Handguns > Semi-Auto

Ruger LC380 Semi-Auto Pistol

Want a pocket pistol that won’t punish you on the range? Try the LC380.


Ruger's Light Carry (LC) series of semi-auto pistols has been quite successful over the last few years. In 2008, the company released the eminently pocketable polymer-framed LCP, chambered in .380 ACP. The popularity of this pistol likely played a role in the rapid resuscitation of the .380 pocket pistol market and several new flavors of .380 ammunition. In 2010, Ruger released the LC9, a slightly larger pistol chambered in the more potent 9 mm cartridge. For 2013, Ruger has released the model LC380, which offers a best-of-both-worlds self-defense solution.

The personal-defense market is currently enjoying a small-but-powerful concealed-carry pistol trend that is determining how much weight can be shaved off of a semi-auto in 9 mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP and while remaining shootable? These popular defensive calibers have been successfully chambered in pistols with similar size and weight factors as those of the LC380. So why not choose more power? Launching big bullets from little guns comes with the price of increased felt recoil. And that recoil can become downright painful at times, especially with extended practice sessions.

Reducing the punishment of practicing with a pocket pistol is why Ruger built the LC380. Both the tiny LCP and the larger LC9 can be quite snappy. By combining the heavier slide and larger grip of the LC9 pistol with the reduced cartridge pressures of .380 ACP ammunition, the LC380 proved to be an exceptionally comfortable handgun to work with on the practice range for a pocket pistol.

The LC380 is a hammer-fired, locked-breech semi-auto pistol with a polymer frame and a double-action-only trigger. The blue-steel alloy slide is topped with a set of useful low-profile, three-dot sights that would be perfectly at home on a medium or full-size defensive pistol. The rear sight is drift adjustable for windage. The barrel is 3.12-inches long with traditional six-groove rifling. The recoil assembly consists of a polymer guide rod with two recoil springs.  The receiver is milled from aircraft grade aluminum and pinned into the polymer grip frame. The controls, including the trigger, slide catch, thumb safety and magazine release, are all constructed from blued steel. The LC380 arrives with a single, seven-round steel magazine with two base plates, one flat and one finger-extension version.

This pistol is loaded with a variety of safety features. The pop-up loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide provides both visual and tactile indicators when a round is in the chamber. A firing pin safety, similar to those found in popular striker-fired pistols, prevents the pistol from firing unless the trigger is pulled. A key-operated action lock can be accessed on the right side of the frame with the provided key. A magazine disconnect prevents the LC380 from firing if the magazine is removed from the grip frame.

The frame-mounted thumb safety freezes the trigger and prevents the slide from cycling when it's engaged. The safety is easily disengaged by right-handed shooters, but it’s a little difficult to reengage. This was probably done to prevent shooters from accidentally bumping the safety into the on position while shooting. Because the outer dimensions of the LC380 and its magazines are identical to the popular LC9, several holster manufacturers already have a variety of carry options in stock. For those who would like to add a laser sight to this pistol, Crimson Trace, LaserLyte, LaserMax and Viridian offer suitable sighting options.

The LC380's double-action trigger tipped the digital gauge at 6 pounds, 10 ounces, and was smooth to operate. The trigger guard was generous for a pistol this size, providing enough room for larger trigger fingers. A diamond pattern checkering molded into all four sides of the grip frame provide a reliable level of purchase for the shooting hand without being abrasive. Having smaller hands, I didn't mind using the flat magazine base plate. However, the extended base plate is textured to match the front strap and provides a solid resting place for the little finger. Despite the dual-spring configuration of the recoil assembly, the slide was light and easy to manually cycle for reloading. The textured surface and placement of the magazine release button made it quick to find and activate. The seven-round magazine popped vigorously from the grip frame, which should aid in faster reloading.

The LC380 reliably digested a variety of self-defense and ball ammunition, with no malfunctions in the course of testing. This included some less expensive practice-grade loads as well as a particularly hot imported round. At 7 yards, shooting from a bench rest, the best five-shot group of the test was 1.25 inches, with most groups hovering around the 1.5- to 1.75-inch mark. But what stood out in the formal and informal testing was the mild level of felt recoil this pistol generates. The unusual tameness, combined with the good sights and a smooth trigger, made forming tight groups during self-defense drills and rapid fire not only possible, but enjoyable as well.

