August 7, 2013

Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443

We tested guns with factory-fitted lasersights in the February 2013 issue. Hereís an excerpt of that report focusing on the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443.

Lasersights on handguns are common today. Scan the used-handgun case at a gun shop, and more than likely youíll find a rig that the former owner customized with a laser sight. In the new-pistol case, you will also see factory-fitted laser sights on handguns.

We were interested in how factory-fitted lasersights would affect our judgment of three previously tested 380 ACP pistols, the Ruger LCP, SIGís P238, and Waltherís PK380. The Ruger earned an A- grade in the June 2008, and the SIG notched an A- in the June 2010 issue, and the Walther got a B-, also in the June 2010 issue. The lasered versions of those handguns are the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443; SIG Sauerís P238 Tactical Laser No. 238-380-TL 380 ACP, $829; and Waltherís PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP, $489. Would the addition of a laser sight change our mind about the pistol? Would the addition of a laser bulk up a pocket pistol with a gadget? Would the laser be an asset or a detriment to an already fine pistol?

The three pistols spanned the spectrum of action types. The Ruger is a DAO (Double Action Only). The Walther PK380 is a traditional DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) pistol, where the pistol can be fired DA and subsequently fired SA. The SIG, SA only, was set up like a mini 1911. These pistols are made for close work, so we tested for accuracy at 15 yards with open sights, but were more interested in using the lasers in unconventional shooting positions, much like you might encounter in a real-life confrontation with a bad actor. Our goal with these lasered pocket pistols was to quickly project the red dot on target and punch holes in targets efficiently and effectively.

The LCP-LM was the most easily concealed pistol but the laser activation switch was impossible to operate with one hand. The frameís textured front strap and checkered grip helped control the pistol in rapid fire.

We used D-1 tombstone-style targets with a 4-inch-diameter X-ring and an A-ring and B-ring at 8 inches and 12 inches, respectively. The rings are visible at close range ó about 5 yards, but beyond that and depending on your eye sight, the rings are undetectable.

All three employed red Class IIIa lasers. The warning label was blatantly affixed to each laser. Donít point the laser beam in eyes, as permanent eye damage can result. (Never mind the damage from a 380 slug.) Laser beams can reflect off certain surfaces like TV screens, mirrors, glass, etc. Make sure you test the laser of an unloaded weapon so you can experience how the laser beam can react. Also note that laser sights should also be removed when cleaning the weapon, as oils and solvents are not good for the laserís electronics. As in any test, we focused on the major areas of importance with these pistols, such as reliability, concealability, shooter comfort, and accuracy. But because of the lasers, we zeroed in on how the optics affected handling, printing, and other carry issues.

Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443

The LCP-LM mashed together Rugerís tiniest pistol with LaserMaxís trigger-guard laser sight. The laser was nicely integrated into the pistol, similar to the SIG P238. Some thought the Ruger did a better job integrating the laser to the pistol. The trigger was nice and broke cleanly, but the female tester in the group had a hard time racking the slide. As pistols get smaller they can be harder to use and operate. Big-mitt testers felt the Ruger was the hardest of the three to fire easily.

The trade off with the Rugerís smaller size was slightly less accuracy and control. However, all testers felt they would be able to shoot the Ruger better with more practice. Another point that testers did not like was the laser-activation button. To turn the laser on, the button was pressed from either the right or left side. To turn it off, the shooter pressed the button from the opposite side to center the button. You could not turn the laser on and off using one hand.

Even petite female hands found the Ruger was a small pistol to operate.

The laser battery was accessed via screws and that allow a sideplate to be removed. One 1/3 N-cell lithium battery powered the laser. The laser could be removed from the LCP, but there were polymer tabs that look like they could easily be broken if the laser was snapped on and off the gun numerous times. The LCP-LM was adjusted via two tiny hex screws. The Ruger has minimal sights that allowed the pistol to slip easily into most any size pocket, though if your girlfriend is carrying the tiny Ruger, it would imprint if she was wearing her skinny jeans. The LCP-LM was the only pistol that could easily hide in a pant pocket.

