Monday, October 27, 2014

Timney Trigger Factory Tour

Timney Trigger Factory Tour

Occasionally you are invited on an adventure which you have no expectation of or realization the unexpected turns it will take. In September of 2014 I was invited to the Timney factory in Scottsdale AZ with a few other industry writers such as The Truth About Guns and Tactical Hogs Weapons & Tactics editors.

The funny thing is that I didn't know what to expect on the trip. Ellis Media, the Media Company representing Timney, just set up all the travel arrangements and said "Just come on out"... so I did.  I have to say the trip and travel were amongst the most well thought out and smoother trips I have had arranged for me.


The night before we all traded stories around products, firearms, and relationships within the industry, drank, broke bread together, and prepared questions for the next day's factory tour. Timney moved into a new 25,000 square foot building in 2013 with new machining capabilities beyond what I have seen at any other firearms factory. Timney toughed things out in their old facility from 1997-2013 until they finally were at a point where they had to make a move to a larger space or face splitting operations into two buildings. The result was a move to a larger building which was purchased, gutted, and built out to meet Timney's specific design needs.

Walking into the new updated facility's second floor executive conference room, we were greeted with a wall-to-wall windows overlooking the manufacturing operations of Timney and the view was stunning. Timney's facility is meticulously clean... like place a cheese burger on the floor and I the germaphobe would eat it. Considering Timney is designing, prototyping, and machining 100% of the parts for every trigger in house, this cleanliness is a bit magical. Ya, know? Things should get a bit dirty, however Timney's design and manufacturing team, and apparently their antimicrobial cleaning army is pretty anal retentive about setting up the closed door cabinet manufacturing processes to run impeccably clean.


As we toured the facility what we saw was a near fully automated lights out manufacturing operation. People throw around the term “lights out manufacturing”, however Timney actually seems to have it down with a 22 hour by 7 day a week operation. Literally they actually turn lights out and leave the building while machines are churning away at night. A two hour maintenance window is provided per day during working hours to reload raw materials and change out worn tooling. Robots are picking up finished machined parts and loading new blanks. It was like watching a digital machining ballet where billet was turned into beauty. It was an amazing thing to watch whether on the Wire EDM machines cutting hammers, trigger, and sears, or the automated milling or Swiss machines milling and turning trigger bodies and parts. What I saw impressed me and I am not a newbie to manufacturing sophistication and automation.

We even met the assembly and shipping teams whose responsibility it is to assemble, test and ultimately get the right product to the right custom. I had the privilege to watch one of the two testers qualified to assemble the Timney 10/22 trigger, put together my trigger just used in my Magnum Research MLR-22ATU review. I also watched as the shipping team packaged up both the Timney 10/22 trigger and the Skeletonized AR15 trigger used on the Mercury One Foundation AR 308 build.
Timney's version of a doorstop

From sourcing 100% American made metal stock, through the manufacturing operations, to assembly and shipping, Timney has clearly worked to develop one of the most cutting edge manufacturing facilities which maximizes efficiency and quality. The owner and the lead designer (Calvin) often attend manufacturing trade shows just to assure there is nothing else they could be doing to improve manufacturing operations.

The 20'ish person staff would be closer to seventy according to the owner if they had to go back to doing everything without manufacturing automation. Some may think that automation is taking jobs away from qualified people, however as a business owner, the goal is to deliver the highest quality, most consistent, and efficiently produced product possible and in this case, automation was the better answer than more staff. For example, by going to "lean" manufacturing, Timney saved 36 hours of manufacturing time on the AR15 trigger shoe over the year’s production time. Considering this is just one part of an AR15 trigger, 36 hours is a huge dollars and cents savings for just one part. Consider that savings when you expand it to all the parts in an AR15  trigger and then to all the 50+ triggers of the 20+ firearm brands they produce. Automation and Lean manufacturing can and do make a huge difference in the manufacturing business.

