1 11 range

By Jake Zweig

A gun is a tool. You choose the tool that best fits the job. My job every day: protecting myself and my family. As a Navy SEAL, that’s what I went looking for. The right gun would be practical for everyday carry in a side pocket, and it would shoot when I needed it to shoot, where I needed to shoot it. I spent a year making the choice and decided to go with the Ruger LCP .380. Of course, the gun would undergo a few modifications before I would be completely happy with it . . .

This gun was purchased used, for $200, from my gun guy in Maine (you the man, Phil). I wasn’t planning to decorate my library with this firearm, so I asked for a gun that was cosmetically beat up but ready to be reborn and fulfill its promise. I was already planning the changes I would make to this gun, to make it work the way I wanted.

Ergonomics
I don’t give two cents what the gun looks like, only that it’s solid and well made. It has to be easy to carry, which is the entire purpose of this gun. And must be reliable. Once I got it, I put 200 rounds through this one without a single malfunction.

1 Press Check window

The Ruger LCP comes with a press check window so that you just have to look to the side to see if there is a round in the chamber. The double action trigger pull is long, which might keep you from shooting yourself or the wrong person in an adrenaline-spiked reach for your gun.

1 Range

With extended magazines that are readily available in the marketplace, the gun was easy to control and keep on target. I was drilling double-taps at 15 yards, and able to hit the kill zone of the target with very controlled fire from 25 yards. Inside of 15 yards, the gun shoots as well as many a full-sized pistol, just not as comfortably.

1 Target

I had a few issues with the LCP, but nothing I didn’t know about going in. It’s a good gun. Ruger did a good job. However, Navy SEAL Real World Gun Rule: when it comes to protecting me and my family, good isn’t good enough.

1 Sight adjustment

Improvements
First, the sights suck. SUCK. Ruger shouldn’t sell a gun with sights like these. You will need to replace the front sight at the very least to make this pocket pistol go. Innovative Arms did a kick butt job on my LCP with a respectable turnaround time. They milled out the slide and installed a low-profile, nicely rounded tritium front sight and a matching custom dovetail in the rear. You can expect to spend about a buck fifty on this mod, but it is worth every dollar.

Second, I was having an impossible time changing magazines. The small mag release button goes flush with, and recesses into the hand grip once you start to push on it. Larger thumbs like mine don’t depress the release far enough.

Compounding the problem is a strong combat grip while squeezing gun. Trust me, if you every need it for self defense, you will be squeezing the gun. But your squeezy finger would be on the back side of the magazine release, blocking its movement. If the shit goes down, I want to be fighting with my gun, not fighting with my gun.

I pulled the magazine release out of the gun and welded another 3/16 onto the button side of the release, then sanded 3/16 off of the opposite side. Now it works like a champ.

1 All three

Lastly, there’s appearance. I know I said I don’t give two cents what the gun look like, as long as it go bang. That’s not completely true, but only for practical reasons. I was going to give it a Cerakote finish, but they wanted $100 to do the job. So I went with the color spray paint that best matches my skin tone.

1 Full gun 2

If I have to confront somebody head-on and they see me, they will spend a half second figuring out if that’s a gun in my hand or something else. That’s all the time I’ll need to double tap their ass.

1 Full gun 1

I choose to carry with a stock 6-round magazine with a 1.25 inch Garrison magazine extender, so that my whole hand is on the grip. I back that up with two 15-round magazines from ProMag, and they work flawlessly.

1 1st Gun pic

A note on round selection
I add this section because it’s a very important part of this gun choice. With all the hyper-expanding rounds on the market today, it’s key to understand that this gun is pushing bullets out at about 1000 fps. There isn’t enough ass in the bullet to get it to expand and do damage. For this reason I am running FMJ and in the future will have some homemade SUPER +P rounds in FMJ.

Summary
I wish it came in 9mm (in the same size) and double/single action, but those are the only things that could make this gun better.

I am very happy with my ability to shoot, move, and communicate while employing this firearm. With just a few minor modifications to the sights and magazine release, a good gun becomes an awesome choice for everyday personal and family protection.

Ease of carry, combined with the ability to put rounds on target in stressful situations makes this Ruger LCP an absolute keeper!

 

252 Responses to Customizing My Ruger LCP for Everyday Carry

      • Thirded. The .380 is a wimpy cartridge. Add huge mags and the natural question becomes: why not go with a 9mm or larger? Granted if you are a SEAL then you will be well versed in hand to hand and knife combat. Still, I would go with a larger and more effective EDC than a 6 round .380. If you’re using FMJs you can get good penetration, probably over-penetration, but expansion is non-existent. The Precision One .380 load using Hornady XTPs gave decent expansion and penetration in Shooting the Bull’s tests. For a .380, anyways. Which is only hitting with roughly 200 FPE from a pocket .380. The Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator looks good also.

        My $.02. Thank you for your service, and God bless our troops…especially our snipers.

        • Care to stand in front of the 380 to test how wimpy it is?
          It’s m short and loaded right matches 38 ballistics. At 7 yds if you do the trick it works great

      • I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess that the idea is the smaller gun and the separate back-up mags are easier for him to conceal than the single bigger gun would be. Kind of like breaking your long gun into pieces to carry it incognito–only a mag change is a lot faster than re-assembling a long gun. Only thing I can think of, and I’m sure there are folks here who can tell me how that doesn’t make sense. Either that or we’re being put on.

        • Kind of like carrying an SR9C with 10+1 rounds, but having two 17 round mags in the other pocket. I don’t know ANYONE who would do that!

        • In my state, Texas, you have to conceal the gun completely, but I don’t know of any law saying that magazines not inserted in the pistol need to be concealed.

        • I’m actually the guy who did the mod to your lcp and I’m glad to hear you’re happy with the work. Just a heads up, the first picture you posted the rear sight was on backwards. We cut those serrations on the sight to allow you to use your finger to pull back on the rear sight and cock the gun.

        • You wear body armor to shoot steel plates with a .380? That’s necessary, or even close to being necessary. Maintain a 10 yard or so stand-off, use good quality plates that are flat, and you’ll be fine.

    • Side note, this guy is an Ohio resident, matter of fact, we both live in bowling green, what’s he doing buying guns in Maine?

  1. Far be it for me to tell a SEAL how to defend himself but there’s so much here that goes against everything I’ve learned about self defense. There’s also some things that don’t make sense.

    First, If you’re going to add that giant grip extender why didn’t you just go with the 9mm? Would have solved the expanding hollowpoint issue.

    Second, I would never feel comfortable relying on hand loads for self defense. Even in .380 there are several better options. Just check out shootingthebull.

    Third, all of the stuff you changed are inherent to .380s. They’re not combat handguns. Usually backups where sights don’t matter. Probably would have been better off buying a compact version of a fullsize. Then you could carry fullsize magazines that aren’t 12″ long and have a better capacity.

    I think that coloring the gun is a good point. People expect guns to be black and if coloring it gives me that extra second then I’m all for it.

    In all I think this article leaves me with more questions than it did provide me with information.

    • “I would never feel comfortable relying on hand loads for self defense. “

      This is an emotional choice, not one based on data. Handloads, well done handloads, are at least as reliable as factory produced ammo. They can be more accurate as well. My 9mm handloads have velocity spreads about 2x tighter than Speer Gold Dots, for example.

      If your worried about the oft-bandied courtroom worry of using handloads…it’s never been a problem in real cases. Ayoob claims this issue, but when pressed, he has never produced a citation to a single case where the use of hand loads was a key factor in the outcome of the case.

      It’s your choice what ammo to use. I prefer to make such decisions based on data, and there simple is no actual, real-world data that supports the use of factory loads over quality hand loads on that basis alone.

      Note: Above comments refer to quality hand loads, not necessarily thrown together amateurish “reloads.”

      • I meant this in that I don’t know how they would perform. Do you do extensive gelatin testing on your handloads? Do you have the DATA that major factories can compile on their loads with respect to performance? Not to mention, there really is only one viable option for hollowpoint bullets available to the handloader, the Hornaday XTP, which happens to work in the .380 but in all other calibers is a sub performer. It’s not like Federal sells their HST bullets for reloaders.

        • Sigh.

          Yes. All that can be tested with handloads to provide data sufficient to equal the predictability one gets from all the other “testing.”

          Be very wary of investing too much actual predictive value in any of the tests you describe.

          A good “real test” for predictive value is hunting. Handloaded ammo that performs well in a hunting context will give at least as good an indication of performance in any other real world setting as artificial tests designed solely for baseline comparison purposes.

        • Follow-up: If you really think an XTP is some sort of underperformer, you’ve never hunted with them and seen what they can do.

          They were one of the first “hyperexpanding” bullets on the market, and the differences between XTP’s and newer designs in artificial tests are less than the noise in the data.

          I’ve done some T-Testing on some of the data provided by “Youtube” ballistics gelatin tests and the result is that the “differences” quoted are “statistically insignificant.”

          Don’t think because SD Ammo A “outperforms” SD Ammo B by some amount much smaller than the standard deviations that that means it will perform better in your DGU.

