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There is one pistol that’s always with me, and that is my Ruger LCP. While some may snort derisively at my choice to carry a weapon with such diminutive proportions and limited capacity, one that fires a marginal cartridge, I say, “Snort away, you guys.” I know many consider a micro .380 to be a backup piece, or maybe a decent second choice if circumstances preclude strapping on a bigger gat, but I use this Lilliputian pistol as my primary carry gun every day . . .

Without venturing too deeply into platitude-land, the gun you have on you beats the gun you left at home, or something along those lines. The LCP never gets left at home. Unlike my G26, I never have to worry about dressing around the LCP.

The little Ruger rides in my front pocket, snugged up in a pocket holster. Carried this way, the gun goes beyond being concealed to veritably invisible. Shorts, long pants, t-shirt, hoodie – as long as I’m wearing some form of pants, I’m armed with no one else being any the wiser. While Washington is technically an open carry state, Seattle, where I make my humble home, isn’t exactly a gun-friendly town. I’m all too happy to avoid the “OMG, IS THAT A GUN?!” conversation with every person I encounter.

Of course, as with all things, this choice of carry gun comes with a series of compromises. Some drawbacks, like the limited capacity and less-than-stellar caliber, must simply be lived with, but others can be addressed through training. For instance, the trigger sucks, but between range sessions and dry-fire practice, I have learned to work with it. Ditto the sights. The draw from the pocket isn’t the fastest, but again, through practice, my draw has become fast enough.

Drawing from the pocket while seated is virtually impossible, but standing up or slouching to a sufficient degree can fix this. These maneuvers aren’t possible in a car, of course, so to that end, I’ll either transfer the LCP to my center console, or keep my G26 in a holster clipped to the door panel of my vehicle.

The LCP may not be the gun for you, but it’s definitely the gun for me. Ease of carry and concealment are my highest priorities in selecting a carry gun. Sure, a weapon with a larger capacity/caliber would undoubtedly be preferable in the event of a firefight, but for me, the odds of being involved in a drawn out gunfight simply don’t stack up against the odds of me choosing to leave a larger pistol at home. With my little pocket warmer, I will always have at least something. And something is better than nothing.

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to [email protected] with WICAW in the subject line.)

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  1. I too find the LCP just the right size and have carried it faithfully for sometime now. This summer I purchased an LC9s Pro and found it also works well in my pocket. It’s not that much bigger, but much better to shoot and the trigger is smooth as butter.

    • I sometimes carry my similar sized P3AT. The little .380s are easy to slip into a pocket, and are a lot better than nothing. That said, I usually prefer to carry a snub nosed .38 (642) instead. It also slips in the pocket, and is ALMOST as small as the .380.

  2. My buddy’s wife carries a purple-gripped LCP…sometimes. It’s a great gun for concealment, and definitely beats a bigger gun left at home in a safe. I’m not a huge .380 fan due to the fact that the caliber is picky about bullet design. It’s easy to have a home defense round that expands and underpenetrates or fails to expand and over penetrates.

    Thankfully STB has done some good tests, and I’m less hesitant to carry a .380. The only reason I don’t own a .380 currently is because I don’t need one and other guns (perhaps a 229 Legion) are higher on my priority list.

  3. Agreed. My S&W .380 BodyGuard in a Sticky pocket holster goes everywhere, usually as the primary. Never have to worry about printing or how I’m dressed. With the long trigger pull it’s carried chambered with the safety off … ready to go.

    Made the decision years ago better to carry a sub-caliber all the time, than to worry about how to dress with a real caliber which inevitably lead to the weapon being left home more than it should have been.

    I practice drawing and applying quick head shots on the move (drifting to the left is there’s room), towards the target. I’ll play the odds that a practiced accurate head shot, while moving, with a .380 will stop the threat quicker than larger calibers applied to center mass.

    • Ditto, I carry my .380 S&W Bodyguard pretty much everywhere. In the home office I have a .45 Sig P250 just above my head over my desk, in the house I have the Smith .357 and ol’ reliable Remington 870 at reach all the time (as my wife has her own Ruger .357 an LCR .38), and in the woods I’m pleased with the companionship of the Ruger .44 Alaskan (plus whatever hunting weapon I may need for the task at hand). But when I’m out and about I feel pretty secure with the Bodyguard, packed with beefed up Buffalo Bore rounds, I find I can get it out pretty quickly and put the rounds where I need them to go.

