Ruger’s New LC9 Compact 9mm Pocket Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 4th, 2011


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Ruger's new LC9 compact 9mm pistol.





Edges are smoothly rounded for easy handling and carrying.



Slide lock (left) and manual safety (right).



Magazine release.



Visual and tactile loaded chamber indicator.



Internal key lock.



Heavy-duty extractor.



Disassembly pin is covered by a push-down latch to prevent movement.



Firing pin safety prevents firing unless the trigger is pulled.











It has been almost three years now since Ruger introduced their 380 LCP at the 2008 SHOT Show. That little pistol has proven to be one of the hottest-selling pistols ever built, and the little jewels are still selling as fast as Ruger can produce them, despite some really good competitive pistols on the market. Since the introduction of the LCP 380, many have been yearning for Ruger to produce a pocket-sized 9x19mm pistol. Ruger’s excellent SR9c is a compact double-stack 9mm, and while it is one of the best compact nines on the market, it is still thicker than what many shooters want, and the requests for a slimmer nine have continued. Ruger has a “Voice of the Customer” program, and also a link at to email the CEO, Mike Fifer. Ruger listens to what the customer wants to buy, and many have been asking for a subcompact 9x19mm pistol. Ruger has now answered those calls with the LC9; a slimmer, shorter, lighter-weight pistol chambered for the 9x19mm cartridge.

The LC9 is more kin to the LCP than it is to the SR9c pistol. Like the LCP, the LC9 is a hammer-fired, locked-breech single-column pistol. The new LC9 is sized-up from the LCP just enough to work with the longer, more-powerful 9x19 cartridge. The LC9 has a lightweight polymer frame with an aluminum insert that keeps weight down and helps absorb recoil. The barrel and slide have a matte black finish to the alloy steel that closely matches that of the polymer frame. The LC9 also has features that many want on a defensive pistol. The slide locks back when the magazine runs empty. The LC9 also has a manual thumb safety on the left side for right-handed shooters. The LC9 has a butter-smooth trigger pull, and the action of the slide partially cocks the hammer, resulting in an excellent trigger pull for a pocket pistol. In addition, the LC9 wears a real set of easy-to-see drift-adjustable steel sights dovetailed into the slide. Atop the slide is a loaded-chamber indicator, which is easy to see and to feel, making this pistol California compliant. California is a huge market, and with the built-in firing pin safety, manual thumb safety, magazine safety, internal key lock, and loaded chamber indicator, the LC9 will be available to folks throughout most of the United States. The LC9 uses dual recoil springs which ride on a nylon guide rod.

Critical dimensions are listed in the chart below. Since the LC9 is bound to be compared to both the SR9c and the 380 LCP, we will do that here. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest points, which includes the control levers. Maximum width includes safety levers. Height includes the sights and magazine base. The LC9 comes with a flat magazine base and also with a finger extension base. The height was measured with the flat base installed. The trigger pull on the LC9 pistol is very good, with a smooth release. Like the 380 LCP, the slide pre-cocks the action. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of pressure. Weights are listed with an empty magazine in place.

  SR9c LC9 LCP
Cartridge 9x19mm 9x19mm 380 ACP
Weight 23.2 oz 17.1 oz 9.42 oz
Height 4.51" 4.46" 3.61"
Length 6.8" 5.97" 5.17"
Slide Width 0.98" 0.89" 0.74"
Maximum Grip Width 1.18" 0.96" 0.775"
Maximum Frame Width 1.15" 0.90" 0.80"
Maximum Width 1.26" 1.04" 0.80"
Barrel Length 3.5" 3.12" 2.79"
Trigger Pull 5.2 lbs 6.3 lbs 5.4 lbs
Capacity 10+1 7+1 6+1

I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX is a hollow nose homogenous copper bullet. EPR is a specialty premium bullet from Extreme Shock. FP is a frangible, pre-fragmented flatnose bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of forty-four degrees Fahrenheit. Velocities were recorded at ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
WCC NATO FMJ 124 1085
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 115 1406
Buffalo Bore +P JHP 147 1111
Cor-Bon Pow’RBall 100 1508
Cor-Bon +P DPX 115 1224
Stryker JHP 115 1032
International Cartridge FP 100 1171
Extreme Shock EPR 115 1228

Shooting the new LC9 went as expected. There were no malfunctions of any kind. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. Ejection was to the right, and the fired cases cleared both the weapon and the shooter cleanly. However, towards the end of my second day of shooting, a problem occurred with the firing pin or something related on the test gun. It began piercing primers, with a bit of the primer cup material stuck into the firing pin hole in the slide. I had never seen anything like this before, so I sent it back to Ruger, along with some fired cases. They took it apart, looked for anything obviously wrong, and could find nothing. They reassembled the pistol, fired it, but could not duplicate the malfunction. This was a preproduction pistol, and could have possibly had a small burr on the firing pin. I don’t know. No one knows. Just one of those freak things, I guess. Anyway, I got another LC9 in here, and it shoots like a Ruger. Function is perfect. Fired cases and primers look perfect, with all ammo tested, including some Plus P stuff tested just to try to duplicate the primer problem experienced with that early pistol. The little LC9 functioned perfectly, with many, many rounds fired through it. The smooth trigger pull made the little nine a delight to shoot. The LC9 ships with one seven-round magazine with a flat base plate, but Ruger includes a finger extension base plate in the box, and the base plates are easily switched. I prefer the feel of the weapon with the finger extension. It makes the pistol easier to control, and does not compromise concealability.

