Ruger LC380 Semi-Automatic Pocket Pistol

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 12th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.





Pistol ships with both flat and extended-style magazine base plates.





Internal key lock.



Manual safety.



Slide lock (top), magazine release (bottom).



Grip is well-textured and comfortable.





LC380 has real sights, adjustable for windage correction.



Tactile and visual loaded-chamber indicator.



Slide locks open on an empty magazine.



Firing pin safety.



LC380 compared to Jeff's well-worn 380 LCP.



LC380 compared to 9x19mm LC9.



LC380 magazine (left) compared to LC9 magazine (right).





The 380 auto pistol is one of the most popular types of firearm in the United States today. People have found that the 380 provides a comfortable balance of size, power, weight, and portability. Most folks, when they first start carrying a handgun for defense, choose a weapon that is larger than the one that ends up filling the role of a daily carry gun. Most folks are just not going to carry a full-sized fighting pistol on a daily basis, as let’s face it, we really do not leave the house every day expecting to be the target of a violent assault. If we really believed that there was a great probability of being attacked, we would either stay home, or carry a rifle or shotgun. We carry a handgun as we go about our daily lives because the handgun is a good compromise. A good handgun will serve should the rare assault occur, and a good handgun can always be within reach. If we cannot immediately access our defensive weapon, it is of no good to us, so we must carry a gun that can always be there. Therefore, we compromise. No one makes the argument that the 380 ACP auto pistol is the most formidable fighting weapon that the world has ever known. Yet everyday, many people select the 380 pistol as their defensive pistol of choice; not to head off intentionally into a fight, but as a weapon to be within reach if a fight comes upon them. With good modern ammunition, the 380 ACP can serve adequately; it can be chambered in a lightweight, compact pistol, and that is why the 380 auto pistol is so popular. I have access to a few handguns, and I sometimes carry a lightweight 1911 45, a modern 9mm double-stack auto, or a good revolver, but even when I am carrying one of those larger handguns, I usually have a small 380 in my pocket as well. Most of the time, however, I am armed with only the pocket gun. I usually only strap on the larger hardware when I am heading into a city. Around home, I feel pretty confident that the pocket pistol will get me through the day.

Ruger entered the 380 pocket pistol market back in 2008 with their dandy little LCP. The LCP is one of the smallest and lightest 380 pistols on the market, and Ruger has produced and sold many, many thousands of them to satisfied customers. The LCP is a pistol that is small enough and light enough to always be within reach, and those traits have endeared the little jewel to thousands of folks who choose to carry a gun on a daily basis. Late in 2010, Ruger introduced the LC9, which was Ruger’s answer to those who wanted a handgun that was similar to the LCP, but chambered for the more-powerful 9x19mm cartridge. The LC9 is also a dandy pistol, but some find that the recoil from a nine when fired from a seventeen-ounce pistol to be more than they care to handle. Likewise, the recoil from a ten ounce 380 when loaded with premium ammunition is more than many desire, so Ruger has now combined the size, weight, and feel of the LC9 with the milder 380 ACP cartridge, giving shooters a good 380 in a “just the right size” package.

The LC380 has all the features of the LC9, but is easier to operate and to shoot for many people. The slide is easier to operate than is the slide of either the smaller LCP or the LC9, as the recoil spring is of a lighter weight than the LC9, and the slide gives a larger grasping area than does the LCP. The felt recoil of the LC380 is also less than the felt recoil of either the LCP or the LC9, making it easier for many shooters to control. Pistols such as the Bersa Thunder 380 are so popular because they are larger than the later generation of 380 pocket pistols, making the Bersa easier to shoot accurately. The Ruger LC380 fills the void between the smallest 380 pistols like the LCP and the larger 380 pistols like the Bersa, resulting in a 380 that is easy to operate and easy to shoot accurately, while still being small enough and light enough to serve as an everyday carry gun.

The LC380 is also loaded with safety features, some of which allow it to be sold in areas where the LCP cannot be sold. The LC380 has a tactile and visual loaded-chamber indicator atop the slide. The magazine disconnect safety prevents the pistol from being fired with the magazine removed. There is an internal key lock, for those who choose to use it. On the left side of the fame is a manual thumb safety that pushes downward to fire. Also, there is an internal automatic firing pin safety that blocks the firing pin from movement unless the trigger is in its rearward position. This LC380 is as safe as any mechanical device can be, and it will not fire unless the trigger is pulled.

Critical specifications for the LC380, along with a comparison to the LCP, are listed in the chart below. Physical dimensions and weight of the LC380 are identical to the LC9. Weights are listed in ounces. Linear dimensions are listed in inches. Trigger pull is listed in pounds of resistance, as measured with my Lyman digital trigger pull scale. Height includes sights and standard magazine base pad. Maximum width is measured across the top of the frame, and includes the manual safety lever on the LC380.