Timney offers the most expensive aftermarket match performance triggers in the market. Most trigger manufacturers offer one or two triggers usually for either 10/22, Remington 700, or AR15 rifles. Timney offers triggers for everything from ARs, Arisaka, Tavor, and Mosins to Remingtons and Winchesters and many, many brands and firearms in between. If you need a trigger for your rifle, chances are Timney makes one for your rifle. If they don't, they do take customer suggestions and this was one of the main reasons the Tavor and Mosin triggers were created. Interestingly they also produce bow releases for archers as well, so if you want that Timney feel on your bow, you may want to take a look at their archery releases as well.

Timney AK47 Prototype Trigger
Currently, Timney is working on triggers for the ARX100, Ruger America, and the one I am most excited over, the AK47. I asked that they start making Ruger Mark III pistol triggers as well as a a precision ambi-selector for the AR15... but this was where I got a blank stare back at me. That was a part and not a trigger. My point to them was that with all this machining precision capabilities, I see no reason why Timney should not begin offering more than just triggers. I went on that a precision Timney selector paired with a AR15 Timney match trigger would actually improve tuning accuracy without having to adjust the trigger to allow for the slop of whatever selector you happen to be using.


Chris Ellis from Ellis Media said he wanted us to leave with the impression that Timney was one of the most advanced trigger manufacturers in the world. I left Arizona with a different impression; Timney is a cutting edge manufacturing facility which could be doing and offering shooters more. This may seem like I am overlooking all that Timney has and is doing for us in the Trigger market, however from the 3D prototyping, rapid prototyping, to fully automated processes, I saw no reason why they could not be offering more amazing products beyond triggers, however I am told Timney for the moment will stick with just triggers.

So we came, we saw, we played with triggers, and of course gabbed like little school girls passing notes on what products were "OMG, like so hot" and, as would be expected, we talked a lot about all the Timney triggers we had tested and used.

What struck me was the "family" vibe everyone talked about at Timney from John the owner, to the managers, machinist, assemblers and shippers.  It was a family who noted that John was going to extremes to offer an environment where their suggestions were converted to product, process, and company value improvements. This family extended from John the owner to Joliet the beautiful and friendly English Mastiff roaming the premises who I thought was so cute that I snapped a few pics before I left the Timney facility, got on the floor, and gave the old girl some love. I am a dog person… more specifically I love mid to large sized dogs.

We freshened up at the hotel and met for drinks to head out for dinner and spent the next hour all crying and blubbering uncontrollably. All us editors all had at least one strong drink in us and were working on our second when Chris Ellis mentioned that Joliet has passed away about thirty minutes after I took these last pictures of her and that tomorrow's follow up factory tour would not happen because everyone at Timney was devastated. 

John (Timeny's Owner) had noticed Joliet, Timney's furry employee, was acting a little odd right after we left and ran her by the vet at which time she passed away from natural causes. Most of us had lost a great dog in our past and began reminiscing and weeping uncontrollably over John's loss. It was quite the spectacle which had passers by I am sure wondering why a group of guys were all sitting in a Marriott teary eye-ed with drinks in hand. As a long time dog owner, it was my privilege to meet Joliet. I immediately emailed these last pictures to Chris to forward to the Timney team and when returning home I immediately gave my doberman twins a hug and kiss. Family is important and I understood at that point how tight the Timney family was.


The trip was an adventure. I had no idea what to expect or to prepare for. Mrs. Pandemic asked repeatedly "what" we would be doing... I had no idea and I think that was the idea to just see what happened.

Timney produces exceptional triggers for a huge variety of firearms and they all work wonderfully and all have that Timney “feel”. I personally have used and tested their 10/22, Mosin, and AR15 drop in triggers to enhance the accuracy and trigger feel.  Currently I am working on a Remington 700 SPS build which will also features a Timney trigger, just because I very excited after feeling some of the Rem 700 triggers the assemblers were adjusting while I was there. If you are looking for a great trigger, take a look at Timney, they are indeed more than just a trigger manufacturer... they are a trigger centric family which is making the broadest array of match quality triggers in the business.

SOURCES











Sharps Balanced Bolt Carrier BBC Group with Relia-Bolt Review

Sharps Balanced Bolt Carrier BBC Group with Relia-Bolt Review

After developing what is arguably one of the most technologically advanced updated AR15 bolt designs, Sharps decided to design a carrier to complement the bolt. In typical Sharps design style, they didn't just duplicate a standard AR15/M4 carrier design, but started from the ground up and designed a new carrier design.

