Ruger’s LCP—Lightweight Compact Pistol—in popular .380 ACP was first introduced in 2008 to a great deal of fanfare. While certainly not the newest entry into the pocket pistol concealed carry market, Ruger’s reputation for high quality and durability certainly made it a welcome contender.

Texas Governor Rick Perry carries one while jogging and famously used it against a coyote that was threatening his dog. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I am not sure what is. This double-action-only (DAO) polymer-framed semi-auto packs 6+1 rounds of .380 ACP ammunition in about as small a package as you can get and comfortably fire.

LCP In Hand

The LCP also added one welcome feature in the pocket pistol category, a manual slide hold-open. The lack of a bolt or slide hold-open device on any firearm is a safety pet peeve of mine, although a chamber flag will do the job in a pinch, and Ruger gets high marks on that feature alone. That said, it is a manually operated latch and will not lock the slide open on an empty magazine or the last shot, but it will unlock itself when the slide is retracted. It is a bit too small to comfortably use as a slide release, although it can be done with a little practice.

Pocket carry has its own set of challenges and having a completely snag-free profile is certainly a paramount consideration. With this in mind, the Ruger LCP features rounded edges throughout and a smooth finish with flush, integral low-profile fixed sights. The only necessarily non-smooth areas can be found on the slide serrations and the checkering on the grip.

The steel slide and barrel have a very well-executed satin black non-reflective finish. The slide’s open-top design expands the ejection port down both sides of the gun to improve ejection of empty cartridges and increase reliability. This also makes it easier to manually insert a single round directly into the chamber.

This is a hammer-fired double-action pistol, and the flush hammer is visible at the rear of the slide, which partially cocks the hammer for single-strike capability. The advantage of this system is that there is only one consistent trigger squeeze for the shooter to master. The trigger is very smooth, with no stacking or creep and a full inch of travel. It weighed 7 pounds and felt very consistent.

In keeping with the pistol’s simple controls, there is no external or manual safety. There is a small window on the right side of the slide at the back of the chamber that can provide visual indication of a round in the chamber. The hammer’s half-cock does also provide a modicum of safety to prevent it from striking the firing pin on a live round. There is not, however, a drop safety, and the pistol could fire if dropped with a live round chambered. Ruger recommends that the pistol be carried with an empty chamber until ready to fire.

On the range, the LCP performed without any malfunction of any sort with a mix of defensive ammunition and recoil was comfortable given the pistol’s small size. For accuracy testing, I fired from a bench rest at standard self-defense distance of 7 yards. The sights are very small but usable, however, I achieved much better results using the manufacturer-equipped laser.

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