REVIEW: The 2014 Ruger LC9s 9mm Striker-Fired Concealed Carry Pistol

Ruger LC9s 9mm

Ruger LC9s 9mm

Most of us know the Ruger LC9 compact hammer-fired pistol as a mature, reliable, platform for concealed carry that has been around for about three years. While hammer-fired and striker-fired handgun designs each have pros and cons, some shooters complain about the long trigger press, the length of the trigger stroke, the hammer, and the reset of the LC9. The new for 2014 LC9s by Ruger claims to greatly improve the trigger, the design, and there is much talk about it. The claim is that the LC9s’ striker design (no hammer like the LC9) allows for a shorter, crisp, lighter, and consistent trigger press with much less resistance for every shot. Several claim that the internal striker gun has the advantage over the hammer-fired gun because it is easily cocked by the power of the recoil spring making it ready to fire when you rack the slide. In a striker-fired design the striker is either partially or fully cocked as the slide comes back into battery. I believe that any handgun design is a tradeoff with pros and cons to consider for your purpose and personal preferences. So, as a non-gunsmith technically-challenged shooter and for my concealed carry purpose, I must explore for myself this new LC9s in my quest for a concealed carry (CC) self-defense handgun. To me, the most important qualities of a CC gun are: accuracy; reliability; smooth, light, and short trigger press; ergonomics and comfort; smooth styling, rounded edges; compact design, lightweight, and slim grip for CC; and safety features. I must shoot and handle this gun myself and see if it meets my rigid requirements. I hope this will help you with your CC handgun decision.

SPECIFICATIONS: RUGER LC9s STRIKER-FIRED 9mm, Model 3235

Chambering9x19mm
Weight with Empty Magazine17.2 ounces
Trigger Press5.20 pounds
Barrel Length3.12 inches
Barrel Diameter0.500 inch
Overall Height4.50 inches
Overall Length6.00 inches
Grip Width0.90 inches
Trigger Reach2.75 inches
Magazine Capacity7
Magazines Supplied (2 Base Plates- flat & pinky extension)1 (Steel) + 1 Inert Dummy Mag (for Dry Fire)
Magazine Disconnect SafetyYes
Striker Block Safety + Trigger SafetyYes
Manual Thumb SafetyYes (Right Handed)
Sights (Carbon Alloy Steel)3 Dots- Windage Adjustable Rear
Guide Rod Assembly (Steel)Dual Springs
Accessory RailNone- but accepts Lasers
MSRP (as of July 2014)$449. US

FEATURES for the LC9s from the Ruger website:

  • Striker-fired version of the award-winning LC9® has a short, light, crisp trigger pull for faster, more accurate shooting.
  • Uses all existing LC9® accessories including lasers, holsters and extended 9-round magazines.
  • Slim, lightweight and compact for personal protection, just slightly larger (less than 1″ taller and 1″ longer) than the popular and incredibly compact LCP®.
  • Rugged construction with blued, through-hardened alloy steel slide and black, one-piece high-performance, glass-filled nylon grip frame.
  • Checkered grip frame provides a secure and comfortable grip.
  • Includes finger grip extension floorplate that can be added to the magazine for comfort and grip.
  • Dovetailed, high-visibility 3-dot sight system with windage adjustable rear sight and fixed front sight.
  • Blued, alloy steel barrel.
  • Safety features include integrated trigger safety, manual safety, magazine disconnect, inert magazine for safe disassembly and a visual inspection port that allows for visual confirmation of a loaded or empty chamber.
  • Also Includes: one 7-round magazine; soft case.

The LC9s comes with only one operational 7-round magazine with flat and finger extension floorplates, along with a nice soft zippered carrying case, an orange inert magazine for dry fire practice, a lock, chamber flag, fired casing, and manual.

Before heading to the range to field test the new LC9s that I bought for about $350., I disassembled it and thoroughly cleaned it. It was more difficult to take down that I thought. I should have known given my time-consuming disassembly experiences with my Ruger Mark III; a fine gun, but it takes time to disassemble it. With the LC9s, you must first move the take-down lever/gate down to reveal the take-down pin. Ruger emphasizes safety in all of their guns. Then you insert a small screwdriver or paperclip from the right side of the frame to push the pin out, as you move the slide about 1/8″ rearward. After several lockups and attempts, I was able to do it. My learning curve will certainly improve after a few more times. The take-down pin is integral to disassembly, so do not lose it if you buy the gun. The all steel and very strong dual-spring guide rod assembly is very nice and, as I discovered, really helps the cycling and accuracy. I learned that it does not matter the direction you place the 2 recoil springs onto the guide rod, since either direction works.

