January 28, 2023
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If you have any interest in the 5.7x28mm cartridge, then you are likely aware of Ruger adding it to their line and chambering it. Frankly, FNH’s PDW cartridge appeared to be dead in the water when Ruger suddenly brought out their Ruger-5.7 pistol. While it had a very vocal cult following, the cartridge had been stagnating for years. With a company as large as Ruger taking an interest in the 5.7x28mm cartridge, it foretold positive things to follow. Ruger is large enough to push the cartridge to more mainstream shooters, and to push industry to offer more ammunition choices. It’s been a couple years now and Ruger’s follow-up to their successful 5.7 pistol is their new 5.7x28mm LC Carbine. This handy folding-stock carbine nicely complements their 5.7 pistol as not only do they share ammunition, but 20-round magazines as well.
It has long been popular to have a long gun that fires the same ammunition as your sidearm. The Model 1873 Winchester and Colt “Peacemaker” was a very popular pair in the 19th Century. Whether chambered in .44-40 Winchester Center Fire (W.C.F.) or .38-40 W.C.F. or even .32-20 W.C.F., a carbine and handgun sharing the same cartridge simplified logistics. When fired from the longer barrel of the carbine, the cartridge would gain a sometimes-significant boost in velocity. Plus, hitting with a long gun is easier than a handgun, especially at distance. There are a number of practical logistical advantages to needing only one type of ammunition for both long gun and pistol. This is still true today whether you are buying factory new ammunition or handloading. Currently, pistol caliber carbines in 9mm Parabellum, 10mm Auto and .45 ACP are very popular.
LC Carbine First Look
So, it only made sense for Ruger to design and introduce a new model in 5.7x28mm. I first learned of the project which became the LC Carbine a little over two years ago when it was still being designed. I was asked for my thoughts on certain aspects of their different concepts as the design was being hashed out. For example, there were two very different ideas for how the charging handle should be. I shared my input, their engineers got back to work and then things became quiet. I had actually forgotten about the project when Ruger presented it at the Outdoor Sportsman Group’s (OSG) annual Editorial Roundtable I was attending. This was my first opportunity to actually handle and fire Ruger’s new 5.7x28mm LC Carbine.
Click here to learn about the history and development of the 5.7x28mm cartridge.
James Tarr and I were working together and we took turns firing it and exchanged our thoughts. My initial impression was simply how comfortable and easy to shoot it is. Recoil is almost non-existent. There’s the report and it spits out an empty case, but the carbine hardly moves. I had the chance to put two novice female shooters behind the LC Carbine at the event, and not only did they enjoy shooting it, but they did quite well with it. Recently, I received an LC Carbine on temporary loan from Ruger for review in Firearms News. This allowed me to more thoroughly examine it and to test it on the range with some interesting loads. Before I get into range testing though, let’s take a quick look at this .22-caliber semi-automatic carbine.
Starting at the muzzle, you will note it is threaded and comes with a muzzle nut fitted. Thread pitch is the popular 1/2x28 TPI, the same as on a 5.56mm AR-15. Keep in mind, the 5.7x28mm fires the same .224-inch projectile as the 5.56mm, so commonly available muzzle brakes and flash suppressors can be affixed. If you would rather, you can also mount a suitable sound suppressor. A number of economical sound suppressors, such as Silencer Central’s Banish 22, are rated for the 5.7x28mm cartridge. The Banish 22 is only 5.3 inches in length and weighs just 4.1 ounces, the price is $499.
The LC Carbine’s barrel is 16.2 inches in length and fluted to reduce weight. For corrosion resistance, the barrel is nitride treated. Surrounding the barrel is a CNC-milled M-LOK handguard. This is Type III hard-coat anodized aluminum and it features M-LOK slots at 3, 6 and 9 O’clock. These allow easy mounting of accessories. Running the full length of the top of the carbine is a MIL STD 1913 “Picatinny” rail. This full-length rail makes mounting optics or iron sights a snap. The receiver is a blocky piece, and the design utilizes an over-hanging bolt to reduce the overall length. The magazine well is located in the grip for easy “hand to hand” reloading. The non-reciprocating charging handle comes from the factory on the left side, but it can be reversed to the right side if the owner so chooses. The controls are similar to the Ruger-5.7 pistol and include ambidextrous manual safety levers, a bolt release lever on the left side and an extended magazine release lever.
