Ruger LCR Revolver Review (38 Spl +P)
Part 1 - Introduction, Specifications and Summary
January 13, 2012

Ruger LCR Review

Over the years, I have been asked the question many times by first time gun buyers, "what type of handgun should I get?"  Usually I always answer with the question, "What do you want to use it for?"  More times than not, they want a handgun that is small, light weight, easy to use, easy to conceal, has high capacity magazines, requires very little training, can be used for target shooting, shoots cheap ammo, has little recoil, has great knockdown power, has rails for a light or laser, is not too loud, etc..  I think you get the picture.  They want one handgun that can do it all.  Typically this sparks a lengthy conversation on the differences between pistols and revolvers, variations of each and my views on the pros and cons for each.  They usually end up with "information overload" and have that "deer in the headlights" look on their face, so in the end, I have to sum it up with, "let me tell you of some I have purchased and why" and it usually goes like this.

Many years ago, my wife started doing real-estate appraisals.  One day she took me on a job into downtown Atlanta and into an area that I thought wasn't safe for the police, much less her.  That experience sparked much conversation that night and eventually led to her getting out of that business.  The bulk of the conversation focused on the fact that the next day I was going to get her a handgun whether she liked it or not.  She didn't have much of an opinion on handguns other than she wanted something easy to use.  The next day I handed her a S&W Lady's Smith and have never regretted that purchase.  This revolver was a small, light weight, hammerless .38 Special and she loved it.  Over the years I acquired the S&W Airweight (men's version) of this revolver and it has traveled with me many miles.  Today I have several different handguns and each has its purpose and venue, but in the end I am a firm believer that keeping it simple is the best decision for the first time handgun owner.  It is hard to dispute the simplicity of draw, aim and pull the trigger.

 

When Ruger came out with the LCR revolver in January 2009, I had an immediate interest because this revolver matched the "keep it simple" criteria which I have grown to appreciate over the years.  This criteria being a small, light weight, hammerless, double action only revolver in .38 Special.  Over the last several years, Ruger has been adding new models to their line of LCR Revolvers which include revolvers in .22LR, .357 Mag and 38 Special +P calibers, along with versions of each that include Crimson Trace® Lasergrips®.  I had my first chance to shoot a friend's LCR in .38 Special +P about 6 months ago and was impressed with the LCRs size, weight and smooth trigger pull.  This sparked my interest in doing a complete review of the revolver along with fueling my desire to add another one of these types of revolvers to my collection.  The MSRP on the LCR in 38 Special +P is $525, but you can find it at local stores or online in a range of about $390 to $460 so make sure you shop around.

During my reviews I like to compare my results to the manufacturer's claims where possible so the following text in colored italics was taken directly from the Ruger website on 12/21/12 and gives an Overview, Key Features, and Specifications for the Ruger LCR Revolver.  The , and are my way to keep up with details that I have covered in this review with either photos, commentary or both.

Overview

  • The Ruger Lightweight Compact Revolver (LCR), a 13.5 ounce, small frame revolver with a smooth, easy-to-control trigger and highly manageable recoil.
  • Packed with the latest technological advances and features required by today’s most demanding shooters.

Key Features

  • Patent Pending Polymer Fire Control Housing holds all the fire control components in their proper dimensional relationships , reduces weight significantly , and helps reduce recoil I'm not sure how less weight helps reduce recoil.
  • Patented Friction Reducing Cam is a next generation design in fire control systems with an optimized cam that results in a smooth, non-stacking trigger pull.
  • Monolithic Frame, which supports cylinder and barrel, is made from aerospace grade, 7000 series aluminum in 22LR and 38 Special LCR models .  The powerful LCR-357 model is made from blackened 400 series stainless steel.
  • High-Strength Stainless Steel Cylinder is extensively fluted (reducing weight) and features an Ionbond Diamondblack™ finish for excellent durability.
  • Grip Peg allows a variety of grip styles to be installed, leaving ample room for recoil cushioning.  Standard model has a Hogue® Tamer™ grip, which is highly effective at reducing felt recoil.
  • Crimson Trace® models allow for fast and positive target acquisition, and offer the advantage of a laser sighting system in a more compact grip.
  • Also includes a soft case.

