Ruger LC9S Review: Discontinued Too Soon For A Gun Of The Year

Ruger LC9s Review

Ruger LC9s Review

Ergonomics

The gun is designed to be discrete, which means a slim grip that may have some discomfort for shooters with large paws. The trigger placement, manual safety and slide release are not bunched up however, which makes operating the gun no arduous task. Many shooters will find the optional finger extension base plate for the magazine a welcome addition, but it will come at a cost of adding up to a half inch to the gun’s height which may adversely impact its concealability: most carry with the flush mag and the back up mags will have the finger extensions in case the situation has seriously turned for the worse.

Accuracy

At point blank ranges such as seven to ten yards with various types of ammunition the LC9s, thanks to its crisper trigger, groups typically less than 2” from a bench rest. Some rounds, especially slower ones, will do better, but the faster ones deliver more energy with expanding ammunition. As the gun is broken in and practiced with a particular, well performing cartridge, groups should predictably improve. For defensive purposes, however, out of a sub 4” barrel, this is not terrible. It is a personal defense, concealed handgun: close range effect is its job.

Reliability

The gun design has been out for half a decade, if it seriously had problems, the shooting world would not shut up about it. The gun may not win any tactical exercises, but for a personal defense gun that is lighter, thinner and carries more rounds than a revolver, it delivers with comforting dependability.

Customization

Dealer exclusives offer some potentially attractive (depending upon individual tastes) variations. Ruger has also gone out to offer a line of grip adaptions, slide manipulation assisters, holsters and several reputable companies offer laser/light features that can be mounted upon the frame. The gun can very easily be made to fit almost anyone’s needs for a personal defense gun.

Looks

The rounded edges and simplistic lay out of the gun leaves the impression that it is definitely designed for function rather than form. It is not “ugly” or boxy, with lines that are not displeasing, but a work of art it is arguably not. But that is not the point: though Ruger does have a scroll engraved version, the production model is designed to be close and CONCEALED. If someone is looking at it, there has been a grave tactical mistake. Though in all honesty, as long as someone IS looking at it, there is no reason it cannot look good, if at all possible.

Price

Rugers, especially the polymer 9mm Rugers, are always affordably priced. While they have gone and released an “essentials” model (EC9s), the LC9s offers improvements in the sights and finish. With the market promoting the Glock 43 and Sig P365 as ideal CCW guns, they are on average a “c-note” or more in cost. The Ruger offers more rounds than the Glock and reliability as good as the Sig, though with fewer rounds. If economy is a concern, Ruger offers a product that will last without breaking the bank.

The 21st century of American gun making saw an explosion of concealed carry 9mm pistols to take on the venerable 5 shot .38sp/.357magnum. Offering more shots and faster reloads, it is small wonder that the pocket pistols, formerly dominated by .380 ACPs or smaller, in 9mm are so desired. In 2011 Ruger threw their hat into the 9mm ring with the release of the LC9 for Light Carry. Essentially a beefed up version of their LCP in .380, it had a similar long double action only hammer that was almost universally panned (it was reminiscent of an old cap gun: the plastic frame did not help.

A quick re engineer in 2014 saw a striker fired version which radically improved the trigger pull in the LC9s (“s” for Striker): it was not target grade, but it was less toy like, and to be honest, the gun is designed to hit things inside the room, not across the yard anyway. Perhaps that needs to be stated up front: this is not a service weapon, it is a pocket sized attitude adjuster, a close range conflict ender. Designed for discretion and only to be deployed when the fecal matter has struck the air distribution unit, and even then it is meant to help extricate its owner, not save the community.

The LC9s is a noticeable improvement over the original and helped pave the way for the high profile Glock 43 (introduced a year later and with at least one less round capacity) and Sig 365. Read “high profile” as considerably more expensive.

Ruger LC9s Review:
What it Has

Ruger LC9S Review - 1

The striker fired model has the same dimensions and magazine as the earlier LC9, so the good news is that there was already a fair amount of support for the model upon its release.

The pistol comes with a 7rd magazine with flush or finger extension base plates and there are 9rd magazines available from Ruger (larger capacity mags have surfaced from 3rd party vendors, but the question is why (and their reliability is considered even more dubious).

It possesses a 3.5” barrel with a 1 in 10” right hand twist. The gun measures 6” long, 4.5” high (with the flush magazine plate), .9” wide and weighs in at just over 17 ounces. The frame is a glass filled nylon and the slide rides on an aluminum alloy chassis.

