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
|Weight with Empty Magazine||17.2 ounces|
|Trigger Press||5.20 pounds|
|Barrel Length||3.12 inches|
|Barrel Diameter||0.500 inch|
|Overall Height||4.50 inches|
|Overall Length||6.00 inches|
|Grip Width||0.90 inches|
|Trigger Reach||2.75 inches|
|Magazines Supplied (2 Base Plates- flat & pinky extension)||1 (Steel) + 1 Inert Dummy Mag (for Dry Fire)|
|Magazine Disconnect Safety||Yes|
|Striker Block Safety + Trigger Safety||Yes|
|Manual Thumb Safety||Yes (Right Handed)|
|Sights (Carbon Alloy Steel)||3 Dots- Windage Adjustable Rear|
|Guide Rod Assembly (Steel)||Dual Springs|
|Accessory Rail||None- 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.
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.
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.
Ruger Contact Information:
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.
200 Ruger Road
Prescott, AZ 86301
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].