Ruger LCR .38 Special Pocket Revolver Update

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 30th, 2009

 

 

 

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Back in January of this year, we were given the go-ahead to report upon the new lightweight revolver from Ruger called the LCR. That early report was based solely upon the limited time that I spent with the revolver at the New Hampshire factory in early December. Since then, the revolver has also been featured in a couple of paper magazines, and those reports were also based upon time that the authors spent at the Ruger factory. All previous reports of the LCR were based upon those early prototypes, and I have been awaiting the delivery of a production revolver. It is finally here.

The LCR arrived a few days ago, as production guns started shipping the week of March 25th. Since its arrival, I have been feeding it every type of .38 Special standard and Plus P ammunition that I could find. The LCR weighs in at 13.5 ounces with the Hogue grip, and 13 ounces exactly with the optional Crimson Trace Lasergrip. The Hogue grip is a bit more comfortable to shoot, but the Lasergrip is more compact, lighter, and of course, contains a laser sighting device. I am a firm believer in using a good, high quality laser on a defensive weapon, and the CT Lasergrip is as good as it gets. They are very reliable, and most importantly, they help me to place my shots much more accurately in low light. In the dark, standard handgun and rifle sights are almost impossible to see, but the Crimson Trace Lasergrip quickly and accurately gets on target, showing exactly where that bullet will land. The LCR has a good set of easy-to-see sights, but in the dark, they are useless. Ruger and Crimson Trace worked together on the design of the grip frame so that it would accommodate the Lasergrip, and hold it perfectly in place. My LCR came from the factory with the standard grip so that I could compare, but the Lasergrip has been waiting here for about a month. The grip portion of the Lasergrip marries a hard polymer on the sides with a softer compound on the front and rear surfaces. The sides are checkered, but not sticky like some synthetic grips. This allows a good hold on the weapon, without it having the tendency to hang up on clothing.

The LCR will fit some holsters that are made for the S&W J-frame revolvers, but not all. While they are the same size, the shape of the LCR trigger guard is different. Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters in Alaska already has holsters for the LCR. His Sourdough Pancake is a very versatile belt holster, allowing strong-side or crossdraw, and he also has optional belt loops that allow the holster to be worn inside the pants. Simply Rugged also has a very good pocket holster, to keep the revolver oriented correctly in the pocket, and to protect both the gun and pocket from wear.

Accuracy of the LCR was tested at twenty-five yards, from both a Ransom Machine Rest and from a hand-held rested position. Most ammunition grouped a cylinder full into around three inches at that distance. The best groups were turned in by the Buffalo Bore Plus P 125 grain hollowpoint that uses the excellent Speer Gold Dot bullet. This ammo grouped into just over two inches, consistently. The barrel/cylinder gap on the test gun measured six one-thousandths (.006) of an inch. I like the gap a little tighter, but can certainly live with that. The trigger pull is one of the best features of the LCR. The two that I fired at the factory had very good, butter-smooth trigger pulls. The few that I handled at SHOT did as well, so I was hopeful that the production guns would also have good trigger pulls. I was not disappointed. My sample gun has what is probably a perfect trigger pull for a small defensive revolver. Measuring seven pounds, ten ounces, it feels even lighter. The trigger is wide and smooth on the surface, and the pull feels more like five pounds to my finger. Ruger has spent a lot of time and money developing this trigger, and their efforts have paid off. The polymer grip housing holds all of the fire control parts, and they all come out of the mold ready to go. No hand-fitting of the internal parts is required, and every LCR produced should have this same trigger pull.

While on the subject of this trigger, there is already talk on the Ruger Forum regarding the instruction that Ruger puts in their manual to always fully return the trigger to its forward position between shots. This is common knowledge, or so I thought, with every double-action revolver ever made. This question was brought up by someone who is supposedly a gun writer with over 100,000 rounds of ammo fired through double-action revolvers, but he did not know that the trigger must be returned to its forward position before firing subsequent shots. Perhaps he has a fully automatic revolver. Now keep in mind that the gun writer had never fired the LCR before making these statements. However, because Ruger placed that message in the manual for those of whom this might be their first double-action revolver, some folks, who have never fired the LCR, are suggesting that this might be a flaw with the LCR. That is nonsense. Assuming that the gun is flawed because Ruger thoroughly instructs the owners on the use of the firearm is idiotic, to be kind. This is a topic that I would have never thought to cover in a review of a double-action revolver, but since it appears that this is not common knowledge, I do so to lay that to rest, hopefully. With any double-action revolver ever built, the trigger must be returned to its forward position before firing the next shot.

To reduce weight, the cylinder is heavily fluted. It has an unusual look, reminiscent of some of the old cap-and-ball revolvers of the nineteenth century. I like it. The cylinder is made of stainless steel, as are the barrel and internal parts. The cylinder frame/barrel shroud is of aluminum alloy construction.

