Monday, September 22, 2014

OK, Ruger, Now I'm Impressed

Ruger has been running a series of "Flash Sweepstakes" as a way to generate publicity for their new gun introductions. The only problem with the whole concept is that the new product needs to be worth the expectations.

For their first Flash Sweepstakes firearm, Ruger introduced their Gunsite Scout Rifle in 5.56/.223. The overwhelming reaction of the internet was "meh". It is somewhat heavy, it requires the use of an expensive proprietary magazine, and it was merely introducing an existing rifle in another caliber. The Scout Rifle is a fine rifle in .308 and I really like mine. However, the Mossberg MVP in all its iterations uses regular AR-15 magazines due to its patented bolt system and has an MSRP approximately $300 less than the Ruger.

The next Flash Sweepstakes introduced a number of Ruger American Rifles in left-handed versions as well as "ranch" versions. The left-handed versions of the Ruger American were welcome if a bit overdue. I am seriously considered buying one in .243 Winchester for my step-daughter who wants to go deer hunting. That said, it was again a line extension that didn't really break new ground.

And this leads us to the third Flash Sweepstakes. It promised that it was going to be a handgun. After the first two sweeps, I really wasn't expecting much. I am pleasantly surprised to find that it is a Ruger LCR in 9mm Parabellum.

Revolvers in 9mm have been introduced in the past by Ruger and others but many are now out of production. The Ruger SP101 in 9mm commands a hefty premium in the used market - if you can find one. Smith and Wesson introduced their 8-shot Model 929 in 9mm this year with a MSRP of $1,189. You can also find revolvers in 9mm from both Taurus and Charter Arms.

Looking at the specs of the LCR 9mm, it appears that they used the frame from their .357 Magnum as the weight is 17.20 ounces versus 13.5 ounces for their original LCR in .38+P. Reading the introduction announcement below, no mention is made of the need to use moon clips. If it really is a 9mm revolver without moon clips, wow. Charter Arms makes the Pitbull and Smith & Wesson made the Model 547. No offense intended towards Charter Arms lovers (my first revolver was a Charter Arms .38 Special) but they don't have a great reputation for reliability. The S&W 547 was reputed to be one of the more expensive guns to manufacture that they ever made. As to the LCR 9mm, with a MSRP of $599, expect to find it at the gunstore for much less. I paid $399 for the original LCR new in the box. I'm guessing $499 or less.

Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. (NYSE: RGR) announces the introduction of the 9mm LCR®, the newest variation of the revolutionary Lightweight Compact Revolver (LCR).

"Since its introduction in 2009, the LCR has become extremely popular with conceal carry customers seeking the simplicity of a revolver," said Chris Killoy, Ruger President and Chief Operating Officer. "Customers have been asking for a 9mm version due to ammo availability and compatibility with pistols. We were listening and have added a 9mm version of the LCR," he concluded.

The newest LCR retains all the features of the critically acclaimed original LCR. Its double-action-only trigger pull is uniquely engineered with a patented Ruger® friction reducing cam fire control system. The trigger pull force on the LCR builds gradually and peaks later in the trigger stroke, resulting in a trigger pull that feels much lighter than it actually is. This results in more controllable double-action shooting, even among those who find traditional double-action-only triggers difficult to operate. The LCR is elegantly designed with three main components: a polymer fire control housing, monolithic frame, and an extensively fluted stainless steel cylinder. When originally introduced, the Ruger LCR revolver was one of the most significant new revolver designs in over a century and it has since been awarded three patents.

In addition to 9mm Luger, the LCR double-action-only model also is available in .38 Spl. +P, .357 Mag., .22 WMR. and .22 LR. The exposed hammer LCRx™, which can be fired in double- or single-action modes, is available in .38 Spl. +P. All LCR models feature replaceable ramp front sights with white bar, and a fixed U-notch rear sight. Some models are available with Crimson Trace® Lasergrips® instead of the Hogue® Tamer™ Monogrip®, which comes standard.

I'll be interested to hear the reaction of Grant Cunningham to this new revolver on the next episode of The Gun Nation podcast.

UPDATE: Thanks to the lead in the comments from Overload in Colorado, I did find out that the Ruger LCR 9mm does use moon clips. They are selling them in the ShopRuger store in 3 packs. I wish Ruger engineers could have devised a non-moon clip solution without greatly increasing the cost of manufacture. Obviously they couldn't. Still, I am happy to see the LCR in 9mm. It's not a game changer but it is a welcome addition to the line and excites me more than the other two new introductions.

UPDATE II: Ruger released a video of the LCR 9mm including use of its moon clips.


  1. That's a great idea if it really doesn't need moon-clips! You could carry a M&P9 as a regular EDC gun, and one off those as backup in an ankle holster...

  2. It will be interesting to see the reaction... and a heavier frame doesn't hurt! (My opinion)...

  3. They use moon clips:

  4. Just brainstorming here ...

    Does the 9mm head-space on the case mouth? (Checking Google ... it seems that it does, but the articles I found say that 9mm is straight wall. I know it's not bottle-necked, but I thought that it was tapered.)

    It would add to the cost, but would it not be possible to shape each hole in the cylinder such that they more closely resembled the chamber from a semi-auto, including the ledge where the chamber ends and the barrel starts?

    I can see more accuracy in operation of the cylinder rotation possibly being needed due to the loss of the forcing cone.
    However, if the diameter of the hole never shrank to less than case diameter except for a short distance at the ledge, the whole thing could continue to operate as a traditional revolver does, except for the whole "head-space from the rim" thing.

    More expensive due to the need to drill from both ends of the cylinder - possibly three operations; drill through at ledge dimension, drill from rear to finish dimension to head-space depth, drill from front to finish dimension leaving a ledge.

    Am I way off-base?

  5. Oops, forgot to add:

    The extraction process I leave to the Ruger engineers. :)

  6. Sendarius,
    What the hell are you talking about? Making the chamber more like that of an auto for WHY exactly? It's a revolver.
    It's going to work like a revolver except that this one, as you already know, isn't chambered in a straight wall round.
    Ruger already took care of the loading and extraction with moon clips.

  7. @KM:

    Sorry, but I have an aversion to moon clips - they are fragile, and fiddly, and horribly inconvenient.
    I acknowledge that they ARE more compact than a speed-loader though, and much faster than loose rounds, while allowing the use of ammunition not normally considered for revolvers.

    I understand that changing the chamber means that this is no longer "working like a revolver", but stuffing the thing with rimless rounds in a moon clip has already achieved that.

    To be honest, I am not sure that I understand why it needs to be chambered in 9mm. If .38 Special is physically too big, then maybe the semi-rimmed .38 Super might be a better choice, although even that is still longer than the 9mm case.

    I was just brain-storming (as I stated), from the initial assumptions that:
    a) rimless rounds like 9mm were required,
    b) moon-clips were undesirable (as John intimated in his update).

  8. Gotcha.
    The 38spl isn't too big, since they make that frame in .357, the 9mm is popular...even though I see this as a niche gun for folks that like 9mm but don't like autos.
    I don't have a bunch of experience with moon clips save for one revo that uses them but I actually like them much better than shooting a revo w/o them.
    If the round doesn't have a rim, S&Ws Rube Goldberg 547 isn't the answer if you want to keep cost down.