The magazine did not eject cleanly, but had to be pulled free from my review carbine. As stated previously, the LC Carbine feeds from standard Ruger-5.7 pistol magazines. The magazine itself features a steel body and polymer base-plate and follower. The magazine is interesting as it’s a double-column design with two-position feeding rather than the standard single-feed typical of handguns. Capacity is an impressive 20 rounds and witness holes are provided indicating 5, 10, 15 and 20 rounds.
Take A Look Inside
Internally the design utilizes Ruger’s familiar Secure Action fire-control system, like the Ruger-5.7 pistol. This features a protected internal hammer with a bladed-safety trigger design. A pre-cocked double-action design, the hammer is partially cocked by the slide, but pulling the trigger brings it back slightly to full-cock before releasing it. Trigger pull on this design had some sponginess in its initial take-up, but an acceptable and fairly light break. Reset is distinct but a bit long. It’s not a match trigger, but I really had no complaints.
At the rear of the receiver is a MIL STD 1913 rail section onto which a side-folding buttstock attaches. This multi-position collapsible stock provides a length of pull running from 12.2 to 14.2 inches. The stock features a rubber pad to keep the butt from sliding around on your shoulder as well as multiple sling mounting points. If you prefer a different stock, the LC Carbine will accept aftermarket stocks which attach to a MIL STD 1913 Picatinny rail. So, there are plenty of options available such as from Midwest Industries.
The LC Carbine comes with Ruger’s Rapid Deploy flip-up polymer sights. These consist of a protected front post adjustable for elevation and a protected rear aperture adjustable for windage. If you prefer, you can mount a red dot, magnified optic, night vision or thermal unit. The LC Carbine comes with one Ruger-5.7 steel pistol magazine, M-LOK QD sling socket and hex wrenches for disassembly. Weight is a fairly handy 5.9 pounds and overall length with the stock folded is only 22.5 inches. With the stock unfolded, but fully collapsed, the overall length measures 28.7 inches. While the LC Carbine is fairly light and compact, I do not consider it super light or extremely compact considering the PDW cartridge it fires. While the LC Carbine is interesting, what will bring all the boys to its yard is the cartridge it fires, the 5.7x28mm. The 5.7x28mm is a small bottleneck cartridge with a reputation for high velocity and the ability to bust soft body armor in its military/LE loadings. Compared to standard service pistol loadings, its velocity is high. Plus, it receives a boost going from a handgun length barrel to the LC Carbine’s 16.2 inch tube.
To check the LC Carbine’s performance, I collected four different 5.7x28mm loads for testing. Test ammunition consisted of FN’s 197SR 40-grain V-MAX load and Federal Premium American Eagle’s relatively economical 40-grain FMJ load. In order to better illustrate the performance this cartridge is capable of, I selected two specialty loads from Elite Ammunition. Elite Ammunition was quick to not only embrace the 5.7x28mm cartridge following its introduction, but they also developed loads which grabbed the attention of shooters. They provided two loads, their 27-grain T6B and their 28-grain DevastaTOR. Both of the Elite Ammunition loads are monolithic solids produced from “exotic copper alloy rod heat treated to 45 on the Rockwell C scale.” Both feature a sharp point. The T6B though has material machined away in grooves. This allows the solid projectile to break into pieces to increase terminal performance. I expected both of these loads to post impressive velocities, but wasn’t sure on how well they would shoot. Accuracy testing was conducted from a benchrest using a rear bag. A Burris AR-536 5x prism sight was mounted and zeroed for bench testing.
5.7x28mm in the Field
Testing was then conducted at 100 yards with four five-shot groups fired with each load and velocity measured using a LabRadar Doppler chronograph. Getting to work I noted rounds load easily into the magazine, and the magazine locks securely into place with an upward push. The controls are easy to manipulate, the charging handle does not require a great deal of force to operate and the carbine is comfortable to shoot. The trigger is a bit mushy but not particularly heavy and it gave no problems while shooting groups from the bench. What did give me some problems were the very different velocities between the loads leading to noticeable changes in point of impact when I changed to the Elite Ammunition loads. I started off testing using the American Eagle 40-grain FMJ load. This averaged 2.3 inches at 2,063 fps. This was the most sedate of the four loads tested but it shot the best. Next, I switched to FN’s SS197SR load topped with a 40-grain VMAX bullet. This was a bit faster at 2,190 fps. It also shot well averaging a respectable three inches at 100 yards. Both of these load functioned flawlessly with very little recoil. Switching to the Elite Ammunition really cranked things up velocity wise. Their 27-grain T6B load averaged a thoroughly impressive 2,931 fps.
