LCP 380 Tested and Reviewed for Quality

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LCP 380 Tested and Reviewed for Quality Review Facts

The LCP of the Ruger 380 stands for Lightweight, Compact Pistol. It is a small concealed carry pistol. The LCP 380 has been around for years and gained a following of owners. Strum, Ruger & Company manufacture the weapon. It weighs 9.4 ounces and is easy to conceal. In 2008, the original was released at the National SHOT show convention. At first, a large volume of them was sold. The discovery of some common issues caused a drop in sales.

The grip was the first notable issue. People with average-sized hands found the small grip profile difficult. People with large hands could barely shoot the weapon. There was no grip extension available at the time. In 2013, a factory magazine having a grip extension was released after Ruger received many requests. Problems feeding ammo was the second issue. The LCP was notoriously picky about the ammunition it would shoot well.

A variety of available ammo would not reliably feed. Shooters experienced failed ejections and ‘stovepipe’ misfeeds. Some gunsmiths were able to polish and smooth the ramps, but it remained a common complaint. Short, shallow sights were a third issue that made a good picture slow to obtain and hold. Ruger designed them short to be ‘snag-free.’ It did lower the chance of snagging, but the difficulty finds a good sight made snag-free unappreciated.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Accurate
  • Aftermarket support
  • Easy to connect
  • Relatively cheap
  • Small and compact
  • Inferior sights
  • Too small for some hand

Primary Use

A lot of police officers use .380 pocket guns as their off-duty carry rather than the 9mm Glock 26 they were issued. Officers are not allowed to carry anything less than a .380. Some people are concerned about under-penetration issues in clothing and a lack of ‘stopping power’ of little .380s.

Off-duty officers are not the only people interested in a .380 ACP. The easy to conceal factor makes the guns popular. They are not as ‘shootable’ or reliable as their larger counterparts. Stopping power issues are somewhat complicated.

Handgun bullets do no more than making holes. The chances of hitting vital organs increases as the holes get deeper and bigger. Large wound channels create more blood loss and eventually stop a violent attack or an attacker.

There are some key factors ballistic experts look for when evaluating the effectiveness of a handgun bullet. A bullet has to penetrate a minimum of 12 inches of ballistic gelatin to go deep enough to hit vital organs if an attacker is muscular or fat.

On the other hand, penetrating more than 18 inches may put people behind an attacker in danger. Experts look for bullets that expand. Expanding bullets reduce the possibility of over penetration and make larger holes.

They are deemed acceptable if they expand to one and a half times their initial diameter. A .380 ACP has to expand to approximately 0.53 inches. Nearly all service caliber defense loads meet the expansion and penetration tests.


The barrel length of a gun affects many of its aspects. The LCP 380 has a barrel length of 2.75 inches. As a small concealable handgun, it fulfills its purpose of being great for defense outside the home. As a rule of thumb, target shooting and hunting guns have long barrels, while dense guns have short barrels. Short barrels are easy to maneuver through home hallways and hard for an attacker to get hands on the end of the weapon in an attempt to take it away from the owner.

Long barrels produce a higher muzzle velocity than short barrels. Burning gun powder has more time to increase the acceleration of a bullet. More gunpowder combustion occurs in long barrels than short. Long barrels do not make as much noise as short barrels. The noise difference is quite noticeable. Guns with a long barrel produce a more accurate firearm than a short barrel, at least when the built-in sights are used.

The distance between the sights is longer which makes determining if a gun is aimed at a target easier. Typically, there is a sight near the front and back of the barrel. Longer barrels have a greater distance between sights, and the shooter aims a more accurate gun. A long barrel produces less recoil than a short barrel. Long barrels add weight to the firearm.

Stock Options

The stock of a handgun is the butt of the gun that provides structural support. The firing mechanism and barrel action are attached. The stocks offer a means to brace a gun and aim with stability firmly. It helps in countering muzzle rise by the transmission of recoil to the shooter.

The grip is an area of the stock held in the trigger hand by a shooter when firing. The magazine release is located near the hand grip of the LCP 380 which is advantageous for right-handed shooters as they reach for it with their thumb,

The black grip of the LCP 380 is high-performance, glass-filled nylon. One tester noticed the pinky finger could not fit on the handgrip. The grip allows room for two fingers. The little finger is entirely off the grip. Not being able to fit the pinky on the handgrip can be a problem. It is a checkered grip that has an available finger grip extension floorplate that can be added to the LCP 380 magazine. The extended grip magazine holds seven plus one.


The LCP 380 is a lightweight pocket pistol. It weighs less than some pocket knives. It is often compared to the Kel-Tac pocket guns. It is similar in weight and size. With its steel slide and lightweight glass-filled polymer frame, the baby Ruger weight 9.42 ounces unloaded.

The trigger pull of the LCP 380 is just about perfect. A tester measured it at five pounds, six ounces. Ruger specifications are eight pounds, but the tested pistol measured lighter and better than other guns of this type. The length of pull is a bit over a half inch. It is about 2.5 inches from the center of the trigger’s blade to the backstrap.


Accessories enhance the operation and performance of the Ruger LCP 380. An improved guide rod design ensures a more reliable operation than a pistol without it. A stainless steel upgrade has accessories that provide better performance and longer lasting material and design over the factory model.

