Many of you may remember Sean Connery's remark that he would never play James Bond again only to turn around and do a re-make of "Thunderball" with the title "Never Say Never". Without debating the fact that he should have left well enough alone, I do understand the sentiment. I used to say that I would never own a synthetic stocked rifle...until I bought a semi-custom .17 Remiington with one. That really should have taught me a lesson, but I did continue to say that I would never own another 9mm.
After spending a few days in early June in Pennsylvania (where I have a non-resident carry permit) carrying a stainless steel .45 ACP Commander-sized 1911, I realized that there was a lot to be said for a much lighter, much slimmer firearm for concealed carry, especially in hot weather. Upon returning home I did some research into the .40 S&W XD sub-compact, the Glock 30 and 36 and a few others with a bottom limit on 9mm only because of the incredible performance of Hornady's new Critical Defense loads.
It finally came down to actually handling each. Thankfully a nearby gunshop had a wide selection of pretty much everything I was interested in. After handling each and trying them carried in different manners and locations I was pretty discouraged. All were still heavier than I was looking for as well as wider and chunkier than ease of concealment would allow in typical summer clothing. Just about to give up the search, the owner laid one more pistol on the counter. Once I picked it up it was love at first sight and I bought it on the spot.
The pistol? Ruger's new LC9. At a touch over 17 ounces (empty) and a 7 plus 1 capacity, it is without a doubt the slimmest and lightest pistol I have handled while still making the at least the bottom rung of my caliber requirements yet literally disappears under even a light shirt. Yes, there are a few .380s and such that might be lighter, but in my mind anything lighter than a 9mm becomes back-up rather than prime defense.
Since I doubt if I will ever reload 9mm (there, I didn't use the word "never") I knew that I would rely on production loads even for practice. While waiting for my state's mandatory 3-day waiting period to pass, I did some research and found that the only negative reviews on the LC9 (that were at least reasonable) were about its point of impact. Many complained that loads hit far to high or far too low. Since windage is the only adjustment for the LC9 sights, this was of some concern to me. It was obvious that the bullet weight and velocity variations seemed to be the common thread in these complaints, so I took the obvious route and emailed Ruger to see what bullet weight and velocity were used to engineer the sight height. The answer came back quickly as Black Hills 115 grain FMJ. This load is listed as 1150 fps and gave me a good starting place.
Remington has come out with a new line of inexpensive recreational ammo at a very reasonable price. As luck would have it, they offer a 115 grain FMJ load at 1145 fps. Close enough. That should take care of major elevation issues and windage could be handled by drifting the sights as needed. I picked up a few boxes of the Remingtons as well as the shop's only box of Hornady Critical Defense ammo and came home happy.
Below is the first magazine full of ammo fired at 10 yards from a standing, two-hand position. The highest shot was the first and is a direct result of not being used to the trigger pull (much like that of a well tuned double-action revolver). After that the rest was simple and only the glare of the sun on the sights prevented the rest of the group from being in the dot.
The group's largest dimension is vertically and measures 2.34" on centers between the extreme holes. Lateral grouping of the majority of the shots (excluding the highest "flyer") measures 1.78" with four shots in that raggedy hole at the bottom. Experience with grip position, trigger pull and the sights should result in a little more consistency. No, it's not a target gun but the group as shown is more than good enough for what the pistol is designed for...defense. It is designed to hit a potential adversary, not to neuter gnats. Control is surprisingly easy and function was perfect. Point-and-shoot exercises kept all shots in center-mass as long as I paid attention to what I was doing. As I get more time to work with it I'll keep you posted.
In the mean time, never say never...