Gun Review: Ruger LC380

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The Ruger LC380 for this review was provided by The Kentucky Gun Company

I’ve never had much use for small framed pistols. I like large frames that shoot things with a minimum case length of 19mm. James Bond and his PPK weren’t favorites of mine. I much preferred Detective John McClane and his full sized Beretta 92. No one seems to care much what I like, though, because despite my feelings about small bore pistols in small packages, they get more popular with each passing day. Even Mother Teresa once said, “Be faithful in small things, because it is in them your strength lies.” So is there strength to be found in Ruger’s LC380? I honestly didn’t think so when I started this little adventure, but it turns out the little .380 had some surprises in store for me . . .

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Much like its older brother the wildly popular LC9, the LC380 is a looker. Nary a squared corner can be found on this gun and its sleek swooping lines exude a sexiness that make Kel Tecs hide in shame. Rollmarks on the slide aren’t garish or distracting and everything just blends together into a package that may be the best looking pistol out there. Until you load it, that is, because that’s when that lovely billboard of a stainless steel loading indicator pops up and ruins it like taking brass knuckles to Gisele’s face. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but I really don’t understand a need for this feature.

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Ergonomically, the Ruger fits comfortably in my medium-sized hands. While it felt on the small side, I wouldn’t characterize it as uncomfortably small. Initial annoyance with a dangling digit was easily remedied with the supplied pinky rest that replaces the standard magazine floor plate. The LC380 is well balanced and points quite naturally. All in all, the overall external design of the gun is spot on. So why did they go ruin it by slapping that tiny-ass safety on there?

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You can straight up fugheddabout being able to hit that thing reliably in a stressful situation. It’s the size of a Tic Tac and about as slick as one that’s already been in your mouth. I could keep listing interesting analogies to describe it, but the Tic Tac thing and the way RF described it in his LC9 review, you probably have a good idea about TTAG’s views on Ruger’s inclusion of this this feature.

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The trigger on this gun is actually very smooth, but the pull is as long as James May is slow. Throw in a phantom reset point before the actual reset — that’s right folks there’s two audible and tactile “reset” points — and you’re just better off treating this trigger like it’s attached to a Ruger LCR. It’s my one gripe about the actual function of this gun.

When I first took it to the range, I would try to ride the reset like I do on my EDC, but found myself trying to pull again after the first reset. Unfortunately, this led to much swearing, both from me and my co-workers who shot the gun. The shooting world is obviously aware of this issue, since kits already exist to rid the LC9 & LC380 of this affliction.

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Eventually though, I found that when I stopped trying to find the reset, the gun and I started clicking quite well. The pic above shows the results of a full magazine at slow fire. At 7 yds, this frame size coupled with the low recoil of the .380 ACP round equals great accuracy. Rapid fire opened up the groups a little, of course, but an experienced shooter would have to try to not keep all the rounds well within center of mass.

Take down is straightforward. A small switch on the frame is pushed down and then the takedown pin is pushed out using the small tool Ruger provides (or anything else you have handy that will get the job done). After that, simply field strip as you would any full sized pistol.

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Reliability-wise, the LC380 is phenomenal. It has chewed through 300 rounds of Blazer like Adam Richman through a 5-pound stromboli. It had no problems with 100 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense either. The pistol’s been in the dirt on the range, has never been cleaned and been fired by a variety of gun noobs. To date, it hasn’t malfunctioned once.

So, while I may not be a huge proponent of small guns or anything below 9×19 for self defense, I can now see the allure of this little guy. The LC380 conceals easily, recoils lightly and shoots well. It’s reliable as all get-out and, quite honestly, fun to shoot. For those more recoil sensitive or who don’t like the snapiness that a small 9mm exhibits, it’s the perfect gun.

On another level, I found the LC380 is wonderful for training new shooters. During the weekly CWP courses I teach, it was a great gun to help people gain confidence in their shooting without thinking they were being babied by shooting a .22lr while keeping them from being overwhelmed by larger calibers. Bottom line: no matter what the reason, if you’re in the market for a .380 in a larger frame size than your typical mouse gun, look no further than the LC380.

