LCP II Review: What Do You Get With an Itty-Bitty Pistol?
Debuting in 2016, the little Ruger LCP II offered a highly concealable package that suited Ruger’s “Light Compact Pistol” designation, hence the LCP. While short on frills and extras – expect no sight upgrades or rails here – this minute single-stack .380 semi-auto handgun managed to gain a fan base that continues today despite the fact that calling it pint-sized would overstate its actual dimensions.
In fact, just last year, the gun came in as one of the top 12 selling handguns even as double-stack micro-9mm pistols continued to pour out in the form of Sig P365s and the Springfield Hellcat, both offering more capacity with a larger round. So, what explains the LCP II’s continued success? We snatched up one of these tiny pocket pistols from the Guns.com Vault to find out.
You could almost forgive a gun store clerk for struggling to find this little pistol in a sea of gun boxes. The box it comes in is tiny, like cigar box tiny. But that still didn’t quite prepare me for the gun itself. When I pulled out the LCP II for the first time, I was struck by how light and minuscule it felt. I won’t say I found it particularly attractive, but I could certainly see the attraction of a small semi-auto that fit in the palm of my hand.
The next thing I noticed was that the gun offered very little in the way of frills. There was some decent grip texturing, though a single hand all but consumed the grip itself, and the slide did wear some front and rear slide serrations. I gave it a few racks and found the hand strength required was surpassingly little. No doubt that was owed to the less potent .380 chambering, but it is also much improved over the original LCP. That was nice to see since a common complaint about exceptionally small guns is difficulty racking the slide.
The sights were fixed and minimalist, with a rather low front sight post and a notched rear. All in all, the rounded profile clearly set the gun up as a deep concealment piece, which was perfect because I intended to take it out on some spring runs through the woods.
Specs & Function
Like other handguns in Ruger’s LCP family – such as the new double-stack LCP Max – the LCP II is a hammer-fired pistol that closely follows the original, slightly smaller LCP. Unlike the original, the LCP II with its upgraded magazine has a slide hold-open function. The bigger improvement is the trigger that, while far from great, vastly outshines the original with a cleaner pull, break, and reset.
To put it bluntly, everyone I’ve talked to that spent time shooting the original LCP called the trigger “horrendous.” The LCP II trigger is nothing approaching a 1911, and in my opinion even a stock Glock, but it is certainly serviceable in such a small gun. The take-up to the wall is light, and the wall is easy to detect. Pulling through the wall, there is some mush to the break. The break is fairly crisp, and the reset is short.
The trigger does feature the Glock-style trigger-blade safety. Overall, as a close-up self-defense option, it gets the job done fine. If I compare it to the newest member of the LCP clan, the LCP Max, I would put it in about the same category, with a slight nod perhaps to the trigger on the newer Max. Interestingly, the Max, at a 10+1 capacity, only weighs around half an ounce more than the 6+1 LCP II. I’ve already done a review on the max, which you can check out below:
The magazine release is a small, squared button on the left side of the gun right at the base of the trigger guard. This was actually one of my biggest complaints about the pistol, which I’ll cover when we get to shooting. Below are some additional useful specs, though I think images help paint a better picture of the gun's scale:
You can only expect so much comfort when shooting a small pistol like this regardless of the fact that it is in .380. But while there was a bit of snappiness to the LCP II when shooting, it really wasn’t painful or overly aggressive to me. I found I could quickly return to a target at 10 yards and reliably fire seven aimed rounds close to my normal shooting speed without much effort. As a “get off me" gun, I’m sure I could shoot faster without the whole aiming part, which actually makes the shorter reset on the LCP II an extra selling point.
However, I did quickly discover that the small grip placed the magazine release in harm’s way while I was shooting. The snappiness of the pistol was controllable, but I found that I inadvertently pushed the magazine release on more than a dozen occasions while shooting. This is one of the reasons many small guns use a heel-style release, but the LCP II doesn’t do itself any favors with the mag release being as exposed as it is without much of any real recess. That, however, is a training issue that you can work around.
Given that I could only really get two fingers wrapped around the grip even with the finger extension, I didn’t have terribly high expectations for accuracy. More to the point, target shooting wasn’t really the gun’s purpose. The sights are such that you really only get a fairly rudimentary sight picture.
I have large, but not ogre-like, hands. After some accuracy testing, I concluded that the gun was more than suitable in my hands to consistently put seven rounds inside a 10-inch circle on a man-size target at 10 yards in about seven seconds. I did stretch it out to around 30 yards at an outdoor range, and I could hit a 10-inch steel plate about half the time.
It’s not a terribly enjoyable gun to shoot. Actually, given that you only have six-round mags to play with at the range, you spend much more time loading than shooting. Still, if you are considering buying this gun, I would highly encourage you to spend time at the range with various ammo types.
Ammo & Reliability
A good self-defense pistol must be reliable, and that brings me to ammo. You get what you pay for when it comes to ammo for the LCP II. Self-defense and concealed carry were clearly the intent of the LCP II. After several range trips and 500 rounds of various target and self-defense loads, I can conclude that so far this LCP II is not the cheap date you take to the range with budget reloads.
I tested everything from cheap reloaded .380 brass and super-budget Sergeant Major Munition to Winchester White Box, Federal American Eagle, Fort Scott Munitions Tumble Upon Impact, and Federal Hydro Shok Deep. I can chalk up 25-30 malfunctions to ammo type. For what it’s worth, I had similar issues with this ammo in the LCP Max, but to a lesser extent.
The pistol absolutely hated the budget, non-brass Sergeant Major Munition, and it somewhat tolerated most of the reloaded brass and the Fort Scott Munitions Tumble Upon Impact. I had much better luck when I moved to the Federal and Winchester. My takeaway is to use quality ammo and test it before you trust it with the LCP II.
On the brighter side, I did take this gun out for several runs. It not only concealed and carried great while running, but I also barely knew it was there. Better yet, when using the right ammo after leaving it uncleaned for days, I didn’t notice any lingering issues on the range.
Final Thoughts: Where Does the LCP II Fit In
The LCP II has a specific place, even with the higher-capacity LCP Max now available. For me, that place is deep concealment, backup gun, and athletic carry. That said, I have known several women who purse carry the LCP II and love it for that as well. The key is to find the ammo that it likes and train with it to become proficient with controlling the small size. What it is not – in my humble opinion – is a fun weekly range plinker, and that’s fine. Every gun has its place.