Ruger LCRx .357 Magnum, by Pat Cascio

We can’t please all the people, all the time – as much as we’d like to. I get quite a few requests for more articles on all-steel pistols, or revolvers. As I’m sure many readers know, the tread for the past couple of years has been for polymer-framed semiauto pistols, not many all-steel or steel and alloy pistols are being made these days. As to revolvers – because everyone wants a semiauto handgun, there isn’t a lot of brand-new revolvers on the market. And, let’s be honest, everything that can be said about revolvers in general, has already been said and reported – just not a lot of earth-shaking news when it comes to revolvers.

Still, I believe the lowly, humble revolver is still a very useful firearm, for self-defense, hunting, or just target shooting. I used to almost carry revolvers exclusively when I was younger – everyone did, and for good reason. Many semiauto pistols weren’t totally reliable with the then JHP or JSP ammo – they didn’t feed 100% of the time. I remember owning a S&W Model 39-2, and I bought S&W branded 9mm JHP ammo for it – and the gun wouldn’t feed it – at all. I tried some JSP ammo – same thing. Very strange, that a gunmaker would make ammo, that you purchased and it wouldn’t feed in their own guns, eh? With revolvers, you don’t have this problem at all – the ammunition is placed in the cylinder of a revolver, and it fires – simple as that. However, of the past 20-years or so – maybe longer – ammo makers have come a long way, in producing ammo – especially JHP ammo – that will reliably feed in just about any well-made pistol. So, the tread has shifted away from revolvers to hi-capacity semiauto pistols.

Some years back, I tested the Ruger LCR revolver in not only .38 Special, but one in .357 Magnum as well. The LCR in .38 Secial was a little powerhouse itself. However, the same gun chambered in .357 Magnum was a killer in the recoil department. We often call it “kick” when we really mean “recoil.” I quickly divested myself of that LCR in .357 Mag. However, not too many years ago, I got my hands on a Ruger LCRx in .38 Special – and my sample LCRx has a 3-inch barrel – not the shorter 2-inch barrel and it had a much larger rubber grip on the gun – it was (almost) a real pleasure to shoot – even with hot +P ammo.

Today, we’re looking at the Ruger LCRx in .357 Magnum – and as already noted, this model comes with a 3-inch barrel, not the stubby 2-inch version on the LCR – BTW, the LCR is double-action only – no way to cock the hammer for single-action shooting. Then again, the LCR is meant to be a close-up self-defense handgun, and you fire it double-action – there’s really not a lot of time to cock a hammer when things get down and dirty – so you just aim the gun, and pull the trigger.

Now the LCRx differs from many other lightweight revolvers in that, it is produced using a polymer, and stainless steel parts. The lower part of the frame (fire control group) is actually a polymer, to keep weight down, and that is where the fire-control is located. Many other lightweight revolvers have a frame made out of Aluminum, and the barrel and cylinder are made out of steel or stainless steel. Now, one would think – logically – that a lightweight revolver with a polymer frame would recoil even more so than one made out of all-steel or Aluminum. However, this isn’t the case, according to Ruger. They claim that the polymer frame actually helps absorb or tame recoil – could be – I have no way of measuring this claim, but it makes sense, because semiauto pistols with a polymer frame “flex” and that helps absorb recoil.

The LCRx in .357 Magnum holds 5-rounds of ammo in the stainless steel cylinder – and it is PVD coated in a nice all-black color – very well done. Other LCRx and LCR models are available in other calibers, some holding more rounds in their cylinders. However, we’re looking at the .357 Magnum, version. Now, speaking of the upper part of the Monolithic frame is made out of 400 series stainless steel, even the barrel or should I say barrel shroud that houses the stainless steel barrel inside of it. The gun only weighs in at a mere 21.3-ounces – so this little powerhouse is lightweight in all respects.

Fire Control Mechanism

I wanted to discuss the fire control mechanism, that has a patented cam that results in a super-smooth, non-stacking trigger pull – I used to do a lot of gunsmithing, and it took a lot of work, to get a trigger pull as smooth on those guns, as the one on the LCRx that comes out of the box with it. Ruger did this up “right” if you ask me. The double-action trigger pull is about 10-lbs, but smooth, the single-action trigger pull is right at 4.5-lbs on my sample. The trigger is smooth-faced, not grooved, or serrated – which is normally best used on target guns, but for self-defense, a smooth trigger face works much better.

The LCRx comes with Hogue “Tamer” Monogrip installed, and you really need them on a gun like this, that is so lightweight. The grip is quite a bit bigger than that found on the LCR models – this Tamer grip is hand-filling – I like that – a lot. There is also a very “soft spot” right where the web of your hand fits on the top strap of the grip, to help soften the felt recoil even more. I like the pebble grain feel and look on the sides of the Hogue grip as well.