ABOUT SHARPS RIFLE COMPANY
Sharps Rifles are a household name in the gun industry with manufacturing that dates back to 1840 and accuracy that delivered some of the first truly accurate 1000-yard firearms. Most people know the Sharps rifle from the Tom Selleck starring Quigley Down Under movie which showcased the capabilities of the Sharps rifle in Quigley's hands. Today Sharps is part of the Broadsword sporting group which includes Sharps Rifle Company, A-Square, SRC Arms, H.H. Heiser, and Merwin Hulbert.  The combined resources deliver a lot of capabilities and engineering ranging from production to custom. In this case, the company collaboration delivered a new way of thinking about a 100% compatible AR15 Bolt and carrier design.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
Many things about the AR15 format have evolved and improved since its first introduction. Free float forends, adjustable gas blocks, coating and material technology improvements, new stock and buffer tube lengths, spring rate and buffer weight changes, triggers, sights, optics, new carrier designs and lightweight options... and the list goes on of things Mr Stoner never predicted. What has not changed since introduction is the bolt design and in most cases the carrier. There are a few people out there like Barnes Precision, JP, PWS, and YM who are making design and steel enhancements, however industry-wide, fundamentally the Bolt design has remained unchanged.

The NP3 coating (hardened Teflon) adds lubricity, self-cleaning, and longer part life and the upgrade to S7 steel improves tensile strength by 75% and yield strength by 60% over the industry standard premium Carpenter 158 steel.  You need the added strength if you are going to fiddle around with the bolt lug profiles which took a bit of hands-on simulation to understand. The basics are that the bolt extends reliability window beyond what a normal bolt lifespan, environmental or weapon wear would typically allow.

Sharps identified that the carrier also had two primary performance degrading design issues; "the first being the rotational camming of the carrier during the unlocking portion of the operational cycle and the second being the canting of the bolt carrier group. The canting occurs upon firing due to the gas pressure exerted to the gas key which naturally causes the front of the bolt carrier group to rise and the rear of the bolt carrier group to be pressed downward during its rearward travel." Sharps was attempting deliver a new carrier design which does not torque or tilt and cycles as close to a balanced state as possible.  

Sharps used both computer design and profession design validation and testing of the final balanced carrier concept. The result of all the design, feedback and tweaking was the new SRC Balanced Bolt Carrier (BBC).  The  Sharps BBC is precisely machined from S7 steel which then heat treated and then NP3 coated. The NP3 coating reduces lubricant needs and makes cleanup simple and easy.  The Sharps Balanced bolt Carrier will work on any .223 cased caliber such as .223/5.56mm, 25-45 Sharps and 300 Blackout calibers in any AR15/M4 format rifle and is a simple drop in upgrade.

WHY THE SHARPS RELIA-BOLT & BBC?
The standard $65 AR15 bolt  available anywhere is essentially a non-optimal squares on squares engagement that requires near perfect alignment to work and I have seen carriers as low as $35 here and there. The value shopper can find complete BCG for well under $100, so why offer a $200 BCG?

The original Stoner design assures that in most cases the bolt will turn clockwise to unlock from the barrel extension lugs and the top of the cam will be held in unlocked position throughout the cycle by a groove in the upper receiver, the BCG cycles, picks up another round and relocks with a counter-clockwise twist after clearing the barrel extension lugs about the same time the top of the cam pin  can move over in the can pin rotation recess in the upper receiver. Ultimately this is what is supposed to happen, however in extreme situations, grit, grime and wear to the cam pin, receiver, and piston rings can throw off one mechanical operation or another and cause reliability problems.

Sharps obviously advocates proper gun maintenance and inspection to avoid and prevent the issues causing operational failure, however there are situations where high rate sustained fire, environmental issues, excessive receiver or cam pin wear/damage, and maintenance are not possible and that is where the Relia-Bolt will continue to operate.

