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Lionheart Combat Regulus: A Fistful Of Metal [Review]

HANDS-ON WITH SOME BIG PIECES OF STEEL

Sometimes a pistol design comes around that changes the way we look at handguns, becoming a trailblazer in influence and design. Other times, a good design may come and go as an “also ran,” making sentimental shooters wonder, “Whatever happened to it?” Then, there are the ones that fly under the radar and never seem to truly go away.

Such could be said for the pistols of Lionheart Industries, a U.S. company that manufactures a line of precision-crafted, aluminum-framed handguns with a unique trigger system that old timers might remember as being made by Daewoo in the waning days of the “Wondernines.”

HISTORY

Back in the early ’90s, the world was introduced to a pistol manufactured by Daewoo Industries of South Korea called the DP-51; its military designation in the South Korean arsenal was the K5. It was a double-stack 9mm featuring what was called a fast-fire mechanism or triple-action trigger. 

The Lionheart Regulus Combat is a unique all metal handgun that is loaded with tactical features.

The idea was that you could cock the hammer for a single-action pull and then push it forward so that the trigger would still release the hammer like a single-action without the hammer being cocked like a 1911. It resulted in a slightly longer take-up against the trigger, but avoided a heavy double-action pull.

Either poor design execution or the lack of a truly refined trigger finger as a young shooter put it out of my mind for a good three decades. Lionheart Industries has revived this unique concept, bringing it back to the public as a “double-action plus” trigger, which is frankly a more accurate description than the other two monikers.

Lionheart actually imported Daewoo pistols for a few years as the LH-9, then continued to improve and refine it. Eventually, they began sole-source manufacturing several different variants in the United States as the Regulus a few years ago.

The model shown here is the Combat Regulus. It’s the fully loaded model, sporting a threaded barrel in ½x28 with a thread protector, a three-slot accessory rail, suppressor height Novak sights, Cerakote finish, G10 grips, and two 18-round magazines. 

Its looks alone are a vast improvement over the original Daewoo design. It ships in what Lionheart calls a Field Kit, consisting of a rugged high-quality ballistic nylon pistol case with cleaning gear, lock, and lubricant.

Takedown of the Lionheart Regulus family of pistols is relatively simple and similar to other handguns based on the Browning recoil system.

SHOOTING THE COMBAT REGULUS

The Lionheart Combat Regulus is entirely made in America. The slide has very broad and effective front and rear cocking serrations. The front strap and backstrap feature very comfortable “X-pattern” checkering, nicely arched over the mainspring. A beavertail prevents hammer or slide bite. Lionheart put a lot of effort into the aesthetic and ergonomic improvements.

However, the functional improvements to the Combat Regulus are the most interesting. In single-action mode with the hammer fully to the rear, the trigger breaks at about 3 to 4 pounds. In double-action mode, squeezing the trigger to cock the hammer and release it averages around 11 pounds. 

This is in the realm of most typical DA/SA pistols like the Beretta M9, S&W third-gen semiautos, or SIG classic P-series, which were all early contemporaries of the original design. However, the difference between the Lionheart Regulus and these other pistols is that once the hammer is cocked, rather than depressing a de-cocking lever, the shooter only needs to push the hammer forward. 

The Thunderbeast Fly 9 in short mode was a perfect combination between silence and maneuverability.

The trigger moves forward and looks like it’s not cocked. At this point, squeezing the trigger is no 11- to 12-pound affair. Instead, you get a long pull that seems to automatically cock the pistol and breaks closer to the 6-pound range.

There’s a small ambidextrous safety lever for an extra margin of safety, but it’s not really needed if you choose to carry the pistol in this manner. That’s good, because the Lionheart’s safety feels awkward in use. Most thumb safeties — like the 1911, Browning Hi-Power, and others — have a thumb pad in the front and pivot in the rear. 

The safety on the Regulus is the reverse, pivoting in front. Fortunately, should you engage the double-action plus mode, it’s not really needed. 

Novak sights have long been a popular choice for accurate yet rugged combat pistol sights, and the Combat Regulus wears a set that’s tall enough for suppressed shooting.

We tested three types of ammunition in the Lionheart: Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ, Hornady Critical Duty 115-grain JHP, and a two 50-round boxes of Freedom Munitions Hush 147-grain subsonic. The Critical Duty was to see how 100 rounds of JHP would function in the pistol; there were zero problems at all. The typical group size at 50 feet was 1.7 to 2.4 inches. 

What makes Lionheart’s pistols stand out in the crowd is the Double Action Plus mode that really seems to be perfected on this pistol.

Moving on to the Fiocchi FMJ produced similar results. Again, there were no failures to fire, feed, or eject. Accuracy was on par at 50 feet but moving out to 75 feet opened the groups by more than double, thanks to a set of 50-year-old eyes. The 147-grain Hush ammo was reserved for something else. It was time to pack away the ear pro and test out some of the most useful pistol accessories ever designed.

GOING QUIET

Trying out accessories on a review pistol can be hit or miss in the sense that not all accessories work for everyone. Adding a weapon light, for example, rules out most, if not all, factory holsters on a newer model such as this, and not everyone wants to go the custom route for every pistol in their collection. However, if you have a threaded barrel, you can affix a silencer to it — and that should bring joy to everyone’s ears, if not their wallets.

