New Ruger LC380 Review

Sturm, Ruger & Co. trucked out their new LC380 to SHOT Show Media Day.  Since Ruger’s designated patch of real estate was at the very north end of the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club, we did not get to them until late in the afternoon.  Some vendors were already packing up, what with the still chill temperatures and lashing wind.  Aaron and I were hanging tough.

When we stepped up to the table of guns, I bluntly asked the Ruger rep what they were thinking by making the LC380.  I had an answer in mind, but I wanted to see what he would articulate.  He told us that their thought process was to take the lesser kick of the .380 ACP cartridge and mate it to a larger framed weapon (their LC9) for recoil sensitive concealed carry customers.

Micro pistols such as the Kel-Tec P3AT, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380, Kahr CW380, and Ruger LCP can be difficult for some to shoot well because of the limited amount of polymer to grasp and short sight radius.  Ruger feels that there is a market for a slightly larger handgun in the .380 caliber.

The LC380 is built on LC9 mechanicals.  The only thing I detected visually that was different between the two was a small metal spacer inside the back of the magazine that pushes a .380 cartridge forward at the primer to make up the 1.85mm deficit in case length from 9mm Kurz (.380) to 9mm Parabellum.

The Ruger LC380’s Specs:

Slide Material: Alloy Steel Slide Finish: Blued
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel Barrel Finish: Blued
Barrel Length: 3.12″ Length: 6.00″
Width: 0.90″ Height: 4.50″
Weight: 17.20 oz. Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Capacity: 7+1 Grip Frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Twist: 1:10″ RH Grooves: 6
MA Approved & Certified: No CA Approved: No
Suggested Retail: $449.00

The LC380 shares the same basic dimensions as the LC9, except that Ruger lists the weight of the LC380 at 17.20 ounces vs. the LC9’s 17.10 ounces (the magazine spacer may be it).  LC380 is a double-action-only, hammer-fired, locked-breech pistol.

I shot the LC380 at a torso-sized steel plate that was fifteen dusty yards downrange.  The LC380 had an almost apologetic recoil:  “Bang…I’m not bothering you am I?”  The trigger was a little long in its DAO pull, but it broke on cue.  The windage-adjustable three dot sights were right at home to my eyes.

I put every bullet in the center of the plate.  The rep said, “You can’t do that with the small .380’s on the market.”  Actually, I can with my P3AT and Bodyguard 380 (and it is a requirement for department-authorized carry of them), but I will say it took less concentration with the larger LC380.

LC9/380 with LCP overlay

The craftsmanship put into the LC380 is typical of Ruger’s high standards.  I’ve heard some whining about the pop-up loaded chamber indicator, thumb safety, magazine disconnect, and built-in key lock as unnecessary features.  These additions would not stop me from buying an LC380.

The Ruger LC380 is a friendly gun to shoot.  I think people sometimes mistakenly buy a micro .380, believing it will be easy to carry and shoot.  To me, the tiny pistols are not for beginners.  Ruger’s full-er sized LC380 is more in line with the needs of many novice CCF buyers, who should have better ergonomics and shootability in a compact gun.


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8 Responses to New Ruger LC380 Review

  1. Jon says:

    My guess is the new gun has the same crappy trigger pull the LC9. That’s why sold it!

  2. Aaron says:

    Jon it did have a long pull, but the LC380 was still fun to shoot. The larger frame made recoil almost non-existent.

    Randall, I can still hear that wind ripping through the banners and tents that day! Man I hope next year is warmer.

  3. GP says:

    bought one…. haven’t spent a lot rounds with it, but it shoots high @ 25 yds. hate the trigger setup, but I like the pistol. Need to spend more rounds with it. If it doesn’t come in @ 25 yds., I will trade it for something that will. Rear sight needs to be fully adjustable (can’t believe it’s not).

    • Mike says:

      Could you (or possibly Randall) expand on your comment a bit because it left me confused and frustrated. Why you are evaluating this pistol based on its accuracy at 25 yds? What’s the point? Its a .380 self defense pistol, not a target pistol. Not grouping well at 25 yds seems like a strange reason to dislike this gun.

      I own several pistols, including a Ruger LCP. In my hands, the LCP’S useful/effective range is 7 yds MAX (tempted to say 5 yds). Anything further would be reckless, irresponsible, or a waste of ammo. The LCP is a neat gun, and extremely concealble, but no where near the quality of my Ruger SP101. And the trigger is terrible compared to my Glocks. I’m quite comfortable/accurate with the Glocks or the SP101 out to 15 yds.

      I know the LC380 is larger and likely more refined than the LCP. But given the caliber, the quality, and the short barrel…why is 25 yds important or even relavent?


      • Dave says:

        FYI, not everyone has the luxury of a shooting ranges where you can choose different distances to shoot. Some of us who are geographically challenged (as I am here in the People’s Republic of New Jersey) have only one gun range available in the county, and it’s a gun club that forces us to shoot at 25 yard targets, no other choice. If a gun can’t hit a 25 yard target, it’s useless to those of us who are limited by the only gun club in the county only having 25 yard targets! Yes, I wish I was lucky enough to be able to shoot at 7 yard targets, or 10 yards, or 15 yards, but I’m limited to 25 yard targets. The upside of all this is that it makes us better marksmen, because if we can hit the target at 25 yards with a subcompact (as I can with the LC380), think how easy it would be to hit at self-defense distances of 7 yards!

        • Randall says:

          Nice, Dave. You definitely have a point that we tend to shoot at the closer distances, even when we have the ability to challenge ourselves and run the target out to 25 yards or more. I totally agree that hitting at longer range improves marksmanship. Sorry you are constrained, but you seem to have adjusted in a positive way!


  4. Joe says:

    All a moot point now. Behold the LC9s! Striker fired trigger is a blessing, and nice crisp release. My wife loves it, she is 76 years young. Hates recoil, made me give her the LC9s and now I am stuck with her LC9! Hopefully Ruger decides to come out with an LC380s, now that Browning is coming out with a 75% size .380 on a reduced 1911 frame.

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