Ruger LC380

Ruger sent me their LC380 for T&E review. It is very similar to their LC9 except this slim, single-stack pistol is chambered for the .380 ACP centerfire cartridge.

Rugerlc380-1

Included in box:  Instruction manual, one 7-round magazine, low-profile floorplate, one internal lock key, a soft nylon pistol case, and one pre-fired .380 acp cartridge case.

Rugerlc380-2     Rugerlc380-3

Rugerlc380-4

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Pistol spec:

.                                                                                      Manufacturer:  Sturm, Ruger & Co.
.                                                                                      Model:  LC380
.                                                                                      Caliber:  .380 Auto (9x17mm)(9mm kurtz)
.                                                                                      Capacity:  7+1
.                                                                                      Weight:  17.3 oz. w/mag
.                                                                                      Length:  5.96 in.
.                                                                                      Height:  4.45 in.
.                                                                                      Width:  1.04 in. (safety included)
.                                                                                      Barrel:  3.12 in.
.                                                                                      Trigger:  6 lbs. 6.5 oz.

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.380 ACP magazine follower; note the spacer.
Rugerlc380-5     Rugerlc380-6

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Rear & Front drift adjustable 3-dot sights.
Rugerlc380-7     Rugerlc380-8

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Right-handed controls; slide stop and manual safety levers (disengaged  &  engaged)   –   Internal lock
Rugerlc380-9  Rugerlc380-10     Rugerlc380-11

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Smooth trigger   –   Trigger pull average (Lyman digital gauge): 6 lbs. 6.5 oz.
Rugerlc380-12     Rugerlc380-13

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Serrated magazine release   –   Finely checkered glass-filled nylon frame   –   Backstrap   –   Frontstrap
Rugerlc380-14   Rugerlc380-15   Rugerlc380-16   Rugerlc380-17

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Loaded chamber indicator
Rugerlc380-18   Rugerlc380-19

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Disassembled for cleaning and familiarization
Rugerlc380-20

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Frame innards   –   Slide bottom
Rugerlc380-21     Rugerlc380-22

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Detailed breech   –   Feed ramp
Rugerlc380-23     Rugerlc380-24

Rugerlc380-25Being familiar with this design, this pistol is identical to Ruger’s larger-caliber LC9 except for the cartridge.  It’s a slim single-stack, hammer-fired DAO concealable gun.  Making possible deep concealment, the synthetic frame is both lightweight and durable.  Given its similarity in size to its predecessor (Ruger announced this as a .380 chambered LC9) I was curious to see how they managed to engineer the shorter round to properly function in a 9mm-sized magwell.  The solution was pure simplicity; a metal spacer stamped internally to the rear of the magazine.  Along with the internal lock, manual safety, and a loaded chamber indicator it’s also equipped with a magazine disconnect; the magazine has to be in place to fire.  As with the 9mm version the LC380 has clean snag-free lines, and with the included extended floorplate installed for an improved grip it makes for a sleek and secure package.  Now – to see how it performs at the range.

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Range report:

Temperature was 52°F.  10 mph NE wind and raining.  Winchester, Speer, and Black Hills ammunition was allocated for the test.

Rugerlc380-26     Rugerlc380-27

Rugerlc380-28

Velocity results were first priority.

Shooting Chrony F-1 Master set at 10 ft.   –   Primer strikes appear sufficient
Rugerlc380-29     Rugerlc380-30

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Velocity results:

.                                                                         Winchester PDX1 380 Auto 95 gr. JHP…..942 fps
.                                                                         Speer Lawman 380 Auto 95 gr. TMJ……..874 fps
.                                                                         Black Hills  380 Auto  90 gr. JHP………….861 fps

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50 ft:

5-round groups were fired from a bench at 50 feet.

Win. PDX1   –   Speer Lawman   –   Black Hills JHP
Rugerlc380-31     Rugerlc380-32     Rugerlc380-33

Note:  Targets’ Bullseye – 2″ dia.;  outer – 6″ dia.
.
B-27  Silhouette
5-round groups – offhand
Rugerlc380-34Head:  Winchester – 3 yds.
Thorax:  Speer Lawman – 5 yds.
X:   Black Hills – 7 yds.

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Rugerlc380-35The weather conditions at the range were not ideal – drizzle turning into rain with an arriving northern front.  Upon completion of the velocity test I proceeded to the 50 foot range for accuracy.  Supported from a bench my first shots were nowhere to be found.  Taking a few steps forward and firing a couple of spotters revealed the hits were high-right.  After adjusting windage to both front and rear sights and aiming at the bottom of the target I was on paper; subsequent targets I aimed even lower, approximately one inch below.  Needless to say point-of-impact was about eight to nine inches above point-of-aim at fifty feet.  At practical defensive ranges POA and POI was acceptable.

During testing the pistol had several failures to eject, mostly stovepipes.  Additionally, the slide failed to lock open when the mag ran empty a majority of the time.  Regardless of ammunition brand this pistol exhibited reliability issues.  Furthermore, Black Hills ammunition would bind with only two or three rounds loaded in the magazine, the meplat was dragging.  Attempting to add more prevented loaded rounds from feeding properly.  Though the ammunition was within SAAMI spec it would not function in this magazine; it could not be topped off.

On a positive note the LC380′s trigger pull was smooth and controllable with no stacking.  The felt recoil was noticeably reduced in comparison to its 9mm sibling.  Despite the wet conditions the grip shape, fine checkering, and mild recoil ensured a secure hold.

Sadly, between the miserable weather and lackluster performance of the pistol I was left underwhelmed with this range session; with approx. 115 rounds downrange I called it a day.

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Update:

As a result of my dismal experience with the LC380 I e-mailed Ruger after which they replied that they were sending me a replacement pistol.  Upon receipt of  the replacement my inspection revealed a greenish coating on the recoil springs whereas the initial pistol’s were black.

Rugerlc380-36

Range report II:

Foregoing velocity results and in much better weather it was straight to functionality and accuracy.

50 ft:

5-round groups were fired from a bench at 50 feet.

Speer Lawman   –   Black Hills   –   Win. PDX1
Rugerlc380-37     Rugerlc380-38     Rugerlc380-39

Note:  Targets’ Bullseye – 2″ dia.;  outer – 6″ dia.
.
B-27  Silhouette
5-round groups – offhand
Rugerlc380-40Head: Speer Lawman – 3 yds.
Thorax:  Black Hills – 5 yds.
X:   Win.  PDX1 – 7 yds.

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Rugerlc380-41Happily this LC380 performed far better than the first.  Again supported from a bench, at 50 feet I held at six o’clock but with hits now dead center with no sight adjustment required.  Accuracy was also improved up-close.  This is much more in line with my expectations.

In sharp contrast to the first pistol, this one suffered no failures to extract.  Similarly, the slide locked open without fail at the end of every magazine.  This is possibly due to the replacement of the original black springs for the greenish colored ones.  Unfortunately the magazine still would not accept more than two or three rounds of Black Hills ammunition.  My assumption is that the magazine spacer is slightly oversized to properly feed all manufactures of .380 cartridges.  Except for the continued binding with Black Hills ammo reliability was vastly improved.

After my disappointment with the first handgun the replacement much more closely aligns with what I expect from a Ruger product.  Most of the issues were resolved and hopefully the Black Hills problem can soon be rectified.  At defensive ranges accuracy was more than acceptable.  Overall, I believe the mild recoil of the cartridge and the smooth ergonomics of Ruger’s LC380 make for a viable covert carry weapon.