Category Archives: Handguns

New for 2018: Smith & Wesson Introduces M&P380 Shield EZ Pistol

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Here’s a first look at a brand-new addition to the Smith & Wesson lineup: a new CCW designed and engineered to be super-easy to operate. Read more!

S&W M&P EZ
Smith & Wesson M&P380 EZ (shown here with thumb safety)

SOURCE: American Rifleman Staff

In the past when a pistol manufacturer touted a new gun entry as having easy slide manipulation — even with a .380-cal. — we have taken the assertion with a grain of salt until we’ve had some hands-on experience. In the case of the just-announced Smith & Wesson M&P380 Shield EZ, we can attest that indeed, the pistol lives up to its claims.

The pistol, which offers an 8+1 round capacity, ships with two 8-round magazines that include a load-assist button, as well as a Picatinny-style rail for accessories. Barrel length is 3.675-in., and the pistol is outfitted with white-dot front and adjustable white-dot rear sights. Along with tapped rear slide serrations, a one-piece single-action trigger and audible trigger reset, it also features an 18-degree grip angle for a natural point of aim, as well as enhanced, textured grips. A tactile loaded-chamber indicator, a reversible magazine release, and available ambidextrous thumb safety round out its many ergonomically friendly features. The pistol will be available nationwide at the end of Feb. 2018 at an MSRP of $399.

“When we set out to design the M&P380 Shield EZ pistol, our goal was to deliver an all-around, easy to use personal protection pistol — from loading and carrying, to shooting and cleaning,” said Jan Mladek, General Manager of M&P and S&W Brands. “… We focused on key areas that customers told us were important — the ease of racking the slide and loading the magazine,” he said, “allowing consumers of all statures and strengths the opportunity to own, comfortably practice with, and effectively utilize this exciting new pistol“ for both first-time shooters and experienced handgunners alike.

More about this new pistol coming soon…

Read more HERE

M&P EZ specs 2

 

SKILLS: Tips for Wintertime Concealed Carry

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When you prepare for a cold weather outing, make sure your CCW needs have been addressed, and modified as needed. Here are a few ideas. Keep reading…

wintertime

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As I write this, the first real cold front of the year is pushing its way through the country. It is also a time that we might reflect upon this business of dressing around your defensive handgun. The first thought might be that now, with the cold weather, everyone is wearing some sort of coat (perhaps even one of these tactical jackets), so it will be much easier for us to blend in with whatever covering garment we use for concealing our guns. However, even with winter carry, there are some issues that we need to consider.

When people are confronted with a violent criminal attack, the one thing that they can’t afford to waste is time. The criminal has already made the first move, and it is critical that we be able to respond in a timely fashion. Having to unzip or unbutton a coat is a loss of time that we might not be able to overcome. There are several ways to deal with this issue.

If we are alert, our first move when we see a potential threat might be to get that garment open so that we can respond if it turns out to be an actual threat. The assumption and the problem here is that we are alert enough to spot a possible criminal attack while there is still time to respond. What happens if a threat comes at us from behind and takes us completely by surprise?

Another solution might be to keep a small defensive handgun in one of the outer pockets of a coat. It might even be smart to have that handgun in a pocket on the support-hand side of our body. Of course, that means that we have to practice our pistol presentation with the support hand. When out in public, we might consider having the small handgun in an outer pocket on our support side and a larger handgun on our hip on the strong side. This gives defensive shooters some versatility in their choice of responses to the potential attack.

Another issue to consider with winter weather is the wearing of gloves. Will your gloved trigger finger fit into the trigger guard of your defensive handgun? Do you practice your pistol presentation while wearing gloves? These are things that should be checked out. Fortunately, modern technology has given us suitable gloves that are not bulky, and a change to gloves made of a thinner material might be all that is necessary to solve the problem.

Some might think to solve the problem by simply pulling the glove off before going for the handgun. The problem with this, of course, is the fact that it wastes time.

Your dry-practice sessions are the place to work out your pistol presentation while wearing your winter coat and gloves. Opening the coat and operating the pistol with gloves on can be worked out if you will simply take the time to practice it and work out the best moves.

