Concealed Carry

The 5 Best Ruger Pistols for Concealed Carry

Best Ruger Pistols for Concealed Carry

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:

1. Ruger LCP

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

Ruger SP101
Photo credit: Ruger.
  • 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.

3. Ruger LCR/LCRx

Ruger LCR - Concealed Carry
  • 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.

Both have a steel cylinder as well as a steel barrel liner.  The LCR barrel is extremely short at 1.87″. The LCRx has options at 3″.

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.

Discover more concealed carry gun recommendations on our list of the top concealed carry pistols available now.

4. Ruger EC9s

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

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.

About the Author:

John Bibby

John Bibby is an American gun writer who had the misfortune of being born in the occupied territory of New Jersey. His parents moved to the much freer state of Florida when he was 3. This allowed his father start teaching him about shooting prior to age 6. By age 8, he was regularly shooting with his father and parents of his friends. At age 12, despite the strong suggestions that he shouldn’t, he shot a neighbor’s “elephant rifle."

The rifle was a .375 H&H Magnum and, as such, precautions were taken. He had to shoot from prone. The recoil-induced, grass-stained shirt was a badge of honor. Shooting has been a constant in his life, as has cooking.

He is an (early) retired Executive Chef. Food is his other great passion. Currently, he is a semi-frequent 3-Gun competitor, with a solid weak spot on shotgun stages. When his business and travel schedule allow, you will often find him, ringing steel out well past 600 yards. In order to be consistent while going long, reloading is fairly mandatory. The 3-Gun matches work his progressive presses with volume work. Precision loading for long-range shooting and whitetail hunting keeps the single-stage presses from getting dusty.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (25)

  1. Have three rugers love them and have had many others with great respect for them. I want to find an 9mm p95dc or one of those for fun. I did have one Bad ruger a p series 45acp, supper inaccurate?, there must have been something wrong with it.! Past 5 yards I couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn. That was a freak of a gun and I don’t judge ruger for that gun something was warn out. Otherwise I think they make a great product.( I have a security 6 and love it also)

  2. My gun safe is starting to look like a Ruger dealers. I’m 72 been shooting for over 50yrs most of them with a Ruger somewhere close by.Right now my CC is my SR9c bought it right after they came out have around 2000 rounds through it with only a couple of (bad ammunition’s) hiccups.I’m fond of the 380 lcp my wife carry’s but it’s a little small for my hands. I’ve had a trigger job done on my 101 different grips and a lexan front sight and it made all the difference in the world. The popular 10/22 has no equal. I’ve lowered the squirrel population by 100’s in the last 30 or so years. The one I shoot now has the full length stock with a cheek plate, it’s no more accurate than my old one but I just like the stock. I’ve held on to a pair of Blackhawk’s just in case the old west ever comes back. And of course no collection would complete without the venerable P97. That about does it ,you’d think the people at Ruger would at least send me a birthday card wouldn’t you.LOL

  3. The 380 rounds of today are far more effective as a self defence round than those of even 5 years ago, and with practice todays mini carry weapons are plenty accurate for that intent.
    Have never worried about being underpinned when carrying.
    Wasn’t that many years ago about only ammo for them were fun and even loaded to foreign specs power levels were not man stoppers.
    Changed twice from 380 cal and both had to do with availability of inexpensive body armor.
    One change was from center body mass to head shots only, meaning much greater need for training of weapon control and accuracy of both aimed and instinctive.
    Rivers small frame and lightweit easy conceal became next choice as for inexpensive 3i for practice, and early cheap body armor could be penetrated by 120 and 110 g Winchester Silver tips, but head not torso remained.
    Beauty of todays newest low grain 9mm, 357 to 10 mm is that even though all but the new lt grain copper omm even if they cannot penetrate todays newer cheap to purchase level III vest they hit hard enough to stagger an assailent and hurt like hell, especially 10 mm and newer 45 cal bullets, and of 357 unheard of in past 150- 160 grain fits that category to max.
    Personal preference is 357 3″ minimum barrels for concealed carry when not wearing a shoulder holster, with such a holster prefer 4″.
    Older semis in 380 cal, although 32 were once prevalent, and mini revolvers were once considered as pocket pistols and belly guns due to short barrel length and overall size, where as todays mini, as in tiny, weapons can and are capable of being used for longer range self defense than situations of those old belly guns.
    The hammerless S&W 38 +P+ revolver can be concealed any where on body or as ankle gun, with complete confidence in stopping power, my choice for more formal wear or bedside.
    Sad to say but ranges of over 7 meters, 21 feet, in many local jurisdiction is beyond what they call self defence distance or variable options range, that does not mean we should limit our and weapons capabilities to be practiced.
    Better safe than, well the other option.

