It’s no secret that in today’s world, self-defence and safety is of utmost importance. Far too often, we hear stories of people being attacked and wounded, sometimes fatally and it transpires they were unarmed or ill-prepared. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Carrying a firearm, safely and legally as a deterrent against attackers is a viable solution that many of us choose to employ. The follow-up question then will be, “but which gun is right for me?”
Introducing a .380 pistol. Don’t allow for negative comments from the internet dissuade you; .380 pistols are definitely viable concealed carry guns. If you can manage to shoot precisely and ensure you have a solid amount of ammunition with you, the .380 Auto is more than adequate to get the job done.
Next on the agenda will be asking “which .380 gun to purchase?” It can be tricky to navigate the proverbial minefield of options out there but there are a few proven performers, which tick a multitude of boxes including;
- Weight – being lightweight in order to carry
- Size – small to conceal
- Accurate – highly important so you can hit the target!
- Price – You don’t want to break the bank for the gun or ammo.
- Construction – is it sturdy and durable? Will it last you a lifetime?
But don’t worry, we’ve managed to narrow down a list of the Top 8 .380 pistols for you to peruse.
Beginning with a well-known name, the Glock 42 preceded the Glock 43, which is one of the most popular Glock 9mm guns. So following tradition, the Glock 42 is still one of the most popular .380 pistols on the market today. The 42 is even smaller than the 43, but carries 6+1 with the standard flush-fit magazine. The small dimensions – 4″ tall x 6″ long x 1″ wide make this a perfectly compact pistol and at 13.76 ounces unloaded, make it incredibly easy to carry and easy to conceal. What sets this apart from the rest of the crowd though is that it’s easier to shoot than many other .380 guns available in terms of accuracy and kickback.
Next up is the Sig P238 from Sig Sauer. Colt invented the micro 1911 when they created the Mustang, but it can be argued Sig Sauer perfected the design with their Sig P238. .380 guns are often maligned for being somewhat difficult on the shooter, but the P238 instead garners rave reviews from owners for being the opposite of this; easy on the user.The P238 is a tiny single-action semi-auto, meaning it has to be carried with the hammer down over a live round or cocked and locked. Carrying capacity is 6+1 with the flush-fit magazine or 7+1 in an extended version. Important to some is the aesthetic of the weapon and Sig Sauer recognises this, giving people a huge range of choice of trim level, so you can get the basic blackout version all the way up to their Rose Gold version. Despite being all metal, the weight gain isn’t noticeable when compared to other polymer pocket pistols in the range.
The first two guns on our list are established brands that have been around for decades focussing on smaller guns, so for a change of pace, S&W has a relatively new design with the 380 Shield EZ. Despite their late entry to the game, some would argue that the 380 EZ is one of the few pistols that treats the .380 correctly. The idea for a small conceal and carry weapon is that anyone can use them. Owners have praised how simple it is to manipulate the slide, which is vital. In addition, accuracy is key, yet the issue with tiny guns is that they get made in .380 ACP because it’s the biggest small round out there; standard 9mm has too long and wide a case to fit small guns. The problem is the barrel length means you don’t get the best of accuracy. Furthermore, the small dimensions and light weight make the gun less pleasant to shoot. However, the 380 EZ solves this problem, by putting the .380 round in the same size of the pistol as the standard M&P Shield, one of the best and most popular carry guns on the market. Barrel length is 3.675 inches, so you get accuracy and better performance from ammunition. Carrying capacity is 8+1, so you can carry a little more in that regard and more than our first two entries on this list. This all combines into a recipe for perfection; easy to carry, shoot and load.
You can find a S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ for $400.