Chambering 380 ACP 380 ACP
Weight with Empty Magazine 9.41 oz. 17.2 oz.
Trigger Pull 5 lbs., 10 oz. 6 lbs., 7 oz.
Barrel Length 2.75" 3.14"
Barrel Diameter 0.426" 0.5"
Overall Height 3.6" 4.44"
Overall Length 5.16" 5.94"
Grip Width 0.78" 0.968"
Slide Width 0.74" 0.882"
Maximum Width 0.895" 1.04"
Trigger Reach 2.51" 2.81"
Magazine Capacity 6 7
Magazines Supplied 1 1
Sights Black, Fixed 3-Dot, Windage Adjustable
Accessory Rail No no

I fired the LC380 with every brand and type of 380 auto ammunition available to me to check for reliable function. I fired a variety of ammunition over the chronograph to check velocities, with the results listed in the chart below. LCP velocities are listed for comparison. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX is a hollow nose homogenous copper bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket roundnose bullet. FP is a full metal jacket flat-nose bullet. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’RBall. HC is a hard-cast flat-nose lead bullet. Velocities were taken at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature around the fifty-two degree Fahrenheit mark, with fifty-six percent humidity.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity LCP Velocity LC380
Cor-Bon JHP 90 943 1015
Cor-Bon PB 70 1215 1288
Cor-Bon DPX 80 927 930
Handload JHP 88 820 843
Buffalo Bore JHP 90 1030 1052
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 967 989
Buffalo Bore HC 100 1076 1127
Remington JHP 88 819 831
Stryker FP 95 880 895
Atomic JHP 90 928 907

With every brand and type of ammo tested, the LC380 functioned flawlessly. Every round fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. Fired cases ejected to the right of the shooter, with none hitting the shooter. The sights proved to be pretty close to point of impact with most loads tested, so no adjustment was made to the sight setting. With most loads fired, a measurable velocity increase was noted above the velocities listed for the shorter-barreled LCP. I did not attempt to test for target accuracy from the LC380, as this is a defensive pistol, so all shooting was done hand-held, standing, shooting at targets from five to twenty-five yards. The LC380 has real pistol sights, of the three-dot variety, and proved capable of keeping all shots well within the kill zone on a standard silhouette target at twenty-five yards.

As with any handgun that I carry for defense, I wanted to mount a Crimson Trace laser, and the Laserguard that is made for the LC9 fits the LC380 perfectly. Most distasteful social situations happen at night, and in poorly-lighted areas. For such situations, I find a good laser to be as necessary as the weapon itself. Hitting the target quickly and accurately makes the difference between winning and losing a gunfight, and the Crimson Trace laser gives me the ability to place the shot in low-light conditions, while adding less than one ounce to the weight of the LC380.

Attaching the laser does change the profile of the pistol, which is of no consequence if carrying the pistol in a pocket without a holster, but while the LC380 is compact, it will not fit every pocket, so a holster that is made to accommodate the pistol with the laser attached is necessary. For that, I obtained a hybrid leather/Kydex holster from SHTF Gear. This holster is very comfortable, and keeps the LC380 secure until needed. It also protects the pistol from sweat, and protects the wearer’s skin from abrasion. The SHTF holster can be worn inside the pants, or outside, by changing position of the clips. Also, leather belt loops are available, if those are preferred over the spring clips. The clips are adjustable up and down, to adjust the depth to which the pistol rides inside the pants, or to adjust the angle of the carry.

With the LC380, Ruger has made a 380 auto pistol that is very user-friendly. Sometimes, those of us who shoot every day, firing many different types of weapons, tend to forget that most gun owners are not avid shooters. Their carry gun might be their only gun, and they often have very little experience before buying the weapon. The LC380 has handling qualities that make it easy to use for those with very little experience. It is easier for a novice to shoot well than is the smaller LCP. It is also easier to shoot well than is a pistol that has more recoil. With the LC380, Ruger has achieved a good balance of size-to-power. The pistol is easy to conceal, but also easy to shoot, and is an excellent choice for someone who wants a 380 for defense, but does not necessarily need the smallest 380 available. With the LC380, Ruger got it just right. Like all Ruger firearms, the LC380 is made in the USA. As of the date of this review, the suggested retail price of the LC380 is $449 US, but prices do change, and vary from dealer-to-dealer.

Check out the extensive line of Ruger firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Ruger dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the LC380 online, go to

To order a quality SHTF Gear holster, go to

To order a Crimson Trace laser online, go to

To order quality 380 ACP ammunition, go to,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.









Crimson Trace Laserguard for the LC9 fits perfectly on the new LC380.



SHTF Gear hybrid holster.