  4. Can’t send a photo , but I carry a PMR 30 as my primary so I have no problem with your choice . I wouldn’t hesitate to have a gun fight with anyone carrying any caliber other than another PMR 30 by someone else who has trained like me . While you’re still squeezing your heavy trigger on your big caliber heavy framed piece I will have already unloaded 5 rounds of 22 WMR into your face . This will leave me 25 more rounds for your friends .
    It is inevitable that 40 caliber and larger CC folks will scoff at this as always but I personally bet my life I am justified in my choice , just everyone bets their life on their choices .
    I used to carry 9mm and have even carried both my 45 caliber Glock and my 40 caliber Ruger at some points in my life , but I prefer volume over weight so my Ruger SR 9c and PMR 30 rule the day in my waist and with about 300 foot pounds of energy at defensive distances and 30 rounds of it inside my grip in about 19 ounces of weight , I’ll do just fine with my little Kel-Tec 22 magnum .
    I have not had one instance where I have pulled it out and pulled the trigger and it didn’t go bang .
    At 25 feet , I can unholster and send 5 shoots into a silver dollar in about 6 seconds .
    Works for me .

    • A .22 caliber, 40 grain lead pill to the central nervous system of an attacker beats a .45 caliber, 230 grain lead pill whizzing by an attacker every day … assuming that the .22 caliber, 40 grain lead pill has enough velocity to penetrate adequately to and disrupt the central nervous system.

      Placing 5 shots of .22 caliber, 40 grain lead bullets into a target over the course of about 2 seconds is about the same as placing one carefully aimed shot with a 20 gauge shotgun shooting #4 buckshot. I would NOT want to be in front of either one.

    • Carry mine (LCP) every day.

      Funny, I’ve considered carrying my PMR 30 too. Even fits my current G17 holsters. Interesting.

    • It is hard to imagine that there are any loads for .22wmr that will generate 300ftlbs from a 4.3″ barrel.

        • That is about like a .22lr from a rifle -not bad but certainly no 300 foot pounds. Some people fail to understand that 22 mag in a pistol is NOTHING like 22 mag from a rifle. Just like .357 from a snubby is nothing like .357 from a carbne.

        • I tried it in QL and if one was willing generate more than double safe maximum pressure with something like 5.4gr of True Blue behind a 35gr projectile they might get 300ft lbs, once.

        • “Just like .357 from a snubby is nothing like .357 from a carbne.”

          No, but it IS still .357 Mag.

          What you don’t get done with bullet terminal performance, you finish with the fireball.

        • 4.5 inch bbl. and depends GREATLY on what ammo you use . A lot has been done with this little bullet in the last five years . About 1000 fps and 285 FPE at 20 feet with Hornady CD ammo . Do a little more in depth research , some of the test are a little biased by big caliber guys . Make sure you compare all variables . We don’t want to load up with FMJ now but do your home work and use only the best if your going this route .

      • Got to ask, 160 vs 300 pound feet what does the extra 140 do, assuming similar penetration and expansion?

        • Since the velocity is higher one or both of the penetration and expansion are likely greater. The permanent wound cavity is also likely larger.

    • It might also be a little more polite to write the comment in such a way that you don’t make it sound like you are going to be shooting at the readers.

      • Indeed. And I would hesitate to have a gunfight with anyone armed with a pistol. If I’m expecting trouble and have extra seconds to do so, I’ll release the dogs and grab an AR or shotgun. If there’s a mini gun or an AC-130 available I’ll go with that. If I’m on duty I’m gonna call all my friends.

      • Sorry !
        I went back and read my comment and you are quite correct . Sounded pretty rough .
        Also 185 foot pounds at 1000 FPS is much more accurate , double sorry , I think I was having a bad day .

    • Nothing to do with carrying, but this is exactly the same reason why a .22 rifle is one of my go-to tools for home defense. Low-powered, sure. But I and my wife and kids can put those nasty little 40-grain pills (I prefer CCI Velocitors) into any target we want at a high rate of fire. Five shots into a 3-inch zone in about 1.5 seconds…if you manage to shrug that off, there’s ten more where the first five came from.

    • “While you’re still squeezing your heavy trigger on your big caliber heavy framed piece I will have already unloaded 5 rounds of 22 WMR into your face .”

      Dismissing the bravado for what it is, I’m still curious about a technical point: have you ever pulled the trigger on a SA, full framed pistol of a ‘big caliber?’ I’m guessing from this comment that you think all big-gun triggers are like Glocks or something. They are not.

      My CZ clone and the Browning Hi Power I have shot, for example, don’t have much trigger at all SA and I’ve unloaded 15 rounds of 9mm pretty darn fast…and on target, too (at least 20 years ago when I was shooting a lot more than I do now).

