The surge in the popularity of “Micro Nine” pistols over the last few years has kept several defensive handgun manufacturers on their toes. While they’ve been competing with each other for American holster space, Ruger made sure to put a horse in this race with the release of the MAX-9 pistol in 2021.
The Security-380 is based on the compact version of the popular Security-9.
Last year, in keeping with the as-small-as-possible double-stack theme, the company wisely chose to update its .380 ACP version of the LCP II pocket pistol to create the LCP MAX . They did this by applying the same modified magazine and slim grip profile approach used with the MAX-9 to bring the LCP's ammunition capacity up to 10+1 or 12+1 rounds. That new member of the LCP series does a great job of addressing common pocket-pistol limitations.
But in between these two models lies an important and often unaddressed product gap. Compact and subcompact 9mms are chambered for a relatively high-pressure cartridge while pocketable .380 ACP pistols are exceptionally light weight with small grips. As a result, both types of semi-automatics can produce levels of felt recoil that are uncomfortable, or too intense, for some folks to work with.
The new Security-380 (left) is similar in size and ammunition capacity as the old-school Beretta Cheetah (right).
An ideal solution to this problem would be a compact-size pistol, with its added mass and larger grip, chambered in the reduced-pressure .380 ACP cartridge. The result would be a soft-shooting, low-recoil defensive pistol that is still comfortable to carry. That's just what Ruger has done with its recent release of the Security-380.
The Security-380 is shown here with the pocket-sized LCP Max .380 ACP.
Compact-size pistols chambered in .380 ACP that hold 10 or more rounds of ammunition are not a new idea. Older options like the Beretta Model 84 and the discontinued CZ Model 83 have been around for decades. But it's been a while since a big company like Ruger chose to bring an up-to-date model like this one to the market. Why has it taken so long? As is often the case with good gun design ideas, it was the confluence of a few design and market influences that brought this one together.
With the 15-round magazine installed the Security-380’s grip profile is the same as the standard-size Security-9.
First off, pistols specifically designed to generate less recoil, along with slide assemblies that are easier to cycle manually, have been gaining steam in the self-defense community. Previous .380 ACP models have mostly been single-stacks. Offering a model that nearly doubles the ammunition capacity gives the Ruger an edge.
Before the release of this model, the company had already tested out its easier-to-operate slide design, dubbed the Lite-Rack system, with the release of the LCP II pocket gun chambered in .22 LR. It drew plenty of positive attention so it's only logical that they would apply it to other guns.
This pistol’s exterior controls include an integral trigger safety and a small but useable thumb safety lever.
The Lite Rack System is a blend of features that work together to make it much easier to manually rack the slide of the pistol when loading and unloading the gun. Because the .380 ACP cartridge generates lower levels of pressure than the 9 mm, it’s safe to reduce the slide's mass. For the Security-380, this is accomplished by beveling and porting the front end of the slide to remove excess steel. Trimming out slide mass makes the pistol lighter, reduces the recoil impulse and allows for a lighter recoil spring to be used. And it's the lighter spring which in turn makes the slide easier to cycle manually.
The weight-reduced slide is fitted with a bright green fiber optic front sight.
Ruger had a solid starting point for this model with the compact version of the Security-9 semi-automatic pistol. The overall size was just right and the grip shape was already lean and shooting-hand friendly. The Security-380 could use the same double-stack magazines by modifying the follower and adding a filler plate. Compared side-by-side with a standard sized Security-9, it’s easy to see the shared heritage.
The pistol arrives with an extended 15-round magazine and a 10-round magazine with a finger rest.
Last, but certainly not least, the defense-grade ammunition available for .380 ACP pistols is better than it used to be. This is due in no small part to the popularity of pocket-sized pistols in this caliber, a concealed-carry trend fired up by the release of the original Ruger LCP a few years ago. Hollowpoint bullets, designed to expand when fired from barrels under 3" in length, can potentially perform even better when fired from compact-length barrels that are a bit longer.
The soft-shooting Security-380 is comfortable to practice with at the shooting range.
This pistol's grip shape contributes more to the managed recoil of the pistol than some folks might expect. Using the Security-380's 10-round magazine with the finger-extension base plate provides the same grip shape as the compact Security-9. The longer 15-round magazine, which has a slip-on grip extension sleeve, replicates the size and shape of the standard-size Security-9 grip frame. Whichever magazine is used, the grip is hand filling, comfortable and the little finger of the shooting hand is fully supported.
The popularity of .380 ACP pocket pistols has driven improvements in defense-grade hollowpoint bullets for this caliber.
At the shooting range, the Security-380 proved to have a light, handy feel with all of the controls being easy to operate including the small but serviceable left-side thumb safety lever. The trigger was smooth with a relatively light 4 lbs. 7 oz. trigger pull. The bright green fiber-optic front sight lines up cleanly with the U-notch rear sight to provide a crisp, useful sight picture. The pistol operated reliably with all ammunition tested including the defense-grade hollow points provided by Double Tap, Federal Premium and Winchester Ammunition. Here are the range test results:
The new Ruger Security-380 proved to be among the most comfortable modern defensive compacts that I've worked with so far. Some folks have switched to .22 LR pistols to get away from snappy or uncomfortable levels of center-fire pistol recoil. The Security-380 is a soft-shooting compact that produces less recoil than pocket-size .380 ACPs while providing better performance than .22 LR pistols designed for concealed carry can offer. It's also utterly reliable and loaded with top-notch defensive pistol features including a double-stack ammunition capacity and useful sights. If you're in the market for a low-recoil defensive handgun, this pistol is one of the best new options available.