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Reviews : Arsenal

Sturm, Ruger & Co. Light Compact Revolver

Just when you thought you'd seen everything, along comes a polymer-framed wheel gun with excellent accuracy and surprisingly little recoil.

July 31, 2009  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author

Despite the fact that semi-auto pistols now dominate the police and civilian handgun markets, the popularity of the small frame "snubbie" revolver continues unabated. In fact, this class of handgun accounts for the majority of revolvers sold today and the reasons this type of handgun is so popular are not difficult to fathom.

The snub-nosed revolver offers concealability, simplicity of operation, safety, and utter reliability. It's also available in models that are chambered for powerful cartridges. This combination of features makes snubbies a natural choice for concealed carry by undercover officers, for backup carry by uniformed officers, and for off-duty carry by all officers. For these reasons, I believe that the future of the snubbie revolver is assured.

Over the years I have often stated that " engineer from the 1890s would find little about modern, double-action revolvers to remark upon. The basic concept, design, and construction of the revolver has not changed in the past 110 years and, for all practical purposes, has reached the apex of its evolutionary ladder."

Well, as I have freely admitted in the past, that statement wasn't the first wrong thing I said...and it probably won't be the last.

At this year's SHOT Show, Ruger wowed the attendees when it unveiled one of the most radically new handguns that has been seen in decades, the Light Compact Revolver (LCR).

A Plastic Wheel Gun

Despite the howls of protest they continue to engender from traditionalists, I have long been a fan and proponent of polymer frame pistols. In fact, I have often opined that it was a shame no one made a polymer frame revolver. Well, I no longer have reason to complain because that is exactly what Ruger has done with the LCR.

I can already see the shaking heads and astonished stares out there. Yes, folks, the LCR uses a plastic frame. In fact, the revolver is composed of three modular subcomponents: an upper cylinder frame/barrel assembly, a polymer lower frame "fire control housing" assembly, and a cylinder/crane assembly.

The cylinder/frame/barrel assembly consists of a 7400 aluminum forging, which serves as a housing for the cylinder/crane assembly and the cylinder release catch. When you look at the recoil shield you will notice two hardened steel bushings: one for the cylinder center pin to lock into and the other for the firing pin. The 1.875-inch stainless steel barrel is threaded into the barrel shroud.

The cylinder/crane assembly is constructed from stainless steel and features a unique black finish. The five-round cylinder has deep fluting and a narrow cross-section (it is the narrowest cylinder of any .38 snubbie on the market), which not only sets the LCR apart from all other revolvers on the market today but goes a long way toward paring weight.

Cylinder locking is by means of the titanium cylinder center pin latching into the steel bushing in the recoil shield and a spring-loaded latch (also made from titanium) on the front of the ejector rod housing, which mates with a cutout in the crane assembly.

Fire Control

All of the moving parts other than the cylinder release catch are contained in the LCR's fire control housing (FCH). This unit is constructed from high-intensity, glass-filled polymer and provides all the advantages that it does in semi-auto pistols. These include resistance to wear and resistance to damage from abrasion, oils, solvents, salts from perspiration, and environmental extremes. In addition, the polymer fire control assembly diffuses recoil pulse, making the LCR one of the smoother shooting revolvers of this class.

The FCH is attached to the upper cylinder/frame assembly by means of two torx-head cross screws and a captive nut behind the fixed notch rear sight. In addition, the large torx-head screw that holds the cylinder crane in place extends through into a threaded titanium insert embedded in the front of the FCH.

All of the lockwork is contained inside the FCH. To produce the smooth trigger pull, Ruger engineers utilized a patent pending interface between the trigger and hammer, which has a small friction-reducing cam on the toe of the trigger. This positions the two parts so that they operate in tandem when the trigger is pulled rather than resisting each other, as has been the norm in all earlier double-action revolver trigger systems.

Ruger offers the LCR with a choice of Hogue Tamer finger groove rubber grips or Crimson Trace Lasergrips. Removing the grips exposes an internal safety lock that uses a key to immobilize the mainspring, preventing unauthorized firing of the revolver.

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