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Ruger LCP II: Ultra-Compact .380 Pistol Delivers Decisive Firepower

Back in 2009, I had the opportunity to test the then-new Ruger LCP: an ultra-compact, double-action, 6 +1 capacity .380 semi-automatic pistol that was designed for deep concealment.

Weighing in at 10.4 ounces unloaded, the sample that I had came equipped with a Lasermax laser sight mounted on the front of the trigger guard.

I really liked and still like the original LCP. The double-action trigger pull provides an adequate amount of safety but is still easily managed. While the integral iron sights are very small, I found the LCP was more than accurate enough to pass our standard police qualification course with, although the groups were not pretty compared to those fired by full-sized handguns.

The standard LCP became an instant hit. Many law enforcement officers purchased it for both backup and off-duty carry — where it would have seemed to be a perfect gun for those tasks. But there was one problem: Many officers could not meet their departmental firearms qualification standards with the gun. In fact, because of these issues, Ruger brought out the larger LC380 and LC9 pistols, which provided officers with compact pistols whose larger sizes would allow them to shoot accurately enough to meet qualification standards.

The problem with this solution is that the LC380 and the LC9 pistols are both the same size and weight, and, all things being equal, most people will select a 9mm over a .380, so the LC380 has not proven to be all that popular.

The Ruger LCP II

Ruger decided there were improvements that could be made in the LCP to make it better suited not only for law enforcement use, but also for civilian carriers. The improvements have resulted in a new .380 that only weighs 0.2 ounces more than the original — the LCP II — and I wanted to see how the two compared.

Gun Grip Frame

I received my sample right at the same time the LCP II started showing up on dealers’ shelves. The first thing I noticed was the reworked glass-filled nylon grip frame. Instead of the checkered frame of the LCP, the LCP II features a stippled pattern that feels and looks a bit like skateboard tape, but without the abrasiveness. The stippling is not only applied to the sides of the grip, but to the front strap and back strap as well as on the front of the magazine’s finger extension. It does a good job in helping to maintain control of the LCP II while firing.

Firearm Trigger

The LCP II’s trigger is the next biggest change from the LCP. I won’t necessarily call it an improvement simply because I was fine with the LCP’s trigger. Rather than a long, double-action-type trigger, the LCP II uses a single-action trigger with a center safety lever in the pattern of the Glock pistol series — and I like it as well.

There is quite a bit of takeup required before the actual pull begins — nearly a half inch. I have no problem with this, as it adds an extra margin of safety. Once the actual pull begins, there is about a quarter inch of travel before the sear releases the small pivoting hammer and strikes the firing pin. Pull weight feels to be in the 5-pound range.

Last-Shot Hold-Open Feature

One of the definite improvements made to the LCP II is the last-shot hold-open feature, which the original LCP does not have. There is a decent-sized slide release lever to release the locked-back slide. The LCP II’s magazine is made of blued steel and has numbered witness holes.

LCP II Firearm Slide

The LCP II has a blued-steel alloy slide that is taller than the LCP and easier to grasp and rack than the original. There are both front and rear grasping grooves. The barrel is 2.75 inches and is also constructed of blued alloy steel.

Gun Sights

As good as those changes to the slide are, the best improvement to the slide is the fixed sights. While they are still plain black like the LCP, they are a bit taller and wider than the originals. Both the front and rear sights are ramped to prevent snagging and are serrated to reduce glare.

Testing the Ruger LCP II at the Gun Range

I took the LCP II to the range with two .380 loads: SIG Sauer’s 90-grain V-Crown JHP, rated at 980 feet per second and 192 FPE at the muzzle, and Doubletap’s 95-grain Controlled Expansion JHP load, rated at 975 feet per second. Doubletap states on their package that the velocity measurement was obtained from a 2.5-inch barrel, which is why their stated velocity was right on the money (actual velocity was faster than stated) when that load was fired from the LCP II.

I started the test by firing groups of six shots from 21 feet from a two-handed standing position. Groups from both loads ran in the 4.5- to 5.5-inch range, which is more than adequate for a micro pistol designed for close range encounters.

The velocity test was interesting. The Doubletap load is very hot. Average velocity was 1060 feet per second, nearly 100 feet per second faster than the stated speed. This yielded a solid 237 FPE. It also yielded significantly more recoil than the SIG V-Crown .380, which had not been factory tested in that short of a barrel. Average velocity for the V-Crown load was 840 feet per second, which produced a much lower 140 FPE. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Doubletap

If you are an experienced shooter and can handle the muzzle snap from the Doubletap load — and want to carry one of the hottest .380 loads around — then Doubletap is the way to go. But if you are a bit recoil shy, or a brand new shooter, then the .380 V-Crown would be a better choice. It is much easier to control than the Doubletap load but still provides adequate power. Reliability of both loads was flawless.

The LCP II ships with one magazine. I think most purchasers would be willing to pay the extra money to have a second magazine included. Ruger does, however, include a nice inside-the-pocket holster with the LCP II, which is an excellent way to carry it. MSRP is $349, which is a great value for a handgun of this quality.

Your Next Concealed Carry Handgun?

If you are looking for a concealed carry handgun you can easily hide in any attire, look no further than the LCP II — or, for that matter, the LCP, which is still being produced!

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