive applications, shooter will use such a small handgun at much closer distances, but there are exceptions. Example: Law enforcement officers are often required to pass an off-duty handgun qualification test with the particular handgun they have selected for such use. Many of these courses include shooting—and hitting—at 15 yards. The reasoning behind this? Even off duty, the officer might have to engage a threat such as in a shopping mall or a large commercial establishment.

The LC9 has a long trigger pull, but the stroke was smooth enough to make the 8-lb. trigger weight manageable. The LC9 trigger action requires the trigger to run fully forward to reset in order to fire again. In essence, shoot the LC9 as you would pull the double-action trigger of a revolver.

Its sights are large enough and the rear sight notch wide enough (as noted earlier) that the resulting sight picture provides lots of light visible on both sides of the front sight, enabling you to fully use all your marksmanship skills, even in dim light. Bottom line: Shooting at 10 yards, more often than not we were able to achive under 2″ five-shot groups.

I’ve also now carried the LC9 in a front pocket of my cargo pants off and on and find I can easily and smoothly access the gun using a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster.

Conclusion
The Ruger LC9 is, to me, a better choice than the LCP, not only in caliber but in a more—to overuse a phrase—user-friendly platform.


Walt Rauch received a BS degree from Carnegie Tech and completed service as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence. Rauch was a U.S. Secret Service Special Agent and a Philadelphia, Pa., Warrant Unit Investigator. He now operates a consulting company for defense-weapon and tactical training. Rauch & Company services include expert witness testimony on firearms use and tactics.

Rauch is also a writer and lecturer in the firearms field. He’s published in national and international publications including InterMedia’s Handguns, several Harris Publications specialty magazines, Police and Security News and Cibles (France). He is the author of a book on self-defense, Real-World Survival! What Has Worked For Me, as well as Practically Speaking, a comprehensive guide to IDPA defensive pistol shooting.


The Specs
Caliber Capacity OAL BBL Height Width Weight
9mm 7+1 6″ 3.12″ 4.5″ .9″ 17.1 oz.



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26 Responses to “Ruger LC9”

Comment from Bill
Time April 8, 2011 at 3:30 am

Having needed a “summer” carry alternative to my thicker Glocks, I found what I wanted in in the LC9. The slim flat design, and lighter weight easily made this my every day deep concealed carry choice. Having looked closely at the other micro 9mm, such as the Kimber Solo($$$$), Kahr PM9 ($$$$), I felt the LC9($$1/2), for the considerable difference in price, offered quality design, reliability, and punch.
Many reviews have berated the safety, loaded chamber indicator, and the long trigger pull, but a couple of boxes of 115gr FMJ later, and some concentrated practice, the pistol is a breeze to draw and shoot. The loaded chamber indicator is a non issue either during the sighting, carrying, or drawing process. My 7 yard slow fire groups were all 1-2″ at most, and only 2-3″ during rapid fire. At 25 yards, a slightly different story, but still able to put 90% of shots on the 2 foot square with some grouping. Still working on the 25 yard distance and improving. Not a tack driver at that distance, but I wouldn’t want to be standing down range either. The gun is combat accurate at 7 to 15 yards though, and that’s as good as I hoped it would be.( Actually a good deal more accurate than I am). I like and have found no fault with the adjustable sights.
There were ZERO malfunctions through 200 rounds, and the ejector throws casings another 5 feet further than my Glock 26. Recoil is snappy but not unmanagable. Not for the wimpy hand however. I did not try a light grip like some have, so I cannot comment on the possible effects. I have trained with the safety and find it easy to locate, easy to disengage, and feel somewhat better with it pointed toward my tool box during carry than I do my Glock.

Coming from a bit of a Glock Advovate, overall I am pleased with my purchase, and given some training, I carry it with confidence.

So…if Glock comes out with a single stack slim version of it’s reliable design which is as concealable as the LC9, I’ll probably buy it, but I think I’m also holding on to this little gem.
Good Luck, and stay (be) safe!

Comment from Jed Henson
Time April 8, 2011 at 7:00 am

Thanks Bill, good info.

