September 25, 2023
After eight shots at 25 yards, I had a rough zero. Moving to 50 yards, three more bullets grouped
around the bullseye. Finetuning the Aimpoint ACRO’s windage and elevation to be dead-on, I fired another three to confirm my 50-yard zero.
With 6 rounds left in my first magazine through Ruger’s LC Charger 5.7x28, I angled the 10.3-inch barrel towards a 200-yard steel silhouette and nestled into my shooting bag. Pressing cheek against top rail and clamping the handguard with my left hand, I let ’em fly. With each trigger break, a “ting!” floated back to the firing line.
I had no clue where I hit, so I walked downrange. Once there, I found all six of Fiocchi’s 35-grain jacketed frangibles in a hand-size group. At that point, I concluded Ruger’s LC Charger was the ultimate cheek pistol.
Firearm trainer Rhett Neumayer of Demonstrated Concepts has perfected the usage of compact, stockless firearms. He calls them “cheek pistols” because he uses both hands and his cheek as a third point of contact. For aiming, Neumayer uses a tall red dot or 1X prism sight.
It’s an odd way to shoot. The method works but it’s foreign in look and feel, especially for those accustomed to traditional methods of shooting.
Until six months ago, I knew of only two ways to discharge a firearm with any degree of success. One was pistol shooting, which involves one or both hands, and the other was firing a long gun utilizing the shoulder and cheek. Then I stumbled upon Neumayer’s amazing cheek method.
I now consider it the third dimension of shooting. Operating a cheek pistol is like shooting a long gun without a stock, and — like most things — achieving proficiency requires practice. The first step one must take is to select a cheek pistol. There’s not a lot to choose from, because all movement must take place inside the firearm.
KelTec’s CP33 and the AR-15 are the most popular cheek pistols. While those are fine choices ballistically and dimensionally, I wanted something in the middle. After searching for months to no avail, Ruger launched the LC Charger in the zesty 5.7x28 cartridge. This would become my test mule.
Ruger’s 5.7 is the ideal size and configuration for a cheek pistol. At 4 pounds, this blowback-operated firearm is no lightweight. In fact, for a gun that’s only 16 inches in total length, it feels dense. That mass, however, keeps recoil to a minimum, which is important when firing a gun from the cheek.
The LC Charger feeds from 20-round Ruger 5.7 magazines. That’s a lot of firepower. Thanks to its 10.3-inch barrel, this PDW-sized package achieves a significant velocity boost over 5.7 handguns as well.
During testing, Fiocchi’s 35-grain jacketed frangible clocked 2,100 fps. FN’s 40-grain V-MAX was not far behind at 2,080 fps. That’s not 5.56 velocity, but it’s plenty at personal defense distances, and it does so with far less muzzle blast.
Outfitting the Ruger LC Charger for cheek duty is easy. It leaves the factory with a hand stop at the 6 o’clock position on the forend. I moved it to 9 o’clock to protect my left hand from going forward and over the barrel. On the right side of the forend, I mounted a Steamlight ProTac 1L in a Mischief Machine M-LOK mount for low-light use.
Now, the fun stuff. A red dot is ideal for cheek pistols, but keep in mind that AR-height optics are too low for a proper cheekweld. Luckily, the tall AR mount market provides options.
For testing the LC Charger, I mounted Aimpoint’s excellent ACRO P-2 red dot in Reptilia’s 1.93-inch Dot Mount. This combo is the perfect size and height, enabling blazing-fast engagements at close range along with precision out to 200 yards, which is as far as I’ve shot (and where 5.7 bullets run out of steam).
You’ll notice I mention both speed and precision. Both are key when dealing with cheek pistols.
Pistol Vs. Carbine Vs. Cheek Pistol
The advantage of pistols is their size. As discreet as they are to carry, they are challenging to hit with, making them close-range propositions. Long guns are easier to hit with and provide superior ballistics, but you can’t conceal them. Where does the cheek pistol fit in?
In many ways, the cheek pistol offers the best of both worlds. While the Ruger LC Charger is too large for belt carry, it goes unnoticed in a vehicle or small bag. In close quarters, such as in the home or vehicle, its small size and how tightly it is held to the body make it superior to long guns or handguns, which both protrude further from the shooter.
Ballistically, the 5.7x28 out of a 10.3-inch barrel can’t compete with a 16-inch 5.56 NATO. But it does outclass PCCs like KelTec’s SUB2000, which sends 124-grain bullets at 1,400 fps. Additionally, the cheek pistol offers the stability, low recoil, and offhand accuracy of a carbine.
At defensive distances, say out to 50 yards, I can shoot this cheek pistol as well an AR carbine. In fact, the groups I get at 50 yards are better than I could produce with a traditional pistol at 15 yards. Because the LC Charger has low recoil, the dot hardly moves off target, making it fast to shoot as well.
Now, let’s see how the cheek pistol stacks up against a short-barreled rifle (SBR) or braced pistol.
Cheek Vs. Stock Vs. Brace
Legality aside, let’s assume you could toss a brace or stock on the Ruger LC Charger. Would it be superior to a cheek pistol for self-defense? I don’t believe it would. The reason is speed of deployment.
Even if it takes a fraction of second, deploying a side-folding stock adds a step in readying the gun for use. In a life-or-death encounter, a split second might be critical. If accuracy was improved, that would change things. But at defensive distances, any accuracy difference is a wash.
Cheek Pistol For You?
As you can see, the cheek pistol carries like a pistol but performs like a carbine. It won’t replace either, but it does carve out a large niche in the middle. To me, Neumayer’s cheek pistol method is the most exciting development in shooting in decades. With braces likely gone and many states not allowing SBRs, a cheek pistol is the obvious alternative, and it’s a darn effective one at that.