Specifications:

Caliber .380ACP
Capacity 7+1
Barrel Length 3.12”
Width .90”
Sights Adjustable 3 Dot
MSRP $449

Ratings (out of five stars):
All ratings are relative to other similar guns, and the final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.

Accuracy: * * * *
This gun isn’t hampered much by its short sight radius and diminutive size.

Ergonomics (Handling): * * * *
Fits very well in the hand, but the pinky extension is a must for total comfort.

Ergonomics (Firing): * *   
Once you figure out the trigger, it works well, but the really long pull and phantom reset will lead to frustration at first.

Reliability: * * * * *
Never cleaned and still going strong after 400+ rounds.

Customize This: * * * * *
Holsters, grip extensions, trigger upgrades and lasers. What more could you ask for?

Overall: * * * *
It’s a very good that’s only held back from greatness by a couple of flaws.

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About Ryan Finn

Ryan Finn is the Director of Operations and an Associate Instructor for Montana Tactical Firearms Instruction as well as a contractor for Vanguard Security Consultants when he isn't writing for TTAG. In his free time he is a volunteer firefighter and enjoys spending time in the mountains with his family.

52 Responses to Gun Review: Ruger LC380

  1. avatarI_Like_Pie says:

    It may just be me, but I have never in my 40+ years of shooting a pistol had a problem with short stroking the trigger.

    It seems like when you try to find the reset point you are conditioning yourself to actually create a potential failure during a stressful situation.

    Finger all the way forward every time solves this….no?

    • avatarSGC says:

      Kind of a mixed bag to me: If you carry one pistol all the time, then yes by all means put some muscle memory into that trigger reset position, it will increase your accuracy and follow up shot speed. If you rotate guns, or just carry whatever you feel like at the time…the trigger reset memory may be a hinderance.

      • avatarAccur81 says:

        I was just pondering that myself. My carry guns are all Glocks, which have a similar reset (and a damn fast one at that). My 340PD is DAO, and both my Smith 4006′s have a very noticeable reset. I’ve short-stroked triggers, but only in practice scenarios.

    • avatarMax says:

      The biggest problem with this gun lies with the fact that there is a false reset. Other pistol designs (Glocks, 1911s) have extremely decent resets: nice and noticeable and, more importantly, there is only one. Some of the best shooters let out to reset and it does in fact help with more accurate shots at faster speeds. My experience with the LCP is that the false reset is not intuitive (as most other popular guns don’t have one) and annoying.

      IMHO, from training to let out to reset it isn’t so much about training your finger to move a certain distance, but to move until you feel a “click” and then you start pulling the trigger again. This means you’re reacting to the reset and not anticipating it. This is key I think, and the reason that short stroking with a standard semi-auto pistol trigger design is not a huge deal.

      Revolvers are another beast altogether, as they often have little inconsistencies when letting the trigger out. I have found that this can mislead one in to thinking they have reached the reset point.

  2. avatarRimfire says:

    Trigger kit looks like a wise investment for this gun, like so many others. These lawyer inspired triggers need plenty of help, this gun is no exception. Thanks for a no-nonsense review, just the facts as Joe Friday said.

  3. avatarPhil says:

    My mother in law is looking to get into shooting and to get a CCW, I think this one might fit the ticket.

    • avatarTX Gun Gal says:

      I have an older model, no stupid chamber loaded doohickey, has a lever type safety. Gun Broker has a number of this model available
      http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=338341003#PIC

      This is the one I have, used for Texas CHL range test (scored 215 out of 250)
      Had not shot it in a while since gun range weapon is Ruger SR .22
      Bersa .380 is not picky about ammo, even put rounds from a 50 round box of .380 which as best I can tell bullets were at least 15 yrs. old from my Dad’s estate. I love my Bersa .380 and have zero complaints. That said, home carry gun is a Ruger .38 LCR 5 round hollow point (point & shoot for
      Adrenalin dump) stout recoil with .38 P+ ammo, new shooters should use use std. 38 loads or wad cutters

  4. avatarJoke & Dagger says:

    If I had a Colt Mustang, I would like it a whole lot more than the Ruger LCP/LC380/LC9 series. But dang if that son-of-a-gun didn’t go overboard last visit to the beach.