Ruger did a really good job in contouring the LC9 for concealed carry. The edges are all nicely rounded, and the pistol is as smooth as a used bar of soap, yet the texturing of the grip makes the weapon easy to control while firing. It also appears that a lot of thought went into the magazine release button. It protrudes enough for a quick magazine change, but where the button meets the frame towards the front of the weapon, it is almost flush, to prevent the accidental release of the magazine while carried concealed. Again, the sights on this pistol are just right. They are plenty large enough to see easily, but not so large as to be obtrusive. The thumb safety seems to have the right amount of resistance. It is easy to flick off quickly to fire, but takes a bit more effort to engage, preventing the weapon from accidentally going “on safe” by being bumped with the shooter’s thumb during recoil. Engaging the thumb safety locks both the slide and trigger from movement. The safety is a right-handed only unit, but that does not bother me at all. I carry it with the safety off. The weapon cannot fire unless the trigger is pulled, but the safety is there for those who choose to use it. The internal key lock disengages the trigger. It is there if you choose to use it, but is otherwise unobtrusive and easily ignored. The slide locked open on an empty magazine every time during testing, never failing to alert the shooter than the weapon was empty. Dropping the magazine also blocks the trigger from movement. The extractor is a spring-loaded, heavy-duty piece, and extraction and ejection were positive. The barrel of the LC9 turned in very respectable velocities for its length. I was surprised that there was very little velocity loss compared to some full-sized pistols in which I have fired the same brands and types of ammunition. While a bit larger than the little 380 LCP, the LC9 packs a much larger punch. Recoil was not a problem with the LC9. While the gun does move a bit, especially with the premium Plus P stuff, it is not painful to shoot at all. I never noticed my trigger finger during recoil, and that means that it does not pinch, as some other small pistols do to me. The LC9 sits in the hand well, and the slide never came close to touching the shooting hand. The long, smooth trigger pull made hitting the target at distances from three to twenty-five yards easy. This pistol is built for social work, so no bench-rest groups were fired, choosing only to fire on standard silhouette targets at realistic distances. At least that was my initial plan. Pistols like this are not made for punching paper, but I had to try it anyway, since the LC9 does have excellent sights installed. Shooting Stryker hollowpoint ammo, I was able to keep five-shot groups well under two and one-half inches at twenty five yards, shooting off of the Target Shooting, Inc. Model 1500 rest. That is the best that I can do with my eyes and the short sight radius of the LC9, but it does show that the little pistol is built right. Also, while a pocket pistol is not the best for such work, there are times when an accurately-placed head shot might be necessary, and when the need arises, the shot will have to be made with whatever handgun is available. Such a pistol as the LC9 is more likely to be readily available that is a designated target gun. It is good to know that the LC9 is capable, if the shooter is up to the task.

The new LC9 is a welcome addition to Ruger’s line of auto pistols. It fills the gap between the subcompact 380 LCP and the compact SR9c, and is a pistol for which shooters have been asking. It is small enough and light enough to always be at hand. In a good pocket holster, the LC9 can ride well-hidden and causes no discomfort, and is as close as slipping your hand into your pocket. That is one reason that I favor pocket carry. It is natural and no causes no alarm at all to most people to see someone standing with a hand in the front pocket. If the need arises, you can be at ready with your hand on the weapon’s grip, but will not have prematurely drawn the weapon if it was a false alarm. A good, thin leather pocket holster will hold the LC9 in position, while keeping the weapon free from pocket lint and such.

The Ruger LC9 comes with one seven-round magazine, extra extended magazine base pad, pad lock, instruction manual, and a soft zippered case. Like all Ruger firearms, the LC9 is built right, backed by Ruger’s famous customer service, and is made in the USA.

Check out the new LC9 and other Ruger products at

To buy extra magazines and accessories for the LC9, go to

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the LC9 online, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Top to bottom: Ruger SR9c, Ruger LC9, Ruger LCP.



LC9 (left) compared to SR9c (right).



LC9 (left) compared to 380 LCP (right).



The LC9 comes with one seven-round magazine with a flat base, plus an interchangeable finger-rest base.



Excellent three-dot sights.



Author highly recommends Cor-Bon DPX ammunition.



Author put the LC9 through its paces using a wide variety of ammunition.



Seven-yard rapid-fire group.



25-yard five-shot rested group.