As mentioned above, I have been cranking a lot of ammo through this LCR. I clocked several different loads over one of my chronographs to see what velocities were achieved from the LCR’s one and seven-eighths inch barrel. Velocity readings were taken at a distance of twelve feet from the muzzle. Velocity readings are listed in feet-per-second. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. LRN is a lead round-nosed bullet. LSWCHP is a lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint. PowRBall is a specialty bullet from Cor-Bon loaded with a jacketed hollowpoint bullet containing a polymer ball inserted into the hollow of the bullet nose. DPX is a Cor-Bon load that uses a homogenous copper hollow nose bullet. LWC is a lead wadcutter bullet. Glaser is a pre-fragmented core inside a bullet jacket. Bullet weights are listed in grains. SV is standard velocity .38 Special ammunition, and +P is .38 Special ammunition loaded above standard pressure levels. The LCR is rated for use of +P ammunition. Velocity readings were taken with an air temperature in the 65 degree Fahrenheit range, at an elevation of approximately 500 feet above sea level. As expected, reliability was one hundred percent perfect. There were no failures to fire, and with every ammo type tested, extraction of the fired cases was easy and ejection was quick.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore LWC SV 150 912.5
Buffalo Bore JHP SV 125 872.6
Buffalo Bore LSWCHP SV 158 866.9
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 125 1053
Buffalo Bore LSWCHP +P 158 985.8
Cor-Bon DPX +P 110 878.7
Cor-Bon JHP +P 110 919.9
Cor-Bon PowRBall +P 100 995.1
Cor-Bon Glaser +P 80 1194
Winchester USA LRN SV 150 733.1

Any of the +P ammo listed above would be a good carry load, and for those who want a lot less recoil, the standard velocity Buffalo Bore loadings are made to expand at low velocity. Recoil was brisk but very controllable, even with +P ammo, as can be observed in the video. We shot the video with the Lasergrip attached, and still the revolver was very easy to control. I prefer the size and feel of the Lasergrip to the standard Hogue grip, even though the Hogue is a bit more comfortable to fire. The advantages of the smaller grip in concealment, along with the reliable laser of the Crimson Trace grip is well worth the trade-off, and is also worth the extra cost. In a fight, you need every edge that you can get. Remember, the thug attacking you has planned his evil deed, and is acting with forethought. You are reacting, and every split second counts. The police are not there to help, and all you have is your handgun and training. The laser is not a gimmick. It can and will help you to more accurately place those precious few bullets on target. In a fight, any handgun is a compromise of concealability, power, controllability, reliability, recoil, and ease of use. If the handgun is too little, it will not be as effective. If too large, you will leave it at home. It seems that the compact five-shot .38 Special revolver has become one of the most popular weapons of choice for those who choose to go heeled. It is a good balance of all those factors listed above. If I know that I am headed for a fight, I want something larger with more power, preferably crew-served. However, like most of us, as I go through my daily life, I carry something a bit more compact, with a lot less power. For the last six years or so, my everyday carry gun has been a Smith & Wesson .38 Special 342PD loaded with Glaser ammunition. It has a concealed hammer, a Lasergrip, is lightweight, and reliable. This LCR fits the same description, the same pocket, and sells for a much lower price. Whether or not it will replace the S&W in my pocket remains to be seen. I like both, and will carry both, at least for a while.

Back in 2006, I was sitting in a meeting with a few Smith & Wesson executives, along with famous gun writers Leroy Thompson and Frank James. As the S&W folks were asking the three of us for ideas, Frank suggested that someone should produce a polymer-framed revolver. Frank is, in addition to being a fine writer, a farmer who produces a lot of grain and beans on his fertile Indiana farm. I thought that Frank had either lost his mind from too many hours alone in the cab of his tractor, or that he had been sniffing the farm chemicals. I thought that the idea of a revolver with a polymer frame would never fly. I was wrong, and owe Frank James an apology, and the beverage of his choice. Already, the LCR is widely popular, and Ruger has taken orders for many thousands of them. The suggested retail price of the LCR at the time of this writing is $525 US and $792 US for the standard model and the Lasergrip model, respectively.

Check out the full line of Ruger products here.

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order a Simply Rugged holster, go to www.simplyrugged.com.

To order any of the high performance ammo listed here, go to www.buffalobore.com and www.cor-bon.com.

Jeff Quinn

 

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:

 

Locating points are molded into the grip frame to position the Crimson Trace Lasergrip.

 

 

On/Off switch (top) & Activation switch (bottom) for the Crimson Trace Lasergrip.

 

 

Crimson Trace Lasergrip.

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Pistol rug & white cardboard box.

 

 

 

 

Ruger LCR compared to Smith & Wesson J-frame Model 342PD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard grips are very nice stippled rubber by Hogue.

 

 

Ruger's internal lock is located under the grips.

 

 

Sights are fixed blade front & rear notch.

 

 

 

 

Accuracy testing was done in the Ransom rest.

 

 

Most accurate factory load tested was Buffalo Bore's Plus-P 125-grain JHP.

 

 

Shot pattern at eight feet would be very effective on snakes.