Some things were meant to be together, like peanut butter and jelly, but pocket pistols and lasers? There is a great irony in the fact that the handguns carried most by citizens for personal defense are also inherently the most difficult to shoot. Yes, when we are standing around in the gun shop we all talk about custom M1911s, Glock 22s, Sig Sauer P220s, but when it comes to what lawful gun carriers are actually concealing on their persons day in and day out, it often boils down to compact revolvers and subcompact autopistols. The sales figures alone will prove me right on this.

When Ruger introduced the Light Compact Pistol (LCP) in .380 ACP, they were met with unprecedented demand. This popularity was so great that Ruger was admittedly surprised by the amount of orders for the little guns. Production schedules had to be adjusted and increased to satisfy a market hungry for these pocket blasters.


The LCP is a double-action-only, semi-automatic with a steel slide and a glass-filled nylon frame. A single column magazine holds six rounds of .380 ACP ammunition. The LCP has a smooth-faced double-action-only (DAO) trigger. Empty weight for the little pistol is a mere 9.4 ounces. The overall length is 5.16 inches and the height is 3.6 inches. As for thickness, at its widest, the subcompact pistol is 0.82 inches. The 2.75-inch barrel is alloy steel with 1-in-16-inch rifling.

The Ruger LCR (Light Compact Revolver) is a DAO handgun with a five-shot cylinder. Chambered for .38 Special ammunition, it will accept the hot +P loads. What is most notable about the LCR is the use of polymer as the frame housing. The LCR is actually composed of three primary materials: stainless steel, aluminum and polymer. The barrel and cylinder are constructed of steel, the frame is aluminum and the external housing is glass-fiber-filled polymer. The empty weight of the standard LCR pistol is only 13.5 ounces. The barrel is 1.88 inches long with 1-in-16-inch rifling. Overall length is 6.5 inches and height is 4.5 inches.

Pocket Pistol Conundrum

It cannot be denied that the factors that make the Ruger LCR and LCP the most popular—compact size and light weight—also work against them when it comes to actually putting rounds on target. These pistols have purpose-built, long, double-action triggers, while their sight radius is short and the grip surface is small by design. All these features are great for discreet carry for extended periods of time.

Naturally, the key to success with any firearm is training and practice. That’s a given. When we are discussing compact/subcompact handguns, this fact is more critical. The short sight radius, coupled with a long trigger stroke, is much less forgiving than your favorite full-sized duty pistol. Your prized 1911 with a 4.5-pound crisp trigger is likely a joy to shoot, but is that the gun you drop in your pocket at 10 p.m. when you run out for milk or diapers?

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