Rule One Gun Roundup – Ruger LCP

A while back I wrote about the rise of the Rule One Gun at the 2014 SHOT show. I thought it was mainly a phenomenon I would be sitting out because while I occasionally had call for a Rule One Gun (rule 1 of a gunfight: Have. A. Gun.) due to circumstances I’d still be carrying a “real” pistol the vast majority of the time. I noticed the other day that despite this, I had somehow accumulated multiple Rule One Guns since writing that post due to changing circumstances in life. I encountered problems and the most practical solution to these issues given all the factors involved was a Rule One Gun.

I get a lot of questions about Rule One Guns from people I interact with. Not all that long ago when someone asked me for advice on guns they were primarily interested in a pistol they could keep around the house for self defense. These days, though, when someone is asking me about guns they are almost always indicating regular carry as their goal. Frankly this astonishes me. I had no idea that the appetite for concealed carry would become as large as it has and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. For most people carrying a pistol means carrying something small…a Rule One Gun. Gun makers have responded and we now live in what seems to be an almost Precambrian explosion of small handguns in sub-service calibers. I go to gunstores and where you used to see maybe a couple of small, compact pistols there are now entire display cases filled with pistols from .22LR up to .380 ACP. Often the questions I encounter are about these pistols…and as it happens I now own or have owned several of them.

Some of my "Rule 1" guns
Some of my “Rule 1” guns

Perhaps, then, it would be useful to have a sort of Rule One Gun roundup where I talk about some of the more popular options on the market and list the advantages and disadvantages they bring to the table. First up will be the first Rule One semi-auto I ever purchased for carry:

The Ruger LCP – the good

When Ruger introduced the little LCP it made quite a splash and they sold a bunch of them. It’s very thin, very compact, very light, and chambered in .380 ACP it’s quite powerful relative to its size. I can tell you from experience that the LCP slides very easily into just about any pocket you can find and pretty much disappears. I’m reasonably certain you can effectively conceal one of these in a Speedo if you choose to do so, although I haven’t personally tried to give that a go. (Because I usually just open carry when I’m wearing my Speedo.)

Given the pricepoint of the little LCP I expected it to be a finicky, unreliable little thing when I bought it. Despite my prejudice, mine has proven to be very reliable, never experiencing a stoppage or malfunction in the close to 1,000 rounds of FMJ and JHP ammo I’ve fired through it. It’s also shown good mechanical accuracy out to 15 yards when shooting for groups.

The trigger pull on the LCP is long and at first was quite rough, but it smoothed out fairly quickly with some shooting.

The not-so-good:

The “sights” on this gun are, for most realistic purposes, useless. Ruger has since made some improvements to the LCP including now offering sights that are considerably more useful, but on my gun the tiny sight bumps are laughable. In ideal lighting with an eye-straining focus on the bumps and careful attention to grip and trigger control, you can wring some pretty astonishing accuracy from the little pistol…but nobody is going to be using the pistol that way for real. The sights were so thoroughly useless that I immediately added a Crimson Trace laser module and that is essentially my primary sighting system on the pistol. If the laser dies I’m pretty much stuck point-shooting the little guy.

The size of the LCP works great for concealment, but not-so-great for control when firing the handgun. With my big paws I get just my middle finger wrapped around the grip of the pistol. The thin profile of the pistol guarantees that I don’t get much stability in the grip when trying to work through the long double-action trigger pull. I mitigate this somewhat by using the Jerry Miculeck-style crush grip being sure to keep my left thumb anchored below the base joint of my right thumb.

On my vintage LCP there is also a two-click reset of the trigger that I had a dickens of a time with at first. I kept short-stroking the reset leaving the pistol in a non-firing condition until I racked the slide. (There’s not much ammunition in the LCP’s magazine, so it would be a right shame to waste a good round in a defensive situation because you needed to get the trigger to reset)  Ruger has since fixed this, from what I understand, but plenty of the guns with the issue are still out there. Get one of the updated guns if at all possible.


The price point is very attractive, but I’d rate my LCP as merely adequate in terms of the current Rule One Gun market options available today. The improvements Ruger has made to the pistol since mine was manufactured were much needed and certainly make the pistol much better for its intended use…but I wouldn’t trade my LCP in to buy one of the updated models. I’d likely be trading it in to buy a completely different pistol. If price is your most important practical restriction, the LCP isn’t bad…but if you can afford to spend a bit more I think you can do better.


  1. I think your assessment is pretty spot-on, Tim. I would add that the new LCP “Custom” with the red Galloway trigger and real sights is a further improvement of the pistol. When I tried one out at SHOT, it felt like a completely different gun than the original LCP I owned back in ‘aught nine. Granted, the extended grip from the 7-round mag may have helped too, which might spoil the “one rule-ness” of the LCP for some…

  2. “Because I usually just open carry when I’m wearing my Speedo.”

    Pics or GTFO, Tim. 😉

    And I see you have an early LCP. Indeed, the triggers on those are a horror show. I heard they improved that some later on but good god. When both Kel-Tec and Taurus have a better feeling trigger on what is essentially the exactly same gun, you’re doing something wrong.

  3. I have an early model like yours as well as a more recent model with a Viridian Green Laser. I have put the Hogue pin attached rubber grip on and use the extended mag 7 round magazines or the 6 round ones with the Pearce finger extension. As you stated, it will shoot everything and I’ve never had anything except for a slow return of the slide when it was a bit on the dirty side; but it has never malfunctioned in 5+ years of shooting.

  4. I have an older LCP as my “always” gun, carried in a wallet-holster. In the immortal words of Inspector Lestrade, “As long as I’m wearing my trousers, I have my back pocket. And as long as I have my back pocket, I have something in it.”

    I plan to have a Galloway trigger installed soon to increase its shootability, but I’m not all that concerned with the vestigal sights. It’s ludicrous to expect to have time for a sight picture on a sudden encounter at point-shooting distances. I have always had a Crimson Trace laser on mine, but am very impressed with the Viridian green laser I have on my .45 XDm. Will also look into getting one for the LCP.

    FWIW, the LCP has never malfunctioned in the slightest, from round one, regardless of what ammo I shoot in it. Can’t say that about many handguns!

  5. I kind of figure the sight of me in a speedo is so horrible that no one will notice massive printing if I carry a real gun.

    1. “I kind of figure the sight of me in a speedo is so horrible that no one will notice massive printing if I carry a real gun.”

      In most cases the sight of a man in a Speedo is enough to scare off any would be bad guy (or gal.) LOL

      1. Now you’re getting it. The key to self defense is to never have to use your gun in the first place. Deselection, deescalation, etc. If the Speedo doesn’t get me deselected rubbing on the baby oil and blowing kisses sure will.

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