Yikes! I was very impressed. However, jumping 800 fps in velocity moved my point of impact not only off target but entirely off my target stand as there was a change in both elevation and windage. I only had a small quantity of Elite Ammunition test ammunition so decided to reduce the range to 50 yards. This would ensure all my hits were on paper. Accuracy of the 27-grain T6B averaged four inches at 50 yards. Switching to Elite Ammunition’s 28-grain DevastaTOR load, I was again impressed as it averaged 2,942 fps. Accuracy was noticeably better than the T6B’s and it averaged 2.3 inches at 50 yards. Velocity of both the Elite Ammunition loads was impressive being just shy of 3,000 fps. Better still, both loads functioned flawlessly.
With bench testing out of the way, I swapped the Burris AR-536 5x prism sight for an Aimpoint T1 red dot. I would expect most who buy an LC Carbine will outfit it with some type of red dot sight. A quick zero, and I got to work. All who have shot a 5.7x28mm pistol or carbine comment on its mild recoil allowing very fast follow-up shots. This was the very first thing I noticed while shooting Ruger’s new 5.7x28mm LC Carbine at a silhouette about 30 yards away. As .22 caliber impacts appear and empty cases fly out, the dot hardly moves.
The carbine is comfortable in the hands, the stock adjusts easily and it’s quick to fold. Unfolding takes a bit more effort as you must lift up at the hinge rather than just pushing a button. The pistol-like controls are straight-forward to understand and employ. It’s an easy design to reload and to get back into action. Practical accuracy is very good for a pistol caliber carbine (PCC). It proved capable of making rapid multiple hits at the distances you would envision employing it at in a realistic personal protection scenario. It folds up into a fairly short package for stowing in a backpack. Retrieving it from a pack, it is fairly quick to unfold the stock, chamber a round and put into action. The LC Carbine shines at distances out to 100 yards, but the 5.7x28mm cartridge’s relatively flat trajectory compared to traditional service pistol cartridge facilitates hits out to 200 yards. Just remember, as velocity drops off so does terminal performance. It is by no means a rifle.
My only real gripe with the LC Carbine concerns the mag release, which is a bit pronounced. My concern is it might be activated while being carried in a pack, or while slung and partially release the magazine. A folding charging handle would be nice, especially if you plan on storing your LC Carbine in a pack. But, that is about it. The LC Carbine is what it is, it’s a Pistol Caliber Carbine chambered in 5.7x28mm. It’s not a rifle, and it certainly lacks the exterior ballistics and terminal performance of a rifle. Due to the lack of recoil, its light weight and handy size Ruger’s LC carbine is very fun to shoot. Plus, it has a flat trajectory aiding hits past 50 yards. It’s easy to mount optics and accessories like a white light onto. Better still, it’s easy to make hits with at relevant personal protection distances. Most novice shooters will perform much better with Ruger’s LC Carbine, especially under stress, than with a typical service pistol. This is a very important point to consider. Personally, I would love to see Ruger introduce a pistol version of the LC Carbine. Say with an eight or 10-inch barrel. This would make it similar in size to an HK 4.6x30mm MP-7 with its stock collapsed. Dropping that much length off the barrel and handguard would noticeably lighten the Ruger as well. I think a pistol version of the LC Carbine would prove very compact and ultimately do very well.
So, all in all the Ruger LC Carbine functioned and performed well. It’s not an inexpensive piece with an MSRP of $979, but it is certainly less expensive than FN’s PS90. Ruger reignited interest in the 5.7x28mm cartridge when they introduced their Ruger-5.7 pistol. Their new LC Carbine is an interesting new addition to their line which nicely complements their popular Ruger-5.7 pistol. If you like the 5.7x28mm cartridge, the new Ruger might be very appealing.
Ruger LC Carbine Specs
- Type: Blowback operated, semiautomatic
- Caliber: 5.7x28mm
- Barrel Length: 16.2 in.
- Barrel Twist: 1:9-in. RH twist
- Trigger: Secure Action Double-Action
- Feed: Detachable 20-rd. box magazine
- Overall Length: 28.7 to 30.6 in. stock unfolded
- Weight: 5.9 lbs.