There are no controls protruding out of the pistol, so it was very smooth. A manual slide stop is embedded into the LCP-LM and can be used to manually hold the slide open. The slide did not stay open after the last round was fired. The Ruger had more pronounced muzzle flip, making follow-up shots not as precise but still within the rings of the D-1 target. More seasoned testers did not like that the slide did not lock open on the last shot, like it did with the SIG and Walther.

Our Team Said: The Ruger was the best choice for deep-conceal carry, we believe. But we noted some dings on it: The laser needed two hands to be turned on and off, and it had some muzzle flip. Still, the small package was controllable enough and affordable enough to come in above the others, in our opinion.

Comments (23)

This past week end, I made a happy discovery for my LCP. At a local gun show, I asked one of the exhibitors who sells accessories if he had a belt clip for the LCP. His response was that the same belt clip for the Kel-Tec pistols will work on the LCP, so I purchased one. When I got home, I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the belt clip does indeed mount quite nicely on the LCP. I put only one clip on the right side, since the LCP has a slide catch on the left side, and there might be some conflict if one was to mount a clip on the right and left sides, as I had done with my Kel-Tec P3AT and P32. So, now I have a small, lightweight .380 with laser that can be clipped to the top of my boot shafts for a very discreet carry.

Posted by: canovack | September 9, 2013 12:23 PM    Report this comment

robg, I have never paid $50/box for any ammo at any time, and the 200 rounds that it took to break in my PM9 came out of my stocks of ammo for which I paid $12.95/box of 9x19mm. I don't know what gunsmithing fees are running these days, since I do most work myself, but for the sheer joy of shooting 200 rounds, my costs were about $52.00. Maybe a smith is cheaper, but he/she isn't as much fun as just shooting.....

Posted by: canovack | August 14, 2013 8:07 PM    Report this comment

200 rounds to smooth things out? with $50/box ammo, it'd be cheaper to go to a gunsmith.

Posted by: robg | August 14, 2013 7:47 PM    Report this comment

You provide some interesting information, ordnance outsellers. Your comments regarding serial number prefixes prompted me to take a look at my PM9, and mine is IA. The trigger is good, but as Kahr recommends, it did take 200 rounds to smooth things out. The biggest problem that I encountered was that the slide sometimes failed to lock into battery. I remedied that by pushing the rear of the slide forward with my thumb. Once I got past the 200 rounds, things seem to be working alright.

Posted by: canovack | August 14, 2013 10:51 AM    Report this comment

robg, no question about jframe being a tried and true classic and works just about 100% of the time and your 1990 circa gun came with a much better trigger than new ones that have come to market in last 5-6 years! New ones are horrible; plus you have the benefit of maybe hundreds of rounds being fired through your gun to further smooth that trigger! Also, I wouldn't bet my life on ANY 380, even with today's improved ammo!

While I can no longer recommend current production Kahr PM9's, earlier guns had fabulous triggers right out of the box, also weighed 14 1/2 oz, have 7 9mm rounds, compared to 5 for jframe (40%more) and guarantee that most will likely never be able to reload a "j', even with speed loaders, if in actual SD situation! Your "duty gun" comment would seem to indicate you are LE and you might be able to do it; but 90% of other's can't! Regarding concealability, you must add the width of cyl to that of frame of "j" and is much "fatter", not as flat or comfortable as PM.You can change mag, under stress, with a PM.

Only problem is would need to find a VB, VC, or VD serial number prefix gun to get one of really good triggers! Stay far away from current "ID" serial prefix guns! Believe it is no longer advisable to purchase a PM without personally checking the trigger which would require local purchase!