It's been said that classical literature is a set of books that everyone wants to have read, but that no one really wants to spend time reading. Pocket pistols fall into the same category when it comes to defensive shooting. Folks want to carry them, but nobody really likes to shoot them. As a group, the trimmed down pocketable semi-autos share the advantage of having easy-to-carry designs, but at the expense of being more challenging to shoot well. Their small grips, vestigial sights and snappy recoil levels require real dedication to master.

The Ruger LC380, on the other hand, is a comfortable exception to the pocket-rocket rule. The easy-to-rack slide, visible three-dot sights and mild felt recoil of this pistol make it an ideal option for quick, accurate follow-up shots and regular practice on the range. Although most pocket pistols should be reserved for more advanced shooters, I would feel confident placing the LC380 in the hands of just about any responsible shooting enthusiast, regardless of experience level. Although it's not the smallest, nor the most powerful pistol in its class, the LC380 is one of the more manageable members of the next generation of pocket pistols.

Manufacturer: Sturm, Ruger & Co.; www.ruger.com
Model: LC380
Action: Double-Action Only Semi-Auto
Caliber: .380 ACP
Slide: Blued Alloy Steel
Frame: Black Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 3.12”
Overall Length: 6”
Height: 4.5”
Width: 0.9”
Weight: 17.2 ozs.
Capacity: 7+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Pistol Rug, Lock, Flat & Extended Magazine Bases, One Magazine
Suggested Retail Price: $449

Ruger LC380 Shooting Results

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33 Responses to Ruger LC380 Semi-Auto Pistol

HiDesert wrote:
July 28, 2013

Concealed carry isn't the battlefield of conventional warfare. If you retreat on the battlefield, you lose. If you retreat from a fight, you often win (by not being dead, robbed, raped, or whatever the criminal had in mind). Shot placement is much more important than caliber. If a .380 hole in the left ventricle doesn't do the trick, I don't think the extra 0.07' diameter is going to make a difference. Now, if there are barriers in the way, the extra energy of a 9mm or .45ACP could make the difference. But for most concealed carriers (the primary market for this pistol), if there's a barrier in the way you can get away. And win - see parenthetical statement above.

Rickey wrote:
July 06, 2013

I prefer a 40 or 45 but would rather have a 22lr than nothing in a confrontation.

Johnny wrote:
June 16, 2013

Working as a paramedic for the last 6 years outside of LA I've seen my fair share of shootings, my .02 cents is that it's mostly luck that drops someone. I've seen 3 in/out .223 hits in the torso person was fine I've seen 1 .45 to the chest dead right there, I've also seen 4 .45 holes, 1 neck 1 chest 2 abdomen and they were walking around like no big deal. I've seen 1 .38 special to the head dead right there. 12 holes in one guy from a 9mm not a single major organ damaged but a nick in the small intestine. Point is carry a lot of ammo and if your life is on the line shoot till they stop moving.

Dan wrote:
May 30, 2013

I have owned several diffrent pocket guns from the little 22 mag.revolver,40 cal.,38, and a 45 cal. I have never found one which felt good to shoot as well as carry conceled. I just purchased the LC9 with crimson laser. Its easy to shoot and doesnt feel as though you have a pocket full of rocks. I hope I never have to use it, but if I do, this is the gun I want.

Vinnie wrote:
May 30, 2013

Might I suggest the Hornady self defense load in .380 cal. Placed properly I don't think your attacker would be able to say or do much!

Vinnie wrote:
May 30, 2013

For those questioning the .380 loads, stopping power and penetration/damage I would suggest checking the results from the Tornado Home Defense

The Fed wrote:
May 28, 2013

I disagree that the .380 is such an inferior cartridge that no one should even think of carrying it. Bigfoot seems to think every bad guy is packing a .45. They carry what's cheapest and most readily available (stolen of course), and that's a 9MM. You don't find bad guys paying to shoot at a range so if you practice and have the right mindset (which are infinitely more important to survival) you have an excellent chance of surviving regardless of what caliber you're toting. follow-up shots ARE important. Chances are, you're going to miss with your first shot. Look at the history of accuracy of the NYPD. I'll take a10-shot .380 over a .45 any day because I know I'll still be on target for subsequent shots. And I know I can merely shoot through my pocket witohut even drawing. Try that with our 1911!

fireplug wrote:
May 27, 2013

roadraptor,you must have got a fluke lemon.Just got mine and it shoots like a dream

Roadraptor wrote:
May 22, 2013

Hi I purchased a lc380 and it is a piece of junk the slide rattles so bad when you shake the gun that its a joke and I sent it back to ruger and they did nothing about it. I'm all done buying ruger after many yrs of being a happy ruger owner their Quality is gone and they won't even do anything about it.

