Published on June 22nd, 2016 | by Destinee (FateofDestinee)

Ruger LC380: Little gun, Big performance


The Ruger LC380 is Ruger’s answer to an age-old new shooter problem. I’ve seen several examples of I myself, most frequently in this form: boyfriend takes girlfriend to shoot. She has little – if any – experience or training with firearms, and may be more than a bit nervous. Boyfriend shows off, shooting a large caliber handgun, and then pops it into her small, timorous hands without instruction. She struggles to rack the slide. When she finally pops off a round, the blast and the recoil of the round firing are startling and uncomfortable, so she stops shooting. That’s the last time she ever visits the range, boyfriend or no. Had she had a positive experience, for example, familiarity with firearm operation, and a gun better suited to newer shooters, she may have become an enthusiast in her own right. The Ruger LC380 is that better “newer shooter gun.”

Ruger LC380 Revisited: Full Review -

Ruger LC380 – A new shooter and CCW friendly pistol. Image courtesy of


Ruger already has a sub compact .380 on the market – the tiny LCP (which measures 5.15in long and 3.6in tall, and only .82in wide). Instead of building off this smaller platform, the LC380 is built upon the frame of Ruger’s larger sub compact pistol, the 9mm LC9 (measuring 6” long by 4.5” tall, and .9in wide). The light weight of the LCP (only 9.4oz), combined with its two-finger grip makes the LCP a snappy shooter, despite the fact that it fires a relatively low-recoiling caliber cartridge. Building the LC380 off of the larger LC9’s frame makes the LC380 heavier (17.2oz) and provides a larger grip space, and higher capacity (both the LC380 and the LC9 carry 7+1 to the LCP’s 6+1).

Range Performance

The Ruger LC380 is remarkable in how comfortable it is to shoot. For a slim, light, short-barreled pistol, its recoil experience is more alike to shooting a .22 LR than to shooting a .380 ACP “mouse gun.” The larger frame offers nearly a full grip, and Ruger includes a pinky extender baseplate for the LC380’s magazine. That modification increases grip size, which increases the shooter’s ability to control the gun while firing. The .380 is a lower recoil round, but the LC380’s dual recoil spring system also abets recoil management. It has another benefit, too, though; it makes racking the slide easier (an especially nice feature for shooters with lower upper body strength, such as petite females or youth shooters). Despite having a short barrel (3.12in) and a light frame (which can be somewhat more difficult to keep steady than heavier frame firearms), the Ruger LC380 is plenty accurate within self defense distances (0-10yds). Its only drawbacks at the range are in the sights – tiny white 3 dots – and its long, crunchy trigger.

The 3 dot sights are an improvement upon the LCP’s nearly nonexistent sights, but they offer little aid in low light conditions. For a self defense firearm, the LC380’s trigger is unremarkable. A Lyman trigger gauge measures it to be a 7lbs 12oz pull, so it’s notably heavier than the famous Glock 6.5lb, but not as weighty as the Beretta Nano’s 9lb. This Ruger is a DAO firearm, so each pull cocks the hammer and fires the round. The LC380’s trigger doesn’t accomplish that quickly; the travel is lengthy and less than smooth until it breaks nearly at the end of the trigger guard. Even with the sub-ideal trigger and sights, the Ruger LC380 is still a good shooter. For a little .380 pistol, it’s accurate and the recoil is gentle. The model reviewed in this article has about 600 rounds of .380 (largely Federal Lawman) though it without any error (although, the LC380 does have a tendency to not lock back the slide on an empty chamber if the shooter limp wrists while firing).

Carry Considerations

The Ruger LC380 may not be as diminutive as the LCP, but the LC9 frame upon which it’s based is still small and slim – a good carry option. The LC380 doesn’t match the LCP’s 9.4oz weight, but at 17.2oz, it’s still a lightweight. The small sights may not be ideal for low light shooting, but the low profile of the sights are suited to concealed carry, as is the rounded profile of the slide (both these elements help to ensure a snag-free draw). The Ruger LC380 design includes a number of safety features. It has a manual safety that, when engaged, prevents the slide from actioning. Also, to the dismay of some, the LC380 has a magazine disconnect and will not fire without a magazine in the well. The LC380 also has a visually and physically detectable loaded chamber indicator.

Ruger LC380 Revisited: Full Review -

The Ruger LC380’s rounded edges and low profile sights help to ensure a snag-free draw. Image courtesy of

Something to evaluate when considering the LC380 is the round itself. The LC380 carries 7+1 rounds of .380 ACP – not a round regarded for its penetration. Regardless, it is still a caliber of some popularity for self defense handguns, and as such, there are several manufacturers that make self defense ammo in .380. The limitation of small single stack pistols, like the LC380, is that, in order to achieve small dimensions, they concede capacity. The LC380’s 7 round magazine falls short of wider double stack capacity, such as the Glock 26’s standard 10 round magazine.

