Gun Review: Ruger LCP

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Rugers LCP is a very popular pistol of the type. Among its fans it’s known as the “Elsie Pea”. Which is a pretty good moniker 🙂 Ruger released this little pistol three years ago and sales are still going strong in spite of a downturn in sales of some .380’s. When first released the price was right at $300. Prices now average in the $260 range, which is a bargain for this quality pocket pistol. With the price of .380 ammo also decreasing it’s a good time to buy.

The LCP is made of a reinforced nylon frame with an alloy steel slide. Weight is right at 7.5 ounces for the standard version without the built in Crimson Trace laser. Magazine capacity is 6+1 round chambered. The sights are very small but surprisingly functional even at 12 yards. Take down is simple via a pin in the middle of the frame just above the rear of the trigger guard.

Caliber .380 ACP
Capacity 6+1
Finish Blued
Grip Black, Glass-filled Nylon
Barrel 2.75″
Weight 9.4 oz
Length 5.16″
Width 0.82″
Height 3.60″

The LCP has a manual slide lock unlike its nearest competitor the Kel-Tec. The recoil spring differs as well with a dual spring setup which mitigates recoil. The springs ride on a full length guiderod. Double action trigger pull is 5.2 pounds as measured with my gauge. Length of trigger pull is .49 inches, which is a shorter trigger pull than most pocket pistols I’ve tested. The trigger is also very smooth. I’m sure this contributes to the good accuracy the LCP displays on the range.

The grip length is on the short side unless you use a magazine with the extended base plate. I could only get two fingers on the grip using the standard magazine with three using the extended base pad. Even using the extended base plate concealment in a front or back pocket is no problem.

The Crimson Trace version adds some bulk to the LCP. I also have a bit of trouble with the way the trigger guard on this model attaches to the front of the grip. It uses a rather large screw or rivet to hold the base of the Crimson Trace attachment. As you can see in the picture below this attachment point takes up half the grip and feels a bit cockeyed when pointing towards the target. It wants to point low a bit to far. I guess a shooter would adapt to it with time.

The hammer is recessed into the rear of the slide preventing any snagging on clothing as you draw from a pocket carry. The ejection port is also generously opened for reliable ejection of spent rounds. One feature I like is the large beefy extractor. If anyone ever breaks one I’d be very surprised! I also like the magazine release. Most releases are small but this one is plenty large to operate easily without changing your grip unless you have very small hands.

There are many holsters for the LCP that vary from inexpensive models such as the De Santis Nemesis to the handmade holsters of the Meco Company in Texas. One example of a Meco offering is the “Armigator” front pocket holster pictured below.

The Meco Armigator $85.00

Range Time

I took the LCP to the range with a variety of ammunition from inexpensive Winchester white box to Cor-Bon DPX and Remington ball. The Winchester ball is a 95 grain with Remington ball at 90 grains. The Cor-Bon DPX uses an 80 grain bullet.

The Winchester and Remington loads clocked in at 824 to 850 respectively. The Cor-Bon DPX load came in at 1149 FPS. The DPX is a smoking round and the recoil shows it even with a lighter bullet. It’s not unpleasant but you know it has some power behind it. Of course you want all the power you can get when using a .380 for defense.

I set my targets at 7 and 12 yards. My first group was slow fire from 7 yards. I fired a few mags just to get used to the feel and trigger pull. I started my slow fire with the Remington ball ammo. I fired six round groups, which grouped an average of 1.27 inches. The Winchester ammo opened the groups up a bit that didn’t surprise me since every caliber of the cheap Winchester ammo has been less accurate than most other brands. Why do I keep using it? I buy my own ammo for these tests so call me cheap☺ In any event the Winchester opened the groups to 1.6 inches.

Moving on to the Cor-Bon DPX I was rewarded with the best group, which measured 1 inch, which is pretty much one hole. These are great results for such a small pistol.

