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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I like a story with a good lead up to the punch line -- what gun I've decide on -- that provides context. But given average Internet reading attention spans (what is it now, 7 seconds or so? :rolleyes: ), I'll spell it out right up front. Then, for anyone who's interested -- maybe some who have followed my search in other threads during the last few months who are curious -- I'll add some context for my decision ... which is not yet set in stone, of course. This is my current thinking, based on the same level of research -- almost always several months worth -- that I do before any firearm purchase (or any purchase costing more than a couple of hundred dollars; that's motivated in part by a fixed income and having to budget tightly). It's not available right now, anyway, so it'll have to wait. But I can at least discuss it.

What's my choice? A Ruger LC380.

(Edited the following day. In post 15, the thread got a little more interesting;
I'm now also considering a SW EZ380.)

Now for the why part. This is long and a little personal, so many will scan it or skip it. I forgive them in advance; no hard feelings. But I'm a writer in part (professionally) and enjoy writing. Plus I find the outside world right now to be pretty boring and tedious, even while being pretty strange :oops:, so maybe others are seeking an interesting diversion. And who knows, maybe years from now, somebody will join the forum with a similar need, do a search; this might help. So, here goes.

Gun context. I currently own only two guns. My 10/22 -- which I'll probably never get rid of (and intend to find it a good home for after I'm gone) -- and my Ruger EC9s. I've never owned -- nor wanted to own -- more than four guns at one time, and usually it's only two or three. Gun collection is just not my thing; kudos to those who enjoy it, but it's not for me. I want to find the tools that I need and focus on them, like my life depended on them (as in some future scenario when I can have only two or three with me at a time).

Do I want more now? Maybe. If money allows in the future (if I'm successful with my next professional goals -- no I'm not retired), I'd like to add a Ruger Mark IV standard, and maybe -- as distant 4th -- a Mini 14. But I have numerous other higher priority items (like a canoe/kayak, some new winter camping insulation, better sights for my 10/22, a larger outfitter tent for long term camp, some mods to my ATV, and dozens of other mostly outdoor-related items).

But two -- one handgun for EDC and my 10/22 -- will accomplish 100% of my needs right now.

Some history. I'm 70 now. And although I've owned guns since I was maybe 7 -- first BB rifle, then pellet, then shotguns, a .22 LR (Remington Nylon 66; shoulda got a 10/22), etc -- I didn't buy my first handgun until about 1987. I was in grad school in Albuquerque, on grad student wages (read slave wages), and had sold my last gun to pay rent and buy food: my beloved Marlin 336 in 35. Rem. Then late on a Friday night I experienced a break in attempt by a half naked man with a crazed facial expression who was clearly angel-dusted and trying to break my picture window with his fists. I had no firearm, only a 3' wooden dowel. When seconds count, the police are only minutes way.

Next morning, after a mostly sleepless night, I bought a Taurus .38 spl. From there, months later, after eating a lot of ramen, I upgraded to a full-sized, SW double-stack 9mm. I didn't research well, or try enough pistols out at the store for grip, and the sales person didn't coach me. So I learned at the range that it was just too big for my smaller hands; add I was an inexperienced handgun shooter. Honestly, I hadn't learned how to judge good grip on a pistol at the time.

With tutoring at a different and better gun shop, I soon replaced it with a Kahr K9, a single stack. Loved it. Held onto it into the early 2000's, started CCing, and then decided it was too heavy for all day carry. I replaced it with a SW 642 (airweight; what, 14oz?) in .38 spl +p. I quickly put a set of full-size (3-finger) Hogue Monogrips on it. Tamed that little mule. Worked fine for me since I didn't pocket carry, but OWB, so grip size wasn't an issue. I even flirted a bit with a couple of .357 mag revolvers, including a 4" SW 686, but didn't keep them long. Too much for a smaller guy to shoot effectively, not to mention too heavy.

Then, for reasons that I don't remember -- I think it was in part a desire to explore a more modern cartridge -- I replaced the 642 with a Ruger LC9. From there, I jumped to the LC9s, and now -- after a complicated set of events that forced me to sell the LC9s -- I have an EC9s, purchased last January after a couple of years of being handgun naked. :oops: I like it fine (as I did the LC's): fits my hand, reliable (I don't shoot large numbers of rnds -- there are logistic and financial reasons for that), and I like(d) the triggers -- even the original LC9. Wasn't an issue for me, but a friend convinced me to upgrade to the striker model.

