Ruger LC9s

Shooting Review – Ruger LC9s

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The Ruger LC9s is a redesigned version of the Ruger LC9, which has a hammer-fired, double-action-only (DAO) setup. The 9mm, striker-fired LC9s has an improved trigger, but still has a magazine disconnect and thumb safety. This is a subcompact, single-stack pistol made for concealed carry and, perhaps, for people with smaller hands.

By Andy Rutledge

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Ruger also makes the LC9s Pro (Model 3248), which comes with no external safety or magazine disconnect (meaning the gun can still cycle with the magazine removed). I did not shoot this one and only spent time with the LC9s (Model 3235) pistol. Here are my impressions from that experience.

Why Consider the Ruger LC9s?

As a single-stack, subcompact, the LC9s is purpose made for concealed carry. It is well suited to deep concealment or even pocket carry (in big pockets, as on cargo shorts and the like). Given its diminutive characteristics for a 9mm pistol, it is even more specifically tailored for very close encounters rather than medium-range engagements.

As 9mm single-stack pistols go, Ruger’s LC9s is on the small side and either identical in size or slightly smaller than its primary competitors, like the M&P Shield, Glock 43, and Springfield XDs and it’s lighter than all of them except for the Kahr CM9. The LC9s has an even smaller grip than these other pistols, especially with regard to grip width. Therefore, it is perhaps well suited to people who have smaller hands.

Ruger LC9s 9mm, Model #3235 Specs:

  • Caliber: 9x19mm
  • Length: 6”
  • Height: 4.5”
  • Width: .9”
  • Barrel: 3.12” – 1:10 RH twist – Blued
  • Trigger: 5.2 pounds
  • Sights: Drift-adjustable 3-dot
  • Safety: Manual thumb safety
  • Weight: 17.2oz. w/empty magazine
  • Slide Finish: Blued
  • Capacity: 7+1
  • MSRP: $479 (often found for less)

Ruger LC9s

Shooting theLC9s

When I first started shooting the LC9s, the first things I noticed were the extra-tiny grip width and the long trigger press and reset. Basically, my medium-sized hands swallowed the frame and my trigger finger had to do more work than I’m used to while breaking a string of shots. At first the long trigger made it hard for me to hold on target, but I quickly got the hang of it. Not terrible, just different from what I’m used to.

The trigger is quite long and the reset seems like it is even longer. Given these qualities, I’m no fan of the trigger length. I note, however, that the quality of the trigger action is very good. The trigger has an exceptionally smooth take up, clear wall, and smooth break. If not for the extra-long reset I’d be a big fan. Even so, I had no trouble being accurate with this pistol. Even with the short barrel, there’s nothing wrong with how it puts rounds on target.

Comfort, Controllability, & Capacity
There is nothing particularly uncomfortable about holding and shooting the LC9s. For me, though, the grip is just too narrow. In addition to the overall narrowness, there are additional scallops taken out of the grip where my strong-hand fingertips rest on the grip, exacerbating the issue. As compared to its competitor pistols, the LC9s feels more like a tiny .380 in my hands than a 9mm. Some may not find the small grip to be a problem and indeed may find it to be a positive feature. I, however, had a little trouble keeping a solid grip while firing multiple shots, due in part to the lack of material to hold onto. Thankfully, the grip did accommodate my pinky so I never felt like I need more finger on the grip.

grip

Exacerbating grip-maintenance issues is the fact that the LC9s has rather a high bore axis, especially as compared to its competitors. Its bore axis is, in fact, more than ¼” higher than that of the Glock 43. The result is a bit more muzzle flip than it should have. Recoil was not bad and I didn’t find it particularly difficult to control the pistol, but the high bore axis over the tiny grip became obvious to me while shooting.

The LC9s comes with one 7-round magazine, so with one in the chamber you can carry 8 rounds. This is pretty good as compared to other single-stack 9mm handguns. Even so the grip is not overlong and doesn’t present any obvious concealment issues.

Components and Features
The operating controls include a thumb safety. The safety control is quite small and unobtrusive and requires some effort to engage or disengage. I’m no fan of external safety controls, but there’s the LC9s Pro model for those of us who prefer no external safety.

The 3-dot sights are dovetailed so that they’re drift adjustable. I found them to be a bit difficult to pick up, but lower-profile sights are not a bad idea for a deep-concealment pistol like this. The magazine is steel and has a little pinky ramp on the base plate. It’s a shame the LC9s comes with only one of them.

All of the controls are on the left side, so this is a pistol best suited to righties. I found the magazine release control to be difficult to properly engage. We might chalk up my difficulties to not being familiar with the location or size of the release. Maybe with practice I’d be more automatic in manipulating it.

Conclusions

Pros
The LC9s is a good deep-concealment pistol with the added benefit of being chambered in 9mm. It is thin, light, and can carry 8 rounds. Even if long, the quality of the trigger action is a big plus.

Cons
The high bore axis and tiny grip diameter combined to make the gun not right for me. Others may not find the grip size to be an issue. I prefer more obtrusive sights, but there are plenty of aftermarket options for replacement. Lastly, the looooong trigger and reset are not to my taste, but folks who like DAO guns will find this trigger to be a joy.

So for rating the Ruger LC9s…

Ergonomics (**)
This pistol is not for me. Its physical characteristics surely make it the perfect pistol for many folks, especially those with small hands.

Shootability (***)
There’s not a lot wrong with the shootability of the LC9s, but the high bore axis and less-than-ideal sights diminish the experience a bit. I find that all of its competitors feel better in my hands, merely for the fact that they’ve got more to hold onto.

Accuracy (****)
I found nothing wrong with its accuracy. The short barrel and small frame, though, make this a pistol ideally for very close encounters.

Concealability (****)
The LC9s is an eminently concealable pistol even though it carries 8 rounds of 9mm.

In Summary

I had heard good things about the Ruger LC9s and I thought I would like it better. I’m a proponent of the right gun for the right situation. Subcompact, single-stack pistols bring with them compromises over their larger, double-stack brethren and must be evaluated differently. Given their small size, subcompacts also bring with them the requirement of “tighter tolerances” with regard to matching with individual preferences or needs. This pistol will be perfect for some folks, just not for me.

If you have smaller hands and need a pistol for deep concealment and don’t want to give up too many rounds to get there, AND still want a well-made and accurate gun, the LC9s is certainly something you should consider. Rent it at Eagle Gun Range and see for yourself.

About The Author
Andy Rutledge is a design professional, competitive shooter and avid road cyclist. He trains at Eagle Gun Range and elsewhere a few days a week to hone his shooting and defensive skills.

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