Comment from Dan
Time May 13, 2011 at 9:17 am

I agree with the rating provided by the editor of this topic (e.g. 8 of 10 stars). I handled the LC9 at the Pittsburgh NRA convention and then went to the lcoal hardware and discovred they had pruchased 2 of these pistols and had one left; which I promptly purchased. Last weekend I had the opportunity to shoot my new pistol. I shot 150 rounds of my reloads (115 grain FMJ bullets from Precision Delta, using CCI primers and Winchester 231 powder). I had absolutely NO failures of any kind with the operation of the LC9, all rounds fed, fired, and ejected as they should. At first I thought there was a little brass monster eating all the spent cases because I couldn’t readily see where in the heck they were landing! But, I finally noticed that they were being thrown a great distance (more than any other gun, except my Mini-14 in 223)to the right and rear. I tried 10 yards at first, while getting used to the long, but smooth and consistent double-action trigger pull. When you rack the slide, it partially cokcs the internal hammer, then when you squeese through the trigger to shoot, it finishes the cocking action. I was consistently shooting low and left, which would indicate that, for me, a right-handed shooter, that I apparently was jerking the trigter or something. So, I moved the target closer and re-adjusted my strong-hand thumb position of my grip. I had noticed that after several rounds the slide-lock back apparently was cutting into the right side of my right hand thumb. Instead of leaving my storng-hand (right) thumb in the indentation provided on the grip, I layed it on top of (rather than next to) my left hand thumb. This appeared to solve the issue with shooting low-left and brought my group to center at about 1 to 1 1/2 inch groups at 21 feet. Since I also have somewhtat longer fingers, I also noticed that my trigger finger (index finger of right hand) was cutting into my week-hand thumb. However, I only noticed this after about 100- to 125 rounds of firing, whhich in a self-defense situation is not likely. At most, I would think maybe 5-7 shots would be fired to protect oneself. There was a fellow atthe range who I offered to shoot my LC9, who happend to have some re-load Hornady XTP hollow-point bullets with hime and we both fired them without issue. So, I now feel confident that afetr fireing 115 grain reloaded FMJ 9mm bullets and xtp-hollow-point, 115 grain and 147 grain bullets that the gun is totally reliable. I bought the Blackhawk pocket holster for the LC9 from Ruger’s website, along with another mag, which is on back-order. I am NOT IMPRESSED with the holster; it needs a little hook on it, like all the Other manufactureers of pocket hoslters appear to build on theirs. I think it wouuld help to retian the holster in the pocket better than this Blackhawk one does. I will shoot the gun at the range again to get more practice with it before I rely on it as a back-up pistol. I still think I’d rather have one of my 4″ pistols as my main weapon, with this as a back-up pistol. I am NOT a fan of small guns that don’t feel that great in the hand, compared to a full size one.

Comment from Larry P., Alaska
Time June 7, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Got one, shot it, can get used to the mag safety & the loaded chamber indicator, but the trigger pull! toooo looooong & heavy, hope someone in the after market spring business makes something more user friendly.
However, I like the way it feels, shoots anything with no bite, and c/carrys well, accurate enough from a bench, but have to get more trigger time standing to get better …

Comment from William W.
Time July 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I recently purchased my LC9 after a considerable wait due to backlog. I am a retired Deputy Sheriff and still carry at all times…I have owned and carried a large variety of back-up weapons and off duty weapons. I own several handguns including 3 Glocks and have carried my Mod. 27 the most, but it is just a little beefy to conceal, especially in the summer time. I do like the punch though…When I was an Investigator with DOJ I carried a HK Squeeze Cock and liked the small size and accuracy of the weapon…I started hearing a lot of positives about the LCP but don’t have a lot of faith in the .380 caliber so I didn’t purchase one…When the LC9 appeared I started following the reviews and they were primarily positive so I purchased one. I love the size of the weapon and yes, the trigger pull is long but smooth and getting use to it was not difficult. I’ve fired about 200 rounds through mine and it fed 5 different brands of +P ammo flawlessly…As a survivor of two shooting incidents carrying two different calibers, a 9mm and a .45, I have trust in both calibers to do the job with good bullet placement. Most handguns in .45 caliber are just too big to hide. If I’m forced into a deadly force confrontation I want the element of surprise on my side…After shooting my LC9, I found it to be very accurate within 10 yards and since most shootings occur within that range, I feel confident the LC9 will do it’s job if I should need it. After concealing it in my pocket, I’m already a huge fan of this gun.