I stayed at the 7 yard line and fired the next set of groups (six sets of six rounds at all ranges) shooting as fast as possible. I used the Remington ammunition only for this part of the test. I was able to keep all of my rounds within the head of the target with average groups of 5 inches. I didn’t use the sights for the rapid fire test rather looking over the top of the slide.

Moving back to the 12 yard line I started with slow fire as before. I used the Remington ammo first and achieved average groups of 2.6 inches. Again, the Cor-Bon DPX was the most accurate with slow fire groups of 2.1 inches. As I said the Cor-Bon has more snap however in slow fire it wasn’t a factor.

My next groups were rapid fire using the sights this time and taking long enough to get a flash sight picture. My point of aim was the center of the targets head. Again all rounds were within the targets head with an average group size of 3.8 inches.

I was honestly surprised at these rather small groups coming from such a small pistol with a barrel less than three inches long. Taking into account the small sights it’s all the more impressive at 12 yards.

During the entire shooting session there were no malfunctions of any type. I did expect some with the very wide hollowpoint of the Cor-Bon DPX ammo but it didn’t happen.


I can think of a couple of .380 semi auto’s I like. Among these are the S&W Bodyguard I own. The Kel-Tec that is often compared to the Ruger. Still the Ruger came in with the best groups and just felt good in the hand. It was also the most natural pointer of the group.

This was the standard configuration pistol without the Crimson Trace laser. I have fired a friends laser equipped Ruger. As I mentioned earlier it did have that aggravating tendency to shoot low.

I tend to think of a .380 as backup pistol but in summer when a lot of folks wear shorts and t-shirts a pocket pistol you’ll actually carry is better than a .45 left at home.

The Ruger LCP is well made with bevel treatment on any potentially sharp corners, good accuracy and excellent reliability. I can recommend this pistol to any shooter looking for a backup or summer carry pocket pistol. This pocket pistol would fit my needs very well.

I always encourage a potential buyer to go to a range that rents guns and try it out before you buy it. That goes for any gun under consideration. All things considered I believe most shooters will be pleased with the LCP!

Happy Shooting!

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


  • Lance

    Nice CCW or pure gun.

    • Phil White


      Very simple and straightforward to use. That’s especially good for new shooters.

  • michael

    These small guns are really only helpful for “up close and personal” work. I’m not sure why a laser would be particularly helpful. But in this case it appears to be done fairly well.

    • Phil White


      Probably true but it’s the current trend it seems.

  • Sian

    I guess you could call the trigger smooth, but to me the travel is excessive and the break is mushy. It’s an unpleasant gun to shoot, but you could probably say that of all the polymer frame pocket 380s, so that’s not really a point against it.

    All said I would probably rely on one, provided it’s in a pocket holster, belt smartphone style case or little IWB tuck. I’ve heard several horror stories about pocket trash causing malfunctions.

    Definitely try one before making a decision.

    • Phil White


      That’s one thing potential buyers should always do if they have a range that rents them. You have a good point on the pocket trash. Lint can get into the works which does require more frequent cleaning especially if you don’t use a holster of some type. I don’t recall which pistol it was but I have heard of a person drawing a small pistol from the pocket and it was locked up with a dime stuck in the mechanism at the rear of the gun.

      • Al Bergette

        This reviewer is spot on. Buy at your own risk without trying one out first.

        Today I just shot a friends Ruger LCP and I was shocked at how poorly an experience it was.

        Granted it’s only $300, the thing is downright abusive on the trigger finger in so far as the front of your forefinger gets smacked against the inside of the trigger guard & it hurts so much you can hardly get 3 shots off and its’ squirly recoil and really long trigger pull and trigger release with no pressure sensation before firing, sighting up was impossible.

        Albiet at twice the cost, it made me really appreciate my P238.

        Your experience may vary but try before you buy!!

        I expected better as it looks beautiful.

  • justin

    It looks nice, but I’d rather have the 9mm Keltek In almost the same size. A 9mm is much more of a serious round in a fight.

