I learned a lot about our Ruger LCR


Vodoun da Vinci
December 14, 2013, 10:13 PM
Working with my Wife on finding out Soul Mate CCW guns. Over the Summer we have test shot pretty much everything that is within a realm of possibility of being carried concealed given our sizes and statures. During the search she has naturally gravitated to revolvers. She just shoots them well right out of the gate with double action trigger pulls and her confidence level and accuracy is more inherent with revolvers than autos. She shoots her Fathers S&W model 19 with 4" barrel and my Dan Wesson with 4" or 6" barrel very well but both of these guns would be way too large for her to conceal....not to mention heavier than she will fell comfortable lugging around. She's 5' and about 120 at 56 years old with some arthritis in the hands starting.

Enter the Ruger LCR .38 Special +P which we purchased lightly used (50 rounds by the original owner) like NIB for $350. I never shot a 2" revolver before let alone an air weight, polymer framed 2" but suspected it might be a handful in terms of recoil with full house loads. I asked about recoil when we looked at it. The guys at the Range/LGS said "No big deal...no worse than that 9mm subcompact you shoot" It's pretty snappy with factory 125 gr loads. I can only imagine what it would do in +P. I hand loaded some 125 gr. XTP bullets with 4.4 gr. of Unique and some 158 gr. lead flat points with 3.3 gr. og Unique and these loads are powder puffs in a full size revolver yet still pretty snappy in the LCR.

We learned to shoot the LCR (both of us) today by ignoring the sights and just point shooting at 21' - it is actually a lot more accurate this way than trying to line up the trench sight and the front big white dot. But the recoil is simply painful. My guess is that this is simply inherent and to be expected in an ultralight 2" revolver...we shot an S&W air weight (scandium frame?) with the same ammo and it smacks just as hard. So, we have learned that if we want this LCR as a BUG or lightweight carry gun that hides easily, we'll either be icing our wrists after a range session or limiting how much we shoot it/practice with it. Which makes it hard to be confident with if you can't shoot it more than 20 rounds at a session. This is not a target/range gun - not a piece to practice marksmanship with. I shot 150 rounds of factory 130 gr. FMJ and mixed light hand loads and, to be frank, I'm sore 7 hours later. And I'm 6' 3" and 178. I can put 200 rounds of hot 9mm thru my Glock 26 or an equal number of factory 158 gr .38 Special +P thru my Dan Wesson .357 and not be sore like this.

I assume this is normal but I'm curious about folks who say the LCR or other 2" airweight revolvers are "no big deal" and that their 11 year old daughters shoot them. :eek::what: I rather like shooting it (kinda like being slapped hard on a first date...) and I'm hitting well at 21' as long as I stay away from the sights but the only thing this gun has going for it is that it is uber/ultra concealable. Neet little revolver but unless I'm wearing a speedo ( :barf:) I can certainly hide something like my Glock 26 or Beretta Px4 sc in 9mm that won't slap me silly if I need to use it.

Or are we missing the point? I'd love to hear from other LCR owners that are having a rough adjustment period...most of what I read on the 'Net makes me feel like we are the only ones that have noticed that this gun bites more than just a little. I have some 158 gr. 38 Special +P I'm tempted to shoot and see if the recoil "tops out"....Can it be proportional?


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December 14, 2013, 10:37 PM
It has been my observation over 50 years that a 300 pound man gets kicked harder by a 30-06 rifle then a 150 pound man.

Something about Rolling with the Punches?

Or an Immovable object and the Irresistible force??

I forget which???

But there is no doubt about it.
Any 10-12 oz gun firing a SD caliber is going to kick. Hard!

On the other hand?
shooting 150 rounds of anything in a 12 oz gun in one session is doing more good for your ego then your marksmanship skills.

A mans gotta know his limitations!!!

Pace yourself, and learn the fine marksmanship skills without wearing out your central nervous system in one range session by shooting too much.


John C
December 15, 2013, 01:08 AM
I have an S&W 642. I don't have an issue shooting a box of ammo through it, but I typically shoot 148 gr wadcutters during practice.

One thing to try is get a larger grip for the pistol. That will allow for more control. Also, consider getting a .22 version to practice with. It'll pay for itself once .22 ammo becomes available again. Plus, small .22 revolvers are a blast to shoot. I'm serious about the .22 version. I have a S&W 317, and it's simply an outstanding revolver.

December 15, 2013, 01:20 AM
I have a suspicion that you and your wife are shooting from some type of Weaver style stance/arm geometry with push/pull isometric tension and locking your arms/elbow to control the anticipated recoil.

I shot several cylinders through a LCR (it wasn't mine) to help a friend fine tune his grip and check zero (I like the sights). I thought the snap was substantially less than I was getting from my S&W 642. I really like the feel of the grips on the LCR and they really made the snap pretty comfortable.

I would avoid using 158gr slugs in the LCR, I had very good luck with the Speer 135gr +P Gold Dot...plus it was softer shooting.

If you start using the Modern Isosceles arm geometry and allow the flex of your elbows absorb most of the recoil, I think you'd be a lot happier

December 15, 2013, 02:28 AM
I picked the KLCR .357 for my CCW which weighs about 3oz more and has a stainless frame rather than aluminum. A bit more weight helps attenuate recoil and as have the CT grips rather than the stock Houges, plus I shoot +p .38 ammo, every little bit helps. If you like the LCR, and don't find other work arounds, stepping up to a KLCR might help.

