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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!