The Obscure Korean Cat
The Lionheart LH9CN, is gun that is relatively unknown… a lot of people have heard of them, they’ve heard a lot of things, but there just isn’t a lot of information out there on them it seems. In this review, we’ll be going over what you get in the box, an explanation of what double action + is, my thoughts on the gun, and then the history and the changes Lionheart has made to the platform (allll the way at the end). Buckle in, because this will be a long one!
As far as what you get in the box…well… you don’t actually get a box, you get a range case. In the range case, you’ll get the pistol, one magazine, a steel cleaning rod (weird, right?), a brass bore brush, a fold out manual with pictures, a sample of Frog Lube, and your customary gun lock.
The Lionheart LH9 Compact weighs in at 23.8 ounces and has a barrel length of 3.6 inches. The rest of the measurements are as follows: Overall Length is 7 inches, overall height is 4.6 inches, and the width is 1.32 inches. The LH9CN also utilizes a very unique trigger system called double action +. The pistol comes equipped with a white dot front sight and a blacked out rear sight. The sights equipped are Novak sights, so you shouldn’t run into any issues finding aftermarket options. The Lionheart LH9CN also comes equipped with a steel guide rod and the barrel is a matchgrade 4150 Chromoly barrel.
The one thing that everyone is curious about is that double action + trigger system. The best way to describe it (my video review will be up shortly, so you can see it in action there) is as a 2-stage AR trigger. When you chamber a round the hammer cocks back like normal, what isn’t normal is the fact that you manually push the hammer forward to decock it.
What this does is, it gives you double action length of pull, but you get the single action weight. It’s a pretty nifty system but it does take some getting use to.
There is a firing pin safety, so you don't have to worry about the gun discharging when you push the hammer forward, and if you still are there is a manual safety that disables the trigger.
Before I get on with the actual review, I want to take a minute to re-clarify something. This is a T&E gun from Lionheart Industries, as such this pistol has gone to other testers, and it does show signs of wear that aren’t from my testing. The issues I encountered have also been troubleshot and I have found that it being used as much as it has been is what caused said issues; if you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about, I’ll be going more into detail shortly.
Let’s start off with shootibility. If you’re looking for a DA/SA hammer fired pistol to carry but you’re accustomed to striker fired guns… I can say that the double action + system would definitely take fewer reps to get familiar with than a standard double action pull. If you are already accustomed to a regular DA/SA trigger though, you will find yourself going “What?” several times while becoming familiar with the “+” feature. The trigger also has a certain…mechanical feel to it that I’ve not experienced with any other handgun; it isn’t a bad thing at all, but it is different (a different that I kinda like). Trigger stuff aside, the Lionheart Industries LH9CN is a very easy gun to shoot. The first couple of magazines put me off and I thought that I just wasn’t going to enjoy it…but as I shot it and got used to the trigger I can say that it is a sweet shooter. The slide is smooth, there is a little more felt recoil than I thought there would be, but it’s still minimal, and muzzle rise isn’t bad at all.
Before we move onto the ergonomics of the pistol, I think the big elephant in the room at the moment is the standard capacity of the LH9 Compact. The important thing to remember is…this line of pistols started life off as a combat pistol and not as a pistol for civilians. The 10rd magazines have a sizeable ledge on the inside (which you can see via the dimples on the mag) that make sure the follower stays straight and that the spring doesn’t become too compressed. This results in the chances of a magazine causing a failure to be very low. That being the case, I would like to see Lionheart redesign the 10rd mags for the Regulus by decreasing the ledge so the capacity could come up a little.(Shout out to A.J. from Lionheart for the picture since I forgot to take it…)
Ergonomics…the first thing I want to bring up is the forward serrations. Almost every handgun that I have played with, the stock serrations have always left something to be desired. The LH9 Compact’s forward serrations are nicely done and are very easy manipulate the slide with. The safety (if you opt to use it) is a bit odd as its inverted compared to other safeties. If you’ve ever held a 1911, you know that the front of the lever goes up to engage and down to disengage, right? On the LH9CN it’s the backside of the lever that goes up and down. It is out of the way though so I don’t see it ever getting activated or deactivated (depending on how you carry this pistol) while carrying, or while shooting it as it is recessed. The magazine release I feel should be a tiny bit wider, but its easy enough to hit; you can also hit it with your right hand’s middle finger if you have large hands, which is kind of different. Grip wise, I am able to get all of my fingers on with my strong hand, however, when inserting or dropping a magazine I do have to move my pinky due to a cut out in the front strap (think Gen 5 Glock, but less material cut out).
Lionheart Industries was kind enough to send me out a KD Rounds IWB holster so I could test out how the LH9 Compact carries. I did carry this pistol AIWB (although it isn’t an AIWB holster), strong hand, and 4:30 (right before reaching SOB territory). I have to say that this is a very comfortable pistol to carry, but it shines the most as an appendix carry gun. The beaver tail is similar to that on a striker fired gun, so it shouldn’t stick into your belly…and no there isn’t any hammer bite when shooting the LH9CN. What really does it though is that double action + trigger system. The hammer decocks completely, but you don’t have to deal with a traditional double action weight. In turn you don’t have to worry about the hammer digging into your belly, or snagging on something when you go to draw.