      Be careful of big claims…I’ve seen some folks do some mighty impressive things with 9’s, 40’s and 45’s. I’ve shot IDPA, for example, with a dude that shoots a .45 1911 that I’d bet good money would make you eat those words. He wins a LOT of matches.

      • JR
        So what kind of 22 WMR do you have? What length barrel? I suppose you may have noticed that I carry a lithe NAA Magnum in my pocket 24/7 for a back up, never know it’s there.

        • Sorry, but I don’t understand the point of your comment.

          I’m not arguing .22 Mag vs other calibers. I actually carry an SR22 in .22 LR sometimes.

          I’m railing against the OP’s apparent belief that all big guns have long, heavy triggers…or something. SAO or the SA trigger on SA/DA pistols are short and relatively light. Yeah, there’s recoil to manage you don’t have with .22’s, but with practice, follow-up shots with SA pistols can be lightning.

          Another example from my own observational experience: Back in the 90’s in Colorado, I saw an IPSC shooter practicing. Multiple shots on multiple targets – and all 9 ring or tighter – in a couple of seconds. That’s a full mag, by the way. It was un-freaking-believable how fast and how accurate that dude could shoot. They weren’t 3 yd targets, either. I think he was practicing 15-20 yds if memory serves.

          So, yeah, probably a race gun tuned for that kind of thing, but still. The notion that a ‘big caliber’ automatically = long, heavy, SLOW trigger pull is what I was arguing against as it is false on its face.

          Carry on; your carry choice gets no beef from me. I’m in the “Just Carry” camp and hope each is proficient with his choice…no matter what it is. Just please don’t rag on MY EDC choice (a SA/DA pistol with no decocker carried Condition 1) on the basis of some bs about the trigger being too heavy…or something.

      • I’ll take your point JR and all your points .
        I have squeezed the triggers of dozens of pistols over 40 caliber and in fact own a couple dozen and I shoot most of them regularly . I have some factory triggers that purr right out of the box and I am fairly efficient with some of my bigger guns and would comfortably defend myself with some . I know their are plenty of folk that can operate these big guns quite well and would make very formable adversaries , I don’t consider myself naïve , so I was talking , albeit , in unappropriated language , in generalities and wanted to simply defend the authors choice of a small caliber pistol with my own choice and reasoning’s . I will make one last comment on the subject of triggers for your approval . This based on 43 years of experience in handling firearms and 25 years of carrying and shooting every caliber of gun on the market . If you have never experienced pulling the trigger of a PMR 30 , you don’t know what a light trigger is and the speed and accuracy of this weapon , combined with it’s weight on a full size frame and finished off with 30 rounds inside the grip of what I believe is a very formable bullet , has reluctantly made a believer out of me . I still carry my 9’s on occasion and I even have one 45 piece I’m quite fond of that I’ll slip inside my waist from time to time , so I don’t feel I’m limiting myself , just have developed a real fondness for the performance of this Kel-Tec piece , so much so , I’ve now acquired three of them and last year got me a CMR 30 for funsies and bug out .
        I do appreciate your comments and would just implore you to shoot one of these if you get a chance .
        I apologize for the bravado , shouldn’t have gone there .
        God bless .

    • At 5 yards on in I dump a 7 round magazine of 45 ACP in the 10 ring in about 3 seconds. I have been timed.

      • I’m right there with you, almost. I have a pretty solid 8 round mag dump into the 9 ring at 7 yards within 3 seconds. The 10 ring at those speeds is inconsistent, at best, for me.

  5. “…For instance, the trigger sucks, but between range sessions and dry-fire practice, I have learned to work with it. Ditto the sights. …”

    Same for me. Not fun to shoot but if you practice with it, you can get pretty good. My trigger actually got better with break-in as well at the kick seemed like it got more manageable. Still not fun to shoot but much better “experience” knowing you can hit what you’re aiming for. Oh, and it seems to run any ammo I practice with. Happy about that.

    For work I always wear a shirt tucked into dress slacks. I work with clients on a daily basis in their locations. Don’t want to have that conversation about “hey I don’t want any guns in here”. So the less chance of printing etc, means I’m more likely to carry all the time. During the winter a sweater vest helps me carry IWB with a larger caliber but the LCP is with me any other time.

    • Swap for an LCP Custom. It has a much better (red) trigger. If you put a Hogue grip on it it takes a lot of the bite out of it. The 7 round magazine gives you more to hang on to without making it harder to carry.

