August 2008

Firing Line: 08/08

Re " Special Report, Two Tiny 380s:

LCP Vs. Kel-Tec," June 2008

This is the first time I have written about one of your articles, but I couldn’t resist. I have been an avid reader of Gun Tests for several years and have found the vast majority of the articles very informative and unbiased. However, I have to wonder if I am the only one who noticed the statement in the June 2008 issue regarding the Ruger LCP as " ran reliably, did what it was supposed to do, and looked good doing it." At the end of the test on page 15 you state you suffered no malfunctions throughout your test. In the final grade you gave it an A-, saying again "… this gun did what it was supposed to do."

In the "Special Report" you compare the LCP to the Kel-Tec P3AT. In this article you call the LCP a refined Kel-Tec and then go on to say it jumps around in the hand and took a strong pair of hands to control it. You then say, "… unfortunately we had a persistent problem with the Ruger LCP in the form of failures to feed." Then you show a picture of the Speer Gold Dot with the deformed nose that caught on roughness that had to be polished away. I realize that self-defense ammo needs to be tested in your handgun before trusting your life to it, but the problem you had with the Ruger and the other ammo would suggest that it be disqualified for self-defense.

My point, how do you rate it an A- knowing that it had problems feeding from the factory?

Terry Carman

Wilmington, Ohio

We had two different guns tested by two independent teams. Roger Eckstine did the three-gun test in Houston, and Ray Ordorica did the comparison of the LCP vs. the Kel-Tec in Idaho. Roger was doing a standard Gun Tests feature pitting guns head to head. Because of the similarities between the LCP and P3AT, I asked Ray to do his own detailed point-by-point comparison between the guns because, inevitably, readers would want to know how the Kel-Tec and Ruger stacked up. That topic alone was worth its own discussion, we felt.

In a follow-up report on our sister site, Ray expands on his June 2008 Gun Tests Special Report. I encourage you to check it out. An excerpt from Ray’s piece follows. —Todd Woodard

My sample of the new Ruger LCP was earlier than another LCP tested by Roger Eckstine in Houston, and reported in that same issue. Roger told me his sample did not have any of the problems I experienced with mine.

"I phoned Ruger in Arizona, where the little guns are made, and spoke with Jim Elliot. He told me quite a lot about the new Ruger LCP. There had been other reports of ejection problems in early examples of this little pocket gun. It turns out that some early versions, our Idaho sample included, had too much of the aluminum subframe protruding forward on the right side, just below the extractor.

"Empty cases trying to escape the gun would run into that aluminum shoulder violently, with the resultant tear in the rim and too-forceful ejection. This problem area might also have had an effect on perfect feeding, I was told. I had experienced occasional failures to feed, with the round sticking between the inside top of the chamber and the breech face.

"This doesn’t seem to point to that too-long shoulder as the fault. In fact, I polished those two areas and the problem went away, for the duration of our testing.

"All the fired cases had off-center firing-pin hits, which was not a problem, but also they had torn rims. The fix for the torn cases is to have Ruger or a qualified gunsmith remove about an eighth of an inch of that shoulder. That will eliminate the torn cases and violent ejection.

"As noted, a second test Ruger LCP, evaluated in Houston, had none of the problems we encountered in Idaho. That Houston gun was about five hundred numbers later on its serial number. Ruger told us the sequential serial numbering might not have been all that precisely linear, but clearly the problem was solved before the other gun was shipped. For the record, the problem gun had a serial number below 1000."

"But if you want the condition fixed, contact Ruger, and they will tell you how and where to send it for alteration. Be advised some of the black finish inside the gun will be lost. Ruger has not issued a recall on the LCP, since the guns do fire and eject.

"I see this Ruger as a fine pocket gun, but it could be made even better with a few small changes. Roughen the grip, double the sight height, add an optional mag extension, and then leave it alone. If it tears rims, either send the gun back to Ruger for correction or simply file the offending shoulder down, if you know what you’re doing."

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