When choosing a carry gun for self-defense, my advice is simple: pack the largest gun you can comfortably carry. If you’re a doctor wearing scrubs, that may be an ankle-carried mouse gun. Which is ideal for someone wearing not-a-whole-lot, a concealed carrier worried about printing, or a shooter looking for a deep concealment back-up gun. Enter the Ruger LCP II.
For their .380 mouse gun version 2.0, Ruger widened the featherweight glass-filled nylon frame by 1/8″. But the LCP’s still a really small gun: just 5.17 inches long and 3.71 inches tall.
As you can kinda tell from the picture above (courtesy m4carbine.net), the LCP II is smaller than its direct competitor, the GLOCK 42, in every dimension (height, width and length). Here’s the LCP II compared to a full-sized 9mm FN 509.
And here’s Jon Wayne Taylor gazing adoringly at the Ruger LCP II, obscured by his massive mitt.
The LCP II is small but perfectly formed. Ruger’s judicious use of stippling, cut lines, indentations and text make the II a far more interesting and aesthetically balanced ballistic bauble that its exceedingly bland, top-heavy predecessor.
The LCP II’s five forward-facing rear slide serrations (the last one’s obscured by the gun’s rounded end) are particularly well-judged and surprisingly useful for manipulating the diminutive slide. The enlarged, squared-off, glove-friendly trigger guard is another sign that Ruger gets the form-follows-function equation.
Ruger claims the LCP II “provides a secure and comfortable grip.” The LCP mag’s finger grip extension floorplate — previously an aftermarket item — helps realize the promise. (Just remember to remove your second finger from the frame to eject the mag.) While the grip’s texture is about as aggressive as a sleeping schnauzer, the Keira Knightly-slim LCP II fits the hand well enough that the 600-grit sandpaper stippling isn’t an issue.
Neither is lock-back. Ye Olde LCP wouldn’t lock back on an empty mag — a time and confidence-robbing deficit should a shooter need to refuel during a defensive gun use. The II does. Ruger also increased the size and prominence of the slide stop, making a one-handed slide release much more of a thing (provided you’re right handed).
The LCP II’s trigger is the big news here. Ruger says the [enclosed] hammer-fired trigger offers “single action feel.” They’re not wrong. There’s zero grit leading up to the LCP II trigger’s break point, which lies straight behind a solid wall. Where the LCP’s gas pedal differs from a 1911’s: the LCP II’s plastic pyramid trigger over-travel stop and pull weight.
The LCP’s trigger requires some 5.25 lbs. of pressure to make it go bang. I reckon that’s as it should be; adrenalin-crazed newbies are highly likely to rest their finger on the II’s trigger in extremis. And given the gun’s size, a snag-free frame-mounted safety would have been just about impossible to engage and disengage. Whether Ruger should have ditched the loaded chamber indicator is a different question.
The LCP II swaps out the older model’s channel sights for dehorned raised post-and-notch sights. While there’s plenty of room on both sides of the front post (thank you, Ruger), both the front and rear sights are solid black (damn you, Ruger). It’s impossible to get a proper sight picture against a dark background. Why not three-dots? Why not three-dot night sights? Why indeed . . .
It’s a shame. The Ruger LCP II is a ridiculously accurate .380 handgun. Thanks to its hand-friendly ergonomics, lower-recoil .380 caliber and controllable trigger, the palm-sized pistol delivers a minute-of-bad-guy (i.e. center mass) group at five to ten yards. With so little muzzle flip, you can aim your first shot, pull the trigger as fast as you can, and have a reasonable expectation that all your rounds will hit your target.
Slow things down, work that most excellent trigger, and even a lousy shooter who needs all the training he can get (like me) can shoot 1″ to 2″ groups at seven yards. Beyond that, to a point, center mass is still doable.
The LCP II ate everything I fed it without complaint, well over 500 rounds. Shooting comfort was perfectly acceptable. Both Remington’s 95gr. UMC range ammo and Hornady’s 90gr. Critical Defense cartridges delivered nothing more than a mild rebuke, rather than the stinging slap meted out by most micro-9mm’s.
Disassembling the baby Ruger doesn’t require a trigger press. But you will need a teeny tiny little screwdriver to prise out the takedown pin, which will go airborne.
As for the perennial “problem” of .380 stopping power, keep in mind that the .380 cartridge is 70 percent as powerful as a standard-pressure .38 Special from the same barrel. And .380 pills carry 9mm diameter bullets.
Would I prefer to defend life and limb with a full-house 9mm or a soul-destroying .45? Of course. Would a bad guy prefer to be shot with a .380? Not as much as not being shot at all.
Specifications: Ruger LCP II Pistol
Caliber: .380 (not suitable for +P ammo)
Grip Frame: Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Overall Length: 5.17 inches
Height: 3.71 inches
Weight (unloaded): 10.6 oz.
Slide Material: Alloy Steel
Slide Finish: Blued
Slide Width: 0.75 inches
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Finish: Blued
Barrel Length: 2.75 inches
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Suggested Retail: $349.00 (found online for $299)
Not legal in CA or MA
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics: * * * * *
It’s small but perfectly formed. The addition of the finger rest at the bottom of the mag — previously an aftermarket item — is most welcome.
Ergonomics Carry: * * * * *
Nothing could be easier to conceal.
Reliability: * * * * *
Fired 500 rounds of Remington UMC, a box of Hornady Critical Defense and a smattering of other brands. No issues.
Customizable: * * * *
There’s a good selection of aftermarket goodies — holsters, spare mags and such — from the original LCP. But previous gen mags won’t activate last round hold-open and seven-round LCP mags aren’t compatible with the LCP II.
Style: * * * * *
Ruger’s transformed a bland design into a ballistic bauble.
Accuracy * * * *
Thanks to the revised trigger, the LCP II’s absurdly accurate for its size, and more than adequately accurate for a pocket pistol.
Overall * * * *
A truly remarkable .380 caliber pistol for deep concealment: handsome, reliable and accurate. Denied five-star perfection only by the lack of a second mag and its all-black sights, which mandate point-shooting at a dark color or at night.