June 19, 2023
With its LCP, LCP II and Max lineup of subcompact handguns, Ruger is a leader in the concealable self-defense handgun market. Millions of the company’s concealable semiauto handguns have been produced and are relied upon daily by a host of customers. There was a gap in this lineup, though, and Ruger’s engineers set out to fill it.
Ruger acknowledged that not every person can reliably operate many of the firearms on the market, leaving them potentially helpless in the face of a violent crime. They set out to build a handgun with this reality in mind. The result is a compact semiautomatic designed to be safely operated with minimal physical force on the shooter’s part. Ruger has dubbed this handgun—designed for use by individuals with diminished physical ability—the Security-380.
If you look at much of what is out there in the firearms media, particularly online, you might think that every gun owner is a heavily tattooed former special operator with anaconda-size biceps. The truth is that gun owners come in all shapes, sizes and ages and have varying levels of physical ability.
Violent criminals choose their victims carefully, and the weakest among us are, unfortunately, most likely to fall prey. Therefore, it makes a great deal of sense to build a pistol designed to operate with minimal grip strength and producing very little recoil.
The Security-380 is built on a polymer frame. Actually, it is a steel serial-numbered frame with a polymer grip module. It is a bit larger than some of the more compact handguns on the market, the idea being that a slightly larger and heavier handgun is more shootable, more controllable with limited hand strength and producing less recoil felt overall.
Unlike many polymer handguns out there, the Security 380 is not striker-fired. This handgun uses a protected internal hammer and is effectively a single-action semiauto. You read that correctly: When a round is chambered, the handgun’s hammer is in the cocked position. There is no method to let the hammer down other than pulling the trigger.
Think of it as a Colt 1903 or a 1911 with a shrouded hammer. This mechanism results in a relatively light trigger pull, and the pull on my sample measured 4.25 pounds. The overall trigger pull characteristics were also better than most of those found on striker-fired handguns—short with a touch of creep and a longish reset. An overtravel stop is molded into the trigger guard.
To ensure the Security-380 is safe to operate with its hammer cocked, it uses both active and passive safeties. A trigger bar safety, similar to the system used on a wide variety of handguns these days, means the Security-380 will not fire unless the trigger is depressed.
Additionally, a manual frame-mounted safety is located on the left side of the handgun. Moving the safety downward places it in the Fire position. When the safety is off, a red indicator is visible from the left side of the handgun. In the Safe condition, an “S” is displayed.
The safety lever will engage only if the chamber is loaded, creating a tactile indication of the chamber’s status. There is also a visual loaded-chamber indicator at the rear of the barrel hood.
The magazine release sits behind the triggerguard on the left side of the frame. I had no trouble actuating it without shifting my grip on the handgun. The Security-380 will fire with the magazine removed, a crucial feature on a handgun designed with self-defense in mind—although it means this pistol will not be available in states like California.
The polymer grip module is small enough to conceal but generous enough to offer an ample gripping surface. Textured panels are molded into both sides of the grip as well as both the front and backstraps. Those with larger hands will appreciate the grip extension choices on the magazine, which I will discuss below.
The trigger guard is generously sized and is grooved for those who use the guard surface as part of their grip. A short rail section is present at the dust cover, allowing for the mounting of a light or laser.
The slide—part of Ruger’s Lite Rack system—is made from through-hardened alloy steel with a black oxide finish. It is scalloped to allow a good gripping surface when racking. Beyond these scalloped sections, grasping grooves are positioned at both the front and rear of the slide, and a pair of cocking ears are located at the back of the slide.
Six elongated holes are machined into the slide, removing a fractional amount of weight. A slide-mounted external extractor is used along with a frame-mounted fixed ejector. The recoil spring assembly, which is purposely lighter than standard, consists of a flat wire spring and a polymer full-length guide rod. The barrel is integrally ramped with a fully supported chamber.
The sights on the Security-380 are user-friendly. There is no provision for optic mounting. The front sight is dovetailed into the slide and uses a protected green fiber-optic bead for maximum visibility.
The rear sight is cut with a U-shaped notch with serrations on the blade. It is drift-adjustable within its dovetail for windage adjustment and can be locked into place with a hex screw. The front surface of the rear sight is flat, which provides a surface for racking the slide on a fixed object.
