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Ruger’s LC9–Powered Up Pocket Protection

by G&A Staff   |  April 12th, 2011 25

LC9: A potent new Addition To The compact polymer concept.

Nine millimeter Parabellum or 9mm Kurz? Here’s how the LC9 compares sizewise with the LCP .380.


I’m an old-school kind of guy. Put me in front of a table full of new semiauto pistols of all types, styles and calibers, and the one I’ll likely reach for first is a Government Model 1911 .45. But that doesn’t mean that when I leave the house to make a quick run to the local convenience store for a late-night loaf of bread, a full-size 1911 is the likely gun I’ll tuck in my pocket. No, in that case I’m a lot like everybody else. I’ll reach for something lightweight, compact and unobtrusive, but nonetheless chambered for a cartridge with a little authority. These days, that’s most likely to be a small polymer-frame DAO 9mm.

Ruger’s newly announced LC9 is just such an item. Ruger hasn’t been in the business of producing such guns for very long, and it used to leave the personal defense market pretty much to other manufacturers, except for its full-size P-Series autos. But in 2008 it entered the concealed carry arena with a bang. The game-changer was the Ruger LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol), an ultra-diminutive, polymer-frame .380 Auto that immediately became a runaway bestseller. The LCP also generated a clamor for even more new products designed for more modern tastes, and the company’s newly instituted Voice of the Customer program lit up with requests for one product in particular. What people seemed to want more than anything else from Ruger was another LCP, only in 9mm. As Ruger’s CEO Mike Fifer puts it, “On the heels of the overwhelming and ongoing success of the LCP, customers repeatedly requested a lightweight, compact 9mm pistol–specifically, an LCP in 9mm.”

Now it’s here. With enhancements.

Controls: The LC9 features a single-sided manual safety, large slide lock, takedown button and external slide lock latch—plus a discreet, yet accessible magazine release button.

Designed for discreet concealment, the LC9 can serve either as a primary citizen-carry tool or a full-power backup for off-duty law enforcement officers. In most respects it is simply a slightly larger single-column twin to the .380 LCP. It’s larger because it has to be, both because the 9mm cartridge is slightly longer than the .380 Auto and requires a deeper grip frame and action cycle and because the 9mm’s increased recoil requires more grasping surface (and weight) for controllability. In fact, the only problem I have at all with the tiny .380 LCP is that I have to think very carefully about how I grasp it to ensure it’s well secured in rapid/repeat-fire situations. The somewhat larger LC9 goes naturally into my hand and is a true grab-and-shoot gun. In size it comes about midway between the LCP and the midsize double-column Ruger SR9 Compact (but it’s closer to the LCP).

The LC9 has a 3.1-inch barrel and is only six inches long and 41/2 inches tall, making for a very compact 9mm. With a width of a mere .90 inch, it’s one of the slimmest-profile 9mms on the market. It weighs only 17.1 ounces with an empty magazine.

The glass-filled nylon black polymer grip frame with blued alloy-steel slide and barrel utilizes an aluminum locking block insert. Each gun comes with one seven-round, single-column magazine with a standard flat floorplate for maximum concealability. An interchangeable finger-grip extension floorplate is also provided as an accessory for shooters who prefer a longer grip surface with more hand-to-pistol contact.

I’m one of those shooters, and I find that very little in concealment is given away by the less than half-inch extra surface on the magazine base, while it allows my little finger to actually help hold the pistol.

The dovetailed rear sight is drift adjustable and features a locking set screw. The front blade can be replaced with blades of varying heights for zeroing to a specific load if needed.

Details, Details
Mechanically, the LC9 is a double-action-only, hammer-forged, locked-breech (recoil operated) pistol with a long trigger-pull arc. The semiauto mechanism features dual recoil springs around a nylon guide rod. The sides, front and rear of the grip frame are aggressively checkered for a secure grasp in rapid fire, and the magazine button has just enough height for positive engagement without over-protruding. All edges, surfaces and corners on the LC9 are beveled and rounded (“melted”) for ease of holstering, carrying and drawing.

The LC9’s low-profile three-dot sights are a distinct improvement over the LCP (to my eye) and feature a wide rear aperture for quick and easy alignment. Both front and rear sights are drift adjustable for windage, and the rear sight has a locking setscrew for stability. The dovetail-mounted front sight allows use of different heights for varied ammunition types, although at 50 feet the maximum displacement between POI/POA from popular and common 9mm 115-grain loads to 147-grain loads (including +P) is only about 21/2 inches–hardly enough to matter in an up-close-and-personal attack situation.

Another huge advantage of the LC9 as compared with the LCP (again, this is in my personal view) is the fact that the larger frame dimensions allow the incorporation of a full-size slide lock and external slide-lock latch. I like knowing when my gun has shot to empty, and I also like being able to drop the slide on a fresh magazine with my firing hand.

