The use of laser aiming devices on personal protection and combat handguns is by now well established. Unfortunately, too many come across as large, ill-fitting add-ons that, while effective, aren’t very subtle. But Ruger has a cure for what ails you, teaming up with LaserMax to produce the new CenterFire laser units specifically designed for the LCP and LC9 pistols.
Ruger is also offering both of these pistols with the CenterFire units factory-installed and sighted-in right out the box—ideal for concealed or off duty carry or a convenient back-up gun. These CenterFire laser units are specifically designed to integrate almost seamlessly with each pistol and feature matching finishes and polymer construction and attach without the need for a frame mounted accessory rail or any alteration to the gun.
Both units are identical in shape and design, except for the slightly larger dimensions on the laser for the LC9 pistol. They each feature a bright constant-on red laser beam, which is emitted from a point just under the muzzle for the least amount of distortion to target—not that this is much of a factor at self-defense distances. It is also far enough forward that there is little danger of the beam being blocked by your finger. The units, having a five-year battery life, barely add to the already small dimensions of the LCP and LC9 and tack on only 0.5 ounces in weight.
The benefits of a gun-mounted laser are many, particularly in the field of training. With the laser on target you can see every bit of movement and exactly how your trigger squeeze affects the point of impact. This in turn allows shooters to adjust and perfect their trigger mechanics to avoid many common errors that throw shots off one way or another. They also allow for an essentially real world heads-up target-focused display where the user can engage threats from various angles and positions much more easily and quickly, especially in low-light conditions.
One way to look at it is like this — a laser can also save lives, since a bright red dot in the middle of one’s chest is the international symbol for “you’re up the creek” and can break through even the toughest of communication barriers. LaserMax has several real world testimonials on their website proving this point. According to one from a police Sergeant in the Southeastern U.S., “the perp stopped and turned on me with the shotgun. I dove to the ground and activated my LaserMax sight directly on his middle torso area. He saw the red dot pulsating on his chest and immediately, without hesitation, dropped his weapon.”
The CenterFire lasers are also very well designed and thought out with good ergonomics and rounded edges with scalloped recesses for proper trigger finger placement. In fact the spot for finger-offthe-trigger positioning is exactly where the ambidextrous push-button activation switch is located. In this manner, right- or left-handed shooters can easily and quickly use their trigger finger to push in this button before moving their finger to the trigger. To deactivate the laser, simply push the button in from the opposite side back to the middle position.
I found that the button was a bit stiff, which is good since it prevents it from self-activating in a pocket or holster and draining the battery, but easily engaged with practice. Allen wrenches are included with each pistol to make elevation and windage adjustments to the laser units, which are factory aligned at 10 yards. I, however, found that each needed some elevation and windage adjustment to get them right on target, which was easily and quickly done.
LaserMax’s CenterFire units seamlessly integrate into the LC9 and LCP frames and allow for target-focused accurate self-defense shots.
The LC9 pistol was introduced by Ruger in 2010 as a response to growing demand for a lightweight sub-compact 9mm pistol. The LC9 is a double-action-only, recoil-operated, hammer-fired, glass-fiber-reinforced-nylon-framed, semi-automatic pistol, with a 7+1 capacity. That is one better than most pocket .380 ACP handguns, in a more powerful cartridge and only slightly larger package.
The checkered and serrated glass-filled nylon black grip frame also helps keep the gun’s weight at just over 17 ounces empty, and the steel alloy barrel and slide both feature a very smooth black oxide finish. As is to be expected, the fit and finish on this gun is exemplary and to the same standard as the company’s other offerings.
In handling the LC9, there is clearly a lot of attention to detail in its design. Other features include a blued, through-hardened alloy steel slide and an included magazine floorplate finger grip extension. All of the edges have been smoothed out, giving the gun almost a slightly melted look. Towards the muzzle, the slide is also angled inward to aid with holstering. The high-visibility three-dot sights feature a wider rear aperture to help the user quickly acquire a sight picture, sight alignment, and front sight focus. The sights also have a low snag-free profile, and the rear sight is drift adjustable for windage.
Safeties include a firing pin block, which prevents the gun from firing unless the trigger is squeezed, a magazine disconnect, which also prevents firing unless a magazine is completely inserted in the gun, and a left-side thumb safety.
The ambidextrous laser activation tab located in front of the triggerguard is easily activated from either side using the trigger finger.
A loaded-chamber indicator located on top of the slide and just behind the ejection port provides both visual and tactile awareness that a cartridge case is in the chamber. There is also a small window at the back of the chamber to provide additional visual confirmation of a round in the chamber. Also, the LC9 includes Ruger’s internal lock, which disengages the trigger bar from the hammer and completely deactivates the gun with a turn of the supplied key.
The thumb safety is actually hinged from the front, opposite to what most shooters may be used to, and I found it somewhat difficult to use. However with break-in, I would expect that to smooth itself out. Many shooters will likely prefer to simply not use the thumb safety at all given the internal safeties already built into the gun and the double-action-only design. Notably for a gun this small Ruger also includes a standard, but smallish, slide lock/release, which locks the action open on the last shot.