The differences in weather around the country and an individual’s choice of cold weather gear make it impossible to form one set rule for winter carry. Smart defensive shooters will take a bit of time to evaluate what they wear and how to respond to a violent attack while wrapped up in warm clothing. It may well not be as much of a gun issue as it is a clothing issue. A different coat and a thinner pair of gloves may be all that is needed. But you won’t know until you experiment with what you carry.

In the winter time it is important to stay warm, but it is far more important to stay safe.

SKILLS: Will You ‘Get Killed on the Streets?’ — Personal-Defense Myths Debunked

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Don’t believe everything you hear… Personal survival depends on planning and preparation, not opinion. Read more…

know it all

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Tamara Keel

Here’s a thing that happens often enough that it’s become a meme, a trope, a truism. Walk into any gun store and listen to the conversation around the handgun counter (or, alternatively, belly up to your favorite online forum) and within a surprisingly short amount of time you will hear someone suggest something that gets belittled by the regulars. More importantly, it will be belittled in a rather specific way, like so:

“You want to do [RANDOM THING]? Don’t you know that [RANDOM THING] will get you killed on the streets?”

It’s to the point where “Killed on the streets” has become something of an inside joke. I’ve been trying to catalog these methods of self-induced demise, partly to debunk them, and partly in the hopes I can publish a phonebook-size compendium some day and profit handsomely. I’ll just go ahead and share some of these with y’all today, though, for free.

Carrying a revolver, for starters, will apparently get me killed on the street. This caught me off guard, because I’ve seen pictures of pre-1980s America, when revolvers were the predominant sidearm for law enforcement and private citizen alike. You’d think the streets in those pictures would be hip-deep in revolver carriers who had been killed in them, and yet they aren’t.

I mean, there’s a reason police have generally moved from revolvers, and yes, I think a quality semi-automatic pistol is capable of solving more defensive problems than a revolver, but that doesn’t magically render a revolver ineffective. There are reasons some prefer wheelguns, including simplicity and the fact that they depend on the trigger finger rather than the ammunition in order to function. For some, those factors outweigh the drawbacks, and some revolver enthusiasts shoot their guns remarkably well.

Similar to revolvers in their ability to apparently cause demise upon the public thoroughfares are reloads, or rather the lack thereof. I will say up front that, if carrying a semi-automatic pistol, then carrying a spare magazine is definitely Best Practice with a capital B and P.

This is not, however, in case the need should pop up for a 35-round exchange with ninjas in the middle of the Kwik-E-Mart parking lot. Instead, this is because the part most likely to go wrong with your pistol is the magazine. The number of ways it can go wrong are legion, and range from double-feed malfunctions to simply falling out of the gun. The quickest and surest way to fix this malfunction is to insert a fresh magazine and drive on.

However, modern pistols are exceedingly reliable devices and the belt and pocket space of the average American who can’t dress like a tactical hobo is finite. There are plenty of other things that you will use more often than a spare magazine, and if it comes down to choosing between a good flashlight or a tourniquet neatly folded onto a PHLster Flatpack TQ carrier and a spare magazine? Take the flashlight or the tourniquet. (And if you’re carrying two spare magazines and zero tourniquets? You’re wrong.) So, no, not carrying a spare magazine will probably not get you killed in the streets.

What about mechanical safeties on pistols? I hear that these will get me killed in the streets, too, because I won’t be able to deactivate them under stress. (In fact, I’m aware of one situation reported by a local detective where a citizen was victimized for exactly that reason.)

Thing is, not all safeties — nor all end users — are created equal. There are safeties which disengage vary nearly automatically with a final firing grip, and there are shooters who practice using those religiously in daily or near-daily dry-fire sessions. Then there are miserable little tabs that you practically need to manipulate with a thumbnail.

If you’re going to carry a pistol with a mechanical safety, make sure it’s one you can deactivate smoothly and automatically as part of the drawstroke, and not some fiddly thing that takes two hands and a jeweler’s screwdriver to manipulate. This should minimize the whole “killed on the streets” factor.

Another surefire killed-on-the-streets cause is carrying a caliber that the dispenser of wisdom feels is inadequate, which is usually any one “wimpier” than what they’re carrying. They’ve got a .44 Mag. and you have a .45 ACP? Killed in the streets. A .40 S&W versus your 9 mm? Likewise.