        • @JR_in_NC: I applaud you for trying to apply statistical rigor. Any chance you can post your results for peer review? I would love to see them.

        • I would love to see a blog post from JR discussing his analysis. Is your argument simply that the individual tests (9mm 124 grain HST from STB for example) are not statistically significant? Or did you perform a meta-analysis from different reviewers? I’m intrigued.

        • “Is your argument simply that the individual tests (9mm 124 grain HST from STB for example) are not statistically significant?”

          The ones in my preliminary calculations were just 9mm tests from STB, and most of the pairs I’ve looked at were not different by statistically significant amounts. I think I only found one pair that differed statistically significantly (going by memory, it’s been months since I did it).

          However, I would like to extend that to other testers.

          I think the work of gel testing different loads is important for what it is, but there is far, far more emphasis put on the results than the data itself warrants.

          As a first step, I would like to see more gel testers publish std deviations and put less ‘weight’ (so to speak) on a mere average. In the absence of std deviation, the average is pretty much meaningless. The data sets (49,51) and (0,100) have the same average but are clearly VERY different data. Yeah, I can (and did/do) calculate my own standard deviations, but it would help the discussion for those that don’t choose to do it themselves to have it right there.

          STB does a good job eeking out “intuitive” information from his tests, and one hesitation I have had about “going public” with my calculations is that they could be misinterpreted as a criticism of his work.

          I could not criticize the collector of the data, as that is an obvious all-important step; any T-Testing done and shared would be to the purpose of extending his work, not criticizing it.

        • XTP is more of a hunting bullet. It’s meant to expand AND penetrate deep. In other calibers we have bullets that are designed to open up 60% larger while penetrating 12-18″ in gel. Which will arguably work better on humans.

        • All this talk of t-tests for multiple comparisons is silly. It’s not recommended to do multiple pairwise t-testing due to the increase chance of incurring a type 1 error. A Tukey-Kramer test would be more appropriate in this case. What really needs to happen is these tests need better planning from the start to collect an appropriate sample size based on variability, the desired difference to detect and the desired statistical power. STB, ping me if you want to talk. I’d be happy to give you a hand with this.

        • Sigh,

          Congrats JR_in_N you’re one of the extreme minority that does testing of their handloads and their performance. If you took the time to test, you probably take the time to handload correctly and consistently. It would be safe to say that I probably wasn’t talking about someone like you in the original post or in my response. This jackass was using a damn extension cord splitter to drive the sight out of his handgun. He spray painted it rather than have it professionally coated. You think he’s going to take the time to do testing? He bought a $200 self defense handgun, do you think he’s buying the equipment to do testing? You think he’s going to make “quality handloads?” You think this guy is loading and then hunting with that .380? I doubt all of it. For this idiot, buying factory loads is going to be his best option in consistency and performance. I think that goes for probably 99% of handloaders, of which you obviously are not.

          You’re like a professional race car driver telling everyone that they can just hop in a race car, put their lives on the line and compete. It’s irresponsible at best.

        • Chris,

          I appreciate the compliment.

          I recognize that there is a VERY broad range in the “seriousness” with which people approach handloading. But to that point, I have two comments.

          (1) I don’t like blanket statements.

          “Don’t carry handloads” is a blanket statement. One would more accurately say, “Don’t carry crap handloads.” But, then, that is redundant to the statement, “Don’t carry crap ammo.”

          (2) I don’t like the blanket statement against handloads, even the “99%” that you refer to, because that assumes they don’t want to ‘improve’ or even know that they CAN improve.

          The ‘Net, as with all areas, has impacted handloaded in both positive and negative ways. I have seen a LOT of bad loading advice on the Internet…really bad advice. I don’t want to join my voice to that chorus, but for some reason don’t believe “it can be done better” is that.

          So, if I need to make the qualification…”high quality handloads,” fine.

          Ok, I’ll add a third point:

          (3) It’s a personal peeve that too many shooters automatically think “low quality” when they hear the term “handloads.” Note, also, that I deliberately don’t use the term “reloads.” Perhaps it is archaic, but I don’t use that term when I specifically mean “hand crafted ammunition.”

          I guess I’m on my own tilting-at-windmills quest…to reverse that thinking. “Handloads” should not automatically bring to mind low quality and unreliability. Quite the opposite.

        • schmittychris to Chris … just to clear a couple of things up… since you are using words like “jackass and Idiot” let me spin those fingers around. 1st how many pro gun reloads do you think I know? Former Navy Seal on TV for shooting at my count no less than 10…. so you can guess that one of them will be making my reloads for me. Now about the extension cord that I used to knock over the re sight… it was soft and worked like a champ. So when you use those words to discribe a USNA and University of Michigan grad you might want to ask yourself am I missing something?

    • Please save yourself and family from some serious grief- NEVER USE HAND LOADED (RELOADS) for self defense, they are lawsuit looking for a happening!

      The Teams may allow this as SOP, but in the civilian world they are a tort attorney’s wet dream come true.

      Thanks for your service!

      • Any proof of this? I hear it all the time that one should never use handloads but as yet cannot find a single instance where a rightful shoot with handloads was ever a determining factor.

        • I’ve heard Massad Ayoob list examples in an interview before (I believe he cited 2 cases), but I couldn’t give you case names or really anything about them to save my life.

        • The No Reloads for Defensive Use doctrine took flight back in the ’80s when tort lawyers realized that the civil arena offered fat feeding grounds for litigation despite how a shooing incident was adjudicated. The rounds were always presented in most heinous use a la Black Talon controversy. It didn’t matter if the round exactly duplicated factory counter-parts, it was malicious forethought and worse argued. End background.

          Now for specific cases, check M. Ayoob’s writings, you state CCW Instructors, etc. If you wish to do the real research check WestLaw, Google Legal (Scholar) or Wiki various civil and defense tort terms for a start. Generally most cases endings are public record, but a number are sealed as well, i.e. a dead end.

          Good luck on your pursuit of case knowledge, and enjoy the ride!

        • Oh okay, civil court. Note that a person found innocent in criminal court cannot be sued in civil court in a number of states.

        • The following is a statement from a retired DOJ employee: I get wired when I see all these “legal opinions” on the forum that come from people with no legal background. Further, writers like Mossad Ayoob have used these scare tactics to sell books … nothing more. I researched the referenced cases in Ayoob’s book and found this: The guns and ammo used in the shootings were introduced as evidence. Neither the gun or the ammo had anything to do with the person being found guilty … it was just evidence, nothing more and is very typical for any crime involving a shooting.

          During my career with DOJ, I sat through many trials and did case reviews on literally thousands of criminal cases. Never once was the gun or ammo used ever a factor for guilt or innocence. Likewise with guns that have been modified … never an issue with criminal guilt or innocence … it’s all based on intent.

          Here’s how our legal system works: There are two systems, one for criminal cases and one for civil cases. In a self defence criminal scenario, usually the case goes before a grand jury to determine if the shooting was indeed self defense. If there is enough evidence to support criminal charges, the grand jury will turn the case over to a criminal trial court. If the shooting was determined to be self defense, the charges are dropped by the grand jury. Once a criminal case is tried in court, the jury is tasked with determining guilt or innocence based on the circumstances of the case and the evidence presented by the prosecution attorney. If guilt was proven, it makes no difference if the person used a 22 rimfire, a 44 Mag, a modified gun, reloads, a golf club, or a car … guilty is guilty. If there was not enough evidence to support a conviction, the defendant will be found innocent and released. Each state as well as the Federal court system has a set of “rules of evidence” and “elements of proof” that must be proven for each different crime before a person can be found guilty. These usually include: fear of being attacked, fear of loss of life for the defendant or another person, opportunity to resolve the issue without using deadly force, distance from the defendant to the victim, etc but no where in the rules of evidence or the elements of proof is there a provision for the type of weapon used (gun, knife, ball bat, etc), the type of ammo used, or if the weapon had been modified.

          Civil court is based on “wrong doing” and can not be a criminal charge. Most states have a “Frivolous Suit” law that says “if a person is found innocent in criminal court, they can not be tried in civil court for related issues”. Civil law suits involve paying a financial settlement … no fines or jail time. It is possible for a person to be sued for using a modified weapon if the modification was the cause of a negligent shooting. An example could be … a safety device in the gun was modified and the incident was directly related to the modification. If a gun was modified but the modification had nothing to do with the incident, then it can not be used as evidence. An example could be … the sights were changed on a pistol.

          There’s nothing wrong with using either factory ammo or reloads because neither have anything to do with “guilt or innocence” nor are either included in the rules of evidence or elements of proof. If you feel more comfortable using factory ammo … no one can fault you. This whole thing is nothing more than another Internet myth.

    • 1. It is just a light weight plastic grip extender. no add weight so the gun still rides in my pocket fine.
      2. Your point is understood … but I have a pro making the rounds …
      3. you find me a 9mm that weighs in at the same weight and I would have bought it.

      • I’m ashamed at how some of these folks have worded their post to you regarding your choice and reasoning. I for one enjoyed the information and am glad you found something that works for you.

        I have a buddy that was a team member, great guy and a stand up individual, the lack of respect shown by some of these guys is disgusting.

        Thank you for your service, stay safe.