Now to the kicker that drives me to replace my EC9s with an LC380. I mentioned earlier I turned 70 this year. I've always been a smaller person with smaller hands. Decent hand strength for most of my life -- though I could never crush walnuts -- but now, it's waning a bit, and there's some minor intermittent arthritis creeping in. Yes, I do hand exercises (mainly exercise balls), and it helps, but only to a point. I can still rack my EC9s, but when I have to do it repeatedly, or I have to clear a jam, it's more challenging, and not quick. I'm realistic enough to know that it's going to get worse.

So a few months ago, I began my search for a replacement, whether a pistol I can comfortably rack now and years from now or a revolver. I like pistols (semi-autos) but am always concerned about jams. I like revolvers -- no jam, and it it's a FTF, just pull the trigger again, but usually thicker and slower to load.

I started several threads here, and participated in others, looking at options. My options are all Rugers. I know that may frustrate some, but I'm just a Ruger guy. Ever since the LC9 and great customer service -- which hasn't failed once -- and a good bang for the buck, Ruger is all I want. {Added by edit: there's now a crack in that declaration; never say never.}

I should add that after exploring upteen million holster options over the years, mostly OWB, then a shoulder holster (now for sale on this forum ... for now), I'm moving to a chest holster soon (Alien Gear Cloak Chest Holster). I can explain why if asked -- has to do with the fact that I wear a backpack often and multiple layers of clothing on my torso given the climate here. So my choices all had to have a holster option for that holster -- they make it for 500 models, so that part was pretty easy.

So, these are handguns, in no particular order of priority, that got at least some attention -- reading descriptions and reviews, watching every video I could find, often asking opinions on this forum, etc:
  • Security 9, 3" -- double stack, so may be too large for me, but easier to rack (13 lbs vs 16 for EC9s)
  • LCP II in .380 -- grip too small for me, recoil too stout (according to reviews)
  • LCP II in .22 LR (+++; see note beyond)
  • SR22 (+++; see note beyond)
  • LCRx in .22 LR (3")
  • LCRx in 9mm (if it was available w/ a 3" barrel)
  • LC380 ... most recently, not until last week
Yes, I admit, I did briefly investigate going all the way to .22 LR. Yes, I've read all the arguments. But in reality, I kind of consider myself a .22 guy. I love .22, especially in a rifle. I thought, gee a matching pistol would simplify things. I even participated in a couple of .22 LR for SD threads. But in the end, mainly by leaving a 9mm cartridge next to a .22 LR cartridge in front of my keyboard for a week, I talked myself out of that.

So then, I went back to .380 ACP. I'd looked at it multiple times in the past, and again about a month ago. I just wasn't impressed. Minimally effective for SD; poor penetration not up to FBI standards; most pocket guns too small and light for me -- I like a good, solid grip.

But then several things happened in the last few days. One, I started paying more attention to the LC380, learning that's it's basically an LC9 chambered in 380. Virtually identical dimensions -- so it'll feel just like my LC/EC9s that I'm used to -- but far easier to rack. Even though I told myself that the fixed sights on the EC9s are adequate, I'm very attracted to the 3-dot on the LC380.

Two, I started looking at how the SD ammo in .380 has evolved, and have been quite impressed. I've learned to stay away from hollow points and go with either ball ammo, OR -- even better now -- either the Hornady Critical Defense HP's with that plastic plug, or I think even better, the Lehigh Extreme Defense (vs Extreme Penetrator) or the Inceptor polymer/copper matrix (which are loaded in my EC9s); neither of the latter are hollow points, but have very interesting bullet geometry involving flutes that produce an extreme Venturi effect that results in better penetration AND a large wound channel. Here's one of the most interesting (lengthy) videos I've watched about the Lehigh X-defense; its performance greatly surprised the video producer, and convinced him to carry it.