December 15, 2013, 08:07 AM
For my 642, grips make the difference. But the optimal grip will not be the same for everyone.

Would you buy shoes based on how they fit me, or would you want to be sure they fit you?

Vodoun da Vinci
December 15, 2013, 08:31 AM
Thanks for the comments and suggestions, Guys! :)

I have a 2" barrel and shroud coming for my Dan Wesson which is a substantially heavier gun but it won't be here until April. Over the holidays I'm gonna borrow my Mother in Law's Colt Detective Special and shoot it and the LCR side by side with the same ammunition. I have a sneaking suspicion Mama will be back on the revolver as a "primary carry piece" agenda when that comparison happens.

Actually, I find the LCR to not beat on me so badly when I one hand it if that makes sense. So maybe letting the gun roll and snap without attempting to fight the recoil is actually a better solution...this being my first experience with a 2" light weight I'm kinda vexed and out of my element. I have always shot as a sport and practiced marksmanship/bullseye shooting and then shot some rapid fire at the end of a session to get myself/keep myself in the SD mode with that particular gun.

But that has always been stuff like a 4" .357 or a Colt Officers ACP, a 9mm Beretta, or even out Colt .32 ACP Hammerless. I'd appreciate perspective on what I can expect with the same ammunition out of a different 2" revolver that weighs substantially more like the Colt DS. I'm feeling at this point that rather than fight the LCR we are better off switching gears and just using the investment to stay in the same vein (short barreled/compact size .38 Special but in a slightly larger/heavier gun) before Mama gets discouraged.

Perspective from the more experienced is needed and I thnk you guys in advance!


December 15, 2013, 09:13 AM
As others say - grips make a big difference. Howerver for this lighweight a gun I would be using 38 wadcutters for practice, and since you reload, bumping up the velocity a bit for carry loads.

In the latest Handloader mag. Dave Scoville says"On a scale of one to 10, a wadcutter has a splatter factor of 12.

In snubby revolvers that are very iffy on energy & making a bullet expand, the wadcutter will work every time.

December 15, 2013, 09:17 AM
Have you considered non +P or cowboy loads for range use (with the last cylinder your carry ammo) to get comfortable with the gun? Why punish yourself with +P practice ammo if you shoot more than a handful of rounds? Just a thought to make the range trip more enjoyable while still getting the benefit of the lighter gun.

December 15, 2013, 09:33 AM
A few things. Snubbys are meant to be fired one handed. This Weaver/isosceles stance thing has just become popular the last couple of decades. For a hundred years before that, people shot revolvers one handed. Hell, if you see film of the Army training pistol shooters in WWII, they are all shooting their 1911s one handed. Revolvers are designed to roll up in your hand when shot. You'll find them much more comfortable doing that.

When my wife first got her carry permit, I got a 442, which she could use when she wanted. We went to the range, she fired three shots, put the gun down and never touched it again. She much preferred shooting my Browning HiPower. I ended up getting her a steel framed S&W Model 36 and she's fine with that. A little more weight made all the difference, as did grips that fit her better.

December 15, 2013, 09:42 AM
Actually my KLCR has become one of my favorite shooters. I had a long adjustment period with this revolver and thought I had made a mistake in buying it. Once I got a feel for the sights it was all downhill from there.

The first 357 rounds through this little revolver was a tad eye opening. Long story short...I was choking it to death on the 357 rounds. I worked on my grip to stop so much firing hand grip pressure and my support hand does just that...it supports the shooting hand (nut cup and saucer). Of course it still is a handful in 357 but I can easily go through a box of 50 125 grain and not have to ice down my hand...LOL.

This is the only revolver I own and I probably won't get any steel revolvers (not that I wouldn't like to) because I own too many pistols and finances dictate that I don't. Value to money ratio on this Ruger KLCR is excellent. This baby gets 2nd in carry time to my XDS and I would never think of getting rid of it.

December 15, 2013, 10:16 AM
I also carry the Ruger KLCR .357mag for SD, loaded with Winchester PDX1+P 130gr, or CorBon DPX 110gr .357mag when available in my area. I use the same grip method explained by ares338, tighter with the support hand and find them more than comfortable to shoot. Practice ammo is always a .38spl variety of ammo, finishing up with my carry at that time-2 cylinders worth. I also installed a XS Big Dot (improved accuracy/follow up shots tremendously). The Hogue Tamers are great too, and I also have some Eagle Rosewood FBI Grips to use-no problem. Recoil is an individual perception, approaching it as "expected", not "feared or scary", will help deal with it. I never feel outgunned when I have my KLCR and a reload or 2 with me. Be safe and have fun!

Vodoun da Vinci
December 15, 2013, 10:18 AM
Have you considered non +P or cowboy loads for range use (with the last cylinder your carry ammo) to get comfortable with the gun?
We have been shooting primarily standard pressure rounds....some 130 gr. FMJ American Eagle (2 boxes) and it was the first stuff we shot. Very snappy - too snappy for Kelly, I found it brisk but not a show stopper. I hand loaded some 125 gr. XTP's that were a gift with a very moderate amount of Unique - 4.4 gr. and these rounds yield .22 type recoil in a 4" S&W M19 and 4" Dan Wesson 15-2VH.

These are still rather snappy in the LCR but accurate and OK for me. I also loaded some 158 gr. lead flat nose with 4.3 gr. of Unique and some with 3.5 gr. of the same powder....basically very mild loads as well with excellent target accuracy and pleasant/very low recoil in the same larger 4" revolvers.

