Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum, a Five Shot Self Defense Gun ~ Review

by Bob Shell
Looking for a compact self defense revolver at a reasonable price? I would definitely consider the Ruger LCRx Revolver .357 Magnum.

Ruger LCRx Revolver loaded with Liberty Ammo .357 Magnum Loads
Ruger LCRx Revolver loaded with Liberty Ammo .357 Magnum Loads
Bob Shell
Bob Shell

U.S.A.-(Ammoland.com)- It seems that every day Ruger comes out with something new and it has another new self defense gun, the Ruger LCRx Revolver .357 Magnum.

It is a very lightweight gun and is a 5 shot model. With some of the new ammo available such as Liberty Ammunition which offers a very light bullet.

That will cut down on the recoil and still be an effective round for self-defense.

Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum

The Ruger LCRx revolver has a 1 & 7/8” barrel and is meant for carrying and self-defense. It offers either a single or double action pull, a good feature in my view. The hammer isn’t very prominent which is helpful if pulling out of a pocket as it wouldn’t be as likely to snag on something. The gun is all black with rubber grips which are comfortable considering their small size. The rear sight is a groove in the receiver and the front has some white paint, which would aid in picking it up.

This concealable handgun is made for close range shooting in self-defense situations. The double action trigger is fair and consistent, a bit on the heavy side, but not as bad as others I have worked with. Since the gun's hammer is small, cocking it requires some attention to avoid it slipping before being fully cocked. In other words, some practice should be done if you are going to everyday carry it. Since this revolver will, in all likelihood, be shot double action in a serious self-defense situation, that is how your practice sessions should be done.

If I am testing a particular type of gun or ammo for accuracy then single action will be employed. Regardless, practice is never a bad idea regardless of the type of self-defense gun you are carrying.

Bob Shell shooting the Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum
Bob Shell shooting the Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum

Like most snub nose revolvers, the Ruger LCRx is harder to shoot well. That is because of the size and the short sight radius. This causes larger groups as a small error in lining up the sights causes a shot to be further off the target. Mechanically this revolver is accurate it just requires more practice than a larger or “longer” handgun. That is also true with small semi-auto pistols. That is where handloading with lead bullets comes in handy. You get more practice for fewer bucks.

The Ruger LCRx revolver weighs 17.1 OZ so heavy bullets at high velocity will produce excessive recoil and with the short barrel, velocities will drop off a lot.

I would imagine that shooting a lot of heavily loaded 357 especially with heavy bullets will wear out the gun, not to mention the shooter.

Ruger LCRx Revolver .357 Magnum Muzzle
Ruger LCRx Revolver .357 Magnum Muzzle

Probably the best handload options will involve 38 special cases with a light bullet. With the short barrel, the 357 case may have more powder than is actually needed. I am going to focus on 38 special cases as fully loaded 357’s won’t burn all of the powder in such a short barrel. All my test reloads will use 38 special cases unless otherwise noted. The Hollow base WC (wad cutter) was loaded backward, an old trick to make it more effective. If it manages to expand, it will produce a severe wound. I have tested them on various occasions and sometimes the lip folds which will prevent it from expanding. Accuracy isn’t always the best although at close range that isn’t a problem.

SIG Sauer Ammunition was used in portions of this gun review: SIG has made quality guns for years and now they have a line of ammo. I have used it in various calibers and like their guns the ammo is a quality product, for info you can go to www.sigsauer.com/products/ammunition/.

Liberty 357 and 38 Special Ammunition
Liberty 357 and 38 Special Ammunition

The most consistent load for me was the Liberty 38 load using a 50-grain bullet. The Hornady 90 grain also was consistent and the recoil with the loads tested is ok and most shooters should be able to handle it. If you like verity in both factory ammo and loading components Hornady is hard to beat. For info on their products you can go to www.hornady.com/ammunition  .

In all probability, I would carry the Liberty 50-grain load for recoil and power reasons. The Liberty ammo is probably the fastest ammo available and for more info you can go to www.libertyammunition.com for info on their line of ammo. Due to cost, I would practice with a lead bullet handload.

