A Real Thumper: The Ruger LC Carbine in .45 ACP

by Tommy Grant

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Many years ago, the legendary Colonel Jeff Cooper made a posit for a big bore carbine he called Thumper. Cooper reviewed a prototype in Soldier of Fortune magazine. One prototype was in .221 Fireball, the other in .44 Auto Mag. Cooper felt that tank commanders, drivers and other personnel not in front line combat might be well served by an 11-inch barrel carbine.

He was ahead of his time in some ways. His Scout rifle was far more successful and serves well today. Ruger’s new carbine in .45 ACP isn’t a Thumper, but it is closer than most and it jogged my memory concerning the short-barrel carbine Cooper envisioned. The Ruger LC Carbine is reliable, more than accurate enough for home defense, affordable and makes for an enjoyable recreational firearm.

A .45 ACP carbine makes a lot of sense for pistol fans of the same caliber. The piece offers greatly increased hit potential over any handgun.  With a minimum of practice, you can become a very good shot with a carbine; typically, better than some people are with handguns and certainly capable of delivering accurate shots at longer ranges.

With the pistol, more training and frequent practice is needed. This makes the carbine a great home defense gun. The pistol caliber carbine (PCC) is useful for area defense, against pests and varmints and for hunting some game. I have taken two deer cleanly without the need for a second shot with a .45 ACP pistol, so the .45 will do the job at moderate ranges. It isn’t my first choice for sure, but four legs in the air quickly at 25 yards is a testament to the .45 ACP’s effectiveness on thin skinned game. The PCC is allowed at ranges that prohibit centerfire rifles, for the most part, and offers an affordable option for many of us.

The Carbine

The Ruger LC Carbine incorporates a folding stock into the design. The charging handle is easily manipulated and may be changed from right to left as the shooter prefers. There is plenty of real estate for mounting optics or combat lights, while the LC Carbine is supplied with useful AR-type sights out of the box. This makes for greater utility as even today all of us don’t mount optics.

In the modern fashion the LC Carbine features a threaded barrel for a muzzle brake or suppressor. Ruger wisely chose to use Glock magazines for feeding. A single 13-round magazine is included, but more can easily be had given the Glock choice. The LC Carbine isn’t the lightest carbine on the store rack, but not the heaviest either at just over 7 pounds. Lengthwise it is only 22.5 inches long with the stock folding to one side making for great compact storage. A truck gun, a camp gun, an all-around area defense carbine—the LC Carbine has promise.

The trigger action is the familiar Ruger safe action with a blade type safety lever in addition to the Ruger’s manual safety. The Ruger isn’t a single-action design like most carbines. The action is partially cocked by racking the bolt, while the trigger press moves the firing mechanism to the rear. Glock need not make a carbine as the LC Carbine is already a good companion to any .45-caliber Glock or similar handgun. The bolt is designed in a similar manner as the UZI overhanging bolt, which means the system is even more compact. Loading the magazine is the same proven hand-to-hand loading sequence as the UZI.

On the Range

I collected a good supply of ammunition and began testing. I fired against man-sized targets at 15 and 25 yards. The LC Carbine comes on target quickly, handles well and has good balance. Due to the bolt’s weight—a heavy bolt is needed in a blowback design—the balance of the carbine is found over the handle. The sights easily came to the eye as soon as I shouldered the carbine. It is much easier to quickly get hits with a carbine than a pistol, and this thumper delivered. For longer range testing, I used the TruGlo PR1 Red Dot mounted on the LC.

Close or long range, i did not experience a single failure to feed, chamber, fire or eject. Initial firing was accomplished with Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ ammo, and I also fired a magazine of Federal 230-grain HST and Speer 200-grain Gold Dot. Recoil is modest, arriving with a mere soft push. It isn’t difficult to control recoil and get back on target quickly, making this a fun shooter of targets. The cadence of fire is smooth and fast. Here are the specifications for the LC 45.

Ruger LC Carbine Specifications

Caliber/Capacity .45 ACP, 13 + 1
Overall Length 30.60 in.
Weight 7.1 lbs. unloaded
Barrel Alloy steel, 16.25 in., 1:16 rh twist, muzzle threaded .578 in.-28
Receiver Aluminum alloy with Type III hard coat anodized
Handguard CNC-milled, Type III hard-coat anodized aluminum with M-LOK accessory attachment slots, multiple QD sling sockets
Stock Folding stock with adjustable length of pull but can easily be replaced with AR-pattern stocks.
Trigger Secure Action™ system that combines a protected internal hammer with a bladed-safety trigger. The trigger has a short, smooth pull, clean break, and positive reset
Sights Ruger Rapid Deploy folding sights are adjustable for windage and elevation and the full length Picatinny rail allows for optic mounting.
Accessories One 13-Round Magazine
Warranty Limited Lifetime
MSRP $1,009

Test Results

25-Yard Testing/5-shot groups

Federal HST 230-gr.                             .95 in.

Federal Syntech 22-gr. TSJ                  .92 in.

100-Yard Testing/5-shot groups

Federal 230-gr. American Eagle          2.85 in.

Federal 220-gr.  Syntech                     4.0 in.

Federal 230-gr.  Punch                        3.7 in.

Speer 230-gr. Gold Dot                       3.6 in.

Speer 200-gr. Gold Dot +P                    3.5 in.

Key Product Highlights

  • Features 1x magnification for a clear view
  • Features an etched reticle that enhances clarity, whether you’re using it with or without illumination
  • The sight features a 6 MOA CQB circle dot with a large outer ring
  • Enjoy an extremely wide field of view, covering 37.5 feet at 100 yd
  • The adjustable diopter eyepiece allows for personalized settings
  • Designed for rapid target acquisition at short and medium ranges, making it ideal for fast-paced scenarios
  • Easily control brightness with digital push button controls
  • An auto-off feature is incorporated to conserve battery power during periods of inactivity


After testing the Ruger LC Carbine at length, I find it a reliable and useful carbine. It is versatile for a number of uses and well worth the money to add to your arsenal.

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