The most underrated handgun of 2014

Lionheart LH9 Photo

We see a lot of guns here in the office every year. Guns come through here for T&E all the time, some are great, some are okay, and some are terrible. A few each year are really good and interesting, but fail to catch the attention of the market at large. An example of a great, underrated gun would be the Walther PPQ. When the HK VP9 launched this year to all the fanfare, PPQ owners were over in the corner going “hey, that gun looks really familiar.”

For me though, the most underrated gun of 2014 was an easy choice: the Lionheart LH9. When I reviewed the LH9 I liked it, and it’s grown on me since then. It hit big on the scene around late April, early May. Everyone was doing reviews and talking about how they really liked it; the team on guys working to bring it to the States were smart and likable as well. It’s a nice gun to shoot, it has great features, comes from the factory with all kinds of extras, and even takes common 3rd Gen Smif mags.

lh9 incog

So why didn’t the LH9 catch on better? I think it’s a combo of two factors, the first being price. I’m not sure what they’re going for right now, but back in April a new LH9 fully loaded would have set you back 700 bucks or so. That’s more than a Glock or Beretta and pushing into Sig/HK territory. I believe they’re less expensive now, which is good.

The other thing that I believe hurt the LH9 wasn’t their fault at all, but rather the fact that the American gun buying public at large aren’t big fans of DA/SA guns. We’re just not. Sure, there are people, myself included that prefer DA/SA, but we’re largely in the minority. Most people are obsessed with “light” triggers, not knowing that a good trigger doesn’t have to be light. It is what it is, and I genuinely believe that DA/SA guns will continue to be specialist niche basically forever. The tepid reception that the new Berettas have received outside of serious shooting circles has reinforced that.

But back to the LH9. I really do think it’s a great little gun. It’s small enough for easy EDC, shoots well, has a great trigger, comes with good sights, a metal frame, and can be carried cocked and locked. It’s like a product improved 5906, and that’s a good thing. I still recommend people check it out!

31 thoughts on “The most underrated handgun of 2014”

  1. Count me as a fan of the DA/SA. I’ve never felt comfortable with a striker fired gun especially with a Glock style “safety trigger.” I believe that design is downright unsafe unless there is some provision for a manual or grip safety.

      1. MSB is right – for one most striker fire systems do not have the firing pin fully cocked, that only happens as the trigger is pulled. There are also several forms of internal safeties that do not allow the pin to hit the primer until the trigger is pulled. You could drop a loaded Glock from the Empire State building, and I will put a$1000 bet that it will not fire from the impact. Even if it lands backwards, the trigger will not depress due to the lighter mass of the trigger blade safety and that the rest of the trigger and weight will not depress unless the blade does.

        DA/SA hammer-fire is a fine system, but those that fear striker fire systems show how antiquated they are.

        1. Glocks specifically (as well as the S&W SIgma and I assume the SD) are indeed only partially cocked but M&Ps and XDs have fully cocked strikers. Pulling the trigger simply releases the striker. Dunno about the VP9, PPQ, or SIG P320 though.

          1. I know not all strikers are partially cocked – but even if not striker fired pistols have numerous internal safety mechanisms that must all fail at once for it to accidentally fire from being dropped or otherwise fired without the trigger being pulled

  2. I won’t ever get behind you on SA/DA, I like a consistent trigger pull. With a good gun an good ammo, it’s above 99% it’s going to fire, so I’m not really crazy about the hammer fired advantage of re-hitting a light primer strike or now-back-in-battery condition. I do understand the advantage for people that may be dealing with weapon retention however.

    But on the topic of the PPQ. I have had four. I still have two. I’m considering going down to one in order to make funds to play the field, or chase the white buffalo. SIG P320 is the next evaluation I think. I like the PPQ, but there are issues. The giant slide release is, giant, I have had multiple issues with it locking back on empty, or locking back when loaded and suppressed. The trigger imo, is too light. It’s surely a training issue, but I have had NDs when ‘almost’ on target, esp trying to shoot from reset. And Walther’s commitment to that gun in the States is sort of embarrassing. Not to mention parts availability. I’d have a VP9 if they had a button mag release, I’m more into the function of the gun than the brand name on the side so I want commonality to other guns, not a special manual of arms.

    Perhaps I’m too picky. I could get on the gear carousel only to end up back at the sexy PPQ.