Grit and grime can build up at the bolt and barrel extension union to the point where the bolt is not locking or engaging fully. With either extreme cleaning neglect or very hard use conditions the bolt may not be able to fully lock due to the crap stuck in the chamber or bolt/extension lugs. Sharps Relia-Bolt answer to this problem is deliver a self-lubricating and, for the most part, self-cleaning design.  The bolt is coated with NP3 which for all practical purposes is hardened Teflon and is essentially self-cleaning which can literally be cleaned by wiping with a soft cloth.  The tapered leading edges of the bolt lugs in theory also help to plow through buildup around the barrel extension lugs which could occur during extreme neglectful maintenance or situation where a high amount of debris may have found its way into the chamber area.


In a normal working state, the bolt is held in an unlocked position for the length of the cycle by the upper receiver capturing the cam pin so the bolt cannot accidentally lock mid-cycle or as it picks up another round. There is a notch in the upper receiver which is "timed" to allow the cam pin to rotate to a locked position after the bolt lugs have passed and entered the barrel extension lugs. However a severely worn upper or cam pin can create a situation where the bolt can partially start its counter-clockwise locking cycle just from the pressure of picking up a round or a sticky round in the magazine. When this happens the clocking/timing is off on the bolt and the lugs on the bolt and barrel extension collide versus interlocking, thus preventing lockup. The Sharps solution is to taper both the front leading edges and the left counter-clockwise facing edges of the lugs.  This directional wedge effect drives through chamber buildup and will drive the bolt face back clockwise slightly back to an unlocked position to engage the barrel extensions without jamming.

Sharps decided to stay with a standard Carpenter 158 steel extractor simply because the benefits of the S7 steel are minimized to that of the standard Carpenter steel during extractor final heat treatment. Additionally there was a perception that a NP3 coated extracter would be too slick and actually decrease reliability. According to testing that was not the case, however the perception was there so inevitably Sharps decided on a standard premium extractor.

From Sharps BBC Balanced Bolt Carrier perspective, I have never had an issue with even the least expensive carrier, however notable NP3 and Nickel Boron - NiBo carriers always run significantly smoother and are easier to clean. If you look inside a well worn upper receiver, you can usually see from wear inside the upper receiver that the carrier has not been moving in a balanced fashion. This wiggling around in motion is what Sharps was hoping to cure and in the end deliver smoother operating Bolt Carrier which should in theory move just straight back and foreward. I wish I could specifically say exactly how and where the weight was distributed, however the BBC balances right at the firing pin retaining pin hole.



REALITY VERSUS THEORY & FINAL THOUGHTS
The Sharps Relia-Bolt is an extreme performance/environment upgrade. In ten of thousands of rounds in over thirty tested AR15s, I have never had a chamber area get so dirty or cam/receiver wear so severe to create the jam situation resolved by the Relia-Bolt’s angled lug face.  That noted, I do believe the lubricity, durability, and cleaning of finishes such as Nickel Boron and this NP3 (hardened Teflon) treated have improved functioning on rifles I have tested. Bolts with these coatings have been shown to run longer, smoother, cleaner, more reliability, and some claim lubrication-free.

The NP3 coating is what I believe is the most attractive feature, however bolt breakage does occur and the stronger overall bolt design through the use of S7 steel could prevent bolt breakage. Bolt breakage is far more likely a failure than an out of timing bolt jam.

I did simulate the jam the patented Relia-Bolt design could prevent. To do this, I pulled the cam pin out of a carrier and simulated the overclocking issue and the Relia-Bolt clocked back into position where the standard bolt jammed. In short, things would have to be going horribly wrong with a severe amount of wear on the receiver cam pin channel and/or the cam pin itself for the lug tapers Sharps Relia-Bolt to be used. I can see where extreme environment, a long-term fielded AR15/M4, and/or extremely neglected ARs could develop enough slop so I term the Relia-Bolt as a “extreme performance/environment upgrade”.  

It may sound like I am saying the Relia-Bolt is a solution looking for a problem, however I look at it a bit differently. Its an upgrade that can only improve reliability with the NP3 coating and decrease maintenance and in a worst case situation still deliver functionality. Another observation is that I am not one of those super hard core guys who wallows in the mud and muck to prove how far I can destructively push an AR15. Sharps design theory is sound and should do exactly what it is supposed to, because they have in fact had guys to these destructive tests.