Comment from vee cotto
Time September 28, 2011 at 3:30 am

Note: This pistol is not California or Massachusetts approved. WRONG !! I bought one and I am going to pick it up on 9-28-11. I tried one at the range and I like it,. very nice size, and for those that say a 9MM not good for self defense, just place the round in the right spot. Enough said

Comment from vee cotto
Time September 28, 2011 at 3:34 am

Ugg, I can’t go back to fix a typo-o, I am in California not Massachusetts, SO I DON’T KNOW ABOUT
Massachusetts .?! Sorry about that. Next time I will try to fix the error BEFORE I HIT SUBMIT.=\

Comment from William W.
Time September 28, 2011 at 3:56 am

I wrote a positive comment on July 16, 2011 after I fired my first LC9…On my second trip to the range with the LC9 I started to get light primer strikes and the gun would only fire about every 3rd round with several types of factory ammo. I took it back to the place of purchase and they called their distributor who immediately sent a new replacement gun…When I got the new LC9 I immediately went to the range and I experienced the exact same problem…I again returned to where I bought the gun and again their Distributor offered to replace the 2nd gun with a new one…This time I told them “no” and requested that the gun be sent to Ruger to find out what was causing the problem with the 2 new LC9′s that I owned…Ruger has had the gun for a few weeks without a peep…I love everything about the LC9 except both of mine wouldn’t shoot. My advice to anyone who carries one for self defense is to shoot a few hundred rounds through it before you trust your life to it. I hope this problem is an Isolated one but what are the chances of the same person getting 2 bad guns out of separate batches of guns…Maybe I should play the Lotto more often?

Comment from Jed Henson
Time September 28, 2011 at 6:19 am

@ vee: You are correct, the LC9 is now California and Massachusetts certified. I updated the review to fix it. Thanks for pointing that out.

@ William: Thanks for returning and posting your valuable update. Please let us know what Ruger says!

Jed Henson, president
GunsGunsGuns.net

Comment from William W.
Time October 13, 2011 at 4:29 am

I got my LC9 back from Ruger with no explanation so after leaving messages over a period of days, a Ruger representative admitted that the problem was most likly the problem…It seems that there have been many problems just like mine with other guns and they say it’s the type of ammunition that makes the difference. If you use ammunition with soft primers you are likely to have this problem because small pieces of soft primer come off and get embedded in the firing pin chamber causing it to misfire…I did seen that in both Lc9′s that I owned…I was told that if you use ammo such as Federal or CCI with hard primers you are less likely to have the problem…I haven’t shot my LC9 since it was returned but I will soon…I wish Ruger would just recall the things and fix them because sooner or later someone will have their ass on the line and their LC9 may let them down. I just hope they don’t wait until tragedy strikes before they stake steps to make the LC9 fit to wear the Ruger name.

Comment from William W.
Time October 13, 2011 at 4:34 am

I apologize for the grammer but you get the point…It’s very early in the morning…

Comment from Jon
Time October 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Not one misfire! My only real issue with the gun is the trigger pull. It’s way to long? You can get used to it buy holding the gun with both hands. Pulling the trigger fast n hard.
Sure is a nice fit in the hand, but to many safety additions. just stupid!

Comment from Jon
Time December 18, 2011 at 9:12 am

Update:
I just can’t seem to get a good group with this gun. Like the gun, but the trigger pull is killing me. I recently bought a Beretta nano, it’s now my CCW.
I did hear that “Gallowayprecision” has made a new trigger plate, let’s hope this helps.

Comment from jeff
Time December 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm

luv it wish came 2 mgs ,and chrome slide only 2 down sides

Comment from Mick
Time March 3, 2012 at 8:09 am

I love this gun. Got it a few months ago. It’s great for concealed carry and deadly accurate within 25 ft.

