Ruger LCP .380 Review: The Ubiquitous 380 Pocket Pistol

by Terril Hebert

March 28, 2023

0 comments

4.3
(3)

The 380 pocket pistol market is flooded with options that are proven, affordable, and easy to carry. The Ruger LCP series of pistols undoubtedly are the majority of what you are going to find on gun store shelves. In 2021, Ruger announced the micro-subcompact LCP Max, which takes 10-12-shot magazines. The Max is essentially a double-stack version of the six-shot LCP II, which itself is a product-improved version of the original LCP. This review concerns the original LCP that kicked off the pocket 380 craze all the way back in 2008. 

Ruger’s ubiquitous 380 pocket pistol

Have an opinion on this product? Click to leave your review

Ruger LCP 380

  • Caliber 380 ACP
  • Capacity 6+1 or 7+1
  • Action Double Action
  • Frame Glass-filled nylon
  • Slide Blued Carbon Steel
  • Sights Fixed Blade (Front) Fixed Notch (Rear)
  • Barrel Length 2 3/4 inches
  • Weight 12 ounces
  • Safety None

Ruger LCP Background

The Ruger LCP wasn’t the first carry pistol chambered in the 380 ACP cartridge nor was it the first to use a polymer frame. In 2003, Keltec launched the Keltec P3AT. That pistol was the follow-up to their P32, a polymer-framed single stack 32 ACP pistol, upsized slightly for the more powerful 380 cartridge. The P3AT was an outsized success, but it took a mainstream brand in Ruger to make the concept of the 380 pocket pistol available to the masses. In 2008, Ruger launched the LCP or Lightweight Compact Pistol, a six-round single-stack polymer framed 380 that is functionally identical, to the P3AT—albeit a bit more refined. Although the LCP would see a number of upgrades through the LCP II and the LCP Max, Ruger still catalogs the original and millions of them have been sold.

Ruger LCP 380

Ruger LCP 380 Gun Features
1 Snag Free

Low profile milled iron sights and no exposed hammer

2 Manual Slide Stop

Thumb up and run the slide rearward to lock open

3 Size

Extreemly Compact

Models and Variations of the Ruger LCP

The LCP comes in many different color combinations and a few different sight and trigger options, but all are chambered in 380. They also released a LCP II chambered in 22LR and the LCP Max, which increases the 380 capacity to 10+1 and includes dovetail sights.

Ruger LCP –  Our Take

Shooting the Ruger LCP

There are many subcompact 380 pistols on the market and as a general rule, they tend to be tricky to shoot well and rapidly. The LCP is no different. Like most of its class, the LCP is a lightweight gun that touches off a round with modest power. The 380 ACP cartridge is a step-down from service cartridges like the 9mm Luger, but it doesn’t feel so out of this 12-ounce pistol. It is important to keep in mind that the 380 might be considered the biggest of the small calibers, rather than the weakest of the big ones. 

Shootability

Recoil is snappy and it is not helped by the lack of grip that is designed to keep the pistol’s small footprint. The grip has plenty of texture, although some did not like it, as it was improved upon with the LCP II. But the grip itself is narrow and when grasped, your pinky will want to hang free. Every shot digs into your palm and after about fifty rounds downrange, I am generally ready to put it down. But leaving that aside, it takes mental energy to get a proper grip on the LCP and hang onto it to control recoil and enable you to get fast follow-up shots if you need them. 

Ruger LCP Loaded Up

The learning curve gets a bit steeper thanks to the LCP’s low-profile sights and the long double-action trigger pull. These are aspects generally corrected with the LCP II, but I found them to be fine for a deep cover handgun. The sights are small and, as they come from the factory, do not have any contrast. But they can’t be knocked out of alignment and they pick up small on targets that are intended to be large and close. The trigger operates similarly to a double-action revolver. When pulled, it draws the hammer to the rear and then drops it at the end of its travel. The trigger has to be let off completely in order to reset for each shot. The subsequent LCP II has a shorter trigger but trigger weight on both models is right around eight pounds. 