The dovetailed rear sight is drift adjustable and features a locking set screw. The front blade can be replaced with blades of varying heights for zeroing to a specific load if needed.


The LC9 features a  single-sided manual safety and a magazine safety that will not permit the gun to fire when the mag is removed. Another additional safety feature is the loaded-chamber indicator atop the slide for obvious visual and tactile confirmation that the chamber is charged. The LC9’s pivoting external extractor design is also notably more massive and heavy-duty than most extractors on similar-size compact 9mm autos. Again, this is typical of Ruger’s approach to rugged reliability. Even Ruger’s smallest guns are strong.

Type: Recoil-operated hammer-fired double-action only
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 7+1
Barrel length: 3.1 in.
Overall length: 6 in.
Weight: 17.1 oz.
Sights: Drift-adjustable dovetailed white dot rear w/lockscrew, white dot front blade
Grips: Integral polymer
Finish: Black polymer frame, blued slide
MSRP: $443
Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Company


The long trigger pull on the LC9 (or the LCP) will take a bit of getting used to for anyone accustomed to the shorter strokes found on larger-format polymer DAO designs such as Glock, Springfield XD, S&W M&P, etc., but it’s smooth and relatively light, with a slight end-stack that allows good intuitive control. Pull weight on our review samples was about 61/2 pounds–a lot less than your typical DA revolver. It takes only about a magazine or two to develop a clear sense of where the break point in the letoff will come. As with the .380 LCP, the slide partially pre-cocks the action, and the mechanism does not have repeat-trigger-strike capability.

Shots Fired
I took to the new SR9 much quicker than I expected to. I first got to handle and fire it during a visit to the Ruger factory early last December and was struck by how much more controllable and comfortable to fire it seemed than the slightly smaller and definitely less powerful LCP .380. I was also struck by its practical accuracy.

Ruger’s Mike Fifer and I stood in the indoor range in the final-proof lab, trading shots at test targets 50 yards downrange with a pair of LC9s (yes, that’s 50 yards, not 50 feet), and we had no trouble keeping all our hits inside the body dimensions of the silhouettes (you can watch us do that later this year on “Guns & Ammo Television”).

About a month later I received a pair of review samples and put them through a simple five-load accuracy and ballistic protocol. There was very little velocity loss in ammunition performance going to the 3.1-inch barrel from the factory-standard four-inch test barrels (a testament to today’s propellant technology). And again, I was knocked out by the accuracy.

At a defense distance of 50 feet, the groups’ averages with five different varieties of premium personal defense ammo (115 to 147 grain, including +P) all came in at less than three inches.

At 25 yards (I only fired a few sample groups at the longer range), nothing went over four inches–which is impressive considering that the universal accuracy standard for full-size duty/service law enforcement/military pistols is “4.5 at 25,” and the little LC9 exceeded that handily. Subjective recoil was essentially unnoticed, certainly no more (if as much) as the LCP.

The LC9 is a good piece of work. All those Ruger fans who have been clamoring for a 9mm version of the LCP now have one. And other shooters who may not have been quite convinced yet about the shootability of an ultra-compact DAO 9mm pistol for serious concealed carry defense might need to give this new item a close look.‚ÄÇ

The LC9 comes with a soft case, lock, manual and takedown tool. Additional magazines and accessories are available for purchase at

Another safety feature: The LC9 has a “can’t miss it” loaded-chamber indicator atop the slide.


Ruger LC9 Performance

Load Bullet Weight (gr.) Average Velocity (fps) Std. Dev. Avg. Group (in.)
Federal FMJ RN 115 1,071 17 2.65
Hornady Critical Defense FTX 115 1,103 15 2.50
MagTech Guardian Gold JSP 124 1,041 18 2.83
Remington Golden Saber +P 124 1,135 21 2.75
Winchester Bonded PDX1 147 965 20 2.88
NOTES: Group sizes given in inches. Groups measured center-to-center. Data is average of three five-round groups fired from sandbag rest at 50 feet. Velocity averaged from five rounds 10 feet from the muzzle.
WARNING: The loads shown here are safe only in the guns for which they were developed. Neither the author nor InterMedia Outdoors, Inc. assumes any liability for accidents or injury resulting from the use or misuse of this data.

Featuring a full-length nylon guide rod and dual recoil springs, the Ruger LC9 strips down quickly and easily for maintenance by punching out a disassembly pin.

More manageability: An interchangeable finger-grip extension floorplate is provided for shooters--such as the author--who prefer a longer grip surface with more hand-to-pistol contact.

  • Hutch

    Like, you "I also like being able to drop the slide on a fresh magazine with my firing hand." However, this is not possible with my LC9, as the release lever (what Ruger calls the "Slide Hold Open") will not go down unless you pull the slide back to release the pressure on it.