    • avatarJoke & Dagger says:

      Also, if I had dealt with the Kentucky Gun Company in the past on several occasions, they would have done a very nice job. I would only say nice things about them. They have online sales with great prices and service, from what I understand.

      • avatarMax says:

        Hahaha.

        Hypothetically, if I had this friend that had a Colt Mustang, should he send it to Kentucky Gun Company?

  5. avatarPulatso says:

    If I ever decide to get a .380, it would probably be a PPK. Buy this would be a close second.

    • avatarJason says:

      I had one. It was a jam-o-matic. Plus, it’s as big and heavy as an LC9.

      • avatar16V says:

        Didja have one of the Ranger made (Interarms) models? I’ve heard of some ‘issues’ with those.

        PPs are heavy compared to the plastic fantastic guns (especially the PPK/S), but they are usually stone-axe reliable.

        • avatarJason says:

          No, unfortunately it was a S&W one. I heard that the Interarms one’s were good as well.

          I don’t know how S&W could mess up an established design but they sure did.

          It also was pretty snappy to shoot given its weight and the 380acp. These guns are pretty cool but IMO there are much better modern options to use for EDC.

      • avatarPulatso says:

        My FIL has fed thousands through his, no issues. And having fired his, I like the weight.

    • avatarBr0kenH1p says:

      You might want to check out the Sig 232 as well.

      • avatarVSN says:

        Too bad about the CZ83 going away. 28 oz. and 12 rnd mag? Yes, please.

        • avatarChris says:

          I have a CZ 83 and love it, but unfortunately I need something that can be pocket-carried, which is why I am considering the LC380.

    • avatarAdam says:

      I have a S&W PPK and it has been totally reliable. Over 1200 rounds and only one jam or misfeed and that was with Tula ammo.

  6. avatarjwm says:

    That loaded chamber indicator is one of those things required by California. Despite the best efforts of the fvcktards running this state there is still a huge market for handguns here.

    For what a pocket sized semi auto was meant for I would rather have a lightweight j frame. No chiclet sized safety and 158 grain hollowpoints instead of 95 grain.

    • avatarMark N. says:

      Same story for the safety. Both are required by the “new” rules for “safe” handguns. I think Mass is the same way. these rules are why we can have Gen 3 Glocks, but not Gen 4 (enough changes so they were not allowed to be grandfathered), XD but not XDm (or XDS), no Colt Mustang (although Sig supposedly designed a Cal compliant version of their P238, it never showed up on the market) and so on and so forth. Most people I know who have the LC9 don’t bother with the safety; with a proper pocket holster, the DOA trigger is enough.

  7. avatarmediocrates says:

    once you get past the diminutive size of the LCP, the safety and chamber loaded indicator are nice to haves. I don’t quibble over things that don’t matter and I may or may not use. I’m a huge Ruger fan, although my membership in the armed intelligentsia is still rather short. Thanks for the review! Don’t believe I will ever own one of these, but all of your review are most valuable. As an aside, all of my Ruger products have been 100% reliable.

  8. avatarJake F. says:

    My dad had a TCP for awhile before selling it for the Beretta Tomcat. These small guns aren’t bad but you definently need to handle the different models before you buy. Even though they all seem to be relatively the same you can tell the difference when handling them.

    I think my Bersa is the smallest I’d want to go. After shooting a few of these munchkins I’ve decided I just need that little extra size.

  9. avatarSaul Feldstein says:

    Lousy trigger and a mediocre calibre = why bother?

    ON the 8th day, Glock 26.

