June 2013

Ruger LC380 ACP Pistol: Downsized ‘Nine’ That Works

A step up from pocket 380s, the slightly larger LC380 is easy to shoot and offers better handling and controls. Also, we take a hard look at Springfield’s EMP, and we tour the UTAS shotgun.

Being a magazine that deals primarily with the testing and evaluation of firearms and accessories, we’re always looking for the next big thing. Not long ago the next big thing was the small concealment pistol chambered for 380 Auto. One such pistol was the Ruger LCP380, and it seemed like every maker was bringing out a small pistol with barrel lengths shorter than 3 inches and an overall size that could fit inside the dimensions of the average adult’s hand.

One of the things that worked against these guns was the lack of availability of ammunition. Call it 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz — in English, 9mm Short — 380 ACP ammunition was difficult to find. Another factor that seemed to cool enthusiasm for the little 380s was handling and recoil. While 380 Auto is not a big banger, when housed in a smaller package with limited grip space, every impulse was magnified. In addition, a lot of buyers have found these smaller guns with their necessarily taut recoil springs to be unappealing simply because they have trouble manipulating the slide.

In the meantime, Ruger introduced a new pistol of similar design to the LCP, but slightly bigger, chambered for 9mm Luger, 9x19 or 9mm Parabellum, or “regular”-sized 9mm ammunition. This pistol was a lot easier to hold and work than the still-smaller 380 pocket guns, but the bigger powder payload also offered additional recoil. Solution: For 2013, Ruger introduced the LC9 re-chambered for 380 Auto, which addresses both the desire for less recoil and easier handling, and we were able to land one for evaluation. So that we could hurry the test into print, we didn’t try to match it up against other 9mms, but rather relied on previous test notes to put the little Ruger into perspective.

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