We tested three small 9mm concealable pistols in the November 2012 issue. Heres an excerpt about Rugers LC9.
The idea of a backup pistol is an old one, going back to the days of flintlocks. Modern shooters want something more useful than a single- or double-shot pocket flintlock, and there are lots of modern pocket pistols available, particularly in semiautomatic persuasion. Weve been looking at small 9mm pistols over the past year or so, and this month weve added a few more to the list. These three are the new Sig Sauer P290RS ($758), Rugers LC9 ($443), and the Kel-Tec P-11 ($377). Some time back (April 2011) we wrung out a Ruger LC9 against the Kel-Tec PF-9 (which Ruger apparently copied), and the Kel-Tec won. We wondered if the ten-shot Kel-Tec P-11 would do as well as the slimmer PF-9.
These three test guns were all DAO, which means you cant cock them to get a light trigger pull. You simply have to heave on the trigger until the gun fires. This does nothing for helping you put your shots where you want em, so that tends to make these guns best suited for close-range work. In short, we had our work cut out for us during our 15-yard accuracy testing.
All three guns locked their slides back after the last round. The Sig and Kel-Tec could drop their hammers a second time if the first strike failed to fire the round. Rugers design required working the slide to eject the unfired round and load a new one, which tactically might be the better solution. If you have a bad round, get rid of it instead of beating a dead horse. We tested with Black Hills 147-grain JHP, Cor-Bons 110-grain Pow-R-Ball, and with the Ultramax 115-grain RN lead-bullet loads. In addition we tried several unreported types of ammo. Heres what we found out about the Ruger.
Ruger LC9 Model 3200 9mm Para, $443
Rugers LC9 was slim and trim, with a single-stack magazine that held 7 shots. Only one mag came with the gun. The overall look was pleasing, mixing a matte-blued slide with a glass-filled nylon frame having essentially the same finish color. There was molded-in checkering on front and back straps and on the side panels.
We thought the Rugers slim grip was the most comfortable to the hand, and it also had the best sight picture. The sides of the windage-adjustable rear sight tapered to a narrow flat top, and the three white dots made lineup fast and efficient. The gun also had the most pleasing trigger pull. It broke at 5.8 pounds, and was long, but smooth and easy. It made accuracy testing easiest of the three. The magazine was easy to load, easier than that of the Sig.
The front sight was steel, dovetailed and contoured nicely into the slide. The rear sight was adjustable for windage and held in place by an Allen screw. This screw let us down halfway through our testing, and our shots drifted drastically to the right. We tightened the sight and had no further problems with it. The impact height of all our test ammo was just fine, as it was for all three guns. We thought all three types of test rounds from all three guns struck close enough to the center of a 5-inch bull at 7 yards.
The Rugers takedown was similar to that of the Kel-Tec PF-9, which Ruger copied, and of the Kel-Tec P-11. Clear the gun, and then press down on the door to the Rugers takedown pin, located on the left side of the frame. Push the slide slightly back to align the pin with its tunnel and, using a suitable tool like one of the two keys that come with the gun, press out the pin. Ease off the slide and the rest of the takedown is identical to that of the K-11. Inside the Ruger, we found excellent workmanship throughout. Nothing to be ashamed of here. Reassembly was easy. This field-stripping procedure is so much easier than the Sigs that there is no comparison, and the Kel-Tecs was even simpler.
The Ruger had a small safety lever that could be pushed up when a round was chambered. The Ruger could be locked with a key for storage, as needed. Two keys came with the gun. Also, the extractor popped up to indicate a chambered round by feel or sight. On the range we got decent accuracy, made easier by the friendly trigger pull. Our best group was 2.3 inches with the Cor-Bon Pow-R-Ball. Rapid fire we were able to place our shots in the center of the 5-inch bull at 7 yards with relative ease.
We could not detect any significant speed difference between the Sig and the Ruger. The Ruger seemed faster to shoot than the stiff-triggered Kel-Tec P-11.
Our Team Said: We had no problems with the Ruger at all except for the loose sight. It did what it was supposed to do every time. The recoil was a bit more noticeable than that of the Sig, as was expected, and some shooters might not like the kick, but we all thought it was by no means severe nor objectionable. We liked the Ruger with its slim grip and smooth, relatively light trigger pull. Compared to the others here, its an A gun, though some of us still prefer the lighter Kel-Tec PF-9.