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Ruger LCP 380 Auto, $330

Gun Reports Home >> HandgunsSEARCH GUN REPORTS

Gun Tests, June 2008
Courtesy Gun Tests

The Ruger LCP may not be alone in offering a lightweight vest pocket 380 Auto, but its performance certainly makes it a contender.


From the 06-01-2008 Issue of Gun Tests

Classification:Handguns
Category:Pistols
Model Name:LCP
Manufacturer:Ruger
Model Number:380 Auto

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The LCP is a locked breech semi-automatic pistol that holds 6+1 rounds and shares almost identical dimensions with the Kel-Tec P-3AT.

Its three main components are the "through hardened" steel slide, aluminum sub-frame, and grip frame. However, we can point out several differences between the Ruger and Kel-Tec products.

The Kel-Tec grip frame is listed as being Dupont ST-8018 polymer. Ruger’s grip was listed as being constructed from glass-filled nylon. The Ruger LCP relied on the magazine to complete a greater area of the front strap. Checkering along the sides of the Ruger was more handsome than the Kel-Tec but less effective, in our view. There was an indentation for the thumb and/or index finger that gave it a look comparable to grips found on the Browning Hi Power. Graphics molded into the grip frame made for coordinated overall look. The magazine release was larger and slightly easier to operate than the Kel-Tec design. Operationally the LCP can be locked back thanks to the addition of a slide release. This lever was set into the frame to avoid adding a snag point but was lined for grip and easy to operate. Chamber-loaded indication was provided by a cutaway of the barrel at the point of ejection. The extractor was also contoured downward to add to this window. When the chamber was loaded, we could see the case rim and a portion of the case.

Before removing the slide, the owner’s manual instructs the operator to inspect the chamber with the slide locked back. Then, return the slide to its forward rest position. Next, shift the slide to the rear about 1/16 inch or more and pry the takedown pin from the left side of the frame using a screwdriver. Underneath the slide we found a steel guide rod surrounded by two coil springs one underneath the other. The spring closest to the guide rod was constructed of finer wire than the spring that surrounded it. The only trick to reassembling the LCP was to insert the takedown pin at an upward angle then press down to bypass the retention spring.

At the range we were reminded that the LCP, which at one time might have been called a vest pocket gun, was not going to adapt readily to benchrest fire. The lack of available grip made it all too easy for the support hand to interfere with the trigger finger. Whereas we often rest a portion of the gun directly on a sandbag

Gun Tests, June 2008
Courtesy Gun Tests

The basepad of the six-round magazine added length to the grip. Graphics were handsome, and we liked the sweeping contour that reminded us of the Browning Hi Power. But the checkering was not really effective. The addition of a snagproof slide catch (arrow) made handling the LCP safer and more convenient.


or solid rest, we did our best to envelop the pistol in both hands and rest them directly upon support. As we learned to maximize the accuracy of our shots from this position, we found that we had to control more recoil than the 32 ACP powered semi-automatics. To begin with we saw two separate groups forming on the target. Without a steady grip a loose hold printed our hits high on the target and a controlled grip printed them lower. Ultimately, we found that we could regularly achieve five-shot groups that averaged about 3.0 inches to 3.5 inches across with each variety of ammunition we tried.

It took a lot of work to shoot the Ruger LCP as if it were a target gun. That’s why we looked forward to our action test to provide more pertinent information. Fired from a distance of 3 yards we pushed the gun towards the target aggressively and tried to keep the outline of the rear face of the gun on target as we returned from recoil.

Certainly we were faced with greater recoil than was produced by the 32s, but it was neither sharp nor difficult to control. The key to accuracy and a quick time was to move the trigger finger forward the same distance every time to make sure the gun reset consistently and fired in time. The results of our three strings of fire produced a group that was remarkable not so much for its tight one-holed appearance but rather its even circular shape. In our first string of fire we dipped the muzzle and landed two shots low and to the right. But the remaining sixteen shots defined the circle by producing about an 8-inch group. Checking our Oehler chronograph and our Competition Electronics shot-activated timer, the MagTech ammunition used for this test was delivering about 137 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy at a rate of about one hit every .21 to .25 seconds.

Throughout our tests we suffered no malfunctions. The Ruger LCP may not be alone in offering a lightweight vest pocket 380 Auto, but its performance certainly makes it a contender.

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Reader Comments

All true, but the trigger on this beast is HORRENDOUS, and it will not handle +P rounds, which the Keltec will do (although you are cautioned to do so sparingly)

I have better guns, but this is the one that I always have with me. In SC the attire is Shorts and a tucked in golf shirt - The LCP works with this outfit.

