Top 14 .380 Pistols for Carry [2017 Edition]

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Top 14 .380 Pistols for Carry [2017 Edition]

Well, are you going to carry your .380 pistol as a “pocket rocket” or Inside-the-Waistband (IWB) or Outside-the-Waistband (OWB)?

Maybe in your fanny pack, briefcase, bellyband, bra, or purse… or on your ankle, or thigh or under your arm?

The convenient, small size of .380 pistols is what attracts many to them because they can easily conceal them just about anywhere. In a survey conducted for my 13 common methods of concealed carry, over 2,200 voters indicated that after IWB and OWB carry, the pocket was their preference.

Of course, there are many individual variables and factors that influence your decision. If you are thinking about pocket carry for your .380, then the size of your pockets are definitely a consideration. There is a lot of difference between the larger cargo pockets on your shorts and the smaller pockets of men’s dress pants or ladies’ capris. So the design and size of the .380 and the size of your pockets are considerations.

I am aware of at least 25 current and significantly different models and designs of .380 pistols out there competing for your dollars. What is the latest and greatest .380 gun vying for your attention and bucks? Can you narrow the options down to 3 or 4 to chose from? Will it be a striker-fired, hammer-fired, single, double, or double-single action, with or without an external safety, magazine disconnect or not, polymer or steel frame, 10 ounce or 20 ounce weight, 2.5 or 3.5″ barrel, etc. What about the key accuracy and reliability factors?

Well, you better have a system for comparing the many alternatives and know what you want up front. This article will give you my top 10 criteria you may want to use to save you some time and then present the comparative specifications for only 14 of the many .380 ACP models on the market now. You may want to add or subtract from my criteria and modify them to include what’s important to you.

Above all, rent or borrow and try the gun before you buy it to save buyer regret after your purchase. Even though I prefer the 9mm for concealed carry, many readers and students want to carry a smaller size and caliber gun, like the .380. Yes, this is a very personal decision with many variables and considerations. Remember, if you can effectively quantify and measure such a thing as “stopping power,” the size of the bullet hole and its damage are important, just as felt recoil, convenient size and weight, and small hands are considerations. My suggestion is to always SELECT THE LARGEST CALIBER GUN THAT YOU CAN SHOOT MOST ACCURATELY AND THAT IS COMFORTABLE FOR YOU TO HANDLE AND CONTROL. While I don’t own all the .380s in this article, I have shot them, own several of them, and have established my own criteria and field test drills.

Sig Sauer .380s: P232 (left) and P238

Sig Sauer .380s: P232 (left) and P238

For me, accuracy, reliability, trigger press and reset, width, and weight are important first considerations for any gun, be it a 9mm or .380, among other things. So, how accurate is the .380 out of the box, without any modifications like trigger job, different sights, grips, springs, etc.? Is it reliable (defined by me as consistency of good hits over repeated trials)? Durability is another factor. What is the force necessary for the trigger press? There is a big difference between a 4.5 and 7.5 pound trigger press for results? Is the trigger smooth and crisp? What about the reset distance for follow-up shots? Does it have a long or short travel and is the reset point readily identifiable? How do the guns compare? The width of the gun and its grips are more important to me than the barrel length for concealed carry purposes. While both are important, I do not want the wider gun to bulge at my hip line when I carry, like most revolvers do for me. Of course, there is a difference between a 3-inch barrel and a 6-inch barrel when carrying and method of carry affects this. For this article, I arbitrarily narrowed down the many .380 ACP concealed carry pistols to these 14 that have a barrel length of mostly around 3 inches. I could have considered more, but for this brief article I had to shorten my list. My recent book “Concealed Carry & Handgun Essentials” considers 21 concealed carry 9mm guns and I compare and rank them there. To answer the question “Is this a gun I recommend for CC?”, I have to know the specifications and features of each gun, then shoot my finalists for my personal decision. It does not really matter what your friends, family members, or the “experts” say, since you have to know for yourself what works with your idiosyncrasies, preferences and shooting abilities. Be careful and compare like features and specifications. Below are my criteria for my concealed carry handguns, no matter the caliber. As always, establish your own criteria and priorities, do your own research and check my data, information, and most importantly, try the gun yourself.

