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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.

  • Thomas

    It is true a small .22 revolver or a SR22 pistol, if aim exactly, especially with the help of a crimson trace rail master or a viridian C5 laser, can be very effective, for a head shot or neck shot at the usual 15 feet encounter distance.

    • joesam

      joesam the reason i carry a 22, is if i have to shoot a bad person,and i shoot very well, hopefully the round will not go through and hit an innocent person.

  • John

    Yes, the .22lr was the top carry load, but there is no use for it now with the advancement in ballistics and design; the .22lr sub is a step back at serious conquences.

    • kenny

      Hi John, I agree with your assement of the small 22 round, but If you have girls in your family I have 3, they will not shoot anything bigger than a 22, they all will shoot my 22 pistoles and they are very good with them, I would rather them carry and be very good with a 22 than a tazer….tazers are not very effective at 2 feet, but a 22 is very effective…

      • John

        Any gun a man can shoot a woman can shoot just as well. Also, depending on shot placement the .22lr takes maybe 20 minutes to be effective.

        • Nick Dial

          "Any gun a man can shoot a woman can shoot just as well. Also, depending on shot placement the .22lr takes maybe 20 minutes to be effective."

          As a former police officer, I respectfully disagree. There are plenty of women with smaller hands that has less gin control with larger pistol calibers and frames. "can" they fire one?..sure, but effectiveness the key thing to remember.

          Shot placement is no good if you can't hit the target period, and is often parroted by others. When your in a stressful shoot, your hoping to hit the target period, never mind specific shot placements.

          As far as .22LR taking 20 minutes to be effective, this us pure opinion and fantasy. It all depends on the situation. Watch the Officer coats video….

          He shot a perp 5 times center mass with a .357 Magnum. The guy lived and fired back with a .22LR pocket pistol.

          Hit the Officer in the left arm slung around and lodged in his Aorta. The officer bled to death in just over 30 seconds.

          • Nick Dial

            sorry for typos

          • albert

            The officer lived due to his vest, I thought

      • mike

        you make a great point the .22 revolver is the ideal way to introduce women or girls to shooting. also this little pistol would make a great little trail gun or camp pistol loaded with snake repellant. and with ruger's new little break-down 10/22 rifle you'd have a hard to beat pair for a camping trip or a trip to the range. the wife and kids could have a ball without breaking the bank for ammo.

    • CSA

      I tell you what, since the .22 is so ineffective, why don't you volunteer to take on in the face or chest; hell, even the knee. The big bore brotherhood is just that; a fantasy land of would be gunfighters that dream of shooting an attacker like Dirty Harry. Get real folks – a .22 revolver will be most adequate in 90% of self-defense cases, if it's ever even drawn in an emergency. So the odds of ever needing to draw a gun for self-defense is about almost none, and the odds that a .22 won't be enough firepower is about 10% of almost zero. So, unless your a cop, security, or in the military, give me a break – you need a .45 auto like you need a hole in the head. Excuse the pun.

      • RNL

        finnally someone with sense!!!

      • Mark Martinez

        It dismays me how the .22 is down played for an ineffective defense round.I should know first hand,I was shot twice with a .22 40gr injury was a through & through the left elbow.the other injury was into the armpit through left lung and stopping after hitting the spine.That shot almost did me in.Bleeding & not able to breathe will take the fight out of most people.Unless drugs are involved.Yet I survived,those 2 rounds hurt more than a .38 in the right buttock!When I must carry,a .22 will do!It will kill you like a big bore round.

  • Pamela

    I ordered a subscription 2 months ago and have yet to receive even one copy. I paid with credit card. There is nowhere listed to contact you which is not professional when youre collecting money. Can ya please send me my magazines. Thanks Pamela!

    • Joseph

      Yea pamela I agree! I did the same thing. No customer serv. PH # is very Unprofessional! And plain old WRONG. I just might email them and tell them to keep their magazine and go with another gun mag. Also paid a little bit Xtra for 6 mo of I think handgunner. Haven't heard a thing. What's up with that Guns & Ammo!

  • David

    Try calling 800-274-6386 for customer service subscription problems.

