When I first heard about Ruger’s follow-up to the LCP, the LC9, I was immediately interested. On a personal level I find the idea of using 9mm for a deep-concealment pistol very attractive. I like keeping my calibers to a minimum and since I reload 9mm it makes practicing a lot simpler and cheaper. In the case of .380 ammo, much cheaper. So it was very exciting when I finally got the chance to shoot one yesterday.
Mike was at USPSA practice after a long hiatus and afterward we stuck around to try out the LC9 with some different ammo and compare it directly to the LCP. Like the LCP, the LC9 bears an uncanny resemblance to a pistol made by Kel-Tec. In this case the predecessor is the PF9. Both the P3-AT and the PF9 were ground-breaking achievements in modern firearms. Both were extremely thin and light but as history has a habit of repeating itself, the Ruger offering is a lot more than a mere knock-off.
The LC9/PF9 and LCP/P3-AT comparisons are strikingly similar: Ruger’s pistols are clearly more refined designs and the fit/finish is similarly superior. It pains me somewhat to say it given how much I like Kel-Tec but there is no getting around it: the Ruger pistols fit my hands better, are more controllable during firing and while it may not matter much, they look much better. Again, I think Ruger captured the key features of these pistols but executed the design and production in a much better way. At that point my thinking was more about the comparison between the LCP and the LC9.
Mike and I shot the LC9 with WWB ammo and with my MinorPF USPSA ammo. Both cycled the gun perfectly. I immediately noticed a big difference between the two Rugers: the LC9 was much more stable than the LCP. Part of this is certainly due to the greater mass of the LC9 but probably the biggest reason is that the LC9 gives me the ability to have all three fingers on the grip (with the pinky extension on the magazine). The LCP with pinky extension only allows two fingers on the grip. Another thing I noticed was that the double-action trigger on the LC9 is distinctly smoother and/or lighter. This could be geometry but in any case the trigger was certainly better. I switched back to the LCP with WWB ammo just to make sure of my observations. While the LCP is vastly superior to the P3-AT for stability, the LC9 is even better. The trade-off is of course the size.
As nice as the LC9 is there were issues that put me back on the fence in terms of purchasing one. The first is the size of the pistol. The fact is that the LC9 is just too big to be considered a true pocket pistol. I have a pocket holster for my LCP that is actually one size larger than recommended and while the LC9 fits in it, the overall size is such that it can’t fit into a hip pocket. I didn’t try with a front pocket because just looking at it made clear that this would not be a viable option. Yes, the sights are better, yes the gun is more controllable and it has one more round of capacity, but honestly at this size I can carry my SR9c and have a full-featured semi-auto pistol rather than a DAO gun with its limitations. True, the LC9 has what Ruger calls “melted edges” that make the gun easier to carry clipped inside the waist band of your pants but in a holster or other carrying device that is irrelevant.
One feature of this pistol was clearly not to my liking: the safety is just an annoyance. Some have theorized that the safety is just a legality-based feature and is never meant for normal use. It seems to disengage very easily and is much harder to engage. Whether this is by design is subject to debate but what isn’t is the fact that a manual safety can stop the gun from firing when you need it most. I wish it wasn’t there but with consistent training this would be a non-issue. This was the only feature that I found that I would absolutely change if I could. Another thing that I would change but isn’t actually a feature of the pistol is the case that Ruger includes. It is quite large, for no reason I could find, and it has an extremely large, bright logo on the front. While the logo is nice looking I would have preferred they make the case more ambiguous for situations where it might be prudent to avoid advertising the presence of a firearm.
At the end of the session I felt that this was a very nice pistol that may be perfect for many folks and that I would consider owning but it will not displace my LCP as my “Ultimate Pocket Protector“.