We recently took a long look at some of the best concealed carry 9mm pistols here, and had some follow up questions from readers about our assessment of the popular Ruger LCP 380. This was a no-brainer because Jim's wife owns one, and he fires it frequently.
Released in 2008 to much fanfare, the LCP 380 quickly became (and remains) one of the top selling pistols of the past eight years, and will likely remain so for a while. (Although it receives competition from its near clone the Keltec P3AT and its big cousin the Ruger LC9)
So why all the fuss over a very simple, small pistol with few features that shoots only a moderately powerful round? The answer is simple, and we've said it here, here, and here: The only effective concealed carry weapon is the one that you'll carry every day. The Ruger LCP 380 features that in spades.
The Ruger LCP 380 dramatically excels in size, weight, and conceal-ability. Its 5.2" length, 3.6" height, and .8" width allow it to slip unnoticed into a pocket, handbag, Kydex holster, or Thunderwear. We live in sub-tropical Gulf hurricane country and therefore spend six months a year in shorts and tank tops, so the ability to carry without an enormous lump under our beach clothes probably couldn't be achieved without something in this size. You would have to work really hard to print with this handgun.
LCP 380 Accuracy
During our weekly marksmanship sessions the wife normally fires a few clips through her LCP before turning to something more fun like her SD-40 or Ruger Mark-II. The long double action trigger pull is right around five and a half pounds, with a half-inch of travel. The grip is designed so that you leave off your pinky finger. Several magazine options are available, and we prefer the version with a slight grip extension to secure the grip with the ring finger.
Both the wife and I have no problem staying in a 4" chest group when firing rapidly at seven yards. Firing groups during deliberate fire at 15 and 25 yards were also respectable, around 6". We feel that these results are more than adequate for the pistol's intended purpose.
A note on recoil: Recoil in any small, light handgun can be brutal, and we expected it to be challenging with this little pistol. Contrary to our expectations, we find it to be entirely manageable in the LCP. This was one of the points that prompted us to go ahead and buy one.
LCP 380 Reliability
Neither of us have ever experienced a stovepipe or failure to feed with the Ruger LC 380. For target practice, we generally shoot whatever ammunition we can find at the best price on Cabelas or Cheaper Than Dirt. We've never had a problem with this pistol and assess it as completely reliable.
LCP 380 Features
Although it sports few features, the LCP is engineered very well. It features no snag hazard thumb safety safety, which is how we prefer our concealed carry weapons. The magazine release is simple to reach and the sights are low profile. The LCP does feature a magazine hold-open latch, however it's well recessed. Crimson trace laser grips are available.
Disassembly is simple with a single disassembly pin. The slide operates smoothly and easily.
Accessories & Kit
These are the accessories we've tried out, along with the wife's final setup.
The wife started out with the belt clip and kydex trigger guard, both of which were fine. After a few months she added the crimson trace laser, which simplifies firing under pressure. Ultimately, she decided to remove the belt clip and use her Thunderwear deep concealment holster, which she says is very comfortable and provides some extra space for a second magazine and a little extra cash.
Our only note of caution is that if you choose to purchase and carry the Ruger LCP 380 it's critical that you put in some regular range time with it. This holds true for all guns, of course, but getting used to the long trigger pull of the LCP dramatically increases accuracy and rate of fire. The first time out you may think that you can't hit a barn door with the thing. After two or three sessions those groups will tighten up respectably.
Other than that, the LCP is inexpensive and outrageously easy to conceal. The wife carries it always, and I'd be happy to carry one if I weren't already dedicated to my own rig.