USMCvet wrote:
April 11, 2013

I carry a .40 S&W M&P and my squid brother carries a 1911 .45. I hear this argument from him all the time and my response is always train, train, train and 'shot placement'. The FBI is behind the curve on arming their agents. How long did the 10mm last with them? 2 years? I think arming yourself appropriate to the situation is key. Civillians are far less likely to encounter bad guys than LEOs that are actively pursuing them. Go with what you train with and can master and remember you don't get extra points for bringing bullets home. Enjoyed this discussion. Thanks, Jim.

BigFoot wrote:
April 11, 2013

In 1892, the US Army retired its powerful and storied SAA .45s in favor of the "modern" Colt New Army M1892, chambered for the .38 Long Colt cartridge. It was during this time that the armies of the world were downsizing the calibers of their small arms. During the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, the Army found out that the .38 LC had insufficient stopping power for combat use. A typical instance occurred in 1905 and was recounted by Col. Louis A. LaGarde: "Antonie Caspi, a prisoner on the island of Samar, P.I., attempted escape on Oct. 26, 1905. He was shot four times at close range in a hand-to-hand encounter by a .38 Colt's revolver loaded with U.S. Army regulation ammunition. He was finally stunned by a blow on the forehead from the butt end of a Springfield carbine." Col. LaGarde noted Caspi's wounds were fairly well-placed: three bullets entered the chest, perforating the lungs. One passed through the body, one lodged near the back and the other lodged in subcutaneous tissue. The fourth round went through the right hand and exited through the forearm. Small holes, good placement, and deep penetration wasn't enough. The failure of the .38 LC compelled the Army to dust off their SAA .45s and purchase several thousand old Colt rod-ejector .45 double actions for issue to the troops. It was this experience that made the U.S. Army reluctant to adopt the 9mm or any other pistol cartridge smaller than the battle-proven .45 ACP, which came on the scene in 1911. The .38 LC was pretty pathetic. Firing a 150-grain bullet at 770 fps, it generated only 195 ft. lbs. of energy, on par with today's .380. The .380 is recognized as a good "second" or "hide-out" weapon only because it is small and easily concealed, not because it is a man-stopper. No one should ever consider carrying the .380 as their lead weapon unless it is physically necessary. Can you imagine the US Army sending their soldiers into battle armed with .380s? Then why send yourself?

BigFoot wrote:
April 10, 2013

For the shooters that are willing to bet their life on the "expert placement" of small and shallow holes, let me quote the FBI's thinking on that subject. "Shot placement is only the first part of the equation. If shot placement was all that mattered, we could arm all Agents with .22s and train them to make head shots. Obviously, that isn't realistic in a combat situation. The larger calibers offer a 'margin of error' in that where a smaller bullet may not penetrate deeply enough or just miss the aorta, for example, the larger one in the same place will reach and damage it." I can't believe that the FBI spent all that time and money developing the .40 S&W to replace their 9mms and .38 Specials when the .380 was available right off the shelf. But then, what do they know about firearms.

Wolfpaw wrote:
April 10, 2013

My carry is Chiappa Rhino 357 mag.THe design of the weapon allows for a huge amount of energy to be launched with the felt recoil greatly, and I do mean greatly, reduced (38 special level). Some say it is ugly, but who cares? Some say it is a wonder of 21st engineering, but who cares? What matters is if the perp getting hit by all that energy, cares, and whether or not the problem is solved.