        • Lord have mercy…..its the man’s personal choice after all. Doesn’t matter if he is a Navy Seal or a shoe clerk. If a person decides to make a howitzer out of a 25 caliber Hi Point, its HIS choice.

          NEVER down a man about his paycheck, his wife or his choice of firearm.

          To the OP: Glad you found the combination to suit your needs. That’s not always possible, but it sure is satisfying when it all comes together.

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  2. Sounds good. The only thing I have a different opinion on is the appearance/color aspect. I’d rather a BG know without a doubt what is in my hand. I prefer a chromed look, even a blued gun that is somewhat reflective is what most people recognize as “what guns look like” so even if it might not be immediate with a blued frame its more likely to at least be assumed to be a gun by the typical person’s lizard-brain. I also kind of like two-tone as it accomplishes the same thing. Just my $0.02

  3. I’m confused….never thought I would see a SEAL pick a 380 for defense. I have an LCP also but my primary carry is a Sig P938. I’m just wondering why not just go for a Kahr CM9, put night sights on it and call it a day ? The CM9 is an outstanding option if your on a budget.

    • I just bought a 938 and do not like it. The safety digs into my hand on every shot and gets uncomfortable really fast. I’ve also had some feeding problems during rapid fire and double taps. I also have a CM9, but the long trigger and long reset make it slow for accurate double taps.

    • Au contraire, retired Seal friend of mine also carries the LCP, when I asked why not bigger, he smiled and said placement, placement, placement

        • Yeah, great placement w/ a rifle, but I cant stuff it in my shorts pocket. Of course Jake lives in San Antonio Tx… Its hot there. Hiding your favorite full size is not always that easy.

          besides… Trust someone with actual background in combat shooting or anonymous internet commenters.

        • Yeah because a .380 is SOOOOO weak that a CNS shot is useless and the target stands there laughing.

          Bunch of keyboard commandos arguing caliber again.

        • When I was active duty, I stored my personal weapons in a civilian friend’s garage. Unfortunately, not everything fit in the safe, and one day he left his garage door open. Two weeks later I was giving a phone statement to a detective about how I didn’t know a murder suspect, and how I didn’t lend my Ruger .22 pistol to him. Sounded like half the mag went through the victim’s heart. Not much weaker than a .22lr that can still be called a firearm.

        • I’ve been to quite a few autopsies for folks killed with .22’s, and I’ve seen people survive multiple shots with those ‘bigger, more powerful’ rounds.

          In one of his gunfights, Jared Reston survived 3 or 4 off-armor shots from a .45..the first shot of the gunfight was a .45 slug threw his jaw.

          Not only did he survive getting shot in the face with a .45, Jared went on to kill the bad guy after hitting him seven times with his .40 running duty ammo. The last three of the 7 were contact head shots, and post mortem examination that even with that…only the last shot was fatal. That is, one out of three contact headshots from a .40 was fatal in that shooting.

          I witnessed the autopsy of a dude shot 6 (iirc) times with a .357 Sig and only the last shot stopped the gunfight. Prior to that shot, he stayed in the fight and continued pointing his own weapon at the defender.

          Internet caliber nonsense…eesh.

        • @JR in NC

          So since caliber is bullcrap, perhaps you’d like to give your opinion on whether a .22 in the .40/.45/.357sig would have done a better job? It’s not entirely about placement, but placement makes a huge difference.

        • “So since caliber is bullcrap, perhaps you’d like to give your opinion on whether a .22 in the .40/.45/.357sig would have done a better job? “

          (1) As a scientist, a comment about “what would have been” is pointless. I can only seek to draw conclusions from the data that is in hand.

          (2) Seeing what I’ve seen bullets do in both human bodies and game animals, commenting about “what would have been” is pointless. Bullets do strange things in unpredictable ways.

          What I am saying is that I’ve seen single shots from a .22 kill a person and multiple shots from “better” calibers fail to. I am neither the first to notice that nor the first to comment on it.

          This has only been hashed out and argued for 30+ years. If there was “an answer” to it all…it would be settled and the debate would not range on.

          The first rule of gunfighting: Have a Gun.

          There are FAR more important aspects to a carry firearm than the caliber. And that is largely an individual choice. Some folks what the biggest and most powerful. Good on them. But that’s not everyone’s choice and theirs are just as valid for them.

          It is my particular opinion that we need to spend more time and effort fighting the anti-gunners and helping people understand the true benefits of carrying every day and less time pissing all over each other’s carry choices and stupid caliber war arguments.

          Bring a gun to the gunfight. That’s the true take-home lesson from the study of DGU’s.

        • Your argument is that since a more powerful cartridge did not work, that a less powerful one is just as good or better? Brilliant!

        • IllinoisShooter: You think you can hit the CNS which is protected by the cranial vault on a moving target while you are moving under high stress?

          Wow, talk about keyboard commandos!! Get a clue.

        • “Your argument is that since a more powerful cartridge did not work, that a less powerful one is just as good or better? Brilliant!”

          No sir. I am not saying that.

          I’m saying the noise in the data of “working” is sufficiently high that the argument over “caliber” is pointless. I am precisely NOT saying which one is ‘better’ for that reason. The result in real world gunfights is far, far, far, far less predictable than too many POTG want to admit to themselves.

          There’s a long list of things far more important to consider in a carry firearm than caliber. If it’s high on your list of priorities…fine. I don’t care. I’m not going to tell you made the “wrong” choice or question your decision in any way.

          We have bigger fish to fry than whining and moaning over something that cannot be settled. You can argue one is “better” than the other all day long, but in the end…you cannot prove it using meaningful data. In part, that is because “better” is highly subjective…what is “better” in your mind is not “better” for another’s circumstance.

    • There are a number that carry .380s around. a couple in TX that I have met both were carrying .380s that day.

      These are guys that have actually been on the two way shooting range, not dudes sitting behind keyboards arguing .45 vs 9mm. So would they go into COMBAT with a .380? probably not. But for personal self defense in civi clothing, low risk of event…

      Tons of stuff read on the internet by keyboard commandos often give people a whole butt load of ideas about what is best. But 99% of those typing never have actually fired a shot in anger.

      I’ll be open to using a .380. Hell. I wouldnt want to be shot by one by someone who knows that shot placement is important…

      • I have an incredibly deadly understanding of effective shot placement. Now, if I could just hit my ass with both hands, I wouldn’t need a 12-guage any more.

  4. wait a minute… sirt? are you not African American? You are not allowed to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights… [/sarc]

    (p.s. THANK YOU for all you do)

  5. ….. why a .380?

    I’m no SEAL, but I carry a Ruger LCR .357 inside my waistband. It’s 5 shots of a powerful cartridge with a good trigger and decent ergonomics, especially one-handed shooting. If I wanted to go semi-auto, there’s the SIG P239. I’ve carried the Shield in 9mm and found it a hair too thick for my taste.

    …. I just don’t get why you’d choose a .380, then put money on top of that to make it something that will never be as good as a compact 9, and then throw a grip extender onto it to negate whatever size advantage it might have had.

    • .357 out of the LCR’s sub 2″ barrel is not the same as the fabled .357 magnum that comes out of 4″ and 6″ barrels. Not even close. 125 grain .357 from a 2″ barrel will have less velocity (950 fps range in loads that are pushing 1600-1700 from a 6″) than a 9mm from a 3″ barrel with good 124 grain ammo. The 9 will make 1,000-1,200 with good 124 grain ammo out of a 3″ gun.

      I load and shoot a lot of .357, and I like the caliber a lot, it just isn’t very potent out of super short guns.

    • “….. why a .380? “

      Best answer this question is “to each his/her own.”

      The “What to carry” equation has many variables with many, many variables. There is no one right answer.

      A good listen on the topic:

      http://ballisticradio.com/2013/06/30/ballistic-radio-episode-17-june-30-2013/

      Or, if you prefer to read the transcript:

      HTML: http://dsbscience.com/ballisticradio/BR20130630_ClaudeWernerPocketGuns.php

      PDF Download: http://dsbscience.com/download/BR20130630_ClaudeWernerPocketGuns.pdf

      • Jake wrote: “my #1 choice was will it fit into my pocket and not drag my pants down. I would love to have a 9 in the same weight … but they dont make it”

        ________________

        I have been researching this subject the last couple of days, and a year and a half after your post, it seems you are still right.

        You might want to check the newer Ruger, the LCP-C, a.k.a. the LCP Custom. It has better sights, stainless steel guide rod, and an improved trigger among other things, but otherwise the same size and weight.

        It seems that WEIGHT and WIDTH are the two primary size considerations, moreso than length or height, since nearly all pocket pistols are 4.5″ in height or shorter, and nearly all pocket pistols are less than 6″ long (most seem to be around 5.25″ to 5.50″).

        On the UPPER END price category, there is:

        Seecamp LWS .380 (6+1 rounds)
        Weight with empty mag: 11.45 oz – 325g
        Weight loaded: 13.65 oz – 387g
        Length: 4.25” / 108mm
        Barrel Length: ??” / ??mm
        Height: 3.25” / 82.5mm
        Width: 0.725” / 18.4mm
        MSRP: $845 ($720 online)

        It is considerably smaller (in every dimension) than the Ruger LCP (the Seecamp website has overlay comparison photos), but about 1.5 oz heavier due to metal construction. It’s expensive, and I have not found much commentary on reliability yet.