    • Phil White


      Ruger makes the LC9 which is very close to that model Kel Tec as well.

  • m4shooter

    Please no more handgun accuracy claims. This sort of data belongs in a gun magazine where paid advertisers always get glowing reviews, but the simple fact is that a non-supported human shooter will NEVER be as accurate as the inherent accuracy of a particular handgun. That’s why handgun manufacturers don’t issue MOA claims.

    3.8″ group RAPID FIRE at 12 yards?! Most competition shooters would be happy with that size group rapid fire from their full size competition gun — that’s A Zone. That’s just silly.

    • Phil White


      I was pretty surprised as well. That’s with a sight picture even though a flash sight type. I usually take photos of the groups. I had my camera but when I got out to the range I didn’t put the SD card back in the camera:-( I don’t like to post accuracy claims unless I have photos to go with it. The only other pocket pistol I’ve had that type of groups from is the Walther PPS in 9MM. Your correct that almost all guns(99.9%) will shoot beyond the ability of the shooter.
      I can promise you if it shoots 8 inch groups I’ll tell ya!

  • tnpatriot

    Laserlyte is making a side mount laser for the LCP that is mostly getting good reviews. There are also some cons to it but overall it seems to be a better option than the Crimson Trace.

  • Matt

    “The Kel-Tec that is often compared to the Ruger.”

    That’s cute, the LCP is most often compared to the Kel-tec P3AT because it is almost a direct copy of it. I had a lot more respect for Ruger when they were designing their own guns. I won’t ever buy a Little Copy Pistol.

    • Phil White


      The only difference with the Ruger is the manual slide lock, takedown procedure and the type of steel used in the slide.

    • KM

      The only difference is that the LCP goes bang when you pull the trigger. P3at is a POS google “P3at” “hammer spring”. No pistol should have it’s mainspring break after a couple hundred rounds or any number of rounds for that matter. And p3at owners are “ok” with this. Not me, I’m selling mine as soon as I can find someone willing to buy it. Otherwise it’s good for practicing cleared jams, that is unless the new crappy trigger spring part breaks

  • I tried this gun and i found it really unpleasant to ..!

    • Phil White


      Huh—was it the recoil or just the feel of the grip—just curious what peoples experiences are.

  • A. Butler

    If you had actually used the gun you are trying to review you would know that the “rather large screw or rivet” on the front of the grip is the activation switch and the sight is held on by two allen screws that are locate in front of the trigger guard. This leads one to the inescapable belief that you are making up this stuff from what you’ve read online. Good try though.
    For future reviews I would suggest an actual hands on use of the gun you are reviewing. Or advise readers that you post reviews of actual reviewers’ reviews.

    • Phil White

      I only tested the standard version. If I had tested/ reviewed the laser equipped model I would have spent time talking about adjusting the laser, brightness in daylight, groups I got shooting it etc. I handled and shot a friends laser equipped gun as I mentioned in passing. I shot about 25 rounds from it. This was just to get an idea of it’s feel and that’s all. Certainly not enough to do anything but mention I found the grip uncomfortable. I posted a picture of the laser equipped model to indicate what I mentioned on the grip feel as well as another option a buyer has between the two pistols. This is what I said in the conclusion section of the review. “This was the standard configuration pistol without the Crimson Trace laser”
      I’m not sure what they use to attach the plastic that surrounds the button since I didn’t review it. Of course the button is located there, that’s the only place it can be reasonably mounted for use. They could have made the switch/button smaller or the plastic piece it’s mounted in thinner so it doesn’t point low as I mentioned earlier.
      I receive all the test guns from the manufacturer or a local shop if they have a used one they don’t mind loaning out. I spend to much time securing test guns without playing with some other review as you imply.
      I’m sure you just overlooked the sentence above that says I only tested the standard version.