Trooper Moose wrote:
April 10, 2013

For Bigfoot's benefit, size really doesn't matter if you know how to make what you carry count when the chips are down! The 380 goes right in and does its job without wasting energy and mass with over penetration.

from_my_cold_dead_hand wrote:
April 09, 2013

First, can I just say ... I love you guys! This is the most civil, informed debate I have seen in a long, long time. I will gladly go to battle beside any of you guys. My options, ranked in order of (perceived) stopping power: 1) Buick Skylark; 2) 6 shells from my Mossberg 12-gauge; 3) 6 rounds from my S&W 66 .357 Magnum; 4) 17 from my S&W M&P 9mm; 5) 6 from my Ruger LCP 380; 6) 10 from my SIG Sauer Mosquito .22LR. My options, ranked in order of practicality / carry-ability: 1) Buick Skylark; 2) Ruger LCP 380; 3) SIG Sauer Mosquito .22LR 4) S&W M&P 9mm; 5) S&W 66 .357 Magnum; 6) Mossberg 12-gauge. My actual options, since I live in Illinois: 1) Buick Skylark.

Sean Lambert wrote:
April 08, 2013

The LCP and LC9 are awesome conceal carry. The 9 is great for a larger hand. Also 9mm used to be more readily available.

Judy wrote:
April 08, 2013

I want one of these but am having no luck in finding one. I have one Ruger sp101 and love it but need something a little smaller for all the time carry.

Troutbum44 wrote:
April 08, 2013

Of course gun caliber is important but more important is shot placement! Practice as much as the ammunition shortage will allow and remember the "vital" areas are key to ending the threat!

Glenn wrote:
April 08, 2013

A few years ago Wisconsin didn't have concealed carry. Then you had no defense with you at all. I figure a 380 acp isn't the best but its so much better than when you had nothing.

TenderFoot wrote:
April 05, 2013

With modern hollow point ammunition the .380 is adequate for self defense. I doubt seriously that Mr. BigFoot would want to be shot with one. It isn't a .45 ACP, but then not everyone can handle a 45 ACP. Two hits from a .380 center mass will ruin anyone's day

BigFoot wrote:
April 05, 2013

Well, Doc, let me open two more beers and we can get started. You have just announced to the world that a .380 is better than a .45 – at least on dogs. Thankfully you qualify that statement by saying that having it with you was what really counted. I would take on a 50-pound dog with a .380 but would feel seriously under-gunned if my problem was a 250-pound banger with a bad attitude, dressed in thick clothing and high on drugs. But, you say you have a larger pistol at home so the real problem isn't that you don't know any better, it's that you don't know how to carry it concealed. For a walk around the neighborhood or hitting the trail at your local green belt, nothing beats a weapon pack because it would allow you to bring your larger pistol and then you could take on bangers if necessary. Everybody wears "tummy packs" these days so they don't attract attention – except when they have a draw cord dangling down from the corner. You can avoid that faux pas by checking out the Tommy Gun Pack here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jwy0FqEXig&feature=player_embedded

Doc T wrote:
April 05, 2013

A few years ago, a firearms trainer of note whom I know, had a trio of German Shepherds attack his wife. Four rounds of a famous hollow point from his 45 ACP finally put the lead dog down. A few years ago I was out for my daily walk and a pack of lap dogs (German Shepherds, Labs, etc) attacked a woman who barely escaped into her house (minus some flesh and clothing) and then turned on me. I had a Keltec 380 ACP. Two fast rounds ended the confrontation, one with his teeth in my leg. Dressed as I was, I would not have had my larger pistol, but the ultra light Keltec was always with me. A pistol like the one in this article would be a life saver in the real world.

Jan wrote:
April 05, 2013

You're a good sport Bigfoot. I wish more people could engage in a spirited conversation like this one and stick to their point of view and remain civil like you have. I'm glad we could each take a stand for our side of the issue and still want to share a drink after. That's what a good debate is all about. Stay strong Bigfoot!

