When I started my pocket gun testing last year, I began with two autoloaders, and a revolver. As the testing progressed, I picked up an additional revolver, and dropped one of the autoloaders. The autoloader that I decided to do more extensive testing is the topic of this article, the Ruger Lite Rack LCP 22. The Lite Rack was a handgun that I liked in the last look at it, but how did it perform in further testing? This is the second full pistol review, following my Pocket Pistol Roundup in early 2023.
What Is the Ruger Lite Rack LCP 22 ?
Well, the Ruger Lite Rack LCP 22 has a clunky name, but there's a reason for it. Essentially, this is a .22LR caliber Ruger LCP 2, with an easy to rack slide. Marketed as a training gun, or a carry pistol, the LCP 22 has a lot of appealing features.
The overall size and footprint of the LCP 22 is extremely appealing. This gun is very, very small. For most people, it will be about the size of the average billfold wallet, which makes it perfectly sized to fit into pants pockets. With small size, the LCP 22 is also a featherweight gun. Weight loaded with 11 rounds of .22LR Punch comes to 11.9 ounces, with 12.6 ounces of weight with the BORAII Eagle pocket holster.
As the name implies, the LCP 22 has a very easy to rack slide. Between a light recoil spring, a lot of slide serrations, and a grasping spot on the end of the slide, reciprocating this should be easy for anyone. Operation of this gun is done via a long travel SAO trigger, with both a trigger dingus safety, and a manual safety. The manual safety is absent on my gun, but we'll touch on that in a bit. Standard finish on the pistol is a black frame and slide, however mine was a distributor exclusive with a silver cerakoted slide. Simple iron sights are integral to the slide too.
MSRP on the LCP 22 is $439, but street price tends to run between $275-$350. I paid about $270 for mine back in May of 2022. What's the field stripping process like on the LCP 22?
Field Stripping & Modifications
The Lite Rack is a fairly easy gun to field strip and maintain.
- Remove magazine, and verify that gun is empty.
- Remove takedown pin from the frame, using a flathead tool.
- Pull slide forward, off of the frame.
- Remove recoil spring and guide rod from slide, and remove barrel from slide.
- To reassemble, reinsert barrel and recoil assembly.
- Place slide back onto frame rails.
- Reinsert the takedown pin into frame.
- Function test firearm.
Maintaining the Lite Rack has been a breeze. Takedown is fast, and cleaning takes no more than 10 minutes, in my experience. Lubing the pistol is pretty standard, as you want to hit the standard spots. Slide and frame rails, where the barrel hits the barrel, and parts of the trigger assembly.
The Lite Rack is fairly neat, as it uses a modular chassis system, similar to the SIG guns. The frame itself is a non-firearm, as the chassis is the serialized component. The LCP's frame isn't exactly the most durable plastic, so this construction method is nice.
Now, I have modified my Lite Rack a bit. I removed the manual safety, as I found it to be fairly unintuitive. It uses an unusual "push forward" safety, which I found to be not great in use, and hurt holster compatibility. I also yanked the magazine disconnect out of the pistol. In the above video, I show it in better detail, but the mag disconnect really hurt the reliability of the pistol.
Other than those parts removals, I also painted the sights to be higher contrast. Orange for the front, and black for the back. The aftermarket for the LCP 2 family is quite good, so finding a holster should be easy. There are a few companies that make springs and parts for the LCP 22, but I haven't tinkered with those (yet).
How are the ergos on the Lite Rack?
For how small the Lite Rack is, it is quite a comfortable gun in the hand. I would say that comes from the excellent grip texture, and the "melted" edges on the frame.
The texturing on the Lite Rack is great. Not too fine, not too coarse, and allows for a solid grip. I can form a good two-finger grip on the frame, with my pinky hanging down below. While this might seem uncomfortable for some, I've found it to be great with my large hands. We're only shooting a 22LR here, so even without a full fingered grip, we've got good recoil control. Before moving to the slide, I'd like to say that the magazine release is smooth, with no texturing. I actually dig this, as we don't want to lose the magazine while the gun is in the pocket.
The slide serrations are quite good on the Lite Rack. They are moderately deep, and angled with a forward cant. As such, they are fairly easy to grab, even with wet hands. At the rear of the slide, there are a set of integral cocking wings, which greatly assist in reciprocating the slide.