    • avatarJake F. says:

      Any gun is better than no gun and the.380 and even the .32 aren’t as bad as most people think. After all .32 s&w used to be one of the go-to self defense rounds. It’s not really my first choice or his either but you can put the tomcat anywhere and it won’t show.

      I’m a fan of the g32, got a good gen3 myself.

      • avatar16V says:

        .380 ACP is also known as 9MM kurz or short. Also known as 9×17, 9MM Browning and I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.

        Properly loaded, you can get 230-ish ftlb with JHPs. Half of 9×19, but so’s the case pressure.

        Oh yeah, Glock sells lots of guns in .380ACP – just not in the US because they don’t have enough importation points per GCA.

    • avatarJoke & Dagger says:

      Glock 26 just doesn’t work with some of my clothing, such as gym shorts, bike riding stuff, work-wear etc. The .380 works much better. Simply a case of a lighter smaller weapon is better than none at all. I certainly agree with more foot pounds when the clothing allows. This was all of course if I was into those evil firearms.

      • avatar16V says:

        Yes, I too am just repeating things I’ve heard from friends and neighbors. Guns are far too dangerous to be anywhere but a museum. I would never, ever, own one.

        • avatarJoe says:

          If you don’t like firearms, then quit reading about them, and you won’t have wussy nightmares.!

  10. avatarBeninMA says:

    “On another level, I found the LC380 is wonderful for training new shooters. During the weekly CWP courses I teach, it was a great gun to help people gain confidence in their shooting without thinking they were being babied by shooting a .22lr while keeping them from being overwhelmed by larger calibers. ”

    How loud is it compared with a .22 and a 9mm?

    • avatarJoke & Dagger says:

      Funny, I’ve found the quickest way to scare off the lady gun neophytes is with a small .380, as it hurts the hands too much. They seem to like a full size or Commander size 1911, being much easier on the hands and therefore funner to shoot.

      • avatarGtfoxy says:

        Funny you mention that;
        I took my kid to a gun preview this past weekend. We were shooting at 9″ steel with the rentals and I wanted him to try a larger caliber HG. He has shot my P22 many times and has done ok with it.

        We tried a ruger 22 and he couldn’t hit the plate once in 8 rnds at 25yrds. He then tried the LC380 and he hit it 3 out of 5. I managed 5 of 5, twice.

        Also tried the LC9, I was 8/10 with that one.

        Seriously considering this or a PT 738 but will have to range test both at the same time.

        • avatarreggie says:

          I have put approximately 200 rounds thru my lc380 and am constantly grouping 4-5″ 5 shots at 10 yards.
          this is with fmj and jacketed hollow points. At 15 yards we are grouping 3-4 in the 5″ and always 1 stray.
          Still, love this little gun. got it for self defense within the house and god bless the soul that ever presses the issue. Even my wife , who is not a shooter says this is very comfortable to shoot.

        • avatarGtfoxy says:

          Thanks for the input!

          I am really torn. both options seem very reliable for the money, even though the 738 I think may hold the heavier ground in that comparison.

          I just can’t get past the sights. The LC mocels have a much better sight system, IMO. One of the things that make guns more accurate…

          i also see more aftermarket stuff for the LC380 than the 738, but I will keep looking.

          But… after reading the review on the Canik in TTAG today, I might just want to give that a whirl even though it is a tad out of my budget right now. A $400 pistol with a laser would be nice.

    • avatarRyan Finn says:

      Not bad at all. Definitely louder than a .22 but quieter than most 9mm

  11. avatarMartin B says:

    There is a lot of enthusiasm at the moment for the Taurus Millennium G2, which fits into a similar weapon profile. It is a bit thicker in the grip (but contains 12 rounds), although this aids in shooting comfort and control. The slight increase in barrel length (3.2″ v 3.1″) does seem to result in better velocity (to other 9mms). For a moderate increase in size, there is a significant improvement in comfort, round count, trigger function, ease of disassembly, of course power, as well as a $100 cash savings. Bit of a no brainer to me.

  12. avatargringito says:

    At least it has some decent sights (which I loved to have on my LCP)!

