have long accepted there is a place for the “Mouse Gun” as both an extreme hide gun and backup to a primary handgun. And of the “Mouse Gun” calibers most prefer the .380 auto over the .25 or .32. To put this bluntly, though there have and are lot’s of great .380 “Mouse Guns” out there, there has always been something that ground me wrong about putting an expensive gun in a pocket of change, if you get my drift. I was pretty excited with the introduction of the Keltec PAT3 and its glowing reviews. I bought one, and I love it. ,
Now, along comes the Ruger LCP which in all fairness is a Keltec PAT3 with a few improvements but most importantly a much nicer done gun.
Keeping in mind that a “Mouse Gun” is not a main service or range weapon but the “Solution of Last Resort”, my expectations of what the gun is capable of was not that high. Still my initial perception was very favorable. The gun, especially with the mag extension, is very comfortable in my hand, has a natural aiming point, a very nice finish, and surprisingly big gun look and feel when its in my hand (as compared to the P3AT).. That part was the easy part for getting to know the little gun was much harder.
Due to the popularity of the Keltec PAT3 and the new Ruger LCP, .380 ammunition is almost nowhere to be had right now with shortages as bad as .223 last fall. Being in the gun culture, I was able to find a few boxes at a local gun show.
Out of the Box Firing
Needless to say, this is not my first gun by a long shot. I had read it takes about 200 rounds to break the little Ruger in and the gun was amazingly tight out of the box, especially the mag which felt so dry and stiff like a 1911 surplus WWII mag. Still, I have a habit of other than checking for a light coat of lube, firing my new guns right out of the box looking for any potential future problem or what I think of as watch for areas. As expected, the gun jammed the first two rounds but then cycles after that. Indicative (as I expected) of a stiff mag, I simply tore the little mag down and gave it a light coat of oil. Two boxes of ammunition later, not a single jam or misfire. For an old school guy like me, I found that pretty surprising for such a little gun. The gun loosened up amazingly quick and seemed to steady right up after less than one box of ammunition.
I found the recoil to be very manageable and accuracy way more than expected for basically a point and shoot size gun. The sights are typical “Mouse Gun” anemic but actually functional. Personally, it could have been without sights and still fill the role its intended. After all a “Mouse Gun” is not a gun most of us is going to spend many hours at the range trying to thread a needle.
Still I was encouraged by my first firing so bought a ProMag 10 round extended mag to take it to the next level. The little LCP rapid fired flawlessly with the higher cap mag. I was able to send round after round downrange on target in fairly fast fashion. (Yes, I wanted the brass so I could get my load down.)
Tear down and cleaning is amazingly simple. You simply push the slide back with one finger while prying the retaining pin out with either a knife tip or screw driver. Close examination of the feed ramp showed it to be as well done as say a Glock out of the box but a crack in the pavement is the Grand Canyon to an ant and the .380 auto isn’t a giant of calibers. Despite the gun now running flawlessly with Prvi FMJ and Gold Dot HPs, I went ahead and polished the ramp up.
Initial Carry Impressions
Like the Keltec, the there’s a number of pocket holsters on the market for the LCP designed to protect the gun while still providing easy draw and most importantly not coming out with the gun.
The newer guns are the 372 series which comes with a mag extension. I will note here if you have bigger hands, you may want to look at the Pierce mag extension which is just a tad larger than the factory extension.
The strength of the LCP is one area, its size. This gun is small enough, you can carry it in a back pants pocket, front pocket, and even a flap down shirt pocket. Even loaded, its weight is so light one has to remember its in the pocket. Its definitely a can take anywhere even the beach.
After all, that’s what a “Mouse Gun” is all about because you can have the best gun in the world and it does you absolutely no good at all if its home in the safe.
Ballistics and Loading
Of the small calibers, there are many things that endeared me to the .380 over say the .32 or .25. I guess the first is its a caliber with a proven track record. The favorite of the European, especially German, officer corp in WWII, its seen its fair share of action. Of course, one can not forget James Bond and the Walther PPK. Still it was a police officer ex-ranger friend of mine years back who insisted on his duty weapon being a .380 that I think formed my real opinion. Though we gave this guy constant flak over his gun choice, we also got to see and experience what the round can do.
The .380 in general is a 95 grain bullet that is shot at approximately 850 fps at a case pressure or around 13,500 psi. To put that into perspective, if you ranked the small calibers they would be .22lr, .25, .32, .380, then 9mm. From a terminal ballistics standpoint its about double a .22lr, just below the 9mm, and about half the vaunted .45 acp. To visualize that where a .22lr would be like sticking a target with an ice pick and a 9mm like your middle finger being made of steel then sticking it into a target, a .380 FMJ is like as if you index finger was made of steel and sticking that into a target.
Once one gets into the ballistics of the .380, it doesn’t take long to find one of those gun culture Catch 22s which is will it shoot +Ps or not. It’s all quite amusing really. Ketec says yes, Ruger says no. The problem is SAAMI does not have a standard for +P in .380 so a claim either way means absolutely nothing. If one bothers to research, the LCP has been tested with about every premium out there including Cor Bon and Buffalo Bore.
Right now with ammunition availability as it is, reloading is very good option. Dies and bullets are still available. It makes one believe all those people embracing the .380 right now are not us typical gun culture folks but those looking for a small self defense gun. They certainly are selling well. The small round feels a little awkward in the press but actually loads no more difficult than any other pistol round.