  • J.Hensley

    I purchased my LCP with Crimson in March of this year and have shot multiple rounds through it at the local range and haven’t had a single malfunction. I found that carrying mine in the waste band rather than in the pocket is easier to conceal and isn’t in the way when you reach for keys or change. The gun is small and so lite you can’t tell you are carrying it and if you add the Pierce grip extension it is much easier to hold but keep in mind it is still a .380 pocket cannon and will rattle the bones in your hand. I own a wide range of Ruger pistols one being the SR9c which is compact and very easy to shoot but I still prefer to carry the LCP everywhere I go as a carry conceal and a P95 as a primary.

    • Phil White


      Are you using a holster for IWB? As small as it is and only 7 ounces I wonder if you have any problem with it being loose after you sit in a car or something along those lines. I imagine the extension helps with carrying IWB. Either way that’s a good carry combo:-)

  • A. Butler

    Sorry, I took the part where you said “It uses a rather large screw or rivet to hold the base of the Crimson Trace attachment.” to mean that it used a rather large screw or rivet to hold the base of the Crimson Trace attachment. My mistake.

    • Phil White


      Not a big deal– I didn’t go through his to see if they pinned it from inside the magwell or what. I took the owners statement instead of looking it over myself. Like I said I shot maybe 24 or 25 rounds through it for feel and that was about it.

  • J.Hensley

    Phil, I use a Uncle Mikes size 10 left handed holster and reverse it for my right side being that I’m right handed, it will clip on whatever I’m wearing. I’m a fat man and hate a belt so I tried several holsters before settling with the Uncle Mikes. The biggest problem is sweat causing some occasional rust on the slide but it cleans up with oil.

    • Phil White


      There ya go. That type of holster will keep it secure. I’ve been using a product called Slip 2000 EWL that has done a good job for me keeping rust away on handguns and rifles. With the very humid summer we’ve had it’s worked well with no rust even on my daily carry 1911.

  • abprosper

    I’d rather have one in .32 as it would be less report, less recoil, and probably one more round but I am weird that way.

    • Jacob B

      The thing with .32 ammo is that this is a gun that you would want to use for self-defense, not to go out on the range and plink. 380’s pack alot more punch than a .32, and since its doubtful you’ll be getting into a full-blown firefight against dozens of combatants, I don’t think that extra round is going to make much difference.

      Just saying:P

  • Bryan S

    Terrible for new shooters, but a good “I cant fit anything else with how I am dressed” gun for experienced shooters.

    They pack a wallop and arent pleasant enough to shoot through a box of 50 for those of us with hand problems (who can find their way through 100 rounds of 357 magnum through Kframe).

    • Phil White


      I hate to hear you have hand troubles. Carpal tunnel or arthritis can take all the fun out of shooting.

  • Ryan

    Speaking of hand trouble. My wife has problems racking the slide on my Ruger P89. Her hands are just to delicate. Did you notice how heavy the slide spring was?

    • Phil White


      Was the P89 used when you bought it? I’m wondering if someone changed out the factory spring for an extra power variety? One thing she can do to make racking the slide easier is grasp the slide with the left hand and use the right hand to grasp the grip then push forward holding the slide in place or pushing to the rear with the left hand. You get more power pushing than pulling. At the least you spread the effort between both hands. Just insure the left arm doesn’t get in front of the muzzle and finger off the trigger when pushing forward.

  • fw226

    Slip 2000 EWL? Any advice for using that? My issue was actually the added night sights on my Glock26 rusting, which have proved harder to rust-proof than I expected, especially as a backup hooked to my vest.

    • Phil White


      You would use it as normal for the areas that show wear, barrel and working parts. For the first use you can cover the surface of the gun–let it sit overnight then wipe off the excess. It penetrates the steel for extended protection. It’s completely non-toxic. It’s proven to work well for the military. They even use it on artillery pieces!

  • fw226

    And this post is just so I can click the ‘notify me by email’ button.

