“Ease of use” has become a big thing in the defensive pistol market, and against this backdrop Ruger has made a number of changes to its .380-chambered LCP II with the new Lite Rack version ($349 suggested retail). It is chambered to .22 Long Rifle, and Ruger has enhanced the serration pattern at the front and rear of the slide. At the back of the slide engineers have also added “cocking ears” for a better grip when cycling the slide.
Thanks to its chambering and the fact that it is a hammer-fired pistol, not a striker-fired gun, the Lite Rack LCP II has a lighter recoil spring. The setup is similar to Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield EZ. While my Ruger Lite Rack LCP II sample seems to me to be slightly harder to rack than the current sample of the Shield EZ I have, the Ruger slide is still darn easy to operate.
Ruger has also added a manual safety to the Lite Rack LCP II. Unlike typical semiauto thumb safeties, you push forward on this one—as opposed to downward—for Fire. I was skeptical at first, but after working with it for a bit I found it to be quite instinctive and simple to operate.
For people who use manual safeties (the Lite Rack LCP II also sports a trigger safety) and for whom this might be their primary defensive pistol, the design should prove no problem. Those accustomed to standard thumb safeties will need to do some training so the forward movement becomes second nature.
In addition to the manual and trigger safeties, the Lite Rack LCP II also has a magazine disconnect safety.
One of the things people complained about on the original LCP was the long, heavy trigger pull. Ruger addressed those complaints in the LCP II, and the Lite Rack version retains the easier, shorter pull and much shorter reset. There’s a lot of take-up travel, but the pull itself is short. Pull weight on my sample averaged six pounds, nine ounces. That’s not exactly light, but it’s just fine on a pistol meant to be used at very close quarters.
It’s a cliché that the first rule of gunfighting is to have a gun, and I’m not going to argue the merits/demerits of the .22 as a self-defense round, but the fact is the Lite Rack LCP II is so small it’s one of those guns you’ll likely have with you. With an overall length of 5.2 inches, a width of just 0.8 inch and weighing a mere 11.2 ounces, it would be an excellent pocket gun—and Ruger supplies a very nice tacky outside/smooth inside pocket holster with the pistol.
The frame is Ruger’s glass-reinforced nylon, and the stippling on the side panels and grip should prove just aggressive enough to prevent the gun from shifting in your hand. Yes it’s “only” a .22, but any gun this light is going to have some level of recoil—especially with the high-velocity ammunition the Lite Rack is designed to use.
Ruger has done a nice job with the Lite Rack LCP II’s sights. Both the front and rear are machined into the slide and feature serrated faces. However, unlike a lot of sights of this kind, the rear sight has a nice size to it. It’s generous enough to make it fast to acquire, but the notch is not so wide you’ll have a hard time centering the front sight in it.
The pistol ships with one 10-round magazine. The magazine’s base pad is extended just enough to allow you to get two fingers on the gun, but there’s no finger hook as you’d find on the standard LCP II. Currently there’s no expanded-capacity magazine option. The magazine does provide last-round hold-open.
The magazine release is a small, vertically oriented rectangular button with a smooth face. Between the small grip and the small release, I found it difficult to drop the magazine cleanly without shifting the pistol considerably from a firing grip.
That’s really my only complaint with the Lite Rack LCP II. It’s an easy to use, small and light gun that will be perfect for those who are recoil sensitive—especially if it’s going to be their primary defensive pistol. And for those who own a centerfire LCP or LCP II, the Lite Rack LCP II will make an excellent training pistol. Look for a full review of the gun in an upcoming issue of Handguns magazine.