Ruger LCP II .380

Ruger LCP II .380

My Criteria

Here are just 10 of my Criteria and factors I use for evaluating any handgun, no matter the caliber. In addition to my criteria, there are other subjective features that may be appealing for some, like a certain style, mag release location, action, caliber, appearance, number of mags included, type of sights/modifications, bore axis, rail, grip angle, non-porting or porting, included extras like a holster and pouch, customer service, etc. So, I combined these into my last Miscellaneous criterion. I must admit that ALL gun-choice decisions involve tradeoffs, but I really want ALL of my criteria to be met. Dreaming? I assigned a total possible point score of 10 points for each of my 10 criteria for a total possible score of 100 points. You can certainly add your own additional criteria and preferences or subtract any of mine. 

Specifications

Here are the specifications for 14 current concealed carry .380 ACP handguns, for your consideration. Remember, to also consider your personal preferences, features, etc. and to shoot your final guns before your selection. 

8-Concealed Carry .380 Pistols COMPARISON- 14 Pistols

Conclusions

There are several characteristics, pros and cons, and criteria to include and consider and you make your own tradeoffs according to your goal, priorities, desired features, preferences for certain factors, etc. We all want all of our criteria to be met, but realistically maybe only 8 or 9 of our 10 criteria can be met by any one gun. Maybe we’ll get lucky and we can meet all of our criteria with that “perfect” concealed carry gun. I guess that is why every year we learn of the next latest and greatest carry gun that has reduced the width of the grip down to less than 1 inch, cut another ounce off the gun’s weight, added an extra round for the mag, or rounded the grip some. If they would just knock another $50 off the price.

I hope my criteria, research and summary of the specifications of these 14 .380 ACP pistols have saved you some time and helped you. Most of them can be carried in the pocket, but a few are too heavy, wider, bulkier, and have larger dimensions. Almost all have the same capacity. The prices vary a lot and range from $258. to $651. But, do your own analysis and decide for yourself.

Overall, do the pros outweigh the cons and are your top criteria met? Also, remember you can have more than one concealed carry gun. Most of my guns are 9mm for carry, but I do have .380s and .45s. It depends on the features you want and its uses… personal preferences.

I hope this article has helped you gain some information you did not previously have about these 14 possible .380 concealed carry pistols. Consider that this is just my point of view with my limited live-range fire and shooting the guns myself. As always, I recommend that you shoot any handgun yourself before you purchase it. Decide on your criteria, how you will primarily use the gun, what features are important to you, and which you are willing to pay for ahead of your range time. Then critically evaluate the gun YOURSELF per your criteria and purpose, with standard drills (several mentioned in my book), with various ammo types and brands, over an extended break-in period of about 500 rounds. Remember, Safety First Always. 

Continued success! 

Photos by Author and Manufacturers.

* This personal opinion article is meant for general information & educational purposes only and the author strongly recommends that you seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice and your own personal certified weapons trainer for proper guidance about shooting & using YOUR firearms, self-defense and concealed carry. It should not be relied upon as accurate for all shooters & the author assumes no responsibility for anyone’s use of the information and shall not be liable for any improper or incorrect use of the information or any damages or injuries incurred whatsoever. 

© 2017 Col Benjamin Findley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reprinted or reproduced in whole or in part by mechanical means, photocopying, electronic reproduction, scanning, or any other means without prior written permission. For copyright information, contact Col Ben Findley at ColBFF@gmail.com.

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  • Micky L. Doll

    The Ruger LCP 380 is an excellent little pocket rocket. Great boot gun as well. Back up gun or main carry gun you can’t go wrong.

    • Col Ben

      Hey Micky! Thanks for your opinion. Yes, I agree the Ruger LCP II .380 is a great pocket rocket and BUG. Love its improved trigger. I rated it high in my Review here on 11/11/16, as well as on other websites. It would be in my top 5 .380s. (I also like the Ruger LC9s in 9mm– see my 9/23/14 Review here.) Carry on my friend. Ha!

    • Friendly Atheist

      Micky is right. Even when im carrying a large IWB firearm my little Ruger LCP is in my pocket. I carry it all the time and no one knows.

