Many years ago, around the 1990-1993 timeframe, I worked full-time for Col. Rex Applegate, and it was at the good Colonel’s insistence that I become a gun writer. When Applegate said to do something, you did it! I wasn’t about to argue with Applegate, and he opened a lot of doors for me, making it easier to enter the writing field. It was a loss to us all when he passed away unexpectedly. For those who may not know some of the history on Col. Applegate, I’ll pass a little bit along to you. Applegate was one of the founding members of the original OSS training staff of 12 instructors during WW2, and he was the last living member of that group to pass on. The OSS was the forerunner to today’s CIA,and to be sure after WW2 ended Applegate worked for the CIA in several capacities, but none I can mention even though the Colonel is now gone. Applegate was also the author of the longest selling book in history on close combat– Kill Or Get Killed sold by Paladin Press www.paladin-press.com. The US Marine Corps asked Applegate if they could make copies of his book for use in training Marines. Applegate gave them permission to print 5,000 copies of his book in soft cover; he never charged the Marines any royalties for doing so. Applegate received two copies of the book from the Marines, and he gave me one of them!
I met a lot of my heroes in the gun writing field through Col. Applegate, and what shocked me was the fact that Applegate had told them all about me and they were thrilled to meet me. I was a nobody in the firearms field, yet they all treated me like a long lost friend. One was the late Chuck Karwan, and we readily became best friends. Chuck lived about 45 minutes away from where I lived, and I would often show up on his doorstep, early in the morning, with a dozen donuts, and the day rapidly got away from us discussing firearms and shooting on his rural property. I also met Wily Clapp, still one of today’s more knowledgeable gun writers.
Applegate made a phone call on my behalf to Bill Ruger of Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc fame. Ruger was the first gun company to start sending me gun samples to write about. It was indeed a loss to all of us when Bill Ruger passed away. I continued on with his son, Tom Ruger, who took the helm at the company. I can’t begin to even count the number of firearms that Bill Ruger designed, but it all started when he came out with their .22 LR pistol, back in 1949. Ruger started the company, along with Alex Sturm, on a budget of only $50,000. Sturm passed away in 1951. Many folks may not know that Bill Ruger won the Outstanding American Handgunner award, which is quite the honor, even to this day! While many readers know the name of John Moses Browning, who designed the 1911 handgun, I don’t believe his accomplishments even come close to all the firearms Bill Ruger designed.
I had more than a few conversations with Bill Ruger when I first started writing about firearms, and he always made time for me. Even if he was busy, he would call me back. What I didn’t know about firearms, Applegate filled in the gaps along with Chuck Karwan. If I wanted to know something about military-type weapons, Chuck was my go-to source. If Chuck wanted to know about handgun combat, he came to me. We both went to Applegate when we were stumped on something. I was truly blessed to have such men in my corner, who helped me in my writing career. Karwan was my personal “editor” and would edit my articles before I sent them out to magazine editors. Chuck and Colonel Applegate were both hard on me. My manuscripts would come back covered in red ink; corrections were needed! I was very fortunate in that I had access to Col. Applegate’s gun collection that contained more than 850-firearms, and he would allow me to shoot any of the guns I wanted to shoot, also supplying me with the ammo for my shooting.
If I recall correctly, Ruger firearms is the largest handgun maker in the country, last I heard. It seems like Ruger keeps coming out with more and more new firearms each year, not being content to sit back on past accomplishments and improving some models. One thing I will give Ruger credit for is if there is a problem with a newly-introduced firearm they don’t deny there is a problem; they issue a recall and take care of the problem. Way to go, Ruger!
Enter the Ruger LC9s– a compact, 7+1 shot very concealable pistol, chambered in 9mm! I remember a few years back, when this pistol first came out as the LC9. It was a pretty decent pistol, and I purchased the sample that was sent to me. However, the double-action only trigger pull was long and heavy. Still, it was a good close-up handgun for self-defense. The LC9 felt good in the hand, too. Today we are looking at the improved LC9, known as the LC9s, and it has a shorter and much lighter trigger pull, making the gun all that much more accurate, too. The 3-dot sights are highly visible, which I like. The gun has a 3.12-inch Bbl, and the frame is glass-filled Nylon polymer, keeping the weight down to 17.20-oz. The slide itself is made out of through hardened alloy. The gun comes with one magazine, if you don’t count the bright orange inert mag that assists in taking the gun apart for cleaning.
I had a good selection of 9mm ammo on hand for testing in the LC9s. I was going to test some +P+ ammo through the little gun. However, Ruger makes it clear, in no uncertain words in highlighted red letters that you should NOT fire any +P+ fodder through this gun. I elected to follow this guidance! From Black Hills Ammunition, www.black-hills.com I had 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P and their 115-gr FMJ ammo on hand. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, www.buffalobore.com I had their 115-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P and their subsonic 147-gr FMJ FN ammo ready to go.
I elected to keep all accuracy shooting at 15 yards, and I didn’t use a rest. All shooting was off-hand. There were zero malfunctions of any type during my testing of over 200-rds. The new and improved, shorter trigger pull was super sweet. If I did my part, I could keep all rounds inside of 3 1/2 inches. There was one clear winner in the accuracy department, and that was the 147-gr FMJ FN load from Buffalo Bore. Right on the heels of the Buffalo Bore load was the Black Hills 115-gr JHP +P load, and this one would be my choice for carrying in the little LC9s for self-defense. I believe with more practice I could get those groups down to right at three inches if I do my part, though. I did break the 3 1/2 inch groupings with the Buffalo Bore 147-gr FMJ FN load, but it took a lot of concentration on my part.
As is my usual practice, I like to carry any handgun I’m testing for at least two week. I carried the little Ruger LC9s in a Blackhawk Products, www.blackhawk.com belt slide holster, and it kept the LC9s tight against my body. It was nice! I would like to see a second mag included with the LC9s; however, many people just don’t carry any spare ammo when they are packing a gun. That’s something I try to stress to my firearms students all the time. However, it’s easy enough to pick up a second mag at your local gun shop at the time of purchase.
The LC9s has quite the following these days with concealed weapon carriers, and it’s no wonder. It’s small, light-weight, accurate, reliable, and priced right– $449 at full retail. However, you can usually find Ruger handguns discounted at most gun shops. I tried hard to find something to not like about the LC9s, but I couldn’t. I just couldn’t! So, if you’re in the market for a dandy little 9mm concealed carry handgun, take a close look at the new and improved LC9s from Ruger. I think you’ll really like it.
– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio