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Reviews : Arsenal

Sturm, Ruger & Co. LC9 Sub-Compact Pistol

Almost as small and light as the company’s .380 sub-compact, this petite pistol packs much more power.

March 15, 2012  |  by Paul Scarlata - Also by this author

Photo: Butch Simpson
Photo: Butch Simpson

Editor's note: View our Ruger LC9 gallery for more photos of the pistol.

If you have been paying the slightest bit of attention to the handgun market over the last several years, then you are aware that the hottest selling items are the new breed of lightweight sub-compact pistols. Civilian demand for such pistols has skyrocketed as many states have adopted liberal concealed carry laws. These guns are also very popular with law enforcement officers because more agencies now allow or require their personnel to carry a backup or off-duty handgun.

In 2008 Ruger unveiled its .380 caliber Light Compact Pistol (LCP) designed specifically from the ground up for concealed carry. While the LCP proved popular with both civilians and law enforcement officers, there were those who felt that its .380 cartridge was a lower end choice for defensive purposes. To answer this criticism, Ruger developed the Light Compact 9 (LC9).


The LC9 is chambered for the 9mm Parabellum cartridge. There are those who belittle the "nine" as a defensive round, but it is significantly more powerful than the .380. And thanks to modern propellants and jacketed hollow point bullets, it performs better than the iconic .38 Special, especially when fired from short-barreled handguns. It also does this with lower levels of recoil, which is a prime consideration when using small, light handguns.

As you might expect, the LC9 shares many of the features of the LCP. First of all it is small, only six inches long and less than an inch wide.

It's also light. Built on a glass-filled, nylon frame, which helps pare its unloaded weight, it weighs in at just a tad over 17 ounces.

Inside the frame is a hardened alloy insert that provides additional strength and includes rails that the slide reciprocates on. The LC9's slide is machined from hardened steel and features a blue finish.

Both the slide and frame have been "melted" to remove any sharp edges or corners that might injure the shooter's hand during reloading or clearing a malfunction. This process also makes for ease of drawing the pistol from concealment and re-holstering. Unlike its .380 caliber cousin, the LC9 features a set of rugged, easy-to-see, three-dot sights, both of which can be drifted to make windage adjustments.

Easy to Use

As has become all but mandatory with polymer frame handguns today, the LC9 has a double-action-only (DAO) trigger. This provides simplicity of operation-a trait I consider critical on any firearm intended for personal protection-and the traditional safety features of the double-action revolver. To provide extra security, the LC9 features a manually operated thumb safety on the left side of the frame, which when applied locks the hammer and trigger.

In addition, a magazine disconnect safety prevents firing if the magazine is removed. A prominent loaded chamber indicator provides both a visual and tactile indication of the pistol's condition. A small cutout at the rear of the chamber area also allows you to visually verify if there is a round in the chamber. A rather massive extractor ensures reliable extraction and ejection of spent cases.

Other controls include a magazine release button located in the "proper" position and a slide stop. As do many new Ruger pistols, the LC9 has an internal, key-operated lock that can be applied to prevent unauthorized firing.

The LC9 is a hammer-fired pistol, but it doesn't have "re-strike" capability. That means in case of a misfire the shooter must retract the slide slightly to reset the trigger before he can pull the trigger again in an attempt to ignite a recalcitrant primer.

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Comments (6)

Displaying 1 - 6 of 6

Robert Simpson @ 3/28/2012 9:06 AM

Enjoyed your repor5 on the lc9. I just bought one recently with a lasermax laser, which i had to align myself. I fired 3 clips so far with no problems. do you have any idea why the manual recommends carrying the pistol without a cartridge in the chamber. Is there an inheren safety I issue with the design. I plan to make it one of ccp my handguns.

Robert Simpson @ 3/28/2012 9:14 AM

I don't understand why the manual recommends carrying the lc9 with no cartridge in the chamber? Seems like it has enough safety's built in,

Paul Scarlata @ 3/28/2012 10:11 AM

I think it would be more correct to say that "Ruger's lawyers" recommend carryin the pistol without a cartridge in the chamber.

Robin Knapp @ 3/16/2013 4:25 AM

I'm a retired fed after 27 years of LEO experience. During my tenure, primarily working narcotics, I've carried everything from the S&W J frame revolvers, compact Sigs and the Glock 26. I recently purchased the LC9 and absolutely love it. It is the most comfortable weapon I have carried concealed and fires like a champ. I love the design, feel, accuracy and safety features. I can't say enough about this jewel of a firearm. Ruger got it right!

Brian Aish @ 9/2/2014 6:53 PM

Good article! I am a retired police officer and I did A LOT of research before updating my Sig P239 (which I gave to my little brother to use as a back-up pistol as he is a police officer in Minnesota) and the LC9 was the ONLY pocket pistol that had virtually NO COMPLAINTS for deficiencies or malfunctions, only features. I will take a gun ANY DAY that the only complaints are features as I know that up front. I purchased my first LC9 and ran approx. 1,500 rounds through it (primarily cheap target ammo.) and only had approx. 2 malfunctions and both were on some 20-year old target ammo. from my law enforcement days. I then bought a 2nd LC9 for an extra one and have put over a thousand rounds (again, primarily target ammo.) and have NO MALFUNCTIONS! I just found out there is a new LC9S, which is a striker-fired LC9 and, as much as I hated giving up one of my original LC9s, I traded it in, added $100 to it and bought it. (The trigger-action is phenomenal but I haven't had a chance to shoot.

Ted sames @ 9/25/2016 11:36 AM

I bought the LCP 380 for my wife. It fits her hand and she enjoyed shooting the rentals we used for testing. A good friend with long fingers could not hold and fire the LCP so he purchased the LC9. I have watched these pistols closely--zero malfunctions and both are exceptionally accurate. I choose the Glock 43
After retiring from L/E. After break-in, the Glock 43 with a new Ghost connector is 100% reliable, extremely accurate and a joy to shoot and carry concealed.

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