My Favorite LC—The LC9

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Reviews


Ruger’s LCP, LC9 and LCR concealed-carry handguns are good examples of the gunmaker’s art. Many owners refer to the pistols, with affection, as “Elsie.” There are a lot of Elsies protecting good guys and girls. Long and unpleasant experience with our protein-fed, ex-con criminal class tempered my preference for personal defense. And many years of serious study alloyed that personal experience. I prefer a Commander .45 or a mid-frame .357 Magnum.

 Ruger LC9 with stippled grip

Compact and reliable, the Ruger is also affordable.

However, there are times when fashion, circumstance and weather demand a more discreet sidearm. While the concealed hammer revolver still has much appeal, often as not, my pocket gun and hideout is the LC9 9mm Luger. The 9mm has a considerable advantage over the .380 ACP and is as light as I am willing to go in a defensive handgun.

Charcoal gray Ruger LC9 with blue magazine, barrel pointed down and to the left on a gray plank background and resting on a black box of Black Hills ammunition.

The Ruger has performed well with a variety of loads, never stuttering and giving good accuracy.

The Lightweight Compact (LC) 9mm has a lot going for it. In my opinion, despite the more potent chambering, the LC9 is easier to fire and use well than the smaller .380 ACP caliber Ruger LCP.

The LC9 is a lightweight handgun—make no mistake—and features a barrel just over 3 inches. This handgun is only 6 inches long and 4.5 inches tall. Best of all, it is 0.9 inches thick—that is thin! The pistol weighs just over 17 ounces unloaded and features a polymer frame and steel slide.

The grip frame actually allows a good grasp by an average-sized hand. The pistol features a functioning slide lock. I like a pistol that tells you when it is empty. The LC9, unlike many of the small .380 pistols, locks open on the last shot as the slide stop catches on the magazine follower. The LC9 is a double-action-only design.

The trigger action both cocks and drops the hammer. The recoiling slide resets the action for another shot, which makes a lot of sense in a pistol carried close to the body. Another feature that makes sense is that the pistol is snag free: run your hand or a tacky article of clothing on the LC9, and you’ll find it has almost no sharp edges.

Yet the subtle stippling of the grip frame gives good adhesion to the hand. The trigger action is long but smooth. By pressing the trigger and letting it reset with the same cadence—press, reset, press, reset—you have a rhythm set for good control.

The trigger action breaks at a little more than 6 pounds and is clean for a double-action-only trigger. The pistol features excellent service grade sights, which are adjustable for both elevation and wind. I like that because the LC9 is accurate enough for serious shooting to 25 yards or so, unlike most small pocket pistols. With concentration on the sights and trigger action, you may make X-ring hits far past conversational distance.

Dark charcoal LC9 with focus on the dovetailed front sight.

Not many small pistols have a dovetailed front sight.

The dark charcoal colored rear sight of the LC9.

The rear sight of the LC9 is a model of combat utility.

I have stressed that it is important to have good sights on a small pistol since there is a greater chance of sight misalignment in a pistol this size. The bold, combat-worthy sights of the LC9 are excellent examples of serious gear for a serious handgun. Frankly, I find the LC9 a better choice for personal defense and all-around use than a number of pistols costing several times as much. When compromise is inherent in the design—designing a small pistol that shoots as well as a large pistol—the LCP is a great engineering accomplishment.

When practicing with a light 9mm, attention to detail is everything. The trigger press and sight alignment are important. For inexpensive practice, a load that burns clean and delivers good accuracy is important, with one of the more attractive choices being remanufactured 115-grain FMJ. With that load, the pistol is accurate enough for meaningful practice. As an example, at 15 yards (a realistic distance to test a short-barrel defense pistol), I was able to place five rounds into a 3-inch group firing from a solid barricade position.

White haired man in blue jacket with red ear protection shooting an LC9 toward the viewr with a wooded area in the background .

The author found the LC9 a joy to use and fire, a friendly handgun well suited to personal defense.

