Just getting back from the range with the brand spanking new Ruger LC9, 17.1 ounce 7+1 9mm...initial impressions are that it recoils less than my LCP with Corbin DPX...more when I get home!
A handful of 9mm!
Length differences between LC9 and LCP
Kahr Arms P9
The Kahrs have always been great shooters, but their overall acceptance has been hampered by a relatively high price point...the pictured P9 is $739 MSRP. The lower pirce point in the market has been held down by the Kel-Tec P-11/PF9 series, skating in at a feathery 14 ounces and an MSRP of $333:
The Kel-Tecs have their devoted followers, to be sure, but a 14 ounce 9mm is indeed a handful. I have had mixed luck with Kel-Tecs. Last year two years ago Taurus jumped into the market with their "Slim," a slim (natch!) 7+1 9mm, 19 ounce semiauto but a price point of $485, less on the street:
Taurus "Slim" 709B
If you recall, I was very enthusiastic about the Slim, because it brought home a fact that gun companies have often forgotten — width is a critical dimension in a concealed carry gun. As much as I like hte Glock 26 9mm, it's a fat little bastard in the grips and that always ruled it our for me as a carry gun. At various times I have carried an STI-LS9, one of the thinnest single actions available and a superb little gun, and the Para USA Carry 9, again, a single stack 9mm (this one with the Para LDA system).
I recently went to the Ruger SR9c for it's 1911 width grips and the fact that it shot like a house afire (my carry SR9c is out for a set of XS Sights right now). The SR9c clocks in at 23.4 ounces and a lenght of 6.85 inches for its 3 1/2-inch barrel.
The LC9 essentially "splits the baby" between the SR9c and the wildly successful LCP .380.
Ruger LC9...note manual safety
The LC9's length is 6 inches (same as the Taurus Slim, longer than the Kahrs and the Sig) with a barrel length of 3.12 inches. Weight is 17.10 ounces; width of only .90 inches, consistent with the Kahrs, the Slim and the new Sig and compared to the 1.2-ish width of the SR9c. To compare, the LCP has a length of 5.16 inch, a width of .82 and an unloaded weight of 9.4 ounces.
I put about 60 rounds of mixed 124-gr ammo through the gun, most of it WW white box ball. I won't lie to you — the LC9 barks. But interestingly enough when I shot it alongside by LCP with Corbon defense loads, I'd have to say the .380 definitely had a sharper bite. The LC9 agazines come with an optional buttplate with a pinky grip...I've never paid that much attention to similar buttpads for the LCP, but I have to say the extra finger on the grip of the 9mm made a big difference to me. Depending on how the gun carries, my inclination would be to install the extended buttpad on all the magazines. I shot the 60 rounds through 4 magazines and had no malfunctions of any kind, a little surprising since this is a VERY early production model. Watch Wednesday's video podcast...those are the first rounds from the out-of-the-box gun...no break-in, no oil, no nuthin'.
The LC9 has an excellent set of fixed sights (with those annoying 3-dots!), including a dovetailed front. In fact, when I changed from the LC9 to my carry LCP, I really missed the sight picture! The LC9 has a strong-side only manual safety a la the SR series...not really necessary for a long double-action-only trigger, but I'm still going to come down on the side ot "plus." As you all know, I am a huge proponent of a manual safety in a gun carried off-body or in a forward of the hip carry like appendix or forward crossdraw. The gun also has a magazine safety, which sucks. Hopefully, it's as easily removable as the ones in the SR series guns. All four magazines dropped clear, and the mag button is where God and Jphn Browning intended it to be.
The trigger pull is long but not particularly heavy (I ran this gun to the range straight from the FFL person, so I didn't have a lot of my tools and toys with me). Tere is a small bit of roughness — not stacking — at the end of the stroke, but it didn't seem to be an issue with my shooting. The trigger smoothed out some as I shot it.
I did NOT have time to do any accuracy testing, although both Marshal Halloway and I will be pulling that together over the next few days.
Okay, here's the question of the day...is the LC9 a pocket pistol by the conventional definition? I'll give you a qualified "maybe." It's in my pocket now, and weightwise it feels like steel J-frame revolver, but bulkier. I'm ordering a DeSantis pocket holster tonight that should fit the LC9, and I'll let you know.
Do I think Ruger has found the tipping point here? My answer is yes, they have, and in exactly the same way they drove the LCP to best-seller status. There were a host of .380 pocket pistols before the LCP, but the Ruger captured the market with its name recognition, quality, price point and canny mix of features. The LC9 exhibits those very same traits...it's a Ruger, which means that not only will it likely work, but the company will stand behind it. At a $443 MSRP, it's substantially less than the top-end Kahrs (and probably the Sig, which hasn't yet announced the P290's MSRP), but not hugely more expensive than the bottom end. The sights are exceptional; the trigger pretty good. It's a handful, but not an uncontrollable handful.
I think the LC9 will appeal to the Gun Culture Ver. 2.0 people who came into the culture through CCW with a pocket pistol like the LCP and are now ready to step up to a larger caliber. They've had more time behind the gun, understand both shooting and carrying a lot better, and I believe the first gun they're going to be looking at is the one most similar to what they're already carrying.
[iPhone video and photography by the Sweetie]