Upgrading your AR15 bolt to the Sharps Relia-Bolt delivers another layer of reliability just as we all now swear by chrome, nitriding, nickel boron, and NP3 to deliver longer running, smoother, cleaner, more reliable, corrosion resistance, and lower lubrication requirements bolts over standard Mil-Spec phosphated bolts and the S7 steel is stronger as well.

The Sharps Balanced Carrier on the other hand is a difference you can feel once you start shooting delivering a little smoother cycling and less jolting cycling experience. The result is less muzzle rise and a flatter shooting AR15 in both rifles and AR15 pistol formats I have used these bolts in. The Sharps BCC are also full MilSpec M16 Carrier weight, so it will not impact functioning with most AR15s.

Beyond the Sharps complete Balanced Bolt Carrier Group purported performance advantage, the bolt carrier group is one of the most trick looking BCG's on the market. For the Mercury One Foundation AR15, my AR15 pistol, ultimate AR15 DMR, and Change Everything builds the Sharps Balanced Carrier Group was a standout component from a looks perspective in addition to its performance advantages.  


A while back in the first article, I questioned the price tag and said the Sharps Relia-Bolt and Carrier was a bit pricey, however the once $120 MSRP Relia-Bolt Sharps is now down to $79.99 and the complete BBC is now down to a $199 price which is pretty good considering this is inline with most other premium complete $200+ BCGs from PWS, Barnes Precision, JP, and YM. At $199 pricing, the Sharps BCC begins to look like a great deal considering all the features Sharps has packed in.

SPECS

S7 tool steel - when compared to mil spec Carpenter 158, the S7 steel provides a 75% increase in tensile strength, and 60% improvement in yield strength.
- Compatible with all existing .223/5.56 variant parts groups and bolt carriers.
- Same weight as standard Milspec BCG
- NP3 electrodes nickels-based finish
- Lifetime Warranty - MSRP $250 Street Price $199

SOURCES

SHARPS RELIA-BOLT - http://srcarms.com/

Friday, October 24, 2014

LaserLyte TGL Glock 42 UTA-YY Laser Sight Review

LaserLyte TGL Glock 42 UTA-YY Laser Sight Review

Now that the Glock 42 is one of the most popular pistols of 2014 and is literally flying off the shelves in record numbers, LaserLyte decided to offer a version of their extremely popular clamp on trigger guard laser sights for the Glock.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
The LaserLyte TGL UTA-YY Glock 42 laser sight deserves pages of editorial to tell the arduous journey of how hard LaserLyte worked to introduce this sight and how difficult it was to create simple elegance in a user friendly interface. Well unfortunately for LaserLyte, people are more interested in the end result than the development process which due to non-disclosure agreements we cannot talk about anyway. That noted, the Glock 42 LaserLyte is gloriously simple and quality made from 55% Glass Filled Nylon and Aircraft Grade 6061 aluminum.

Installation is simple and only requires users to bolt the sight onto the front of the G42 trigger guard. Once locked onto the handguard there is no perceptible wiggle or movement and from my experience handles all the daily bumps and knocks without fulling out of zero.

The owner of LaserLyte jokingly noted during an editors conference that the sight is FOPS operated - Finger Operated Pressure Switch. Jokes aside, FOPS is the perfect way to describe the operation of the LaserLyte Sight. The user basically clicks the sight on and off as needed via the ambidextrous buttons on each side of the sight - it really could not be more simple or reliable. The buttons are placed intelligently where your finger naturally rests when you finger is not on the trigger. It becomes a simple and natural ergonomic movement to touch either button to turn the laser sight on or off. Programing the LaserLyte laser sight can be done with just simple click and hold operations to cycle through either a "constant on" mode or a battery saving "pulse" mode.

