Sunday I went out with a good friend to get in some shooting – target practice, a bit of training and fun. It turned out to be a learning experience for me as well as a fun afternoon. What did I learn? Well, that I cannot shoot a Ruger LCP well enough to justify keeping it as a self defense gun. Now, I love the Ruger LCP. I've had the older model, and, later bought this one, the newer model with the improved trigger. I have shot a good number of rounds through the LCP platform, but this weekend, I learned that I can't shoot it accurately enough.
This is not a gun problem. This is a shooter's problem. My problem, and not necessarily yours or anyone else's problem. I spent a few years moderating a gun forum that had quite a number of LCP owners and entusiasts as members. I'm certain that many people can perform up to expectations with their small .380 handgun, but my experience has been different.
What happened was this. I have a new LaserMax CenterFire sight on the pistol. I believe firmly that on small, self defense handguns, a laser is a necessary accessory. Most bad things happen in the dark, or darkness, and a laser can help ensure one hits what is being aimed at, especially with a gun like the LCP which has minimal sights to begin with. I fired some close range, steady rounds to ensure the alignment of the laser was correct, then moved to a steel target set up about chest high, and about chest size. Drawing and firing the first magazine at ten yards was enlightening. I shot more plants and dirt than steel, even with the pulsating red dot to aid my aim.
Not good. Reload. Shoot without the laser, still quickly, although slower than one would take in a real crisis situation. Six shots. Two hits. Again. Same speed but closer. Two hits again. Moved to about five yards and repeat. Better, but only 50% hits. Even with more attempts it didn't get any better.
If I had to place the errors anywhere it would have to be with two things, the very small form factor of the gun, coupled with a difficult and long trigger pull.
The short barrel, light weight and two-finger grip necessary on this pistol require the shooter to have an exceptionally steady hand, especially when pulling the trigger. Any slight variation will move the barrel way off target. Unfortunately, even with Ruger's improved trigger on this newer LCP, the effort and distance required to pull through to the break point is too great to maintain acceptable accuracy for me.
The LCP generates a significant amount of recoil which, coupled with the light weight of the pistol, jerks it off target with each shot so one must be very deliberate getting it back on target and trying to make a smooth trigger pull for the next round. Frankly, this was very difficult for me.
During the afternoon, I fired many rounds through the M&P Shield 9mm, an M&P 40, and a .38 special airweight, all with acceptable accuracy in slow and rapid fire. Not marksmanship competition accuracy, but with good "stopt the threat" accuracy.
Why do I have an LCP in the first place? It is small, very small, light weight, easily concealable and comfortable to carry all day, and it is effective with the modern self defense loads. All this is good, but not worth anything if the gun can not be used effectively and responsibly. For me, it's not effective, and perhaps more importantly, not responsible since I do not want to ever endanger innocent people by not being able to shoot at and hit the threat and nothing else.
I can not justify keeping the LCP for those two reasons. I will sell it and point the buyer to this article, so that he or she will understand the limitations and advantages of the pistol.
I encourage you to evaluate your carry arms for their effectiveness and responsibility when being used by you. You might be in for a surprise.
I certainly was.