Since the days of the old west, shooters have enjoyed the economy of having one round usable in two different guns. Sharing ammo between a revolver and a lever-action rifle was a great concept.
Recently, Ruger came out with a Ruger LC Carbine, and following on the heels of their Ruger-5.7 pistol; it shoots the 5.7x28mm cartridge.
There are a few practical applications for being able to use the same rounds between guns, but does this still apply to the 5.7? We took the Ruger LC Carbine to the range to find out.
So follow along as we walk you through the specs, talk about the features, and evaluate its performance on the range.
Table of Contents
Pros & Cons
- Same ammo as Ruger-5.7 pistol
- Same magazine as Ruger-5.7 pistol
- One magazine
- Expensive ammo
The Bottom Line
The Ruger LC Carbine is an accurate, lightweight, and compact rifle chambered in 5.7x28mm. It ran reliably through our admittedly limited test and did so with the low recoil associated with the round.
Specs & Features
- Caliber: 5.7x28mm
- Capacity: 20+1
- Action: Blowback
- Length: 28.70″ – 30.60″
- Barrel Length: 16.25″
- Height: 6.35”
- Width: 2.5”
- Weight: 5.9 lbs.
- 16” fluted barrel
- Folding stock
- ½-28 TPI threaded barrel
Specification Source: Ruger
The 5.7 cartridge is, no doubt, an interesting round, and while it has been widely adopted around the world, there haven’t been a lot of firearms designed for its use. But Ruger added to that tally during SHOT Show 2019 with their Ruger-5.7 pistol.
Perhaps the natural evolution for Ruger was to then create a carbine that not only uses the same cartridge but also the same magazine.
The company used the Ruger PC Carbine as a touchstone, but there are a few notable departures.
Who Is It For?
The LC Carbine is a great option for people who want a lightweight, compact rifle that delivers accurate fire using the 5.7 round. If you are new to this ballistic Mighty Mouse, it’s worth checking out.
This gun makes the most sense for people who are already familiar with and invested in the 5.7 round. Those who already own a Ruger-5.7 would be the greatest beneficiaries because of the magazine compatibility between the guns.
Fit & Feel
There are some similarities to the PC Carbine, but it is lighter and shorter. The charging handle is situated similarly to the PCC though the controls are very different.
The rifle is well balanced, and the aluminum receiver is reminiscent of Ruger’s 5.7 pistol, which flows into the forend, complete with M-LOK on the sides and bottom.
A Picatinny rail runs the entire length of the gun from the receiver down to the muzzle.
The trigger has a couple of millimeters of travel before breaking, just under 4 pounds on average. Reset is soft but audible and tactile, happening near the full return of the bow.
Details like the fluted barrel demonstrate Ruger’s intention to keep the weight down. The overall impression is one of good quality.
The ergos of the LC Carbine are good, perhaps better than Ruger’s pistol in the same caliber. While the grip is identical, the paddle-like safety is reminiscent of a 1911.
The long length of this device is well suited to allowing different-sized hands to engage it wherever it comes naturally. The safety is located on both sides of the gun.
One improvement over the pistol for the LC Carbine is the magazine release. On the pistol, this is a push button located at the notch between the trigger guard and grip.
Considering the distance from the backstrap to this point (caused by the long 5.7 round), it can be tough to reach for smaller hands without adjusting grip.
The carbine has an extended mag release lever that expands toward the backstrap allowing a wider range of hand sizes to reach it. This is also ambidextrous but can be swapped for the original button.
I preferred the charging handle on the left side though it, too, is reversible. Finally, the stock can be converted to fold either direction.
How Does It Shoot?
As expected, the recoil was soft and allowed for quick follow-up shots. This is a testament to the properties of the 5.7 round, especially when you consider there is no muzzle device on the gun.
The LC Carbine’s short overall length made it easy to maneuver, whether removing it folded from a backpack or engaging different target angles from a VTAC-type barrier. It also seemed like the sound was not as loud as many 5.56 again, owing largely to the characteristics of the round.
Using the Vortex AMG UH-1, I was able to transition easily between targets and ring steel quite handily from 100 yards.
We only ran a couple of hundred rounds through the gun during our testing. With that said, the gun ran flawlessly for the extent of the test.
Magazines loaded and fed the Federal American Eagle .40 grain FMJ ammunition. They also seated and dropped clearly when called upon to do so.
Using the UH-1, I shot steel from 10 yards out to 25 and had no trouble repeatedly hitting even the smaller 4-inch targets. I found the height of the holographic sight to be just right for the cheek rest.
While I did not test MOA, I was able to hit 12-inch steel plates from 100 yards easily. This made me wonder how the LC Carbine might fare with a different, long-range setup.
What Sets it Apart?
There are several advantages to running 5.7. The relatively tiny size makes it more compact and lighter than many other rounds.
As a result, you can carry a good deal of ammo for less weight. The magazines typically hold quite a bit more, and the LC Carbine demonstrates this with 20+1 capacity.
Ruger has created, in true carbine fashion, a compact, long gun that runs the same round as their pistol. But perhaps even more important, the LC Carbine is also different because it utilizes the same 20-round magazine as the Ruger-5.7 pistol.
Additionally, the gun is light, coming in at 5.9 pounds.
By The Numbers
Though our test wasn’t super extensive, the gun loaded, fed, and ran well.
The ergos of the LC Carbine are good; that said, it might be tough for smaller hands to navigate.
I shot 10-25 yards and had no trouble hitting smaller 4-inch targets.
The LC Carbine is still fairly new, so there aren’t many accessories specific to the gun yet. Shooters can use the M-LOK and Picatinny rail to mount accessories on top of, on the side, or underneath the rail. You could also mount a suppressor or some other device to the ½-28 threads on the muzzle.
The MSRP listed on Ruger’s site is $979 though I’m seeing a few retailers carrying the LC Carbine for $799. At this price, the rifle is arguably a good value. This must be tempered with the relatively high price of keeping the carbine fed with a steady diet of 5.7.
Upgrades for LC Carbine
Shooters interested in the Ruger LC Carbine could customize depending on the intended purpose. It’s worth keeping in mind the low starting weight.
A truck gun or home defender could be a little more decked out with a light and a small footprint optic like the AMG UH-1 or something even smaller.
Staying true to the intended design, keeping the approach minimalist with a small red dot would maintain a more snag-free ability to remove the rifle from concealment.
You can also swap out the stock, as the rear of the receiver is fitted with a section of Picatinny rail.
Ruger offers +5 magazine extensions that are designed for the Ruger 5.7 pistol, so that would work with the LC Carbine.
The LC Carbine is a cool new offering that expands the number of long guns capable of firing this somewhat unique round.
Ruger stuck to the playbook and made the gun light and concealable.
Our limited test showed it to be reliable and very accurate.
The LC Carbine has also got some great potential for evolving to suit various shooter needs — I, for one, am excited to see how it grows.
What do you think of the Ruger LC Carbine? Let us know in the comments below. For more on 5.7 check out our round-up of the Best 5.7 Guns and Ammo.