The LC380’s strong points for concealed carry are in how easy it is to fire well, that it fires reliably, and that, although it isn’t as petite as its .380 predecessor, it is still a narrow frame overall and is not difficult to conceal. And, as the LC380 is identical in dimension to the LC9, finding holsters and other accessories for it are not a challenge.

Final Thoughts

The Ruger LC380’s gentle felt recoil, reliable and easy operation, and balance between size and enjoyable shooting experience combine to make the Ruger LC380 an option that recommends itself well to newer shooters. Even its price point (less than $500) makes it appealing as a possible “first gun.” To those looking for a pocket-sized concealed carry pistol, the LC380’s small, slim footprint and snag-free slide make this Ruger a viable option for CCW. The Ruger LC380’s unintimidating recoil and manageable size could mean the difference between that girlfriend’s distaste for her boyfriend’s shooting hobby, and instilling a lifelong fondness for the shooting sports.


Caliber: .380 ACP

Capacity: 7+1

Weight: 17.2oz.

Frame material: Glass filled nylon

Finish: Blued

Barrel length: 3.12in

Overall length: 6.0in

Overall height: 4.5in

MSRP: $449

About the Author

In addition to writing for The Arms Guide and her personal blog, Destinee is also a vlogger. She publishes videos on weapons, gear, and fitness on her YouTube channel every Tuesday and Thursday.

  • NateGranzow

    I’ve never understood those pricks who drop a hard-recoiling gun in the hands of a new shooter—girlfriend or otherwise.

    • peter3101

      @NateGranzow Don’t forget males, think of the poor partners or friends of certain female shooters who love 45.s and 50’s…..;o)

    • peter3101

      @NateGranzow I agree with you, what I don’t agree with is blanket restricting certain guns to people even new shooters, the problem for me is who sets the sanctions and how do they set the criteria for these restrictions. I believe and support certain gun store owners who use common sense to refuse to sell certain guns to some people and I fully support new gun owners who research and make choices based on their own skill set and circumstances. The problem with stopping people buying unsuitable guns and imposing large caliber guns on people is thats too similar to what the gun grabbers want sanctions, controls, and registrations. of course we can see situations where it might help our sport, but we also know it would be the beginning of the end for private gun ownership. The problem with freedom is your free to make bad choices along with good.

      • NateGranzow

        @peter3101 I agree, Peter. I’ve actually got a post coming along that deals in large part with buying your first concealed carry gun and some of the considerations to be made during that process—stay tuned. I would never suggest that people shouldn’t be allowed to purchase certain guns based on their demographic or experience levels, nor am I saying that women or young children are incapable of shooting large, hard-recoiling guns. But dropping one in the hands of someone who is both nervous and inexperienced is just poor taste and can only result in one eventuality—putting them off of the shooting sports or at least setting them back a great deal.

        • peter3101

          @NateGranzow 100% agree I feel the way forward for us as a community is to self regulate, sites like this help the communication process as all forms of social media do. Sharing knowledge, awareness, and best practice is the best way to reduce the incidences you describe.

    • @NateGranzow Yeah… I find the idea that a firearms enthusiast could dissuade another potential enthusiast with their ego, or for a “joke” like that. I see it too often. :/

  • peter3101

    It’s a nice gun but it’s a bit like a 9mm 1911 to me……why, you already have 380’s and you have this gun in 9mm, just my view. I also agree that when introducing a new shooter a 22 is ideal and then when they are comfortable letting them try larger calibers and see what suits them and they like and shoot well. Some go to 32 some go to 45 its a personal thing. The best recommendation is to take training courses like a first shots program then a course that demonstrates and gives practical experience on a range of guns and calibers. Most ranges offer these types of courses and they are very popular and a great starting point. Much like learning to drive if you don’t have a family member that’s a good driver and a better instructor go to a driving school.

    • @peter3101 I agree on “ramping up” calibers when introducing a new shooter. Anyone I’ve introduced to the shooting sports first spends a few hours with me off the range, learning firearms safety and the basics of grip, stance, sight picture, etc., then we hit the range with a .22 til they’re comfortable enough to move up from there.

