The Ruger LC380 for this review was provided by The Kentucky Gun Company.
I’ve never had much use for small-framed handguns. I like large frames that shoot things with a minimum case length of 19mm. James Bond and his PPK weren’t favorites of mine. I much preferred Detective John McClane and his full-sized Beretta 92. No one seems to care much what I like, though, because despite my feelings about smallbore pistols in small packages, they get more popular with each passing day. Even Mother Teresa once said, “Be faithful in small things, because it is in them your strength lies.” So is there strength to be found in Ruger’s LC380? I honestly didn’t think so when I started this little adventure, but it turns out the little .380 had some surprises in store for me …
Much like its older brother, the wildly popular LC9, the LC380 is a looker. Nary a squared corner can be found on this gun and its sleek swooping lines exude a sexiness that make Kel Tecs hide in shame. Rollmarks on the slide aren’t garish or distracting and everything just blends together into a package that may be the best-looking pistol out there. Until you load it, that is, because that’s when that lovely billboard of a stainless steel loaded chamber indicator pops up and ruins it like taking brass knuckles to Gisele’s face. Ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but I really don’t understand a need for this feature.
Ergonomically, the Ruger fits comfortably in my medium-sized hands. While it felt on the small side, I wouldn’t characterize it as uncomfortably small. Initial annoyance with a dangling digit was easily remedied with the supplied pinky rest that replaces the standard magazine floor plate. The LC380 is well balanced and points quite naturally. All in all, the overall external design of the gun is spot on. So why did they go ruin it by slapping that tiny-ass safety on there?
You can straight up fugheddabout being able to hit that thing reliably in a stressful situation. It’s the size of a Tic Tac and about as slick as one that’s already been in your mouth. I could keep listing interesting analogies to describe it, but the Tic Tac thing and the way RF described it in his LC9 review, you probably have a good idea about TTAG’s views on Ruger’s inclusion of this feature.
The trigger on this gun is actually very smooth, but the trigger pull is as long as James May is slow. Throw in a phantom reset point before the actual reset — that’s right folks there’s two audible and tactile “reset” points — and you’re just better off treating this trigger like it’s attached to a Ruger LCR. It’s my one gripe about the actual function of this gun.
When I first took it to the range, I would try to ride the reset like I do on my EDC, but found myself trying to pull again after the first reset. Unfortunately, this led to much swearing, both from me and my coworkers who shot the gun. The shooting world is obviously aware of this issue, since kits already exist to rid the LC9 and LC380 of this affliction.
Eventually though, I found that when I stopped trying to find the reset, the gun and I started clicking quite well. The pic above shows the results of a full magazine at slow fire. At 7 yards, this frame size coupled with the low recoil of the .380 ACP round equals great accuracy. Rapid fire opened up the groups a little, of course, but an experienced shooter would have to try to not keep all the rounds well within center of mass.
Take down is straightforward. A small switch on the frame is pushed down and then the takedown pin is pushed out using the small tool Ruger provides (or anything else you have handy that will get the job done). After that, simply field strip as you would any full-sized pistol.
Reliability-wise, the LC380 is phenomenal. It has chewed through 300 rounds of Blazer like Adam Richman through a 5-pound stromboli. It had no problems with 100 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense either. Ammo aside, the pistol’s been in the dirt on the range, has never been cleaned and been fired by a variety of gun noobs. To date, it hasn’t malfunctioned once.
So, while I may not be a huge proponent of small guns or anything below 9×19 for self defense, I can now see the allure of this little guy. The LC380 conceals easily, recoils lightly (thanks in part to the dual recoil spring system), and shoots well. It’s reliable as all get-out and, quite honestly, fun to shoot. For those more recoil sensitive or who don’t like the snapiness that a small 9mm exhibits, it’s the perfect gun.
On another level, I found the LC380 is wonderful for training new shooters. During the weekly CWP courses I teach, it was a great carry pistol to help people gain confidence in their shooting without thinking they were being babied by shooting a .22lr while keeping them from being overwhelmed by larger calibers.
Bottom line: No matter what the reason, if you’re in the market for a .380 in a larger frame size than your typical mouse gun, look no further than the LC380.
Action: Double-action only
Slide Material: Through-Hardened Alloy Steel
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Length: 3.12″
Grip Frame: Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Slide Finish: Black Oxide
Barrel Finish: Black Oxide
Sights: Dovetailed, high-visibility three-dot sight system with drift adjustable rear sight and fixed front sight
Weight: 17.2 oz.
Overall Length: 6″
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Safety Features: internal lock, manual safety, magazine disconnect and patented loaded chamber indicator
Available in CA: Yes
Available in MA: No
Ratings (out of five stars):
All ratings are relative to other similar guns, and the final score IS NOT calculated from the constituent scores.
Accuracy: * * * *
This gun isn’t hampered much by its short sight radius and diminutive size.
Ergonomics (Handling): * * * *
Fits very well in the hand, but the pinky extension is a must for total comfort.
Ergonomics (Firing): * *
Once you figure out the trigger, it works well, but the really long pull and phantom reset will lead to frustration at first.
Reliability: * * * * *
Never cleaned and still going strong after 400+ rounds.
Customize This: * * * * *
Holsters, grip extensions, trigger upgrades and lasers. What more could you ask for?
Overall: * * * *
It’s a very good that’s only held back from greatness by a couple of flaws.