The heavier charged 158 gr. is brutal in the LCR but really accurate...the lower charge 158 gr. is still really snappy in the LCR. I discovered yesterday that all of these are a lot more tolerable (fun and accurate in SD style rapid fire at 21') shot one handed/point shooting. I'm loading some even lighter 125 gr. XTP's this afternoon.

We'll shoot all of these rounds minus the American Eagle 130 gr. FMJ's (which we shot up...love the brass!! :)) in the LCP and in her Mothers Colt Detective Special over the holidays. My guess is that all of this stuff will be moot in a heavier Colt revolver and might salvage the relationship of snubbie revolvers for my Wife. She's really ouchy today and I can tell she has "jumped the shark" on the LCR...I can salvage that maybe if I develop a load that doesn't beat on her but I suspect she'll shoot the same loads in the Colt DS and the LCR will be looking for a new home after the first of the year. She will not entertain the concept of shooting mouse fart loads at the range and carrying more potent SD ammunition and truthfully the light loads I have developed and will continue to work on are too anemic for SD.

We'll see.

By the way, our LCR came with the Big Dot sight and Hogue grips. The Big Dot seems useless as the gun does not shoot to POA with the sights. We both can hammer a bulls eye with it via point shooting at 21'...I was pretty stunned to be able to shoot better groups at 21' via point shooting in rapid fire than concentrated slow sighted fire with it and factory ammo. I love the gun but it is just not a revolver for casual/range use or inexperienced or recoil sensitive folks in the least. I just found out we will have a Ruger SP101 with bobbed hammer and Hogue grips to test with the Colt DT nest time. We'll get to the bottom of this.


December 15, 2013, 11:51 AM
I have a Charter Arms Undercover, which is a light .38 Special snub. I use 2.8gr to 3.0gr of Bullseye with a 158gr LSWC for range use. Very low recoil compared to standard .38 Special loads. I am starting to get arthritis in my wrists and shooting anything started to get painful after a few minutes. I dialed down all my range ammo to allow me to enjoy the range like I used to. Wimpy? Maybe. But at least I can shoot more than 2 cylinders before it becomes too painful to be fun.

December 15, 2013, 12:02 PM
Just a note. Read the directions for "sight picture" for the Big Dot, both from Ruger and XS if available. You have to set the Dot in the crux of the back sight, and "cover" your POI with the Dot to hit anticipated POA. It works for me beautifully at any range. YMMV. Be safe.

December 15, 2013, 12:03 PM
If you do not have the Tamer Grip, Try it, it cushions the recoil on my 357 LCR. My wife is recoil sensitive so I have her practice with 125g. 38 and a heavyer gun and only a half hour on the Range. My point is. A Tamer Grip, lighter loads for most of the practice, and a shorter practice session may help. My wife shoots a 2" snub well for the first half hour. As her hand gets tired, her accuracy goes.

Old Fuff
December 15, 2013, 12:23 PM
My Taurus 85 Lightweight and Colt Detective Special are usually loaded with 148 grain wadcutters backed with 3 grains of Bullseye. The performance and recoil is about the same as .38 S&W factory loads, but the wadcutter bullet is far more effective.

People forget (or ignore) that the .38 S&W was developed and expected to be used in pocket revolvers, and during the time it was popular was regarded as a good fight-stopper at close range.

If for some reason I feel that this isn't enough (which is seldom) I switch to a larger gun and cartridge. Too many folks forget Bill Jordan's excellent advise to balance the cartridge to match the gun's size and weight.

Using too much cartridge performance (meaning recoil and muzzle blast/flash) in a lightweight snubby revolver usually ends up causing a serious case of flinching, and that is not good.

December 15, 2013, 02:16 PM
You are getting lots of good advice.

First of all you have discovered the everything is a trade off in firearms. Lighter weight, smaller frame and grips along with hotter the load means more recoil.

Second it sounds like both of you need to work on the basics. Work on the hammer dropping while pulling the trigger through being a surprise. Avoid looking over the sights after firing the round.

Third and perhaps most important is quit shooting when you get tired regardless of number of rounds you have shot whether it 10 , 25 or 50. In fact I would limit my shooting session to not more than 50. Once you keep shooting as you get tired is reinforcing bad shooting habits which undoes the positive skills you are trying to learn and as we know bad habits are very hard to break.

As pointed out wadcutter and semi-wadcutters are effective S.D. rounds. I would forgo the +P stuff until you master the basic wit reduced loads.

December 15, 2013, 03:38 PM
From my experience, the LCR 357 model is the perfect compromise in weight for pocket carry and enjoyment in shooting +P 38 special ammunition.

Heavier than a standard LCR or a Smith airweight, while lighter than a Smith 649 or sp101.

The LCR magnum is tolerable in the pocket and enjoyable at the range therefore she gets carried often and shot often.

It replaced my S&W 642 which was carried often and beginning to be shot seldom.

December 15, 2013, 04:32 PM
I have not fired any of the LCR models yet but my partner and I have been hemming and hawing over a variety of snub nose carry options. I was prepared to hate the Ruger over the S&W options but my preconceptions were wrong about the LCR and the new Smiths were below expectation.

I was a bit surprised at the weight difference between the .38 and .357 models. The magnum version is 21% heavier. I realize it's just a few ounces overall but that's a significant increase over starting weight for a type of ammo that may honestly never be used in our pocket gun. It's a game of ounces. I'm beginning to feel that even my Taurus TCP is too heavy for pocket carry and belongs on a belt but I'm sure most people would just tell me to get over it.