  • JoeFabeetz

    Excellent review.  I agree with Nate too.  Those are the guys that are just trying to show off and not really interested in getting their girlfriend interested in shooting.  Either that or they are just jerks.  Maybe even both.  Now you have me considering this as an option for my wife.  If there are any at the gun shops I just may have to take her shopping again.  🙂

    • @JoeFabeetz I’d recommend it. I was pleasantly surprised with how controllable it is for a compact lightweight pistol. I hardly need an excuse to go gun shopping… but I keep finding them anyway lol

      • JoeFabeetz

        @FateofDestinee Every time you shop I add another item to my wish list.  Stop it.  lol  Now send that 380 to me so I can do my own review….for a few years.  🙂

  • Exactly Joe – I’ve taught for over 20 years and gone to many many ranges.  Women are very quick at getting good with firearms, it’s not just years of mimicking bad habits on movies etc or a macho attitude that makes listening to advice harder (both of which is true), females have better fine motor skills than men.  Neurophysiological fact and trigger control/fight alignment is all about fine control.  As soon as a GF/wife starts to approach and often better the groups of the guy, (and these days thank goodness, there’s less confidence problems with the guys) and he has a male-self-confidence-identity issue of any kind, the first thing he’ll to is give her the biggest caliber anything he has with the hottest load he’s carrying and naturally it will intimidate her.  If she decides not to go shooting or it simply makes her flinch for the rest of the session, well, it’s disappointing to see and I get annoyed.  I wish I could teach all beginning lady shooters (or any level) to politely refuse the offer.  It happens to me sort frequently in public ranges, but I’m lucky to be recoil insensitive,  Model 29s are nooo problem.  I just smile after shooting and hand it back.The Ruger sounds like a great value!  I have a Kahr P380 and Love it.  It’s not my usual carry pistol except if I’m going out on the town in tight clothes.  Unlike the old blowbacks like the PPK/S the modern designs have much better triggers and less snap.  Destinee, btw if you look at the Gold Dot in ballistic gelatin, it’s surprisingly good.  I want to make sure it will hold together on forehead or sternum/rib hits so I hit some pork and beef ribs (both of which are thicker) with simulant behind and they performed flawlessly!

    • @katgirl231 I love model 29s! I’ve been drooling over one for ages… eventually, I’ll definitely get my own ;] Thanks for the feedback, Kat!

  • JoeFabeetz

    FateofDestinee JoeFabeetz Actually held one today at a local shop/range.  This gun really has a good feel to it.  Is the slide easy to rack?  Oh yeah!

  • ctc8098

    On a couple of occasions I’ve seen an elderly couple (hey, look who’s talking, I’m 61) looking at light weight snub-nose 38’s. Ouch!Why not just buy a hammer and hit your hand? 
    My method: Recently I took my sister-in-law and her teenage son and daughter to an indoor range for a handgun familiarization.The first weapon they fired was a 6” Dan Wesson 22. cal revolver. The target was a silhouette standing just out of arms about 2 yards out. Their objective was to just put the rounds on the target. Hopefully near the center of mass, but anyplace will do.
    Yes, the old school Fairbairn-Applegate point shooting method. The idea is to build confidence by incrementally demonstrating ability.Then slowly move the target farther out. Small steps, immediate feedback. The next was a Ruger SR-22 automatic. Back to the 2 yard target and ultimately a progression to 7 yards. Again, using the Fairbairn-Applegate method (good enough for the OSS, good enough for me and mine). Everybody took home targets with a smile. The sister-in-law had been anti-gun…not so much anymore.
    Take it easy and build confidence one small step at a time.

  • charity7921

    ctc8098  I am a senior in years yet remain young at heart.  I have shot about every 9mm the range had for rent.  I got myself the Ruger LC380.  I am loving it as now I shoot it with either hand equally efficient. To chamber a round is easy for these arthritic hands.  I was introduced into the world of shooting with an old single shot 22 rifle.  My experience with shooting is spot on to the other comments about gently introducing a new shooter into the massive world of guns and fun.   charity7921

  • Steven Wildman

    Is a ruger LC.380 compatible to a ruger LC 9  with ammo?What is the best shooting range ?

    • Jim Henson ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ

      Yes and No. Sometimes the .380 calibre is referred to as a 9mm Short. But it requires a new magazine, new slide assembly and barrel. Ruger makes that kit and sells it for about $300.00. A 3rd party also makes a conversion kit for .22 LR if you want to just put rounds through the thing cheaply.

      You cannot shoot a 9mm through a .380 pistol. And you cannot fire a .380 through a 9mm pistol. Same frame in this case is all.

      • Rick D

        Other names are the 9mm Kurz (walther PPk is marked this way) and 9mm Corto (Old berettas are marked this way)

        • Jim Henson ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ᵃᶜᶜᵒᵘᶰᵗ


Back to Top ↑

The Force12 Media Network
Fighter Sweep