REVIEW: 9 Affordable .380 Pocket Pistols


When ease and convenience factor heavily in choosing a CCW handgun, many increasingly consider among the smallest of effective solutions. Here’s a round up sure to satisfy the bill. Read on!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Brad Fitzpatrick

The .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (.380 ACP) has come a long way since John Moses Browning designed this little straight-walled cartridge over a century ago. Once considered too small for self-defense duty, the .380 ACP is now much more effective at stopping attackers than it once was thanks in large part to improvements in bullet design. And, since it is so compact, the .380 ACP is easy to carry.

All of this makes the .380 popular with CCW permit holders, but the real question is which of these pocket pistols is right for you? We’ve rounded up 9 of the best compact .380s, all with an MSRP of less than $700.

ruger LCP2

1. Ruger LCP II: Price $349
At 0.91 inches wide and just 5.17 inches long, the LCP II is an easy gun to conceal, thanks in large part to its snag-free rounded edges. The grip design makes it more comfortable to shoot than its predecessor, the original LCP, and a new single-action trigger system reduces the trigger pull from 10 pounds to just 6. The sights are fixed and have a low-profile design so they won’t hang up during a draw, but are also functional for defensive applications. This gun weighs just over 10 ounces and comes with a finger extension for the six-round magazine as well as a pocket holster.

Kahr CW 380

2. Kahr CW380: Price: $419
Kahr’s CW380 measures just under 5 inches long and weighs a bit over 10 ounces without the magazine, making it one of the smallest guns in this class. The polymer frame has textured grips that are quite comfortable, and the rear combat-style sight is drift-adjustable and easy to see. The front sight is a low-profile polymer ramp, and the slide is made from 416 stainless steel with a matte finish. The “safe-cam” design of this DAO (double-action-only) pistol provides a smooth trigger pull. Magazine capacity is 6 rounds.

Glock G42

3. Glock G42: Price $480
Glock launched the G42 as a compact carry alternative to their larger striker-fired guns, and this pistol retains many of the quality features that have made Glocks so popular. The trigger pull is a relatively light 5.5 pounds, and the polymer grips are well-designed and make recoil quite manageable. The rear sight is dovetailed into the steel slide, and although this gun is slightly larger than other pistols listed here (length is 5.94 inches, and unloaded weight is 13.76 ounces), it’s both easy to conceal and comfortable to shoot. The nitrite-treated steel slide has a matte finish that can stand up to the rigors of daily carry, and this single-stack magazine holds 6 rounds.

Taurus PT 738

4. Taurus 738: Price $355.66
At 10.2 ounces, the trim Taurus 738 is a light pistol, and with an overall length of just 5.25 inches it’s easy to conceal even under light clothing. The low-profile fixed sights are very basic, but they won’t hang up on clothing when you draw. Capacity is 6+1. This is a DAO (Double Action-Only) design, so trigger pull is fairly long. The polymer grip is comfortable and makes this gun easy to control. And, like other Taurus guns, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.

SIG Sauer P238

5. SIG Sauer P238 Nitron: Price $651
SIG’s P238 is a metal-framed .380 inspired by the popular 1911 design. As such, it features a single-action-only firing mechanism with an exposed hammer. The manual safety and slide lock are easy to manipulate, but are compact enough that they won’t impede your draw or irritate you when you carry the gun all day. Overall length is 5.5 inches, and the hard-coat anodized aluminum frame and the Nitron-finished stainless steel slide are resistant to perspiration, an excellent feature. The included SIGLITE night sights are very good, and although it isn’t the lightest gun on the list at 15.2 ounces, it certainly isn’t hard to conceal. With an MSRP of $651 (street prices will likely be lower), it makes the $700 cutoff, but this 6+1 .380 certainly deserves a spot on the list of “best pocket pistols.”

Beretta Pico

6. Beretta Pico: Price $399
Beretta’s double-action-only Pico .380 is thin, measuring just three-quarters of an inch wide with a weight of 11.5 ounces. That means this pistol is easy to carry under light clothing without printing. Like the other guns here it has a 6+1 capacity. The durable stainless-steel slide is very easy to manipulate, and the dovetailed three-dot sights are excellent. The Pico comes with two magazines — a flush-fit version perfect for maximum concealment, and an extended mag. that allows for a better hold when shooting on the range. Takedown is fast and easy, and the magazine release is ambidextrous, making this a great choice for left- and right-handed shooters.

Remington RM380

7. Remington RM380: Price $436
Remington’s compact .380 features all-metal construction: the frame is made of lightweight but durable aluminum, and the slide is steel. The low-profile sights are quite functional, and the large slide serrations make it easy to manipulate the slide when. It’s a DAO design, so trigger pull is fairly long but consistent, and the extended beavertail helps promote a high grip while protecting the hand from the moving slide. This gun weighs just over 12 ounces and measures 5.27 inches long.

Colt Mustang Pistol


8. Colt Mustang Lite/Pocketlite: Price $499
Colt’s Mustang is a great option for concealed carry. Like the SIG, it’s based on the venerable 1911, and as such it’s a single-action-only pistol with an exposed hammer. It has a manual safety, a crisp single-action trigger that breaks between 4.5 and 6 pounds. Sights are dovetail rear and machined post front. The Lite version has a polymer frame and weighs in at 11.5 ounces. The Pocketlite (shown here) has an aluminum alloy frame and weighs only one ounce more. Both versions have a stainless-steel slide with a brushed stainless finish, and both measure just 5.5 inches long, making them true pocket pistols. Like the other .380s here, these guns have a capacity of 6+1.

S&W Bodyguard

9. Smith & Wesson Bodyguard: Price $379
The Bodyguard is Smith & Wesson’s take on the pocket .380 pistol, and it’s loaded with features, including drift-adjustable stainless steel sights, a stainless barrel and slide, takedown lever, and an exposed manual safety. These guns come with two six-round magazines — one with a flat base for minimum overall size and another with a finger extension for a more comfortable hold, if that’s wanted. The durable polymer grip is comfortable, and for an additional $70 you can opt for the Bodyguard with a Crimson Trace laser sight. At 5.25 inches long and just 12.3 ounces (standard model) this gun is one of the smaller, lighter .380s on the list.

Editors Note:
Even though it’s called a “pocket pistol” put it in a holster… That keeps the handgun accessible and protected from obstructions and general gunk that can otherwise collect in and on it.

Even if it’s little you gotta feed it! Choosing the right ammo really matters to the effectiveness of a .380. Check out Midsouth offerings HERE


2 thoughts on “REVIEW: 9 Affordable .380 Pocket Pistols”

  1. Why 9, why not 10? Selectively leave out the Kimber that is actually less than the Sig . . . hmmm ? ? ? RM380 may be the best for the money. Kimber (not included) gives you lots more choices though, like Sig does too. Kimber resembles a mini-1911 more accurately than the Sig. I personally prefer metal firearms, and the RM380 has been flawless through 500+ rounds of all types of ammunition. My original model LCP has also been flawless, with over 500 rounds though it. Had an original version of the S&W BG380, the laser malfunctioned consistently, it also wasn’t as comfortable as the RM380 is in my hand. The only reason I wouldn’t buy the Sig P238 or Kimber Micro 380, is their price. I would go to their 9mm Micro size for that money.

  2. I’m rather surprised that the venerable Walther PPK isn’t included in this list, although not sure what it retail’s. Then again, I know the Bersa Thunder comes in way under your limit, and is a very well made, concealable, and quite accurate with its barrel affixed to the frame of the gun. With a standard concealed magazine, holds 8, or up to 10 with an extended magazine.

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