That is good performance from such a light handgun. Fast follow-up shots are possible with attention to detail, and I am surprised that I enjoy firing the pistol so much. The grip shape, overall design and ergonomics are pleasing to the eye and hand. Overall, the LC9 is a good platform from which to deliver ordnance when the weight must be light and the package small. In personal defense, load selection is critical, with expansion and penetration balance of prime importance. The short barrel curtails velocity to an extent. However, the 9mm is a high-pressure cartridge with good efficiency, and most loads maintain at least 1,000 fps from the LC9’s 3-inch barrel.

When carrying the pistol, I have used cross-draw holsters that offer an excellent draw angle. When seated or driving, the handgun is at the fingertips for a rapid presentation. Cross-draw is not for everyone, although for those who understand the advantages, it is a great holster. After firing the LC9 extensively and living with the pistol for some time, I find the little Ruger a welcome addition to my defensive battery. It is reliable, easy to carry, ready for defense on a moment’s notice, affordable and worth a hard look by anyone needing a good defense pistol.

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Share the ways you use and love the LC9 in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (7)

  • Frank J.

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    I love my LC-9 for it’s size, weight, accuracy, easy deep concealment and the price. I carry it in a Remora holster in my pocket or appendix carry. Many complaints about the long trigger pull but I have mastered it by pulling the trigger half-way, stopping and then it is just a short distance until the sear releases the hammer to fire. I use it like a 2 stage trigger and much more accurate. I also carry the Ruger LCP ( also in a Remora) at times as a back-up or by itself when the Florida temp and humidity force me to wear as little clothing as possible. I have never had a FTF or FTE with it using either FMJ, JHP or my own cast bullet reloads.

    Reply

  • Jeff J.

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    NRA edition with extended 9 round mag. worn in a belly band holster above the belly in a cross draw position. I never leave home without it.

    Reply

  • Ron P.

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    I do like my LC9. A few years ago, I wanted a pistol for summer pocket carry. First got a Kel-Tec P11, which I was not happy with (long story). I then found a deal and bought both an LCP and LC9, thinking the LCP might be needed where the LC9 might not work. Both work fine with DeSantis Nemesis & Super Fly pocket holsters. The LCP will be traded in soon, as the LC9 works fine in all instances and the smaller pistol is not needed. My normal IWB carry is either a G27 or G30. For the size and for what it is, the LC9 suits my need for a pocket pistol perfectly. Never warmed up to the LCP, and with a nagging FTE issue, it will go away once I decide it’s replacement. The LC9 has been flawless with a variety of ammo, only problem was a loose front sight that was easily fixed.

    Reply

  • Blackhawkxx

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    I like this but also worry about service life. I had a Kel Tec P-9 that was very light, shot great and was easy to carry but soon showed signs of it not lasting very long. I sold it. I know that this isn’t the type of gun to put 1000’s of round through it but if is going to save your life, you want to be sure that it isn’t going to break.

    Reply

  • Bud Springer

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    I own this model Ruger (LC9) and agree with all in this well written piece. I want to add that there is an after market IWB clip which will enable exceptional and comfortable concealment. It is called TECHNA CLIP and is available at Brownells as well as many other suppliers. Do not confuse this with other brands of clips; this is one made specifically made for the LC9 and installation is slick and extremely secure with no added bulk or obstruction to handling. “Mexican” carry is for idiots but this is one sure way of keeping Roscoe from hitting the ground when carrying IWB. Also, check out Ruger’s alternate magazine with the pinky extension. It allows for a 3 finger hold and does not spoil the concealing of this great little 9mm piece. I prefer to carry my Kimber Ultra CDP but there are times when the LC9 just better fits the occasion and with right defensive ammo I do not feel under armed.

    Reply

  • Brian

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    To the best of your knowledge, what would be the service life of this handgun?
    That would be my only concern about weekly practice.

    Reply

  • David W

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    My wife and I both have and carry an LC9 and both really like it! It’s small enough to allow it to be concealed in any level of dress and the 9mm cartridge is big enough to get the job done. It’s much more accurate than I expected ….given appropriate practice.

    Reply

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