The action of the slide partially charges the hammer, which is shrouded but visible from the rear to confirm ready position. As a result of this system there is no double-strike capability however. The double-action-only trigger features the same consistent trigger pull, which aids mastering trigger mechanics. It felt smooth, without overtravel or stacking, and broke evenly at 7.5 pounds consistently.
The added finger extensions on both magazines (LC9 left, LCP right) help shooters control these tiny feather light polymer pocket pistols.
Ruger’s LCP, which was introduced in 2008 is a lightweight double-action-only, glass-fiber-reinforced-nylon-framed, recoil-operated semi-automatic pocket pistol chambered in the popular .380 ACP with a 6+1 capacity. As expected, Ruger’s commitment to high quality has made this one of the most popular pistols of this type and added one very welcome but often absent feature—a manual slide hold open.
The lack of a slide hold open device on any firearm is a safety pet peeve of mine, although a chamber flag will do the job in a pinch, and Ruger gets high marks on that feature alone. That said, it is a manually operated latch and will not lock the slide open on an empty magazine or the last shot, but it will unlock itself when the slide is retracted. It is a bit too small to comfortably use as a slide release although with a little practice it can be done.
Pocket carry has its own set of challenges and having a completely snag-free profile is certainly a paramount consideration. With this in mind, the Ruger LCP features rounded edges throughout and a smooth finish with flush integral low-profile fixed sights. The only necessarily non-smooth areas can be found on the slide serrations and the checkering on the grip.
The method of operation for the LCP and LC9 is virtually identical, and the LCP also pre-charges the hammer with the action of the slide, is double-action-only and only has single-strike capability. Like the LC9, the LCP also has a very smooth trigger with no stacking or creep and a full inch of travel. It measured at 7 pounds of weight and felt very consistent.
In keeping with the pistol’s simple controls there is no external or manual safety. There is a small window on the right side of the slide at the back of the chamber, which can provide visual indication of a round in the chamber. Ruger recommends that the pistol be carried with an empty chamber until ready to fire.
On the range the LCP performed without any malfunction of any sort with a mix of defensive ammunition and recoil was comfortable given the pistol’s small size. With my hands I was barely able to get two fingers on the grip, so a finger extension magazine would be a welcome feature—although it would increase the gun’s size slightly.
On the range the LC9 performed with no malfunctions of any sort, firing both off-hand and from the bench. The ergonomics of the gun also help reduce recoil, and the grip frame, which is aggressively checkered, noticeably widens toward the back, filling the palm of the shooting hand.
I fired approximately 50 rounds of 9mm Hornady 124-grain XTP self defense ammo at 7 yards off-hand and kept my groups at approximately 3 inches without much difficulty. The white three-dot sights were very easy to acquire, and the recoil was comfortable. The LC9 is a bit larger than some other pocket 9mm pistols out there but the added size and the removable floorplate finger extension, makes it much easier to shoot. For accuracy results I fired from a bench rest position at 15 yards using the iron sights. As the results in the accompanying table show this pistol is certainly capable of effective self-defense use at that range.
For accuracy testing the LCP, I fired from a bench rest at standard self-defense distance of 7 yards. The sights are very small but usable, however I achieved much better results using the manufacturer equipped laser as the accompanying chart shows. HPR ammunition produced the best results of the day with a group that could be covered with a quarter.
Ruger continues to exceed expectations, and providing two excellent pistols with factory equipped and specifically designed laser units is no exception. To learn more about the LCP and LC9 pistol with laser units please visit ruger.com. For more information on LaserMax please call 800-527-3703 or visit lasermax.com.
Click over to the next page for DeSantis Lasermax LC9/LCP Holsters.
By Jorge Amselle
Photos courtesy Desantis Gunhide
Carrying a gun without a proper holster is a recipe for trouble, as innumerable and tragic news stories can attest. However, as new gun-mounted accessories reach the market there is invariably a lag before holster makers catch up. Not so with the new LaserMax-equipped LCP and LC9 pistols from Ruger, who teamed up with DeSantis Gunhide to make sure there was a full line of outstanding holsters available just as this gun/laser combo is starting to hit stores’ shelves.
DeSantis didn’t just come up with one holster design for each pistol, they blew expectations out the door with nine different holster options for both pistols in a variety of materials including belt holsters (inside the waistband and outside), pocket holsters, and even an ankle holster option.
With so many choices, I was curious which were the most popular. According to Daniel DeSantis, VP of Operations, these include the Mini Scabbard and the Quick Snap in the leather belt holster category, both of which are available in right or left variants in black or tan leather. The Quick Snap has a thumb break while the Mini Scabbard retains the pistol via adjustable tension.
My personal favorite is the Nemesis pocket holster, which hides the outline of the gun and keeps it in proper orientation for a fast draw. It is also covered in a synthetic material that keeps the holster in the pocket when you draw.
Now there is no excuse not to be well armed with a LaserMax-equipped Ruger pistol properly carried in just the right holster for your needs. Contact DeSantis Gunhide for more information at 631-841-6300 or visit them online at desantisholster.com.