Saturday, April 02, 2016

Guns: Ruger LC9s Pro review - Addition by Subtraction

Introduction


Ruger's original LC9 handgun was festooned with lawsuit-wary "safety" features, like a magazine disconnect, an absurdly heavy double-action trigger,, and a giant loaded chamber indicator. Frankly, it felt like an artifact from an older, grouchier gun company - one that didn't sell standard capacity magazines, or handguns smaller than canned hams. That's why I (and a lot of other shooters) never felt the need to pick an LC9 up.

Ruger listened to the complaints, and delivered the LC9s Pro. It's a striker-fired version of the LC9 that nixes the mag disconnect and the manual safety, and substitutes in a very light trigger. But are these upgrades enough, given the intense competition from other guns in the single-stack 9mm market?

First Impressions and Size Comparison

In most respects, the LC9s Pro feels like a blown-up, upsized LCP. Like the LCP, the LC9s has a carry-melted slide, a lightweight polymer frame, and non-snag low-profile sights and controls. Granted, there's nothing particularly artful about the package, but it's quite functional as a purpose-built concealed carry handgun.

The big question for most buyers is how the LC9s stacks up against other guns in its class. Pictured below are the Walther PPS (the classic version), the Kahr CM9, the LC9s, and the S&W Shield. The LC9s is significantly smaller and lighter than everything on the table except for the CM9, and unlike the CM9, the Ruger holds 7 rounds in a flush fitting mag::




So we've established the gun is concealable. How does it shoot?

Range Report

I found the LC9s to be a snappy little bugger, even with standard pressure loads. This is to be expected - after all, it was not so long ago that Smith's alloy-framed single-stack autos were considered "small." The LC9s is several ounces lighter than those guns, with a commensurate penalty on the shooter's hands.

The trigger of the LC9s was light...almost too light. Yeah, yeah, I know "equipment is no substitute for training," and that "the only safety is between your ears," and the other gun forum saws. But once the trigger safety is depressed, there is just not a whole lot of pressure required to set the thing off, especially for a carry gun.

10 rounds of Remington's UMC 115 grainers at 10 yards:


10 rounds at 10 yards, Blazer Brass 115 gr.


10 rounds at 10 yards, Winchester 115 gr. white box value pack.



15 shots, 10 yards, Speer Lawman 115 gr.



16 rounds, 10 yards, Winchester Super-X 147 gr TMJ.



16 rounds, 10 yards, UMC value pack 115 gr JHPs:


Obviously, the gun is mechanically more accurate than the above groups indicate. But the LC9s Pro was simply not as easy to shoot as other single-stack 9mms. If I took my time, focused up, and bore down on it, I could print mostly acceptable targets...mostly.


Conclusion

The LC9s Pro is the quintessential "mixed-bag." Pluses include its relatively small size, low cost, reliability, and name-brand recognition. The big negative (for me) was practical accuracy. I'm not sure I'd ever carry it again, but it would be an option, which is a lot more than could be said for the original LC9.

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