Comment from Grant
Time March 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

I normally carry a Colt Commander or my favorite, a CZ 75 Compact. There are always times, though, that a super small yet powerful enough handgun is needed. Not being a person who makes a purchase of something as important as a defensive weapon without knowing all the facts, I went into research mode and studied everything that I could on all of the micro pistols out there. After a great deal of research and thought on it, I went for the LC9. The price was right, it’s a Ruger, and it came in high on most of the categories that I was looking at. This was the first “Plastic Pistol” that I ever bought so I didn’t want to get too expensive with it in case I had to resell it if I didn’t like it, and not lose an arm and a leg. That won’t be a factor! After reading about the problems with the firing pin I simply brought it home and tore it down completely and cleaned all of the grease and foulings out of the firing pin hole and checked the pin itself for any burrs, reassembled the pistol and took off for my range. Not one problem happened during break in, or since, and I have managed to get very used to the long trigger pull. Off hand at 20 yards the pistol hits at point of aim and holds 2 1/2 inch groups all day long. What more could you ask for in a defensive combat type handgun? The sights are great, it’s easy to keep hidden, recoil is very manageable, and with the mag extension, it fits my big hands very well. Do I like this pistol? YES I DO! I find that I have been carrying this one more then my usual ones. I would say that if you haven’t tried one yet, do yourself a favor and do it. Don’t just pop a few rounds through it, give it a real workout and I believe that you will begin to feel the same way as I do about this great little handgun.

Comment from Daniel
Time June 26, 2012 at 12:52 am

I liked the LC9 as soon as I saw it. I then read up a bit on it. I finally got one and I love it.
It will replace my S&W Bodyguard 380 which I have used as back up and at times for primary carry since 2010.
The LC9 was my second attempt at a pocket size 9mm. I tried the Sig P290 first and I did not like it.
I do like the LC9. The gun’s recoil is not bad at all, and the accuracy at the range I will need it is very good. The gun has not failed at all with just over 150 rounds through it. I hardly know that the gun is in my pocket or I have also tried it in a IWB holster from Uncle Mike and it did fine there. In a on the hip leather holster you do not know its there. Ruger has done it again. They will be hard to find and one would be lucky to have one. The LC9 is a good gun.

Comment from bob
Time July 15, 2012 at 11:33 am

Anyone experience a problem with the thumb release on the slide?? I got this gun in December of 12, and when swapping mags, it’s a two handed process to unrack the slide. The thumb release doesn’t work at all. I’ve watched a few video reviews from ranges, and they seem to work, but mine isn’t happening. Solutions?? I love the gun, btw!!!

Comment from Grant
Time July 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

In response to Bob’s question:
As with all small controls on any pocket pistol, the slide release on your LC9 is very hard to get to release. It will take a lot of releases until it will begin to smooth up. Mine was very tight in the begining, but as time has gone on it slowly began working a lot better. If you look at where the slide and release lock up, you will see that they actually hook onto each other and until either the slide or the release begin to round off some, the process off unhooking will be very stiff. You can use a small file on the sharp edge of the release to speed things up, or send it back to Ruger and they will smooth it off for you. Or you can can simply run the slide release on an empty gun, much like dry fireing, until it loosens for you. Beyond that, it is pretty much a wait and see type of thing. I agree with you that it is a really sweet little pistol and I love mine too. I did do a Galloway Precession trigger job on mine, and that made it even sweeter. Check out their LC9 how to video, it’s really easy and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to do. You will decrease the length of the trigger pull by about one half and lighten it by a pound. All that makes a great pistol even better! I hope this has been of some help to you. Good luck on your project and shoot safe!

Comment from William W.
Time November 8, 2012 at 3:58 pm

UPDATE: I’ve made a couple of comments about this weapon since I got my first one in 7/2011. When I received a 2nd LC9 due to the 1st getting light primer strikes with all brands of Factory Ammo, the 2nd gun started doing the same thing. I was offered a 3rd LC9 but I chose to send my 2nd gun to ruger to find out what was causing the problem…When the gun returned from Ruger it again got light primer strikes. Both myself and my gun Dealer were determined to get to the cause of the problem. So, I sent my LC9 back to Ruger and this time they sent a work sheet back indicating that they replaced the firing pin, firing pin spring and worked on the barrel. Since getting the LC9 back this last time I’ve put 4-5 hundred rounds through it without a hint of a problem. I am now confident enough in my LC9 to carry it daily…

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Comment from Richard E
Time April 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm

This gun has the sorryist trigger I have ever seen. I have a lot of hand guns, but none this bad. I will take my Glocks. Or my Browning Hipower any time over the lc9. I am going to sell it, or trade it.

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