It's reliable, compact and I would say pretty accurate (shot this puppy at my range last week) but that trigger pull is HORRIBLE! OK, one shot is all that is needed in a bad situation, shoot this baby all day? No way. There are better, small concealable guns out there.....but the price is right!

I agree with G2ops regarding the trigger -- if you fire the LCP for an extended amount of time, your finger definitely feels it. Also, I find the LCP to be somewhat less accurate than my Sig Sauer P238. However, that said and depending on the season [summer/winter], I really like carrying the LCP. As everyone knows, the .380 market is really hot right now with more than a few products being offered. In the most recent issue of Guns&Ammo Handguns magazine, there is a great article by Paul Scarlata entitled, ".380 Shoot-Off" that evaluates five different .380 products -- I think that the new Sig Sauer P238 [SAO] had the best overall results. I also own one and it is also a great product [very accurate]. For anyone that may be interested, S&W will offer a new .380 in May -- the bodyguard -- it was demonstrated at the 2010 SHOT show and is available to see online.

Roberpierre1794

This Ruger is a very popular gun, the size and weight make it an easy gun to conceal, but thats about it. My wife and I (in out never ending search to find the perfect, comfortable carry) both bought this gun on sale at the same time. We first shot her's and the problem was imediate. THE TRIGGER! The pull is to far to the back and multiple shots are difficult. I took mine NIB to the gun auction and my wife put her's on consignment in the gun shop and bought a Sig P238 she is very happy with. I went with the Walthers. If I were you I would not buy this Ruger LCP. Has any one had any experience with the new Taurus .380? GUS.

I am not a big fan of the .380 as a defensive load, but as a backup it does fill the bill. I always have my LCP with me in a pocket holster. It rides nicely in any pocket, and it fulfills rule #1 of gunfighting.....Have a gun. Recognizing its diminuitive sighting arrangement, I installed a Crimson Trace laser sight on mine, which enhances the back-up utility of this little pistol. Please note that I use this only as a back-up piece, that is always carried in conjunction with a more appropriate major caliber weapon on my strong side hip. And for those venues where handguns are not welcome, the little Ruger can provide a degree of protection when I have to leave my major piece in my car.

Wanted the Ruger but the gun shop guy re-directed me to the Kel-Tec .380. I already have the Kel-Tec .32acp and couldn't be happier. Just wanted a more potent round. The Kel-Tec .380 has better stipling on the grip which is very important for control in a sweaty paw. It doesn't have a slide lock which totally useless with this type of ccw. Don't need a larger mag release button because the K-T's button works just fine. Can use +P ammo if I want it. A nifty waistband clip on the right side works great for concealment carry. Had a Crimson Trace laser installed and I can shoot nice neat effective groups with self-defense ammo. The gun guy said he never had to send a K-T back to the factory versus his experience with other Ruger products. Yep, I want to carry a larger caliber ccw (I have many in my gun safe) but during the long hot Texas summers (6 months) I end up carrying this puppy most of the time. I'm thinking about purchasing the newer Kel-Tec 9mm that weighs about 13 ozs, adding a waistband clip and carrying a little bit bigger dog on a daily basis. I'll stick with Kel-Tec for ccw carry despite my collection of heavier and more expensive Sigs, Glocks, Kimbers, H&Ks and Kahrs!

I am in complete agreement with drbigdaddy. After the head to head in Gun Tests in which the Ruger lost to the Kel-Tec, I purchased the P3AT and have carried it in my pocket ever since. I also have their P32 which was my previous back up. I do use the belt clip on the .32, but never got around to purchasing one for the .380. They do work very well though and are slightly easier to draw than from the pocket. Will also cover under a tucked shirt if you hide it behind your cell phone. As to you hot weather guys, remember Magnum PI? I speak softly and wear a loud shirt. It completely covers my Smith 10 mil in a modified SOB carry (using a knotted piece of parachute cord to prevent loss of weapon).

I own a kel-tec p32and p3at, aruger lcp and the new taurus 380. The tarus has the best trigger. It requires only about 5# instead of 7 or 8 to pull double action. also the trigger guard is cut better so as not to hurt your trigger finger from recoil. the p3at lost the guide rod the last time I shot it. Not going to trust my life to it. George R

Its always a good idea to wait at least 2 years whenever any new model gun is introduced as factories seldom rigorously test there guns for reliability or long term wear and tear. Ruger's new plastic 9mm already has a safety recall as it will fire if dropped.

As far as the Kel-Tec is concerned I have seen way to many of these guns break down or malfunction with any amount of even limited use. When your life depends on a weapon pay more money and get something of quality. This means an older quality made gun made many years ago as most guns today just are not built to last or even function very well right out of the box. There are many older made .380's that actually work and last. I won't tell you which ones because I buy them up whenever I can find them in mint condition.

