The Ruger LC Carbine 45—A Versatile Powerhouse

by Vern Evans

Known for versatility and overall enjoyable range sessions, pistol caliber carbines run the gamut for hunting, hiking, and home defense. Available in a variety of pistol calibers, PCCs offer increased accuracy while remaining affordable to run. At this year’s SHOT Show, Ruger introduced its LC Carbine 45™ variant, chambered in .45 ACP, further expanding the line. I got an early look at it at a Gunsite event, and this is what I found.

The Versatile Ruger LC Carbine 45

I’m fortunate to live in the great state of Arizona. Besides being gun friendly the state has an authentic pioneer disposition. This means folks here do not panic at the sight of a gun on someone’s hip.

We’re blessed with some fantastic shooting ranges, and I am fortunate enough to have a spot to shoot on a piece of BLM land just an hour’s drive from my home. I am also lucky enough to be within a 4-hour drive of Gunsite Academy. If you’re not familiar, it is our nation’s largest and privately owned shooting academy dedicated to training responsible armed citizens.

One of the biggest thrills for me as a gun writer is seeing products before they are introduced to the general public. That was the case last December when a small group of writers assembled at Gunsite. We arrived with the promise of seeing something new, different, and very cool from Ruger.

At the event, Brandon Trevino, one of Ruger’s product managers, unveiled the LC Carbine 45. It is a compact, semi-auto carbine chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. Ruger ships the gun with a 13-round magazine, and Glock 21 mags are compatible with the PCC.

In addition, it features a folding stock, which is also adjustable for length. The charging handle can be positioned on either the right or left side of the receiver, based on shooter preference.

Up top is a full-length Picatinny rail that runs the length of the receiver and handguard. As a result, this gives the shooter plenty of area for optics, magnifiers, and even thermals. Likewise, the handguard features M-LOK slots for mounting things like lights and lasers.  Additionally, Ruger threads the barrel’s muzzle for possible use with a suppressor or other muzzle device.

What is the LC Carbine?

The LC Carbine 45 weighs just a hair over 7 pounds and, with the buttstock folded, measures 22.5 inches long. While Trevino detailed us on the gun in the classroom I asked him, “What’s the intended market for this gun? Is it a home defense carbine, a hunting gun, or a plinker?”

Trevino smiled and said, “All of the above. It is super compact and would make a great truck gun. With its stock folded, it will fit in most backpacks and would be a great hiking/camping companion. It would work great for home defense with its short dimensions.

“But it is a straight wall pistol cartridge and would be a formidable hog gun! You have a full optics rail on top, and you can throw a thermal sight on it and screw on a suppressor. So, it has some legit hunting credibility. Besides that, it is just a ton of fun to shoot at the range.”

A Look at the PCCs Details

With that, we adjourned to the range with LC Carbine 45s equipped with red dot optics and a supply of Doubletap 230-grain FMJ rounds. It took just a second for me to find the optimal stock length and make that adjustment.

The carbine possesses a blade-type trigger safety. Likewise, an ambidextrous manual safety is easily reachable with the thumb while using a firing grip.

On the left side of the receiver is a bolt release that can be activated with the thumb. Correspondingly, the right side of the receiver has a button that can be engaged with the shooter’s trigger finger—assuming the shooter is right-handed.

The non-reciprocating charging handle can also be switched from the left to the right side, depending on the shooter’s preference. And to make the gun truly southpaw-friendly, the magazine release is reversible. The extractor also serves as a loaded chamber indicator, and shooters can visually and tactilely verify the carbine’s readiness condition.

Ruger uses the carbine’s pistol grip to house the magazine. This actually shaves a few inches off the gun’s overall length. Knowing how immensely popular Ruger’s PCC, chambered in 9mm, is, I asked Trevino why Ruger didn’t build the LC Carbine 45 on that platform.

“It’s not that we didn’t think about it,” said Trevino. “But because the gun is blow back operated the PCC receiver was not big enough to house a bolt with the needed mass for the .45 ACP. So, we were able to add a little bit more length to the 5.7x28mm LC Carbine’s receiver, add more mass to the bolt, and get the .45 ACP to run using blowback operation.”

Shooting the LC Carbine 45

I found the gun to balance well and was quick to shoulder. The gun’s balance point is almost exactly at the pistol grip, partly due to the heavy bolt over barrel arrangement. Each time I threw the gun up, I found the red dot immediately.

Doubletaps were quick and easy. In fact, almost effortless and devastatingly effective. We even tried failure drills at the 25-yard mark. This involves firing two very quick shots into the target’s upper chest and one last shot to the head. The only time I had a miss was when I rushed myself. That said, there weren’t too many misses.

After a lunch break, our group was split in two. Half of us went to the Pit Shoot House and the other half to the Scrambler field course. It’s one thing to test a gun on a square range but an entirely different matter to add the stress of clearing a shoot-house. Equally challenging is firing the gun at targets between 75 and 150 yards while running against the clock.

The Ruger LC Carbine 45 ran like a scalded cat. And I can’t remember one instance of any of the writers having any sort of failure with the gun.