Posted by: ordnance outsellers | August 12, 2013 5:48 AM    Report this comment

Why is everyone obsessed with carrying .380's these days? I've owned a couple, and a .32 Keltec, but the one gun I've never parted with and still carry the most is my circa 1990 S&W bodyguard airweight. Shrouded hammer, 15 oz weight, rides very safely in my pocket, or in a summer special concealment holster. It'll put 5 rounds of plus p in a fist sized group at 5-10 yards as fast as I can pull the trigger. I also carry a G-26 frequently, and carried a p-226 and G-22 as duty guns, but the little j-frame has been everywhere with me. I recently went back to smooth walnut grips, and found they really reduced "printing", especially when wearing a t-shirt. The rest of you guys are welcome to continue spending as much of your hard earned cash as you see fit on the latest gimmicks. I'll stick to what I know works.

Posted by: robg | August 11, 2013 8:52 PM    Report this comment

Hillary in 2016. Wake me when it is over. I feel like a boxer that is getting the shit kicked out of him.

Posted by: Cecil B | August 10, 2013 5:20 PM    Report this comment

Gotcha loud and clear Cecil! In 2008 and again in 2012, I very actively posted campaign messags against Obama. It was clear to me in 2008 that he was unfit for office, and following the first term in office, it was abundantly clear that we needed him to be defeated. The Republican candidates in both contests weren't up to the task of doing what was needed to win, so I hope that the Republicans can field a candidate who can aggressively attack Hillary the Harridan in 2016.....Otherwise, I have some deep seated fears that our nation may really be doomed to sink into third world obscurity.

I don't know about Putin's sexual orientation, but I do think he goes a bit overboard with the shirtless photographs riding a horse. I know that Putin is KGB, but at this point, in a contest between Vladimir and Barack, it might be problematic to determine who might be the best choice.....

Posted by: canovack | August 10, 2013 5:11 PM    Report this comment

Personally, I think Putin is gay. He sure likes to run around without a shirt, trying to show how macho he is. The little KGB prick. I think we should put him and Obama in a room, each with knives and not let them out till only one survives. Every day, Obama does something else to raise my blood pressure. But, then, when he was running and everyone was talking about voting for him, I sternly warned them against it. But what do I know?

Posted by: Cecil B | August 10, 2013 1:36 PM    Report this comment

Well, now that you mention it, ordnance outsellers, things Russian and Puntinesque might be on the ascendance when compared to things Obamaian.....

Posted by: canovack | August 10, 2013 10:55 AM    Report this comment

My apologies canovack, with all the talk about Putin and things Russian, put a "Ruskie" twist to your name! Consider me chastised.....if bot chaste!

Posted by: ordnance outsellers | August 9, 2013 10:52 PM    Report this comment

Great report on the LCP

Posted by: azwhitewing | August 9, 2013 1:48 PM    Report this comment

Ordnance outsellers, I am always pleased to see that we have much in common as relates to our concerns and preferences in firearms. Now, my friend, please don't take this the wrong way, but my GunReports handle is canovack, not carnovak. Having lived with my name for more than 72 years, misspellings have been a fairly common thing, but sometimes I do find myself growing weary of them.....(Smile).

Posted by: canovack | August 9, 2013 10:41 AM    Report this comment

As a dealer I've found that the LCP and about every other "pocket" pistol have very hard or rough triggers. Much more important issue on any small, light gun, as there is no weight to the gun to steady it in the hand, especially with a hard, gritty trigger to work against you!

Like Carnovak, I've loved the Kahr PM9, at least earlier guns, especially with VB,VC, and VD serial number prefix's.They have a very light, smooth trigger. making it not only easy to carry; but easy to shoot! Unfortunately, now they use all the same internals in frames of both PM and CM9, which costs about half what a PM does! My beloved PM was stolen in June and had great trigger with VB SN prefix. My replacement is an ID prefix gun and has a horrible trigger! Sent it back to Kahr and they did polish internals; but did not replace any parts. It is definitely better; but "ID" guns, including mine, has a very looooong takeup, with travel going all the way to back of trigger guard before break, not that crisp either. Other "ID" guns are going back and it is no longer worth substantial extra cost to buy a PM over a CM! Better to buy a CM and send to Cylinder & Slide, or Robar and have a great gun for about same price as stock PM!

