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Smallbore Snubbie: Ruger LCR-22 Review

by G&A Staff   |  April 16th, 2012 50

Ruger-LCR-22Ruger’s snubnose polymer-frame Lightweight Compact Revolver has been a success since its introduction in 2009. It’s already available in four versions chambered for .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Now there’s a new LCR-22 with .22 Long Rifle chambering. It has exactly the same mechanics and features as the .38 Special LCR, except that it has an eight-round capacity instead of five, and weighs 14.9 ounces instead of the 13.5 ounces of the standard .38 Special version. (Even though the LCR-22 has more chambers, the holes are smaller and the weight is slightly greater.)

The other significant difference in the LCR-22 is that while the trigger mechanism uses the same patented Friction Reducing Cam as the original LCRs, it ramps up and maxes out about 2 to 3 lbs. higher than the .38 Special version and lets off at about 1 to 2 lbs. more.

Small revolvers traditionally have stiffer DA trigger pulls than medium- or large-frame revolvers simply because the leverage advantage of their small operating parts is inherently less than the longer/larger dimensions of the same parts in bigger guns. The original LCR solution was a new interface between the trigger and hammer involving a small camming surface dished out on the trigger, which has the effect of positioning the motion vectors of the two parts so that they operate in tandem when set in motion instead of resisting each other and creating friction.

The trigger pull on the LCR .38 specs out at about 10 lbs., and subjectively feels like about 8 lbs. due to the mechanical advantage of the interfaces. Most importantly, it does not have the initial full-weight “stack” of most DA trigger designs but instead increases gently from rest until it peaks at the “rollover” point just before releasing. But the LCR-22 trigger is somewhat stiffer, which was readily apparent when I fired the new rimfire side-by-side with the .38 version. Since the internal geometry of the two guns should be the same, I wondered why this should be so, and asked Ruger Product Manager Mark Gurney.

His answer was short and simple: “The springs are stiffer. A .22 rimfire requires significantly more firing pin energy. So, yes, it’s heavier.” But he also emphasized that it’s still non-stacking. He urged me to try other small-frame .22 revolvers and said I’d immediately see what he meant. The others, he noted, “will instantly stack up to their maximum pull weight, while the LCR builds up to its max pull weight over almost half the length of the trigger stroke. This makes the LCR-22 viable as a practice tool for using the .38 Special or .357 Magnum versions on duty.”

I discovered he’s right. As for the practice thing, I also concur. Practicing with a stiffer-trigger gun of the same configuration will always enhance real-world performance with a lighter-pull version when the chips are down and you’re focusing on a threat instead of conscious trigger control.

And before anyone starts fulminating about why Ruger should want to be offering a pocket-size personal-defense format revolver chambered in .22 LR in the first place, consider this: people have been carrying .22 revolvers and pistols for personal defense for a very long time. Today, of course, no competent authority actually recommends a .22 rimfire as a primary defense choice. A “minimum acceptable” recommendation generally starts at .380 Auto and goes up from there.

But thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of ordinary people still carry .22 pocket pistols or revolvers. The reasons are simple: they’re small, they’re light, they’re handy, they’re easy to conceal, they have minimal recoil and they’re comfortable to fire even by those who are not otherwise skilled or practiced shooters. This being the case, the LCR-22 is a simple recognition of reality. If large numbers of people are carrying .22 rimfires for defense, shouldn’t they have the most effective one possible? Is Ruger recommending .22 rimfire for defense? Hardly. But for those who have already made that decision — and there are many — here is a revolver specifically designed for that purpose.

If your life is at risk, a .22 in your hand is much better than a .44 Magnum that’s locked in your closet at home. Ordinary people are licensed to carry, and ordinary people — women and men both — simply won’t, and don’t, lug a heavy revolver or Model 1911 around all day. Or even a pocket-size steel-slide 9mm or .380 auto if it weighs more than a wallet. That being the case, I can’t pick any bones with Ruger about the LCR-22. I’d rather have a loved one carrying something than nothing.

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