To hear some folk talk, carrying a certain caliber of handgun bestows bullet resistance to projectiles from lesser calibers. “Ha-ha! That goblin was carrying a .380 ACP, and I had my .44 Spl. …” I have bad news: Just because yours is bigger, dude, doesn’t mean the bad guy’s bullets are going to bounce off you like a spring shower off a freshly Rain-Xed windshield.

Conversely, just because you have a 9 mm or a .327 Fed. Mag. instead of some big-bore wondermagnum, it doesn’t mean that yours will bounce off him. Shot placement works, and there’s no magic chambering that will cause or prevent your getting killed in the streets.

The list goes on and on: Flashlights or lasers giving away your position? Killed in the streets. Retention devices on your holster? Killed in the streets. I could go on, but I only have so much space here. Plus, I need to save some for that big, thick book.

SKILLS: Resolve to Improve Your Self-Defense Skills

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Start the year off with a review of your skills, and take steps to hone them: if you don’t use it you might lose it… Read on!

new years resolutions

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Sheriff Jim Wilson

As a general rule, I’m not a big one for making New Year’s Resolutions. However, for various reasons, I’ve been studying my own personal defense plan and feel the need to focus on improving it and making it better. When we neglect our shooting skills, they degenerate quickly. The same can be said of our personal defense skills. If we are to deal with a deadly encounter, we must stay focused and in practice. So here are some thoughts — resolutions, if you will — about improving my own situation.

I am going to make time to practice more. In most cases, that means practicing the basics. The basics of defensive marksmanship are the foundation that everything else is built upon. A smooth draw stroke and quickly and accurately hitting what I am aiming at will go a long way towards ensuring my safety. There is simply no substitute for regular practice.

Right in line with that, I need to practice what I preach and do a lot more Dry Practice. These winter days, when it may not be comfortable to get outside, are perfect for a few minutes of daily Dry Practice.

I also am going to book at least one defensive shooting school during this year. Good instructors always seem to be able to spot the little things that I am doing wrong and can’t seem to see for myself. Going to a defensive shooting school is just like getting the Jeep tuned up — things just run a lot better and a lot smoother.

I also need to improve my awareness of what is going on around me. The further away we see a potential problem, the more options we have for dealing with it. No one is at their height of awareness all the time but, if we really work at it, we can increase that awareness. A heightened awareness means that I may not get hurt and also means that I may not have to hurt another, and that’s a good thing.

Another important resolution is to seek out ways to help all of the folks who are just getting into defensive shooting. They feel the need to improve on their personal protection but often don’t know exactly how to go about it. They need a kind word, a friendly smile, and a helping hand. I can do that and you can, too.

In line with that, I need to find more and better ways to preach the important message of gun safety. Improving gun safety and reducing negligent discharges — along with resultant injuries — is a critical task that we all should be involved in. “How can I do it better?” is a question that I am going to spend a lot of time pondering.

While not a direct personal defense resolution, I am going to spend more time with the two fine .22 Smith & Wesson revolvers that I have but rarely shoot. Most of us got into the shooting sports because it was fun. Sometimes we forget that simple fact. A day spent plinking charcoal briquettes and other safe targets is good for my soul. It would be a good idea to invite some young shooters along, too.

REVIEW: Springfield Armory XD-E

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This outstanding handgun flaunts a rebirth of a trigger mechanism, and design, that has been overshadowed in the vast array of common striker-fired pistols, but one that has strong merits. Read more…

springfield armory XD-E
The defining feature of the Springfield Armory XD-E is highlighted above, the DA/SA hammer-fired system that signals a return to an action often overshadowed by modern striker-fired defensive pistols.

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated, by Tamara Keel

There was a time, back in the 1970s and ’80s, when giants strode the earth of the desert Southwest. At the time, semi-automatic handguns came mostly in two flavors: Single-action pistols — which were endorsed and carried by these giants –and pistols that were double-action on the first shot and single-action on subsequent shots, which were derided by the giants as “crunchentickers.”