    However I prefer my LCP without safety and DAO only.

  13. avatarreggie says:

    After a lot of research on the small calibers, I decided the ruger LC380 was what I wanted. I have been a big fan of Ruger for many years and after firing this little jewel, it is all that I expected. Smooth and very little recoil. Basically, just a little more than my Mark III 22 target pistol.
    This is one gun that can be used by women and they will not be intimidated by it.
    My hat off to Ruger for this design.

  14. avatarNewGunAddict says:

    Just jumped on an LC380 myself; $360 new at a retailer – very reasonable, and loved it (looks, feel, reputation) next to the comparable Kel-Tec which was $90 less.

    No ammo (had to order some online – AGH!!!), so I’ve not yet fired it. For now, I love the look, feel, size, and weight for “summer carry” personal self-defense. Will also be perfect for teaching my 12 year-old who loves to shoot but, naturally, is skittish with the larger calibers. (.380 in a small-frame should be a great transition from 22 to larger calibers)

    I love that I can carry this in shorts and/or IWB for self-defense and still enjoy practicing with it (claims of low recoil), including training my son at the range – - without the pain of a mouse gun (which is what I thought I was relegated to carry with light clothing).

    The LC380 appears to be the perfect blend of size, caliber, quality, and comfort. I’m too new to fret over trigger characteristics, and the long stroke combined with DAO, for me, seems like a good substitute for using the little safety when I carry it.

    I know better than to rely on a safety and loaded chamber indicator, but still – - as a relative newbie, these much-maligned features are probably good backups for training not only my wife and son, but even for a slightly more experienced me.

    PS – I find the safety’s edges to have sufficient bite to effectively engage the skin on my thumb, despite its “tic tac” size.

    • avatarreggie says:

      hopefully by now you have had a chance to shoot. I have no problems with the safety and love the clip extender. fits my hand great. have now put 25 rounds thru and for me, the trigger pull is not an issue either.
      Sure hope you are as impressed as I am. Will get the wife to shoot soon if the weather ever improves.

  15. avatarGerald Crosby says:

    I bought a LC380 earlier this year. I am a novice pistol shooter. I put a Crmson Trace Laser on it. My first experience with it was no failures feeding or ejecting but felt it was firing low. As the sights on this have no adjustability for elevation and limited adjustability for windage, I wanted to know where it was shooting. I purchased a 380 boresighter form Sightmark. It was checked for alignment and the laser adjusted to the boresighter. Next I tried the iron sights to see where they were and found that they were at least 6 inches high and about 2 inches to the left. I called and talked to Ruger about this. The first thing they did was to discount the usefulness of a boresighter. They told me to use sandbags or a gun vice and they didn’t care were the sights said it was aiming as long as they could obtain a 2 inch shot group at 30 feet. I hope somebody is making adjustable aftermarket sights for this gun because if I have to shoot somebody in the stomach, I want to hit him there not in his nuts. If I have to compare this to my Bersa Thunder 380, The Bersa in much more enjoyable to shoot and the sights are fully adjustable.

  16. avatardlj95118 says:

    This is my first handgun; picked it up early October. I’m fond of the Ruger brand (have two other Ruger rifles), and I was concerned about the recoil/recovery aspects of larger rounds. I’ve shot .38spcl, 357mag, and .45 Colt – all of which really hurt. Some may call me wimpy, but the reality is that it hurt. So when I came to making a decision about a handgun, I looked at the .380acp and decided that would be a viable personal defense round with manageable recoil. My first handgun choice was the Sig p232, but at nearly $800 I couldn’t justify it. Next was the LC380 and I read all the reviews I could find. Jumped through CA’s loops and bought it. All the reviews proved out as I examined my new firearm. I’m now in the learning curve of handguns. I cannot imagine shooting a larger round – this thing really jumps. And one thing I didn’t factor in was the cost of ammo. The .380 ranges from 40% – 60% more expensive than 9mm. My first trip to the range cost me 150 rounds…about $50. I’m now scouring the interweb for .380 reloads. That range trip proved the operation of the LC380 and the noted long trigger pull. The magazines were very stiff to load, especially the 7th round. But, I’m told things will loosen up over time. I found out what “slide bite” is all about with a misplaced thumb. I also experienced a number of FTF/FTE that I think was caused by “limp wrist” on my part. As stated, I’m in a learning curve with this thing. Looking forward to my next range outing.