LC9 Disassembled Parts- Slide-Barrel-Guide Rod-Spring-Take Down Pin

RANGE TEST

After cleaning the LC9s, I headed to the range to shoot it. It felt so good in my hand, an almost perfect fit for me and it is so very comfortable; I had high hopes it would shoot great. I took American Eagle 115 grain and 124 grain 9mm ammo, Blazer Brass 115 grain, and various brands of remanufactured reloads to really give it a trial for possible malfunctions and stoppages and accuracy. I took about 300 rounds, but thought I would just shoot about 100 rounds. Well, I ended up shooting all 300 rounds. For concealed carry, I rotate among various 9mms: Springfield EMP, S&W M&P Compact, Sig Sauer 938, Ruger SR9C, Springfield XDs, Glock 19, and H&K P30, in addition to some .45 calibers. These are all great handguns for concealed carry. So I had high expectations for the LC9s for it to be added to my selective list. I want to pare my list down to 2 or 3 CC guns.

I could not believe the fine results with the LC9s and they are not paying me to state this. Now I am not a great shooter, but do shoot with IDPA. My first 7 shots out of the gun at 5 yards in rapid fire were a two-inch group. I was surprised that the recoil was very manageable, the slide was easy to rack, and that the trigger press was very short, smooth, and soft but crisp, somewhat similar to my 1911s. I measured the trigger with my Lyman Trigger Gauge and over 10 trials it averaged a little less that 5.2 pounds. The reset was also short. Next I went out to 7 yards for my next 7 shots and had very similar results… a two-inch group. I continued and had fun firing 300 rounds without a single malfunction,  misfeed, or stoppage. For sure, this gun will be added to my CC rotation… and near the top.

Range Test: First 14 Shots with Ruger LC9s

Range Test: First 14 Shots with Ruger LC9s

Conclusion

In my opinion, the LC9s is a compact, smooth, safe, accurate and reliable pistol for CC. The trigger press of about 5.0 pounds is a major pro and it is sized right for easy concealment. The trigger stroke covers just over three-eighths of an inch and positively resets with the same distance of travel. The trigger is easy for anyone to use comfortably, even if your hand strength is weak.

For me, it was not small enough nor optimal for pocket carry. I tried it in Desantis, Galco, and Sig pocket holsters. I ordered a Blade-Tech ASR OWB Kydex for my CC use. The LC9s weighs only about 17 ounces with an empty seven-round magazine. Its edges are very rounded and smooth to prevent snagging on concealment garments and it has no sharp edges to cause cuts to the hand. The pistol has very good windage-adjustable rear sights made of carbon alloy steel. The carbon alloy slide and polymer frame have a matte black finish. It is designed to accommodate lasers.

Another major pro for me was the very slim (less than 1 inch) grip that allowed me to have a very good comfortable hold on the pistol for positive control. The biggest advantage for me was its built-in accuracy. Out of the box, it shot to point of aim. Point of aim equaled point of impact. One Con was that it ships with only one magazine, but it does come with a flat floorplate and a pinky finger-extension floorplate to help with the gun purchase. I ordered a second mag for only $30. Some think the magazine disconnect is a Con, but it is not for me given practice, safety concerns, etc.

This gun is very safe and there are several safeties: trigger safety, striker block for drop safety, manual safety (which you do not have to use), out-of-battery safety so if a round is not all the way seated in the chamber or it is not completely closed, it will not fire (like others), and a magazine disconnect safety (which can be removed if desired, but investigate whether this affects the warranty.) The external safety must be down and off to be able to rack the slide. The gun will not fire unless a magazine is in the gun.

I hope this review and my opinions help you make a decision that is appropriate for you and your personal preferences and needs.

Continued success!

Ruger Contact Information:

Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
200 Ruger Road
Prescott, AZ 86301
Phone: 928-541-8892
Website: www.ruger.com 

Photos by author.

This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney in your state or jurisdiction for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense, stand your ground law, and concealed carry. This is not legal advice and not legal opinions. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. 

© 2014 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at [email protected].

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  • Robert Bihari

    Love my older LC9 with a Crimson Trace Laser, I’ve had it since they first came out, but hated the original trigger….long, gritty, and very “stacky”. The first thing I did was send the trigger bar out to Galloway Precision to have them work their short-stoke magic on it (they now offer a full drop-in trigger kit, but didn’t at the time). It changed the pistol dramatically…. a joy to shoot and is my daily carry in the summer.

    Looks like I may have to trade up…I love Glock triggers, but hate to carry a brick around all day (those who try to carry a Glock IWB will sympathize)….this could be the answer to my prayers… 🙂

  • Robert Smith

    One thing not mentioned is the short striker reset by pulling slide back less than 1/2″ giving a modified second strike capability. Everyone that has dry fired mine says wow on the trigger. One heck of a better roll-out of new pistol than my Remington R51. Waiting to see how new production line works out on that one. Probably will end up selling the Rem. Have not shot the LC9s enough to see how it compares to the R51 for recoil and muzzle flip. Think the 51 will win on that side but really love the LC9s at this point.