The Ruger LCP is a nice addition to the moderate cost “Mouse Gun” line up. Its basically a Keltec PAT3 which some improvements like much better finish, more ergonomic hand grip, and slide lock. Though no Walther PP, its a sharp gun.
It is a “Mouse Gun” though, not a main service weapon or even a replacement for you sub-compact but a gun to carry when carrying anything else doesn’t seem to fit. In that role, its had to beat since it can be carried and hidden almost anywhere and its .380 caliber though no cannon not a slouch.
Both the P3AT and the LCP are fine carry weapons. Yes, they both jam – they are mouse guns! if I had to choose, I would probably stick wih the kel-tec. it seems to have fewer jams and has had much fewer recall problems i would chose functionality over pretty in this case.
Modern handguns can be very expensive. Many of today’s most popular models feature European engineering and military, police, or competition pedigrees. While it can be appealing to have the same handgun that is used by an elite fighting force like America’s Delta Force, Germany’s GSG-9, or Britain’s Special Air Service, such prestigious firearms can have a high price and provide a tad more capability than an average citizen needs for effective personal or home protection. When it comes to defensive firearms for the home, I feel that the average citizen can be well served by a simple, reliable, firearm that is accurate, easy to handle, and comes in an effective caliber. For my home defense handgun, I chose the Smith & Wesson SW9VE (also known as the Enhanced Sigma).
At just over $300, the SW9VE is an attractively priced 9mm semi-automatic pistol with a black polymer frame and stainless steel barrel and slide. The SW9VE fits all of my basic criteria for a home defense weapon, but actually goes beyond that. First of all, the SW9VE pistol is very simple. It has only three external controls. One button drops the clip from the pistols grip. Once you’ve loaded the clip, depressing a lever along the slide, closes the pistol’s breech and loads a round into the firing chamber. At this point, the pistol is ready to fire. There is no manual safety. A safety built into the trigger ensures that the pistol fires only when the trigger is pulled. In addition, the trigger has a long and fairly heavy pull to ensure that a round is fired only intentionally. Bullets are fired when an internal striker hits the round. There is no hammer to cock or to inadvertently snag on clothing. When the gun is unloaded and must be disassembled for cleaning two small recessed buttons below the barrel just forward of the trigger must be simultaneously slid downward so that the slide and barrel can be removed.
The lack of extraneous controls helps make the Enhanced Sigma a very smooth and streamlined package. This makes the SW9VE worthy of consideration by people with concealed carry handgun permits and the ability to conceal a full-sized handgun. Interestingly enough, I own a Glock 17 and a S&W Sigma. These guns are virtually identical. Both shoot equally well. If you field strip them both, you will be stunned how alike they are. My opinion is save the money and buy a S&W Sigma and not a Glock. Glock makes a great gun, but it is no better than this Smith and Wesson Sigma series 9mm.
It is no secret that the 22 pistol of choice for many is the Ruger MKII. A major contender for the MKII’s place of prominence though, is the Browning Buckmark. The BuckmIt is no secret that my 22 pistol of choice is the Ruger MKII. A major contender for the MKII’s place of prominence though, is the Browning Buckmark. The Buckmark is preferred by many people because it feels more like a “real” pistol. The frame is CNC machined 7075-T6 aluminum. The controls are where one would expect, and the Buckmark’s trigger is uniformly crisp. Like the Ruger, a wide variety of sights, grips and barrels are available for the Buckmark.
Unlike the Ruger, the serial number of the Browning 22 pistol is on the lower portion of the gun, the grip frame. This is fortunate, as it allows a variety of barrels to be mail ordered without going through a FFL holder. The design of the pistol is deceptively simple. When the grips are removed, most of the action can be disassembled by hand. Detail stripping the Buckmark is a cinch. The Browning Buckmark is a boringly reliable shooter. It is as accurate as the shooter firing it, a no excuses gun. It will digest a wide variety of ammunition without a hiccup. Little features like the recessed crown make for a slick package on the Browning. There are only two things that I do not care for on the Buckmark. The first is the scallops on the bolt that contain the grasping serrations used to open the chamber. The scallops make the bolt more difficult to lock back than it has to be. The other is the wire ejector. The ejector works well enough, but I just wish there was a more substantial part for that role. All that said. I now own a Buckmark. And after putting a Trail-Lite barrel on it from Tactical Solutions, it may be the finest .22 I have ever shot. ark is preferred by many people because it feels more like a “real” pistol. The frame is CNC machined 7075-T6 aluminum. The controls are where one would expect, and the Buckmark’s trigger is uniformly crisp.
Like the Ruger, a wide variety of sights, grips and barrels are available for the Buckmark. Unlike the Ruger, the serial number of the Browning 22 pistol is on the lower portion of the gun, the grip frame. This is fortunate, as it allows a variety of barrels to be mail ordered without going through a FFL holder. The design of the pistol is deceptively simple. When the grips are removed, most of the action can be disassembled by hand. Detail stripping the Buckmark is a cinch. The Browning Buckmark is a boringly reliable shooter. It is as accurate as the shooter firing it, a no excuses gun. It will digest a wide variety of ammunition without a hiccup. Little features like the recessed crown make for a slick package on the Browning. There are only two things that I do not care for on the Buckmark. The first is the scallops on the bolt that contain the grasping serrations used to open the chamber. The scallops make the bolt more difficult to lock back than it has to be. The other is the wire ejector. The ejector works well enough, but I just wish there was a more substantial part for that role. All that said. I now own a Buckmark. And after putting a Trail-Lite barrel on it from Tactical Solutions, it may be the finest .22 I have ever shot.