December 15, 2013, 04:42 PM
If thinking about a .357 instead of .38spl, the .44 special might be an even better choice for reasons given in this thread...

Hoppes Love Potion
December 15, 2013, 09:19 PM
One of these suggestions may be the answer:

Change the grips on the LCR
Change the ammo in the .38sp LCR (90gr Hornady?)
Change the LCR to the .22 Magnum or .22lr model
Change the LCR to the heavier .357 model

December 15, 2013, 09:27 PM
I have a KLCR that I shoot 38s and 38+Ps out of regularly. The recoil is very manageable. I carry some 125gr Hornady Critical Defense 357Mag that are a pain to shoot but they are mean!!!

John C
December 16, 2013, 12:37 AM
I see your wife's point about training the way she would fight. But I think that she's overlooking the fact that she needs to train up to the level of the LCR, if she decides to carry it. Obviously, any CCW handgun is a compromise between size, capacity, power, concealability, and hassle. If she wants a lightweight, powerful gun, it's going to kick. These pistols are not for beginners.

Another point about training the way you fight is if you can only handle 148 gr wadcutters, then carry those. Defensive ammunition has surpassed the humble wadcutter in effectiveness, but similar powered options like the Federal Nyclad are out there. A 125 gr bullet at 830 fps will feel quite similar to the 148 gr wadcutter at 700 fps.

Since you reload, why not work up some easy practice/plinking loads that you can shoot a lot of without tiring? Matts bullets has wadcutters from 75 grains on up. http://www.mattsbullets.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=65&zenid=ca2eaj2vtck1pnj2bkn7mfmk81 Those and a couple of grains of bullseye will allow you to practice working the revolver without developing a flinch or other bad habit.

The Detective Special is bigger, heavier, holds one more round, and easier to shoot. The only issue is that it's more difficult to carry day in and day out. Again, use it as a training piece, then work up to the LCR. Or, if that's truly your limit, stay there. Steel framed snubbies are excellent revolvers.

Good luck,


Vodoun da Vinci
December 16, 2013, 07:13 AM
The Detective Special is bigger, heavier, holds one more round, and easier to shoot. The only issue is that it's more difficult to carry day in and day out. Again, use it as a training piece, then work up to the LCR. Or, if that's truly your limit, stay there. Steel framed snubbies are excellent revolvers.

Good luck,


Thanks for the comments Guys. :)

I loaded some bare bones 125 gr and 110 gr. bullets today and these are about as long as I can go and get the bullets out of the barrel. We'll give them a shot next time at the range and see if we can revive her interest in the LCR. Frankly? I don't think I can dumb them down low enough to make them comfortable in the LCR.

She loves the gun...the trigger pull, the conceal ability, the finish and durability/craftsmanship of the gun is classic Ruger. Top of the line. I think we have simply reached the limit of how small and light we can go and still have a functional revolver for a small person that is, to some degree, compromised by arthritis and age/life.

That said, she's still hot on a revolver and gaining a higher comfort level with this as her primary carry piece and that means more range time and more bullets in the target. She's not gonna get that with the LCR until she can master the recoil and discomfort so we are seeking other revolvers to train with. We have an S&W model 19 4" and a Dan Wesson with a snubbie barrel and shroud coming. We have access to a Colt Detective Special and my Gun Buddy at the range is gonna let her shoot his Ruger SP101 2".

Comparing these steel alternatives side by side shows that they are bigger and heavier but not so much that hiding them will be impossible. She shoots well and confidently with our M19 and the Dan Wesson 15-2VH and the Colt DS and Ruger SP101 and well as a borrowed S&W M60LS appeal to her very much and she is comfortable handling and dry firing them.

I'll reserve judgement until we actually shoot them but my guess is that all of the recoil issues and such will disappear with a 21 - 26 oz gun. The Ruger LCR is a fine piece but it's gonna be more practical in much larger hands.

Again...we'll see. But we are getting a huge education in snubbies and despite the discomfort we are moving well ahead and making good choices. Plus it gives me reloading time and both of us time at the range so who's losing at this game? :cool:


December 16, 2013, 07:14 AM
I never had a recoil issue with the LCR. My problem with it is that after hundreds and hundreds of rounds...I can't hit beans with it:uhoh: I don't know what my issue is with it.

I switched to a much heavier SP101 and have had much better luck. Don't get me wrong, the lcr is very soft shooting for me. Very comfortable. As a matter of fact, I might give the lcr to my wife to see if she likes it.

December 16, 2013, 01:07 PM
“Comparing these steel alternatives side by side shows that they are bigger and heavier but not so much that hiding them will be impossible. She shoots well and confidently with our M19 and the Dan Wesson 15-2VH and the Colt DS and Ruger SP101 and well as a borrowed S&W M60LS appeal to her very much and she is comfortable handling and dry firing them.”

You have two different issues going on ;

The first is you and your wife have not mastered the fundamentals; trigger pull, sight picture, proper grip, breathing and stance. The short sight radius and small, narrow size of the front and rear sights are much more unforgiving to imperfect alignment. You admit this when you said “We learned to shoot the LCR (both of us) today by ignoring the sights…”

The other four fundamentals are at play here also such as difficulty with proper grip due to small grips which in turn causes problems with trigger pull.

While the fundaments remain the same a larger gun a larger gun that fits your hands better and larger, easier to sights will help you and you wife.