Reliability

The LCP is one of the most proven pocket rockets on the market, but that does not make it perfect. My particular LCP has close to 2000 rounds through it. Out of these rounds, I have had a grand total of six malfunctions. Four of those where light primer strikes on steel-cased ammunition, which are notorious for having hard primers. The other two malfunctions were failures to feed when chambering the first round. The slide would not go fully into battery. However, I found that with these small pistols, you have to work the slide vigorously and let the recoil spring do the work when chambering the round, rather than riding the slide forward. 

On the whole, my LCP runs like a top and it has a high round count by pocket pistol standards. Few will put many rounds downrange in small guns because of how tricky they are to shoot. On the other hand, practice is key to success with the LCP, whether it is through shooting, learning a high, steady grip, or keeping up with a regular cleaning and lubrication schedule. These are more important with smaller guns, whereas a full-sized pistol can be more forgiving. 

Ergonomics 

The original LCP leaves much to be desired when it comes to ergonomics, at least compared to what is available now. The newer generation of LCPs come with higher sights, higher-textured grips, and in the case of the Max, more capacity. Leaving that aside, the original LCP is deceptively easy to understand. There are a total of two controls: a slide lock and the left-side magazine release. The only safety is the long pull of the trigger. 

Disassembly is a straightforward affair. With the slide retracted a touch, the takedown pin is removed from the left side of the frame. A tool like the edge of a pen, or a fired case, is useful. With the pin removed, the slide can be removed from the frame.

Accuracy

Ruger LCP Target

You might come in with the expectation that the Ruger LCP, as a small pocket pistol, is really meant for bad breath distances where accuracy is secondary. At distances inside seven yards, I can achieve pie-plate size groups with most types of ammunition by looking over the top of the slide, indexing the front sight to target, and pressing the trigger. Beyond that, you really have to make the best use of those narrow sights. The good news is that they will not cover up your targets, even relatively small bullseyes.

The LCP is not a bullseye gun by any stretch, but when actively using the sights, I could regularly keep a six-inch group at ten yards while firing semi-rapidly. At twenty-five yards, it is not difficult to keep seven rounds on a torso target, although sight alignment and achieving a good trigger press becomes ever more important the further out you get. 

Value

The LCP line has evolved since our original gun debuted. If you want a shorter trigger and taller sights, the newer generation of LCP pistols will wet your appetite. The LCP II is $350. The LCP Max is $450. Prices are going to change, so I use them here only in relative terms. By comparison, the original LCP can be had for about $250. The newer generation is anywhere from 40% to 80% higher in price. Does that mean they are that much better in terms of functionality, reliability, and accuracy? I never thought so. For what it is, the Ruger LCP is a no-nonsense no frills handgun that was so good that its best competition are newer versions of itself. However, if you want to see what did make our list of top 380 handguns read that article. A little teaser, the LCP II is on the list, but how high does it rank?

Ruger LCP Pros and Cons 

  • Locked-Breech – Softer recoil compared to traditional blowback handguns
  • Double-Action Trigger – Longer trigger pull to prevent accidental discharge
  • Double-Action Trigger – Must be pressed by the first finger joint to fire
  • Short Grip – With standard magazines inserted, it is difficult to seat all your fingers.

Report Card

Shootability

Discouraging, at first.

C
Reliability

With proper lubrication and a firm grip, very reliable.

B
Ergonomics

Few controls to be confused by, but very little to hold onto.

C
Accuracy

Narrow sights actually help!

B+
Value

Cheap, but with a rock solid record.

