The Ruger LCP didn’t make the first .380 ACP pocket pistol. Not by a long sight. No, but the Ruger LCP made the .380 ACP cool again and the People of the Gun should be grateful for that. It’s a great cartridge, just capable of being “enough gun” in the hand of the inexperienced, and plenty of gun in the hand of the expert. Ruger’s smash hit is as popular with the soccer moms crowd as it is with the Special Forces community.
Generally improving on the original design, Ruger released the LCP II in 2016, again in .380 ACP. Late last year, for the first time, Ruger released the LCP line in something other than .380 ACP. This time, the LCP II would be chambered in rimfire goodness, the venerable and versatile .22LR.
You might ask why this gun exists in .22LR. After all, if someone is so recoil sensitive that the .380 ACP is too much, the obvious choice is to simply buy a larger gun. The reason is that there are folks who, either through age or disability, simply have a hard time operating the slide on any small automatic that’s chambered in anything larger than .22LR.
Years ago, I got my mom an LCP in .380 ACP. She is very small and no longer in her youth. At that time, this was one of the very few guns small enough for her to carry all the time, and had a light enough action where she could work the slide. Her hands were too small and weak to work the trigger of a double action revolver.
Soon she won’t be able to manage her LCP and she’ll need to choose a larger firearm, or a smaller caliber. That niche — and it’s a pretty big one — is right where the LCP II in .22LR fits. The .22LR version of this small semi-automatic pistol might not be for me…yet…but it has the potential to be useful protection for a lot of folks who have few other options.
The LCP II in .22LR is not a smaller version of the LCP II in .380 ACP. In fact, the specifications list the .380 version as shorter in height and ever so slightly less in weight. All of the measurements between the two calibers are extremely close, but not exactly the same. I have no idea why, other than weight, there’s any difference at all.
The 10-round magazine sits well below the line of the grip, and is required to get even two fingers on the grip of the gun. Even though it’s a .22LR caliber pistol, the magazines aren’t particularly easy to load. The small diameter of the cartridge, combined with sharp top edges of the magazine rails, make inserting each round a job for steady hands.
I usually find loading assist devices of little value with pistols, but the one included with the Ruger LCP II in .22LR is particularly helpful. For those of you who have a bit of shake in your hands or some weakness from age, or those of us who have arthritis, the loading device is good to keep on hand.
The magazine release is a tiny rectangle, but I didn’t find it difficult to reach at all. There’s a relatively wide and smoothed out section of the grip just above the magazine release. This section is also slightly below the plane of the rest of the grip. The result is an easy reach for the otherwise very small release. It’s a smart design, focusing on finger-friendly geometry to make up for tiny controls.
A much appreciated feature on the LCP II is that the slide locks back on the empty magazine. This was missing in the original LCP and considering the small caliber of these guns (either of them) and the relatively low round count of the .380 ACP version, the necessity of expending all of the gun’s ammunition on a single attacker in an encounter is high.
Getting the gun reloaded and back in the fight as fast as possible is a necessity, and the last round hold open feature certainly helps. It also makes single handed reloads much easier.
This LCP II also includes a manual safety. If you are going to choose to carry the firearm with a round in the chamber and ready to use, (which is the whole point of the thing), and if you aren’t going to use a rigid holster that completely protects the trigger, then a manual safety is a must on these guns.
Like the magazine release, good design has made what could have been a disaster an easy and natural process, for right-handed people. I had no issues simply sweeping my firing hand thumb forward to release the safety and fire. I did, however, need to use my other hand or change my grip entirely to put it back on.
Do note: unlike the original LCP, the LCP II has a magazine disconnect. This is billed as a safety feature. It is not a safety feature. Quite simply, if the magazine is removed from the firearm, the trigger will not travel to the rear and fire a round.
Especially for a firearm that is designed to be used at close range, and one in which many will pocket carry with the supplied holster, I find a magazine disconnect entirely inappropriate and a significant hazard. Each of us is free to make our own choices, but I would carry a pistol with a magazine disconnect if it was my only option.
The trigger on the LCP II feels dramatically different than the original LCP. It’s not just the reduced weight. This trigger measured at an average of 5 lbs. 12 oz. over 5 pulls with a Lyman digital trigger scale. The big change is the quality of the trigger itself.
We see the same familiar safety blade on the shoe, which has barely over 1/2″ of pre-travel before anything really happens. At that point, all of the real work begins, and you’ll find just .3″ of a steady squish until the hammer falls.
One of the greatest features of the LCP line is that they are tiny. You can carry them anywhere, so you are more likely to carry them everywhere. That’s a good thing. But there are some significant considerations for a firearm of this diminutive size.
For instance, mind the grip. If you are an adult with size large hands, a thumbs-forward grip may not work for you. This is generally how I run most of my pistols, but it can’t be how I run this gun.
My support hand thumb sticks out about half an inch in front of the muzzle. This is less than ideal. The solution is simply to tuck the support thumb down onto the textured front of the trigger well. This keeps the thumb from flagging in front of the muzzle, as well as completes a very tight grip all the way around the firearm.
The LCP II isn’t particularly comfortable to shoot. No, in .22LR, there isn’t much recoil. That’s not the issue. This is just a little gun. The short grip of the pistol terminates right in the middle of my palm. A range session feels like driving a Lego through my hand. That said, there’s no issue keeping a good grip on the gun.