As part of the name, the Lite Rack is quite easy to rack. The recoil assembly doesn't provide much resistance, so between that and the serrations, this is an easy gun to load or unload.
Speaking of loading and unloading, how has the reliability been on the Lite Rack?
Over the testing period, I've fired about 5000 rounds of ammunition through the LCP 22. During 2022, it was a mix of Federal Automatch bulk, CCI Minimags, and a mix of self-defense oriented 22. Since the start of 2023, it's been exclusively Federal Punch, with a quantity of about 1,000 rounds. Reliability has generally been fairly good. Prior to yanking out the magazine disconnect, it was about 95% reliable, with good ammunition and lubrication. Since removing the magazine disconnect, reliability is about 99% with the same variables.
In the above video, I had 96% reliability in the testing. During the last few outings, I've fired 50-75 rounds of Federal Punch on each trip, with a cleaning between each time. I've had no malfs during that process, which was excellent to see.
Reliability with the Lite Rack is worse in comparison to a quality .380 or 9mm autoloader, or to a quality 22LR or centerfire revolver. However, I've found the reliability to be sufficient for my standards on a pocket gun. The gun has gotten through the initial eleven rounds every time I've gone to fire it, which is the goal there.
The gun does not lock open on empty when shooting two handed. This is due to the location of the slide release, as I have a tendency to ride it while shooting. This issue is a thing that happened both with and without the manual safety on the gun. I don't actually mind this issue too much, as I don't really plan on reloading this gun, and this is a common issue among many handguns.
Reliability is almost flawless, with just a hiccup every so often. How are the shooting characteristics of the Lite Rack?
The Lite Rack is an easy gun to shoot. Between the light weight of the pistol, low recoil, and serviceable trigger, shooting this gun is quite pleasant.
Recoil impulse is a quality that I really harp on. I like a straight back impulse, with a fairly fast reciprocation of the slide. I find that this leads to sights returning faster onto target, and a more pleasant experience. Even with the .22LR cartridge, the recoil impulse is straight back and fast, with minimal muzzle rise. Shooting this gun quickly is fun and easy.
While not terrible, the trigger is not very good. Pull weight ranges from 6.75-7.25 lbs, however, the trigger pull is weird. The travel distance is quite long, with a distinct two-stage pull. The first pull is very minimal weight with a long pull, until we hit a wall. From there, we have the last little bit of travel, where 90% of the pull weight is. That part of the pull is mushy, but usable.
With the low weight of the pistol, it feels quite nimble. Drawing the gun is fairly simple, and getting it out and on target is fast. From there, we've got a gun with a good recoil impulse, little recoil, and a decent trigger. Shooting characteristics are solid on the Lite Rack. How has my performance with this gun been?
When I'm out shooting, it's generally not just loading magazines and blasting. I've written a bunch of articles about the drills I use for practice, and over the testing period, I shot quite a few with the Lite Rack.
Overall, this gun performs fairly well within 15 yards. Now, it is a pocket pistol, so I'm pretty happy with that performance. Whether Vicker's Tests, Half Tests, or attempting other drills, performance is fairly consistent. I've got a complete playlist of my drill vids with the Lite Rack here.
A drill that I really enjoy with the Lite Rack is the Hardwired Tactical Super Snubby Test. Now, this is a revolver drill, however, it's a drill that has been great for comparing the performance of pocket guns. Being able to side by side the LCP 22 and LCR 22 has been a blast (literally), and allows me to compare performance.
The sights on the Lite Rack are fairly open and small, but are easy to use. I've had to work on my hold with them, as it varies depending on my ammo. With the 22 Punch, I'm holding a little high at 10 yards to hit where I want to, but nothing bad. For a pocket gun, these sights are better than those on the pocket revolvers that I've been testing, and I'm happy with that.
Overall, I shoot this gun about as well as the LCR 22, with performance metrics that show it. As the distance increases, I find that I shoot the LCP better, but only just a little bit.
About 5000 rounds and a lot of drills, I enjoy shooting this gun.
Carrying the Lite Rack LCP 22
Svelte is a word that defines how the LCP 22 feels to carry. It is thin, light, and just melts into a pocket. Chris Baker of Lucky Gunner calls the LCP 22 an ideal "underwear gun", as it is light enough to be carried when in your drawers. I'd have to say that I agree.
