Some of the hottest items on today’s handgun market are .380 pistols. The reason for the dramatic surge of interest in these small lightweight handguns is threefold: materials, ballistics, and more US states adopting “Shall Issue” CCW (carrying a concealed weapon) laws.
In the past, quality .380 pistols such as the Colt M1908 and Walther PP/PPK were all-steel, hence heavy for this cartridge. Today’s lightweight polymer frames make them much easier to carry.
The .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), designed by John Moses Browning, first appeared as Fabrique Nationale’s Modéle 1910. In America, .380 pistols were first offered by Colt, Savage, H&R and Remington.
As originally loaded, the .380 had a 17mm straight walled, rimless case launching 85-95gr FMJ bullets at 900-1000fps. Improved propellants and high-tech JHP bullets have greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the .380 cartridge, without any real increase in recoil.
I selected the following new-breed .380 pistols for comparison in a shootout: Ruger LCP II, Kahr CT380, Beretta Pico, S&W 380 Bodyguard FDE and a Remington RM380. All had steel slides and were locked breech designs. Four had polymer frames – the Remington’s was alloy.
Only the Ruger’s trigger was single-action, the others were double-action-only, while the Beretta, Remington and S&W had second strike capability. The Kahr is a striker fired design; the others have hammers. The Kahr, Beretta and Remington did not have external manual safeties; the S&W’s safety lever was mounted flush on the frame. The Ruger’s trigger face featured a paddle-type trigger block. Four of the magazine releases are the lateral push-button type (the Remington’s being ambidextrous). The Beretta’s is an ambidextrous paddle beneath the trigger guard that is pushed downward.
Sights on all five are the standard front blade and rear square notch. The Beretta’s has three white dots, the Kahr’s a white dot at front with white bar at the rear. The other three had plain black sights. S&W, Ruger and Kahr all offer optional integral red dot sights.
The Kahr’s magazine held seven rounds; the others each held six. The Kahr also came fitted with an optional rubber grip sleeve.
Read the full article in the June 2018 issue of Magnum.