Rimfire Power!

Rimfire Power!

Ruger’s LCR in .22 Magnum is the Latest Incarnation of a Terrific Sidearm Family

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Ruger’s introduction of the LCR, a lightweight five-shot revolver chambered for .38 Special that featured polymer frame components, was a ground-breaker, and at the time I recall wondering when, or if, this handy little wheelgun would ever be available in some other caliber.

My initial thought was a handgun in .32 H&R Magnum or the newer .327 Federal Magnum, both of which are very good cartridges. However, the folks at Ruger went me one better, chambering a model in .357 magnum, and then came an eight-shot version chambered for the .22 Long Rifle.

Now comes the latest incarnation, a double-action-only six-shooter in .22 magnum, and it’s a terrific little sidearm, available with a Hogue Tamer Monogrip that attaches to the polymer frame—which Ruger calls the “fire control housing”—via a single screw in the butt. This grip model features Hogue’s trademark bead-type texturing, and there are two finger groves on the front surface. The top left side is recessed to allow for use with a speed loader, though after checking around, I don’t know if any existing speed loaders for .22-caliber ammunition would work with the LCR.

Inside the grip frame is Ruger’s locking mechanism. Unlike other revolvers from Ruger with this mechanism, the Hogue Monogrip doesn’t make it easy to drill a hole through the material to access the lock. I have a couple of Ruger single-actions that came with the factory grips scored showing where a small hole could be drilled.

Ruger designed the LCR cylinder with radical flutes

Ruger designed the LCR cylinder with radical flutes to save weight.

Ruger supplies two keys for this lock.

Even though I’m a product of the “old days” when revolvers were made from steel, I have no problem at all with the polymer LCR. After all, we’ve seen polymer-framed semi-autos for a generation and they seem to work just fine, and have a proven track record. With fewer moving parts, a revolver featuring part-polymer construction makes good sense.

Indeed, having fired a few lightweight revolvers featuring aluminum, scandium or other lightweight frames, a gun with polymer is not that big a leap, technologically or practically. The material used in the LCR certainly seems tough enough to withstand the elements.

About the size of a J-frame, Ruger’s LCR is really a study in modern technology. It has what the company calls a “monolithic frame” made from 7000-series aerospace grade aluminum in the lighter calibers up to .38 Special, while the .357 magnum version has a frame made from blackened 400-series stainless steel.

The fluted stainless steel cylinder is a radical departure from traditional cylinder designs because the front half’s flutes are deep, and this helps reduce the LCR’s overall weight. It has an “Ionbond” Diamondblack finish that seems to be tough and durable, so I would guess that it would wear a long time without showing it.

One feature of the LCR I’ve thought to be a good idea is the trigger guard, which extends to the front of the frame. This provides plenty of room for a gloved trigger finger. After all, you cannot count on emergencies only happening in warm weather.

During the time I had my test model (Serial No. 548-43823) I attended a gun rights political function and found one woman there who was packing an LCR in what appeared to be a Kydex holster, and the handgun looked straight out of the box. It had been fired a bit, too, but the finish was like new.

The barrel tube is stainless steel, and the front sight is pinned on while the rear sight is a simple square notch at the top rear of the frame.

I found that the test gun shot a bit low off a hard rest, but on a fixed sight revolver, the remedy for that is to simply—and gradually—stone down the front sight just a bit, and it should not take much if that’s a problem. I got the hang of where this revolver shot pretty fast, and made the visual adjustment to bring my impact point up, and then the LCR shot fine with various .22 WMR ammunition from Federal, Winchester and CCI.

The double-action only trigger surface is smooth, as is the action, but it still took a bit of getting used to. The advantage of a rimfire handgun is that ammunition—compared to centerfire cartridges—is still relatively inexpensive. That translates to additional practice, and that leads to improved proficiency.

Realizing, of course, that the .22 WMR cartridge is not what most people would consider to be a serious personal defense round, in the right hands it definitely meets the first rule of a gunfight. Anyone familiar with the survival tale of Richard Davis, the pizza delivery guy who became something of a cult hero thanks to his creation of soft body armor called the Second Chance vest, knows that he survived a shootout with three would-be robbers using a six-round .22-caliber revolver, and that was merely chambered for .22 Long Rifle.

The .22 WMR is a definite step up, especially when loaded with Winchester’s PDX1 .22 Defender load. This .22 magnum pushes a 40-grain jacketed hollow point bullet out of the muzzle at 1,295 fps. Rimfire notwithstanding, you do not want to be on the receiving end of that little pill.

I had some Winchester Supreme loads with 34-grain bullets that warped out of the muzzle at an average of 1,321 fps, according to my Chrony Alpha chronograph, which was set 24 inches ahead of the muzzle. I was also particularly impressed with the CCI Maxi Mag 40-grain hollow points, which averaged 1,147 fps, and that’s out of a 1.875-inch barrel. That cartridge, in a gun with a longer barrel, is capable of producing a muzzle velocity up to the 1,600 fps realm.

The 40-grain Federal Classic solids averaged 1,092 fps out of that short barrel, while Winchester’s Super-X ammunition averaged 991.1 fps, which was rather disappointing, but it would still be potent enough to ruin someone’s day, put the hurt on a vicious dog or wild predator such as a coyote.

Because of its construction, the Ruger LCR is virtually impervious to changing weather conditions, which I put to the test up in the snow country of the Central Cascades. Snow doesn’t bother this revolver, and neither does rain. I carried the Ruger for a while in a De Santis holster and it worked just fine.

One can also comfortably put this revolver into the pocket of a jacket, vest or cargo pants and not have to worry about the telltale sag that seems inherent with the pocket carry of heavier handguns. Ruger’s website says the LCR in .22 magnum weighs 16.6 ounces, but this is the lightest one-pound firearm I can recall carrying.

The cylinder features an ejector and the revolver pin presses in far enough to push empty cases out to a point where they drop away.

If I had hung onto the LCR into fall, I would have undoubtedly tried to shoot a grouse off a tree limb. By then, I am certain I would be rather proficient at a distance, provided I could lay my hands on enough .22 magnum ammunition to stay in practice.

The Ruger LCR in .22 Magnum is what some people a generation ago might have called a “kit gun,” but this is something more than that. Yet, it is precisely that, too. It’s a potential piece of life saving equipment that is really no bother to have in your gear, along with a box of cartridges. It’s a firearm that almost goes unnoticed, but in an emergency, you would be damn glad to have it.

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