This begs the question of exactly how easy the slide is to rack. Candidly, I never gave this issue much thought until I received consistent feedback from readers inquiring as to the difficulty of racking the slide on various self-defense handguns. With no standardized method of measuring this variable, I could only use subjective language to convey how much racking force was necessary. Even then, my definition of “easy” might be drastically different than the reader’s.
For this test, I decided to rig up a system to measure the amount of force used to operate the slide. I mounted the Security-380 in a padded bench vise with the jaws holding the grip securely. Then, using a Timney trigger pull scale, I was able to measure this variable by hooking the scale’s arm around the rear sight.
The force was measured repeatedly at 7.5 pounds. For comparison’s sake, my SIG P365 9mm pegged the scale at 10 pounds without moving the slide out of battery. I can now subjectively and objectively say the Security-380 with its Lite Rack system is easy to load.
Two magazines are included with the Security-380, with capacities of 10 and 15 rounds, respectively. The 15-rounder is fitted with a grip extension that allows for a full five-finger grip with my hands. The 10-round magazine sits fluish with the bottom of the frame to maximize concealability.
Ruger also includes an extra magazine base pad that can be fitted to the 10-round magazine. With this extension in place, the front gripping area is extended but the butt remains slim and trim. Swapping out extensions can be accomplished by depressing the spring-loaded plunger on the base pad and sliding the pad forward and off of the steel magazine body.
Each base pad flares outward where it meets the frame, providing an ample gripping surface for removing magazines. A simple polymer magazine loading device is also included.
Disassembling the Security-380 is straightforward. With the handgun unloaded and the magazine removed, pull the slide slightly to the rear until the takedown pin aligns with the corresponding notch on the slide. The pin can be removed with a fingernail or pushed out from the opposite side, allowing the slide to be removed from the frame. It is not necessary to dry-fire the Security-380 in order to disassemble it.
Note that if you experience trouble removing the slide, ensure the slide stop is pressed downward. The recoil spring assembly can now be removed along with the barrel. Reversing the process assembles the handgun.
I was interested to see just how well the Security-380 would perform on the range. We must assume that shooters with limited strength or ability may be challenged when it comes to controlling recoil, and only a soft-shooting handgun will do for this potential customer. The engineering challenge is balancing the lighter recoil spring, which makes the slide easier to rack, with one that will sufficiently dampen recoil. Ruger hit the mark here, making the Security-380 so that the recoil is mild but the slide is still easy to operate. It was extremely pleasant to shoot.
Since the gun was built for shootability rather than ultimate concealability, it is a bit larger than it needs to be. When it comes to handling recoil, this is a good thing. The .380 Auto chambering is another asset here, striking a good balance between light recoil and reasonable terminal performance. This handgun does not produce a great deal more recoil than a .22 but is significantly more powerful downrange.
Accuracy was nothing to write home about, but this isn’t a target pistol. Group sizes varied significantly with the ammunition used, with the Remington Ultimate Defense load besting the others by a healthy margin.
More importantly, the Security-380 is very shootable thanks to good sights and a pleasant trigger. Better still from a self-defense perspective, the Security-380 was 100 percent reliable with all three loads.
According to Pew Research, 22 percent of Americans self-identify as being disabled in some way. That translates to more than 73 million people. To ignore this large group of potential end-users when it comes to self-defense is a real issue, one that the firearms industry is just now beginning to address. The Ruger Security-380 promises to be a great tool for these individuals, giving up little in terms of performance while offering accessibility to a key segment of the population.
The Ruger Security-380 is a reliable and affordable handgun suited for a wide variety of customers. Its features make it easy to operate with minimal physical strength, and recoil is light. Thanks to these characteristics, Ruger is taking the lead on making handguns anyone can shoot.
Ruger Security-380 Specifications
- Type: Hammer-fired semiautomatic
- Caliber: .380 Auto
- Capacity: 15+1, 10+1
- Barrel: 3.42 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 3.7 oz.
- OAL/Height/Width: 6.5/4.4/1.0 in.
- Construction: Alloy steel slide, polymer frame
- Grips: Textured polymer
- Sights: Green fiber-optic front; serrated U-blade rear drift-adjustable for windage
- Trigger: Secure Action; 4.2 lb. pull (measured)
- Safeties: Trigger, manual
- Price: $369
- Manufacturer: Ruger, ruger.com