No part of the grip is rubberized or soft, but the aggressive and almost complete texturing of all of the grip surfaces means that the pocket pistol won’t snag when being pulled from said pocket, but also locks firmly in the hand for rapid shots at close range.
When it comes to actually aiming the LCP II, the sights are certainly better than the original LCP, but still, not great. Not only is the front sight very small, but it’s also just as black as everything else on the gun. It is, however, serrated. A little bright nail polish or a paint pen treatment would help.
The rear channel sight is also serrated, and a low slung ramp style. Neither it, nor the front sight, is likely to snag on anything during a draw, or print in a pocket through a fabric holster. Unfortunately, that also means that the rear sight can’t be used to rack the slide on a boot or belt one-handed in the case of a malfunction, which is far more likely in semi-automatics fired at contact range.
Given the very short sight radius on a gun with a 2 3/4″ barrel, I was pleasantly surprised at the level of precision the LCP II in .22LR was capable of. Seated off a bag at 25 yards, the Federal Premium Target 40gr solid cartridge scored an average of 3.6″ groups for five rounds over four shot strings.
That round did have a fairly wide standard deviation. The Winchester 36gr HP round did not, scoring a fairly consistent 2.3″ average. Standing and shooting that same Winchester round at 7 yards, 1.3″ was the average, although one of the groups did measure right at 1″.
That’s better than I thought and I owe the relatively small group size on a very small pistol to a good trigger pull and solid grip surfaces giving good control of the gun.
The next surprise was the reliability, but not in a good way. Thirty rounds into the first box of ammunition, I was ready to give up my questions on my value of this gun in this caliber and buy it anyway. What can I say, it’s hard to convince me not to buy a .22.
By the end of the first 50 round box, though, I was having serious misgivings. Light primer strikes were the reason for my concern. By the end of the next 30 rounds, I couldn’t get through a single magazine without a light primer strike. These were with both Winchester’s 36gr HP Copper plated round, and CCI Standard Velocity 40gr Lead Round Nosed cartridges.
I switched to Federal’s Target 40gr solid and the Wolf 40gr solid. Now I had light strikes, as well as double feeds and rounds caught in the action. I switched again to Aguila’s 40gr lead solid and Herter’s 36gr Plated Hollow Point, but the same issues persisted. Of the two dozen rounds that would fail to fire because of light strikes, all but one would then go off successfully when fired from a Ruger Single Six revolver.
At under 200 rounds, I gave up shooting standing and sat down to shoot the groups listed above. By that time, it was rare to get a full 5 rounds to go through the gun without a malfunction, significantly lengthening the time it took to shoot groups.
I’m a pretty huge Ruger fan, partially because of their excellent customer service. It’s second to none in the industry. TTAG’s generally policy is to allow any company to repair a defective firearm and then to review the repairs and repost the review once returned.
We did exactly that and Ruger had a new LCPII in .22LR and three new magazines out to us within just a couple of weeks. I also had a call with a Ruger representative who recommended using a couple of different CCI ammunition choices, as well as to making sure that I wasn’t contacting the slide in any way during firing.
The slide contact issue certainly makes sense. This is a small .22LR semi-automatic with a fairly light recoil spring. I didn’t think that was my issue before, as it failed shooting single handed several times, but I made sure to pay attention to the slide during my second outing with the pistol.
Unfortunately, it was almost a perfect replay of the first gun sent to me. Using several different ammunition types, including Aguilla, Wolf, a few different CCI loads, and Federal Premium’s Target line, I had quite a few failures to feed and failures to fire.
This time, after lightly lubricating the gun with CLP, I had no issues until about round 150. After that, problems got worse and worse. I field stripped and cleaned and lubed the gun again, and experienced the same issues shooting CCI Mini Mags and CCI Standard Velocity, at about the 100 round mark. I took several videos of the failures, and it’s clear in viewing them that no part of my hand was making contact with any portion of the slide. I had failures shooting with both a two-handed and single-handed grip.
I hope these reliability issues get sorted out, because the LCP II in .22LR has a lot going for it. It’s very easy to carry, has a manual safety, 10+1 rounds, and is quite accurate for such a small gun. It also has the magazine disconnect, which is a no-go for me, but may not be for others. While it’s small and might not be for every shooter. the big thing the little gun has going for it is that it’s possible for almost anyone to operate this gun safely.
Specifications: Ruger LCP II in .22LR
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Overall Length: 5.20″
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Grip Frame: Black, High-Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Feature: Lite Rack™ System
Slide Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Width: 0.81″
Twist: 1:16″ RH
Slide Finish: Black Oxide
Barrel Finish: Satin Stainless
MSRP: $349 (about $320 retail)
Style and Appearance * * *
Little form, all function.
Customization * * * *
The LCP II line accepts all of the accessories of the original LCP line, of which there are many.
With some ammunition, I couldn’t get through a single 50-round box before the light strikes happened, and it got worse from there. Even after cleaning and using the recommended ammunition, the pistol failed regularly with less than 200 rounds through it.
Accuracy * * * *
Much better than I though from such a small gun.
Overall * *
This is a four star gun that meets the needs of a lot of shooters, if it runs right. I hope the reliability gets fixed, because if it does, the LCP II in .22LR turns a great pistol into a great pistol line. If you don’t intend to shoot it more than 100 rounds or so prior to cleaning, reliability won’t be a concern.