I have Crimson Trace on just about all my handguns and recommend them highly! IMHO, a bad idea to have a laser that requires your second hand to activate!

Lastly, they did not comment about the safety issue of carrying Sig 238 "cocked & locked" in pocket carry, as can almost guarantee that if confronted with actual self defense situation, will lose about 50% of motor skills and cocked hammer will snag on pocket lining and in struggle to get it out, very good chance of wiping off safety and having disaster of a AD!

Posted by: ordnance outsellers | August 9, 2013 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Pistols do not feed from clips..... They feed from magazines.

Posted by: canovack | August 8, 2013 7:49 PM    Report this comment

Have carried mine for several years with no problems, love the conceal ability. It has always functioned properly. A 9 round lip is available from Academy if you want more firepower.

Posted by: stile | August 8, 2013 7:41 PM    Report this comment

By-the-way, weasle94, I also have a Kel-Tec P3AT (and a P32), and for the money, they are very good little pieces. I have rigged the P3AT and the P32 with frame mounted clips, so they are easily carried in the shafts of my perrenial western boots.

Posted by: canovack | August 8, 2013 7:35 PM    Report this comment

While I made some postive comments above as regards the LCP, I have always had a feeling that the .380 round was about the lowest power cartridge that I really cared to carry. My LCP worked fine as a back-up for the major caliber pieces that I carry on my strong side hip. Most of the time, I tend to carry SIG Sauer pistols chambered in .357SIG. Sometimes I carry .45ACP, and sometimes I am found with something in 9x19mm. That said, I have relegated my .380 LCP to some of the deepest concealment needs, and in its place, as a back-up, I usually always carry a Kahr PM9. The PM9 is about the same size as the LCP, and it packs a bigger punch.....plus for those times when I carry a 9x19 piece on my hip, the Kahr eats the same stuff, so there is a bit of compatibility there, that is not present with the LCP.

Posted by: canovack | August 8, 2013 7:32 PM    Report this comment

My wife and I each have an LCP without lasers. I find the LCP to be fine as a always-there pocket pistol. It has eaten without hiccup every round I have fed it, from JHPs to absolute junk old ammo. It has an acceptable trigger pull and is acceptably accurate at close defensive ranges. The .380 round is what it is, but going to a 9mm somewhat defeats the deep concealment feature available to the smaller frame of a .380. As for lasers, in my opinion they are not so useful in daylight and make you a target in the dark. When it comes to defensive guns, I am a minimalist and definitely follow the KISS concept.

Posted by: JonSE | August 8, 2013 3:19 PM    Report this comment

I have a Kel Tec P3AT and it is as good as the Ruger at 1/2 the price when I bought it

Posted by: weasle94 | August 8, 2013 3:03 PM    Report this comment

I have the LCP and am quite satisfied with mine. Your comments on the laser are right on. Having to use another hand and push/pull the activation button is foolish. I fitted mine with the Crimson Trace laser. It uses a button on the grip under the trigger guard activated by pressure from the middle finger. It works perfectly.Instantaneous on/off with one hand.

Posted by: JOHN D | August 8, 2013 2:25 PM    Report this comment

Nice looking little gun but think I will stay with my Walthers. Don't have a laser on them but I like the DA/SA option.

BTW, Cheaper than dirt is selling .380 ammo for a buck a round. Crazy.

Posted by: Cecil B | August 8, 2013 1:27 PM    Report this comment

I have this pistol, and it is a quality, well made piece. The laser I installed on mine, however, has an activation button that is situated on the front strap of the grip frame. This makes it very simple and easy to activate the laser. A word of caution, though..... Unless the mounting screws are very, very tight, the laser unit can shift, resulting in a degree of inaccuracy.

Posted by: canovack | August 8, 2013 10:18 AM    Report this comment

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