- Sights: Protect post and adjustable rear aperture, Ruger Rapid Deploy
- Finish: HardCoat Anodized and Black Nitride
- MSRP: $979
- Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Ruger entered the 5.7x28mm market in 2020 with their Ruger-5.7 pistol. Today, the Ruger-5.7 is a nice complement to their new LC carbine. Not only do they share the same ammunition, but they also share the same magazines. So, I thought it would only be prudent to revisit Ruger’s popular 5.7x28mm pistol. Let me start by saying this is a fairly large piece, even though it’s not bulky or particularly heavy. Overall length is 8.6 inches and the slide is 1.2 inches wide. It’s 5.6 inches tall and weighs in at 24.5 ounces. The frame is manufactured from high-performance glass filled nylon and is nicely contoured to fit the average shooter’s hand. While long, the grip is fairly thin and nicely textured. The trigger guard is both squared off and undercut to aid comfort. The dustcover features a 1913-style rail for mounting a white light, laser or other accessories.
Riding atop the frame is a black oxide finished through hardened, billet steel slide. This features lightening cuts to reduce weight and to give it a distinctive appearance. The rear of the slide features two drilled and tapped holes for fitting an optic adapter plate. So, out of the box it is red dot compatible, you just need to purchase the correct plate. Riding inside the slide is a 4.9-inch black nitride finished alloy steel barrel. This has a one turn in nine inches Right Hand rifling twist with eight grooves. Beneath the barrel is a captured steel recoil spring with a full-length polymer guide-rod. There is an inspection port at the rear of the ejection port which allows the shooter to visually check the chamber to verify if there is a cartridge present.
Rather than being a conventional striker-fired design, Ruger incorporated their well-proven internal hammer system as seen in their LCP II and Security-9. Ruger calls it their Secure Action fire control system which is a partially pre-cocked double-action design. The trigger features a blade-in-trigger type safety similar to a Glock. Ambidextrous external 1911-style safety manual safety levers are standard. These are well-placed and easy to manipulate to both the safe and fire positions. The safety locks into place with a nice distinct click. Just to the front of the left-hand side safety lever is a conventionally placed slide catch lever. This is well-placed and I could easily reach it without having to change or modify my hold on the pistol.
A conventionally placed push-button magazine release is standard. This is reversible for left-hand shooters. Capacity is an impressive 20 rounds and witness holes are provided indicating 5, 10, 15 and 20 rounds. Two magazines are provided with each Ruger-5.7. Both the front and rear sight are dovetailed into the slide. The front sight features a green fiber optic for rapid acquisition. The serrated rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The snag-free rear sight features a square notch. The sight picture is good and the fiber optic front sight stands out nicely, in bright sunlight especially. I had no complaints in regard to the Ruger-5.7’s high visibility sights.
Unlike your typical center-fire service size pistol, the Ruger-5.7 does not have a Browning based tilting-barrel operating system. Instead, it features a delayed blow-back system. In the Ruger-5.7, the barrel and slide are held together in battery by the tension of the recoil spring. What is a bit different in this system is the barrel is not fixed in place. Instead, the barrel recoils a short distance, approximately .25-inch, with the slide after a cartridge is fired. At this point, a U-shaped recess in the rear of the barrel lug makes contact with a transverse pin in the frame. This stops the barrel’s rearward movement. The slide and barrel are held together long enough for the projectile to leave the muzzle and for pressures to drop to safe levels for reliable extraction and operation. The slide continues rearward extracting and ejecting the fired cartridge case and then loads a fresh cartridge into the chamber as it returns forward. As the slide is returning forward under the tension of the recoil spring, the barrel rejoins it and returns to battery.
Overall, I rate the Ruger-5.7 a very fun pistol to shoot. It holds 20+1 rounds, has mild recoil and fires a cartridge capable of impressive velocities. The MSRP is a reasonable $869 making the Ruger-5.7 a good buy compared to FNH’s Five-seveN. The Ruger-5.7 stacks up very well compared to the more expensive Belgian piece. If you are interested in the new LC carbine and its 5.7x28mm cartridge then Ruger’s “5.7” is a very attractive option.
About the Author
David M. Fortier has been covering firearms, ammunition and optics since 1998. He is a recipient of the Carl Zeiss Outdoor Writer of the Year award and his writing has been recognized by the Civil Rights organization JPFO. In 2007 he covered the war in Iraq as an embedded journalist.
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