While never a primary gun for me, the LCP 22 has been an easy BUG to carry. Slipping into basically any pocket, it just fits. Holster-wise, I've been using the BORAII Eagle since the start of 2023, replacing the holster from SpartanTactical. Both holsters concealed well, however I found that the BORAII was more reliable for drawing the gun and discarding the holster. Forming the grip while the gun is in the pocket is quite easy too, a factor that I value a bit.
Unlike the LCR, I don't usually find myself tossing a reload into a pocket. While the magazines are small and fairly flat, It's not something that I carry around, as the LCP has been my second gun in my EDC. Size wise, the LCP feels like a medium sized wallet in the pocket. It's actually not much bigger than the UL Wallet that I normally carry. While carrying the LCP, I've never had the magazine eject because of bumping the mag release, which is extremely important.
Comparing it to the LCR 22 and Smith 442 that I've been testing in this series, the LCP is the easiest gun to carry. What concerns do we need to deal with in regards to carrying a .22LR autoloading pistol?
Carrying A 22LR Autoloader
In the LCR 22 review, I cover the tradeoffs with carrying a .22LR handgun, but we'll discuss the specifics to an autoloader here.
With a .22LR handgun, we're trading some terminal ballistic effectiveness for higher capacity, lower recoil, lower weight, and the ease of shooting. With modern quality self defense ammo (Federal .22 Punch being my preferred), our rounds have the capability of penetrating deep enough into vital areas to deliver effective terminal ballistics. However, shot placement matters a lot more than with a larger caliber, as we are entirely relying on the penetrative factor, rather than any sort of bullet expansion. If we understand and act around that tradeoff, we are good. Testing that ammo to be reliable in our gun matters too.
As the phrase goes, there are guns that are used to "get into trouble", and those for "getting out of trouble". I'd say that most pocket guns are the latter, and the LCP 22 certainly falls into that category. When all we've got is a .22LR gun, we aren't trying to solve other people's problems.
When specifically carrying a .22LR autoloader, we need to make sure that it is reliable. Now, that means a lot of shooting to test the specific gun and specific carry ammo, and that we need to keep it clean and lubricated. You might be able to get away with running your Glock 48 dirty and a little dry, but that won't work on the LCP 22. I keep my LCP 22 clean and lubed, and it runs really, really well.
If we can comprehend and work with the benefits and limitations of a .22LR autoloader, there is a lot to gain. How's the build quality on the LCP 22?
Well, we had to hit this eventually. While I've been happy with the shooting performance and carriage of the LCP 22, the build quality is lacking.
The LCP's slide is made using metal casting. This is not a new or unusual way to make firearm parts, as it has been around for a while. On the LCP, that means that our iron sights are integral to the slide, and are not attached via a dovetail or screws. In the photos above, you can see that my front sight is fine (little sloppy with the orange paint), but that the rear sight notch is not cut level. Now, I'm using the tops of the rear sight to aim, not the notch, but it is sloppy work on the slide.
I mentioned in the "field stripping" section that the LCP 22 uses a chassis system, and that the frame isn't the actual firearm. That's good, as the frame isn't super strong.
Primer Peak Discord user Blucarpet cracked his LCP frame while reinserting the chassis into it. There is a thin section on the right side of the frame, which is very frail. He found out the hard way that it could happen, which sucks. Now, props to Ruger for doing a "modular" chassis system, but I would like to see the frame itself be a little more rigid.
Now, I can live with some QC issues, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it. This isn't a pricey gun, but good QC is something that we praise, and we spotlight bad QC when it comes along too. Aside from the highlighted issues, I think that build quality is fine here, what you'd expect from a $300 gun.
Pros Of the Lite Rack LCP 22
- Best in class size, weight, and capacity
- Comfortable ergonomics/manual of arms for a pocket autoloader
- Extremely easy to shoot
- Extremely reliable for an autoloading .22LR pistol
There are not that many small autoloading .22LR pistols out there. Aside from the garbage ring-of-fire guns, we really only had the Beretta 21A, and the LCP 22 to test. Between the two, the LCP was better on paper by a longshot, and better in reality too.
The gun is small, light, holds a lot of BBs, is comfortable to hold and shoot, and easy to carry. Reliability, while not entirely flawless, was extremely good for a handgun of the size. Shooting performance is quite good, as passing drills with this gun feels like cheating, especially when comparing it to similar pocket guns.