  4. Reference Michael’s comment on the 10mm and 40S&W: Both the 10mm Auto and the 40S&W seat on the case mouth when chambered. The longer chamber of the 10mm will not chamber the shorter 40S&W cartridge in a firing position that presents the firing pin to the cartridge primer. So don’t count on it working to any advantage. And of course, the 10mm cartridge is too long to chamber in a 40S&W chamber. Interchangeability is not practical. I’m very aware that the 40S&W can be chambered and fired in a 1911 .45 and have the remnants of the mutilated case to prove it.6

  5. Ruger is a good company that makes excellent firearms. I’ve never had a “bad” Ruger. As noted by other posters, your list is missing a couple of guns, specifically the SR9c and the LC380 variant of the LC9. And, yes, 357 magnum snubs do sacrifice power. But they still have more punch than 38 Special +P in the same gun. If you include 357 ammunition engineered for short barrels with lighter bullets and low flash powder, you have a significant advantage over 38 Special guns/loads. My personal choices: LCP, LCR, SP101, Security Six & Speed Six, P97.

  6. When it comes to firearms I have always been a traditionalist. (1911’s, .38/.357’s) I always shot tighter single action, at the range that is. After attending several defensive pistol classes and lugging my cocked and locked 1911 I have become a stricker fired disciple. Ruger LC9S outstanding. One of the best triggers next to my H&K VP9. When carrying or in a life or death encounter you don’t want to be thinking about the safety or a long double action trigger pull. Yes I am a convert and true believer.

  7. The Ruger SR9c (9mm) and the Ruger American Compact are conspicuously missing from this list. I pair the SR9c (hip carry) with the LCR9 (ankle carry) for EDC. I use the American Compact in .45ACP for travels further afield.

  8. The LCP 2 has a vastly superior trigger to the LCP. Its an accurate little bugger. Most people can’t shoot a snubby well, its just how it is. The triggers on the EC9s and the adjustable sighted LC9s are pretty dang good and the EC9s is not all that much bigger than a LCP2, with a much better caliber, easy to conceal. If you can’t shoot a snubby, the EC9s has it easily beat and carries more rounds and much faster reload capability.

  9. My congealed carry gun is a Glock model 27 for several reasons. However I really like the Ruger LC9s because of it’s really good trigger and reasonable price.

  10. Have always been a believer in the 38/357 and the 45. But most don’t believe in the 22mag.. If you ask any law enforcement officer what he doesn’t want to be shot with, it is the 22. And the mag is just a little pinball machine in a body. The little Ricochet rabbit in a body will differently do damage. Light to handle, easy on the pocket book to train, powerful enough to do damage and accurate cor anyone to get very good to hit there target. So shoot for the head. Game over.

  11. I prefer manual safeties in my carry pistols. This allows for Condition One Carry with much less chance of shooting yourself.

  12. I personally carry the Ruger SR9c in my shoulder holster and use 9mm HP for self defense I prefer it for the extended magazine for my large hands and the 17 round capacity, just in case I need it. I’d rather have bullets left over when I have to use ot for self defense than run out after six rounds and have to relaod. It has a 3 1/4 inch barrel which I prefer for concealled purposes. I actually have 2 of these pistols, one for carrying and one for the house as a back up to my Judge. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I’ve found a pistol that I really like and am very accurate with ( up to 25 yards ), then regardless of whic pistol I pick up, when I always practice with the same ammunition, they will both shoot exactly the same every time, no adjusting for type of gun or ammo will make me more comfortable in all situations when and if I ever have to draw and fire the gun in defense of myself or a stranger. This is just my personal choice of course.

  13. I have 3 of the five (four if you count my LCR and LCRX). I also carry the Ruger American Pistol in 9mm. It pairs very well with the Ruger PC Carbine.

  14. Always nice to see revolvers being taken seriously. I carry a Smith, but I would have seriously considered an LCR if they had existed at the time. The others are a bit heavy for my taste. I stopped carrying my CZ 75 when I realized that thousands of days of mild discomfort outweigh one day that might (but probably won’t) have a fight in it.
    Somebody is already thinking “how much discomfort is your life worth?” Given my age and general opinion of modern society and its inhabitants, the answer is “less than the weight of a CZ 75 carried every day”.

  15. My favorite Ruger concealed carry was the Speed Six. Talk about a tank! It was a little heavy, don’t remember the weight offhand, but concealed fairly well in a shoulder holster and was easy to control even with full power .357 ammunition.

  16. I own 3 out of the 5. LCP, Sp101/.357 and the ec9s/sort of, I have the LC9sPro. Basically the same gun. Really like them all. Not a brand snob, but I have more Ruger’s in my safe than anything else. They are just good, affordable for the average guy and they always work. Actually have 2-10/22, 2 LC9sPro, Blackhawk/.357 SP101, LCP, P90/dc. All great tools. Thank you Ruger.

  17. I used t I be a big fan of Ruger. They produce high quality firearms at a reasonable price. The problem is they will frequently stop production of a model and completely remove any reference from their web site. It makes it difficult to refer to specs if one wants to include that info when trying to sell one used. It is also difficult to find aftermarket accessories as many manufacturers won’t invest in producing products for a gun that may not be around for long.

  18. LCP2 ‘slightly better’ trigger? It’s a superior, and I best Micro on the market in 380. I use it as a main and or as back up piece. Total confidence in that firearm. May not be almighty in power, but it’s accurate, relatively easy for an intermediate or better shooter. It will create distance at worse, lethal at best.
    I’d put the security 9 and the american pro above any of revolvers on list…but you know what they say about opinions…

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