    • Dan Lanier

      Agreed, I love my LCP for everyday carry. I use the Alien Gear IWB (wonderful and comfortable) but I’m thinking of removing the crimson laser and getting a pocket holster (all in one) and just carry in my front right all the time. I think it would be worth retraining myself because of the CCW convenience it would offer

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  • Libor Hrbek

    Hello Col Ben,
    I carry Czech pistol ZVI KEVIN that is sold in U.S. as Micro Desert Eagle. Have you ever shot it? What’s your opinion? Thanks. Libor Hrbek

    • Col Ben

      Hi Libor! Yes, the Micro Desert Eagle ME 380 is a very well made gun. I understand that it sells for about $480 and that MRI bought the rights to it from the Czech company and that Kahr purchased MRI in 2010. Its size seems to be close to the Kahr .380 in size. I have never shot the KEVIN .380, but someone told me the trigger press is about 8-9 pounds and is very long. Since it has a 2.22″ barrel with an OL of 4.52″, I’ll bet it has stout recoil and not for me, given the others on the market. Again, a very personal decision my friend. Success to you.

  • Donald

    Sig P238. Will be my next purchase being my wife keeps telling me to keep my hands off hers.

    • Col Ben

      Hi Donald! Yes my wife loves her Sig P238 .380, but she rarely lets me shoot it. Ha! I do like to shoot it, better than my Sig P232. Success!

  • The_Great_Gearoni

    Tested, tried and true….Walther PPK/S. Safe, reliable, well made, tested, double action, exposed hammer, logical, well laid out, intuitive…It will STILL be around when the others are long gone.End of discussion.

  • Tom Tom

    I love my LCP Custom. For such a tiny gun it’s as accurate as I am and the trigger is what I consider ideal in a pocket gun. Truly the best compromise of both worlds for me.

  • Pandaz3

    I have nine 380s, eight that could be pocketable depending on the pocket, it is odd that while I like the Colt Mustang XSP and Glock 42 best of my pocket 380’s, I carry my smallest, a CW-380, or a Ruger LCP II and sometimes a LCP Custom. I have a new trigger spring kit ordered from Fort Wayne Tactical for the LCP Custom and it might help increase my love by lowering the pull weight from 8 to 5.5 pounds.

  • huh. The glock looks pretty good on paper, light weight, longer barrel than most, good dimensions…. I never would have though that by visuals alone. Visually, I like the PPK best, but it’s a truck compared to the others. The taurus curve is hideous.

  • evi1joe

    The problem with the LCP II is that it remains fully cocked and evidently has no striker safety (based on the parts diagram). So the trigger safety is the only safety on it. I also wonder how drop safe it is.
    Having owned at least 12 pocket .380s (a few were 9mm), the most underrated pocket .380 on the market today is the RM380. I’d put the reliabilty at the top (the LCP and G42 are also up there), and despite being closer in size to the LCP, it shoots more like a G42 (due to the weight).
    The ONLY drawbacks are it’s not as light as some like (not a problem for me), the sights are too small (the size of gen2 LCPs–but need to be a hair taller like LCP II), and the trigger is a LONG hard pull breaking too far back (mine started out at 10.5# and is now 9.25#). A lighter, shorter aftermarket trigger is in the works.

  • Fred Miller

    I have the LCP, which I grew accustomed to, and now the LCP II, which I like much more. I carry it if I need exceptionally deep concealment. My daily carry is the Ruger LC9s or the Sig P938.

  • Mrl

    Am I missing something. I see the top 14 rated .380 pocket pistols, but how are they listed in order and criteria on your 1 to 10 list.

  • Fred Miller

    I have a Ruger LCP, and now an LCP-II with Glasier Pow’rBalls. I hit center mass at 25 yards, headshots at 15. Screw with my pocket rocket and you’ll do it one time.

  • rustyknight17

    Col Ben just lists 14 .380s without evaluating them? I noticed also that several ( IMHO) good .380s got left off the list. To name a few: CZ 83,Remington RM-380,Bersa Thunder Plus ,Browning 1911-380 and Walther PK 380.

  • Cliff

    Bersa 380, I really like it for a small carry,I have a 9mm and a 45 ACP and a 44 mag ! Several holsters for each.

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