Specifications

  • Catalog Number: LCR
  • Model Number: 5401
  • Caliber: 38 Spl +P
  • Finish: Matte Black, Synergistic Hard Coat
  • Grip: Hogue® Tamer™
  • Front Sight: Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
  • Rear Sight: U-Notch Integral
  • Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Cylinder Finish: Ionbond Diamondblack™
  • Barrel Length: 1.875"
  • Overall Length: 6.50" the review revolver measured 6.67"
  • Height: 4.50" the review revolver measured 4.54"
  • Width: 1.28"
  • Weight: 13.50 oz. the review revolver weighed in at 13.35 ounces empty and 15.45 ounces loaded
  • Capacity: 5
  • Twist: 1:16" RH
  • Grooves: 6
  • MA Approved & Certified: Yes
  • CA Approved: Yes
  • Suggested Retail: $525.00 street prices vary between $390 and $460

This review is broken down into multiple parts with this page providing links to each part along with an overall summary of the specifications, pros and cons, and my final "bottom line" comments.  Make sure you take time to checkout the other parts of the review because they contain many photos and lots of commentary.  Also, there is an extreme amount of detail in those parts which are not covered on this page.

As you read these Pros and Cons below, keep in mind that it is hard to keep my particular preferences from creeping in the equation.  Therefore, it is important that you take the time to look at the other parts of this review so you can decide yourself on items which may be more of a personal preference.

Pros:

  • My first impression was how light the handgun felt and I was amazed at the extensive fluting on the cylinder and that Ruger still rated this revolver for 38 Special +P ammunition.
  • The double action trigger pull measures 9.7 pounds based on 10 pulls using a Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge.  I was actually surprised to see it come in above 9 pounds because the smoothness of the pull makes the pull weight seem less.
  • Fully loaded, the LCR still comes in less than one pound (~15.5 ounces).
  • My range tests show the accuracy of the Ruger LCR revolver is most likely much greater than that of your typical shooter.

Pro/Con/Comment (you decide)?:

  • This revolver comes with a Hogue® Tamer™ grip that allows you get two fingers firmly on the grip while your little finger rests under the butt of the grip.  For my hand size (medium palm with long fingers), the grip felt good and has a large feel for such a small revolver.
  • The Instruction Manual provided with the revolver didn't have any reference about the internal lock on the LCR.  Although the internal lock is very simple, I had to go to the online version to see the instruction details.  This may or may not be the case when you purchase a LCR in the future.

Cons:

  • I didn't find anything that I would consider to be a true con for the Ruger LCR Revolver, but I do have something to point out.   If you purchase this revolver with an intent to impress your friends with your shooting abilities, then you may have selected the wrong revolver.  Although this revolver can be accurate, it takes a lot  of practice and skill to create tight groups at longer distances for this style of double action only revolver having a 1.875" barrel length.  I feel the role of the Ruger LCR 38 Special +P is a close range defense handgun.

 

Bottom Line:

If you are looking for a good, simple, light weight defense handgun, then the Ruger LCR 38 Special +P Revolver is one that you should seriously consider.  Weighing in at under a pound loaded, I found the five shot LCR to still be comfortable to shoot even with +P ammunition.  Since the LCR is hammerless, there is nothing to snag on your clothing, pack or purse when drawing the revolver.  Since the LCR is double action only, it is very simple to fire because the only thing you need to do is aim and pull the trigger (no safety).  Overall I would say the Ruger LCR is a great first handgun for a person or family interested in concealed carry and/or home defense.  If you consider that Ruger just introduced another model in 22 Magnum which currently makes 4 calibers for this handgun, the LCR has proven it's popularity in the consumer market.


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