The front sight – it is a nicely-sized one, with a single white stripe, while the rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation – and it is all black. However, you can rapidly pick-up that front sight, with the white stripe on it. And, if you don’t like that white stripe, Ruger offers other colors, as well as fiber optic and even night sights that are easily replaced without the need of going to a gunsmith to have it done.

Is there anything I didn’t like about the LCRx? Yes, indeed: The ejector rod is the same short version they use on the 2-inch barreled models. And, no matter how hard you eject those spent shells, some of them still stick about halfway out of the cylinder – and this prevents a true speed reload.  I would have preferred a longer ejection rod, but no one asked me. However, I still carry spare 5-round reloads in HKS speed reloaders for this gun…It is still faster than trying to load one or two rounds at a time into an empty cylinder. It only takes a few seconds to pick out the few empty pieces of brass, that didn’t fully eject – and “yes” I hold the gun “muzzle up” when ejecting the empty brass, but a few and sometimes all of the empties might stick in the cylinder. Anyway, pull the empties out and you can then load five loaded rounds of ammo into the gun in a few seconds. I’m sure this design was a cost-savings for Ruger, to use the same short ejector rod as the short-barrel variants, but I would have paid extra for a longer one, so I could rapidly eject all those empty shell casings at one time.

Testing During An Ammo Drought

We are in a bad ammo drought once again, I don’t think we’ll see the light of day for many years to come, and many places are selling ammo for double and triple what it should be selling for – bad on them! The great folks at Black Hills Ammunition that is owned by the husband/wife team of Jeff and Kristi Hoffman, have kept me supplied in ammo for 28 years now – even during other ammo droughts. Sometimes I couldn’t get all the different types of ammo that I wanted, but nonetheless, they got some ammo into my hands. And, this time was no different.

They sent a good supply of their outstanding 125-grain JHP .357 Magnum ammo – and this is the best man stopper handgun round made, as well as some of their 100-gr HoneyBadger  +P .38 Special ammo for use in this article. I also had a 50-rd box of handloaded .38 Special ammo that was given to me by my local FFL dealer – and I’m here to tell you, whoever loaded this ammo, loaded it to at least .38 Special +P limits – maybe even hotter. I don’t shoot reloaded ammo from unknown sources in my own guns, but when using on-loan guns for articles, I do.

I’m not normally recoil shy, however, when I touched off the first Black Hills 125-grain JHP .357 Magnum round, it caught my attention with not only the recoil, but I could feel the blast on my face – no fun, to be sure. A full-power .357 Magnum load in a little revolver that only weighs 21.3-ounces will get really your attention. I placed a target out to 15-yards, and that’s a fair distance for a shorty revolver and a self-defense situation. I rested the gun over a rolled-up sleeping bag, and as long as I didn’t flinch too much, I was getting 3.25-inch groups with the hot .357 Magnum ammo. I did catch myself flinching after a couple cylinders full of ammo.

I switched to the Black Hills 100-gr HoneyBadger +P ammo – and it still caught my attention in this little gun, but it was nowhere near what I was experiencing with the .357 Magnum load. I could concentrate better, and I got several groups right at 3-inches. I should note that the rear sight was adjusted too far up, right out of the box. So I had to adjust it down, to bring my hits down on the target, that’s one of the good things about adjustable rear sights on handguns – you can adjust them.

I didn’t pack this revolver on my hip during my testing. We were hitting some days with temps in the upper 90s, too hot for taking a hike on logging roads. However, I have a set-up with an Uncle Mike’s ballistic Nylon holster, on an Uncle Mike’s Nylon belt, with 4 HKS speed loaders on it – for when I do some hiking in the logging roads.

Not much I didn’t like about this Ruger LCRx, except the short ejector rod, and of course, the recoil – however, the recoil was to be expected in such a lightweight little revolver, shooting some hot .357 Magnum loads…this one is a keeper, will send a check to Ruger for this sample – I like it “that” much. If you’re in the market for a nice little trail gun, or one for self-defense or home defense, you might want to check one out.


  1. The ammo drought lends merit to the revolver. It doesn’t require a break in amount that is usually reserved for semi-autos. For new folks it could be the ticket especially when gun stores around here have either only 1 or 2 boxes reserved with the purchase.

  2. Valuable report on a new production revolver. Another element on the revovler attributes over the semi automatic designs is the required human mechanics necessary for operation. Not every citizen is a beard boy operator adept with fine motor skills for weapon manipulation. Often a much more simple engineering design and requisite mechanics to operate would allow a person to be more suitably competant and confident with such a firearm. A selection of a revolver for usage by some folks would be more appropriate, allowing those such persons an avenue of participation in safe and effective firearm use.