Because the LCP 380 is in such demand, a wide range of add-ons and accessories are available. They are easy to attain, and Ruger customer support is exceptional. Factory accessories have the Genuine Ruger logo on them that guarantees they were explicitly designed for Ruger firearms. They possess the rugged, reliability expected from Ruger.

The BX-Trigger and Elite 452 AR-Trigger are safe, reliable, and rugged. They meet and exceed industry standards. The triggers come in completely self-contained modules and are easy to install. The two-stage Elite 452 AR-Trigger has a crisp, smooth 4.5 trigger pull. The lock time is 30 percent faster than the standard MSRs.

Other manufacturers produce extra long extensions that fit the Ruger LCP 380. They are designed to accommodate three fingers of any sized hand. The extensions help reduce kickback that causes injuries between the forefinger and thumb.


The powerful Ruger LCP uses auto ammunition made for the 380. The Ruger LCP 380 holds six rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. With a magazine extension grip, it holds seven plus one in the chamber.

One tester suggested using quality hollow points like the 102-grain Remington Golden Saber self-defense loads. Another inspector tried a variety of .380 ACP ammunition as well as a hand loaded hollow point load.

The various ammo included bullets with cast lead with a flat nose, copper hollow cavity, polymer tip, full metal jacket with both a flat and round nose, and jacketed hollow point. The gun was fired upside down, sideways, held upright, two-handed, and one-handed. Respectable velocities were posted by the short barrel.


Point the muzzle in a safe direction. Insert the magazine, pull the slide to the rear then release; or use the slide lock to lock open the slide, insert the magazine, then disengage the slide lock. Allow the slide to move forward on its own.

The LCP 380 feeds, fires, and ejects flawlessly. The magazine release is located near the hand grip. The release allows magazines to take only a matter of seconds to reload and fire, with a trigger that pulls very smoothly for a pocket-sized pistol.

The pistol is chambered for .380 ACP cartridges. The LCP 380 comes with a zippered soft case and one magazine. The magazine pushes in easily, but not to the point of causing problems with a magazine popping out when in a pocket.

The LCP operates on a system that is locked-breech like larger pistols rather than the blowback principle. The system makes the gun lighter in weight and reduces the heavy recoil spring. There is a removable plastic floorplate on the magazine that makes taking it apart to clean easy. An empty magazine prevents the slide from locking to the rear. A slide hold-open latch can be used manually for cleaning and inspection.


Ruger is known for craftsmanship and quality. The LCP 380 is no different. It is among their cheapest firearms but is held to the same high-quality control standards as more expensive models. Long noted for ‘sporting design,’ this pistol was built with self-defense in mind. There was a controversy about the gun being too much like the P-3AT, a successful Kel-Tac 380 pocket pistol.

The two firearms look very much alike, but the Ruger gains points on the final finish and fit. Few Rugers are entirely original. Often older designs are made with execution, sights, and material improvements. Ruger offers exclusive dealer LCPs having finishes from hot pink to basic black, and a variety of camo shades. Special editions have laser engraved stainless steel slide and feature a gold Ruger eagle inlay.


The LCP 380 has no external safety. The best safety is found between the ears of a shooter, but a physical safety is a good option. The trigger is smooth and long. It is a deliberate Ruger move to compensate for the absence of an external safety mechanism.

The LCP has a long, stiff trigger that is intended to reduce the chance of an accidental discharge. For some shooters, the lack of an external trigger fits the bill. There have been complaints that a loaded LCP 380 dropped on a hard surface from a height creates a chance of firing inadvertently.

Inadvertent firing is a serious problem that Ruger claims is an issue that has been fixed. For maximum safety, if the pistol is carried with a loaded magazine, the slide needs to be closed and the chamber empty. When placing the gun in a holster, be sure the slide is not so retracted that a cartridge from the magazine is chambered.


In 2008, the retail price was $330. Research shows the LCP 380 can be purchased for approximately $200 or less. It is a value for the price. Compared to similar pistol models from brands such as Smith & Wesson, the handgun fits into a shooter’s budget.

Key Features

* .380 ACP
* 2.75-inch barrel
* 6+1-round capacity
* Blue alloy steel barrel
* Blue finished alloy steel slide
* Checkered high-performance, glass-filled nylon grips
* Finger grip extension floorplate available
* Integral sights
* No manual safety
* Overall height 3.60 inches
* Overall length 5.16 inches
* Overall width 0.82 inches
* Second generation model
* Semi-automatic action
* Soft carrying case
* Weighs 9.65 ounces

Bottom Line

The 9.65-ounce unloaded Ruger LCP 380 lives up to the lightweight, compact pistol designation. Often it is a small pistol like the LCP 380 is chosen to be carried which is the purpose of conceal carry weapons. The external surfaces are essential. There should be no areas prone to snag, protrusions, or sharp edges that impede drawing the LCP 380 meets the criteria. It is made to be accessorized. There is aftermarket support for holsters, lasers, extended magazines, and a pocket clip.

The LCP 380 uses crude sights. The rear is a fixed notch sight, and the front sight is integral to the slide. The pistol is not a serious target shooter. It is intended to reach distances that can detect bad breath. Squeezing the trigger yields a long pull. The reset is even longer. Despite the flaws, the LCP 380 is satisfactorily accurate. It is a pistol that can be left in a pocket or IWB holster and forgotten about until it is needed.