BigFoot wrote:
April 04, 2013

Well, Jan, you're missing my point. I said that some folks are limited to the size of weapon they can fire and that's okay. And, if they don't have the strength to pull back a slide, they are left with a revolver. What else is there? My argument is that way too many shooters have been brain-washed into the idea that power doesn't matter. Thanks to TV, movies, and articles in gun magazines, the prevailing wisdom is that any gun is good for self-defense. People who believe that don't like to be confused with the facts. I can quote that the FBI gave up on the .38/9mm because they were inferior to the .40/.45 and the general readership will yawn. I can quote that the military has had it with the 9mm and wished they had the bucks to go bigger and there is a collective shrug. I can quote that a mortician has documented that the 9mm is a very poor choice when it comes to shooting someone and nobody cares. There are shooters that take their ballistics very seriously because they matter and there are shooters that couldn't care less. As long as a person is happy because they have a "weapon" in their pocket, why should anybody else care? It has to do with cleaning out the gene pool: We want to help you eliminate the bad guy's genes, not yours. Great discussion, Jan. Would like to buy you a beer and keep it going.

Jan wrote:
April 04, 2013

Never said you were wrong about the .45, Bigfoot. It works, we all agree it works. Your caliber choice is good. Sleep well, be happy. No one is going to call you a sissy any time soon. All hail the .45! But you’re still missing the point. Not everyone CAN shoot a .45. Car accidents, age, arthritis, work injuries are just some reasons someone could need a small semi-auto that does not kick hard. So they should get a revolver instead like a .38 J frame? It’s one of the hardest carry guns to shoot accurately because of the fourteen pound trigger and the recoil. It has 5 shots and it’s slow to reload. How that is an improvement over a light slide, light trigger, fast follow-up shots, 8 rounds, and a fast reload is a mystery to me. To quote from the FBI Ballistic Test Protocol (http://greent.com/40Page/general/fbitest.htm): "A handgun bullet must consistently penetrate a minimum of 12 inches of tissue" Go to brassfetcher.com. Federal 230gr Hydra Shok .45 acp got 12.1 inches of penetration in bare gel, just like the FBI wants. The hard kicking J frame .38 special Federal 129gr +P Hydra Shok got 12.0 inches. And what about the pithy, tiny Federal 90gr Hydra Shok .380? It got 12.2 inches of penetration in bare gel, expanding to .527 inches. Not bad for a BB gun, and within FBI specs, right? Like I said, your ammo quotes are out of date. The .380 is not the biggest or baddest round out there, but modern loads will get the job done. People should own and carry the biggest caliber of gun they can hit with. For you that is the .45, but for others it is a .380. And they should not be chastised or belittled by you or anyone else for choosing to have a gun they can shoot well instead of nothing at all. If it's the best gun for them, they should carry it. And 12.2 inches doesn’t sound like a tap from a kitten’s paw to me. Don't chase people away from shooting just because they don’t fit your mold. We need as many good gun owners as we can get!

BigFoot wrote:
April 03, 2013

Well, Jan, "strong people" should use big guns and "weak people" should use little guns. Why is that? Because a person shouldn't arm himself with a weapon that is only good for "scaring off" a bad guy but should, instead, arm himself with a weapon that has the best possible chance of ending a fight with one shot. Why is that? Because while you are "shooting till the threat stops," the bad guy is also "shooting till the threat stops," at you! And why is that bad? Because while you are waiting for the bad guy to stop shooting at you, he is in the process of killing you. I will agree that some people are limited, for whatever reason, to a less-powerful weapon and that's okay. And if you can't get the slide back, buy a revolver. But a mouse gun shouldn't be your first choice just because it is small, light, cute, and doesn't hurt your hand when you shoot it. And the dumbest reason of all for buying a small-caliber weapon is because the ammo is cheap. Come on folks, how much is your life worth. Saving a few bucks at the range doesn't make any sense when a few pennies more will buy a round that can save your life. The number one requirement of any gun, be it shotgun, rifle, or handgun, is that it has the power to make a one-shot kill. You don't have to take my word on all this. I can quote a lot more from the FBI and I can quote from the Army. I can quote a mortician that has thousands of gunshot autopsies under his belt. After years of studying gunshot wounds, he knows what works and what doesn't. His choice? Only a .40 or .45. Anything smaller is a gamble he isn't willing to take.