The logic behind these sorts of pistols was that they could be carried safely decocked, yet be ready to fire with just a pull of the trigger. The downside was that the transition between the long, heavy initial trigger pull and the subsequent lighter, shorter pulls required more initial training and sustainment practice to maintain proficiency. So, the “crunchenticker” was seen as the lowest-common-denominator issue gun, while the real shooters used single-action pistols.

And, fast-forward to 1985, then came the striker-fired Glock and soon after all of its market competitors. Featuring only a single trigger pull to master, these pistols quickly became the singlemost-common variant in domestic law enforcement (and, anecdotally, coincided with a jump in qualification scores at police departments across America) and private-citizen use.

Fast forward to the present day, and in some sectors there’s a renewed interest in hammer-fired, traditional double-action (TDA, for short) pistols among a varied spectrum of serious shooters, and for a number of reasons.

In the competitive-shooting world, TDAs started owning Production Division in USPSA and IPSC. This was partially because so many current models were metal-framed and heavier than their striker-fired, polymer competitors. The TDA trigger itself was a big factor, too. As a friend explained to me, “You get one lousy trigger pull and 10 great ones, rather than 11 mediocre ones.”

On the tactical side of things, I know a few instructors who strongly favor the longer initial pull of the TDA in defensive guns for the reason that these pistols are threat-management tools. Guns get drawn — and even pointed — a lot more often than they get fired, they explained, and that longer trigger pull can be an added cushion against a nervous trigger finger getting into the wrong place.

One last reason for the renewed interest in hammer-fired TDA pistols is the increase in popularity of Appendix Inside-The-Waistband (AIWB) carry. When holstering in an AIWB holster, the user can control the hammer of a TDA pistol with the thumb of the firing hand. This serves the purpose of alerting the shooter to any unnoticed obstructions that may have gotten into the trigger guard and snagged the trigger by letting them feel the movement of the hammer.

Unfortunately for enthusiasts of the hammer-fired pistol, the selection on the market isn’t what it used to be, especially in the concealable, mid-priced variety. Furthermore, while Beretta, SIG Sauer, and Heckler & Koch all offer concealable TDA pistols, all but a couple up-market offerings from SIG are double-stack guns, and right now the market is madly in love with slim, single-stack concealment pistols for CCW.

The Springfield Armory XD-E, a single-stack, polymer-frame 9 mm, took the market by surprise early in 2017, representing a new addition to the company’s line of XD pistols.

While it uses the name and familiar styling elements of the XD series of guns, including the prominent “GRIP ZONE” markings on the grip, the Springfield Armory XD-E is pretty much an entirely different pistol. It shares almost nothing but the magazine and sights with Springfield’s existing single-stack line, the XD-S, and even there it only uses the XD-S extended magazines.

XD-E controls
(l.) One trigger, two trigger pulls — that’s the reality of the XD-E’s DA/SA system. (ctr. & l.) A red fiber-optic pipe sets the front sight apart from the twin-white-dot rear sight and makes rapid sight acquisition easier.

In size, heft and overall concept, the Springfield-Armory XD-E reminds one of the long-discontinued Smith & Wesson 3913. It’s just slightly larger than the Glock G43 or Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, since the standard magazine holds 8 rounds and the spare that ships with the gun is a 9-rounder with a grip-sleeve adapter. The magazines both come fitted with pinky rest extensions on their floorplates, but these can be switched with flat floorplates (included) for those who prefer a flush-fit contour for concealability.

The grip is as slender as you’d expect from a polymer-frame, single-stack gun. The widest point of the pistol, measured across the low-profile ambidextrous thumb safeties, is only 1.125 inches.

XD-E details
(l.) Ambidextrous controls and Mod.2 updates are evident in the XD-E. (ctr.) Slim in profile, the XD-E is a natural choice for carry. (r.) Two magazines, one with an extended baseplate, ship with the XD-E

Those ambi thumb safeties function in the same fashion as the classic 1911 thumb safety: up for safe and down for fire. Pressing down further past the off-safe position safely de-cocks the hammer. The magazine release is also fully ambidextrous, but the slide release is single-sided. The slide stop was a little difficult to run when the gun was new, but became easily useable after a few boxes of ammo.