Run time will likely last users a year of use unless they train extensively with the laser. Runtimes are 5 hours with the constant on mode and 10 hours in pulse mode, however there is an auto-off function after 6 minutes. Most Glocks are sights are set to a 25-yard zero, however for the uses of this laser I choose a 10-yard zero. Keeping in mind that the laser beam is approximately 2” lower than the bore line, very close 2-5 yards shots will deliver bullet impact about 1”-2” above the laser dot.  This is just something to train with to assure you know the differences of where the dot vs bullet impact will be and what decisions you might make on zeroing the LaserLyte TGl Glock 42 laser sight.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I mounted the laser on I have seldom seen since my initial review which is the Glock 42. Mrs. Pandemic (the wife) very quickly absconded with the G42 as her every day carry gun. She love the size and functional similarity of the gun to her bigger G19 and G17 Glocks.

One of the most amazing psychological aspects of laser sights are as an effective densive deterrent. In many cases situations where a person is required to use deadly force to defend themselves happens in seconds where drawing and firing seems to happen almost instantaneously. In other situations, the gun is draw and you are either investigating that bump in the night or have drawn and have the luxury of offering verbal commands. In these less later situations where a LaserLyte sight can be a huge psychological advantage for you and a defensive deterrent for attackers. You can see exactly where the bullet will hit and can concentrate on the dynamics of the situation instead of the sights and on the attacker side, no one wants to have a floating red dot on their chest which could easily be followed by a bullet.

The unanimous verdict between the Mrs and I after testing was that the LaserLyte Glock 42 pistol laser is an awesome tool which is worth the  investment to make the G42 even better. I just can’t wait until the release the G26 version hopefully later this year.

SPECS
The LaserLyte® GLOCK® 42 Pistol Laser,
The laser features ambidextrous activation, dual modes and auto-off. When the laser is mounted it matches the gun’s dust cover and trigger guard with perfect fit.

Each TGL package comes with two housings per model and will fit two guns for the price of just one laser. Simply use a Philips head screw driver to remove the single screw to swap out the laser housings. A laser swap can easily be made in under a minute. Initial installation onto the gun will take less than five minutes and the laser does not require removal in order to change out batteries. Later this year an additional housing will be offered for the GLOCK®26/27 pistol. The housing (laser not included) will be available free of charge to anyone that purchased a UTA-YY when it starts shipping. Please keep checking the LaserLyte website for shipping details.
BATTERIES INCLUDED.
LaserLyte® UTA-YY Specifications:
- Compatible Firearms: GLOCK® 42, coming soon GLOCK® 26/27
- Power Output: 650NM, 5MW, Class IIIA
- Programmable: Dual mode constant on and pulse, auto-off in 6 minutes
- Batteries: 3 x 392
- Battery Life: Actual usage 5 hours constant on, 10 hours pulse mode
- Weight: .75 ounces/0.0213 kg
- Material: 55% Glass Filled Nylon and Aircraft Grade 6061 aluminum
- Length: 1.52 inches/3.86 cm
- Width: .76 inches/ 1.93 cm
- Height: 1.70 inches/4.32 cm      
- MSRP: $104.95

SOURCES


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ruger LCR-9 9mm Pistol Review

Ruger LCR-9 9mm Pistol Review

NEW HANDGUN OWNER REVOLVER PICK OF THE YEAR - Based on my testing and the testing of other novice shooter how have shot and handled this gun, I would like to declare this my pick for any new shooter entering the market and looking for their first gun. This gun is simple… really simple, it reloads fast, is light, is capable of digesting a huge array of 9mm ammo, and can be made “safe” more easily than most pistols. Bluntly put, this is the best defensive snubby revolver design I have tested - ever.

Yes sir, Ruger is back to offering 9mm revolvers again and this has to be one of my favorite variants yet and get this is is a partially polymer pistol just like the rest of the LCR line. Oh how guns have changed. Back when I was a kid, if someone suggested plastic on a pistol they were looked at strangely, if you would have suggested a polymer based revolver... well you could have been institutionalized. Although H&K and Glock initially broke through the polymer barrier for semi-auto pistols, it is Ruger who has crossed the river of skepticism for Polymer revolvers with their LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolvers) line.  

I am a fan of the LCR design and own a Ruger LCR-22 and KLCR-357, so when Ruger introduced the 9mm version, I could not hit the order button fast enough. Despite the SP101 in 9mm being the single toughest pistols in the world to find while it was available, the pistol in the 9mm chambering only lasted a short time before it was discontinued and I was extremely disappointed that I was not able to buy one.