    As much respect must be given to someone drawing a revolver smoke wagon as those brandishing a polymer thing.

    1. I’ll gladly stand in line to buy the first revolver branded “Smoke Wagon.” And the manufacturer should pay you a nice bonus for this bit of marketing genius.

  3. Ruger LCRx owners have reported good things about the weapon and recommended it to my daughter. But being somewhat of a purist, I just can’t get over the looks of it. I have a fairly large collection of S&W pre-lock revolvers and have started using them despite many being new-in-box. (Finally realized that I might as well enjoy them instead of saving them to sell for what will become worthless currency).

    I also have a S&W Model 386 Titanium w/lock. But I agree with RandomMike, it is a joy to carry hiking/backpacking but not too much fun to shoot with 357 loads.

  4. My comment here is off topic about the pistol, but I wanted to toss in my two cents about Black Hills Ammunition.

    Hands down, IMO, Black Hills is the best factory ammo out there. I reload, and 99% of my ammo is of my own making. I spend a lot of time trying to hone in on precision rifle loads, but I have not spent a lot of time developing pistol loads. Usually I just chrony pistol loads to keep them in SAMI spec.

    Having said that, I once observed a young man shooting 9mm at 25 yards and he was testing factory ammo. On one target, he was shooting a fairly common 9mm factory load, and I thought “man, this guy sucks!” His target looked like a shotgun blast, just all over the place.

    The second target, his group was a little larger than a softball, but smaller than a basketball. He had used Black Hills on this target. I guess I never thought about how much factory pistol ammo can effect accuracy at 25 yards, but I am a firm believer in Black Hills rifle and pistol ammo. Excellent product.

  5. For civilians engaged in self-defense, where they do not have to plan on continuing to engage or even advance into further conflict, I don’t think the lower capacity and slower reloads of a revolver are much of a handicap. Unless you’re going to shoot a lot to keep your skills up, the simpler and more forgiving manual of arms of a revolver has much to recommend it. Please keep reviewing revolvers. I just wish Ruger would put out the LCRx as you describe it in .327 Magnum. I think it would be an ideal trail/utility gun.

  6. I watched the youtube video of the president of Federal/Remington/et. al. Inc ammo mfr on his soapbox about all the whining and accusing going on about ammo shortages and such. We are gonna be low on ammo for a long time. Prices will only continue up, while availability continues to fall. Wife wanted to buy me a new pistol this weekend for Christmas. I declined as there’s no point buying a gun if I can’t get anything to put in it. I have adequate now, and am only interested in stocking more for what I have so I can go practice like I need to. Getting another safe queen is pointless currently.

  7. Off topic a bit but related to what TJMO said is that few if any reports of actual encounters using a tube fed shotgun required a reload, much less needing an extended mag tube or box magazine. Have you tried to find 12 ga ammo lately? Gray Fox

  8. Keep in mind with the continuing ammo shortage, a revolver chambered in .357 magnum will also shoot not only .38 special but also .38 short colt and .38 long colt. But, it will NOT chamber .38 S&W-different cartridge dimensions. Purists may disdain this. Always remember the first rule of a gunfight: HAVE A GUN!

  9. Seems like .357 full power loads in these smaller frame wheel guns is overkill somewhat. If these are fired in low light/ night the resulting muzzle flash is quite substantial. This doesn’t help your night vision for sure. My own S&W 642 .38 spl with my hand loads to plus P specs are quite enough. Also on the ammo shortage readers of this blog I would think should be stocked up with ammo if you are true prepped. That is why one preps, to be immune from these shortages.

  10. Even birdshot is in short supply here in South Carolina. Duck hunters are singing the blues. The local Walmart is down to a couple of boxes of 12-gauge shells (lead 7 1/2s for dove/target) shooting and some .222 Remington varmint loads. No guns, no rimfire ammo. The last gun show I went to, people were paying 3x normal prices. Powder and primers are starting to disappear from shelves as well. I hope you have what you need, because, as they said in Game of Thrones, ‘Winter is coming.’

  11. My wife confiscated all my nice 2″ revolvers because she didn’t like to have to rack a semi-auto. Maybe it’s time to replace them with a LCRx for myself.

  12. Pat.
    Once again, thanks much for your cogent and very helpful review. The revolver is deserving of a whole lot more respect than it gets.

    Have you thought about doing a review on low-powered flashlights? I can find lots of info on flashlights with beams that will skin a coyote at a 1000 meters and ones with strobes that will guarantee the recipient suffers from a coronary event; however, I can’t find a decent review on a low-powered hand-held flashlight that offers a white, red, and green beam with just enough power to read a map under the cover of a poncho and/or just enough light to see a couple steps down the trail. If polite society comes to a crashing halt I want to see just enough without being seen.

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