Sunday, November 20, 2011

Guns: Ruger LCP review

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Sturm, Ruger & Co. have been flattering guns for more than 60 years. The company's first firearm, the Ruger Standard, was visually reminiscent of the WWII-era Nambu and Luger pistols, and the Ruger M77 played up its connection to the Mauser 98 (even though there are a fair number of differences between the two rifle actions).

The latest example of Ruger's mimicry expertise is the LCP.

As plenty of people have noted, the gun looks almost exactly like a Kel-Tec P3AT, the pocket pistol that started the whole .380 craze. To be sure, Ruger added in a manual slide lock and played around with the extractor design, but in terms of feel and function, it might as well be the same gun. The particulars of the Ruger LCP are well-known and widely available in other reviews (most of the bloggers I read have 'em, too), so I guess I'll stick to what I personally like and dislike about the gun.


Size - the LCP is the same size as the P3AT, which is to say, damn small. Here are some comparisons with a S&W 638. Even though a J-frame revolver is one of the smallest and lightest .38 Special revolvers you can buy, my 638 positively dwarfs the LCP:

Reliability - My previous experience with the Kel-Tec P3AT was not pleasant, so I was expecting the LCP to hiccup in my testing. Surprisingly, the LCP ran through more than 400 rounds of .380 without a stoppage, save for a failure to go into battery on round #17 (remedied by gentle tap on the slide). For a pocket gun of this size, that is exceptional reliability.

Accessories - The LCP has been selling like gangbusters for the past few years, and that popularity translates into easy holster and accessory availability; if they make it for a pocket gun, they make it for the LCP. Heck, even the Ruger factory spare magazines are easy to find. I carry my LCP in a plain-Jane DeSantis Nemesis holster that you can pick up at gun stores around the country:

When carried in a pocket holster, the LCP looks very similar to a leather billfold wallet - an excellent property in an office environment. For max concealability, I use the flush magazine floorplate; the extended floorplate doesn't aid my shooting at all.


Sights - The tiny, milled in sights on the LCP are vestigal at best. I much prefer the iron sights on the second generation of pocket .380s - the S&W Bodyguard, SIG P238, and Kahr P380.

Durability - Shooting is my hobby, so it's a little weird owning a gun that I know has a relatively short lifespan. A compact GLOCK can digest cases and cases of ammo before it needs new springs...the LCP, not so much.

Accuracy - This is the only CCW handgun I own that cannot reliably group on a piece of notebook paper at 15 yards. Granted, I'm no Olympic target shooter, but it's obvious that the LCP's practical range is far shorter than even a subcompact 9mm or .38.


Like all handguns, the Ruger LCP is a compromise, trading effectiveness for a compact form factor. Granted, it's a bit more of a compromise than an M1911 or a GLOCK, but the LCP fits where those guns cannot (more on that in a future post). As long as you keep its limitations in mind, the LCP is a good choice for concealed carry.


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