There are other good ammunition choices available, which is a strong point of the 357 magnum load. It is the most versatile handgun round available. The Ruger LCRx's DA trigger pull isn’t real heavy so most shooters with good hands should be able to manage it. The Hogue rubber grips are comfortable and will fit most hands. The powder used in my tested handloads is a new IMR powder called Red, being new it needs some powder load development. They have introduced several new handgun powders, which I will be working with in the future. Also some of the old stand by powders were used.

357 and 38 Special Ammunition Results

LoadBulletVelocityComment
Liberty 3850 gr.1405.25Nice Load
Liberty 35750 gr.1734.55High ES
Hornady Critical Defense90 gr.968.08Decent Load
8 grains Ruger Red 110 gr. HP1067.67High ES
4.5 grains 231125 gr. cast841Mild
6.5 grains Ruger Red125 gr. cast889.07High ES
Sig125 gr. FMJ FP769.7Nice
Sig125 gr. HP777.9Consistent
6.5 grains Ruger Red130 gr. Acme847.77High ES
Winchester Factory130 gr. FMJ740.89Decent
6 grains Ruger Red148 gr. WC874.64High ES
6 grains Ruger Red148 gr. WC backwards867.77High ES
3.2 grains 231148 gr. WC618Nice Target Load
Winchester 357125 gr. JSP1235.7Heavy Recoil

I don’t see any reason to fire heavy bullets at high velocities in such a small gun. It would be safe, though I imagine that firing a lot of the ammo would prematurely loosen the gun and not do your hand much good. We had some WW factory 125 JSP and while they shot OK the recoil was very unpleasant and after a few rounds it quit being fun.

 Again, with such a short barrel, I didn’t see any advantage in using 357 cases as some of the powder won’t burn resulting in very little velocity gain while getting more muzzle blast.

38 Target Ammo
38 target ammo test examples.

For someone looking for a compact self defense revolver at a reasonable price I would definitely give the Ruger LCRx Revolver .357 Magnum a serious look. The 357 is superior to any smaller round and in most social situations five shots would be enough to resolve the issues. It is reliable and for its size easy to shoot at close range.

Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum Specs:

  • Grip – Hogue Tamer Monogrip
  • Front – SightReplaceable, Pinned Ramp
  • Barrel – Length1.87″
  • Cylinder – FinishPVD
  • Twist – 1:16″ RH
  • Rear Sight – U-Notch Integral
  • Finish – Matte Black
  • Weight – 17.1 oz.
  • Height – 4.50″
  • Overall Length – 6.50″
  • Capacity – 5
  • Grooves – 6
  • CA Approved – No
  • MA Approved & Certified – No
  • Suggested Retail – $669.00

About Bob Shell:

A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com.

  • 34 thoughts on “Ruger LCRx Revolver in .357 Magnum, a Five Shot Self Defense Gun ~ Review

    1. Just a thought. Modern self defense ammo is much better then the older stuff & some of it is scary as it is meant to do a lot of damage. It would be very hard to make a handload that is more effective then some of the factory fodder. I have tested a lot of it & as I said I would probably carry Liberty in this gun

      1. If I look around hard enough I am sure I could find a box of centerfire factory ammo here. Of course it would be at least thirty seven years old as it has been that long since I bought any. Been handloading for 48 years and have full faith and confidence in what I produce. YMMV.

        1. There is no point in overloading except to impress your buddies at the range.
          Why would you take a chance on destroying your gun to over compensate for whatever you think is your SHORTcoming?

          1. You know how I know that you don’t know what the hell you are talking about? But you go on throwing your stupidity out there for the world to see. What a dumbass.

            1. An armorer explained to me that .38+P would be fine for self defense in my S&W Model 36, but in extended practice use it would throw my cylinder timing off. I believe the same would be true of overloaded .38 Spc. in a similar older gun.

      1. Exactly; 38 +P is a pretty serious round, especially at close range. Hell, a .22 Mag hollow point is a terrifying round for it’s size. I wouldn’t want to get hit by one, that’s for sure.

        1. When I was about 10 years old my brother and I decided we would shoot my dad’s .22 LR 24-inch barrel target rifle into a large bar of FelsNaphtha soap lengthwise. That was a huge bar probably 5 inches long. Where that bullet came out the hole was 1-2 inches in diameter! PLEASE do not shoot me with a .22 LRHP!!!
          As for the gun reviewed here I’m waiting for a 3-inch barrel model.