        _________________

        Kahr CW380 (6+1 rounds)
        Weight with empty mag: 11. 5 oz – 325g
        Length: 4.96” / 126.0mm
        Barrel Length: 2.58” / 65.5mm
        Height: 3.90” / 99.0mm
        Width: 0.75” / 19mm
        $419 MSRP

        The Kahr is 5mm shorter in length compared to the Ruger LCP, 2.5mm taller in height, and 3.35mm NARROWER in width, BUT the Kahr is nearly 2 ounces heavier. The Beretta Pico is the same weight and nearly same size.

        ______________________

        On the LESS EXPENSIVE end of the spectrum:

        The Ruger LCP Custom .380 (newer version of your pistol, same weight and dimensions, upgraded parts)
        6+1 rounds
        Weight with empty mag: 9.7 oz – 275g
        Length: 5.16” / 131mm
        Barrel Length: 2.75” / 70mm
        Height: 3.80” / 96.5mm
        Width: 0.82” / 20.8mm
        $220 online

        And then there is the Kel-Tec, which I initially did not consider, but it seems to have a loyal following and appears to be extremely reliable after break-in. The Kel-Tec P3AT .380 is smaller AND lighter than the Ruger LCP, and was apparently the inspiration FOR the Ruger LCP, both in shape and design.

        Kel-Tec P3AT (6+1 rounds)
        Weight with empty mag: 8.3 oz – 235g
        Length: 5.20” / 132mm
        Barrel Length: 2.70” / 69mm
        Height: 3.50” / 89mm
        Width: 0.77” / 19.5mm
        $200 to $225 online

        _____________________

        And now, the ONLY 9mm that is CLOSE to the Ruger LCP 380, happens to be a Kel-Tec:

        Kel-Tec PF9
        7+1 rounds
        Weight with empty mag: 12.7 oz – 360g
        Length: 5.85” / 148.5mm
        Barrel Length: 3.10” / 79mm
        Height: 4.30” / 109mm
        Width: 0.88” / 22.35mm
        $210 to $240 online, multiple slide/frame color combos or all same color, incl. cerakote.

        Exactly 3 oz heavier than the Luger LCP, 17.6mm longer, 12.5mm taller (but you get 7+1 rounds), and just 0.08″ (1.55mm) wider. I’m guessing just about 15.5 oz loaded with 7 rounds of 9mm, vs. approx. 12 oz loaded with 6 rounds for the Ruger LCP.

        If the Kel-Tec PF9 is reliable, the step up to 9mm with only a 1.55mm width penalty and 3.5 oz extra weight might be worth considering.

        P.S. Thank you for your service to our country!

        .

        • Correction: The Kahr CW380 is only 1.8mm narrower than the Ruger LCP, NOT 3.35mm narrower.

          .

  6. Pro mag? Seriously? Maybe for range work. Too many reliability issues. Factory mags or bust. Good choice on ball ammo though. JHPs dont move fast enough out of a .380 to be effective unless “minimum” is good enough for you. Quality flat points IMO

    Btw obviously not a real SEAL. No references to “mil spec”, “tactical”, or shilling for 5.11 in this article. /sarc

    • Yep. I’m no fan of .380, but only because I don’t like shooting any of the guns I’ve encountered that fire it.

      All that matters is that you have your choice of gun with you when it really matters. And that it goes bang when you need it to. And that you can hit what you aim it at. (Okay, that’s three things that matter; caliber still isn’t one of them.)

      • My Sig P232 is a dream to shoot. It’s just too damn big for an everyday carry when the market has much smaller ones available.

  7. If you want an unobtrusive carry gun, the LCP is just about perfect It’s so small it literally disappears into a pocket, so much so you can soon forget that you’re carrying it. The second generation LCP’s have much better triggers and more usable, if still not good, sights. But, you’re right, these little guns are never going to be fun to shoot. I found that fitting Hogue grips and using the 7 round mag with extension really helps the shooting ergonomics. I can now run my requisite 100 round practice with relative ease i.e., no pain. Then it’s on to my Sig. P238 which is fun to shoot.

  8. I think it’s fairly obvious why he left Top Shot early…..this review is ridiculous. How about just buying the RIGHT GUN FOR THE JOB??

  9. I pocket carry an LCP because its small, cheap and reliable. The size allows 24/7 carry, it is a tradeoff. The grip extenders are really nice giving back some control lost with the tiny gun. No matter how you dress it up, it is still under powered, the sights are too small and radius too short, the trigger is a mile long, blah, blah, blah. Personally, if I want better, its a lot easier to grab a 9MM compact and not screw around with custom mods to a cheap gun.

  10. I can understand why a person would go for a Ruger LCP for a pocket gun. It’s very thin, small and concealable.

    I can also understand why a person would not go for a Ruger LCP for… anything. If you don’t have SEAL level training, it’s hard to shoot accurately. It’s got the most horrendous trigger I’ve ever shot.

    Whatever… beats a sharp stick any day. But I would echo the suggestions above to peruse Shootingthebull410 youtube channel and his reviews of .380 ammo choices.

  11. I wish it came in 9mm (in the same size) and double/single action, but those are the only things that could make this gun better.
    ———————
    That exists in Double action only, I have one on my desk right now, it’s called the Ruger LC9.

    • Ruger LC9 is the same size as the Ruger LC380 – the Ruger LCP (the subject of this article) is a smaller firearm. They DO look exactly the same, but if you set ’em side-by-side, you’ll notice how much smaller the LCP is.

    • I had the same thought … go with an LC9.

      Or, go with a Bersa Thunder380. It is a bit thicker and heavier. However, the extra weight might be a good thing to mitigate recoil and enable even faster follow-up shots. More importantly, it has a decent single/double action trigger (which would also speed-up follow-up shots.) Bonus: it has sights — and you can drift the rear sight to correct for windage.

      Oh well. Maybe he just had fun.

  12. Jake, I knew SEALs had brass balls, but you’re telling me you SPRAY PAINTED a gun? What, auto paint from a body shop or something? I couldn’t do that in a hundred years. How about reporting in a few months how that is working?

    I hope you looked at an LC9/LC9s, sounds like that is what you were looking for.

    • The beauty of spray paint is that if it wears out, you just spray it again. Function over beauty.

      Many of the guys spray painted their rifles in Iraq, mostly snipers. The old fart in me was horrified that they could do such a thing to a RIFLE (This is my rifle, there are many like it . . .) and government property, but the more I thought about it, the more I wished I had some spray paint!

    • I heat treated the paint and yes I know it will come off in my pocket, but was not about to pay the 150 for the coating .. we will see .. both of those guns are huge

  13. Am I wrong in thinking that most of the people who select an LCP or other pocket .380 do so for ease of concealment? This implies they like the small footprint and light weight. The confusing thing is that I feel grip length is the primary factor in ease of concealment, not barrel length. In a pocket, the end of the grip is the most likely thing to get hung up on the draw for me, and in a holster, the end of the grip is the most likely thing to print through clothing.

    If you accept that, and choose a .380, then the extended magazine seems like it defeats some of the primary reason for the caliber choice- even from the same maker, the LC9 has a bit longer grip, and factory mag extender floorplates. Especially if someone is looking for more power than the .380 offers in factory loads.

    I do like to modify and optimize guns, and I like what he’s done with this one, but for the intended purpose it seems like a 9mm would have been a better starting platform.

  14. I agree that the sights suck, but my Ruger LCP came with a green laser and a pocket holster. In a stressful situation I can just point the dot and pull the trigger. The only mods I’ve done is a stainless guide rod, a Hogue grip, and polish the feed ramps. I think the total cost including the gun was about $310.00.

  15. Sure. I carry a pocket .380 for a back up gun.

    But I OC a Kimber 1911 as my EDC. When I’m out in the country, I carry it with the .460 Rowland conversion.

    When I was carrying CC. I could carry a Glock 30 compact .45ACP in appendix carry IWB while wearing a T-shirt and shorts and no one could tell I was carrying.

    I had two thirteen rnd. mags in my pocket.

    To each his own; but there a many options for carrying a primary defense weapon inconspicuously that has better stopping power, especially combined with good shot placement.

  16. Oh man, I laughed. Like others here, I like to customize my firearms. To me there’s nothing more fun than a project gun! But man, people choose the LCP because it’s small. I saw those 15 round mags and I just lost it, they look like they’re about a foot long! If you really need that much capacity, get a sub-compact XD, it’s barely bigger and it has 13+1. Spray-painting a gun? What are you, in high school? I hope you went to Autozone and got the high-temperature engine enamel stuff, and I hope you cured and clear-coated it! Seriously though, thanks for the laugh, this article made my day.