Ruger applies a nice bluing to the barrel and slide, with one variant available with a high polished and engraved slide (limited release, dealer exclusive, model #3260).

The LC9S also has drift adjustable front and rear sights that are set up with 3-dots. This means that after market night sights may be installed as well as fiber optics if so desired.

The slide serrations facilitate easy slide manipulation and the model comes in variants with and without a manual safety.

There is a magazine disconnect safety that can be disengaged if wanted, and all models have the integral trigger safety: to go off, the finger must be on the trigger.

The initial model had a loaded chamber indicator which has since been replaced by an inspection port on the top of the slide.

How Does it Compare?

The biggest draws for Ruger’s products are both their durability and their affordability, but this gun’s first comparison should be with the original LC9: it looks similar, but it is a completely different gun. Thankfully the older hammer fired version was discontinued. 

That said, the market for CCW small 9mms has, as indicated above, exploded over the last two decades. The LC9s fits comfortably in between the economy brands and the service grade Glocks and Sigs that have come after. It is NOT a gun designed for excessive use but for responsible practice and seldom [hopefully never] need. It IS a gun that is slim, carries 40-80% more shots than a 5rd revolver, has proven reliability and an established frame that has aftermarket upgrades available.

In comparative terms it offers the same reliability and price point as its arguably most direct competitor: S&W Shield, better brand recognition than a Kel-tec and not as “tactical ready” as a Glock or Sig, which are marked higher: though in fairness, the LC9s IS capable of taking on any accessories that the more expensive brands can claim. It is important, however, for the consumer to recognize this is a personal, close support, defense gun, not a service or target weapon.

Is it dependable?

The short answer is yes. Ruger has built a reputation upon dependability and affordability. While not as robust as its revolver line (it IS a polymer framed gun after all) the LC series has a decade’s worth of field use and abuse and worked out any of the kinks: one such issue arose when the striker series was introduced involving the recoil assembly. However, once identified, Ruger was quick to produce an easy swap out remedy and ship it free of charge to any LC9s owner who applied. For anyone who may find that less than ideal, a reminder: the price point of this gun is not on par of a custom designed piece. It is well appointed for its MSRP and more than well supported by the company.

Can it be accessorized?

The LC(s as dove cut, windage adjustable sights that can be swapped out for night sights if so desired. Also companies such as Lasermax have produced a frame mounted laser and light attachment which vastly improves the guns utility for reaction shooting and target identification.

Bith Ruger and several aftermarket companies make the standard 7 shot magazine (available with a flush or finger extension floor plate) as well as a 9 shot. These have been available for years and there is thankfully no reason why spares cannot be procured.

Aesthetics

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This is completely up to the consumer. Compared to a boxy Glock, the Ruger can almost be imagined as an Art Deco piece with most if not all of the edges rounded. This gives it a sense of some elegance, but is mostly done to ensure there are little to no snag hazards for drawing and reholstering the gun.

Ruger also offers several “skins” of the gun that are distributor exclusives and are manufactured with blued or polished (silver) slides as well as frames in an assortment of colors ranging from discrete (black or gray) to loud (racing yellow or purple). This greatly enhances the gun’s ability to reflect the user’s style (on a gun that is meant to be concealed, but that is besides the point: some people just like a Tiffany themed gun, and no one else should judge too harshly).

Cost

Base model LC9s can still be found with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $399, though online markets and shows will be closer to $350 (or less). Ruger appears to be sending out dealership exclusive models at the moment to promote the new Security-9 model which is similar to their LCPII .380, but in 9mm (of course) and a return to the hammer fire system. Whether or not this will drive LC9s models up or down on the market remains to be seen: but if the choice is between something new or proven, smart money is on the LC9s while they are available.

Ruger LC9s Review

Ruger LC9s Review

Conclusion

In the shooting world Ruger is understandably seen as an affordable option for those seeking a firearm as tool while coming in at the register appreciably less than the famous names in “off duty” or concealed carry guns. Consistently coming in major publications as “gun of the year” offers some real merit however. For the dollar, they are really hard to beat.

If one wants to customize their gun with upgrades, such as adjustable sights or night sights or with laser or light options, the Ruger LC9s delivers a dependable platform that works as well as anything the same size yet costs twice the price. Having the money for good aftermarket options (or more ammo) is a very strong argument supporting it as well.

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