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Budget Gun Review: Ruger LCP
Caliber: .380 Auto
Weight: 9.40 oz. NOT A TYPO!!
Barrel Length: 2.75"
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
.380 is a hot caliber these days. The recent explosion in firearms sales and the surging interest in concealed carry have created huge demand for small, lightweight, concealable pistols. Ruger made a big splash in the industry by eschewing its propensity for big revolvers and automatics and producing a tiny little pocket pistol that has been selling like hot cakes. (Who the hell buys hot cakes?) Well, my wife couldnít resist its charms and acquired one for herself. Naturally, I immediately liberated it and took it to the range. Hereís how it went.
Holy crap this thing is tiny. No. Really. This has got to be the smallest .380 ever. It is 7/8 of an inch thick. My wallet is thicker than that. It weighs 9.4 oz. My carry pieceís ammo weighs more than that. A small child could choke on this weapon. You could conceal it in your prison wallet. Itís tiny, peopleÖare you getting that? Anyone can conceal this thing, anywhere. It wonít weigh you down, and it doesnít cramp your style. Gym shorts, tank tops, tall socks or a cell phone case (no joke) will all conceal this weapon.
.380 will not impress anyone. But in a piece this size, which can be fairly characterized as a mouse gun, itís damned good. We are talking about 190 ft-lbs of muzzle energy on average, which when coupled with a quality JHP bullet, will get the job done fairly well considering it is usually competing with .25 ACP in frames this size. Several ammunition manufacturers are now making dedicated self-defense loads for this caliber that perform very well on ballistics gelatin, with most high-end loads getting to the FBI-approved 12Ē of penetration.
It 'll do.
Itís a Ruger-
Usually when I have to do a budget gun review, I have to deal with the fact that most inexpensive firearms have some kind of reputation issue, or I have to explain away design flaws, or just apologize for bad workmanship. But this is a Ruger. Good company, good reputation, good customer service. I own several Rugers, and they are typically really well made, well supported weapons. Reputation is important in the gun biz. Ruger has a good one.
Like all tiny pistols, the site radius on the LCP is miniscule. Holding a site picture and keeping them aligned is very difficult. Ruger has compounded this by making the sites so low-profile that you canít even find them without a lot of squinting. I have said this before about little guns, but if you are too far a away to club a guy over the head with this pistol, you are too far away to shoot him with it. Obviously, this is a weapon that is intended for extremely close range, making sights somewhat superfluous, but it has to be said: Trying to hit anything with this gun is a damn chore.
I am a big dude. I like big guns that make loud noises and scare small children. The grip on this thing only accommodates the sheer brawn of my trigger finger and middle finger; leaving my manly and meaty ring and pinky dangling unceremoniously in the breeze. I cannot hang onto this weapon when it goes off. It is like trying to hold onto an explosively loaded mousetrap with your thumb and forefinger. You can just barely do it, but it is trickier than it looks. Factor in a double-action-only trigger, and follow-up shots that amount to anything more than spraying will be very difficult if you have big hands. Thatís the price you pay for a gun the size of a credit card.
Actual size. No foolin'. I swear.
Stings like a bee-
The light frame, narrow backstrap, snappy little round, and nearly non-existent grip all add up to a nasty little bite when you pull the trigger. Recoil with self-defense loads is comparable to .357 magnum in a snub-nose. Itís stiff, surprising, and mildly painful. It is not awful or unbearable, but the illusion of a mild-mannered little gun is shattered after the first round. I repeat: you will be surprised. .380 is supposed to be harmless, recoil-wise. In a Bersa Thunder (previously reviewed) it is quite unobtrusive. In the LCP, itís annoying.
Itís still a .380-
Despite modern advances in ammo, .380 is still fairly anemic compared to other defensive rounds. Which is not to say that this wonít give you good service and stop the bad guy, just that when you select this weapon, understand you are accepting a compromise in power, as all handgun rounds are. Other larger and more energetic rounds are more likely to stop the bad guy sooner.
Always bring enough gun...
I havenít found any accessories for this weapon that improve its aesthetics. Thatís just not the type of gun you are buying when you buy this one. You can get Crimson Trace LasergGrips, which cost almost as much as the gun does, and low-light fiber-optic front sights. Thatís about it. Try drawing on it with colored Sharpies or something if you want to express yourself.
But does it match my shoes?-
There are hundreds of ways to carry this gun, and people will sell you all of them. From your basic, mundane IWB holster, pocket holsters, and ankle rigs; to carry options camouflaged as cell phone cases, hip packs, day planners, and wallets, you have your pick of innovative carry options. The more exotic options that have been around for concealed carry all work really well with this gun. Tricky gimmick rigs like ThunderWear (google it) and concealed carry vests/shirts that have always suffered from questionable utility, make this thing disappear like left-wing rhetoric during a Charlton Heston movie marathon. It is the ultimate deep concealment handgun.
Let me check my planner...
Itís hard to fairly evaluate this weapon outside of its designerís context. It is too weak, too hard to hold, too hard to shoot accurately to take seriously as a combat weapon, but nobody wanted this to be a combat weapon. Get a 1911 or an XD if you want to John Woo your way through life.
The only way to be sure you are protected is to be Chuck.
This is a purpose-built weapon. It excels at its primary function; which is to be easy to carry. Other considerations suffered for this. Welcome to engineering. You prioritize one aspect of your design and the rest must accommodate that. For many reasons, some people simply canít lug a full size weapon around with them; and in a world where the mere sight of a firearm can cause panic, or cause overzealous law-enforcement to over-react, deep concealment is highly desirable. For many gun-owners, this means dressing around your gun, wearing bulkier clothing to hide larger weapons. Well, nobody wants to wear a blazer in Arizona in July, or a tactical vest every time he or she leaves the house. With respect to that, the Ruger LCP may be the best deep-concealment pistol on the market right now; and certainly one of the most affordable. A 9mm or .40, or .357 magnum may bring more peace of mind, but with the LCP your wardrobe will require no alteration, and you will at least have enough gun to present a credible defense if necessary.
Remember folks, a .380 in the hand is worth two .45ís at home.