The challenge with the extremely heavy tank-like SP101 chambered in 9mm was that it was more of a novelty caliber. Almost every who wanted the SP101 wanted it in the standard .357 magnum chambering versus 9mm, however never fear, the LCR 9mm is here and it rocks.

FIT & FEEL
Obviously Ruger does an excellent job on fit and finish however I was a bit disappointed on my first generation LCR 357, however Ruger has clearly sorted out those fitment issues on the newer models. To drop the price a bit Ruger has also forgone the final surface finishing of the respective monolithic aluminum and stainless frames however it provides a nice matte tactical texture for this type of revolver. This 9mm LCR has already seen a beating so honestly I could care less about how pretty the finish looks.

As many know, Ruger has basically tow frame sizes for the LCR line - the larger heavier .357 magnum version and the marginally lighter .38 Special version. The 7000 Series Aluminum Monolithic framed .38 Special LCR versions start in the 13oz range and the heavier 400 Series Stainless Steel monolithic framed LCR-357 and LCR-9 both hover in the 17.1oz range. The LCR 9MM appears to be based on the heavier .357 magnum frame. Regardless of which LCR you have in your hand they all provide perfect cross training analogs in weight, feel, and operation.

Because I was shipped one of the first 9mm LCRs off the line, someone along the way had forgotten to add in the three included full moon clips which hold the 9mm rounds, however Ruger sent them right out to finish up the testing for the article.  It should be noted that the LCR 9 cannot be fired without the full moon clips. Not adhering to this requirement may result in some significant problems for your and the gun.

FEATURES
The LCR pistols are unique from a couple perspectives.  They have hybrid polymer lower sub-frames supported by upper monolithic metal frames, with stainless lined barrels and solid heavily fluted stainless cylinders. The lower polymer sub-frame drops a considerable amount of un-needed weight in the unstressed areas of the revolver while the monolithic upper metal frames take the stress of the recoil.  When you combine that with a stainless barrel and cylinder you still have a incredibly strong reliable revolver, but almost a pound lighter than Ruger’s SP101 line.

As the concealed hammer would portray, the LCR is primarily a lean and mean personal defense revolver, however Ruger wanted to assure the trigger pull did not suffer and developed a friction reducing cam which resulting in a incredibly smooth non-stacking trigger pull.  All the neat-o polymer and monolithic frame stuff aside, it is the trigger that steals the show for the LCR and makes it exceptionally accurate for a snub nosed revolver.

Ruger thankfully has started to integrate safety gun locks into their firearms, however I think they missed the functional mark on the LCR line.  The LCR has a lock however you need to inconveniently remove the grip and use the key to unlock the action then presumably replace the grip and grip screw. A hole through the grip to use the key to unlock the action would been a more user friendly option which I may remedy with a drill bit. I like the integrated lock however the supplied Ruger padlock’s shackle placed behind the trigger or through the frame will render a loaded LCR safe and prove a faster more useful lock.

FUNCTIONS
Functionally the LCR-9 performed flawlessly and shot everything I stuffed into the cylinders.  With the very wide variety of 9mm ammo these days, from low recoil to very hot +P ammo, the shooter has a lot to choose from. One point many may miss is the the LCR-9 can pay for itself quickly for those who want to practice and shoot a lot with the gun. There for a while 9mm ammo was around the same price as .22LR ammo. Currently 9mm ammo is still about 20% less than .357 or .38 special rounds. This savings could add up quick for shooters.

The LCR need to have the triggers heavily stroked.  As with any revolver you cannot let your finger feel for the trigger reset like you do on any semi-auto or you will just spin the cylinder at the first trigger reset or lock the trigger until you reset your finger.  Because of the cam this usually unnoticed reset cycle seemed a little more noticeable to me on the .357 version but better on this LCR-9, however most folks probably will not notice it.  This little annoyance only reared its head when I was shooting groups from the bench and carefully controlling the trigger.

The sights are simply on the LCR line wiht a front pinned replaceable sight and a rear notch. Grips and recoil reduction are handled by the super comfortable Hogue/Ruger designed Sorbothane inserts which tame even the heaviest 9mm rounds to tolerable levels that allow you to shoot through a box of ammo quickly without swearing.

