Digging into the Ruger Specifications
Before buying a new gun, it is important to know its specs. Here are a few of the most important specs for both the Ruger LC380 and the LC9s. These specs stay the same no matter the options selected.
Slide Material: Through-Hardened Allow Steel
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Length: 3.12 in.
Gun Width: .90 in.
Gun Length: 6 in.
Gun Height: 4.50 in.
Weight: 17.2 oz (unloaded)
The LC380 has the exact frame as the original LC9, but shoots a smaller bullet. Most .38 caliber firearms on the market are called “mouse” guns. They are hard to grip and to shoot. Yet, by using the heavier and larger frame of the sub-compact LC9, Ruger could make the LC380 handle and shoot easier than most .38s.
The original LC9 was a hammer-fired pistol, which caused problems for a lot of customers. The hammer-fired DAO trigger coupled with the light weight of the LC9 made it extremely hard for even experienced shooters to fire. Ruger’s listened to these complaints and updated their trigger mechanism for the LC9s, which has resulted in a highly popular 9mm sub-compact.
There are fewer models of the LC380 than their LC9s counterparts. However, there are still a few different options for you to choose from. Here are the four listed on Ruger’s website.
Model 3219: Standard Model
Model 3253: Standard Model, CA approved
Bill Hicks Exclusive:
Model 3223: Pink Grip Frame
Model 3225: Purple Grip Frame
With such a popular gun, it will come as no surprise that Ruger’s offers a variety of LC9s model types. All models are taken from Ruger’s website. I also take special note of the different distributor exclusives.
Gallery of Guns Exclusives:
Model 3238: Tungsten Cerakote Grip Frame with Engraved Slide
Model 3243: Muddy Girl Camo Grip Frame
Model 3255: Kryptek Neptune Camo Grip Frame
Model 3256: Kryptek Pontus Camo Grip Frame
Model 3242: Purple Grip Frame
Model 3258: Flat Dark Earth Grip Frame
Model 3260: Standard Model
Model 3261: Standard Model
Model 3262: Turquoise Cerakote Grip Frame
Model 3263: Turquoise Cerakote Grip Frame
Model 3269: Yellow Cerakote Grip Frame
Model 3246: Flat Dark Earth Grip Frame
Sports South Exclusive:
Model 3252: Standard Model
Bill Hicks Exclusive:
Model 3259: Marsala Grip Frame
Also, the LC9s comes in original or Pro version. The Pro version leaves off the manual and magazine safeties. If these options are appealing to you, we recommend discussing them with your local dealer.
Since the 1990s, the market for personal defense pistols seems be growing at an exponential rate. The many available options on the market can easily overwhelm both a novice and experienced gun buyer alike. Read on to find out more about two top self-defense sub-compact pistols, Ruger’s LC9s and LC 380.
Features of Both the LC380 and LC9s
Ruger’s LC380 and LC9s include many features that set them apart from the competition. Here are a few of the highlights.
For the most part both the LC 380 and the LC9s have been reported as extremely reliable by reviewers. However, some people have mentioned that some of the LC9s have magazine issues. In certain LC9s the plastic magazine follower wears away quickly and stops pushing up the slide lock lever. This will keep the gun from firing. For a longer description of the issue go here. Not all LC9s have this defect, but be aware that certain batches may have the problem. If you happen to buy a LC9s with magazine issues Ruger will replace the faulty magazine at no charge to you.
With a .90 in. width, the LC380 and LC9s are extremely thin guns. That coupled with their small height, 4.5 in., can create a grip problem with people who have medium and large hands. Not surprisingly, most female reviewers do not mention this problem, as women tend to have smaller hands. Ruger does include an extension floorplate—and you could be extended magazines—but even so it will be hard for anyone but those with the smallest hands to use a complete three-finger grip.
As mentioned above, Ruger introduced the LC9s to fix the hammer-fired problems of the LC9. While the LC9s is a striker fired pistol, it is also DAO, with a trigger pull of around 5lbs. Thus, if you don’t like Dao triggers, you will probably not like the LC9s. However, those that don’t mind firing DAO claim that the LC9s pulls very smoothly and shoots quite well.
The LC380 is also a Dao trigger, with about 6lbs of pull needed to break. Ruger has kept the trigger guard large, so that those with bigger fingers—or people wearing gloves—can use the trigger. The trigger problems of the LC9 pistols are not mentioned for this gun.
As mentioned above, the LC380 uses smaller ammo in a relatively large gun—for the size of ammo. Thus, shooting the LC380 is much easier than most .38 pistols. The recoil and muzzle flip are not as noticeable as on other competitors’ products.
The addition of larger ammo changes the accuracy of the LC9s. As has been mentioned in some of our other sub-compact and compact reviews, putting larger ammo in a small gun will cause recoil and muzzle flip. The LC9s is no different, and in fact could be worse than many other sub-compact 9mms because of the high bore axis of the gun. With practice, Ruger’s LC9s will be reliably accurate for you at combat range (5-15 ft.). Ruger designed the gun as a conceal carry weapon (CCW), so this accuracy range is right in line with its purpose.
If you want a variety of safeties on your pistol, then the LC380 or the LC9s are the gun for you. On the standard model Ruger includes a trigger safety, striker block for drop safety, manual safety, out-of-battery safety, and a magazine disconnect safety.
Now, because both Ruger’s LC380 and LC9s are designed for personal defense, some people argue that so many safeties are useless at best and potentially dangerous at worst—since the gun may not necessarily fire when you need it to. Ruger, again, listened to their customers and created the LC9s Pro version that allows you to purchase the pistol without manual or magazine disconnect safety options. Ruger does not offer a Pro version of the LC380.
The LC380 and LC9s will ship in a cardboard box with the gun, soft carry case, one magazine, one orange magazine for disassembly, and a finger-grip extension floorplate. The bare-bones nature of this pistol means that Ruger can keep the price down. You can pick up a LC9s for between $300-$400 at a retailer. LC380s cost a little more, with a MRSP of around $500.
One problem most reviewers mention with the LC380 and LC9s package is its lack of a second magazine. Most guns, especially other sub-compact competitors, ship two magazines with their guns. If you don’t want to purchase your own second or third magazine for the LC380 or LC9s, then this may not be the pistol for you. However, purchasing a second magazine will only set you back around $30.
One of the biggest advantages of buying a Ruger gun is their commitment to customer service. They constantly invite feedback, and then listen to their customer’s demands. As mentioned above, this trait has especially helped the development of the LC9s, but has also affected the revamp of the LC380.
By using the same frame, Ruger creates a very similar experience for both guns. However, size of ammunition matters a lot. For example, the smaller .38 caliber will make the LC380 shoot with less recoil, while the small relative size of the LC9s to the 9mm bullets will increase that weapon’s recoil. As always, do your research and try the guns out before your purchase. But, if you want rugged and reliable sub-compact pistols of either 9mm or .38 variety, we recommend you ask your dealer to show you the Ruger LC380 and/or LC9s. Rugers site
 Barbara Baird, “Gun Review: The Ruger LC9s,” Women’s Outdoor News, http://www.womensoutdoornews.com/2017/03/gun-review-ruger-lc9s/ (accessed 2/26/18).
 Norman Gray, “Ruger LC9s Review,” Hand Guns Magazine (December 7, 2015), http://www.handgunsmag.com/reviews/compacts/ruger-lc9s-review/ (accessed 2/26/18).
 Andy Rutledge, “Shooting Review-Ruger LC9s,” Eagle Gun Range TX (April 25, 2016), https://www.eaglegunrangetx.com/shooting-review-ruger-lc9s/ (accessed 2/26/18).
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