Rugerís Radical New Lightweight Compact Revolver .38 Special LCR


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 14h, 2009




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A few months ago, rumors were circulating that Ruger was working on something very different for them. Last year, at the 2008 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, they entered the pocket pistol market in a big way, and the .380 LCP auto was an overwhelming success. Ruger has sold many thousands of the little pistols, and the demand is still high. This year at SHOT in Orlando, which opens tomorrow (January 15, 2009), Ruger will again be the talk of the industry with their new LCR .38 Special Plus P five-shot pocket revolver. The lightweight five-shot revolver market is very popular, and Ruger is set to take a huge chunk of that market for themselves. Ruger has produced quality revolvers for decades, and their SP101 compact revolvers are very popular, but most find them too heavy for pocket carry. More citizens everyday are choosing to go heeled in our society, and lightweight revolvers are very popular among those who carry concealed. With the LCR, Ruger is aiming straight at the Smith & Wesson J-frame buyer, not with a copy of that design at all, but with a revolver that is a radical departure from conventional revolver design. The frame of the LCR is made up of two components. The cylinder frame is made of aluminum, which is a pretty conventional material for a lightweight pocket gun. However, the grip frame is made of a high-tech polymer, and extends below and to the rear of the cylinder frame, cradling that unit, and contains all of the fire control parts, such as the hammer, sear, and trigger, along with the necessary springs and pins to contain and provide fulcrums for those moving parts. The cylinder and internal parts are made of stainless steel. The polymer grip frame is not a stressed part. It comes out of the mold ready to assemble, and requires no hand fitting to the cylinder frame nor to the internal parts.

Back in early December, I was invited to the Ruger factory in New Hampshire to have a look at the LCR. While there, I saw some other very interesting future Ruger projects, but for now, we are looking at the LCR. I gave my word and have been sworn to secrecy until today, the day before SHOT, to keep quiet about the LCR. Today is the day that Ruger is introducing the LCR to the outdoor media, and this is the day that I have permission to tell you about this little revolver. I got to shoot the LCR at the factory, and I was expecting to have a gun in for a full review by now, but it has yet to arrive, so I have to go with what I have. Ruger has put a lot of time and money into the design of the LCR, particularly the geometry of the internal parts. Judging from my shooting experience at the factory, they got it right. The trigger pull on the LCR is very smooth, and very light for a pocket revolver. Many pocket revolvers have dreadful trigger pulls, and I get a lot of email from readers who buy a gun for defense, and have a very hard time pulling the trigger. If the production LCRs are like the one that I shot, the trigger pull problem is solved. That gun had what could be called a perfect trigger pull for a pocket revolver; a smooth and light double action. I do not know the pull weight of the LCR, but will measure such things when a production gun arrives.

Accuracy was also very good. The sights are easy to see in good light, but in the Ruger indoor range, I had trouble seeing them against the target that we had. Many of you donít know it, but I do not see nearly as well as I once did, and in certain conditions, I just cannot see black sights anymore. Thankfully, Ruger is also offering the LCR with a Crimson Trace Lasergrip, and CT was in on this early. The grip of the LCR was designed to take a Lasergrip from the start. Attaching a Lasergrip to the LCR, I was able to punch tight groups on the target, greatly improving my accuracy with the little gun. There were five of us there shooting the LCR, and the Lasergrip improved the practical accuracy of the gun for all of us, even the youngest shooter who still has good eyesight, Eric Poole of Harris Tactical Group. Recoil from the thirteen ounce revolver was easy to handle, maybe due in part to the polymer frame, or maybe just the design of the angles and such. I donít know, and wonít know until I can get a test gun in here for a full evaluation.

Anyway, for now, this is enough information to pique your interest, if you are interested in pocket guns and revolver design at all. This is certainly something different, and should be the talk of SHOT this year. I am always interested in new firearms design, and so far, I really like this little gem. Whether or not it will replace the J-frame in my pocket remains to be seen, but I am anxious for some more trigger time behind this little LCR.

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Look for a full review of the new LCR soon right here on

Jeff Quinn


The LCR compared to Ruger's LCP .380 pistol.



LCR cylinder is CNC machined from solid bar stock.

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Ruger's new LCR revolver.



Separate grip frame & cylinder frame.



Standard grip compared to optional Crimson Trace lasergrip.



Trigger and hammer components are all contained within the polymer grip frame.



Aluminum cylinder frame.