    • Rust-Oleum appliance epoxy or chalkboard paint each cost around 4 bucks at Wal-Mart. With good surface prep like a self-etching primer gives for a mechanical bond they work fantastic on even stainless steel. Heat up the parts a few hundred degrees before coating and let them cure for as long as you can bear it before using. Gives as good a protecting coat as you’ll find unless you are going to spend a few grand on carbonyl iron ball or ferrite paint…which also absorbs radar and destroys magnetic fields around it for that ultra stealth look.

      • Yeah. What were we thinking, posting the thoughts of a SEAL on how to mod a popular carry gun in a way that works for him?

        That’s just crazy.

        • What do his military credentials have to do with choosing and “modifying” a concealed carry gun? What part of his vast experience toting a rifle and a full size Berreta around the world should make me listen to what he says as the gospel and truth about CIVILIAN ccw?

          I have met ex military types who I wouldn’t trust to teach someone how to shoot Red Ryder bb gun, where did this myth come from that somehow if you served your country you are now an expert in all things firearms related?

          Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but tremendous respect for those who serve, even those who aren’t on the sharp end of the stick. Military is an enormous sacrifice and I am forever grateful for anyone who goes over there. That still doesn’t mean that the whole “he was in the military bro, he knows everything about firearms bro, you’re just some snot nosed keyboard warrior bro, he’s been on the two way firing range bro!” thing isn’t complete bullshit.

          Heck, I don’t even take issue with the caliber, plenty of armed robbers have been shot dead by old men in their bathrobes with their junk hanging out wielding nothing more than a “lowly” 380 or 38special. the review (or whatever it was) sucked, full stop… the fact that he was a SEAL doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) matter.

      • I enjoyed the article. I still think the .380 sucks as a cartridge, especially given the .40 Smith has literally twice the power as a .380 or more. However, I believe the author has his choice and I respect his training and experience. What works for him isn’t what I use. What I use (GLOCK 27 / G23 / G35 / Smith 340 PD) doesn’t work for everyone else. Some hate .40, some hate GLOCKs, and some hate both.

        Thankfully we (usually) have the freedom to carry what we want.

  17. The little micro .380’s actually do shoot better than one would think. I’ve often carried my P3AT. It is so light, thin, inexpensive, and small. It is a wonderful pocket gun, and pocket carry is my preferred method.

    These days, I generally prefer to pocket carry my S&W 642. It is a little bigger and thicker, but just seems so much more like a real gun. The intimidation factor is a little better with the J Frame than the P3AT. I feel more confident in the reliability (although my P3AT is generally reliable as well). I also feel more confident with .38+P than I do .380. That said, I still sometimes carry the P3AT when discreet carry is critical. I’ll also step up to IWB with the Glock 19 under certain circumstances.

    Adding that huge grip extender seems to totally undermine the conceal ability of the LCP. It seems like he might as well go with the LC9s, which is a superior firearm.

  18. Instead of that huge extension to get your whole hand on your gun, you might want to try a real gun in a real caliber.

  19. Ruger LCP, beats a hammer in a bind, but just barely. I admit , I was waiting for the punch line, even in the comments. To each his own I guess.

  20. LC9s
    http://www.ruger.com/products/lc9s/specSheets/3248.html
    About the same size as LCP just 9mm.
    I own a LCP, but would love the LC9s. Would like a sight change. But imo its a bargain price gun. I dont have cash for a ?Glock. A 200$ gun, 150$ site change, plus added stuff. Get a new great pistol. Why settle down with a bargain 200$ used an fixer up?
    Start with a LC9s! Its 9mil luger is better. An its about the same price range and size……

  21. Suggested Retail: $449.00
    . Slim, lightweight and compact for personal protection, just slightly larger (less than 1″ taller and 1″ longer) than the popular and incredibly compact LCP®. Per website I posted…

  22. I have no problem with 380. I wish I still had my TCP(which also worked flawlessly). Each to his own. Always have a gun…isn’t this the guy everyone hated on Top Shot who left early?

    • So why don’t you still have your TCP? I recently bought one to wear around my small town. I’ve only put a hundred or so pills through it, so it may to early to judge it, but I like it a lot. Really great trigger, and the slide stays open on the last round, unlike the LCP

      • Didn’t think we’d ever get CC in IllinoisGunr. And now we do…now I would go 9 or 40 in a sub compact/compact. I have a buddy who carries a TCP in his pocket(without a holster-yes he’s an idiot). It has a great trigger and the last shot hold open is a huge advantage. I have sold a bunch of guns I wish I still had-like a lot of guys…

  23. I have a 9×18 mak. I view it as a hot .380. I’ve tested a couple of hollowpoints and was just not convinced they’d do as advertised. I use fmj in it. But it’s also a range toy.

    If it ever becomes legal for me to carry I would use the mak on occasion. With fmj’s.

      • Sleak in a european sort of way. But surprisingly stout for all that. Only non steel part on it is the grips.

        Still, if I knew I was heading into a shitestorm I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it. Course, if I knew I was heading into a shitestorm I wouldn’t hesitate to run like a scalded assed ape in the other direction, either.

      • Love my [well, formerly my] Mak, got better performance out of it at a sheriff’s dept range than a lot of my gunny-er friends got out of their Kimbers and Glocks. I’m still figuring to get it back from my son someday, some way.

    • Yeah!! I carry a P-64 in 9×18, with FMJs. Glad I’m not alone out in left field. The caliber served the Russians and east European armies and police well for decades, I expect it will serve my purpose. Especially since I seem to shoot it better than 9mm.

      • You’re not alone. I love those 9×18 Commie pistols. Seems like the fixed-barrel, blowback action makes for a very accurate gun. The P-64 (with proper springs) makes a great little carry piece. I’ve got a CZ-82 that’s probably the sweetest shooting, most accurate pistol I own.

        I just picked up a P-83 this week. Haven’t shot it yet, but I’m eager to see how it compares to the rest of my 9×18 collection. It’s got a pretty good feel in the hand, and the trigger’s not too bad. For $200, I figured I couldn’t go too far wrong.

  24. http://www.ruger.com/products/lcp/specSheets/3740.html

    Browsing their website the other day I stumbled on this. Looks like they’ve tried to address a few of the grumbles people have about the gun.

    I love Ruger and their products and happily own several, I didn’t much care for the LC9 though. I felt the trigger pull was over the top, especially considering it had a (tiny) safety. Ended up selling it and getting a Glock 26. If you carry a LC9 and it works for you you’ll find no judgement or complaint from me, whatever works for you

    • The new LC9s has a *much* better trigger and better sights; I’m taking my buddy to the range to try out the one I just got in a week or two.

      • Didn’t like the LC9s, went with the LC9, removed the safety and mag disconnect, so far love the thing. I consider it a sensible move up from the LCP I’ve carried for several years. Essentially identical operation, more punch and one more BB.

  25. Hey, Jake, thanks for the article, and your truth on what you like in a carry gun.
    The Dude You’re Screwed show is a kick, too.

    PS: thanks for the validation from a couple posters on shot placement, per real operators,
    and the use of the right kind of spray paint for inexpensive gun camo that works.

    -to me, a gun is a tool, that you make work for you, not the other way around.

  26. Holy duracoat batman! Is Nutnfancy writing for TTAG now? never have I seen so many words used in describing so little about a firearm, outside of that mindless blowhard’s youtube channel, and then gratuitous mall ninja modifications and a duracoat paintjob that looks like you dumped the f%&king thing in a bucket of the stuff. All passed off as “necessary” improvements, because, uhhhhh, I was in the military bro! you wouldn’t even understand my skills! Those idiotic promags are just the icing on the cake.

    Hmmmm gee I want a pocket pistol now so that I too can walk around with a bunch of 2 ft long extended mags full of 380 ACP!

  27. A good 380 is better than one’s fist. The primary requirement for any defensive pistol, regardless of caliber, size or configuration is practice! You can’t whup what you can’t hit. Period.

  28. I was really hoping for a picture of those yard-long mags dangling out of the bottom of that chocolate-milk LCP, but I was disappointed.

    Hats off to anyone with the courage to use a ProMag magazine for daily carry, though. That’s the dictionary definition of “unbridled optimism” right there.

  29. I love my LCP.

    It’s the gun I carry the most, due to be my secondary gun or my primary for days I don’t feel like carrying something bigger. If I’m carrying, it probably somewhere on me.

    I don’t really get the .380 hate… Does it have down sides, yes, but if someone knows that and is willing deal with it, let them be.

    • I don’t view the remarks as .380 hate. It is literally an under powered 9mm. The bitching about .380s is more about people trying to make it into a proper sized weapon or claiming it is. Its not, never well be no matter how big a mag or what can of spray paint you use.

      Despite this, I still love mine. I just acknowledge its limits and console myself that carrying an under powered gun is better than a full powered gun left in a drawer or safe some place. It get supplanted by a full sized gun at night or a compact 9 if I feel the need for more firepower.

      • “carrying an under powered gun is better than a full powered gun left in a drawer ”

        Doug, that is *EXACTLY* why I bought my LCP, in a shootout I would rather have the 3″ Kimber I had been calling my carry gun while I left it at home, but the LCP is with me every minute. I am a believer in Critical Defense, but I traded it for Lehigh after watching a gelatin test. I think a BG would find a single round of that .380 extremely discouraging, never mind 7. Likewise Critical Defense, for that matter. The .380 reputation was deserved once, not so much today. Ammo has improved, gelatin testing has improved, and our access to both is wide open, make your own choice.