    • Eric

      Once you've put 500+ rounds through it, you will be able to. Its just a little stiff at first. Keep trying! :)

    • Steve Campbell

      The slide will release with the thumb release after your LC9 is broken in with a few hundred rounds.

  • http://Todd Todd

    Well I wish it came with 2 mags but overall very pleased with my LC9. I shot at 15 yards the first time at the range and yes the LC9 grouped better than I thought it would. Even as I picked up my pace on shots. I do like the sights just like a full size gun and " quick and easy alignment"yes .My first DAO so takes a little getting use to but I have squezzed worse triggers.

    My only 2 cons

    Wish it came with 2 mags

    Wish the grip did not tapper on front side I wear XL gloves big hands but better than some other compacts.

  • Rob Drummond

    I own the LCP, LC9 and the SR9c and as far as I see it the LC9 fits in well between both. When I got my first LCP it was small in my hand and with the recoil you have to have a good grip for a follow up (at least for me). I purchased a second LCP & carried both instead of extra mags. Then I got and SR9c & I liked it better for an all around carry gun. More capacity, harder hitting than the .380 and a full sized grip for big hands. Also, with 17 rounds no need to carry two pistols like I did with the LCP. Then I got an LC9 and I have to say I really like it a lot. I haven't put enough rounds though yet but so far so good. The grip is a big improvement over the LCP, 9mm over .380, and a safety all good. The only bad thing about it is having to buy an extra mag. You can't put it in the pocket as easily as the LCP but I carry mine IWB holster which works well. In summer ware nothing beats the LCP but in all the other seasons the LC9 is very concealable.

    Frankly, I like the capacity of the SR9c but I am really liking the size & fit of the LC9 lately. I guess time & rounds for me at least will tell.

    Rob Drummond

    Hillsboro, NH

  • Nam Marine

    I wish Ruger had come out with the LC9 first. I find the LCP kind of useless. I think I would rather throw a rock than shoot someone with

    the LCP. Unfortunately $440. is silly high! I paid $400. for my Glock 30SF! Come on Ruger…….who you kidding?

    • Marie Noybn

      i got both mine for under 4, but that was around a year after it came out, ya gotta feel out the customers for what they are willing to pay i suppose, and at the time it was pretty much alone in the really small sub compact 9mm category, so they got to set it where they wanted i suppose…i liked mine so much i went back for seconds so i guess i must be a sucker, where did you find a 9mm glock of this size under 400??? Every glock ive checked out has been much wider than these guns. i agree on the lcp, really any .380 seems woefully underpowered to me, and the grip on the lcp is just pathetically small…the lc9 is a lovely gun.

  • David Atherton

    While I have the utmost respect for Ruger, I don't see a price point advantage over the Kel-Tec PF9 at around a hundred less. The little PF-9 is also a great 9mm, made in the USA.

    • opar5

      We are in accord, David. The Ruger didn't fit or fire as well as the Kel-Tec PF9. Got two PF9s: both with CT lasers and one with a belt clip. Pocket and/or belt carry with little bulge.

      • Marie Noybn

        I have both and the only real differences i could find relate to safety, which is more of an issue for my husband than it is for me. He prefers more safety gadgets, i prefer less, but ive trained with the safety on the LC9, so by the time i picked up the kel-tec, which was not available at any of my local gun shops at the time i bought the Ruger, i was accustomed, to the motion of flipping off the safety on the draw and squeezing off the shots, so that now with the kel-tec im thumbing the side of the slide.. not really a big issue for me, but for my husband it is a very big issue. We always carry condition one, fully loaded, cocked, safety on, and carrying condition 0 with the kel-tec makes him nervous, so he tends to either leave it in the gun safe or carry without a round chambered, which, to my mind, is about as good as leaving it in the safe. We both have LC9s and i have a lovely little s&w nickle plated revolver as well as the kel-tec, and he has a beretta which is too big for concealed carry, so really he should use the kel-tec for backup, but without the safety.. ;: shrugs;: it ends up in the safe more often than not. A shame, and i will likely end up giving hubby the revolver so that we will both have a backup weapon that we can comfortably carry. i guess all this rambling was just to point out that the lack of a manual safety could very well make the price point difference to many people. it also makes it able to be sold in kommiefornia, which i take it was the point of all the extraneous safety mechanisms. For me, for safety, keep your finger off the trigger and be aware of your target and whats behind it before you put it on and pull it. oh, and we both like the pop up chamber loaded alert, that is nice. dont remember at the moment if the kel-tec has that, but if not, that would also be a point in the Rugers favor. As far as fit and firing… the two have nearly identical profiles, so i cant see the difference in fit, and as far as firing, well i really dont care for the trigger on the lc9 so much, so you may have a point there, but that can be modified ;)

  • Robert Smith

    My Ruger LC 9 was a LEMON. There is something wrong with the Ruger LC9 firing pin. I had way to many misfires. I have no confidence in this firearm. I suffered through 30-40% misfires using 3 different ammo manufactures. Unless I hear that Ruger has adressed this quality control problem I can not recommend this firearm.

