Guns

Ruger .380 LCP Review

Ruger LCP 380 Pistol

photo by Cyberstarboy (Personal CameraPreviously published: N/A) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The Luger LCP (lightweight, compact pistol) is a small lightweight concealed carry pistol that has been around for many years and has gained a large following amongst gun owners. Manufactured by Strum, Ruger & Company and weighing only 9.4 ounces, the LCP is very easy to conceal weapon for concealed carry.

The original model was released in 2008 at the National SHOT show convention. The original LCP I experienced a large volume of sells, in the first couple of years, but later on they started to see a drop due to some common issues that had been discovered.

The first notable issue was the grip. With the incredibly small grip profile, people with average-sized hands had difficulty, and people with large hands all but could not shoot the gun period. At this point in time, there was not a grip extension available. A factory magazine with a grip extension was finally released in 2013 after scores of requests were made to Ruger.

The second issue was the guns problem with feeding ammo. The LCP became notorious for being picky with the ammo it would shoot well. A large variety of the ammo available would not feed reliably, if at all, with shooters experiencing “stovepipe” misfeeds and failed ejections. Some gunsmiths had success polishing and smoothing the ramps, but it was still a common complaint with the weapon.

A third issue was the short, shallow sights that make holding a good picture difficult, and were slow to obtain. The sights were designed to be “snag free,” which is Ruger’s reason for them being so short, but most people felt that the lower chance of snagging the pistol while drawing it was not worth the difficulty in finding a good sight picture once the weapon was drawn.

The most significant complaint that people had with the LCP was the trigger. The “Double Action Only” trigger had a long pull with a considerable trigger weight. The trigger didn’t have a clean break, and was the type often described as a “mush to click.”  Lastly, it did not have a “reset,” forcing the shooter to let the trigger travel all the way out before it could be pulled again. With the long and hard trigger pull, this made the gun more difficult to fire accurately.

In 2008, there was a recall that affected some Gen 1 serial numbers. This was initiated due to Ruger receiving reports that pistols manufactured with a particular style hammer could discharge if left with a bullet in the chamber. The recall was for Gen 1 LCP’s with serial numbers 370-0000 and below. The LCPs with serial numbers 371-0000 and up were already manufactured with the new hammer.

To determine if a pre-371 LCP has been repaired at the factory, you can look for a diamond imprint that the Ruger factory stamped on all guns that had been reworked. The stamp is on the t portion of the slot just behind and below the hammer.

Gen 2

Ruger released a second generation LCP that included some improvements. The frames of the guns are almost identical, with all of the upgrades being internal except for the sights. The most common way to tell the Gen 1 and Gen 2 pistols apart from one another is the serial number. The original Gen 1’s had a dash in the serial number like 123-45678. The dash was removed in the Gen 2 numbers appearing as 12345678.

One improvement the Gen 2 pistols had was improved sights that were raised to allow a better, faster to acquire sight picture. The sights were still rounded and created a low profile to help prevent snagging, which still giving shooter something more to look at.

Another significant improvement was with the trigger. Ruger shortened the trigger pull, which made the gun more comfortable to shoot, though the stiff weight and lack of a “break” remained.

LCP II

The LCP II was released in 2016. Often referred to as the “cousin” to the LCP I rather than a replacement, the LCP II boasts some significant changes over the original and Gen 2.

The LCPII is slightly larger than the LCP I. It is wider, to accommodate and better grip, and also the slide is longer. The sights are taller and more defined, allow for faster target acquisition. The frame was redesigned for a more modern look, which included adding a more defined texture on the grip for a secure hold. They added a slide-lock, which allows the gun to lock open when shot to empty. The most significant upgrade was to the trigger, which no longer has the stiff “mush to click” trigger, and features a trigger reset, allowing shooters to fire more rapidly and more accurately.

While the improvements make the LCP II a much better shooting gun, some people feel that it is not a very good carry gun, due to the significantly lightened trigger. The original stiff trigger meant that the possibility that you would accidentally catch the trigger and cause an accidental discharge was low. It also ensured that if in a stressful situation you would not shoot in a “panic.”

So the LCP II is more comfortable to grip and shoot, has a significantly improved trigger, and better sights. However, some people believe that the trigger makes it an unsafe option for concealed carry.

What I looked at

When reviewing this gun, I looked at several factors. Concealability, shootability, accuracy, price, safety, craftsmanship, and owner feedback. All of these factors I feel is important for selecting a handgun, especially if it is intended as a concealed carry weapon you may need to depend on to save your life.

Concealability

Concerning concealability, the LCP scores the highest marks. It’s very small, and lightweight, meaning it can be concealed in many ways. A lot of owners that carry the weapon daily say they often forget they have it on. It’s small enough to be a literal “pocket gun,” and a lot of people carry it in either their front pocket in a pocket holster or in their back pocket in a wallet holster.