        BG agrees to wait until I get my .45, great. Otherwise, let’s try out a .380 rather than 68-year-old reflexes and grappling style. Or bending over to kiss my ass goodbye.

        • Larry, at 70 years old my idea of a fight is to get the damn can opener to work. I have a .380 for fast and light and a 12 gauge loaded with 00 for really determined miscreants. Seriously, while everybody else is fighting for a parking space, I take my time. Ride the outside. Paranoid? In this day and time? Duh. I wave, speak to everybody going by the house, smile and be courteous, hold doors open, civil? Yes, but mainly to let people know I am aware of them. This morning at a convenience store, guy in his 20s, maybe, is tapping his foot, rapping the counter, looks at me and says, “I expect to get some service here”, I told him the man was checking on something for me, he will be right back. I wanted his focus, I wanted him to know he was not the center of anybody’s world. The man came back, answered my questions, I thanked him and went out the door, but, I took a few seconds to admire the weather, fumble with my keys, turn and check the counter inside. I finally beeped the door on the van and climbed inside, and made sure the 20 something left. Was the kid dangerous? stupid? arrogant? wired? or all of the above? Don’t know, but I was not about to leave and not know if I left someone open.

  30. just curious, based both on your mods and .380 vs 9mm comments that you don’t buy a Ruger LC9s Pro? Comes with all the mods you mentioned. Still have to paint it. But it’s 9mm.

    I have one and love it.

      • Besides the expected caliber grumblings I think a lot of others missed the part about your plan to pocket carry the LCP. For any other type of carry I might agree with some of the suggested 9mm options. The LCP already pushes the limits of pocket carry for me personally and it has a lot to do with overall width. There isn’t a 9mm made that is as thin as an LCP and other .380 models. Sometimes it is my primary and others it is backup. Any thicker and I would go back to my old options of carrying a lesser caliber in its role or worse carrying no firearm at all.

        I don’t personally use that grip extension but I know it will fit in a lot of pockets just fine and as with all of your choices if it works for you that is all that really matters. As long as you are tinkering check out MagGuts for your 6 round mag. I have no affiliation but it will add 1 round of capacity with only internal changes to the magazine so you can keep your grip extension. Personal experience backs up the reviews about reliability which are as good as they get.

  31. So, you never heard of an S&W Shield, Jake? Because with your article, I just can’t believe you’d dump several hundred dollars into a gun you wish was 9mm if you’d heard of the Shield.

  32. To those bashing the 380; one of the “shots heard round the world” was the relatively silent “crack” of the 380 ACP as Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the streets of Sarajevo, ingniting the powder keg that was World Wars One and Two. Two shots, two kills. Sure it took them both hours to die, but the cartridge did it’s job. If John Moses Browning designed it, then it has it’s merits. Plus, James Bond! I wouldn’t go looking for trouble with the 380. But if trouble came looking for me, I think the 380 would perform well within reason.

    • I don’t say this as a .380 basher (I have a couple .380s, and love the little guys), but “Sure it took them both hours to die, but the cartridge did it’s job,” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for a self-defense cartridge. I’d take little comfort knowing that the guy who killed me eventually succumbed, hours later, to wounds I inflicted on him defending myself.

      But, sometimes a pocket .380 is the best gun for the situation, all things considered.

      • Yeah never get why people say that. In the self-defense aspect of things, it has nothing to do with a person being dead eventually as an end result. Stop them as quick as possible so the are no longer a threat. This doesn’t have anything to do with .380 in itself though. Is it my preferred cartridge? No, but it can and has stopped a threat quickly. Overall, terminal ballistics only asks a few things from a loading(not a cartridge size) to be effective. After that, most of the other things involved have nothing to do with the round, and more to do with the situation, body, and the shot itself.

        Going to add for original post: Why would you use FMJ when there are loadings for .380 found to be quite effective. And if you are going to say “what if they fail to function?” well then you have an FMJ anyway in most outcomes.

        • No kidding. The .22 LR and the .380 can certainly cause an autopsy to happen. It’s just that a hit from a 9mm, .357, .40 or .45 will cause that autopsy – or cessation of violence – to happen *faster*. Given a choice of multiple carry options, I’m not going to choose the weakest caliber available. A .22 LR is roughly 80-100 FPE out of a small pistol. A .380 is about 200 FPE. A 9mm +P or .40 puts out 350 plus FPE from a small pistol. I want to hedge my bets with a bigger caliber.

          It’s not that I hate the .380. It’s great for ultimate concealment. It’s just lousy on power. And overpriced. 9mm puts out more power for the dollar.

      • Point taken, and agreed. But keep in mind that it took Abe Lincoln hours to die from a point-blank 50 caliber headshot. It was common knowledge that in the “old west,” a man would keep fighting through a 45 caliber wound. A morbid discussion yes, but relevant.
        For the specifically referenced individuals, the “fight” was over immediately. Death was the long-term result. I guess it all comes back to shot placement and the fact that the best self-defense concealed weapon a person could have is the one that they always carry. That’s reason I like the LCP. 6+1; if that doesn’t stop em, it should slow them down in the chase or fight. I love the 45 ACP, as I love the 12 gauge. But neither are very concealable on smaller frames.
        As a side note, there was an interesting statistical analysis of calibers used in real-world shootings. The results show that the calibers are all pretty close in terms of ability to incapacitate. Even 22LR and 32 ACP have their moment to shine.

        http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power

        • You have what you have at the time that you need it. If you are in the market and we looking at an LCP and you were to select it, it is very clearly the wrong choice. Why would you make that choice when the LC9S with a similar profile if not smaller, is available.

          If you can Carry an LC9S with same ease, why would you purchase and LCP?

          I carried a s/w bodyguard .380 for some time and was looking at the Glock 42 as a replacement. When comparing and testing the two it was very easy decision to go with Lc9s!

          It handles well, much more accurate and 9mm stopping power with hollow point trumps a .380 fmj any day of the week not only for stopping power but limiting collateral damage.

        • I had an LC9 but found it to be bigger and heavier than the LCP. Plus, the tiny grip made controlling follow up shots more difficult on the LC9. Secondly, the LC9 mag release was in the way of my grip, resulting in FTF after accidental depress during double-taps. The LCP is back-pocket small; the LC9 was thicker and required a holster. As agreed by all, I’d rather have a full size 9mm or 45 ACP in a bad situation. But as a shooter and CCer, neither fit my scenario as well as the LCP.

      • It ain’t the bullet, it’s where you put it. Everybody does not have nerves of steel in a fight however. If I had a pocket howitzer I would still shoot the BG multiple times.

  33. It seems that in today’s world everyone is a navy seal. This guys spent a year looking for a weapon, he is a joke. This gun is junk and nothing more than a belly gun at best. Time for me to go get a vest and some camo, call my self a seal and shoot my pellet gun 🙂

  34. Just cause someone was a Navy SEAL doesn’t mean they have great ideas…

    It makes no sense to me to buy a pocket pistol and then complain about many of the things that makes it a pocket pistol (slim sights and mag release, short grip), as well as carry two massive backup mags (from ProMag no less!).

    At that point, you could just carry a bigger better gun.

    It also doesn’t make much sense to carry SUPER +P FMJ, whatever that is… .380 isn’t the strongest stuff on the planet but I doubt standard .380 FMJ has much trouble penetrating enough. Again… A slightly bigger gun in a better caliber would alleviate his caliber concerns.

    And camoflaging the gun the same color as your skin? That’s a new one on me… Heck I don’t mind if they see my gun in my hands, there is good reason to suspect that the sight of a gun might cause a badguy to run away without me having to shoot them.

  35. So typically military, using FMJ. JHP would perform so much better, especially in +P. Oh well. Very bad recommendation, using FMJ for self-defense. (See Massad Ayoob and others on the subject.)

  36. this article has to be a joke using a brick hammer and a electrical plug to adjust sites lol and trying to modify the gun completely and then use 15 round stick mags that stick 6 inches out the bottom of the gun . this has to be a joke no one can take this seriously

  37. to paraphrase some tough old gun figher, ” any gun will do if you’ll do” . If concealabiliti is a big factor, the LCP will be t an advantage . always having agn is a big plus.

  38. I dont think Ruger LCP is labeled for +P loads. According to the manual. I dont use them in mine but I do use SD ammo. Currently, just looked its Federal Ammunition hollows. … hmmm, ok I will look again at +P info. Just did on page 12 of mamanual. No +P Ammunition should be use. Also Ruger disclaims Any responsibility for injuries or damages arising from the use of +P Ammunition. SO strictly speaking its not to be used, an may cause damages. (A Navy Seal or ANY responsible gun owners look at the gun manual imo an understands there firearms. &keeps said manuals for future reference)NO +P is to BE USED…

    • I shot Pow’rball through my Taurus TCP with no problems at all and it functioned flawlessly. Supposed to be nearly 1200 fps too. You need to run premium defensive ammo through a tiny 380 and leave the fmj for practice and breaking in. Just make sure the premium works and do it sparingly. See Jeff Quinn( it’s a dandy pocket pistol) Gunblast review of the TCP in 2011. Or any little gun he shoots. Yeah there are a few that can’t handle +P. BTW there is NO SAMMI designation for380 +P…

    • Oh yeah Gunblast DID shoot shoot so-called +P out of the LCP. See the 2008 review-and there is NO official +P in 380…

  39. Oh I just realized, the reason he doesn’t get the LC9 is because he has trouble with firearms that have frame-mounted safeties like those mounted on the SV Infinity Sight Tracker.