Rating reliability has been fun… As I mentioned up top, this is a T&E gun that has been used quite a bit before it got to me for review. Brass cycled perfectly fine through it when I first got it. Aluminum and steel cased ammunition did not. Lionheart and I were able to troubleshoot it and figured out it was a weak extractor spring. Once I replaced the extractor spring, it cycled aluminum cased ammunition fine, and I saw a significant decrease in failures to extract with Winchester USA Forged. I do believe the issues with the USA Forged were caused by the longer overall length of the cartridge compared to every other 115gr 9mm load that I’ve ever shot (USA Forged vs 115gr Remington UMC). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to track down any TulAmmo locally at a reasonable price so I cannot give any input on if it will have issues with that ammunition. I can however say that it cycles Federal HSTs just fine. Minus the issues with the Winchester USA Forged, I didn’t encounter any issues with feeding any other ammunition after replacing the extractor spring.
Now, I do have a few of gripes with the LH9 Compact, but they aren’t total deal breakers for me. First is the magazine release as I already mentioned. I didn’t have any issues hitting it but it would be nice to have a little more surface area to hit. The next ones are more cosmetic issues than anything else. The trigger is able to touch the frame when pulled which has resulted in a small wear area, the same can be said for the hammer if you manually cock it. The final one is the safety for lefties. The red dot is apart of the grip and the grip goes underneath the safety lever but there is a functionality to it. That area of the frame is cut away a little so you can access the sear cage and trigger bar. I don’t really see anything bad coming from it like I had initially thought though. This issue is cosmetic as well more than anything though.
Now for the “Side View”. For those new to TacCat, Side View is something I exclusively throw into the written reviews. In the Side View I take into account what others who have shot the firearm thought. Typically I have a handful of people who shoot the firearms I get in for testing, however, most of the people I have shoot were abnormally busy during the time I had the Lionheart. Fortunately, the one person that got to shoot it is almost the complete opposite of myself. They have small hands and they’re still new shooting. I did have a handful of people handle the LH9 Compact, so I do get to share their views on the ergonomics at the very least.
Shooting wise, the novice shooter enjoyed the double action + trigger from what they said over the standard double action triggers they’ve used. They didn’t have any issues with the double action length of pull despite having petite hands and they were hitting their targets almost immediately.They also didn’t have to move their pinky on their strong hand to get mags in or out. Their only gripe was with the sights, which seemed to be a common theme due to the blacked out rears; unfortunately this layout isn’t something for everyone.
The people that got to just play with the LH9 Compact expressed mixed opinions on the double action + trigger. Some of them loved it, especially from a carry stand point, but it just didn’t seem to tickle the fancy of others. They all agreed though that the pistol had a nice balance to it.
Now for the question a lot of people have been waiting for… would I recommend this pistol? Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definite answer. If you’re set in your ways and aren’t wanting to learn a new trigger system you probably won’t be impressed by the double action +. If you’re a striker fired fan looking for your first DA/SA pistol, the LH9 line of pistols would be a good gun to start with. New shooters would also take kindly to the double action + system since it would take fewer reps to get trained on as opposed to a traditional double action triggers. If you have been eyeballing a Lionheart LH9 Compact but have been hesitant, I think you’ll find yourself being pleasantly surprised. For me, I will eventually have a Lionheart pistol in the collection because I think the double action + system is cool and it shot really well. As always everyone, thank you for reading this TacCat review, and keep things practical out there.
Now for the story on the Lionheart LH9 for those that are interested. Back in the 80’s the United States saw the Daewoo K5 or DP51 being imported and it was a budget 9mm that competed against the Smith & Wesson 59 series. The last that I heard, they were priced between $300 and $400, sometimes cheaper depending on the time. These pistols had a hard time making it with the boom of American made 9mms. Design wise, it took subtle cues from the Beretta 92 series, the Browning Hi-Power, and especially the Smith & Wesson 59 line of pistols. I am unsure of when the DP51 stopped getting imported into the country, but in 2013 Lionheart Industries began bringing the pistol into the country again from S&T Motiv in South Korea.
A lot of people are under the impression that the LH9 series is just the same ol’ DP51 with an increased price tag, but that isn’t really the case. When Lionheart began bringing the pistol into the country, S&T Motiv had to make several adjustments. The first thing you DP51 owners might notice is, is that the finish is now a black Cerakote versus the original bluing which some have said wasn’t very…durable. The pistol also got it’s internals upgraded via better spring and some polishing to my knowledge. I have been read that the trigger has been improved quite a bit, however, I don’t have Daewoo DP51 to compare it to sadly. Lionheart also went to Novak cuts on the slide so that customers could upgrade their sights a little easier than before. The cherry on top for me would be the Matchgrade 4150 ChroMoly barrel that Lionheart has thrown into the pistol, this barrel has a longer life to my understanding, and it offers an edge in accuracy over the original.
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