Introduced in 2011 on the heels of the outrageously successful .380ACP caliber Ruger LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol), the LC9 gave the masses of concealed carry devotees who loved the size of that pocket gun but not the caliber something more substantial to wrap their hands around.
Why the LC9
Going back to the 1900s, the small Colt vest (hey guys wore them back then) and pocket sized semi-auto handguns were all snappy little blowback actions chambered in .25, .32, or .380 (all of which John Browning invented). These designs continued through the Walther, Beretta, and Bersa eras, remaining largely unchanged from a mechanical sense.
Then in 2008 Sturm, Ruger came out with the locked breech LCP hammerless, which sent the recoil down into the grip and the palm rather than back through the slide in the form of muzzle flip. This made the little (9.4 ounces unloaded, 5.16-inches long overall) .380 a hit.
However, many still preferred a larger caliber. That's where the LC9 came in....
In many ways, the LC9 is just a supped up LCP. Hammerless and with a short-recoil action, it incorporates the same DAO trigger system and uses a polymer lower frame with a blued slide and barrel. A single stack magazine helps keep things slim. Notable differences between the two are in weight (the LC9 beefs up to almost twice that of the humble older but lighter brother) however the gun is still almost as slim and just .84-inches longer overall while bringing a 8-shot 9mm capacity and much better sights to the party.
In short, whereas the LCP is designed for pointblank engagements within a 7-yard radius, you can actually hit something at 25 with the LC9 if you do your part.
(The LC9 is a little bulky for pocket carry, being better off in a slim IWB holster, but you can pull it off with the right wardrobe)
(Most versions, except for the current Pro-Model, have a very tactile safety lever on the left hand side of the frame, another departure from the LCP)
As a note of comparison between the brand new Glock 43, the LC9 is both a little lighter, a little shorter, a little slimmer, and has a larger magazine capacity than the Austrian slimline 9mm-- and Ruger pulled it off four years ago.
Hickok45 Runs a LC9 for 22 minutes...
Specs: (Current, LC9s)
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Capacity: 7+1 (9-round extended magazine available)
Barrel Length: 3.12"
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Finish Blued
Slide Material Through-Hardened Alloy Steel
Slide Finish Blued
Grip Frame Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
The gun soon garnered the the 2011 Handgun of the Year award by the Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence, but more importantly, was a hit with the public who rushed out to buy this smooth new entry into the CCW world. However, there was soon trouble in paradise as many reported overly long and creepy trigger pulls with production guns.
This led to an improved design, the LC9s in 2013 which changes the original hammer fired design over to a striker-fired one that, in turn, led to a different trigger package that included a Glock/XD-style pre-safety lever in the trigger. The result was a gun that went from a 7-ish pound trigger to more like a 4.5-pound trigger with about half the pull length.
Currently the LC9s model is the only one that Ruger carries in their production catalog and online.
How to get yours
Used hammer-fired LC9 pistols are out there in limited numbers and typically run, judging from a 90-day sampling of various online gun classifieds listings, about $275-$350. The current Blue book by Fjestad and the MGV book run about $125-350 for Good to Minty guns without lasers.
(The older LC9 hammerless has a very distinctive loaded chamber indicator....)
(...and a very LCP-like DAO bobbed hammer. Both have been rebooted in the newer LC9s)
MSRP for new striker fired LC9s models from Ruger, of which they only carry a standard version and a Pro-model with just the integrated trigger safety lever is both $449, translating into a slightly lower "street price."
Either way, not a bad price for a concealable peace of mind.