The second issue is the trigger pull on small frame guns are more difficult to master. My wife has difficulty shooting a handgun double action due to medical issues and general physical build. (Which for some reason some members can not understand why. Must be a macho guy thing). We discovered earlier this month that the Colt Police Positive Special is the perfect match for her. The V-spring action, slightly larger grip, slightly smaller frame than the S&W K-frame and 4” barrel makes shooting double action a snap for her.

Since you state your wife has no problems with shooting other revolvers try the Colt Detective Special. It’s slightly larger size than the Ruger along with larger grips and smoother trigger pull just might be the ticket.

p.s. Quit shooting so many rounds in a session. Learning to shoot 50 rounds in the 10 ring will teach you more than 150 round scattered somewhere on the target.

December 16, 2013, 02:06 PM
Have you considered non +P or cowboy loads for range use (with the last cylinder your carry ammo) to get comfortable with the gun? Why punish yourself with +P practice ammo if you shoot more than a handful of rounds? Just a thought to make the range trip more enjoyable while still getting the benefit of the lighter gun.

This would be my suggestion as well.

I found that I was having the same issue with my LCP, it was uncomfortable to shoot enough rounds through it to become confident with it.

I have since developed a load for it that allows me to shoot a significant number of round through it before my hand gets tired of it.

December 16, 2013, 02:33 PM
I put 5300+ rounds through an early LCR, most of which was +P. With factory grips the gun tore skin in my hand.
When I switched to a glove, working up from 150-round sessions to 500-round sessions of +P, it tore the glove.

This was not shooter error or lack of "technique".

I did not find anything remotely fun about the model, it is not a range toy.
It's a lightweight pocket gun with reasonable power levels, if you carry reasonably powerful .38 Special ammunition in it.

It was decently accurate (if slightly off from POA) at 15 yards.
Closer in, using the old FBI one-handed un-aimed single-hand crouch, it was completely viable for defensive uses with that +P.
Controllable, but not enjoyable.

It isn't for everybody, and if you have to load it down to .380 ACP power levels you're not getting the most out of it.

I'd consider a steel-framed snub, if a .38 SP snub is required.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 16, 2013, 04:16 PM
Thank you DPris. I don't feel like I'm the only one anymore now.

I really should post up a target I shot last weekend.....I may not have mastered my basics but I managed to eat the very middle of a 6" X 10" target card at 21' in rapid fire. I can shoot it - it just pounds the snot out of me with factory loads and even light reloads. My Wife is a relative newbie and still shoots it pretty well when she's not flinching...which is a habit I cannot let her form.

It's a 13.5 ounce gun. I'm betting that a 21 ounce Colt DS or a 26 ounce Ruger SP101 will work out fine for her as she shoots our full size revolvers just fine and accurately. Not necessarily disagreeing with the "not doing well on our basics" comment just reiterating that we both shoot other things just fine.

We just aren't enjoying the 13.6 ounce 2" fire breather no matter how many folks find the LCR recoil "mild" and "no big deal". Probably we are just wimps. I suspect there's gonna be a lightly used LCR for sale for a great price as soon as Mama shoots a steel revolver that weighs a bit more. :D

This one was a trade in after 50 rounds...I met the guy at the range who traded it and asked him what he didn't like about it. He, like we, loved the gun...the trigger, the size, the finish, the ergonomics. Fits in a pocket and feels like a million dollars. Then it punches you in the hand like a Nun that caught you cheating on a math test. :what: He was a man of smaller stature. I should have suspected it might be a little snappy for my Wife.

We'll see how it goes and let Kelly make her choice but I know her well enough to know what she's gonna prefer in a side by side comparison of .38 Sp. Revolvers.


December 16, 2013, 04:39 PM
Two better options for your wife would be an RugerŪ SP101 or a TaurusŪ Mdl 605; both in 357 Magnum. Load either w/38 Special ammunition and she will find them to be highly accurate & low recoil. My wife (65) carries a TaurusŪ Mdl 605SS2 daily and routinely puts 100 rounds through it on every range trip.

December 16, 2013, 04:45 PM
No, you're not the only one. :)

The LCR has a place, but doesn't fit everybody, and I have zero embarrassment in saying that it was quite uncomfortable to shoot for me.

I am not overly sensitive to recoil & have a video somewhere here of me shooting a Smith .460 Mag snub with a full-bore load, one-handed.

The LCR is just not something that fit my hand well.

The Colt DS, and two steel-framed Smith J-Frames all shoot +P more comfortably & more easily in terms of accuracy for me.

If you can live with the extra weight, go with a steel-framed snub.
There are several grip options that can be used with the little Smiths to mate them with different hand sizes.
Handloading down to reduced-power loads just to make the gun tolerable doesn't make much sense to me. Finding a gun that's more shootable for you with effective ammunition does.

I've never been so wedded to any single gun that I had to constrict its effectiveness just to be able to shoot it.

I'd not necessarily recommend the Ruger SP, trigger may be too much for someone with reduced hand strength.
At least have her try one before buying it.

December 16, 2013, 04:48 PM
Loading down for any gun for range use is common. It's not watering down your carry ammo. If you end your range session with a cylinder full of your carry ammo you can shoot a lot more, get comfortable with the gun itself and still have the right carry ammo.

December 16, 2013, 06:57 PM
If you do all your range practice with half-power loads, how well do you think you'll actually do under stress with full-power stuff?

