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Ruger LCR .357 Review

by Payton Miller   |  April 24th, 2011 12

When we premiered Ruger’s polymer-framed LCR .38 snubbie back in March 2009, a lot of us figured a subsequent .357 version was pretty much a given. It was, and we recently got our hands on one. The only real visual cue that you’re dealing with the .357 version is, naturally, the longer five-shot cylinder—distinctively fluted, as is that of the standard version (plus a ramped front sight). The weight difference is a scant 3.6 ounces, 17.10 vs. 131/2, thanks to the steel “upper” on the magnum version. The .357 LCR features Hogue Tamer monogrips—they were a nice touch on the original .38, but they’re considerably more important here if you intend on using magnums. And the use of magnum ammo is a real consideration. A lot of fans of two-inch (OK, 1.8-inch) revolvers don’t have any intention of going beyond Plus-P .38s (or standard-pressure loads, for that matter).

I’ve run .357s through a lot of snubbies, and although I wouldn’t want to make a career out of it, I can see the appeal, an appeal that, to be honest, does not extend to the full-power 125-grain screamers (they don’t scream all that much from a snubbie, and to say the muzzle flash and blast are disorienting would be an understatement).

The sensible option for most folks is to shoot just enough magnums in the gun to figure out where they’re going, then practice with .38 Special. That’s actually a good policy for any .357, but even more so with “shoot a little, carry a lot” small- or medium-frame revolvers. Magnums can be hard on smaller guns and harder on casual shooters.

The two magnum loads I elected to use were Hornady’s 140-grain JHP/XTP and Winchester/USA’s 110-grain JHPs. The 140 is an excellent compromise weight, and the 110s don’t kick all that much, although the noise level is…impressive. I rounded out things with some representative .38 Special offerings—Winchester Super X Plus-P 158-grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter HPs, Winchester Super-X Standard Pressure 158-grain Lead SWCs and Winchester Supreme SXT 130-grain Plus-P’s.

Naturally, the velocity loss with the two magnum loadings was significant. The 140-grain Hornady stuff clocked 1,086 fps, which indicates a dropoff of 264 fps from the company’s ballistics claims from an eight-inch test barrel. Still, that’s a pretty good number for a snubbie dealing with a 140-grain throw weight. The 110-grain Winchester/USA ammo was less affected by the abbreviated barrel; the loss was 185 fps (1,110 vs. the advertised 1,295 fps).

The range situation for accuracy testing forced me to shoot groups at 25 meters, which is admittedly a stretch for a snubbie. It wasn’t quite as onerous as it sounds. The LCR has a very good, smooth DA trigger that broke at a hair over 10 pounds but actually felt lighter, so much so that I didn’t worry about trying to stage it, which is a bit tougher for me with a coil-spring mechanism anyway. Recoil was surprisingly tolerable, even with magnums. When Dick Metcalf shot the original .38 version a couple of years back, he felt that the polymer lower frame seemed to diffuse the recoil impulse in a kinder, gentler fashion. That certainly makes sense to me.

The two loads the LCR liked best were the 140-grain Hornady magnums and the .38 Winchester Supreme SXTs. Both shot the tightest groups, averaging around four inches with four of the five shots coming in at 2½ (Winchester) and three inches (Hornady). There were no functioning problems, although case extraction with the longer magnum empties occasionally required some rod slamming and cylinder shaking (to be honest, that’s a common problem with most snubbies due to the truncated ejection rod).

Although I’m personally biased toward a .38 when it comes to snubbies, the magnum version does offer a power upgrade along with one undeniable advantage: If .357 ammo is all you’ve got—or all you can get—you’re still good to go.

  • scott

    ……………..does not extend to the full-power 125-grain screamers (they don’t scream all that much from a snubbie, and to say the muzzle flash and blast are disorienting would be an understatement)………..

    1100 fps from a snub pistol isnt screaming??? what is the best a 38 can get from a 2 in ch barrel???

    the abov elink claims that a really fast 38 spl can only get 1000 fps from a 2 in barrel. this video claims 1300 fps from a 2 in barrel for 357 mag.

    if the video. is true that still sounds screaming for a short barrel to me…far in excess of any 38 spl

  • Guest

    Whatever happened to using 158 grain JHP ammo in .357?

  • Aaron Davis

    Bought mine for fishing while backpacking in bear country. Super lite weight and fits in my fishing vest easy. Good accuracy at 7 yards nice tight groups about the size of a baseball. 38s are a dream to shoot out of it but the 357s do have a bit of bite. But nothing to crazy. This gun is so much nicer to carry than my S&W. I don’t even know its there. I’ve run about 450 to 500 round thru this gun and love the grip angle. Not much muzzle rise. If asked to rate it 1-10 I’d give a 9 it’s one of my favorites. Hope this helps;) Don’t forget to take a kid to the range. They are future NRA members and they will have a blast…..

    • Tito

      I am currently in search or a carry revolver, Have been looking at the Ruger Lcr as well as the Taurus605ply and S&WM&P 340, Since on my State it is not allowed to rent guns to try out, (which I would love) I have come to u guys for advice,

      • FrankBrady

        Hi Tito. Perhaps you’ve already resolved this, but I would definitely buy the LCR in .357 Magnum. The S&W is a nice revolver–but perceived recoil is, from my perspective, felt much more in the S&W than the Ruger. I think the polymer, the grips and the bore axis makes the LCR much less painful to shoot. I am a former Taurus 605 owner–but had one come apart in my hands so I’m not a fan.

      • augco

        Try the SP101 if you haven’t already. I owned and have owned many others, but it is my favorite.

  • Tito

    Thank you Guys, Went with the Ruger Lcr .357, Cant complain shot several hundred rounds thru it already, very nice, Needto find an Optomertrist that can resolve my mid range vision, cant focus in on front site like I used to, LOL

    • FrankBrady

      I really recommend you think about installing the Hi-Viz front sight. I use the green light pipe version and the difference it made in picking up the sight against different backgrounds was unbelievable. Best $40 I’ve spent.

      • Tito

        Thanks Frank will look into it

        • Grimesy

          Just put 100 rnds 38 and 100 357 through ours ( my wife’s new carry)… The more we play with it the more we love it… Both nursing slightly sore hands but nothing terrible or unbearable… Gonna practise with 38, carry 357. Also put the crimson trace laser on it… Really nice package

  • Blackjack6

    Have this gun and it is real sweet. Use .38 ammo and there is little kick, load with .357 and oh baby.

    I love it and will never sell it.

  • Jb

    A very nice revolver, though I prefer the grip of the Airweight with the old school wooden grips (point-shoot technique). I have to say the trigger on this is great! I wondered why they put the tamer grips on this one, until about halfway through a box of full-house 357s. Had they not been there, the split on my skin between thumb and forefinger caused by the recoil may have been more pronounced. With full-house 125grain loads, this is not a one-handed weapon.

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