  • Ken

    Re: The fable of a dime tying up a gun, I heard this related to the S&W Model 38 or 49 Bodyguard .38, older model. It is pure nonsense. I own one of these and a dime cannot fit into the slot (e.g., humpback) where the hammer is. I’ve also carried this old gun (circa 1962) in a variety of ways for years and other than getting dirty nothing has prevented it from shooting when I went to the range. I tried this w/the LCP when I got it and a dime, nor almost anything else, will fit in the area of the hammer.

    As a retired LEO I take care of my guns and inspect/wipe them down often. Most who are serious about self defense will or should do the same.

    I pass this along not to embarass anyone, but to help squash any rumors of pocket change or lint causing a gun to malfunction.


    • Phil White


      Thanks for the information. I’ve never owned one of the humpbacks so this is helpful. After 30 years as a LEO I couldn’t agree more with diligent gun care.

      • Ken

        Phil: Glad to help. One thing I forgot to add was that nothing, absolutely NOTHING, should be carried in the same pocket as the gun (as a LEO you no doubt already know this). I don’t often carry this way as it eliminates a pocket I need for my every day junk. Cold weather helps as it adds jacket pockets to swallow up both the gun and my everyday junk.

        LEO 1968 – 1997

        • Phil White


          I agree Ken there should never be anything in that pocket but your gun!

  • 0341/0331

    Bought mine in March. I have fired about 700+ plus thru it. Fired it right out of the box did well. Very accurate! Have shot a few types of ammo. Russian tula didn’t run well. Win Rem Pmc Speer did great. 100 grain bullets did well. Just my 2 cents.

  • Old Cop

    As an FYI when I practice w/my LCP I use a pair of mechanics gloves (Target $25) to save my hands.

  • Clair

    I was just on the Cabela’s web site looking at the Corbon DPX for my LCP. In reading the reviews there were 5 or 6 that said the Corbon would not fire in their LCP’s. Have you did any testing lately? I wonder whats going on with this round. Some even said they just used round nose bullets because of this problem.

  • john cook

    I just purchased one and love it. I was curious about the Corbon ammunition. Isn’t that Plus P? The owner’s manual states that you shouldn’t shoot plus P in it.

    • Phil White


      Cor-Bon is +P even that which doesn’t have that designation is hotter than other standard loads. I wouldn’t shoot Cor-Bon in that one.

  • Rescueu

    I have had my LCP for two years. it has been returned to Ruger twice for failure to load issue. Tried many different loads and ammunition. Each time the Ruger customer service was excellent. The pistol was returned promptly at no cost to me. Have discovered that this weapon must be kept oiled and clean. CC it daily and clean it at least twice a month. Besides this issue it is a great cc pocket pistol.

  • BJ

    Took my wife to the range and we shot the LCP together for the first time. I wish I had shot this before buying it. I have quite a few issues with this sleek looking little .380 that I wish I had known before buying:
    – Factory sights are off and I will have to find out if it is possible to adjust as it shoots 4″ low at 7 yards.
    – Gun jammed 3 x in 50 rounds of Remmington 95 grain round points.
    – Once after a 2nd round shot the clip simply dropped out and I was no where near pushing the release. I suspect the impact of the recoil and the possition of my ring finger forced the issue. Very bad in my opinion if this is common.
    – It bruised my wifes hand in 2 places and I felt the recoil as well much more than expected and I shoot some bruisers (.500 S&W, 44 Mag, and .45’s)
    – Brutal trigger pull!!! The distance and pressure required for this double acton trigger pull are not pleasant and lead to inaccuracy in the shooting.
    – The laser would turn on and off on its own seemed to be affected by the recoil since we weren’t pressing the on and off button.

    It is easy to clean and with all that is wrong with its shooting performance in my opinion it isn’t a shooter but a ultra light conceal carry that might just save our lives one day. Only after I send it in for the fouling issues and the clip randomly dropping out. I would also like to know if anyone has modified this unfriendly trigger pull.

  • John Moffett

    Great read on the little Ruger.