The LCP was also designed to be carried in a “deep concealed” fashion. The rounded and low profile sights create a snag-free draw.

Shootability

When it comes to the shootability of the LCP, it seems very dependent on the person. The pistol has a very snappy recoil. With the gun weighing only 9.4oz, the .380 round creates a lot of torque, which some people found made it hard to handle. Others just found it to be uncomfortable to shoot. This is important, because practice with your concealed carry gun is very important, and a weapon that’s uncomfortable to shoot won’t get shot as much as others.

The other side to the recoil issue is with follow up shots. The amount of muzzle travel makes it harder to get off rapid and accurate follow-up shots, something that should be expected in a concealed carry gun.

Accuracy

Accuracy is very dependent on the shooter himself. However, some factors can tell us about the accuracy of the actual gun. It doesn’t matter how accurate the gun is in a vise if no one can actually get the gun to perform at that level while being handheld.

Some shooters had shot competitions with the LCP and gotten good results. There are also many people who report having good grouping while target shooting with the LCP. So while it may be challenging to get accuracy from the gun, it can be done.

Price

When writing this review, the current price for a factory new Gen 2 LCP from an online retailer was $190. This puts the gun in the lower end of the pocket gun niche, with similar guns ranging from $235 (Keltec) to $583 (Kahr Arms).

Safety

The LCP does not have an external safety. Personally, I subscribe to the theory that the best gun safety is the one between your ears, but regardless the safest option is physical safety. The LCP does have a stiff and long trigger pull, which is intended to reduce the possibility or an accidental discharge.

Craftsmanship

Ruger has been known for the quality and craftsmanship for years, and the LCP is no different. Even though it is one of their cheapest firearms they manufacture, it is still held to their high-quality control standards.

Owner Feedback

While researching reviews and posts about the LCP, it seems that everyone who owns one loves it. Many are enthusiastic about how much they love it. People who have shot it, but don’t own it, are a mixed lot. With that being said, my experience tells me that when that happens, it means that you have to have experience with the gun to like it.

The LCP is not a gun that you are going to pick and fall in love with. It is not a gun you are going to get 1-inch groups on the first box on ammo you put through it. This is a gun you are going to have to familiarize yourself with and get used to shooting to be able to shoot it accurately and comfortably.

Conclusion

The LCP line, either the Gen 2 or the LCP II, are well built and quality firearms.

Are they suitable for concealed carry? Well, that depends.

I feel that if someone is willing to practice with it a big, the Gen 2 LCP would be a safe and suitable carry gun for just about anyone. The recoil is manageable, the accuracy will come with experience, and the stiff trigger makes it safe enough to carry in a pocket or purse in a good holster.

The LCP II is up to personal comfort. Personally, I am very comfortable carrying a gun and handing a firearm in stressful situations. So for me the light (lighter), trigger is not a concern.  For newer gun owners or for those that are new to carrying a firearm it might not be the best choice. Regardless of skill or experience, I do not feel the LCP II should be carried outside of a holster due to the trigger.

So if you are looking for a new pocket pistol or carry gun, the Ruger LCP line is one to consider. It has been manufactured for over 10 years, giving plenty of time for the “kinks” to be worked out, and has proven itself as a reputable firearm.

Steven Hensley

About Steven Hensley

Born and raised in Kentucky, Steve grew up deep in the mountains on a family farm. After college, Steve spent over 15 years working in public service and has experience in Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement. He has also worked with training and deploying search & rescue and service dogs for utilization in a variety of services. Steve is also a Scout Leader with the Boy Scouts of America, and works to teach preparedness to the next generation. Steve has worked with and taught firearms and self-defense in multiple venues, from tactical applications to long range shooting, and also has extensive training in first aid and wilderness first aid. An active prepper, Steve has devoted hundreds of hours to mastering and teaching skills and techniques for use in survival, homesteading, and general preparedness.
View all posts by Steven Hensley →

8 thoughts on “Ruger .380 LCP Review

  1. I had a 1st Gen pistol. I sent it in to get “fixed” and hated what they did to it. The grip was designed small, the finger grip extention is a big help and was available as an aftermarket part. Next, I then bought the LCP-C (red aluminum trigger). The sights were better, the trigger adequate for the job.

    The Gen 1 sights get a bad rap. This is a point-and-shoot pistol. At the ranges it was designed for, the sights were adequate. My thought is if you are planning to use this at over 7 yards, get a different pistol. I did, in the form of an LC9, now sporting 3-dot day/night sights.

    I prefer the add-on CTC laser. My DW has a LCP with a built in laser. The problem is that the activation button slides from left to right and can get pushed the the “on” position by accident. Then when you need a laser, the battery is dead.