If you’re familiar with firearms, then you’ll be forgiven for noticing how similar the Bersa Firestorm .380 is to a Walther PP/K. It isn’t an exact copy, but it’s so close that we might as well not split hairs. It also happens to be competitively priced (around $300). Its popularity lies in its reliability and accuracy, which, for a small gun, is vital and propels it to being one of the most popular .380 pistols on the market. The Thunder .380 is the old schooler on this list, there are no frills about it, a simple metal frame and slide are joined by a double-action firing system, with the Walther controls (slide-mounted decocking safety) that lets you carry on safe or lets you decock the hammer for a double-action first shot. You get 8+1 with an extended magazine, 7+1 with a flush fit. Dimensionally, it fits between micro guns like the Glock 42 and Sig P238 and the 380 Shield EZ. Barrel length is 3.5 inches, and overall dimensions are 6.6″ long by 4.9″ tall by 1.3″ wide. Weight varies by model, but given the metal frame, it can be around 20 ounces. However rather than being a downside, the weight tames recoil, which is very helpful for a small gun.
Making a second entry on the list is Smith and Wesson with the M&P Bodyguard .380 Crimson Trace. Why another one? Because it just so happens to be a very good one and one of the most popular .380 pistols on the market at the moment. The Bodyguard with Laser is a pretty incredible value (around $350). What do you get for your bucks? The slim, compact dimensions of the Bodyguard 380. S&W integrates a Crimson Trace laser into the frame, so no need to fuss with a rail and this allows for highly accurate shooting. In addition, the Bodyguard is the definition of concealing, with small dimensions (5.3″ long by 3.78″ tall by 0.8″ wide) and weighing a mere12.3 ounces empty, with a capacity of 6+1. This makes the pistol extremely comfortable to shoot, so don’t let the small dimensions and statistics put you off; it’s a seriously good gun that packs a punch and delivers across multiple specifics.
Formerly known for producing rifles and revolvers, Ruger branched into the world of concealed carry guns with a range of .380 pistols beginning with the LCP. Progress means improvement and the new model which some users have suggested is vastly improved on its predecessor is the LCP II. The LCP II is a slim micro pistol with an integrated trigger safety (similar to a Glock) and a smooth, easy trigger pull. It holds 6+1 of .380 and is easily carryable with dimensions of 3.71″ tall by 0.75″ wide by 5.17″ long. Weight is light at just 10.6 ounces, making it very easy to take around in a bag or so on. One of the biggest selling points though is how user-friendly the gun is. The controls consist of a magazine release, slide release… and nothing else. The sights are iron and machined onto the slide so you can’t swap them out. Keeping things simple and compact means the price is similarly following the trend ($350 MSRP; most good gun stores charge closer to $300 or less). This all wraps up to make the Ruger LCP II an ideal deep concealment pistol.
Made with a polymer frame, the Kahr CW 380 is one of the smallest .380 pistols around with a diminutive weight of a bit 10 ounces coupled with a 2.5-inch barrel, the goal from Kahr is to provide a pistol that is truly compact.
The Kahr comes complete with a clean break trigger and good sights, which means this small 380 handgun makes for more pleasant handling and more accurate shooting than others on the market.
However, the Kahr CW 380 handgun can be quite picky on the ammo consumed, so refrain from bulk buying and instead, test a few rounds of a particular ammo type first before committing to large volumes. There are ammo types, particularly the specialized ones (hollow point, steel case, and high-end ammo) that might not cycle properly, causing jams and otherwise not being ideal for the weapon. Sticking with generic ball ammo will work well, but when you find an ammo type that works really well with the CW 380, stick to it.
The last entry on our list, the Taurus 738 TCP comes in as the pistol to solve your compact carry needs particularly if you’re on a tight budget.
The three main selling points of this gun are its price, excellent slide lock and superb trigger. Many pistols within this category are weighed down (literally) by heavy triggers. Not so here; the TCP trigger weighs a fraction over 4lbs. The pull is quite long, but its incredibly smooth which delivers a consistent result.
Total weight for The Taurus 738 TCP is a mere 10.2 ounces, but it can hold the usual 6 plus one round for handguns in the same size range. Aesthetically, it’s pleasing and comes in either stainless or blued steel.
The real jaw-dropping feature is the price around $200 for this quality compact pistol, which is outstanding value for money.