Gun Review: Sturm, Ruger & Co. LCP

I ain’t a true Texan. According to the requirements printed on its box, I need not apply for the hottest gun of the week. However, strip off the barel tats from Sturm, Ruger & Co’s Coyote Special LCP and you’re left with the exact same firearm. One of the most prolific handguns in production. So much so that the LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) has single-handedly reinvigorated the pocket pistol genre. On the negative side, there’s a dearth of .380 ammo not weighing down ammo shelves. On the positive side, the LCP has inspired other gunmakers to step up (down?) their game. Pocket pistols like the Sig Sauer 1911 mini-me P238 and Kahr P380 have increased self-defense choices in a very good way. Still, to paraphrase Fergie, the LCP is so 2008. The others are so 2000 and late. As was I. But I’ve now spent considerable quality time with the gun Texas Governor Rick Perry used for varmint control. The weapon Jeff Quinn at GunBlast christened “Miss Elsie Pea.”

The most important rule of a gunfight: “have a gun.” For many if not most concealed carry permit holders, even a compact Glock is too big for everyday carry. The LCP’s just 5.16 inches long, 3.6 inches high and 0.82 inch thick. It weights 9.4 ounces unloaded. The diminutive proportions make the LCP a gun you don’t have to think about–right until you do.

With or without a moon-struck coyote on the barrel, the appeal of a svelte, stylish, reasonably powerful gun the size of an iPhone is no less than it was back in the day. The LCP is a gun for today’s busy lifestyle: grabbing a half-caf mocha latte at Starbucks, jogging through coyote-infested suburbs, eliminating rapists on the way to your MINI, etc. Just tuck it in your pocket or purse in a Kydex holster. The LCP doesn’t print anymore than this website.

Are you carrying a full-size .45 in your t-shirt and shorts eating at Pinkberry? Perhaps that is a bad example; most gun owners don’t eat at Pinkberry. But I do. And I don’t look out of place with an LCP. At all. Tell that to your cowboy-hat wearin’ Milt Sparks double-leather .357 shoulder holster CCW. I am prepared for a jihad on swirly goodness.

Even more importantly, the LCP’s chambered in a caliber that packs a punch. Anyone who does not think the .380 has enough stopping power can volunteer to be shot with it. Or debate it here ad infinitum. (Note: we know some coyote pups who might like your IP address.) Meanwhile, the market has decided: the LCP is an excellent compromise between size, weight and potential lethality.

So how does she shoot? The LCP is snappy. When you pull the long-throw trigger (designed to dis-enable negligent discharges), the recoil is significant. As you’d expect from a small gun designed to stop humans. I repeat: the LCP ain’t no range queen. After half a dozen shots, both your six-round magazine and palm are pretty much done.

And? Miss Elsie is designed to be by your side in a self-defense emergency. It’s a back-up gun for people who have a main gun and for people who don’t, and hope they don’t end up wishing they did.

The LCP’s fixed sights could probably turn Rob Leatham into Mr. Magoo. Saying that, I can’t imagine a situation where you would need your LCP to be a sniper rifle. But it is true that Ruger’s misleading some folks on the “kill a quadruped at a distance front”—by NOT equipping the “Coyote Special” LCP with laser sights. The standard sighs are practically useless past 15 yards.

You activate Crimson Trace’s award-winning sighting system—the same one found on the Gov’s gun—with your middle finger. Needless to say grabbing the LCP’s frame and lighting someone up with the laser speaks says a lot more about your anger levels than actuating your middle finger in the other direction. [ED: Never brandish a weapon at someone unless they pose a serious threat to life and limb.]

I’ve used the LCP with a wide variety of .380 loads. In a hundred rounds, I had one stovepipe. Another time, the slide jammed up. The ole’ tap-rack-bang method worked for both failures. So let’s call it a 98 percent success rate.

The gold standard in .380 pocket pistols is . . .the Rohrbaugh. But at triple the price, the LCP is a sane, sensible, life- and wallet-saving choice. The LCP started a revolution when derringers just could not take us. Coyote or not, it still has the industry howling.


Caliber: .380 Auto
Capacity: 6+1
Sights: Fixed
Length: 5.16″
Width: 0.82″
Height: 3.60″
Weight: 9.40 oz.
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Grooves: 6
Twist: 1:16″


Style * * *
It’s all black and can look like a cap gun. But overall it is a nicely finished for the low MSRP.

Ergonomics * *
Everything is where you expect it, and I don’t mind the magazine release, but the sights could use some love.

Reliability * * *
There was a recall, but no kvetches are pinging the Internet radar. Two failures per my 100 rounds. Nothing is perfect at this size and price. Your Mileage May Vary.

Customize This * * * *
Add a laser, a couple of cool holsters, and you can even send out your slide to companies who will make it a custom color. Forget Coyote Special- were talkin’ French Poodle Deluxe!

Add a star for starting a revolution on how a lot of CCWs rethink carry.