    There are times when people want too much from a gun. They want the weight of a paper clip, the knockdown of a .458 Win Mag, and the recoil of a .22 LR; match grade day/night sights that never get caught on anything; and a super smooth, light trigger that will never go off by “accident”. Well, that’s not going to happen, your problem is physics.

    I have found that the LCP works well for me as the gun I carry with me. It lets me get to a better gun or get away.

  2. Steve,

    I like your article. Let’s get the testosterone swinging out of the way… Check your spell check. Whew!

    OK, that’s out of the way. I inherited a Ruger LCP from my dad. I don’t know if it’s a Gen 2 or an LCP II, but I do know when I first saw it about two days before my dad died, I laughed my ass off. OK, I’m being a petulant child who wasn’t listening to his father. He put that thing in my hand and it fit! It is my EDC.

    As far as accuracy, I think you’re getting a bit too technical for what you are reviewing. Seriously? A .380 sub-compact is not supposed to perform at distances past 10 feet. They will usually be used while the person has hands on you, so smooth sights that don’t snag are a big bonus. Besides, who uses sights in a face-to-face confrontation?

    Very good review. And this is coming from the Communist State of Kalifornia. I’m one of the very few people who can carry here.

    If you’d like to talk about dogs, drop me an email. If you can’t get it from the website, I’ll put it up again.

    BTW,

    My name is Steve too.

    1. Sirius,

      I like your article. Let’s get the testosterone swinging out of the way… Check your spell check. Whew!

      I agree, especially when the bio reads in part:

      “Steve Hensley is a professional writer and photographer that lives in Richmond, KY

      I would expect a professional writer to take spelling and grammar very seriously with the first two in the opening paragraph being perhaps the most important:

      “The Luger LCP (lightweight, compact pistol) is a small lightweight concealed carry pistol that has been around for many years and has gained a large following amongst gun owners. Manufactured by Strum, Ruger & Company and weighing only 9.4 ounces, the LCP is a very easy to conceal weapon for concealed carry.

      While my professional writing has been mostly for technical journals, in my opinion por spelling and grammar shows unprofessional attitude or lack of care, and that can also reflect on the content.

  3. I also owned a Ruger lcp 380 and did not care much for it. My wife tried it for it’s light weight and ease to carry concealed and she grew to dislike it as much as I did. I did end up selling the gun.

  4. First of all, I am a big Ruger fan. While I’ve been shooting since age 8 and received my first rifle at age 12, my first handgun at age 22 when just out of college was a Single Six with twin cylinders that I still own after 45 years. I have the P89 & P95 and who hasn’t had at least one 10/22? I also own a Blackhawk chambered in .357 for deer hunting.
    While I often carry the P89 & P95, the EDC gun that’s nearly always with me, even as I type this, is a Bersa Thunder380, which is similar to the LCP. I purchased the Bersa years before the LCP was available. We are at least considering the LCP for the DW.
    I find complaints about the sights on a compact self defense carry pistol to be odd, since by it’s very definition you generally won’t have time to engage the sights, no matter how good the sights may be.
    I’ve been teaching defensive pistol since 1991 and training instructors since 1995, and we always teach students that often the sights are useless, especially in low light situations or at close distance. We practice at the typical distance of 1-7 yards, with 1 yard often being the hardest for new students, since you typically shoot from the rotation without even seeing the sights, so “point shoulder” or other natural point of aim techniques are the most effective training and practice.
    One should also practice the Tueller Drill where sights are never brought into play, since there is no time to engage beyond basic reaction time.
    Since this article concerns Concealed Carry firearms for Self Defense, I think the following link is appropriate, especially for those who travel,
    Click on a State to see the Gun Law Profile
    https://www.nraila.org/gun-laws

    1. And Steve,
      When you state:

      This was initiated due to Ruger receiving reports that pistols manufactured with a particular style hammer could discharge if left with a bullet in the chamber.

      I hope you meant cartridge, since a bullet in the chamber only applies to certain muzzle loading firearms. Interchangeable misuse of terms like “bullet & cartridge” or “clip & magazine” only serves to confuse beginners, and when dealing with potentially lethal tools, precision is I think, necessary.

  5. I have a gen 1 LCP. The Ex wanted a small pistol against my advice. She fired it once and then it was mine. It is not a fun pistol to practice with. Three fingers holding and a kick like a mule. However, out to 5 yards you can hit what you POINT (not aim) at every time. It is soooo easy to conceal! I use a MECO hip pocket holster. Just slip it in and it looks like a wallet.
    https://mecopocketholsters.com/shop?olsPage=products%2Fstandard-rear-pocket-holster-fd41a900-ca7b-41e3-afdd-c2c84bb64ed4

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