    I lost my Kel Tec P32. It fell out of my pack on a remote trail about 50 miles from BFE. The Kel Tec was an excellent mouse pistol and never misfired regardless of how dirty or abused or what kind of loads were used. It spent its entire life in my pants pocket or my camel back pack. I took good care of it always being cleaned and lubed after practice shoots or when it got too lint filled or dusty. I ride off road motorcycles in highly remote areas and having a pack gun is imperative for a variety of reasons ranging from protection, hunting for survival, or a loud report to help someone find you. Don’t leave home without a pistol!

    So I decided to replace the Kel Tec with another one just like it. My local gun shop didn’t have one in stock so I bought the Ruger LCP.

    It failed to eject one round and I think it was because the casing on the following round on the clip was dented. I held back the slide and tipped the pistol and the spent casing fell out. Slid the slide foreward and it fed the next round just fine. This occured during the first box of three boxes of the cheapest 95gr FMJ I could find and boy oh boy do these things burn dirty! I brought Elsie Pea home thinking it is sufficiently broken in where it will be kept in my pocket or pack. It is easy to break down and takes only seconds to clean, lube, and reassemble. I will use Hornady “Zombie Max” which are 90 gr. JHP with a polymer filling.

    Ergonomics are excellent for such a small framed pistol. Recoil is markedly increased over the .32 but still the Ruger can be rapid fired with minimal delay getting back on target. I was having fits at first about the sights! I couldn’t seem to get the sights lined up and on the target. It became easier with a little practice but it seems keeping both eyes straight down the ramp and using smooth trigger pull provide the best accuracy. It was amazingly accurate, in fact. Still I think I’m going to put some radium paint on the sites to make seeing them easier. When I say accurate let’s say at ranges up to 15 yards I can hit an 8″ steel plate 4 out of 6 times (or better). That’s enough accuracy for a mouse pistol in my humble opinion. I expect better accuarcy with better ammunition and more practice/familiarity with the pistol. Also, I am getting a 10 round magazine for the .380 because if I have to shoot at someone 6 rounds in not enough. Trigger pull was smooth and predictable. I thought it was about perfect.

    In all I’m very pleased with Ruger LCP .380. It is a substantially well made piece right in my home town of Prescott, AZ. In a gunfight I would absolutely prefer my XD45 but that won’t fit in my pocket and it’s too heavy for my pack so I don’t bring it along as often as I should. The .380 will always be on my person which makes it better protection becasue it will be there. I’m not a gun expert by any stretch of the imagination but for $300 this highly concealable weapon is a winner all day every day.

  • KevinRichmond

    I have a LCP and I love it. I hear everyone always complaining about the long trigger. But i feel its an ingenious solution to the pistol not having a SAFETY. and when im in certain areas of town where i might need my gun that second it takes to cock your gun could be your last.So when u need one in the chamber and my gun doesnt have a safety I appreciate the fact they incorporated a long trigger. And people complain about the sights (WAH WAH WAH)…..POCKET PISTOL it means some dudes or about to mug me and SUPRISE thought i was reaching for my wallet.this is a defensive gun not a OFFENSIVE gun if you want sights go up grade your AR-15. Thank You

    • tofuman33

      Long trigger pull is negated by the adrenaline pumping through your body as you are defending your life. Not a range gun, but a save your life gun. I love it.

  • mechanic gloves

    I would like a smaller handgun, however a Ruger LCP .380 may be too small. Thank you in advance for you advice.

    mechanic gloves

  • Trey Harris

    I have no idea what some of yo are doing wrong, or if we are even talking about the same firearm? As for my Ruger .380 LCP, I’ve had it for 14 months, have shot God knows how many rounds through it, and many different kinds. I have had zero problems. Not even a bruise on my hand. I can walk a coke can down a trail with it, starting at about 15 yard away. I retired my .40 S&W not long after buying the LCP. I have a CCP, and it doesn’t matter f it’s 10 degrees outside or 99, I carry my Ruger LCP loaded with COR®BON 90gr. JHP, and I am very confident, no worries.. Clean your weapon, and clean it often.