Where some may see the requirement to use full moon clips to feed the revolver a problem, I see this as the holy grail of defensive snubbies. The best speed loader in the world for a revolver remains the full moon clip. Full moon clips are essence thin steel wafer bodies which the rounds clip into and function in this case as an extension of the cartridge to hold the 9mm round for loading, firing, and unloading. All five rounds go in and out of the gun as a unit at once. Of course the full moon clips do not need to be full to use them, you can load as many or as few rounds as you want into the clips.

The full moon clips hold the ammo securely and allows the smallest, most efficient, and most consistent reloading system available for a revolver. Even fumbling a bit in the dark, you start to feel like a competition revolver shooter doing speed loads. The reload sequence is fast… very fast. Thank you Ruger, this is the CCW snubby I have been wanting all my life. Now I can just drop a full moon clip or two in my support hand pocket and I am ready to roll out the door. Due to my love of the ClipDraw system on my LCR-357, this gun will definitely have the Universal ClipDraw attached ASAP. Range cleanup is also easy - just reach down and pick up your full moon clips with all the casings still attached. Ruger’s full moon clip allows unfired ammo or empty casings to be removed with just fingernail pressure against the top of the case rim.

ACCURACY
First I will say is that like the LCR-357, the LCR-9 is exceptionally accurate form a defensive perspective.  Using LIberty Critical Defense 50gr and Hornady 9MM LUGER+P 135 GR FLEXLOCK CRITICAL DUTY 9MM LUGER +P 124 GR TAP FPD I saw consistent 3”-4” groups at 25 yards from sandbags and could easily keep the 50 yard silhouette swinger ringing as well off hand.  My best group of the day was 2.5” at 25 yards from the 124Gr Hornadys which I was thrilled with.  I repeated my 7 yards one ragged hole 15-round test with the LCR-9.   Verdict of the LCR-357 is that it is a great shooting revolver for defense… now I wouldn’t probably use it for hunting squirrels and it certainly does not match what my 4” and 6” GP100 revolvers deliver.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The LCR-9 is an accurate concealed carry and personal defense revolver which is light and Crayon easy to operate.  The LCR-9 would be my first recommendations for someone wanting a handgun for defense even over the other pistol LCR lineup.  Revolvers are really simple, easy to figure out, easy to reload especially with the full moon clips exclusively used for this 9mm revolver. Revolvers also require far less training to use competently than a semi-auto pistol. There are no clearing or Condition 1 failure (failure to ignite) maneuvers other than to pull the trigger again.

In my opinion revolvers can be a bit safer, because in most cases you can see the bullets in the chamber and quickly secure the revolver to an inoperable state with just a padlock. This is a key safety feature for new shooters. The LCR-9 is a bit heavier that the regular LCR-38 line however it everything from light 9mm rounds to the heavy +P rounds which provides a huge amount of versatility.

Polymer is here to stay and Ruger has utilized it in the right way with the LCR line up to deliver light, solid, reliable and accurate revolvers. Hundreds of rounds later and I am confident in the LCR-9 as a defensive revolver. In fact, with the full moon clip capabilities of dramatically increasing speed loading, the LCR-9 is on the top of my list for recommended defensive handguns. The full moon clips overcome one of the major stumbling blocks to getting ammo reliably in and out of a revolver.

I think Ruger hit a home run on the design of the LCR-9

SPECS
Ruger KLCR-357
Model Number: 5450
Caliber: 9mm
Finish: Blackened Stainless
Grip: Hogue® Tamer™
Front Sight: Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
Rear Sight: U-Notch Integral
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Monolithic Frame: Blackened 400 Series Stainless Steel
Cylinder Finish: Advanced Target Grey®
Barrel Length: 1.875"
Overall Length: 6.50"
Height: 4.50"
Width: 1.28"
Weight: 17.10 oz.
Capacity: 5
Twist: 1:16" RH
Grooves: 6
MA Approved & Certified: Yes
CA Approved: Yes
Suggested Retail: $599.00

SOURCES
Sturm Ruger - http://www.ruger.com