If you must buy new then buy the higher end guns such as Walther, Sig-Sauer, H&K etc. What price is your life worth?

Most times I carry a Glock 27 for CCW. But when the weather gets hot or when I am wearing dress shorts with no belt, I carry the LCP in my waistband. I have a clip draw installed and like it was said by someone else, hides very well next to cell phone. Trigger pull is long but that is good because when carried in the front pocket, or back pocket, or even at the 11 o'clock position on the belt, I want no possibility of an accidental discharge. With the long trigger travel, the chance of an accident is reduced big time, and practice with snap caps will get you accustomed to the trigger pull and how far to release it to reset for the next shot. There is no need to allow the trigger to travel full length forward each and every time you fire. So get some snap caps and practice..practice..practice. The LCP is a great little gun. Thanks Ruger!!

The first one I bought, the front pin just above the trigger drifted out and dropped on the ground after the first 8 shots. I contacted Ruger expecting them to want to inspect the piece. They recommended I get some red Lock Tite. The gun had just come out of the box then proceeded to fall apart and Ruger suggested glue. My gun store replaced it, I expected far better from Ruger. What happened to "Made in America" Ruger? What happened to quality? The last Ruger I bought was American quality, not so much this one. I'm still waiting for a phone call back from the V.P. of Marketing whom I called after being told to glue it back together. No thanks Ruger.

I carryvthe s&w .50 in lieu of the lcp. It multifunctions as not only my ccp, but as a walking cane.

I carry the s&w .50 in lieu of the lcp. It multifunctions as not only my ccp, but as a walking cane.

Great little gun. Shoots great. A gun I'll always have with me.

I've had mine for a little over a year.It's a great little gun,but it is made a little better by adding some color on the sights to make them stand out a little more. I added bright orange fingernail polish to the front sight and bright green to the rear. I also put on a Hogue grip sleeve,installed some Pearce grip extensions to the magazines and topped it off with a Universal clip draw for secure inside the waistband carry. Those modifications made a big difference. I do wish that Ruger had made the sights a little bigger at the factory,though.

I can't fathom from an ergonomics viewpoint why the trend in pocket pistols is to have a grip angle of nearly 90 degrees. (I suspect it is an effort to duplicate the grip angle of the Colt .45). Belly guns should have grip angles that are conducive to natural pointing (such as the Walther TPS). These ninety degree pistols in a panic will ensure your assailant gets hit in the thigh, rather than the boiler room.

Test the new 32 federals?

After reading many comments about the heavy trigger pull on the LCP, I did some dry fire practice with mine. As I mentioned in my posting above, I installed a Crimson Trace laser sight on my Ruger, but I neglected to mention I had also installed a Pearce grip extension on the magazine. That little piece of plastic on the magazine makes all the difference in the world! The trigger doesn't feel at all heavy. I tried the dry fire testing by aiming my empty pistol at a spot on the wall about ten feet away. With the laser sight activated, I repeatedly pulled the trigger (after resetting it by racking the slide), and to my satisfaction, the laser red dot never strayed from the spot on the wall. While I also have a Kel-Tec P32 and a Kel-Tec P3AT, I prefer the "more finished look" of the Ruger. For those who may have difficulty with the LCP trigger I heartily recommend the addition of the Pearce grip extension. It stabilizes the pistol in the hand, and like the old trick of using a trigger shoe, it makes the perceived heavy trigger feel much lighter. Oh.....by the way, I would definitely NOT install a trigger shoe on any pistol that is used for routine carry in a holster. I had a real wake-up call back in 1968 as I holstered a Colt Woodsman with a trigger shoe.....the trigger shoe caught on the top edge of the holster, resulting in a negligent discharge that put a bullet into the ground after putting a knick in the welt of the boots I was wearing at the time. AND, before anyone chastises me for having holstered a gun without the safety engaged.....I did have it on "safe". So, there's another reason to not trust the safety on any gun.

RESPONSE TO COMMENT: "The first one I bought, the front pin just above the trigger drifted out and dropped on the ground after the first 8 shots. I contacted Ruger expecting them to want to inspect the piece. They recommended I get some red Lock Tite. The gun had just come out of the box then proceeded to fall apart and Ruger suggested glue. My gun store replaced it, I expected far better from Ruger. What happened to "Made in America" Ruger? What happened to quality? The last Ruger I bought was American quality, not so much this one. I'm still waiting for a phone call back from the V.P. of Marketing whom I called after being told to glue it back together. No thanks Ruger." ------------------------------ My 1st response from Prescott AZ was to try different ammo. Follow-up with NH Ruger HQ got better results. My LCP had to be "retired" by the factory, although the replacement had the same jersey (apparently only a licensed dealer can get a replacement gun with a different Serial Number).