A-
Ruger LCP 380 Final Grade

Our Grade

B-

Reviewed by Terril Hebert

Reader’s Grade

C+

Based on 9 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Ruger LCP Starter Pack

If you own, or plan, on owning this pocket pistol for concealed carry, there are a few other things you will want to have on hand.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: This small pistol is designed for concealed carry, which can be rough on firearms. Check out some of our favorite gun cleaning kits to keep your CCW weapon in great condition.  
  • Eye Protection: Whenever firing your guns, you need to have eye protection on. Here are our recommendations for the best shooting glasses!
  • Hearing Protection: Such a small handgun will be snappy and with such a short barrel, probably loud. Pick up some good hearing protection to make the shooting experience more enjoyable.

We looked around and found you some of the best deals on the internet for the Ruger LCP.

Upgrades and Accessories for the Ruger LCP

We always suggest purchasing spare magazines for your handguns, and in most cases sticking to factory magazines is a safe bet.

You will also want a good holster. Since this is such a small handgun, we found a pocket carry holster option for the LCP.

We also found a laser sight that will fit the LCP that may be helpful in aiming your handgun when you are in a position that makes normal aiming through the sights a challenge.

Best Accessories For The Ruger LCP

LaserMax Centerfire Laser Sight
  • holds rounds securely
  • twist to release once seated in cylinder
Check Price
Spare Magazines

7 Round Magazine

7 Round Magazine
  • Holds 6 rounds
  • Loads two at a time
  • Compact and convenient
Check Price
Galco Front Pocket Leather Holster
  • Always ready when you need them
  • Daytime confidence under low light conditions
  • Totally integrated day/night sighting
  • Maintenance free
Check Price

Best Ammo for Your Ruger LCP

You are going to need to have some ammo so you can train with your handguns. We found some good deals on some lead free training ammo for use at indoor ranges and some high quality defensive ammo to use when carrying your Ruger LCP.

Training Ammo

Federal American Eagle IRT 380 Ammo

Federal American Eagle IRT 380 70 GR LF-FMJ

  • Lead free and full-metal jacket for most reliable feeding
  • Lighter recoil over standard 95 grain loads
Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Target Sports USA $0.62
Sportsman’s Warehouse $0.76
Optic’s Planet $0.66

Defensive Ammo

Hornady Critical Defense

Hornady Critical Defense 90 GR FTX

  • FTX projectile resists clogging with clothing and delivers uniform expansion
  • Penetrates to 15 inches in 10% ordinance gelatin
Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Target Sports USA $0.88
Natches Shooting Supply $0.86
Primary Arms $0.99

Other Pocket Pistols of its Class to Check Out

Maybe after reading our review of the Ruger LCP you dont think it is right for you. Here are a few other options that are in a similar class for you to check out.

S&W Bodyguard 380

S&W Bodyguard 380

The Smith & Wesson Bodyguard is a semi-automatic polymer-framed pistol chambered in 380 ACP with a 6-plus-1 round capacity.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability D
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics D
  • Accuracy D
  • Value C

Our Grade

C-

Reader’s Grade

C

Based on 28 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Handgun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Glock 42 Review

Glock 42

The G42 packs all the features GLOCK customers have come to appreciate – from the GLOCK SAFE ACTION system with its multiple integrated safety features to the brand’s proven reliability and durability.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A-
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy B
  • Value C+

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 35 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

S&W Equalizer Feature Image

S&W Equalizer

A micro compact 9mm handgun with easy rack slide, optics cut slide, double stack magazine and internal hammer fired.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

How to Care for Your Ruger LCP

We found this four part series from Brownell’s that shows you how to take apart, clean, and reassemble your Ruger LCP. The videos are short and to the point.

Looking for some more information on the Ruger LCP? Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website and operator’s manual.

Rate

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 4.3 / 5. Vote count: 3

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

About Terril Hebert

Terril is an economic historian with a penchant for all things firearm related. Originally a pot hunter hailing from south Louisiana, he currently covers firearms and reloading topics in print and on his All Outdoors YouTube page. When he isn't delving into rimfire ballistics, pocket pistols, and colonial arms, Terril can be found perfecting his fire-starting techniques, photographing wildlife, getting lost in the archives, or working on a novel.

Recent Posts