Comparing the LCR

Having acquired a Ruger LCR, I decided to put it to the test. Once again the timer and the target tell an interesting story. To make the day a good #wheelgunwednesday, I took four revolvers out; Ruger LCR, S&W 642-2 Airweight J Frame, S&W Model 36-1 (3 inch), and my EDC S&W 43C. The LCR had a Rogers Enhanced LCR stock, the 642-2 wore Sile rubber stocks, the 36-1 had Pachmayr Compac stocks, and the 43C used the standard factory boot grip. Ammunition for the .38s was Tula steel case and for the 43C, CCI Stingers just as I load it for carry.

The test I used for the comparison was my 5^5 drill; five shots in five seconds at five yards into a five inch circle five times in a row. I made up a target for the test so that I could record the times and results on one sheet. The circle is a CD, so it is actually 4.75 inches in diameter, not 5 inches. The markers bleed through and I shoot the back to reduce visual confusion. After shooting each run, I wrote the time on the target.

Make 5^5 1

The very first shots confirmed something I’ve said for a long time; ‘feel’ is utterly irrelevant until the shooting starts. Even then, it needs to be tempered by measurement. The Rogers stock feels really good to handle but during the first string my immediate thought was “Whoa, this thing kicks!” I shot a second string with the 642-2 with the Sile rubber stocks as a comparison and found the recoil much less unpleasant.

The shooting then began in earnest. First string with the LCR, I managed to double clutch it and had to run all the way around the cylinder again to get the round to fire. As a result, that string was 5.58 seconds and incurred a penalty. I’ve had that happen to me in the past with Ruger revolvers when running them fast. It was the main reason I discarded the idea of using a Ruger revolver for competition years ago and stuck with Smith & Wesson. I speak for no one else, but I’ve never double clutched a stock S&W action.

In the end, the LCR, despite having a ‘nice trigger,’ wasn’t the winner.

LCR 642-2 36-1 43C
Raw total 20.94 18.11 17.41 11.51
Penalty 1 0 0 0
Overall 21.94 18.11 17.41 11.51
191% 157% 151%
Average of best 3 strings          3.66          3.50          3.39          2.20

I’m glad I included the 43C in the test. There were no Failures to Fire with the Stingers despite the gun having a 9 lb mainspring instead of the factory 12 lb mainspring. We all acknowledge that .22s are easier to shoot but this is the first time I’ve actually quantified how much easier. As the percentages in the table show, the answer is ‘a lot easier.’ One of my colleagues asked me a while ago, “Well, if I can shoot a .22 better than anything else, does that mean I should carry one?” There’s a philosophical question that is worthy of consideration, especially in the case of those who aren’t ‘elite marksmen.’ Is it the Indian or the arrow?

The LCR is a nice gun and I’m not sorry I picked it up. I’m going to repeat the test in the future with some different stocks to see how much difference that makes. But for now, I’m not ready to give up my J Frames.

FTC Note: I bought everything used in the test and receive no compensation for anything I say.

5^5 LCR 25^5 642 25^5 43C 1

21 responses

  1. David Cafarella

    Claude, what sights are you running on the LCR? Excellent article!!

    1. XS Standard Dot. That’s what was on it when I got it.

  2. While I have not shot the LCR, in looking it over I found the line of bore to be much higher in relation to the hand as compared to the J frame. I wonder if this accounts for the increased felt recoil?

    1. I have found the felt recoil of the LCR to be much less than a comparable J frame.

  3. Hey, Claude, Thanks for this. It sort of mirrors my experience, albeit about a second faster. If you ever want a second, less accomplished shooter, for one of these trials, let me know. My schedule is pretty open, I have lots of ammo and a somewhat different selection of blasters. Generalizability. Best, Jack

    On Thu, Apr 26, 2018 at 10:26 AM tacticalprofessor wrote:

    > tacticalprofessor posted: “Having acquired a Ruger LCR, I decided to put > it to the test. Once again the timer and the target tell an interesting > story. To make the day a good #wheelgunwednesday, I took four revolvers > out; Ruger LCR, S&W 642-2 Airweight J Frame, S&W Model 36” >

  4. Claude, nicely done with interesting results. I’ve been considering a S&W 43C. I have been carrying and shooting a Glock 42 because can shoot it better than a small 9MM such as a Kahr CM9 or Glock 43. If I carry a revolver I carry a S&W 442 or S&W 637 with a bobbed hammer. I consistently shoot the .380 better,

    1. John, you’re not the only person who shoots a .380 better than a 9mm. Carrying what you shoot best and therefore have the most confidence in is a winning strategy.

  5. Thanks for these tests and posting them.
    I would be curious to see these times run without the double clutch on the Ruger. I am also curious as to the reason for the difference between the 36 and and the 642? I know you have already posted on the differences a longer barrel made or did not make and I was wondering if you think that came into play here.
    I did this exercise a few weeks ago and found I was shooting my 442 faster and more accurately than my LCR even though I practice more with the LCR and it had a “better” front sight. The triggers are similar with the Apex spring set in the 442. I found the replacement front sight on my LCR was affecting my point of aim and causing me to be slower and less accurate (theory that still needs to be verified on the range). I have replaced the night sight with the stock sights and hope to run the tests again soon. I will add the 9mm and .22 LR LCRs into the test if I can.

    1. The 36 is a steel frame with a 3 inch barrel. It was no surprise to me that I could do better work with it than the 642. As with last time, I’m not sure that difference is significant. The 36 is a belt gun, not a pocket gun, so it fulfills a different role. The 642 can do both roles with not much loss of performance, for me.

      My LCR has the Standard Dot XS front sight. That’s what was on it when I got it. I’m going to swap it with a Hi-Viz green fiber optic to see what the difference is.

  6. As always, nice test. You may try the LCR with the Ruger Hogue Boot grip. It’s pocketable and I tend to be a little quicker than with my 442. Point of note, just recently acquired a Smith 351C and it’s smooth and shootable. Recoil is nonexistent and with 7 rounds I feel I’m able to put all on the mark…small bore or not.

  7. I’ve been shooting revolvers for 40 years, and never heard the term “double clutch” before. Could you explain what happened?

    1. It’s essentially a short stroke on the trigger. The Ruger has what some folks refer to as a false reset. If you feel it and try to pull the trigger again at that point, the gun will lock up and not move until the trigger is fully reset.

      A similar phenomenon exists with S&W revolvers except the S&W will skip a cylinder. Again full reset will ready the gun to fire again.

      Both instances usually occur when shooting rapidly.

  8. I remember your TPI posts about gel testing the Velocitor and getting 17 inches of penetration. I’ve seen several other YouTube tests showing FBI standard penetration with other .22 loads.


    Next test : 43C Vs. LCR .22?

  10. […] Comparing the Ruger LCR to S&W J-Frames. Me, I kinda like the LCR, but that’s why they make Pepsi AND Coke. […]

  11. Claude, Thanks for the article. I really enjoy your articles and the interviews I have heard in Ballistic Radio and Civilian Carry Radio.

    I usually carry an LCR .38 with wadcutters and have the LCR .22 that I really enjoy shooting.

    What ammo do you carry in your .38s and .22s? Also in your Civilian Carry Radio you mentioned carrying a .32 H&R Magnum how do you like it?

    I would like to take a class from you!

    1. I carry Gold Dots in my .38 and Stingers in my .22s.

  12. Claude, standard pressure Gold Dots or +p ?? I seem to have better follow-ups with standard pressure so I stick with 148g Wadcutters (in my LCR’s light weight).

    1. I’m using standard pressure ammo in my .38s now.

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