Jan wrote:
April 03, 2013

Well Bigfoot, its good you have a gun and caliber that makes you feel secure. You will pull that gun and use it to protect yourself because you like it and know how to use it. Good for you. But not every shooter is you. I met another guy on the shooting range with your attitude once. He said that if someone is too weak pull the slide on a big pistol, then they shouldn't have a gun at all. Really? Then he asked me to look at his magazine for him and tell him if it was loaded all the way. He forgot his glasses and could not see it clearly. I said that if he was that blind, maybe HE should not be allowed to have a big gun. He didn't like the idea that he was disabled, like many other people. The presence of a gun, any gun, in the hands of a person determined to use it to protect themselves stops 2 million or more attacks a year, most times without a shot fired (so bullet size doesn't matter). The whole one shot stop model of thinking is outdated. Any good instructor will tell students to shoot until the threat stops. The FBI has a good standard, but most people are not FBI agents. If a regular person is shooting through walls, doors, and windshields to get at a bad guy, they're going to jail! People who are smaller, disabled, older, and in general physically weaker are more likely to be victimized than a big strong man is. But if they can't rack the slide on a heavy .45, they should just get a rape whistle or plan to urinate on their attacker, right? Anything less than a .45 and they should just lie down and cry and let the attacker have their way. Really? Proper shot placement beats bullet size every day of the week. And if someone shoots a .380 more accurately than a .45, and they can operate it better than a .45, and they carry it every day instead of leaving it at home because it’s too heavy like a .45, and they will pull the gun because they like it and know how to use it, then they should buy a .380.

BigFoot wrote:
April 02, 2013

Well, Jan, you haven't been paying any attention to the FBI. Here is what they said about the 9mm, which is a lot more powerful than the little .380: "We are saying it is as good as the .38 Special, which has served us for a long time. It has severe limitations, which we are not willing to accept. It is woefully inadequate for shooting at people in cars, for example, and over half of our shootings involve vehicles. It is a marginally adequate wounding agent. We have had a number of 9mm shootings over the past couple of years, and if you define a good shooting as one in which the subject stops whatever he was doing when he gets shot, we have yet to have a good one, and we are hitting our adversaries multiple times. We have shot half a dozen dogs in the past year and have not killed one yet, although we have run up a significant veterinary bill. The 9mm with proper ammunition is not a bad round. It is just nowhere near as effective as the 10mm (Lite / .40 S&W) and .45 offerings, and the disparity between it and the larger calibers has remained a constant throughout all the testing we have done over the past two years." If the FBI didn't like the 9mm, you can imagine how they felt about the .380. Here's what they said when it came to picking the best round for the .380: "There isn't one. The full metal jacketed round is the best of a bad choice, but only because it might penetrate." Let me ask you this question: If you knew you were going to have a gun fight on the way to the parking lot, and you knew that you had to put the bad guy down with your first shot so that he couldn't shoot back and kill you, and you were a strong man and not a weak old woman, would you rather have a .40/.45 or a .380? And would you really care if your hand stung a little after you saved your life?

Jan wrote:
April 02, 2013

Bigfoot, your comment implies that a .380 will simply bounce off like a BB gun. Sorry to break this to ya, but you don't just shake off 90 grain hollow point like a slap to the cheek. And what do you mean by fail to penetrate? It only goes into the body cavity instead of through it and out the back? The only folks who laugh at having a bullet lodge in their body are so whacked out on drugs that no handgun is going to have an immediate effect. So try this on for size: Elderly woman who has weak hands can shoot this gun, she practices with it, she pulls it and she wins against an attacker because she had a gun instead of nothing. God bless the .45, and God bless the .380. They both belong out there in the real world.

Al wrote:
April 02, 2013

Don't stop there, what if the bad guy has an RPG and it comes crashing into your head, you smile and say: at least my 45 looked nice and made me feel like a hero. LOL

BitterCold wrote:
April 02, 2013

This new LC380 is on my short list to pickup for sure and now know what ammo to pair it with. Impressive results from HPR Ammo.

Pete wrote:
April 02, 2013

Are any parts interchangable with the LC9? Any way to convert LC9 to LC380 or vice versa?

BigFoot wrote:
April 01, 2013

There's nothing like a .380 when it comes to having a small and light weapon in your pocket for self defense. But wait, what if your opponent shows up at the gun fight with a .45? Would that be a fair fight? You get off the first shot. Your 90-grain JHP hits and fails to penetrate. He doesn't even notice it as he sends a 230-grain JHP crashing into your chest and out your back. As you lay on the street bleeding out, you smile to yourself: at least your gun didn't hurt your hand.