Before I left Gunsite, I ordered a Test & Evaluation sample from Trevino. Our annual industry SHOT Show was just a month away, and Ruger was going to debut the gun there. So, I wanted to get some rounds through my test gun beforehand.

Accuracy Defined

When the gun arrived, it was outfitted with polymer folding sights for those who don’t want to add an optic. I chose to add an old Trijicon 1.25-4X AccuPoint scope in an American Defense mount. This let me really see what kind of accuracy the LCC45 is capable of.

I can’t recall how long I’ve had this scope/mount combination. But it’s been long enough that I used it for practically all of my 3-gun competition matches. Ankle replacements along with a hip replacement convinced me I should probably leave this game to more youthful competitors a decade ago.

In any event, the Trijicon variable scope was perfect, as most local matches were set up on short ranges. Not to mention, I found that I never needed more than 4x anyway. I really like the easy-on and off capability of the American Defense scope mount and use it frequently in my evaluations for that reason.

I didn’t have the opportunity to fire the gun for groups while I was at Gunsite. So, that was my first order of business when my test gun arrived.

I set my targets out at 50 yards and fired all groups from a seated rest using a DOA Tactical shooting bench. Likewise, I rested the LC Carbine 45 on a Caldwell Tack Driver sandbag. Setting the scope on 4X, I fired five rounds to a group and three groups with each ammunition. The groups listed in the accuracy chart (below) are the most accurate groups fired.

Operating the LC Carbine 45

I used a variety of factory ammunition to test the LC Carbine 45. Some of it was just 230-grain FMJ stuff, while other loads were hot self-defense rounds. The rounds possessed different bullet nose profiles and overall lengths, yet they all fed, cycled, extracted, and ejected without fail. Speer’s 200-grain Gold Dot rounds produced a spectacular 50-yard, 5-shot group that measured just .67 inches!

One important feature that helped me shoot those small groups was the gun’s crisp trigger. My test sample’s trigger broke at almost exactly 4-pounds. That pull weight is ideal for a gun that might be used for hunting as well as defense applications.

I set out some steel targets from 20 to 50 yards and dialed my AccuPoint scope back to 1.25X. Shooting with both eyes open, I was able to place the red aiming chevron on the steel and fire some very quick controlled pairs.

I spent many years as an active handgun competitor, but I couldn’t come close to this level of speed and accuracy with a handgun. For that reason, I keep long guns as my primary home defense weapons.

I mentioned the LC Carbine 45 comes with one 13-round magazine and that Glock 21 magazines will also work with the gun. Trevino mentioned to me that most aftermarket magazines will work with ball ammunition, but hotter defense and hunting loads caused feed issues.

In those cases, the bolt moves faster than the magazine’s spring ability to push the next round up. So, make your ammunition and magazine selections carefully.

Final Thoughts

Ruger’s new LC Carbine 45 Auto is a wonderful blend of compactness and lightweight, married to a hard-hitting cartridge with a generous magazine capacity. It will handily fulfill several roles, from an RV gun to a backpacker’s companion to a dedicated house carbine.

The full-length optics rail and threaded muzzle also makes it an adaptable and desirable hog hunting rig. I’m sure there are a handful of uses that I’ve omitted that the Ruger carbine would eminently distinguish itself. The versatility of the LC Carbine 45 Auto cannot be overstated!

For more information, please visit Ruger.com.

Ruger LC Carbine .45 ACP Specs

Caliber/Capacity .45 ACP, 13 + 1
Overall Length 30.60”
Weight 7.1 Pounds with Unloaded Magazine
Barrel Alloy Steel, 16.25”, 1:16 RH Twist, Muzzle Threaded .578”-28
Receiver Aluminum Alloy with Type III Hard Coat Anodized
Handguard CNC-milled handguard that is Type III hard-coat anodized aluminum for maximum durability, with M-LOK accessory attachment slots on seven sides. Multiple QD sling sockets allow for maximum versatility
Stock Folding stock is reversible and features an adjustable length of pull but can easily be replaced with AR-pattern stocks. The rear of the receiver has a Picatinny rail for maximum accessory compatibility.
Trigger Utilizes Ruger’s safe, reliable, and proven Secure Action™ system that combines a protected internal hammer with a bladed-safety trigger. The trigger has a short, smooth pull, clean break, and positive reset
Sights Ruger Rapid Deploy folding sights are adjustable for windage and elevation and the full length Picatinny rail allows for optic mounting.
Accessories Polymer, Flip Sights, one 13-Round Magazine
Warranty Limited Lifetime
MSRP $1009

Performance

Ammo Velocity Group
Black Hills 230-grain FMJ 951 1.13”
Doubletap 230-grain FMJ 842 1.04”
Federal HST 230-grain +P 1071 .75”
Federal Syntec 220-grain TSJ 838 .92”
Hornady 185-grain XTP 1086 .79”
Hornady 220-grain JHP +P 1091 1.16”
PMC 185-grain JHP 1108 .89
Remington 185-grain Golden Saber JHP 1183 .91”
Sig Sauer 230-grain FMJ 1009 .97”
Speer 200-grain Gold Dot 1208 .67”
Average   .93”

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