Ruger's new 'LITE RACK' LCP II chambered in .22 LR is a very significant development in close range defensive hardware.

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Let me make this simple. Ruger's new "LITE RACK" LCP II chambered in .22 LR is a very significant development in close range defensive hardware.

There is no doubt that standard LCP II in .380 ACP is a fine defensive pistol. Compact and lightweight, with an easily managed trigger and decent sights, the LCP II is a leader in the "micro locked-breech .380" category that projects adequate close-range power in a "deep concealment" package. But Ruger decided that at .22 LR LCP II should be added to their lineup for some very good reasons.

Any micro locked-breech .380 pistol (not just Ruger LCP II's) delivers a healthy amount of "bark and bite" when fired. Ruger wanted to make the LCP II more comfortable to shoot by offering it in the low recoiling, less expensive .22 LR. caliber—characteristics which encourage more practice and thus more accurate shooting. Ruger offset the lower power level of the .22 LR vs. the .380 by giving the new LCP II a 10+1 magazine capacity—vs. the 6+1 magazine capacity of its .380 ACP sibling.

Another reason for the new chambering (and thus the LITE RACK name) is the difficulty that some folks with hand strength issues have in manipulating the slides of micro .380's. As I've aged, I've lost some "pinch strength" between my finger and thumb. This creates problems for me when running small pistols with limited grasping surfaces on their slides.

The LITE RACK LCP II's slide is easier to operate for two reasons. First, the LCP II in .22 LR uses the blowback operating system—not the locked-breech system like its .380 ACP kin. Since the shooter does not need to physically overcome a breech locking mechanism when retracting the slide operation is easier. Ruger also refined the slide gripping surfaces for improved grasping. The result is easier and safer operation for those with hand strength issue—and more fun at the range.

The .22 LCP II's trigger safety system is the same as the .380 LCP—a "Glock style" safety lever located in the middle for the trigger face. This system is perfectly safe without an additional manual safety. Ruger added a manual safety on the left side of the frame, ostensibly for enhancing safety while loading and unloading. Ruger's new manual safety, unlike the manual safeties on other Ruger pistols is oddly positioned in a "push forward to fire" configuration. More about the safety later.

I tested a rental LITE RACK LCP II at the Vance Outdoors Obetz range. The slide is definitely easier to rack. I used CCI's high velocity .22 LR plain lead bullet ammo for the testing. I loaded up the ten-round magazine to full capacity with ZERO effort—another plus for the hand strength challenged! The first rounds up the spout chambered easily.

The LCP II in .22 LR is an absolute JOY to shoot! The muzzle blast is minimal and the recoil is next to nothing compared to the .380 LCP's.

At 21 feet, I was easily able to maintain groups in the three-inch diameter range thanks to the crisp trigger pull and its decent fixed sights. The new magazine base proved to be sufficiently hand filling.

I experienced one malfunction midway through the first magazine—apparently a light hammer strike that was easily cleared. There were two possible reasons for the malfunction. First, the test loads plain lead bullet might not have fully seated in the chamber. I recommend using the gilded lead CCI Mini-Mag HV load for self-defense carry and practice. The gilding improves function. The second reason might have been that the test gun was dirty. Any .22 semi-automatic pistol used for defense needs to be kept scrupulously clean and lubricated. There were no other malfunctions.

I really like the .22 LCP II. I think that Ruger needs to offer a version without the manual safety. Since the same manual safety isn't available on the .380 LCP's, the utility of the .22 LR version as an "understudy" is diminished. But don't let this deter you from purchasing a LITE RACK LCP II. It is safe to carry with the manual safety off (you can always practice with it), and it's 10+1 round magazine capacity makes it a capable self-defense gun in its own right. I think I'd rather have 11 rounds of high velocity .22's than 7 rounds of .380.

Ruger has a hit with their newest version of the LCP II—even for folks who aren't hand strength challenged.