      1. There’s actually a condition that can occur with some hammer fired guns where the slide is slightly out of battery but the hammer will still move when the trigger is pressed. This is likely what caused the misfires in Wilson’s Sig, because it was being grabbed by Brown, which could have easily sent it slightly out of battery. A Glock under the same conditions would have misfired as well.

        1. Right, but again either hammer or striker fire would need the slide racked in that situation which still doesn’t give hammer-fired guns the advantage. And the double strike capabilith like I said is only sometimes viable – if the round is a dud which is usuallh why a round fails to fire, it will need to be racked anyways and a 2nd or 3rd re strike likely won’t matter

    1. Basically my point is – if your firearms fails to fire 3 times, it’s time to rack the slide and put a new round in the chamber. So double strike isn’t much of an advantage as people think. If the round happens to be a dud, a lot of the time a second strike won’t make it fire either.

    2. If it was a dud round then yes, even a hammer-fired gun would need the slide racked to get a new round into the chamber.

      1. Well obviously if you have a bad round you will tap rack bang. But you brought up a situation in which a gun was pushed out of battery and attempted to fire. With a DAO or DA/SA system all you have to do is pull back and re engage. I am honestly curious what would happen with a striker fired in that situation. If it would require being rack or not.

        1. No I didn’t bring that situation up, someone else did. I was talking about failure to ignite the primer. Sometimes a second DA pull will shoot it off, sometimes it will never go off. As far as being pushed out of battery, the slide would need to be pushed back into battery for a hammer-fired gun and THEN you can pull the trigger again and it will shoot. Same with a striker fired gun, if pushed slightly out of battery but not enough to eject the round, you just push the slide back into battery to reseat the round and it will fire.

          Reports say that Darren Wilson’s Sig misfired in the confrontation with Mike brown, and some people say that was a cause of the struggle for the firearm which put the hammer-fired gun out of battery and he pulled the trigger several times in double action with no success until the slide went back into full-battery. Could happen with a striker fired gun as well, and if you do pull the SA trigger and it doesn’t fire, you will need to tap/rack and shoot a new round. That may be somewhat of a valid point, however, I found that my Glock will not allow the trigger to be pulled and striker to be released unless the slide is in bull battery.

  3. A friend of mine carried one of these back in the early 90s (it was a Daewoo back then). It was a good gun, and I liked the trigger.
    Over the last 25 years, I’ve carried various SA, SA/DA, DAO and striker fired pistols. I’ve never had a problem with the DA/SA triggers, it’s all about the practice time you put into your firearm of choice.

  4. I think the issue with DA/SA guns is that most have horrendous triggers out of the box, so people are turned off immediately . Most all of those guns can be made to have very good to great triggers with a little work and after market parts. My CZ shadow and Tanfo limited pro are good examples, both had terrible triggers as new ,but now are amongst the best I have ever pulled.

  5. “Most people are obsessed with “light” triggers, not knowing that a good trigger doesn’t have to be light.”

    QFT. Case in point: SIG P250 vs P320, I’ve had tons of people trade in their P250s because the trigger was “too heavy” yet the DAO trigger on the 250 is actually quite good.

  6. As a DA/SA fan, I can understand why the vast majority of people will never like a DA/SA setup. 1. It takes a lot of practice to master two trigger pulls. Considering a lot of gun owners probably don’t get a 100 rounds a month thru their gun, one trigger pull will def be better for them. 2. The most practical point of DA/SA systems is they are probably the most safe way to carry a gun without a holster. Even without manual safeties. Most people honestly don’t have a use for it. 3. The Hammer fired system is more reliable in certain extreme environments for first shot reliability. But no civilian will ever have a need for those circumstances. Less than .1% of SOF does.

    1. Well, it’s not just that – single action striker-fired handguns don’t only have a more consistent pull, they usually break more predictably when you take up the slack and get over the wall. Also, the reset is usually much more pronounced and tactile. Hammer-fired guns usually have a heavy DA pull, but the SA pull is usually very light, around 3lbs or so but they don’t break as predictably in many cases. I would also disagree that a hammer fired gun is more reliable in extreme environments – should any debris or mud etc get on the outisde of the gun in between the hammer and firing pin, there could be a misfire. Likewise, should there be a struggle or should some foreign object or hand etc get in the way of the hammer dropping, you will get a misfire. Striker systems in my opinion are more resistant to that because everything is internal.