And three, oddly, watching a video review of the LC380 by Jeff Quinn (RIP) of Gunblast. I usually appreciated his opinion about various guns, and this one impressed me. This video wasn't THE deciding factor, but more of what pushed it on over the edge. He said that he may also carry a larger caliber -- 9 or 45 -- but this LC380 was always with him regardless. Given that I live in an even more remote, rural area than he did, given that I'm not expecting large scale social disruption or a zombie apocalypse here (at least in my life time), I think the LC380 could be my next handgun.

And when I get the chest holster for my EC9s (until I can trade up), the LC380 will fit it without having to replace the shell. Icing on the cake.

So that's my story for now. I'll keep you posted. I may have a few questions later. Comments welcome. :cool:
 

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With modern powders + projectiles, you can launch some pretty potent missiles outta the barrel of a .380 nowadays. Still, penetration seems to be the biggest bad rap. You might consider alternating critical defense and FMJ rounds when you load the mag.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
With modern powders + projectiles, you can launch some pretty potent missiles outta the barrel of a .380 nowadays. Still, penetration seems to be the biggest bad rap. You might consider alternating critical defense and FMJ rounds when you load the mag.
Jarhead, I hear you. That is still a big bad rap. And yes, I have indeed thought about alternating rounds. I've never done it, but have looked into the idea.

But be sure to take a look at that Lehigh stuff, and if you're looking for penetration, take a look at the 95 gr Penetrator round (or is it 90?). The 65 gr Defender load is quite impressive in gels, though.
 

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A lot of .380 hollow point bullets don’t expand out of a short barrel. Per a few independent tests I’ve watched XTP bullets seem to do well.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Had to search "XTP" bullets. I've been on the Hornady site a lot over the last ten years, but didn't know that acronym yet. Here's the main page. If it's out of their shop, I can imagine it'll do well. I loaded their Leverevolution in my .30/30 (no longer have it); liked it. I've shot their Critical Defense loads in my 9's; ran smoothly.

My biggest curiosity about 380 ammo revolves around the questions about bullets (even more than other parts of the cartridge) by Hornady (like XTP), Lehigh (especially their 65 gr Defender) and Inceptor (those lightweight polymer/copper matrix projectiles with wicked flutes).
 

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So that's my story for now. I'll keep you posted. I may have a few questions later. Comments welcome. :cool:
I've owned an LC380. I have small hands too and it fit me well. It is a soft shooter. Some folks complain about the trigger but was not an issue for me. It was an all around fine performer, reliable, comfortable, it should suit you well.

I passed it on to a new shooter that I was mentoring and it was a great first gun for her. Parted with it for a smaller 380 for pocket carry and that was a Beretta Pico that fit well and also was a soft shooter. Lately I'm carrying an LCR 327 most of the time in pocket as I've got plenty of 32SWL ammo for range time.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I hear you re the trigger. I liked the trigger on the LC9, which I'm reading is like the one on the LC380. I got talked into the argument that, "The one on the LC9s is even smoother and shorter", so bought the 9s. It was, with a crisper break, but not worth writing home about for me. I appreciated that longer take up on the original that felt like a double action -- and I guess it was. But then, I like taking my time with anything serious, including replacing my EDC handgun, so ...
 

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Read your whole piece, interesting. As a new / recent handgun owner you can probably take the Security 9 off your list. I'm assuming the double stack will be too large.

I'm a Ruger fan, but would have no problem steering my wife toward the S&W EZ 9 or EZ 380 because of some of the issues you openly discussed. I'm assuming you have read up on those and no matter what you buy can you find a range to try them out?

GodSpeed in your endeavor(s).
 
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I'm a Ruger fan, but would have no problem steering my wife toward the S&W EZ 9 or EZ 380 because of some of the issues you openly discussed.
I agree.
 

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EZ9 or 380 are solid choices as are others but OP is set on Ruger

My options are all Rugers. I know that may frustrate some, but I'm just a Ruger guy. Ever since the LC9 and great customer service -- which hasn't failed once -- and a good bang for the buck, Ruger is all I want.
 
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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
@Jack Ruger, yes, I've looked at and considered the S&W EZ 9 and EZ 380. SW is another maker that I hold in high esteem, just as I do Ruger. I've owned multiple Smith Wesson revolvers and one pistol. I have no doubt that the EZ series are great and would work for me.

