I will start out by tackling the caliber gorilla in the room. Yes, some of us carry .44 Magnums as our carry piece; but for most of us, that is not a reasonable choice. Also, some of us (sometimes for a very valid reason) carry rimfire options for our carry choice.
For most of us, this also is not a viable choice. The simple fact is that a caliber roughly in the range of .380 ACP is the least-powerful choice that has a reasonable chance of stopping the assailant in a rapid fashion.
On the other end of the spectrum, a caliber with the energy/recoil equal to a 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP is the top end of what most people are willing (or able) to handle.
Given these constraints, I am limiting the scope of this article to realistic (for the vast majority) size and power options. The smallest caliber will be .380 ACP and the strongest will be .357 Magnum.
Let’s get to it. Here are the five best Ruger pistols for concealed carry:
(Prefer to watch? Here’s a YouTube video summarizing this article.)
1. Ruger LCP
- Capacity: 6+1
- Weight: Under 10 ounces
- Dimensions: 5.16″ (L) x 0.82″ (W)
This extremely small handgun comes in several variants. Some of these variants are no longer produced, but are readily available in the secondary market.
For my money, these are perfectly useable micro-guns, assuming your hand isn’t too large and that you can handle the magnified recoil of such as a small, light gun.
This is an example of a gun that can be carried even in very gun-unfriendly areas with little likelihood of being discovered.
- Original LCP: functional, very slim, very heavy trigger and very slim back strap focuses recoil on the web of the hand
- LCP II: slightly wider backstrap which helps fight recoil– slightly better trigger and easier grip texture
2. Ruger SP101
- Capacity: 5 (.38, .357, 9mm) or 6 (.327 Mag)
- Weight: 26-32 ounces
- Dimensions: 7.20-8″ (L) x 1.35″ (W)
The SP101 has several variants in .38 Special, 357 Magnum and 327 Magnum, as well as one chambered in 9mm.
There are several choices with a 2.25” (snub nose) configuration. I prefer the slightly longer 3″ barrel; but it is a very personal opinion. In my opinion, there is no point to .357 Magnum ammunition with less than a 4″ barrel.
The extra powder required to propel the projectile to .357 velocities does not burn in the shorter barrels. Thus, the extra powder only creates extra recoil and muzzle flash while delaying follow-up shots.
The steel construction of the SP101 makes is significantly heavier than the LCP, but that extra weight eats recoil in a large way for a better shooting experience. This also allows all variants to utilize calibers that provide greater terminal energy than the .380 ACP.
The width of the SP101 is almost double that of the LCP. This width is only at the cylinder and many people find it simple to hide. Many also find revolvers much easier to shoot than the micro semi-auto, LCP.
- Capacity: 5 (.38, .357, 9mm) or 6 (.327 Mag)
- Weight: 13.5-17.2 ounces
- Dimensions: 6.5-7.5″ (L) x 1.28″ (W)
The LCR family is an aluminum chassis revolver specifically designed for concealed carry. The LCR is the “hammerless” option, while the LCRx has an exposed hammer, allowing for single-action shooting.
These revolvers are similar to the LCP in that they are designed primarily for use only as a concealed carry gun. They are not supposed to be used for plinking or recreational shooting.
Their light weight greatly increases recoil and the super short barrel does not provide most people with accuracy beyond seven yards. That is not the point. They are guns that are super easy to have on your person ALL the time.
Considering most self-defense engagements occurring within five yards, this mitigates the other concerns for many people.
4. Ruger EC9s
- Capacity: 7+1
- Weight: Under 17.2 ounces
- Dimensions: 6″ (L) x 0.90″ (W)
The EC9s is very much an LCP on steroids. Effectively, this is an LCP that has been enlarged and strengthened to handle the much larger energy and recoil of the 9mm cartridge. The grip is wider, the barrel is longer and the gun weighs roughly seven ounces more.
That weight is invaluable when it comes to handling the significantly stouter recoil. It could also be considered the economy version of the Ruger LC9. The barrel is 3.12″, providing a very compact option in a 9mm carry gun.
5. Ruger GP100
- Capacity: 6 (.38, .357, 10mm) or 5 (.44 Spec)
- Weight: 36-38 ounces
- Dimensions: 8-8.50″ (L) x 1.35″ (W)
The GP100 is the tank of Ruger’s concealed carry-sized guns. All of these guns are alloy or stainless steel construction. The barrel weights above refer to the 2.5 -3” barrel options. There are options up to 6” in current production.
I included 10mm and .44 Special for this category, as the weight of these guns makes management possible in a self-defense encounter.
Again, the short barrel length that most people choose for self-defense carry reduces the utility of these rounds, especially with the 10mm option.
The Ruger GP100 is often used by people with larger hands, as the stock grip provides solid grip purchase for medium to very large hands.
The above is a solid list of current and past guns that are well developed for concealed for carry usage. Personal preferences, as well as the size of the person carrying, will determine which is the best choice. If you are like me, more than one will end up in the stable.
What’s your favorite Ruger pistol for concealed carry? Are there any not on this list that you’d add? Let us know in the comments below.