Cons Of the Lite Rack LCP 22
- Sub caliber has worse terminal ballistics compared to other calibers
- Reliability (while better than other similar autoloaders) is worse than a pocket revolver
- Manual safety is not very good
- Internal magazine disconnect hampers reliability
- Build quality is average
Part of the "pro" section is also a con here; the caliber. .22LR has worse terminal ballistics than larger centerfire calibers, and while there are positive tradeoffs, we still need to mention this. Going hand-in-hand, the reliability of the LCP 22 is worse than a pocket revolver, which is the closest (quality) comparison to make here. I had no malfunctions with the LCR 22 over the testing period, but certainly had some with the LCP. While the LCP is reliable for a .22LR autoloader, it's worse than other tested pocket guns.
The next three cons are all to do with design and build quality. I don't like the manual safety, hence why I pulled it from the gun. It can impede holster compatibility, and certainly negatively impacted my grip on the gun. The internal magazine disconnect hurt reliability, and (in a modern CCW gun), really shouldn't be there. I get that more safeties allow the gun to be sold in more markets, but this one negatively impacts the reliability for the handgun. The build quality is also middling, but is fine for the price.
Where Does the Lite Rack Belong?
Now, that's the million dollar question. There's been the ongoing debate for which pocket gun is better, the autoloader or the revolver. There are tangible features, such as capacity, size, easy of use, and concealability, all of which are valid. However, the gun needs to be reliable, and fairly accurate. When we talk about .22LR options, reliability plays an exceptionally key part.
With the .22LR autoloader vs. revolver debate, the mass majority of people will favor the revolver. Well, I do too. I'm glad that I tested two pocket .22LR guns from Ruger, as it has been a great comparison. Both have pros and cons in the tangible factors, but when it comes to the most important one (reliability), the LCR was flawless, while the LCP was not. The LCR 22 is the "easy recommendation" for a pocket 22 gun, and it's the one I tend to give out. However, I still think that the LCP 22 has a place in concealed carry.
Compared to the extremely tiny guns of old (Colt 1908 Vest Pocket comes to mind), the LCP 22 is bigger. However, this is a very tiny gun by modern standards. It can melt into a pocket, or be hidden well for deep concealment. I've found mine to be 100% reliable during the first magazine of ammo, which are the most important rounds to be fired. Rather than look at every gun as an end-all-be-all tool, I'd rather view them as specific tools. The LCP 22 has a few areas where it excels, and much like a surgeon with a scalpel, we've got to be precise for our LCP 22 use case. While the LCR is generally a better gun, the LCP can fit into a role that the LCR will struggle with.
The Ruger Lite Rack LCP .22LR is a gun that I really enjoy. However, it didn't begin as one that I liked. I had to detail strip the gun to remove the magazine disconnect, and needed a lot of elbow grease, ammo, and time to make it work as reliably as it currently does. You shouldn't have to yank things off of a gun to make it work. However, doing that made this one of my favorite pocket guns to shoot and carry.
Based on the current selection of .22LR pocket autoloaders available at time of writing (Summer 2023), I think that the Lite Rack is the best choice. I also think it's really the only solid choice. The Beretta 21A crapped the sheets during my testing, and no other reputable manufacturers make a similar handgun in this size or caliber.
If you are dead set on a .22LR autoloader, the LCP is the one to get. If you put in the time to turn the LCP 22 from a project to a working tool, I think it can fit into specific use cases. However, I do not recommend the LCP 22 over the LCR 22 for a general use pocket pistol. The LCR was flawless from round #1, with no issues throughout testing. The LCP 22 needs a lot of testing, and that is something that needs to be stated and restated. If you are willing to do so, you'll find a really solid gun. If the Lite Rack worked flawlessly, it'd be my favorite pocket .22LR. However, it doesn't, so the LCR 22 takes that spot.
Further Reviews & Related Reading
In the months to come, the full review for the Smith 442 will be up. This may be shocking, but .38SPL is a fair bit pricier than .22LR to shoot, so that process is taking more time. I'd like to pick up a Smith 43C, and a 351C to test in the next round too. For further autoloader testing, the LCP Max and Glock 42 will be in the next round too!
The first "roundup" is linked down below, along with the LCR review: