The Ruger LCP Custom is a giant improvement and a great shooting pistol
By Bob Campbell,
This handgun represents an improvement of an existing handgun. The Ruger LCP has been a successful pistol and the newest version, the LCP Custom with improved sights and vastly improved trigger action, is easily the best choice in the LCP line up. After a modest break-in period, the Ruger LCP has given good results.
New .380 ACP pistols are probably responsible for the ammunition shortage in .380 ACP caliber. I hope folks actually practice with the pistols; many handguns sit in the dresser or safe and are not fired past the initial familiarization. But a box of ammunition with each new gun is significant. My friends at the gun shops tell us that it is more likely to see customers purchase two to four boxes of ammunition with the new pistol these days. We hope they are firing this ammunition—not hoarding it! I have used the Ruger LCP and found it reliable and useful for personal defense at close range. The Ruger Custom is plainly and demonstrably the more useful pistol for personal defense. With a $389 MSRP, the LCP custom is more expensive than the base LCP but well worth the upgrade.
Ruger has offered a number of limited editions in the past, but for the most part they are simply a different finish or some type of logo. The new pistol features a vastly improved trigger similar to the RTK types many of us added to the original LCP, but in this case the trigger design is considerably different as well. The Ruger remains a compact package with dimensions of 5.32 x 3.8 inches and it is only .8 inch thick. The sights and trigger action are the primarily improvements. The frame is polymer. The trigger breaks at a smooth 7.25 lbs. with little take up and no creep or backlash. The recoil spring is tight, even stiff, but this is the price to pay for a small locked breech pistol. The cocking serrations are well designed. The pistol uses a Browning type magazine release and does not lock open on the last shot. The magazine holds six rounds. The sights are very effective. The new sights are raised higher on the slide but more importantly, they offer a good sight picture.
I experienced the benefit during the firing test. Rather than more or less hitting the center of the target at 10 yards I was able to produce excellent accuracy and a respectable group. Good sights are important on any handgun and may be even more important on a light pistol. After all, accuracy is critical and what power the pistol has must be delivered accurately. As one shooter pointed out, as a trainer they will never be the person to tell a judge they taught a student to fire the handgun without using the sights! The visible rear notch and front post of the Ruger are a big help in accurate fire.
The new Ruger is one quarter ounce heavier than the older version. The pistol is supplied with a single magazine. Adding another from Cheaperthandirt.com added $22.62 to the cost of the pistol. A pistol really should be supplied with a spare magazine. During the initial firing test I fired the pistol with three different loads. These included the Sig Sauer Elite 100-grain FMJ load, using a copper plated lead bullet, the HRP 90-grain JHP, and the Winchester 95-grain FMJ load, each in a fifty round box.
I fired the pistol as quickly as possible at a man-sized silhouette target from Birchwood Casey at 21 feet. Combat style shooting, paying attention to the sights, results in good groups. The pistol was accurate enough to keep the shots in the X-ring. I experienced a failure to go into battery during the first magazine of ammunition. Checking the lube again and paying attention to the grip, I experienced a second malfunction with the second magazine load. After these two initial break-in malfunctions, the pistol never repeated this problem.
Care was taken to fire for accuracy and to attempt hostage rescue (head shot) type firing at 21 feet. With concentration the Ruger was capable of minute of cranium accuracy, although this isn’t something I would like to rely upon with this lightweight handgun. Although designed purely for personal defense the Ruger is accurate enough to pop a rodent or reptile at a few yards. The pistol handles well and accuracy is credible. When firing for accuracy the pistol was fired at 21 feet. I often test fire pistols at 25 yards for service pistols, and 15 yards for compacts.
With this light handgun I elected to fire at 7 yards. At 21 feet the Ruger easily delivered 2-inch, 5-shot groups or less with the three types of ammunition. I fired a box of HPR 90-grain JHP ammunition during the test to confirm feed reliability with a JHP bullet. This load not only gave good accuracy it was the single most accurate loading tested.
In summary, the Ruger is reliable, suffering a pair of break-in malfunctions. After the initial failures to go into battery following rounds never failed to feed, chamber fire or eject. The Ruger gets a clean bill of health. It is a gun for shooters.