The Ruger Lightweight Compact Revolver is a pocket revolver chambered in .357 Mag. and .38 Special. There are four variants of the LCR that differ by sights, grips and, of course, caliber. Ruger is one of the largest and most successful firearms manufacturers in the US. They are known for making good quality, affordable firearms.

The LCR features aluminum construction with a barrel length of 1.875″. The LCR is equipped with an adjustable rear sight with a replaceable ramp front sight (tritium dot sights are also available with the .38 Special model). An included grip peg that sticks into the bottom of the grip and allows the grips to be changed more easily. The LCR also employs Hogue brand rubber grips, but is also available with Crimson Trace lasergrips, which activate when a user wraps an action hand around it. The LCR also includes a stainless steel cylinder that is fluted for reduced weight.

Ruger recommends the LCR for concealed carry.

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Caliber: .357 Mag.<br />.38 Special
Grip: Custom Trace Lasergrips brand<br />Hogue brand rubber
Capacity: 5
Sights: Adjustable rear sight and fixed front sight<br />Crimson Trace lasergrips<br />Tritium night sights
Features: Grip peg; and fluted cylinder
Action: Revolver
Size: Pocket
Trigger: Double-action
Frame Material: Stainless steel/blackened
Cylinder Material: Aluminum
Weight: 0.8125 pounds<br />0.84375 pounds<br />1.069 pounds
Twist: 1 in 1.875"
Length: 6.5"
Height: 4.5"

Editor Review

Innovation Nulls Concerns

In a day when we wonder if it is possible to improve upon products any more than already done, Ruger has again released a handgun so innovative that we have to ask what’s next.  The Ruger LCR .38 +P concealment revolver is the next step in concealed carry firearms.  Already a strong contender in the revolver market, Ruger is taking steps forward to get ahead of its competitors.

I have to preface all of this with a concern that I’ve had for many years.  Thinking in the perspective of an ex-law enforcement officer and firearms instructor, I have always been cautious when recommending standard revolvers for concealed carry for a variety of reasons.  While they are the simplest handguns to use, they can also be heavy and snag easily on clothing and other items due to their bulk and shape.  Effective and appropriate concealment will usually require a small frame revolver. 

The problem with small frame revolvers is that they don’t always come in small calibers.  They tend to come in large calibers which isn’t truly logical because with those larger calibers comes much larger recoil, right?  To create the perfect small frame concealment revolver, one would have to engineer a pistol that could safely withstand high pressure (+P) ammunition, larger calibers such as .357 or .38, while also being accommodating in shape and design for ease of drawing without snagging.  A greater plus would be a small frame revolver that would fit a man-size hand, not a child-size hand.

I’ve owned many .38 revolvers over the last 20 years and have had few that I was disappointed in.  Obviously we’re not talking about the dangerous “Saturday night specials” made famous in the 70s.  Of those many .38 caliber revolvers, I haven’t had any that I would brag about excessively.  They were good and a few were great but none were phenomenal, until now.

Phenomenal is a word that I now choose to use to summarize the performance and engineering of the Ruger .38 caliber (+P) LCR revolver.  The first thing you have to notice about the LCR before even picking it up is the shape of the trigger guard.  It is no longer just a right angle piece of metal to encompass the trigger and leave room for a finger to get in.  The tear-drop shape is smooth, rounded and using a designer magazine term, it “flows” with the overall form of the frame.  It appears to provide a little more room and better access to the trigger even for a gloved hand.

The LCR is “high speed, low drag,” a term favored by infantry soldiers indicating pleasure and satisfaction in performance.   The low drag front ramp sight is a blade sight almost flush with the top of the frame that will be hard pressed to snag on drawing.  The rear sight is non-existent, instead utilizing a U-notch integral “sight” built into the frame.  There is no visible or accessible hammer but it also lacks the bulk of the “Camel Hump” often seen in concealed hammer, double action only (DAO) revolvers.