    • Steve Earle

      My brother had one that did the same thing Ruger needs to adress this problem asap. Where is that Great Quality Control? I would not recommend this firearm for PP.

      • Pete

        I have had a lcp and pc9 since they came out. No ftf with either one. Most of the time the ftf is caused by limp wristing the gun. I have shot over a thousand 9mm in the lc9 and over 500 in the lcp. hold it tight so the gun can cycle against your wrist. good luck.

    • TheBob

      Sadly, its been 2 years since your post and there are still problems. I have the LC in .380 cal. (same gun, different mags), and I have experienced FTF’s to the point I cannot count on it for anything more than plinking – which is NOT why I bought it.

      The gun looks, feels, and carries great, but 4 FTF’s (different magazines, all from Ruger), I simply can’t carry it and just hope that it will work if I need it. My LC goes back for the second time for another look*.

      * I have to say that despite my legitimate concerns over reliability with this pistol, Ruger customer service has been nothing short of amazing – at least as regards attention and speed. I returned the pistol (they paid shipping) on a Saturday and received it back the following Wednesday (a 4,000 mile round-trip!). They must have received it, serviced it, and returned it all in one day. Regardless, I want a gun that always WORKS… We’ll see how this next trip back to the shop turns out.

      • Marie Noybn

        Weird, i own two, and neither have ever misfired, which is kind of odd in itself to me, since every other 9mm ive ever fired has FTF occasionally at least… i hope you get your issues with your lc9 resolved, both of you… wait, you said an lc in 380, thats an lcp, not the same gun, but similar… still, i hope you get it resolved. As for the original, really, 30-40 misfires in every 100 rounds???? that is insane!! i assume you cleaned it, buffed everything,etc? ive never had that much trouble with ANY gun, much less a Ruger of any stripe… mind boggling. you contacted the company of course…?

  • John

    Sorry to hear that, my LC9 has never misfired and to my surprise it has fired everything I put in it from federal,winchester,remington,tulammo,gold dots, and gun show reloads it has fired everytime I pulled the trigger. Best little nine I ever shot

    • Marie Noybn

      agreed john, neither of mine have ever misfired, and i pray that it will continue its track record if, God forbid, i ever have to aim it at something that isnt inanimate. But if it does, my revolver wont, so its all good.

  • Scarceagent

    I got an LC9 last weekend and it came with two magazines and a Balckhawk pocket holster.

  • Znevins

    Academy has them right now for around $415 after tax. Comes with LC9, two magazine's with two pinky extenders and hard plastic case. I just purchased mine the other day and love it so far. Great for conceal carry

  • jay

    Picked up my lc9 saturday, First thing i did was buff the ramp and clean/lube it, First 100 rds it ftf about 10 times, Cleaned/lube shot 100 rds wal-mart $11.00 federal chamion 115 gr fmj rn no ftf's at all, I have a lcp also same with it, My thinking is buff the ramp clean/lube it shoot it clean/lube it shoot it, They are tight, Brake them in, The tigger thing is in your head, You'll get use to it, Give it a chance, I also have a sig p220 .45 it has gone bang every time and the tigger is great, At under $350.00 i dont exspect it to be like a sig, Almost forgot also have a kt p32, It go,s bang all the time with good ammo. Wont shoot the cheat stuff,

    • Marie Noybn

      the trigger problem is not in his head. The thing is the trigger is simply too thin, by the time your finger hits the back, you still havent hit the firing point, unless you use the first joint, which feels somewhat unnatural at first. you do get used to it though, so after a few hundred rounds its not so big a deal, but the first time i shot it i thought it FTF, then i realized i had simply not been able to hit the break point with the trigger in the joint between the first and second segments of my finger as usual, so i switched to the first segment and it went bang, all is well. But that is a minimal complaint in my eyes, you can either practice and get used to it, or you can swap out the trigger with a beefier one, which gives this gun a VERY light trigger, so, its good lol.

  • Larry

    Where is the best place to find a magazine for the LC 9?

  • RHoff

    Got my mags from Amazon

  • Mario Gandolfo

    Getting my LC9 in 14 days and getting it in CA just b4 the DOJ drop off list…$412.00 total price..which includes 30.00 gun shop handling fee..

  • Sonokar

    My wife bought the LC9 and the only thing I do NOT like about it is the loaded-chamber indicator because it lets the assailant know if the pistol is racked or not.

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