    • avatardlj95118 says:

      Since my first comment, I’ve put between 850 – 1000 rounds through the LC380. A couple things: 1) Either I’m too big, or it’s too small. Either way, I had difficulty getting a solid grip on the little guy to ensure an accurate shot. This resulted in purchasing a Pachmayer (sp?) slip-on grip that increased the circumference just enough; what a difference. This grip is highly recommended if you’re of large frame as I am. 2) Had a number of fail-to-feed on the 6th and 7th cartridges during the last range outing. All ammunition used was of what I would call “high quality” reloads from two suppliers. Upon cleaning, I found that both magazines where filthy, with residue down inside, covering the interior mag walls and binding the movable feed plate. Note to self, clean the magazines when you clean the gun. At the time of this addition, .380 ammo price had bottomed out at 30 cents/round for reloads and upwards of 40 cents/round for new.

      • avatardlj95118 says:

        ***update on the fail-to-feed issue. Have been reading a number of reports of people experiencing FTF problems, and they seem to be magazine related. Out of curiosity, I disassembled my two magazines and found something interesting: the springs were of different lengths. One had 10 coils, the other had 12. One was supplied with the LC380, and the other was an after-purchase.
        I’ve contacted Ruger about this curiosity and they’ve requested I send back the magazine that is associated with the FTFs.
        I’ll follow-up after the magazine is evaluated.

    • avatarMissouri_Mule says:

      The Galloway Precision trigger bar kit cures the too long trigger pull.
      Get some one to help you with your grip and be sure to lean into to it some.
      The magazines are hard on your thumbs. Get a magazine loader.
      They really work and are only about $10.

      http://www.midwayusa.com/product/992000/adco-super-thumb-magazine-loader-single-stack-9mm-luger-38-super-45-acp-polymer-black
      9mm works for 380

      • avatardlj95118 says:

        I’ve looked at the Galloway kit and wondered if it would be worth the money. With it allowing a shorter pull, does that decrease the “hit” on the cartridge and subsequent fail-to-fire? And, yeah, I plan to buy a magazine loader; I’m tired of the sore thumbs!

  17. avatarAaron Taylor says:

    “I’ve never had much use for small framed pistols,” That says it all for this reviewer and an open mind.

  18. avatarMissouri_Mule says:

    My wife bought the LC380 and she loves it! She shoots it better than her SR22 .
    The Galloway Precision trigger bar kit fixes the loooonng trigger pull. It is well worth installing and can be done at the kitchen table in an evening with common tools.
    It is much easier to shoot than the much smaller LCP.
    Be sure to clean the magazines. They come filthy.
    Clean the trigger action too; same reason.
    Some mags lock back. Some don’t. Ruger will replace those that don’t.
    Hazards of 24/7 production.

  19. avatarKevin says:

    If you know this trigger has no reset… which the reviewer did/does know… why was it a problem for him? When you get to the actual shooting portion of the review its nothing but praise. Isn’t that what counts? The rest of his complaints are nothing but an opportunity for the writers… and many of reviewers fall into the same trap… to show off their ability to be creative with metaphor. And in the end it all boils down to opinion. and in the end, opinion that has zero to do with the shoot ability of the gun as evidenced by this review. ‘great shooting, reliable gun but let’s nitpick and over exaggerate the things we personally don’t like.’ Why not just state the facts… it has a loaded chamber indicator we feel is too large and un necessary… it has an external safety you may find too small to operate without practice… it has a double action only trigger and the pull is long. In other words, be objective. Isn’t that what a review is supposed to be??

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