      • My 2nd gen. LCP has a trigger that’s an improvement over the original LCP’s and is decent enough to allow accurate shooting. I’ve shot it enough to have learned a “double staged” trigger pull that allows me to compensate for the longish trigger pull and still have good accuracy. I also have the Hogue grips which do a great job of reducing felt recoil. These little guns are always going to be snappy but, in my opinion, that’s an acceptable trade-off in order to have an utterly reliable weapon that’s so easily concealable. No, the LCP even with these mods still can’t be described as “fun” to shoot. It just isn’t. And after 50-100 rounds you’re ready to quit. But that is not its purpose.

  6. This reminds me of the saying, “In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” Having a firearm is MUCH better than having no firearm.

    Sure, micro pistols in .380 ACP cannot produce the terminal ballistics of full size pistols in larger calibers. Micro pistols nevertheless get fairly high marks in the psychological “stopping power” category. Unless your attacker is enraged or higher than a kite, a micro pistol will usually work just fine to stop their attack. Remember, all you have to do is produce a firearm to stop something like 90% of attacks.

    In the absolute worst case where you shoot your attacker, your micro pistol fails to incapacitate him/her, and your attacker incapacitates/kills you, the attacker will have to go to the hospital for wound treatment and police will subsequently capture them. While your micro pistol will not have saved YOU in that scenario, it will have at least saved everyone else from your violent attacker’s future escapades.

    • Any Trauma surgeon knows it’s easier to find and fix a 200 grain slug and it’s path through tissue and bone than to find and fix a 40 grain magic bullet that has bounced around bone and made multiple erratic paths through any number of organs . You can get shot in the leg with a 22 and that little bugger may end up in your heart . It’s usually the bleeders that kill you , you simply bleed to death .
      Just ask the surgeons who worked on Reagan , Brady and the SS agent that Hinkley shot . That was a 22 snub Saturday night special . Bounced off the limo , went in under a rib , bounced around some more inside him and I think ended up in his lung . Ouch .

    • Exactly the reason why I carry a mousegun (only mine is even smaller, it’s a P-32).

      99% of the time, it’s going to sit in the holster all day, anyway.

      If not, then 90% of that time, it’s having a gun that counts, not what caliber etc it is.

      If not, then it’s still capable of killing, or at least slowing down and/or confusing the attacker enough to give me a chance to run away.

      And it’s under 10oz loaded, and fits into any pocket like it’s not even there. No worries about accidentally exposing it etc, or printing (plenty of good pocket holsters that print indistinguishable from a wallet). Which means that it’s always there.

      I only wish Lehigh did their XP ammo in .32 ACP, it would have been a perfect match.

    • If I ever had to actually shoot, regardless of the gun, my preferred result would be for the attacker to decide I’m no fun and run away, in which case I just forgot it happened, by the time I get clear/home. Assuming the perp survives, next time he may think twice, and I have no lawyer fees, wasted time, etc. Just like so many people do when no shot has been fired.

  7. I’ve been trying to figure out the legality of mounting a gun on my drivers door, like you mention, but I can’t find anything that really confirms its okay. I live in Florida and the law basically says if you have a concealed carry permit then you can keep a gun “in a place that can be accessed quickly” in your car, but then they reference the center console or glove box.

  8. I wanted the size but I chose a Taurus TCP because of the lower price, last shot hold-open and according to the “experts”, it is more comfortable to shoot. I don’t feel comfortable with pocket carry but my little IWB holster makes it so comfortable you can forget you have it and it is easy to retrieve.

    • Same here. I have a Taurus TCP, and used to carry it, but now when I go to town, I carry a light weight Ruger LCR

  9. Ruger lcp custom fixes all the problems with the trigger and sights. I didn’t want one because like everyone else stated, it isn’t fun to shoot. Well the lcp custom is fun to shoot. Trigger is awesome! 299 well worth it.

  10. Just bought a used LCP with the FDE color frame. It’s the Gen 2 model, which addresses the non-existent sights and too-long trigger on the Gen 1’s.

    Haven’t shot it yet, but now I have my choice of Ruger sub-compacts in my “arsenal” (LCR, LCP, LC9).

  11. Agree with all points. I have a big paw so I have the LC9. CA bans the 380 unless your a LEO…no one talks about armament inequality.

  12. “The trigger sucks”
    See if you can find someone with a TCP that will let you shoot it.
    The trigger is much better and the gun has very good reviews.

    • Bad experiences with Taurus, I wouldn’t trust one.

      But, multiple Ruger products have never let me down.

