I picked up a Ruger LCP for a steal a few months ago. I wasn’t on the market for compact pistol (I’m a big enough guy that my EDC Glock 19 rarely gives me any trouble concealing) but I am, for better or worse, a gun guy. When I’m presented with an opportunity to buy and shoot something I’ve never played with before without getting yelled at by my wife for breaking the bank, I tend to jump at it. The gun was still sealed in the package, but was technically second-hand (part of an estate liquidation), and I happily took the little pistol home despite knowing nothing about it but its reputation – a reputation that honestly isn’t all that good.
The LCP, or Lightweight Compact Pistol, comes chambered in a respectable .380 with a magazine capacity of six rounds (plus one in the chamber). It’s solidly affordable at around $220, and even comes with a handy pocket holster for you to nuzzle your adorable little gun into like a nest for what seems like a dainty piece of gear. I mean, I can hide the entire pistol in my hand and it weighs in at about 9 ounces unloaded, so I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like my new concealed carry pistol was a fragile little thing intended for smaller, cuter hands like my wife’s (who actually carries a Walther that has a larger footprint). Sure, I felt that way… until I went and shot it.
Ruger LCP as shown with grip extension.
Now, full disclosure, I first started firing my new LCP only a few days after being taken out of a cast for a broken wrist, so my surprise at just how hard this little thing kicks may have been exaggerated, but (in my opinion) the poor grip design is a bigger culprit. A pistol I love to shoot fits into my hand as though it was meant to be there, and the LCP’s grip angle just isn’t intuitive for the shape of my hand. It doesn’t seem to be a size issue, and to be honest, it may really just be a matter of my personal preference.
Small, lightweight pistols that are chambered in anything larger than .22 tend to have a real kick to them – that’s honestly part of the fun – but this little pistol just feels a bit out of control in my gorilla mitt under rapid fire conditions. So, I attempted to remedy the issue by purchasing some aftermarket accents: a magazine mounted grip extension, and a grip pad to thicken it up a bit.
Ruger LCP before and after adding grip pad and extension.
To be honest, for a total of about $30, I managed to make the pistol feel close to comfortable in my hand, but some other issues persisted. Its sights, which can’t be adjusted or replaced, are pretty much useless to anyone whose vision wouldn’t qualify them to fly side by side with Maverick at Top Gun, and for the size of the pistol, the trigger throw is just long enough to make you worry about what part of your finger you use to squeeze it to avoid shifting the pistol in your hand as you fire. These aren’t deal breakers, they just mean getting good with this thing takes practice at more than just the fundamentals.
The first time I ever touched my 1911, I was able to keep a tight group at 25 meters as though the pistol and I were old friends. The first time I fired my Glock, I fell into that classic category of guys that found their rounds impacting a bit high and to the left of where they were intended until I buckled down and focused on what I was doing; it didn’t take long to correct. The first time I fired my LCP, I was just glad the damn thing stayed in my hand. Jokes aside, it’s a pretty accurate firearm once you get the hang of it, though from 25 meters, I wouldn’t trust myself to stop a threat with my first round. Other (better) shooters though, certainly could.
I did, eventually, find the right accessory I needed to make the Ruger LCP a much more feasible part of my Every Day Carry loadout – the De Santis Pocket Shot. The pistol slides into this little holster and is made for you to fire the weapon while it sits inside. In effect, it turns your LCP into a wallet that isn’t all that much bigger than my own.
Ruger LCP in De Santis Pocket Shot as compared to a normal wallet.
I opted to leave the grip extension on my magazines for my own comfort, but removing that would give the pistol an even smaller print. I now tend to carry my wallet in a front pocket, with the pistol tucked into my rear, right pocket like my wallet used to be. It’s not much thicker than my wallet was, so it doesn’t cause any problems with comfort while driving or walking around, and I have the ability to access it quickly, and in a manner that doesn’t draw a ton of attention.
Ultimately, if you’re on the market for a compact pistol with pretty good stopping power, the Ruger LCP is reliable and accurate, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. That doesn’t mean it can’t still be a lot of fun at the range (people tend to look at you funny when you start shooting your wallet), and in a jam, I’m confident that I can count on this little pistol to give me a fighting chance.
If you choose to pick one up for yourself, I highly recommend that you purchase the De Santis Pocket Shot as well. For me, it actually made the pistol seat in my hand more comfortably, and it’s certainly one of the easiest and most convenient concealed carry options I’ve seen around.
Images courtesy of the author