When people who are starting their gun-owner journey know you have some knowledge of firearms, they tend to ask for advice on what gun they should buy. Sturm, Ruger & Co. designed its Security-380 “Lite-Rack” to be an easy answer.
The question itself is terrible, of course, because so many factors go into the “best-gun” equation, and those factors vary dramatically from person to person. But new gun owners don’t realize that, and they do need guidance.
When new gun owners ask me this difficult question, I always try to help them answer the question for themselves with three main considerations: what might fit their hands best and feel good; what is reliable in their price range; and what might help them overcome their learning curve and keep them coming back to the range?
So, I’m going to evaluate the Ruger Security-380 on those factors.
First, let’s talk fit and feel. The Security-380, though it is concealable and has a short barrel, is not a tiny gun, which makes it far more controllable for new gun owners. The Security-380 is the same width as the Security-9 (and uses its magazines modified for .380); though it is nearly an inch shorter in overall length. It comes with one 15-round magazine (where allowed, of course) and one 10-round magazine with an optional flat or pinkie-extender baseplate, so that already gives some options for fit.
It otherwise feels like most lightweight compact guns. Medium and medium-small hands should fit comfortably on this gun. I believe larger-handed folks may still struggle, especially in terms of the reach to the trigger, though the generous trigger guard will help. As for feel, there was nothing negatively noticeable about the gun’s ergonomics or grip texture for me. I generally don’t love safety-bladed triggers, but even that was utterly non-offensive on this gun since the blade is flat and wide, and the trigger-pull weight is a mere four pounds or so. I do feel like there’s a little too much play in the gap where the magazine seats, especially for the 15-round magazine’s spacer, which was minutely distracting to a longtime gun owner, but it didn’t affect function.
How about being reliable for its price point? Here, the gun excels. Ruger is well-known for being a brand you can trust, and its reputation was certainly not threatened in my testing. I had precisely one malfunction, even with mixed ammunition, rapid firing, one-handed firing and just gripping the gun as sloppily as I could to try to create malfunctions.
Finally, let’s talk about whether this gun will help new gun owners overcome their learning curve and keep them coming back to the range. One quick note on this: I know many trainers start people with ultra-controllable .22 pistols, but these tend to malfunction more and don’t give a very realistic idea of what defensive calibers are like, so I always start people off with .32/.327 or .38 revolvers or with .380 for semi-automatics. Given that, the Security-380 is a very good candidate for overcoming the learning curve. As a .380, the gun is comfortable to shoot, though it had a bit more recoil than I expected for its size and chambering. (The frame is lightweight, as it is made of glass-filled nylon.) This ammunition is typically less pricey than 9 mm while still maintaining defensive ballistics capabilities, so that increases the odds of more-frequent range trips.
The gun’s reliability goes in the “pro” column here, too, because new gun owners can be very intimidated by having to clear malfunctions. The bright green fiber-optic front sight is easy for the shooter’s eyes to pick up and put on the target. The gun points naturally and achieves very decent accuracy for its size, so new gun owners should be encouraged by their shooting results.
I do have a few quibbles in the learning-curve category. One is the manual safety: I’m not a big fan of them generally because they require fine motor skills, which we can easily lose when adrenaline enters the equation. I also feel like new gun owners may struggle with engaging this one and with knowing when they can engage it, as this gun must be cocked to be locked. The other quibble is in the disassembly method, which requires a tool to remove the take-down pin. The disassembly is otherwise very easy, and no special tool is needed, but anytime we have to get a tool involved, new gun owners are likely to struggle just a little more.
But what brings this gun up into “excellent” realm for this category, despite those minor detractors, is its combination of a light-racking slide and a low trigger-pull weight. This easy-to-rack slide comes without the trade-off of that pesky beavertail safety so frequently used in light-racking gun designs, and which newer gun owners so commonly fail to fully engage (adding frustration to their learning curve and concern about what might happen if they do end up in a defensive situation). The slide also supports easy racking with good but not painfully aggressive rear serrations and cocking “ears” at the back. And, finally, it has a flat-edged rear sight so you can cock against a hard surface. The light trigger-pull weight is also helpful for those who have a hard time with their hands. Plus, the Security-380 looks pretty cool—it sports just a little bit of extra style over the boring standard.
I believe Ruger has achieved what it set out to do with this gun. The Ruger Security-380 will fit most people comfortably and is reliable, fun to shoot and easy to operate, all while achieving very good defensive accuracy for having such a short barrel. I recommend light-racking guns all the time, and this one just vaulted to the top of my recommendations list. It’ll be nearly perfect for new gun owners, and I expect no buyer’s remorse even as they become seasoned gun owners.