  • John

    And, now back the the .22 snubbie

  • shidpoke

    I'm slowly coming back to the .22lr, the price of ammo being the main reason. It's been said most encounters with perp's falls with in 10-15 feet, I believe I can handle one after they have been shot 8-10 times wth a .22lr. shot placment is what it's all about

  • Jake

    This is a fantastic little firearm! It's fun to shoot, inexpensive, quite accurate for its size and a great addition to any collection. I hike a lot and this is my snake gun loaded with cci shot. My wife has the .38 version with crimson trace and the .22 has been a great practice round to gain accuracy without dealing with the recoil. I also like that the grips for all the LCR's can be swapped between them if I want the crimson trace on the .22 for a while. My only complaint on the .22 is that the empty brass is hard to eject at times.

  • MIke

    Just got one. Not for self-defense but as a trail gun for snakes and such. I like the light weight, and the low cost compared to a Smith 317.

  • PAB


    • MAX

      Now I am curious. What type of firearm would you use in .22 rimfire for a stealth mission? I have a 10/22 which would seem to fill the niche well, but maybe a compact bolt gun would also work? Also, what type of pistol did you use for suppressed work?

      • Madonna

        I was told 22s have a tendency to misfire and not reliable.

  • Byron

    I always hear all this "effective" nonsense about .22s. At the end of the day yOu just got shot. I don't care how tough you are, I'd you got shot your not in a happy place. Not to mention shot about 10 times with a .22 in a tiny group you are definitely going to feel it.

  • Goldwater

    I think most shooting enthusiasts are misled by ballistics charts and have mistakenly dismissed the .22 LR as a viable self-defense option. I own a Glock 34 for match shooting and a Kahr PM9 for my CCW. I'm pretty confident in saying that, for novice shooters, this Ruger LCR in the .22 LR would be a more effective personal defense option than either of my 9mms. First, consider confidence, shot placement, and the ability for follow-up shots. Second, consider some of the new ammo, including CCIs Stinger and especially their Velocitor rounds. In gel tests, the Velocitor bullets penetrate more than a foot and expand to .35 in diameter while retaining all of their weight. Their muzzle energy rivals a .32 auto.

    • J Johnson

      Agree on the ballistics. For self defense you are buying time, not engaging in a street fight to the end. If you can hit the target most likely the target is not going to process it as "ah I got shot with a .22" all they know is they got shot. I think I can buy quite a bit of time with 8 shots rapid fire into a target. If nothing else it gives me an advantage.

  • 1guyin10

    I couldn't help noticing at the range last night that there are a lot of people shooting large calibers that can't hit the side of a barn with them. Some people were struggling to hit a man sized target at 7 yards and others were printing all over the target. I was trying out a new .22 I just bought and the person beside me was also shooting .22. We both were printing hand sized patterns at 20 yards. I can't help but think that many people would actually be much safer with calibers they can actually hit something with.

  • Roger

    I find the 22 easy to shoot with one hand. When holding up a motorcycle when stopped and trying to shoot; the LCR 22 is the perfect fit.

  • Mark Martinez

    I see by the number of comments made about the .22, that others see what I see about the .22 as well.Yes shot placement is critical!But like what was said by others,shoot what you are comfortable with!A .22 has little recoil,less muzzle flash,and less noise,and if you practice on man size targets 20 yards or less,and keep all shots in a tiny group,your target will go down quickly!Most encounters are 7 yards or less.Try quick shots of three,with out aiming.Imagine being attacked!Practice,practice and practice some more! Get your shots in a tiny group,try various lighting conditions,Most encounters are at night,and at about 7 feet or less.And practice some more,>22 ammo is cheap!!And I hope you never have to put what you practice to use!

  • Gerry

    Small caliber rounds can do serious damage in that when they hit a bone because they ricochet off and then go through soft tissue of the body. Remember soft tissue is in the heart, lungs and brain. The hit men in the mob like to use a 22 caliber revolver because it does so much damage inside of the skull. It bounces around in the skull and does tremendous damage. Also people with arthritis find it easier to use with no painful recoil. It is like the difference between a broad sword and a rapier.

    • King_Hussein

      The Mossad has been using the 22 for years and they don’t get many repeat customers. It is far better to use a gun you have confidence in and will carry.

  • LoMo

    I just purchased the Ruger LCR-22 and there is a small rattle within the body. If I hold the trigger back after shooting it, the rattle is gone. As soon as I let the trigger go, the rattle is back. Does anyone else have this issue? I have another 30 days to return it. Please advise if you are aware of what this is or this is common to the gun. Tks.

