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Stopping power. Penetration depth. Knockdown power. When it comes to choosing an EDC (everyday carry) weapon, those phrases cause many gun owners to lean toward larger calibers. It’s understandable, really: bigger bullet, bigger hole, right?

But what if, for some reason, it just isn’t feasible to strap on a 5-inch-tall, 9-inch-long handgun? What if your EDC is inaccessible, fails, or you empty the mag in a blind panic during a life-or-death fight? What if your life—or the life of someone you love—is on the line and you need backup?

Enter the revamped Ruger LCP—the LCP II. Because .380 ACP is capable of more than you think.

BACKGROUND

The original Ruger LCP (lightweight compact pistol) entered production in 2008—exactly one century after its .380 ACP chambering was created by John Browning. The diminutive cartridge proved its lethality just six years after its creation: In 1914, an assassin used it to murder both the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife. Their assassinations were one of the tipping points for World War I, and the caliber to kill them was used in battle by soldiers from no less than five European countries—meaning that arguments regarding the efficacy of .380 ACP were laid to rest nearly 100 years ago.

Now that we’ve verified the lethality of the cartridge, let’s move on to the pistol.

The LCP II is the second incarnation of the LCP—although it is important to mention the improved LCP, known as the LCP Custom (hard to miss because of its blood-red, skeletonized trigger and appreciated by fans of the first model because of various improvements). It’s true that it was, and remains, a bestseller for Ruger, but there were a few things gun owners wanted changed.

The Custom model covered some bases by lightening the trigger, reducing felt recoil and improving the sights. Still, fans wanted even more, while those not yet sold on the popular pistol had their own list of demands.
According to Ruger President and COO Chris Killoy, the company was listening and set standards high with its new pistol.

“With modern styling, improved features and a modest price, the LCP II promises to raise the bar on what people have come to expect in a compact .380 Auto pistol. The LCP II is another fine example of Ruger’s product innovation and dedication to continuous improvement.”

THE DIFFERENCES

The LCP II is Ruger’s answer to it all—from its modernized appearance to its single-action trigger. The grip catches the eye first as a result of its angled stippling, as well as the Ruger name and logo stamped to the rear. It’s not just cooler looking, however; it feels better in my hand than its predecessor’s harder, pebbled surface and allows for a more positive grip. Even pouring water on both the grip and my hand to wet the surface resulted in no slippage.

The backstrap has changed, too; that’s more significant than you might think. It could be the 0.11-inch increase in overall height or the slight change in angle where the backstrap meets the butt of the pistol, but holding the LCP II is more comfortable overall. In the world of pocket pistols, a true positive grip and greater comfort equal a significant increase in accuracy … and accuracy is inarguably vital in a tool meant for saving lives.

The author freely admits to not having small hands. Despite that, the LCP II fits more comfortably than many other pocket pistols and delivers reliable cycling and accuracy.

The author freely admits to not having small hands. Despite that, the LCP II fits more comfortably than many other pocket pistols and delivers reliable cycling and accuracy.

The sights on the pistol are integrated into the frame, meaning that the rear sights and front blade sight are fixed to the alloy steel slide. While some shooters enjoy freedom from worrying if they’ve bumped and displaced their sights, others, such as myself, prefer the ability to make minor adjustments while also enjoying the greater visibility of night sights.

On the pistol I reviewed, the front sight appeared to be ever so slightly to the left—a miniscule difference that mattered enormously when shooting for accuracy. In addition, during daylight hours, the black sights are visible, but as night falls, they vanish, forcing you to shoot instinctually.

Of course, there are improvements to the LCP II. First and foremost is the slide. The original LCP has a slide so stiff as to be off putting, but the LCP II’s slide is easily racked—right out of the box. It isn’t only the mechanism, itself, making life easier, either; the slide on the new pistol is elongated and features angled serrations at both the front and back. Quite simply, there’s more to hold onto, and it’s easier to move. The slide is designed to lock back when the magazine runs empty, too—something the original did not do.

TESTING

For testing, I did a side-by-side with an original, brand-new LCP. This meant more trigger time (and who doesn’t love that?), but it also meant I could compare and contrast on the spot. Suffice it to say that the contrast between the two is sharp. (And me being me, I also took the opportunity to run two pistols at the same time. Dual-wielding .380 ACPs, anyone?)

Ruger describes the LCP II as having a single-action trigger with a blade safety similar to that of the Ruger LC9. I was pleased to find the pistol has a 5-pound, 14-ounce trigger pull—much lighter than the 7-pound, 8-ounce trigger pull of the LCP. However, it does have significant travel, measured at just under 0.75 inch; and there is stacking immediately prior to the break.

The break, itself, is crisp. Taking slow, measured shots, I was able to maintain accuracy, but the stacking issue leads to problems controlling shots as you fire more rapidly. It’s true that the .380 ACP is a close-range weapon typically at its best at less than 7 feet, and it’s reasonable to state that the majority of firefights take place at close range, as well. But that does not negate the need for an accurate gun.

SO, HOW ACCURATE IS THE LCP II?

When I ran the first magazine through the pistol, I used SRSP Team Never Quit HP Frangible ammunition and fired a fiveshot group from a distance of 10 yards. Because you’re unlikely to find a sandbag or pistol rest conveniently placed at the time of your assault, I like to spend trigger time testing pistols shooting off hand. That’s how I fired the first five shots, and the resulting .947-inch group was a sign of solid accuracy, especially because I was noticing the need to drift over the sights, which enlarged the group as I corrected for a bull’s-eye hit.