          1. I concur BJI! Anyone who thinks a .22mag, especially in a hollow point, can’t do some serious damage has never seen one hit a watermelon! Hopefully non of us will ever have to be in a situation where we have to shoot someone in self defense, (anyone, for that matter). But you got my point……take care!

      1. Exactly; or just buy a .38 Special, or a .38 +P gun-both are still highly effective self defense weapons used at close range.

      1. @durabo, Are you contemplating criminal or civil trial? What would your hypothetical lawyer’s argument be?

        1. Civil trial: “Poor Fernando, who walked into the USA to improve his lot, and had spent only half of his young life in protective custody, was shot with a cartridge loaded well in excess of loading parameters, so his organs were shredded as the projectile made its way through his body! Sure, young Fernando had had his scrapes with the law, but he was taking a computer technology course, and, for all this court knows, he could have been the next Bill Gates. Now his two girlfriends and their seven children are destitute as a result of his loss of life…” (cue the violins playing a sad Gypsy dirge).

          Civil cases are dependent upon theatrics and emotion, not facts. An attorney who is a good actor will usually prevail. Remember: The USA is the most litigious society on Earth.

          1. So the reloaded cartridge would have to be overloaded. In theory, I will not argue with you. I think, however, that you describe a proof problem that discovery would not cure. The evidence, after all, is burned up.

            1. The leftover cartridges from the same reloaded batch could provide the damning evidence. I teach my CCW trainees to use factory self-defense loads, which have been approved by NIJ . Use reloads for practice, but defend with approved ammo. I tell them to also shun FMJ rounds because of their over-penetration.

            2. @durabo, in a theoretic sense you have a point. As a matter of discovery, there is no foundation for the theory that there were any “cartridges from the same reload batch” left over or in the alternative that the leftovers contained the same amount of powder. Just a stray objection.

      2. According to Massad Ayoub that has never once happened.

        Essentially, from what he has said, the only reason there is advice to stay with commercially prepared ammo is that the ballistics are easily to recreate for the court case from other cartridges in that same box or from another box from the store shelf. But there has never been a case of an ambulance chaser actually making anything regarding a reloaded cartridge actually mean anything.

      3. I am surprised that anyone is still saying this old canard. Well, maybe not surprised; but, disappointed especially someone who claims to be a CCW instructor.

          1. @durabo, I think that your argument has more impact on LEOs in “Use of Force” cases when ACLU type attorneys want to extract money from the employing government, and the family sees the case as their one big chance in a life time to get rich.

            1. I never forget that ACLU is short for Atheists, Communists, Libtards, Un-Americans. By nature, they abhor private ownership of firearms. We civilians can be targets for these scumbags, so why give them ammunition to burn us (excuse the metaphors)?

              At the end of our existence,
              And of the evolutionary chain,
              Vultures, maggots and attorneys
              Are the only ones who gain.

          2. This is not related, except that it is an opinion. Every morning I wake up and think to my self, ” Thank God that hiLIARy Clintoon is not president!

            1. Just because Hillary is a lying, thieving, murdering, criminal, can’t remember her own lies hillbilly doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be a good president.

    2. Interesting to see the backwards HBWC mentioned again. Decades ago it was the best way to get improved stopping power out of a .38/.357 snubbie, and today it’s still a viable choice. I found out that brand of HBWC made a HUGE difference in performance – the original style Hornady was best, their current knurled style bullets were the worst, with Speer somewhere in between. A hefty charge of SR4756 allowed velocities over 1000 ft/sec out of a .357 snubbie (probably too hot for a .38) so expansion was never an issue. The alleged problems of tumbling bullets or “blow out” through the thinner lead down the bullet axis were never observed, and I LOOKED for them. Maybe in this day of high tech bonded bullets, polymer filled tips, reverse taper and skived jackets, it’s time to revisit the K.I.S.S. principle and “keep it simple, stupid.”

      1. I was thinking the same thing. I have my Taurus 357 snubby loaded with Winchester 180gr Partitions. They don’t make them anymore. But they roar. Sharp recoil. But in a defensive situation I’m sure you won’t be worried about recoil.

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