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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.

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

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.

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!


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      • 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

        • The huge mags would be ok in a center console.

          .380+P is so close in power level to 9x19mm standard pressure as to be indistinguishable.

      • 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.

    • Not just about the pistol either, what’s with the concealable level 2 armor over the sweat shirt…

        • 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?

    • He used to be a cook for the SEAL’s – that’s why he has no clue about guns

  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?

      • I carry my own handloads because my own personal data and testing tells me they always go bang.

    • 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.

        • In the 243 years that we have been a republic, none of the hundreds of federal districts, state boroughs, counties or parishes have spawned thousands of juries, and not even one of them has ever found a criminal defendant innocent. Guilty or not guilty. Not guilty is not tantamount to innocent by a long shot, and I am not aware of any state that forecloses a civil lawsuit following a criminal acquittal. As OJ. And the notion that hand-loading subjects you the risk of tort liability because of an allegation that your are more culpable for using hand-loads is pure BS.

    • 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.

      • I have an LCP with that grip extender. My hands are large enough that first time out with it I was less than cautious and wound up with a good slide bite so I knew I had to modify the gun. Did not even consider getting the thing milled for real sights. It is a surprisingly good shooting gun, I can hit the orange cap on a sports drink bottle laying on it’s side which made me a believer. 99% of the time I owb carry some form of Steyr product, these days it’s their S40-A1 turned into .357 sig with a barrel from Ranger Point. (You know, a real Mainer doesn’t give a shit if he’s printing.) But I totally get the concept of having something like the LCP just riding around in a pocket while out at some function with the wife. Chowing down on a lobster roll you’ll hardly know it’s even there.

      • The only one close is the Diamondback arms DB9, a gun of dubious quality. Which is a shame- because it is truly tiny.

    • Hello dearest,

      I know that this letter may be a very big surprise to you, but please consider it a divine wish and accept it with a deep sense of humility. I am giving you my trust and wish you will give me back the trust i have given you. I believe that you will be Honest to fulfil my final wish before I will die.

      I am Dion Joelle Lea Originally from Montmorillon in western France. I am currently undergoing medical treatment here Cote d’Ivoire. I am 63 years old; I am suffering from a long time Cancer of the breast. From all indication my condition is really deteriorating, and my Doctors have courageously advised me that I may not live beyond next month; this is because the cancer stage has reached a critical stage. I was brought up in orphanage home working in Cote D’Ivoire married to my late husband for twenty years without a child. My husband and I are true Christians, but quite unfortunately, he died in a fatal motor accident.

      Since his death I decided not to re-marry, my late husband deposited the sum of $6. 650, 000.00 US Dollars with a bank. Presently, this Money is still in bank custody and the management just wrote me as the legitimate Depositor to inform me of the maturity date of my deposit or rather issue declaration of fund claim authorisation to somebody to receive it on my behalf since I can not come over as a Result of my illness, or they get it confiscated.

      It is my last wish to see that this money is been invested into a very good LUCRATIVE VENTURE of your choice that will be giving out proceeds to be distributed each year Among the charity organization, the poor and the  orphanage Homes and widows around. I must let you know that this was a very hard decision, but I had to take a bold step towards this issue because I have no further option.

      Get back to me through my private email address([email protected]) for more details.

      I hope you will help me see that my last wishes come true.

      Mrs. Dion Joelle

      • Your are such a liar and I wish I knew your location. It is people like you that are disgusting human beings and don’t deserve to be on this earth

  2. There are multiple expanding hollowpoint .380s that work. You might wanna do some more research…

  3. 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

  4. 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.

    • Because a CM9 weighs a quarter pound more empty than a fully loaded LCP, and an LCP is 25% thinner, would be my guess.

      The two guns are not comparable.

  5. 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)

  6. ….. 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:

      Or, if you prefer to read the transcript:


      PDF Download:

      • 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!


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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??

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.