    • Dave

      Take it back!

      Your confidence in this weapon is far more important than the time and money to actually drive to the store. Make them SHOW you what the rattle is so you know that it really should (not) be there.

      It is all about confidence….

      • Iowastater

        It is coming from the barrel and is one of the “quirks” of this gun. I was told it is normal for this make and model.

    • Tulpa

      Sometimes when I shake my Ruger LCR revolver, I hear a slight rattle; is that normal?

      Like all newly manufactured Ruger revolvers, your LCR has a transfer bar safety system as part of the fire control mechanism. As a result, a hammer blow can be transmitted to the firing pin only when the trigger is pulled all the way to the rear. This is a positive internal safety feature. By design, the transfer bar is allowed some movement within the fire control mechanism so that trigger pull is not affected. Due to this necessary "play" in the transfer bar, a shooter will sometimes hear the transfer bar "rattle" when the revolver is shaken. This rattle caused by the play in the transfer bar is completely normal in the LCR.

      • FalconMoose

        Thank you! I just got a used one at a gun show, and didn’t notice the rattle until home. I was going to gunsmith!

    • sean

      all revolvers with a transfer bar safety rattle .its fine

  • Mike

    Man I was getting ready to buy the lcr 22 for my wife for her ccw but you guys make me hesitate. She had a 38 and was decent on accuracy and then felt it was too much for recoil and such. Now he has the taurus 380 and there are things that could go wrong with a semi in my opinion so we were going to upgrade her to this 22 of course with hollow something. I may still get it for her.
    I think some of you need to step down off your perches a lil. Use the common sense God gave you. Mostly talking about John here. Shot placement is everything…wondering what a 22 hollow would do to the face?

  • Scott

    Train with the 22 LCR and carry the .38 or .357

  • Penny

    As an intelligent woman, and a novice to firearms, I have done extensive research. My C&C will be a Ruger LCR .38. For now, I will practice & carry the LCR .22 . My approach was the same with motorcycling- start off small, gain confidence and skill, THEN step it up. I'ts a proven technique.

  • joesam

    you guys worrying about that rattle should do your homework before you panic. the fellow telling about the transfer bar was correct. don't worry, you have am excellent weapon.

  • hdb

    I think I'm the only girl here. I bought this gun today for self defense/carry and a 12 gauge shotgun for home. As a girl alone, I'd rather have something than nothing ready if I ever need it, and I sure wouldn't want to have it aimed at me. At least it gives me a chance to get away, right?

  • Jeff

    I'm not a ballistics guy or all that jazz, but I do live in the real world. A bullet regardless of caliber will inflict pain when it hits a living thing and can kill a living thing placed in the right spot. This ignorance of not big enough or powerful enough makes small guns like .22's even more deadly, because they don't get the respect that they are actual firearms that can kill or maim. Think a .22 can't do some damage, look up on wikipedia assassination of Robert Kennedy or the assassination attempt on President Reagan. I carry a taurus .22 pocket pistol myself because its accurate, affordable to shoot, and theres no recoil so I can stay on target and put my shots where they need to go.

  • Edward Hall

    Heck I carry a S&W 340pd as a backup gun, and even I will train a lot with this Ruger .22 J Frame.

  • e lawnge

    guns are gay

    • Dan

      What do you have against gays?

      • e lawnge

        You a homo?

        • Guest

          Y do you want to know?
          Want to tell us about yourself?
          You need to come out of the closet E?
          I am as Gay as YOU.

        • Dan

          Y do you want to know?
          Want to tell us about yourself?
          You need to come out of the closet E?
          I am as Gay as YOU.

  • Chris

    As a former gang investigator in Los Angeles, I have seen more people killed by .22 and 380. than you would believe. It is not about caliber, but more about shot placement. If a smaller caliber allows you to fire several shots on target in succession then it is a better option, “No competent authority…” would recommend a .22? If that is the case they are not “competent” to begin with. People should carry a gun that they feel most effective with….if that is a .22 then use it.

  • Tim Woodruff

    I have an LCR in 22 LR and 357 Mag. I carry one or the other from time to time as a back up . It is also nice to have a 22 if you take a friend shooting as you can save a little on ammo .

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