Ruger LCP .380 ACP Handgun Review

The Ruger LCP .380 ACP, a Light Compact Pistol, is the ultimate BACK-UP or DEEP COVER gun!

This ultra-light, compact carry pistol packs legendary reliability into the smallest pistol frame ever created by Ruger.

Little guns seldom make big news, but the Ruger LCP .380 ACP changed the rules. Many wondered what direction Ruger would move after they entered the polymer-frame handgun arena with their 2007 introduction of the striker-fired SR9 9mm. That question was answered during 2008 with the introduction of the ultra-compact LCP (Light Compact Pistol) .380 ACP.  A true “watch fob” pistol that can slip comfortably into even the tightest pocket, yet is
chambered for the .380 ACP, it was an instant hit.


The LCP .380 ACP is a recoil-operated, locked breech semi-auto, using a tilting barrel (no barrel bushing) design. Built on a glass-filled nylon composite frame, it features an aluminum sub-frame inner grip frame, hardened steel slide and a 2.75-inch steel barrel. The resulting pistol weighs in at 9.4 ounces empty, measures 5.16 inches in overall length, 3.6 inches in height, and is a scant 0.82 of an inch wide.

Magazine capacity is six (one magazine supplied, with additional magazines available) and is of a drop-free design. The magazine release button is located in the approved American-style, left side behind and below the triggerguard, and is quick and positive to use.

The slide does not lock back on an empty magazine after the last round, but it can be manually locked back via a slide lock lever on the upper left side. If the slide is locked back and a loaded magazine inserted, the slide lock lever can be used to send the slide forward and chamber a round. But retracting the slide slightly to the rear and releasing it is a quicker and more positive way to charge the pistol from slide lock.

ruger-lcp-380-acpTrigger is smooth faced with just a slight amount of take-up.

The trigger assembly is striker-fired with a double-action-only (DAO) trigger that has about 0.25 of an inch of take-up slack and then transitions to a 0.75 of an inch pull of about 8 pounds. Although the trigger is DAO, there is no repeat strike capability. The slide must be cycled about 1.25 inches to the rear to reset the striker.

The LCP has no manual safeties but there are two safety indicators. If the striker is not cocked the hammer will not be visible in its rear slide recess. Cock the pistol and the hammer appears in the upper portion of the recess. It’s a quick way to check if the pistol is cocked. A slight cut in the rear of the chamber on the right side allows a visual determination of a round in the chamber.

Sights are fixed and consist of a small rear notch and front blade milled into the slide. Minuscule is an excellent way to describe the sights.

Cartridge Details

The .380 ACP has never been considered a serious self-defense cartridge, however its ability to function in extremely compact guns has made it a favorite back-up firearm for those who favor a semi-auto over a snub-nosed revolver. Some feel that the seven to nine rounds carried in a compact .380 are a better bet than the five in a snubby, while the ability to reload more quickly is a definite plus. Ballistically, the .380 ACP ranks behind a quality .38 Special +P in terms of penetration and expansion, but with modern JHP loads, there really isn’t a big difference.

Just how much penetration and expansion is required in a self-defense handgun load has been endlessly debated, and I will not rehash the arguments. Comprehensive tests conducted by the FBI have determined that a full-sized duty handgun should penetrate a minimum of 12 inches of properly prepared 10 percent ballistic gelatin, and can do so while penetrating such intervening objects as denim clothing, wallboard or even automobile glass. Expansion was not a test criterion, just penetration. The emphasis on this level of penetration was due to the fact that a primary duty handgun might have to become an offensive weapon and defeat a barricaded suspect.

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  • Lee underwood

    Many thanks Chris.
    I learned more from this article than l did from Ruger!