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Concealed Carry Handgun Reviews Semiauto

Tiny Titan: Ruger LC380 Review

by James Tarr   |  September 18th, 2013 15

Today’s firearm marketplace is in a chaotic state. As the clerk at my local gun store tried to explain to a customer angry that the store didn’t have any guns on the shelves: “No, there is not a gun shortage. What we are experiencing is a customer surplus.”

Any firearm manufacturer selling guns designed since 1911 could simply ramp up production on existing models and be almost guaranteed to sell as many as it could make. Ruger is one of those companies, and I have no doubt that if it had the machinery the firm could transition all of its employees to SR556 rifle production and still not be able to keep up with the demand. Instead of taking that easy route, Ruger continues to come out with new models.

One of the many new models that made its debut this year is the LC380. The Ruger LCP has been a huge hit in the modern-day concealed-carry market, but even its fans didn’t think it was perfect. The frame was just too small to get all your fingers on it, and the sights…well, some LCP owners might be surprised to hear their pistols actually have sights.

Ruger responded to some of the complaints about the LCP with the LC9, which wasn’t really an upsized LCP but rather just a really small 9mm that shared some looks with the LCP. The LC9 was a success as well, and now we see the LC380.

Ruger says the new LC380 pistol combines all the popular features of the LC9 with the LCP, and while that statement is accurate, what the company really means is, “We chambered the LC9 in .380 ACP.”

As near as I can determine that’s the only difference between the LC9 and LC380: caliber. Visually and dimensionally they are identical, and they have all the same features, the only difference being that the LC380 actually weighs 0.1 ounce more than the LC9. This is simply because the .380 ACP cartridge takes up a little less space, so the chamber is smaller, leaving more steel in place for the extra weight.

In fact, Ruger ships the LC380 with the LC9 owner’s manual, providing a one-sheet insert listing a supplemental parts list and a warning not to use +P ammunition. As far as supplemental parts go, the only ones on the LC380 that are different from the LC9 are the barrel, slide, magazine and recoil springs.

Chambering an existing pistol in a less powerful cartridge may seem counter intuitive (that’s Latin for stupid) to some people, but it’s been done before—and for good reasons.

While the capacity of the LC380 stays the same (7+1), recoil will be less. Being chambered in a less powerful cartridge, the recoil spring for the LC380 is lighter, so the slide is easier to rack. If you are small or weak, buying a gun whose slide you can’t rack or which hurts you every time you shoot it does not encourage regular practice sessions. The .380 you have with you, and have practiced shooting, is better than the 9mm you don’t.

This new gun also allows Ruger to sell a .380 ACP in certain places it couldn’t before because the LC380 has more safety features than the LCP; more on that later.

The LC380 is a bit big for a .380 ACP but still small enough to fit in most pockets. It is 6.0 inches long, 4.5 inches high, and only 0.9 inch wide. It weighs 17.2 ounces unloaded.

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