  40. I added the side clip for 19.95. You remove the Allen scwaw on the ejection side by the front sight and it clips nice next to your zipper,

  41. I still can’t tell if this is a real article or if this is a way to yank our chains.

    Either way, it reminds me of a joke I heard once:

    “How can you tell that a guy is a Navy SEAL?”

    “Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.”

  42. As a SEAL I would have thought a SIG 238, 938 would have been more in line with your training! H&K has a few options! Keltec .32 .380 or 9mm are other options!
    Rugar’s are hell for tough, so is pulling the slide and trigger, almost have to be an Iron pumper to make them work well! Women in your life might find both aforementioned a tad bit on the tough side! Sight replacement could be over kill my estimation as there is a reason they are call them belly gun’s! by placing two in the chest and one in the head of an actor they will not care nor know the difference in the caliber! it Is going to look a little odd carrying those super extended magazines, especially in a hide out gun! With your level of training in CQB, kill houses etc. I would have thought Point shooting would have taken hold and sight would not have bothered you!

  43. My LCP performs flawlessly as well, it’s a great little pistol that is reasonably accurate in the hands of a competent shooter. But, there is only so much you can do about the not enough ass in the bullet problem, so the way I solved it was by upgrading to the only slightly larger but still small and lightweight Kahr CM9 with night sights which also has performed flawlessly. Quality carry ammo for the CM9 like 115gr Critical Duty, XTP, or Gold Dot cures the ample ass in the bullet problem. Until I picked up a CW45 on the cheap, for some reason I had a snobbish uninformed opinion of Kahr products even though I never owned one, but the CW45 trigger and reliability surprised me so I decided to give the CM9 a try and found it also has a decent trigger and has proven to be reliable through about 400 rounds. The Kahr CM9 is basically identical in size, weight and capacity to the Glock 42 in 380, but with all the benefits of the more powerful and economical 9mm round. If Glock comes out with a pistol the size and price of the 42 in 9mm I’ll buy one, but until then my choice for the smallest pistol I feel comfortable carrying for defensive purposes is the Kahr CM9.

  44. Your ammo choice: Dumb idea. Really, really dumb idea.

    There are a number of JHP .380 rounds on the market that meet the FBI requirement of 12-18 inches in calibrated geletin w/ or w/0 denim. They expand. They do far more damage than an FMJ and they don’t overpenetrate.

    “Super +P” loads? FMJ already overpenetrates in .380. WTF do you need it to overpenetrate more for? It’s not going to expand, and the small amount of additional speed is not going to magically turn it into a rifle bullet or increase the wound cavity. Heck, you won’t even turn it into a 9mm FMJ.

    Let’s see … additional recoil for slower follow-up – check! Decreased gun service life – check! Danger of gun failure – check! Legal liability for home-brew rounds – check! No conceivable advantage – check!

    And, if you’ve got a massive mag finger extension on the in-gun mag, and you’ve got the room for freaking 15 round spare mags, why are you carrying a little .380 anyway? You’ve at least got room for a 9mm. Then you wouldn’t have to suffer the delusion that hyping FMJ rounds is going to help you.

    TTaG editors … you allow this crap to be published under your name?

    As to the rest, sights and mag release – makes sense to me. Skin tone Cerakote – if it makes you happy, sunshine, I really don’t care. If you get into an “iffy” shooting situation and a prosecutor digs up this article and decides to hang your ass out to dry it’s not my problem. Given your high level of shooting skill, I doubt anybody would see a gun in your hand before you shot them even if it was day-glo orange with flashing LED lights on it.

  45. The easiest way to transform a pocket pistol into a compact pistol is to sell the former and buy the latter. That being said, tinkering is fun and so is trolling.

  46. No Offense, Mr. Navy SEAL…

    But it looks to me like you spent a ton of time and effort to make the wrong gun work.

    Problems with mag release, having to hold on for dear life, uncomfortable for you to shoot, you have issues with the caliber, you have chosen a tiny little runt of a gun for concealment, but have those gargantuan extended mags to lug around. And you gave it some Krylon love to make it match your skin tone… which… I dunno man.. Do you think a bad guy is going to be fooled into thinking it’s your finger you’re pointing at him like a gun? I mean, if you’re trying to get an extra millisecond drop on him before you shoot.. it’s not going to matter. The bang will tell him its a gun. It’s not a video game, either you hit him good enough, or you have to shoot him more.

    How much did you spend.. total.. trying to turn this LCP into a Glock19?

  47. I bought a Bersa Thunder .380 about 6 years ago. At the time, around $250. Only modification was to take out the magazine disconnect. It is not the smallest .380 or the biggest name brand, but it can be concealed and goes bang with monotonous regularity. Sights out of box have proven to be on the mark at 25 yards. I use, primarily, Federal 90 gr. Hydra-shok JHP. A FMJ will definitely punch holes. A JHP will punch holes and any expansion is gravy. Cap is 6 and 1, I carry two extra mags with 6 rds. each. If, on a early reload, you stick a mag with 7 in it and one left in the barrel, the Bersa will jam after first shot. Not a good thing, but not a pistol/mag/round malfunction. A matter of trying to put too much mud in too small of sack.

  48. schmittychris to Chris … just to clear a couple of things up… since you are using words like “jackass and Idiot” let me spin those fingers around. 1st how many pro gun reloads do you think I know? Former Navy Seal on TV for shooting at my count no less than 10…. so you can guess that one of them will be making my reloads for me. Now about the extension cord that I used to knock over the re sight… it was soft and worked like a champ. So when you use those words to discribe a USNA and University of Michigan grad you might want to ask yourself am I missing something?

  49. I call BS on the SEAL story. That armor was a joke and the pistol has crappy sights, stupid recoil and parts that wear out too soon. Glad I sold my LC9. No SEAL would recommend such junk. Moreover, Ruger can do better.

    Go buy a Sig P238 if you want a serious tiny gun. And buy some armor that protects your sides and gut too.

  50. Good article and gives me some ideas….but why not go for the LC9? 9mm pluses, and in my case matches the 9’s I use in my SIG226 so I do not have to be so careful what is going in which gun. I am getting used to the DAO, (versus the sweet feel of the 226 trigger pull). LC9 fits well in my pocket, even when in a suit there is no printing. Desantis makes a great pocket holster. Ruger has come out with a new version of the LC9. happy hunting guys!

    • Size plan and simple .. the LCP9 just was that little much to big… I was tough I liked the P290 but it was very heavy… thats about it the NEW LCP comes with full sights .. hummm

  51. Jake, I really enjoyed your article. I fully believe each to his own. Can’t believe those that put you down for your choice. I have a Glock 32 compact, S&W M&P 9C, Ruger LC9 and a Ruger LCP. Love all four of them, but the LCP is the only one I carry ALL the time due to size. The LC9 is small but enough bigger than the LCP that I can’t pocket carry. The other two are even bigger. Concealment is a problem in the summer time with all except the LCP. I now have a magazine with MagGuts and an extension which gives me 9 Rds in my LCP and two extra mags with extensions. They all work fine. One extra magazine give me 16 rds available and two gives me 23 rds. As soon as they are available again, I will get the MagGuts for my two spares and have a capability of 17 or 25 rds available. I’m sure some are going to jump all over me, but, as I said, “each to his own.” It works for me, much better than no firearm.

  52. Jake,
    I found your choice interesting and thought provoking especially since it differs from common internet theory. How can real-world experience and reasoning trump countless late night hours of computer research? That may be why it is garnering so much resistance from those who have “completed the internet” and graduated to “internet operator” status. Please continue writing, sharing your opinions and maintaining a thick skin.
    Sincerely,
    Just Another Internet Commando

  53. I’m not going to insult your skills since you’re alive and you’re a SEAL team operator. However, I question the logic behind buying a crap gun and then spending more than the price you paid for it to customize it when you could have just gotten a better gun. And as someone who has probably shot more than once person, I don’t understand your choice of caliber either. It’s not like they don’t make small single stack 9mm handguns, or load hot 9mm rounds, if size/weight/power was the issue. Anyways thanks for your service.

