A 5.7x28 Firearm for Everything from Defense to Hunting

Ruger’s LC Charger is shorter than a rifle format and far more accurate than available 57 pistols.

A 5.7x28 Firearm for Everything from Defense to Hunting

Back when I was testing the Ruger LC Carbine, I wondered if a Ruger LC Charger Pistol format could be coming soon. Luckily we didn’t have to wait long. The LC Charger may be the best 5.7x28 caliber firearm ever considering the overly compact size, accuracy, light recoil and capacity. 

There are plenty of other factors in its favor. It costs less than 50% of comparable competing options such as the FN PS90 SBR, and Ruger-57 magazines are also half the price of other 57 firearms. The LC Charger is shorter than a rifle format and far more accurate than the 57 pistols available. With 1/2x28 threading out-of-the-box, it is a suppressor-ready host that is still very short when suppressed. It may be the sweet spot everyone has been looking for in the 5.7x28 caliber.

Ruger introduced the 57 to target the expensive and often hard-to-find FN Five-Seven pistol chambered in 5.7x28. Ruger’s 57 offering was a more modern-featured pistol with expansive availability at about half the price of the FN. It was such a fantastic option for the 5.7x28 that they expanded on it quickly with the magazine-compatible LC Carbine rifle, again targeting the expensive and hand-to-find FN PS90 16-inch carbine. 

In contrast to the PS90, the extremely compact Ruger LC Carbine was again half the price, brutally simple in its operation, lightweight, and offered Ruger 57 pistol magazine compatibility. Now Ruger has introduced the 10.3-inch-barreled version called the Ruger LC Charger to compete against the FN 10.4-inch-barreled SBR PS90 specifically designed and optimized for the 5.7x28 round.

The Ruger LC Charger is just a shortened version of the Carbine model with a shorter handguard, 10.3-inch barrel and no stock or sights, and the same 20-round magazine compatibility. It retains the rear picatinny mount, with a threaded barrel that can accept nearly any standard .22LR rimfire suppressor including Ruger’s own Silent-SR. The LC Charger offers a familiar AR-style format with enough MLOK rail space for accessories. It’s a feathery light 4.15 pounds, which makes it lighter than a Ruger 10/22. This all should sound very attractive at just half the price of the HK MP7, Sig Rattler and Uzi-style firearms.

LC Charger Features

Ruger’s LC Carbine and Charger design process focused on Ruger 57 pistol compatibility with similar ergos and controls. The LC Charger offers almost an unnoticed recoil with zero muzzle rise plus the snappy report of the high-velocity round. As a home defense option, the Ruger LC Carbine is an easy-shooting, precise, fast, slim and light format option with a lot of ammo capacity. The 5.7x28 also has a low incidence of wall passthrough, which should be extremely attractive for urban homeowners concerned about errant rounds.

For customers of the 5.7 pistol, muscle memory should be a direct transition to the LC Charger. Of note, the magazine will accept 21 rounds but in testing it bobbles the first or second round if loaded beyond the stated 20-round capacity. With 20-rounds or 20+1 in the chamber, reliability was perfect.

The LC Charger is “ambi-everything” with configuration flexibility of right- or left-hand operation of the non-reciprocating charging handle. The non-reciprocating charging handle is key for such a small format that would otherwise prevent a support-hand grip of the handguard.

Like most Ruger firearms, only one magazine is included, but extras retail for under $40 and are readily available. The trigger, safety and magazine release are all carried over directly from the Ruger 5.7 Pistol design with the lower frame essentially replicating the pistol. The trigger is the same Secure Action fire-control with a smooth round break similar to a striker-fired feel.

The unique upper serialized receiver has its own special tool-less takedown process that’s simple and quick. A very unique feature of the LC Carbine and LC Charger is the bullpup two-piece bolt-over-barrel design that greatly reduces overall length. A typical 10-inch-barreled AR15 pistol with folding stock is about 23 inches overall where the 10.3-inch-barreled LC Charger is only 16 inches overall. That is a very noticeable difference when attempting to slip it into a backpack. This length paired with the bullpup design feels very well balanced even with single-hand unsupported shooting. Two handed shots really feel no more unnatural than a long barreled revolver does. QD sling mount points are integrated in the rear of the receiver and can be used with the included adjustable sling for sling-supported shots. 

Attachments such as the unbraced Midwest Industries folding Beam featured in this article are options excluded from the ATF brace ban and attach to the rear picatinny rail. Of note, the similar LC Carbine model includes a folding stock and sights, of which the LC Charger has neither. 

Comparing my notes on my LC Carbine review, the LC Charger gives up nothing from an accuracy potential. Obviously an option like the MWI Folding Beam or a Thordson Customs buffer tube kit on the LC Charger greatly enhances accuracy to the point of matching the Carbine model. At 25 yards off just a sandbag I was able to hold a 1/2-inch group and at 50 yards still keep that group under ¾ inches. This is more than capable for plinking, hunting and defense use.

For Galil and Tavor fans, the non-reciprocating side charge handle feels very fast and convenient. Customers will be a little surprised to experience the fast handling, which in timed drills was faster than my AR platforms. Accuracy was excellent with a Primary Arms SLx MD-25 Microdot Gen II with AutoLive and ACSS-CQB reticle. The wide FOV on the 25mm SLx MD-25 proved to be very fast and the ACSS-CQB bullet drop reticle holds seemed to be close to 300 yards even with the pistol format. Mission First Tactical flip-up sights were added as a backup to the PA MD-25. Reloads were fast as well with the grip-centered balance and grip reload. Uzi famously noted that hands can always find hands and thus the reason the UZI was designed with a grip based magazine. There are speed reload similarities here for handgunners who are adding this to their gun safes.

Where the LC Charger pistol will really appeal to buyers is with suppressor use. Many gun owners now own .22LR rimfire suppressors that, if rated appropriately, can also shoot 5.7x28. My Ruger Silent-SR suppressor worked perfectly and toned down the snap of the speedy 5.7x28 to something just above hearing safe, making it almost too fun to shoot. Thankfully Vista Outdoor provided some FN and Federal American Eagle 5.7x28 ammo for testing. Prices for 5.7x28 ammunition have come down a bit in the last few years, now hovering around $0.60/round. A box of 50 sells for about $30, which is still less than the retail price of 20 rounds of quality 9mm HP.

Everything in Between

The LC Charger is a home defense gun, an ultra-light backpack gun, a plinker, a small-game hunter, truck gun and everything in between. It’s easily under 4.5 pounds even with an optic and full magazine, so it can get packed anywhere. Though FN offered a 57 pistol, the 5.7x28 caliber was designed for a 10.4-inch barrel. The LC Charger with its $1,000 MSRP delivers to the original development intent of the 5.7x28 caliber. Compared to the nicely equipped LC Carbine, the LC Charger is likely to be the hotter seller for Ruger, especially for those who still want a compact gun when suppressed. For all practical purposes Ruger has delivered an option for those who wanted a civilian legal HK MP7 PDW, but with lower-cost platform, ammo and magazine.

As a writer you continuously see bright and shiny new firearms hitting the market, but the LC Charger will get customers asking whether its accuracy, capacity and power make it potentially the best all-purpose packable defense and utility gun yet. Ruger has always had a rich aftermarket following, and Tandem Kross is already offering a trigger upgrade and +5 magazine extension options. Along with MLOK and Picatinny rail accessorization, many manufacturers will follow with more accessories based on what is becoming yet another popular new gun from Ruger.


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