I "grew up" in revolver shooting with military & police training. In the military, we trained with the same load we carried (AF, .38 Special Smith Model 15, relatively lightweight full metal jacket load).
Back then, in law enforcement after I got out, we used .38 wadcutters for all practice & qualification. Cheaper, easier for most to manage to qualify with.

Analysis across the country of performance in actual LE shootings with full-powered duty loads vs half-powered practice stuff in the 1970s finally led to police training & qualifying with power loads that equaled duty power levels, and that is the accepted standard today.

In my younger & less-informed days, under the old wadcutter system, I was quite disconcerted to discover the difference in point of impact between those piddly wadcutters and full-bore .357 Mag loads (as an example that's not really all that far off here) when I went to sight my .357 in for .357 loads one day. I'd been carrying it perfectly zeroed for .38 wads & the POI was quite different with the magnums. Like I said- less-informed times.

I also found that (not surprisingly) what I could pull off on the range with wads was quite different in recoil control, speed, and DA accuracy with what I actually carried.

One of the greatest stories to illustrate the fallacy of the old way we used to do it was the relatively new deputy who was quite a speedball on the range with wadcutters, but when it came time to fire a magnum load on the street he got one shot off & was so startled by the .357 recoil that he dropped his gun, thinking it had blown up in his hand.

If you get yourself so accustomed to practice with low-powered stuff in that LCR, you will not perform to the same levels with the "real" ammo if & when you actually need it.

That's the entire idea behind LE now training with loads that provide the same blast & recoil levels as the duty ammo.

The idea that "Shooting is shooting, and training is training, regardless of the relationship between what you do at the range & what you carry for actual use" is false & can be quite dangerous.

It instills a false level of confidence, and results in a lower degree of actual proficiency than if you practice with as close to the equivalent of what you carry as you can.

You'll be more proficient if you don't water your practice down, particularly with a +P load in a featherweight gun, which is pretty much the corollary of the difference between wads & mags in a bigger steel revolver.
One cylinder of the real deal at the end of a practice session isn't going to do you much good.

December 16, 2013, 08:44 PM
I always admire your posts and knowlege. I enjoy your input in threads. However, I will disagree with you here.

Comparing LEO training with training for a CCW is night and day. Yes, what you said is 100% true but LEOs use their weapons a lot different than the average CCW. The OP already admitted he uses point and shoot for this particular gun. Most SD incidents are at close range, a lot closer than the typical LEO encounter. Also, the chances of a CCW needing their weapon is up near the chances of winning the lottery where an LEO faces danger every day.

So, my point is, if someone practices with lower powered ammo and practices a lot and becomes one with his/her gun and gains confidence in it, it is a lot better than using punishing ammo for practice to a point that you don't practice at all. A trained LEO needs to use his street ammo to be proficient with his weapon but someone who is more than likely going to need it at very close distances needs different training. Ideally, you are right but in the real world your advise is not what is needed to gain confidence in a particular gun.

If you end every range session with a cylinder of your carry ammo, you do get the difference each time you train. It won't be like you feel you blew your gun up. When I take my fiance to the range, I have her shoot the last cylinder with the carry ammo as fast as she can to see how accurate she is. After 50 or so rounds of softer shooting ammo she is more than capable of handling the stouter ammo and can put 5 in the kill zone at 15' every time... in a few seconds. She gains confidence each time because she can shoot more than 5 or 10 rounds for practice. Yes the street ammo is hotter but she knows that up front and the increase from soft ammo to stout ammo allows her to get her confidence with the gun and the street ammo.

In a real SD scenario, the confidence goes a long way in actually shooting the gun and the street ammo will be lost in the adrenaline rush. If you practice right you will shoot right when all you have is your training. Point and shoot as fast as you can but you have to hit what you shoot at. Shooting more rounds achieves this more than shooting stouter rounds less often. It's human nature.

December 17, 2013, 12:33 AM
You're entirely welcome to disagree, but my statement above remains.

There are obviously differences in "training" or practice between LE & regular concealed carriers, but I'd dispute your assertion that CCWer's encounters are "a lot closer" than typical LE encounters.

And regardless of the specific type of training involved, if you do 99% of your practicing of any type with much lesser-powered ammunition than what you normally carry, you will accustom yourself to what & how you shoot the most, not all of which is directly transferable to handling the same gun effectively under stress with greater blast & recoil levels.

I'm not saying you'll think you blew your gun up in shooting heavier loads, that was an extreme example to illustrate a point.

And, as I mentioned previously- it's the false sense of confidence gained in shooting a lower-powered load extensively at the range that may be self-defeating in a real shooting situation with real ammunition.

Make your own choices, my opinions stand, based on many years of shooting revolvers, being a part of the transition in LE full-power training philosophy, observing many other shooters, and more than a couple years training people with .38-caliber revolvers.

December 17, 2013, 03:07 AM
This is enlightening. A few weeks ago I let a friend shoot a box of mild factory 158gr jsp .357 loads through my 6" Ruger security Six. They felt about they same as .38 special +p through my Model 67. As I recall, more was expected from the famous .357 magnum and they walked away greatly unimpressed by the power and recoil of the gun as well as the accuracy.

They needed a great deal more practice shooting double action I think.

I only mention this because we both have our eyes on the Ruger LCR and we handled a variety of them together before giving each other our remarks. I said it was crazy to think that full house .357 from a gun that size would be "shootable" (your call on whatever that is) but my friend insists that guns like that aren't meant to be aimed, they're simply fired from the belly with a straight wrist to take the recoil. The sights never come into play. They still insist that it's no big deal to shoot .357 magnum loads on a 16 oz. gun. Big talk from someone who only fired some 1150fps 158gr ammo from a 2 1/2 Lbs. steel revolver with hogue grips :)

I wish someone near me had one to loan so I could be entertained at the range. As people have said before... it's an experts gun.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 17, 2013, 07:31 AM
The concept of downloading the ammunition is to get her comfortable enough to shoot the gun and see if she will *ever* be able to tolerate it or if we need to abandon this possibility as a CCW piece. She has reiterated that she *will* practice and proficiency with rounds she intends to carry for SD and that downloading to make that happen is not a good idea or one that she supports.

We'll be shooting a Ruger SP101 this weekend and are not giving up on the .38 revolver as a CCW consideration for her..she shoots the full size 4" revolvers very, very well and confidently. The task is to see if she can transition this inherent skill and accuracy level to a smaller revolver that she can carry.

Having worked with her the last few days and with the local GS I am convinced the solution will be a heavier snub. Maybe not the SP101 (the trigger one of the things we do love about the LCR) but I'm betting a S&W 60 in 2" or a Colt DS is gonna be a winner. Another 6 - 10 ounces and I think she will feel much better. But the concept here is *not* to dumb the .38 Special down until it is useless just so she can carry it in a revolver....She'll practice with what she carries and proficiencies with in terms of ammunition.


Old Fuff
December 17, 2013, 12:41 PM
Is there some reason that downloaded (or so-called "standard loads) cannot be used for both practice and carry? Should she, or you, ever have to use the revolver in a serious confrontation it will likely be at point blank distance. Whoever is on the other end isn't going to inquire about what ammunition is being used. Bullet placement, rather then muzzle velocity, energy or temporary cavitation is what's important.

Concerning the D.A. trigger pull: Ruger copied Smith & Wesson's pre-war "long action." and put it in their downsized package. While you are looking around, see if you happen to find a pre-1946 K-frame, Military & Police .38 revolver and check out the trigger pull.

John C
December 17, 2013, 01:25 PM
Look at the standard pressure 125 grain defense ammo like the Nyclad. It will have 20% more recoil than a 148 gr wadcutter. It's excellent ammo. It will even work well from a heavier revolver.


December 17, 2013, 01:33 PM
I base my ballistic opinions on a number of things, not the least of which is several years of experience with people who'd been shot with various calibers, in various places.
Some of whom survived, and some of whom did not.

Bullet type, bullet size, and projectile energy does make a difference, and don't bother to mention "Placement is EVERYTHING", because it isn't, and with a gun you can't aim or hit with consistently beyond 10 feet you're even more handicapped in that regard. :)

You can't count on even a heart shot to immediately stop the other guy with a .38, you can't count on one shot in general to shut down a threat instantly, it's highly recommended that you be able to reliably strike an aggressive assailant attempting bodily harm on you with more than one round fired (which is where controllability comes in), and I've never bought into the .38 Wadcutter as being "good enough" to consider a defensive round.

It does not have to be a +P load, but depending on something like 2 grains of Bullseye behind a wadcutter's foolish, in my opinion. (And I don't use that 2 grains literally, just as an example.)

When I said I'd found I was able to use the old FBI one-handed crouch with good results, that was close up, using one specific grip style that made it impossible to aim, and I would not consider that one-hand shooting style to be effective at more than a few feet's distance.

The LCR has two primary selling points: light trigger and light weight. Those come with a pricetag attached; the price you pay is increased recoil with effective ammunition and a reduction in longer practical engagement distances.
If you think you'll only need to defend yourself at five feet, you're betting on statistics that may or may not turn against you.
If you think you can pull off a head shot under stress on a moving target with a gun you can't aim & can't quickly fire followup shots through, you may not be viewing this realistically.

The Colt will have the lightest DA trigger among the choices you're mentioning, along with the ability to cock it for greater accuracy at distance, but be aware that Colt is losing the ability to service those, so if you go that route, get one as close to "new" condition as you can find, and also that the gun was rated by Colt for about 3000 rounds of +P .38s before it was recommended it be sent back for a checkup.

Today, Colt can't replace the frame if it stretches, and they're running out of hands (the most commonly-replaced part in a high-mileage gun with that older action).
Don't count on a local gunsmith for DS work, very few places left that can competently work on that action.

The Ruger SP will probably have the heaviest DA trigger, the Smith J-Frame trigger will still be much heavier than the LCR's trigger, both are capable of firing much more +P than the Colt, both are obviously still well supported by their makers.

December 17, 2013, 01:43 PM
How about trading (or just buying your wife her own) LCR in .22lr or .22 magnum? Good way to get a lot of rounds downrange and while it's on the light side, a .22 that she will carry and be confident in is better than the .38 she hates.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 17, 2013, 02:10 PM
Excellent information here, gentlemen. Especially Denis...yer helping me a lot with this.

The main attraction for Kelly with the Colt DS is that it's in the family and it simply is a goose bump gun to handle...for her and myself. It's been shot very little if at all and it belonged to her Dad along with the S&W M19 she started this whole thing with. It's available for a test run and I think we'll use it to test the theory that most of the bite in the .38 snub for her (in the LCR) is that it weighs 13.5 ounces. I believe the Colt DS is 21 oz. The Ruger SP101 is 26 ounces.

We are gonna shoot them all with the same ammunition side by side and see how it goes and what conclusions we can draw. We are still searching for the proper SD handgun platform for her and I think that's gonna be a revolver due to her basic accuracy and comfort level with them. But we never know. I'm trying to help her sort out her many, many possibilities and give her choices to let her choose her best fit without overwhelming her or judging/forcing or manipulating. Cost is no object (within reason) and she can have anything she chooses + anything additional to customize it for her....sights, trigger jobs, grips/stocks. It's hard to get her mind wrapped around the "take yer time and shoot 'em all until one rings the bell for you" but we are getting there.

Another possibility is a S&W M60 which is in the running as well but we do not have one to test without buying it. If the Colt/Ruger SP101 test solves the basic issue, I'm not opposed to buying her a new M60 and using the Ruger LCR on trade or selling it outright to contribute the funds. Either way, we won't lose enough of the LCR investment to be concerned about.

The main thing is to solve this "platform" issue and get her shooting her choice and working towards her proficiency and the comfort level she'll need to do as well as she'd like. I have a bunch of various powered handloads and some factory standard .38 Special and some +P factory as well for testing depending on how it goes.

Thanks again for the advice and solidarity, Guys!


Vodoun da Vinci
December 17, 2013, 02:17 PM
Good way to get a lot of rounds downrange and while it's on the light side, a .22 that she will carry and be confident in is better than the .38 she hates.

Good advice. She has a Colt 1903 model M in .32 ACP that she is comfortable with and shoots scary well with. I hand load .32 ACP to get a 75 gr. lead flatnose running almost 1100 fps (about 200 FPE!) and they shoot like butter for her in rapid fire with almost no recoil. She also has appropriated my Beretta PX4 Storm Sub Compact 9mm and shoots it very well.

The problem with her and autos is the mag releases and slide releases and safeties and racking the slides/operating the levers with 56 year old semi arthritic cancer survivor (5 years soon!!) hands....she always struggles with the complexity of the auto pistols but with a revolver it's point and pull the trigger. Reloading? Open it up, insert the speed loader, close it - shoot. she is her fathers daughter and has been around revolvers her whole life and is comfy with them bone deep.

She has a lot of options. We just need to find the best one.


December 17, 2013, 03:05 PM
I mean stick to a revolver in .22 or .22 mag--the LCR comes in both flavors now and I believe S&W is making some interesting .22 mag snubbies as well.

Either way, good luck, hope she finds one she likes.

December 17, 2013, 04:15 PM
My wife decided she wanted to buy a handgun. (first timer) So I made suggestions but LET HER decide. We looked at the Ruger LCR. Ok, simplicity, reliability, looks, quality, and American made - great. When it came to caliber since we could not shoot sample guns I spoke from my experience, we watched some reviews on video of the LCR in .22, .22 mag, .38, and .357. Realizing we could always get bigger SHE decided on a .22. But it wasn't just the caliber. Like yours this one was used a and pretty good deal.

December 17, 2013, 08:32 PM
I've met people who were shot with .22s.

I've worked with the .22 LR LCR.

Understand if you choose a snub .22 LR you are carrying a very low-powered round to begin with, and more so in that short barrel that seriously reduces velocity and terminal performance.

If it's your choice, at least make it an educated one & understand its limitations.
Don't bank on firing one shot & waiting for the other guy to stop whatever he's doing.

David E
December 17, 2013, 09:17 PM
I'd be interested in seeing a picture of how you and/or your wife hold the gun. A video shooting it would be even better.

Another gun to consider is a 2" round butted Model 10

Vodoun da Vinci
December 22, 2013, 09:03 AM
Gotta bump this thread. We shot a bunch of hand loads and factory the last 3 days at the range with the LCR and a borrowed Ruger sp101 snubbie. I started Friday with some light handloads and worked my way up to shooting full house 158 gr. .38 +P Saturday.

I'm comfortable with my shooting of this little beast now so it stays in the fold. This is *not* a gun for beginners and I have around 300 rounds thru it the last 2 days alone. The gun is capable of astounding accuracy and has the best trigger I have ever felt in double action. Crisp. light...no creep, jitter, grit, in the pull and it breaks like glass for me. Kicks like an angry mule with hot loads but that's after the bullet is way out of the barrel and I have solved my flinch.

My Wife came to the same conclusion. She started with light loads and we worked a lot of not flinching, breath control, trigger, grip and head position and she started hitting very well with light loads. Then her confidence improved a lot....we took a break and shot her Colt Officers ACP with full house 230 gr. hardball which tossed her around but she hit very accurately out to 30'. she shot the whole box of 50! While she was high on accomplishment we switched back to the LCR (her request - she wants to make this gun work for her) and since she was now warm and acclimated to heavier recoil and loaded her with a semi stiff handload and 158 gr. bullets in her LCR.

No problems. She continued to improve and did not notice the recoil nor did her flinch return. She is not sore today...neither of us is. So, maybe crosstraining and some perspective and added experience with the teeny LCR snubbie was all we really needed.

I'll reiterate that snubbies are not for beginners. We find them to be the most challenging firearm to become proficient with, and therefor very rewarding when things settle down. We found that shooting the larger heavier sp101 mitigated some of the recoil but did not shoot any more accurately and it largely sat after 50 rounds of testing. We'll be shooting a Colt Detctive Special over the holidays but I think Kelly has made a choice to make the LCR work for her even if that means a lot of hard work and experience with the little beast.


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