      1. If you think striker fired guns have better triggers than hammer fired you really need to shoot more guns. Or stop shooting bottom of the barrel hammer fired guns. Am curious how much experience you have running a gun in different AOs. I got a lot of time running and maintaining weapons on different continents, from jungles to deserts, to the Artic Circle, and have observed hammer fired outperform striker fired in general. Not enough to justify switching a units weapons for it, but enough to have to have extra SOPs set up for the striker fired. And I am curious how you can say a 3lb isn’t a predictable break.

        1. Light weight doesn’t necessarily mean predictable break, nor does it mean better trigger to some shooters. I understand there are good DA/SA guns out there, but the majority I’ve fired are not as predictable of a break as say my Walther PPQ, HK VP9, or my Glock. I had a Beretta PX4 and the break although it was around 3lbs was not as predictable. Maybe I haven’t gone continent-hopping but I’ve put thousands of rounds through hammer-fired guns of many kinds such as HK USP’s, HK P30, CZ 75 (also the Daewoo pistols I used to own in 9mm and 40, same model as the LH9 in this article) and I have put probably tens of thousands of rounds through striker-fired guns like my VP9/PPQ/Glock and found them to be more to my liking and more predictable albeit not as light. As far as single action hammer-fired guns, 1911’s that I’ve fired break like glass and are just about the best triggers there are.

          1. Some people like to treat pistol triggers like a bolt action rifle. I think that if more people put in time learning to shoot traditional DA auto’s one hand only, DA on at least 50% of all shots fired, they would learn how to run a pistol trigger in a whole different way. I think most people never bother, as it can be very frustrating to start. I find a predictable glass rod break over rated personally. I’d rather “roll” through the press, or jerk the heck out of it, instead of trying to stage the trigger.

        2. By the way, there are plenty of videos of the PPQ being fired while FULLY submerged underwater, SUPPRESSED and un-suppressed and it cycled through ammo perfectly. I’ve seen hammer-fired guns fired underwater, and although it will fire off a round, it will not cycle by itself.

  7. DA/SA is my third choice, behind Striker-Fired and DAO. Besides the two-trigger-weight/stroke problem, you have the decocking problem. I’ve seen more than one experienced shooter holster a cocked DA/SA pistol. It’s especially common if DA/SA is not your only carry pistol system.
    Those of you who say it’s a training problem you’ve fixed with your own training have never met Mr. Murphy on the street.

  8. Why must gun guys find irrelevant shit to discuss/argue/fight over like caliber, 1911/glock, AR/AK, and now ignition systems.

    Just get some force-on-force training with any gun.

  9. I was very interested to try the LH9, when shopping for a G19ish size DA/SA gun. Couldn’t find one in a store. Wound up with a CZ p-07. I can’t see many people ordering one of these without being able to try the unique system in person.

  10. The moment I first handled this pistol, I knew it was the one for me. I’m very particular in what firearms I like to train with and carry. Double/single action, exposed hammer, multiple safeties, ambidextrous (I’m left handed), and the ability for a higher carry capacity (when I’m not in NY. [the terrible state]). I began training with the Beretta 92, but that gun is just to large for a practical CCW weapon. But the lionheart lh9 has everything I wanted in a firearm, plus a little extra (I.E. The decocker with double)

  11. So has any of the experts here actually shot the LH9? It’s nice to see folks can go off topic on personal rants that have absolutely nothing positive to offer, and will only result in analysis of arbitrary situations that have about as much chance of happening as a change of opinion. I’d like to hear more about the gun. So unless you want to talk about the pistol please STFD and STFU.

  12. I own the LH9C. I bought it to replace a Kahr CM9 (striker fired) that I had for over 2 years and determined to be too small for my hand. I like both, but was convinced to get the Lionheart due to SA/DA capability. Having grown up shooting SA/DA revolvers, the action of pulling a hammer back to SA mode is natural to me. I especially like the idea of being locked and not cocked in the de-cock mode. I like the fact that I can re cock manually, or with the trigger. The ambedextrious trigger disconnect safety makes this pistol the safest I have ever handled. I have handled quite a few in my time (not bragging). The accuracy is above par for the size. This pistol is truly worth the price.

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