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Editor's Review: The Ruger LCP - Pocket .380ACP

Any time a “best caliber” conversation comes up, I have a friend who will always throw out the following statement: “When you need a gun RIGHT NOW, the .25ACP in your pocket is better than the .45ACP in your glove compartment.”  You can substitute any caliber you want in place of the .25ACP but you get the point: while many people argue in favor of large caliber weapons - and I favor carrying a large bore pistol as well – there are times when that full size pistol may not be easy, comfortable or even possible to carry, especially concealed.  In those times, it’s better to have a “lesser” caliber handgun WITH you rather than a larger caliber one far enough away to do you no good.  It is as a result of those situations that I've become a fan of pocket carry with a smaller handgun and the Ruger LCP has fit that bill quite well.

Chambered in .380ACP, which I consider to effectively be a down-loaded 9mm, much as the .40S&W is a down-loaded 10mm, the Ruger LCP provides a 6+1 capacity in a small package.  How small?  While the barrel length is 2.75” the overall length of the gun is only 5.16” (see included photo with the pistol placed on a ruler).  With a 3.6” height and only 0.82” width, the Ruger LCP is a true pocket gun.  It’s smaller than a J-frame revolver and slimmer to boot.  With an unloaded weight of 9.4 ounces, even when you add in a full load of seven rounds, it still weighs well under a pound; more than acceptable for pocket carry.  The MSRP (for the 3701 model) is $379 and, in today’s market, that’s a good deal on a gun you can carry so easily day in and day out.

My test gun was the Ruger LCP Model 3730.  It has a brushed steel slide and a blued alloy steel barrel.  The synthetic grip frame is black and of sufficient grip length that I can get my middle finger and ring finger onto it.  To help with that comfort of grip, Ruger makes available magazine floorplates with small extensions giving you additional purchase area for your ring finger.  Sights on all LCP models are fixed with the sites being milled right into the slide. MSRP is $429.

Other models shown on the RUGER LCP webpage include:

  • The 3713 which is the same blued slide and barrel over the same black synthetic grip frame but includes a Crimson Trace Laserguard aiming device built in.  MSRP jumps up to $559 for this model.
  • The 3718 which is again the same slide, barrel and frame but includes a LaserMax CenterFire aiming device built in.  MSRP for the 3718 is $449.
  • The 3701 which changes the slide from brushed stainless steel to blued alloy steel.  The barrel is still blued alloy and the frame is still black synthetic.  MSRP is $379.

During my test time frame I had a number of options available for carrying the LCP on a daily basis.  And for about 45 days, I did carry that weapon everywhere I went in one of the carry options available.

I had two pocket holsters available, two in-waist-band (IWB) holsters available and one belt holster on a paddle mount.  Before I even started choosing which holster to carry it in, I knew I wanted to do all I could to increase my grip purchase on the diminutive grips.  I had recently become aware of rubberized adhesive grips manufactured by a company called Talon Grips and they were kind enough to provide me with a proper grip wrap for my test LCP.

Also, obviously before I’d carry a gun every day for my personal protection, I wanted to test fire it on the range and make sure it was reliable.  At the range I tested it with both ball (FMJ) and jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammo.  I experienced no misfeeds or malfunctions in the 250+ rounds that I fired.  I had five magazines available so I could load 30 rounds at a time and go through reloads that quickly.

Felt recoil was more than manageable.  Although the gun is small and that makes the arc of recoil that much tighter in the wrist, it was far from uncomfortable.  The gun recoiled right back to near target point of aim and, from the three yard line, I could rapid fire through six rounds as fast as I could pull the trigger and keep all the rounds well within the 8-ring on a standard B27 target.

For accuracy testing, without a ransom rest, I fired from the seven and fifteen yard lines.  The photos included that show two different six-shot groups fired, were fired from the 15 yard line – 45 feet – without support.  Both groups were fired on Q-targets and each had a called flier (shooter’s fault).  As an experienced shooter I did notice that I was more likely to flinch while firing this weapon although I never could identify a reason why.  Obviously the problem was between my ears and didn’t have anything to do with the weapon.

With the gun’s accuracy and reliability suitably tested, I went about day to day carry tests.  I started out with the weapon in the Safariland pocket holster and put the spare magazine in a different pocket.  That lasted about a week and I had no issues or complaints.  I did, on one occasion, realize I was standing around with my hand in my pocket which effectively put the gun in my hand.  Finger was straight down the outside of the holster and the weapon was full IN the holster but the gun was in my hand just the same.  It’s something you have to consciously be aware to NOT do.  Too many of us put our hands in our pockets as a position of relaxation and if you’re carrying a gun that way, it’s probably a bad idea.

The next holster I tried out was the DeSantis Ammo Nemesis.  This holster allows for carry of the weapon and a spare magazine in the pocket.  What I discovered was that the Ammo Nemesis fit some of the pockets but not others due to the cut of the pocket.  However, it dropped into a cargo pocket easy enough and, barring excessively vigorous activity, sat comfortably and securely.  Again, I carried the Ruger LCP in this holster for about a week with no issues.

Next up, the DeSantis SOF-TUCK IWB holster.  I ran into an immediate problem with this holster but it had nothing to do with the holster or the weapon.  It had to do with the fact that like so many “middle age” men, I’ve got a slight roll around the middle and that caused the weapon in the IWB holster to dig into my side.  The holster did its job perfectly.  It was uncomfortable due to my lack of sufficient fitness. (I hate making admissions like that, but it’s the truth.)

That said, I also tried out the Alien Gear Cloak Tuck 2.0 IWB holster and found it more comfortable.  It’s the first neoprene platform IWB holster I’ve experienced.  The wider platform really stabilizes the holster into a fixed position and the adjustable tension holster body itself simply presses against the neoprene back to “lock” the gun in.  This may sound like an obvious observation, but if you’re going to wear an IWB holster, you must have that extra inch or so in the waist of your pants.  This is easy with so many of the tactical pant designs today that have the expanding waistline.  It’s not as easy if you’re wearing jeans that fit you properly without a holster/gun jammed into the waistband.

Last tested on my list of holsters was from FOBUS.  The FOBUS Evolution Paddle holster is rather minimalist an provides just enough material to cover the front end of the barrel/slide, frame and trigger guard up to just behind the trigger.  While it’s possible to get your trigger finger (or something else) into the trigger guard with the gun holstered, you can’t get anything in there IN FRONT of the trigger.  I came to like this holster but preferred to put the paddle OUTSIDE my pants under the belt.  I just found it more comfortable that way and since the holster/gun was concealed anyway, what aesthetic difference did it make if the paddle was inside my pants or not?

The bottom line is that, with all of these holsters, the gun is sufficiently secured for concealed carry and the availability of holsters for this weapon offers plenty of options.  In other words, if you think the Ruger LCP .380ACP is an acceptable concealed carry weapon for you, you’ve got plenty of options to sort through to find what you like best to carry it.

Overall I found this weapon to be sufficiently accurate, reliable and comfortable to carry.  Given conditions wherein I wouldn’t be comfortable carrying, or able to conceal, my handguns in .45ACP, I like the Ruger LCP as the compromise option.  It may be a smaller caliber and I may give up one or two rounds of capacity, but…

The .380ACP in my pocket when I need a gun RIGHT NOW is far better than the .45ACP left in my glove compartment.

Stay safe!

 

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