LCP is a good gun, but I find myself using the Keltec P32 more. It fired flawless ~ 300 rnds until rim lock on certain ammo, which the factory has a $10 fix for. I LIKE the Ruger more, but I TRUST the Keltec!

Comment by: Dfarm | March 4, 2010

All you guys that use small ammo (The smaller ACPs, 22 Mag & LR) for defence. Would you use Hollow points or Ball? It's expansion size vs. penetration, when more of both would be desirable.

I actually load both. I have my first round as a Personal Defense JHP..my second round is ball, and so on and so on. I do this for a couple of reasons. First..the personal defense round is a hotter load and expansion is assured within the body cavity. The second round being ball is there in case heavy clothing is worn by the thug I am shooting at. Hope this helps.

I have always been a Ruger fan. I purchased the 380 as a perfect pocket piece. My greatest concern is that the LCP is very ammo sensitive. After trying various rounds, I have found Federal Classic the best for range use, and Hornady Critical Defense best for carry. The problem: Critical Defense in 380 is near impossible to find.

If Critical Defense ammo continues to be a challenge to purchase, an acceptable substitute might be Winchester Silvertips. The Winchester ammo functions well in my LCP, P3AT, and my North American Guardian .380.

For my P3AT, I prefer Cor-Bon DPX .380. It's really scarce too, AND it costs over a buck a round.

Gaviota

As regards the Taurus Judge, I found that birdshot is OK, but since birdshot in any gauge is not likely to penetrate very well unless your target is very close, I stuff the cylinder of my Judge with 000 buckshot loads. Since the Judge is not intended to be a long range weapon, the load of 000 buchshot produces some very impressive results at close range. Oh, and by-the-way, if you don't like .410 loads, the Judge has demonstrated some very nice accuracy with .45 Colt loads. My Judge is permanently assigned automobile carjack defense duty. It's always within reach in my cars, and my LCP is always in my pocket. Of course my usual strong side piece is in the holster on my hip. Since drawing a piece from the strong side is a very slow proposition when seated in the car, the Judge is always ready as it sits wedged between the driver's seat and the consol next to the gear shift lever. To preclude any unwanted interest in it should someone look into the car, I usually keep the Judge covered with a mechanics' rag. This gives the innocent appearance of a rag stuffed between the seat and the consol.

I have a .410/45 LC derringer. I viewed the box of truth site. The site doesn't make sense. 1: 2.5".410 OOO Buckshot is not hard to find, but it is expensive. 2: I don't understand the problem with flattened pellets, as that's what hollow points do. 3: 45 LC has been proven an effective round even if it doesn't expand. 4: 3,.34 caliber bullets, each going 4.5" into my body, would ruin my day. I do believe birdshot is only effective on birds and snakes, unless you're only 3 feet away. Also the buckshot will not penetrate auto body steel (that can be good or bad).

It seems as though both the Ruger and Kel-Tec both have the same problems, that is, trigger pins falling out. Is it not amazing the trash that today's firearms companies are vomiting out. You would think they would at least test these "plastic turds" before marketing them.

very good read

UPDATE: It's been well over a year + several hundred rnds for each (Ruger LCP & Keltec P32), and they have both been functioning flawlessly after the intital "teething troubles." All brands of ammo: Winchester, Magtech, Fiocci, etc. JHP's & FMJ's. I'm more consistent with the Keltec since I've had it longer (1000 rnds vs. 500 for the Ruger). Take your pick; they're both fine.

Update: While I still like my Ruger LCP, my Kel-Tec P3AT, and my North American Guardian .380, a few months ago I started routinely carrying a Kahr PM9 as a back-up. It has the same magazine capacity as the .380s, and it is in a hotter load.....9x19mm. It carries very nicely in a Galco pocket holster.

And now, the question we've all wanted to ask but were ashamed to admit we didn't know: What the heck is that little round dot sticker on the Ruger LCP? The one on the frame near the front, beneath the slide? It's on the pic in this article & I've seen them in blue, green, red, etc. What does it mean??

'Good question.....I don't know what that little dot is either. I think it must be some sort of code marker used by Ruger, since every Ruger I have purchased had one. They peel off very easily.

I was at a gun show yesterday & asked a vendor with a large Ruger display about the colored dots. He called someone he said would know (an engineering professor who consults for Ruger) and he didn't know either! It's a mystery - a closely guarded corporate secret!

Secret of the Dots Revealed: Called Ruger AZ & found out that the colored dots correspond to the inspector. Case Closed.

Hey, thanks, blue88! Good work; now all of us can sleep a little better tonight.


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