The grip is a two finger-notched Hogue Tamer brand, but is also available with an integral Crimson Trace brand laser sight.  It is a very high friction grip and you’re not likely to lose it with wet hands.  It may pose the only source of snag on draw, however if drawing, your hand should be covering it anyway.    The grip on the model that I have been shooting is made for a right-handed shooter but I am sure that a left-hand grip is available.

The monolithic frame is constructed of 7000 series aluminum.  Weighing in at only 13.5 ounces, it is much lighter than any other revolver that I have ever held.  On first handling I was sincerely worried that the recoil, especially with +P rounds, would be so excessive that it would be impractical for rapid and accurate successive shots.  Loading the cylinder with all five rounds appears to increase the weight of the pistol by as much as a third. It truly feels that light.  The frame for the .357 Magnum is constructed of stainless steel instead of aluminum so its weight will be increased accordingly.

The cylinder is stainless steel with Ruger brand Target Grey finish for durability and reducing shine.  It is heavily fluted to reduce weight.  It rotates counter clock-wise and its cartridge eject rod has no problem ejecting spent casings.  Ruger utilizes a friction reducing, optimized cam in the “next generation” design of fire control system of the LCR, which provides for smooth, non-stacking trigger pull.  The LCR does have a rather long trigger pull but it is not unmanageable and the new shape of the trigger guard is accommodating to this.

Ruger also utilizes a polymer fire control housing, which according to their publications, “holds all fire control components in their proper dimensional relationships, reduces weight significantly, and reduces recoil.”

The LCR barrel, which is slightly less than 2” length, has a one in 16” right hand twist and is very accurate for what it is.

I fired numerous groups with this revolver, way more than I needed, simply because it was so much fun.  I know in my heart that this is designed to be a concealed carry and/or defensive handgun, but it was a joy to shoot on the range at targets.  I wouldn’t dare claim that this is a long range handgun, but from 25 yards, center mass was becoming a ragged hole.

I chose to use Hornady Critical Defense 38 special 110 grain FTX ammunition.  The +P rounds tested were also Hornady Critical Defense 38 special 110 grain FTX.  I have been well pleased with Hornady pistol ammunition lately so I go with what I know as a matter of preference.

Group #1 was fired from ten yards.  This was fresh from the box and each shot was aimed and breath control was used.  I was looking to judge the accuracy of such a small revolver and good technique was needed.    While I didn’t score a bulls-eye I did manage to group the first three rounds at 0.75” to 1.”  I was squeezing the pistol a little tight, anticipating significant recoil that just wasn’t there.  I’m sure that’s what dropped my rounds low and left.

Group #2 was fired from 25 yards and would have been an easy 0.5” had I not let my third shot fly high making it about 1.5” group.  We have to be truthful in the testing so I didn’t re-shoot the group.  These things happen to the best of us, and still consider this; it’s a 1.5” group from a barrel under 2” long and a revolver that weights barely over 13 ounces.  Yes, that does make me feel better about that third shot and eases my ego somewhat.

The recoil was non-existent, even when I fired +P rounds through it.  I don’t know how, and I won’t try to understand, but some magic has been achieved in this design to eliminate recoil in such a small and light handgun.  I recall my dismay when first shooting it.  Cleaning it after firing is as simple as wiping it down with a rag.  After firing a whole box of shells through it, I could barely see any sign of debris or hazing on the metal.

It would be great for a back packer, just as well as in a holster hidden under a jacket, or in a purse.  Utilizing a .38 shot shell for hunting small game, in addition to lead for protection, this could be a great survival pistol.

I anticipate the Ruger LCR being one of the top-selling revolvers, worldwide, for many years to come.  I suppose the only improvements I could recommend to Ruger for this small revolver are to put a contrasting color edge on the front sight and to possibly make one that floats.  I’m sure someone would have a use for it.  The gun lock provided by Ruger has been cleverly hidden in the box so be careful not to throw away the lock if you dispose of the box.  Ruger has created another 5-star firearm in the LCR.