Atop the slide on the Springfield Armory XD-E are sights compatible with the current XD dovetail dimensions (which are, entirely uncoincidentally, the same as the classic SIG Sauer P-series.) There’s a Novak-esque no-snag rear sight with two white-painted dots, and the standard front sight on the gun is a fiber-optic unit with a very visible red light pipe. Between the front and rear sights is the familiar loaded-chamber indicator of the XD-series — a hinged tab that pops up when there’s a round in the chamber.

Springfield Armory XD-E
(l.) A light, laser, or combo unit can be added to the accessory rail. (r.) Thumb-activated, the safety also serves as a decocker.

The slide has six broad, but shallow, grasping grooves on each side at the rear, and forgoes the current trend toward forward cocking serrations, which is probably a good idea on a pistol with a 3.3-inch barrel. All in all, the ergonomics on the Springfield Armory XD-E are solid. The textured areas are grippy without being too aggressive, and it’s not textured where it doesn’t need to be. The trigger guard could be a little larger, though. Folks with big fingers might have difficulty while wearing gloves when the trigger is in its fully forward, double-action position.

While it’s technically possible to carry the Springfield Armory XD-E cocked and locked in “Condition One,” the low-profile thumb safeties don’t exactly encourage it. Instead, the simplest thing is to load the pistol, chamber a round, use the safety/decocker to safely drop the hammer, and then holster up. Personally, I’d be interested in a decocker-only version to avoid the possibility of inadvertently actuating the safety when I didn’t mean to, but enough folks like the belt-and-suspenders approach of both a double-action pull and a manual safety that Springfield Armory chose to introduce this version.

At the range, the pistol shot well — frankly, better than I expected. I was anticipating an experience along the lines of what I’ve had with a G43 or a Shield, but the slightly larger size of the Springfield Armory XD-E pays dividends in shootability, thanks to a larger grip and enhanced recoil control. At the pistol’s launch event in Las Vegas, stages were set up with targets as far as 50 yards, and the better shooters among us were knocking those over with aplomb.

XD-E takedown
Adding a hammer did not change the XD-takedown procedure significantly; the XD-E breaks down easily for cleaning and maintenance.

This was aided by a very usable trigger. My Springfield Armory XD-E test sample’s double-action trigger pull gauged at 11 pounds and, while it stacked noticeably prior to break, it was plenty smooth. Single-action measured 5.5 pounds, with a short take-up before hitting a fairly abrupt “wall,” and then finished in a rolling break. Most impressively, through all the demo guns I fired over the course of the launch event, plus 750 rounds of assorted ammunition through my T&E sample, I have yet to see any malfunctions.

The Springfield Armory XD-E has a niche to itself for now. The only hammer-fired TDA single-stack 9 mm in the same size class is SIG Sauer’s metal-frame P239, which is 5 ounces heavier and has an MSRP nearly double that of the XD-E. Sitting right at the confluence of two trends, AIWB carry and single-stack, subcompact 9 mm pistols, it will be interesting to see how well the XD-E does in the marketplace. If it sells, will other models be spun off the gun’s TDA lockwork? Maybe a full-size, single- or double-stack service pistol? Stay tuned…

XD-E overall

XD-E specs

CLICK HERE FOR MORE

3 Ways To Talk To Parents Who Fear Guns

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Education, not confrontation, is the best way to handle a communication problem, and that’s what irrational fears and misunderstandings about firearms in a family setting revolve around. Read a few ideas on how to resolve it. MORE

nervous parents

SOURCE: NRA Family, by Brad Fitzpatrick

When I brought my newborn daughter home from the hospital, my wife and I received a lot of advice, both solicited and unsolicited, on topics ranging from sleep cycles to feeding to treating diaper rash and colic. Most of the advice was thoughtful, and it helped me wade through those first few exhausting weeks of fatherhood. But one particular directive struck me: A woman that came by the house to give my daughter’s cheeks a squeeze, stuck a bent finger in my face, and said, “You need to do something about all those guns. Keep them locked up, at least.”

Admittedly, I know precious little about diaper rash or colic, but I know guns. And I could read between the lines when she said keep them locked up, at least. Translation: You really should get rid of your guns because you have a kid.