Future groups were better; my best group with the same ammunition and setup was .506 inch. Groups widened noticeably as I increased my rate of fire. They were still within what most would consider “critical zones,” but when you factor in the adrenaline spike, increased heartrate, rapid breathing and muscle shakes of a life-or-death situation, those groups could quickly become misses for any shooter.

The LCP II cycled the large variety of ammunition I fed it, including the SRSP Team Never Quit HP Frangibles, Hornady American Gunner XTPs, Remington FMJs and G2 Research RIP HPs. There were no failures—the hallmark of a reliable self-defense pistol, whether for main carry or backup.

If you’re going to carry a gun chambered in .380 ACP such as the LCP II, make sure you load it with the most effective defense rounds—such as these Snake River Shooting Products Team Never Quit HP Frangibles. SRSP TNQ frangibles create a devastating wound cavity while removing the risk of overpenetration.

If you’re going to carry a gun chambered in .380 ACP such as the LCP II, make sure you load it with the most effective defense rounds—such as these Snake River Shooting Products Team Never Quit HP Frangibles. SRSP TNQ frangibles create a devastating wound cavity while removing the risk of overpenetration.

The one issue of functioning that came up was an approximately 15 percent failure to lock back on empty. This is a feature the original LCP did not have that was added to the LCP II: The slide should lock back when the magazine empties. It’s important to note that the mags are largely compatible, meaning that LCP mags will work with the LCP II—but not lock back—but LCP II mags won’t work with the LCP. The failures to lock back that occurred during testing are notable, because it’s a bit difficult to keep track of shots fired during a firefight.

THE IDEAL BUG

U.S. Air Force veteran and Snake River Shooting Products President Casey Betzold shared his thoughts on backup guns (BUGs): “I am a proponent of full-sized primary guns with smaller BUGs for civilians who carry daily. Pair both your EDC and BUG with the best possible ammunition to make them the most effective tools possible. Preparation is key.”

The biggest pro of a pocket pistol such as this is the ability to conceal it anywhere. The carry possibilities are endless and include pocket or ankle holsters and belly bands. I prefer carrying BUGs in my boot and on the admittedly rare occasions I absolutely must wear a dress, which renders me unable to carry my usual EDC. On those occasions, I use a Shooting Tulips corset or thigh holster. The LCP II fit securely and comfortably in both, even when worn at length. There is a slew of drawbacks to offbody carry, so I’d rather wear an LCP II in the Zinnia thigh holster under a dress than hope I can reach my purse in time. And for cooler months, which are lengthy here in Wisconsin, the pistol fits snugly in my tall and short boots with the Galco Ankle Lite and Boot Extender.

Bottom line? The LCP II is a solid, little backup gun that demonstrated significant advances over both the LCP and LCP Custom. If you plan to carry this gun for self-defense, treat it like any other gun by training with it as if you might one day be fighting for your life with it… because you just might.

This gun pushes you to shoot instinctually—not necessarily a bad thing, considering the realities of a close-range firefight in which you’re down to your BUG. And while the sights are an issue, this is an ideal BUG, meaning you’ll be up close and personal when the time comes.

Train. Train as if you might one day fight, and the LCP II isn’t just your BUG but your most valuable weapon. Because that day could come.

 

SPECIFICATIONS
  • CALIBER: .380 ACP
  • CAPACITY: 6 +1
  • BARREL LENGTH: 2.75 inches
  • OVERALL LENGTH: 5.17 inches
  • OVERALL HEIGHT: 3.71 inches
  • WEIGHT: 10.6 ounces (empty)
  • GRIP FRAME: Black stippled glass-filled nylon
  • SLIDE: Alloy steel
  • BARREL: Alloy steel
  • SLIDE WIDTH: 0.75 inch
  • SIGHTS: Integral; rear dovetail and front blade
  • TRIGGER: Single-action only (SAO) blade safety trigger
  • TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT: 5 pounds, 14 ounces (measured)
  • SAFETY: Blade safety trigger and internal safeties
  • TWIST: 1:16 inches
  • RH GROOVES: Six
  • SLIDE FINISH: Blued
  • BARREL FINISH: Blued

MSRP: $349

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

STURM, RUGER & CO., INC.

(336) 949-5200

www.Ruger.com

 

Ballistics

Velocity figures are the result of 10 rounds fired through a PACT Professional XP chronograph. Accuracy figures are the result of five five-shot groups at 10 yards from a sandbag rest.

Load Velocity
(FPS)
Std. Deviation
(FPS)
Largest Group
(inches)
Smallest Group
(inches)
Avg. Group
(inches)
SRSP Team Never Quit 75-grain HP Frangible 1012 22 1.21 0.506 0.93
G2 Research RIP 62-grain HP 1117 18 1.11 0.69 0.94
Hornady American Gunner 90-grain XTP 982 21 1.26 0.58 0.99
Remington 95-grain  FMJ 802 802 29 1.31 0.89 1.08
Poly Case Inceptor 56-grain ARX 1268 24 1.17 0.6 0.97

 

Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the February 2017 print issue of Gun World Magazine.