    CPL R. Desikan, USMC

    • If you read the review I answered everyone of those questions 1st size was the number one factor and they dont make a 9mm in the same size or smaller. The cost was not the issue … if they make what I wanted size wise i would have paid 1000 but they dont … the LCP with full sights just came out or I would have bought it and saved the 150 on full sights. Yes the .380 sucks but it is better than .22 … what i really want is an .17 HMR in a compact pistol

  54. Man I’m surprised at how much bashing is going on in this post. While I remembered Jake’s less than stellar attitude from time to time on top shot (and admittedly chuckled a bit at those 15 round backup mags) I feel like most of the people on here are just totally rude and negative. Yes, we all know that 9mm is ballistically better than .380 (which is why I currently carry a 9mm shield) but it seems like everyone is forgetting that concealability and stopping a potential threat are the two biggest factors in concealed carry. It doesn’t matter if the .380 round won’t instakill the bad guy like the almighty 45, if you pull a wimpy little .380 and pop a couple rounds into a bad guy and he runs away screaming then mission accomplished (and you don’t have to live with the memory of taking a human life every night as you fall asleep).

    TLDR; while I think some of the add ons are a little overkill, if it works it ain’t stupid. Quit putting people down on the Internet to bolster your self esteem and do something positive with your time and energy…

  55. Thanks for the details, Especially getting me to reconsider which ammo to use. I have had an LCP for three years and love it because I can actually carry it in my back pocket everyday. Occasionally in the winter, I carry one of my larger “better” guns with a waistband holster, but most of the time I can only carry back pocket(desantis superfly holster rocks). I get in and out of my car all day and live in a warmer climate. I like this gun so much that I just bought the new LCP Custom with no laser. it has better sites and improved trigger pull. I’m giving my older lcp with lasermax to my fiance for her carry piece. never had a misfire in 3 years, other than bad ammo.

  56. Nice writeup-thanks

    I bought a LCP 2 months ago
    and just-today-got a CUSTOM- ruger factory ($279) version
    I like the gun
    It is the smallest gun that shoots a “significant” caliber.
    10 ounces with the laser- 293 grams 363 loaded with laser-tiny
    The whole point is it is small light so it will actually be carried
    Guessing OP might not always carry the 15 rd-just have them in glove compartment or in drawer-just in case that is the gun closest at hand(investigating something outside at night-sure it it is ‘NOTHING” but still want to be armed.

    Any gun beats NO GUN- and any 380 beats ANY KNIFE OR CLUB

    Thanks for the writeup
    One big aside-I noticed the ruger custom LCP is easier to work the slide
    Feels like the “notches” on the slide are sharper-giving a much better grip
    Yeah surprised me-didn’t expect the polished slide to be much easyer to grip

  57. I wish I found this review 6 months earlier, Jake. I tried several pistols in various calibers (including .380), but had issues with reliability, size, or both with all of them; The LCP was going to be my next stop, because it has such a strong reputation in the micro category. I was even mulling over the innovate Arms upgrade you mentioned. I’m a cop who doesn’t like to carry off-duty, so size/weight are my primary considerations. Thanks for your time!

    • Best part now is that the LCP comes with full sights!!!!! magazine release my need a little work.
      Glad I could be of some help

  58. Jake,

    I like what you’ve done to your LCP and it seems like you definitely know your stuff. I have the LCP Custom and have a couple questions for you if you don’t mind:

    1) have you noticed a difference in the efficiency you can draw your gun once you put the new sights on it? yours seem to be comparable to the custom’s sights and I’ve just worried about that with getting the right holster.
    2) is there a certain brand paint you used? I would like to do the same thing (though it takes away from it looking like the actual “LCP Custom”) but i don’t want it to be ‘sticky’. do you have any followups with how you like/dislike your paint job?

    Thanks for your time, and service. Our country needs more men like you.

    • 1) no I pocket care so there is nothing that has caused problems. I practiced drawing it from my pocket for 2 weeks 30 minutes a day.

      2 ). Krylon paint… Make sure you prep the gun with a pre paint cleaner. Then I let it fully dry by leaving it in the Texas sun for a couple of days … The paint is in great shape.

  59. I’m no Seal. I’m an office worker.
    I carry the LCP in a Bulldog leather pocket holster most every day.
    My only mods:
    (1) Painted the front sight a neon red. (Mine’s the “Gen 2” slightly taller post)
    (2) Talon grip tape. Keeps small gun from squirming in a fat paw.
    (3) Ruger plus-2 mags (pretty sure MecGar makes ’em, as they say “Italy” on ’em.) Much nicer hand hold.
    (4) Polished feed ramp.
    At short yardages, this gun can be out of the pocket and pepper the center of a 9″ paper plate or sheet of 8.5 x 11 paper quite quickly. At 20 yards, doubles on a torso-sized steel plate are easy.
    The trigger is NOT the most horrendous I’ve ever shot on a wee gun. In fact, the Bodyguard .380 is nastier.
    It’s what it is: an easy to carry true pocket pistol. It runs, it shoots.
    When wearing heavier clothes, I upgrade to a Shield, also with OEM plus 2 mags.
    No magic guns, no magic bullets. Just range time with a gun that works for you, IMO.

    My carry ammo at moment is HydraShok or Hornady XTP, both of which tested toward the top for the Ammo Quest guy, who seems to use decent protocols. Just ordered some of the Lehigh.

  60. To the armchair commando haters without even an ounce of any real world experience. Show some fucking respect. Someone with some real world experience is sharing something that is tried and proven for him. Respect that shit, doesnt mean you have to implement it yourself since you seem to know so much more legally and have been in so many shooting to know how bullets actualy work against real flesh.

    To the OP very interest, always have enjoyed the outside the box thinking. There is a reason that these pistols have become so popular. They are accurate, reliable, inexpensive, and do the job well while being to be easily concealed. I tend to pick out what I carry as I dress and train with each system. I do carry some 380 reloads for self defensh ans I like the lehigh defense offerings.

    In the end the best gun is one you will carry with you all the time, comfortabke with, and competant. Though I or fer to set up mine differently as in my training I will not use this pistol for shots out further than 15 and find the sights adequate. I do not find the trigger so, I also like the compactability of the viridian light for them and they do make for a compact solution that can be carried easily. Much more so than my compacts and ful sized guns. What I have seen is that you get the biggest jump in size from the midsize g19 m&p9c to this size. More so than the shield or g43. If you can work with the caliber and with modern ammo and reloading yes I can. Also the G42 isnt comparable in size and has its own quirks thiugh a better trigger and sights the slide is inderently more difficult to operate for those who are not as strong in the grip. Plus the advantages of clip caryr and poscket carry with a double can be a great plus to many.

    In the end it doesnt matter what the firearm is or the cailber. Holes be holes. Some stop quicker than others just means you may have to train better. Get what works fo you, what you will carry every single day and are comfortable with. Even though I choose to modify depending on the “mission” there are flaws with this as I get kess training time with one system repetatively. i do mitigate this by seasonal carry and training with the carry during that time reintrating my muscle memory. Keep it up I quite enjoyed the article and thise are skme serious magazine there bro serious.

  61. I picked up a new LCP at a local gun show yesterday for $215, yes $215 NIB!!!!!!!. I also picked up a box of 95gr FMJ and a box of Federal Hydra Shok 90gr personal defense rounds. Now, for my reasoning; I’ve been carrying concealed for the 15 years since I retired from the Army, and spent my youth, (and many a weekend during my career) at the range honing my skills. Now, I live in SW Florida where it’s hot and steamy 10 months out of the year, and normally carry either a Glock 26 or Para compact .45 in Galco ITP holsters. This necessitates that I wear a t-shirt tucked in with a loose fitting shirt un-tucked to cover my pistol, so on “dressier” occasions my weapon is usually left in the car. Now I have a pocket pistol to carry, (after I decide on a pocket holster and get to the range, that is). I have an old Colt Mustang .380, and an even older PPK in the safe, and that’s where they’ll stay, for a variety of reasons, chiefly weight. I expect I’ll even have my LCP in my pocket for backup when I’m carrying my Glock or Para, and might even pick up an ankle holster for the few days a year where long pants are necessary down here!
    Now, for all the haters out there;
    When I was a young PFC back in the day I had a drill sergeant tell me “A SEAL is just another squid, albeit a slightly more competent squid”. ITRW I trained and worked with SEALS more than once, and found them to be highly dedicated and competent to a man, along with the former operators I kmow today. Anyone who has made it through BUDS or SFAS has accomplished and endured more than most of you can imagine. Personally, I wouldn’t have been as patient and gracious as Jake has been during this thread. As has been said here before, better a .380 in your hand than a 9mm or .45 in the car, and don’t bring a knife to a gunfight

  62. You’re a SEAL and I’m a fat guy in Indiana who never did shit so I’m not going to say you’re wrong but I super duper don’t get it.

  63. I love these haters, a potent 380 round is basically a 9×18 makarov which plenty of countries used for many many years in the military and police just plain old ball ammo too. This article is great, couch potatos pretending to be navy seals in public with their stiff belts and kydex holsters with flashlights and multitools trying to conceal, dressing daily around trying to hide that stuff on their belt uncomfortable AF and the real seal just throws a tiny 380 loose in his front pocket and spare mags in his sock. hahaha

  64. This post has gotten a bit stale but hopefully you’ll still respond. Longtime LCP owner and for the same reason you and others have stated: it’s small enough that I can carry it full time. My question to you, the author, is would or does the Ruger factory plus 1 mag provide enough grip to replace you modded extension? It solved my grip problems but I have somewhat stubby fingers. Thanks for the article.

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