July 2009

Ankle-Holster Carry Choices: We Think Ruger’s LCR is A-OK

Rugerís ďmodularĒ LCR enhances rapid fire. The Smith & Wesson 442 was slick, but it had a flaw we didnít like. Charterís On Duty needs to be updated, so weíd pass on it.

If youíve never carried a handgun in an ankle holster, consider this. If such carry is rare or unpopular, then it will likely prove unexpected as well, increasing the element of surpriseó which is always a good thing when it comes to self defense. In this test we will look at three small revolvers that are suitable for ankle carry as well as other methods of deeper concealment. The revolver is a time-proven device, but making them small and light can present new challenges.

The three revolvers are Smith & Wessonís $600 Model 442 No. 162810, the $430 Charter Arms On Duty No 53810, and Rugerís new $525 LCR, No. 5401. Each gun was chambered for 38 Special only, and thanks to the use of lightweight materials offered an unloaded weight of less than 1 pound. Maximum capacity was 5 rounds.

To test our revolvers we fired from support at the nominal distance of 10 yards. One of the challenges of firing a short-barreled revolver from a rest is that once youíve wrapped the snub-nosed revolver in your hands, there is not much gun left exposed for support. In addition, you have to be careful not to block off the cylinder gap. This is the area between the forward edge of the chamber and the entrance to the barrel, referred to as the forcing cone. As the bullet "crosses the break," gases are emitted that often carry unburned powder. In addition, if cylinder to bore alignment is not correct, debris can be sheared from the bullet as it enters the forcing cone. To prevent being splashed by debris we chose to use a flat, pillow-style bag, (sold as the Elbow Bag) from battenfeldtechnologies.com. These bags were tightly filled but lightweight, so shipping on top of the $20 price was nominal. Best of all, they were covered with an abrasion-resistant material.

Our tests were performed outdoors at American Shooting Centers (amshootcenters.com) where the benches offered a vertical stop against which we could brace our support. Once seated, we rested our hands plus a radius of the trigger guard atop the bags. The Charter revolver was the only gun that could also be fired single action, so we tried that too. But the accuracy chart reflects the measurement of five-shot groups fired double-action only.

Although ammunition was scarce, we were able to find what we needed at ASCís Pro Shop, (281-556-8086). For test ammunition we fired inexpensive 158-grain lead roundnosed ammunition from MagTech, remanufactured 125-grain jacketed hollowpoints from Black Hills Ammunition, and the latest high-velocity law-enforcement rounds from Speer. They were the +P 125-grain Gold Dot LE hollowpoints sold in 50-round boxes. Letís find out how they performed.

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