  • Ben: Did you chronograph any of the loads? Have you used self-defense loads through it? I am thinking about an LCR in 9mm or the LC9s. While I own only autos, I like the idea of a revolver that always works and since I have a Hi Power, the 9mm chambering in either would be good. My third choice would be a XDs in .45 as I have a commander, but would like something lighter, as would be the case with my 9mm choices. Thanks

    • Col Ben

      Hi James! I appreciate your comments and question. No I did not chronograph and measure the bullet velocities. Rather, I just accepted the standard manufacturer’s stated ballistics. I didn’t reload this ammo, didn’t need to know the power factors for my very basic purpose here, and for this article I didn’t want to get into determining standrad deviations, time measurements, etc. Partly because, I guess I had a bad experience hitting and destroying a chronograph from hitting too low, with false readings that followed. Ha! Yes, the new Ruger LCR in 9mm follows the fine reputation of the LCR .38 special. I have it and there is quite a bit of recoil there, so consider that and its short barrel, and very light weight. Also, have the Browning Hi Power 9 and a nice gun. Of course, I just reviewed the XDs 9mm on this site a few weeks ago. I really like this LC9s and its trigger and accuracy, for a very small CC gun. Shoot it if you get a chance. Continued success my friend! Col Ben

  • Michael

    Sounds good, but I’d lose that dang take-down pin in a heartbeat…

    • Bubba Rick

      No it is secured in very well.
      Trigger pull is heavenly on this model

  • Thaaff

    I really really hope that I’ll win! I’ve never owned a firearm, so this would be my first; I think that in these times, every American household should have at least one handgun or rifle! Firearms can be very costly (at least for me), so to win one would be great!

    • Col Ben

      Hi Teresa, Thank you for your recent email, questions, and comments. My advice is always to shoot the biggest caliber of a handgun that you can shoot accurately AND comfortably. So that means you have to try the gun by shooting it. Only the person shooting the gun can determine if that is the gun for them. There are just too many subjective variables and personal considerations. As far as racking the slide of any pistol, it mostly is a matter of technique not strength or power. My wife with her severe rheumatoid arthritis can attest to that. Of course, some semis she can rack and a few she cannot, but this technique really helps her. See my earlier article on this website about Racking the Slide. Hope this helps some. Continued Success!

  • Bscout59

    Thanks for the great review! I was wondering where you ordered your extra mag from? Would appreciate to know since I need to order another one. Thanks

    • Col Ben

      Hi Bscout! Thanks for your comment. I always shop around for mags. This time I bought a Ruger factory replacement 7-round blue steel with finger rest from Midway for $30 +shipping and another new factory replacement on Ebay for $20+shipping. I try to avoid non-factory mags because my experience tells me 90% of the time there will be some issue occur and I don’t want to risk my life or results for the small cost differential. Continued success! Col Ben

  • Bigman

    I’ve owned the Ruger, but I wasn’t satisfied with it. It just didn’t have the “feel”. I went to the SIG 938 and and absolutely fell in love with it. I shoot it ten times better than the LC9 and feel super-comfortable with it. I wholeheartedly suggest it. More bucks, but worth it!
    jim/louisiana

    • rmkilc

      This article is about the LC9s, not LC9. It’s a different animal.

    • Lar Atwork

      Single action no grip safety…..no thanks
      Also note this is a new model gun…the LC9-“S”…..

  • MAF

    Bummed about the mag safety, this might prevent me from considering it.

    • Col Ben

      MAF thought you should know. Ruger announced they will begin selling a new version of the LC9s that deletes the thumb safety and magazine disconnect. Continued success!

      • dbl

        I have bought one. Will fire without magazine.

    • Col Ben

      Thought you should know that Ruger is now (As of Dec. 2014) offering the LC9s PRO that does NOT have an external safety and does NOT have a magazine disconnect, so you can fire this gun without the mag inserted. Retail is $340., but you can buy it for less. Again, great trigger press.
      Continued success,
      Col Ben

  • medic2003

    I just bought one today, even though I’m not a huge fan of 9mm. My kimber ultra is just too hard to conceal comfortably when it gets warm out. I love my kimber but I gotta say, I love this little ruger. I demolished a soda can at 10 yards the first time I shot it. For me it’s a great pocket gun. Accurate, light and smooth.

  • Lar Atwork

    Had mine about a year now…..no change of opinion. A great ccw pistol, sweet trigger is why IMO the gun is so accurate. Like it better than my friends Glock 43.

  • Charles Newman

    The LC9s Pro is absolutely awesome, and I’m pretty sure I’ve had them all. The Kahr PM9193 might be the closest competitor in the trigger department, but doesn’t have the 7+1 capacity of the LC9s. I’ve never paid much attention to the Ruger’s before, even though I have them, but this one is a game changer. A $320 ish street price gun that rivals ANY striker fired 9mm in feel, reliability and accuracy. If you haven’t tried one you can’t possibly know what I mean.

  • Robert VanElsberg

    I am interested in the LC9s but am wondering about how safe it would be as a home defense gun. I prefer to have the chamber loaded on a semi-automatic pistol, but then I am used to the long double action first trigger pull as an inherent safety. I am a bit concerned about chambering a round, which would cock the Ruger, and relying on a manual safety. Specifically, I typically put my home defense firearm under my mattress where I could easily grab it if needed. I am concerned it could be possible to accidentally brush the safety into the “Fire” position without knowing it. Is my concern valid? I would appreciate any comments from those who have personal experience with this firearm.

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