In the update on my last post, I told about the family trip to the gun range where we shot .22’s nearly exclusively. What I didn’t mention is that I had the opportunity to put my hands on Ruger’s entry into the light-weight snubby market. I haven’t had the opportunity to fire this little beastie yet, but I’ll be working towards that, and thought that my readers might both appreciate my first thoughts on it.
H&H Gun Range is a great facility in Oklahoma City that promotes education and gun safety in a clean, family friendly environment. The owner, Miles Hall was one of the major promoters of CCW in the state of Oklahoma. H&H was the first facility to offer the Self Defense Act class, and remains a leader in this course. The gunsmithing department is led by a very knowledgeable smith who has 30+ years of experience in the art and science of gun repair and customization. They have a department dedicated to reloading, and the ammunition supply is reliable even now, in the time that superstores and sporting goods warehouses are nearly constantly sold out of stock. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and always willing to help in any way they can. The sales floor at H&H has had a full inventory of all types of guns, including EBR’s, even through the recent drought of such items, and has always charged fair prices for their goods. When there is a new firearm product to hit the market, it’s a pretty good bet that H&H will have an example of it early on. The Ruger LCR is no exception to this.
On Saturday afternoon, I went poking around the display cases, and headed over to the Ruger revolvers just to see if they happened to have a living example of the first polymer-frame revolver on the U. S. market. Sure enough, there it was – with a tag reading “FOR DISPLAY ONLY.” When the crowd cleared a little bit, I caught Larry and started chatting with him a little bit. I mentioned the American Derringer on the consignment rack, chambered in .45/70 Government, and commented that it would probably make one’s fingernails bleed if one managed to squeeze off both shots in one sitting. We laughed over that of course, and I steered the conversation towards the revolver section.
“You have a weird, plastic revolver in a case over there,” I commented, “What are the chances I could put my hands on it?”
Larry obligingly answered, “Pretty good. Please lead the way.”
And so, I got to handle the thing. I was impressed. I was far more impressed than I ever expected to be. The significance of this gun lies in its engineering and construction, and in its market value. I know a lot of folks who feel like Charter Arms makes a valid, light-weight revolver. I would have to courteously object to that summation. It is my humble opinion that Charter Arms products fall short of the threshold of what one should carry as his more-often-than-shoes companion. They are crudely constructed with gritty actions and poor ergonomics. Quality control is abysmal, and I see them as the modern Saturday Night Special. If you have a CA revolver and love it, suffice it to say that I haven’t seen every example, and would be willing to be wrong.
I say all that to preface my point that until now, if you wanted to get a well-made, light-weight, .38Spl, compact revolver, you had two choices: Spend the money and get the Smith & Wesson aluminum or scandium J-Frame, or save a little money and take the gamble on a Taurus equivalent. It hardly seems like a valid application of the free market. But, Ruger has now increased the variety of our choices by 50%. How did they do this? Enter the LCR.
This is a 13.5-oz revolver with a fully-enclosed hammer that fires five shots of .38Spl +p. They don’t achieve this through the use of space-age materials that jack up the production cost, only to pass along a high price to the end user, but rather by the creative application of time tested, economic materials. The frame of the revolver is composed partially of a glass-filled polymer in combination with a hard-coated, aerospace aluminum with the barrel being integrated into the aluminum portion of the structure. Mated to this aluminum and plastic frame is a stainless steel cylinder with deep scalloping around the chambers, rather than traditional fluting.
The gun balances and points beautifully, and the cylinder release is intuitively placed. A nearly effortless depression of the well-placed cylinder release is all it takes to swing out the stainless cylinder, which places the ejector rod neatly beneath your left forefinger. The ejector’s operation is similarly smooth and quick. I am looking forward to the opportunity to using it to eject some empties! The most impressive feature I noticed was the trigger pull. The DAO trigger pull on this weird little revolver is every bit what I expect from a Smith & Wesson and possibly even better. That’s coming from a S&W fan, too. The trigger is a smooth, light pull with little or no stacking, the action is palpable throughout the travel of the trigger with not hint of grit or roughness, and finishes with a crisp break. Touche, Ruger.
Comparing apples to apples, the consumer now has three choices in this market segment. There are only so many light-weight, 5-shot, .38Spl +p revolvers on the market. Let’s take a look at the most obvious three choices:
Weight – 15-oz
Construction – Aluminum alloy frame, stainless steel cylinder and barrel
Taurus Model 85
Weight – 13.5-oz
Construction – Titanium alloy
Weight – 13.5-oz
Construction – Aluminum and glass-filled polymer frame, stainless steel cylinder
Prior to the release of this gun, if I were to pick up a weapon to fill this niche, I would have gone with the S&W, hands-down. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m looking forward to seeing how Ruger does with this gun in the marketplace, and I’m really looking forward to a test-shoot!