We had two 9mm cans on hand to test on the Lionheart Combat Regulus: Silencerco’s Osprey-9 2.0 and Thunder Beast Arms’ first pistol suppressor, the Fly-9.

Threaded barrels are becoming more popular on handguns these days for good reason — you can mount many different types of suppressors such as the modular Thunderbeast Fly 9 or the eccentric Silencerco Osprey.

The Osprey was always a very popular eccentric silencer. This means the opening in the can isn’t centered in its housing but offset so that the body sits lower than the pistol’s factory sights. Due to the polygonal shape, the original Osprey used a lever to properly align it. On the 2.0 version, this lever has been replaced by what Silencerco refers to as the Magic Button.

Thread the rear of the suppressor onto the barrel as far as it will go, then push the button to perform the final alignment. 

Although intended for standard height sights, the suppressor height sights on the Combat Regulus almost make you forget you have a silencer on your pistol when sending rounds downrange. It’s an extremely effective silencer and is compatible with 300 Blackout as well as 9mm. For even more versatility, you can opt for the Osprey-45 2.0 and switch between 9mm, 300 BLK, and 45 ACP. 

It’s made of stainless steel and aluminum, with a monocore baffle system. It’s not user serviceable and can’t be disassembled. It can be run wet or dry — wet works best to help eliminate issues with first round pop and to keep the range session quiet. 

The no-nonsense look and final fit and finish of the Lionheart Regulus Combat allow it to pair up nicely with tactical knives such as the ESEE-3 with 3D handle.

It’s also backward compatible with pistons and barrel spacers designed for the original Osprey. Overall length is 6.9 inches, and it weighs in at 8.8 ounces. If there’s a downside to this unit, it’s that owners of the original Osprey can’t have their existing can upgraded to the Magic Button to make adjustments. 

The second can was the Fly-9 by Thunder Beast Arms Corp. As a concentric design, it’s a little more conventional in appearance, but it’s modular and can be run in either long (7 inches long, 7.9 ounces) or short (4.4 inches long, 5.5 ounces) configurations. Construction is titanium with an Inconel spring for the stainless steel piston. 

It bears a strong resemblance to TBAC’s other cans, with a swirly twist pattern to facilitate ease of mounting and dismounting from the host gun. It’s full-auto rated and compatible with other calibers such as 300 BLK and 350 Legend. It ships with a ½x28 piston and a fixed barrel spacer. 

There’s no included takedown tool as it can be disassembled by inserting a coin into one of the filets in the front cap. Pop out a quarter, turn it sharply, and it can be removed by hand. Assembly is the reverse of disassembly as long as you have a quarter, padlock key, credit card, end of a tube of Lucas Oil, or even a flathead screwdriver handy.

The Fly-9 is so light that the booster assembly isn’t even needed in short mode due to its extremely light weight. The suppressor height sights on the Regulus work nicely with this model, perfectly balancing over the top of the can. 

What makes Lionheart’s pistols stand out in the crowd is the Double Action Plus mode that really seems to be perfected on this pistol.

Sound quality seemed better with the Fly-9 in long mode compared to the Osprey 9 2.0, but running it short has a great sound as well. Then again, the TBAC is nearly $400 more expensive, so that’s what the extra scratch buys you.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Some shooters may compare the Lionheart’s look and feel to a classic pistol like the single-action Browning Hi-Power or the Beretta M92. But it’s probably more in line with a third-generation S&W semiauto, CZ-75, or even a SIG P226, but with a smoother double-action trigger.

It’s certainly accurate enough for self-defense, target shooting, and matches. It suppressed well with two very different silencers and has a Pic rail for mounting a light. The Combat Regulus certainly ticks all the boxes for an excellent metal-framed, hammer-fired pistol.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it looks like a tactical piece of art, well balanced and smooth, yet checkered in all the right places. An armorer for the film industry looking for an über-tactical blaster wouldn’t go wrong with one of these pistols.

Each silencer tested here has its own pluses and minuses, but the TBAC Fly-9 probably edged out the Osprey in the weight and length classes as well as with its serviceability. New shooters might prefer the Osprey’s profile and its ease of use with factory iron sights.

An optic mounting plate could make the Lionheart even better as a suppressor host and expand its the potential for longer range handgun shooting. While polymer pistols are great, there’s a reassuring sense of confidence holding a fistful of metal in hand when the security cameras or dogs tell you something’s not right outside your home and your rifle isn’t exactly within arm’s reach. 

SPECS:

Lionheart industries Combat Regulus

  • Type: Semi-Auto
  • Caliber: 9mm
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Weight: 27.4 ounces
  • Barrel Length: 4.7 inches 
  • Overall length: 8 inches
  • Capacity: 18+1
  • MSRP: $1,150
  • URL: lionheartindustries.com

TBAC Fly-9 Thunder Beast Arms Corp. Fly-9

  • Caliber: 9mm, 300 BLK 
  • subsonic, 350 Legend
  • Length: 7.4 inches (long), 4.4 inches (short)
  • Weight: 7.9 ounces (long), 5.5 ounces (short)
  • Materials: Titanium, 
  • stainless piston
  • MSRP: $1,180
  • Website: thunderbeastarms.com

Silencerco Octane 9 2.0

  • Caliber: 9mm, 300 
  • BLK subsonic
  • Length: 6.9 inches 
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Materials: Aluminum and 
  • stainless steel
  • MSRP: $849
  • Website: silencerco.com

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