    • My TCP was terrible, FTFs and and would often throw brass at my forehead! Kind of distracting to shoot accurately when 1/3 the time you get hit in the forehead with brass! Now carrying a Sig P238 that I love!

      • My TCP had problems with the first couple of boxes so I called Taurus and they sent me a label to send it to them. When I got it back, it worked perfectly and I have had no issues of any kind in the last 500-600 rounds. Also, you need to know how to shoot the little bitty guns because they have to be held very firmly. I would buy another.

  13. Funny how those of us that carry the LCP are almost apologetic in our defense of carrying it. Gotta say, the author does a pretty good job of arguing for it. I’ve tried to carry a number of different firearms, in a number of different ways. The LCP is just a simple, lightweight, reliable defensive weapon that can go everywhere I go. I’d love to carry a full-size 45acp 1911, I just haven’t found a comfortable way to do it. Until then, its an LCP in .380.

    • This is mine also. Back pocket carry. Nobody has ever noticed that I have two wallets. I love my LCP because is is easy to carry. Yes, it is a bugger to practice with. Stings like you wouldn’t believe. I carry a second mag and both mags are alternatively loaded solid nose and hollow point. 15 rounds should handle most anything. I can point shoot it out to 15 yards. I don’t care about the minimal sights.

  14. I’ve had a TCP so a little 380 is fine. You can carry almost anywhere. Train for headshots…

  15. I carried a Beretta 22 for many years. Then a P238 380.
    Never felt undergunned or worried.
    I carry a 45 now because I can. No other reason.
    All 3 guns went bang when the trigger was pulled.
    Little bullets may take more time to inflict terminal damage but more people are killed with a 22 then any other round.
    Must be something right about a 22lr.

  16. My stainless slide LCP is the gun I carry the most.

    It’s either in my pocket, as a primary, or on my ankle, as a back up.

  17. My wife (only about 100 pounds) says one of the things she likes best about her everyday carry LCP is that she enjoys shooting it much more than do her 200 pound man friends with sissy hands.

    Of course her next-favorite gun is my 44 Redhawk.

  18. The only thing the Ruger LCP has over the Kahr P380 is that its cheaper.

    I carried the Ruger for 3 years. I made the decision to sell it before I had emptied the first magazine of a friend’s Kahr P380.

    The Kahr is similarly sized, with similar weight, but is MUCH MUCH MUCH more pleasant to shoot.

    A perfect demonstration of this can be seen in the fact that it took me over 2 years to burn through the initial 500 rounds of practice ammo I bought for it. With the Kahr, I burned through my first 500 rounds in less than 6 months.

    Recoil is much less, the LCP is a snappy little bugger, the trigger is nicer, and its much easier to shoot accurately with speed.


    p.s. I’ve since purchased a Glock 42 with the intent of it replacing the Kahr. What I’ve found is that the Glock is a bit too big to be an “always” gun. So the Kahr stays with me. I’ve found that I shoot the G42 so well, its caused another question in my mind. Since the only guns I shoot better than the tiny Glock are the Glock 34 and my Les Baer 1911, I wonder if I’m not better served by it than the new 9mm G43.

    Sure the G43 is more powerful. But my speed and shot placement are so good with the 42, I’m afraid to change anything. I’ve shot a G43 and the jury is out on whether the accuracy with speed is worth accepting an inferior round.

    At some point I’m going to put together a course of fire with a timer and try to quantify the differences.

    • One other thing regarding ammo consumption.

      The LCP took 2 years to burn through 500 rounds
      The P380 took 6 months.
      The G42 is so much fun to shoot that I’m now reloading .380. Something I thought I’d never do.

  19. I went to my small shooting club’s quarterly shooting competition and forgot to pack my 92FS. So I soldiered on with my LCP. Shockingly I came in second place. All the targets were at 25 yards.

    It wasn’t a fancy competition and maybe this says more about the other shooters than it says about my shooting, but it’s still impressive for such a tiny gun. I was quite surprised.

  20. I had a TCP, but sold it off after having multiple critical failures requiring a gunsmith to resolve. I would never trust one with my life.

    I’ve considered an LCP for a backup gun, but haven’t gone through with it yet. The way I naturally dress typically adequately covers up a single stack in a bigger caliber, so I generally just carry my Shield.

  21. The Sweet Pea III Trigger by Galloway Precision fixes most of the issues with the trigger. It is much, much lighter, smoother and shorter. For only $50, it is a no-brainer.

    Impact Guns also sells a +1 magazine extension for only $13, which works perfectly.

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