The biggest reason they're not at the top of the mix for me (until now at least) is budget. The EZ9 lists for almost $100 more than the Security 9. So back when I was still looking at more rack-able 9's, I put it aside; my budget is ridiculously small with no room for margins. Now I see that the EZ380 is actually a few bucks less than the LC380. I will therefore, take another look.

But in the end, I suspect that the LC380 may win, in part because it's just identical to the LC9/EC9s that I'm familiar with. Two ounces different in weight, but other than that, a mirror image. That appeals to me at this late point in life when I've got so many more time consuming projects on my plate -- not having to get comfortable with another platform.

But yes, for fun and completeness, I'll take a look.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
OK, I know I said Ruger only. That was my original thought. And I do love Ruger for several reasons. No question.

But I should know by now to never say never. But at least I'm not stubborn about it; I am able to change my mind when there's good reason, and I may have found it.

Jack Ruger (and others) have now added some competition here: that SW EZ380. Again, I looked at the EZ before now, but the EZ9, and noted it was about $100 more than the Security 9. That was before I caught this 380 bug (better than Covid).

Now that I'm looking at the SW EZ380, I gotta say, I'm impressed. I've read the SW pages about it, and one review so far, along with three videos: one by Lucky Gunner, one by Hickok45, the other by a woman shooter and instructor; all give it two thumbs up. (There are more out there; I'll get to them.) The slide really does look super easy -- EZ -- even more than the vids I've watched for the LC380. (Yes, it's impossible to tell from a video, but appearances are helpful.) EZ380 is a possibility now. (I'll edit my OP and note that, starting in post 15.) I have mixed feelings for now about the extra length, but added barrel length is a plus for velocity, especially in these more anemic rounds. 8+1 is nice, as is the two mags that come with it. Grip safety? Meh. Doesn't excite me, but I could live with it. No magazine disconnect; I'm ok with that (but had no issue with those on Rugers, either). And Alien Gear makes a shell for it.

OK, we'll see where this boat ultimately goes. At least the thread is more interesting now. 🤓 Someday, it'll have a final decision with a review and pics.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I forgot to address this question by Jack Ruger: "I'm assuming ... no matter what you buy can you find a range to try them out?"

I won't be able to try anything out -- i.e., fire it -- before I buy, unfortunately. There's no range at the local gun shop (only one for quite a ways). And I'm limited to my ATV for transportation -- car challenged (in part by choice). The ATV meets my needs well in this tiny town (I can shop on it and get to great wild places for camping, my video projects, etc) in three seasons; once snow hits, ATV w/o tracks are banned from snowmobile trails. But it won't get me to the nearest real range, which is semi-private anyway, and I don't want to pay $75/year for it. That's part of the reason I'm researching this so thoroughly. I can of course, check fit, slide ease, dry fire, etc in the shop before I buy. I'm fairly sure I won't buy it online without handling it first. Not my style.

But once I buy "it" -- what ever "it" turns out to be -- yes, I can shoot it in the woods near my studio ... like everyone else around here does. This is a very rural area (eastern coastal Maine) with many, many acres -- square miles, really -- of woodland accessible easily by ATV (not right now during deer season).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
(A day later) Even though purchase of another pistol is likely months away for me still -- if for no other reason, there's effectively nothing to buy right now -- I'm spending a lot of time thinking about this project. Pondering new guns, comparing them in my mind, pros and cons, is a fun exercise. I continue to read pages and watch videos (some more than once).

This page comparing the LC380 and EZ380 is short on words, but rich in helpful images. Below is one that I created as a screen shot of the two pistols going head to head complete with scales in inches. It's my desktop image. I have a few preliminary thoughts, but I'm busy on a video project this afternoon, so I'll save them for another day.

Just for completeness, since I've got some time -- and my title said "(I think) I've decided" -- I'm trying to look at other options of the same size/weight class by all makers, including Glock (their G42) and Kahr, comparing them with what I know about the EC platform. So far, nothing else floats my boat, but it ain't over 'til it's over.

148456
 

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"Given that I live in an even more remote, rural area than he did, given that I'm not expecting large scale social disruption or a zombie apocalypse here (at least in my life time), I think the LC380 could be my next handgun."
Does this mean that in rural areas attackers come smaller and less robust so a less powerful cartridge is enough? Seen this line of reasoning before, often in discussions of the 22LR as a defensive round. Small calibers for small towns.
 
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