I grew up in a house with guns. Maybe you did too. If guns were innately dangerous we wouldn’t have made it this far in life. But there are those that feel that all guns are dangerous, in large part because the only exposure they have to firearms comes via news outlets that paint all guns and gun owners with a broad, bloody brush. There will come a day when my daughter will climb onto the school bus for the first time and step out into the big world. And I know too that she will make friends with kids whose parents don’t want their child hanging out with that gun writer. So, how do we handle those parents? How do we help them to understand that just because I own guns does not make me irresponsible? Here are a few key points that you need to keep in mind when talking to parents who don’t want their child playing in a house with guns.

1. Find Common Ground:
The parent who refuses to allow their child to come to a house with firearms doesn’t want their child to be hurt or killed. Guess what? I am a parent, I have guns, and I don’t want to see my child or anyone else’s hurt or killed, either. Guns are like automobiles, votes, or gasoline and matches in that their use — good or bad — depends on the merit of the individual who controls them. Frankly, there are people with whom my daughter doesn’t ride in a car, not because cars are inherently bad, but because I don’t trust the driver.

2. Educate:
The first key to dealing with a parent who is anti-gun is not to engage in a war of words but rather to explain to them that the myths perpetuated by anti-gun outlets are not true. Tell them that, as a gun owner and a parent, you are acutely aware of the fact that irresponsible gun handling can lead to injury, but help them understand that groups like the NSSF and NRA are working to help educate people about safe gun handling. There’s a widespread notion among anti-gun forces that groups like the NRA are somehow against gun safety, which could not be further from the truth. Tell these parents that gun groups are at the forefront of gun safety, leading the charge toward better security for firearms and gun education for all. Ask them if they’ve ever shot a gun and invite them to the range, or invite them to review NRA safety programs designed for kids, like Eddie Eagle.

3. Shoulder the Responsibility:
I don’t know your kid. I don’t know if they’ve had any exposure to guns save the endless theatrical violence they witness in television and movies, but I’m certainly not going to allow my guns to reach your child’s hands. The responsibility of safe gun handling lies on the shoulders of gun owners, and we need to accept that responsibility. That’s a powerful message to advocates of strict gun control; I don’t believe that this responsibility lies with the government but rather with the individual, and to preserve that right I intend to take care to see that my guns are safe and secure. Parents ultimately have the right to allow their child to go or not go into anyone’s home. But it needs to be understood that if you don’t allow your child to come to my home for fear that there are guns then that is an attitude of ignorance, and it perpetuates the belief that all guns — and all gun owners — are bad.

gun with lock

EDITORS NOTE: I have been through this raising my sons. I got them involved in 4H Shooting Sports as soon as I could, and even had a couple of “converts” come join us after accepting an invitation to attend an event. I was a stay-at-home dad and came into contact with many concerned parents. My general response to “Aren’t you afraid of your kids being around guns?” Was: “No. I’m afraid of your kids being around guns…” Point clearly made. It’s all about education and experience.

2018 SHOT SHOW

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The biggest event in the industry is coming up soon! Read all about it…

SHOT SHOW 2018

The Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show (SHOT Show) is the largest and most comprehensive trade show for all professionals involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries. It is the world’s premier exposition of combined firearms, ammunition, law enforcement, cutlery, outdoor apparel, optics, and related products and services. The SHOT Show attracts buyers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

At the 2017 SHOT Show, industry professionals packed the aisles from the opening bell, and attendance totaled nearly 65,000, to make it the second most attended SHOT Show ever.

2018 will see the 40th Anniversary event and is not to be missed!

DETAILS HERE!

REVIEW: 9 Affordable .380 Pocket Pistols

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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. Ruger.com

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. Kahr.com

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. Glock.com

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. TaurusUSA.com

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.” Sigsauer.com

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. Beretta.com

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. Remington.com

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. Colt.com

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. Smith-wesson.com

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

SKILLS: Using a Single-Action Revolver for Self-Defense

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Really? Yes really! Sheriff Jim examines some facts, not myths, about defensive handgun use surrounding one of the best-known (and effective) handgun designs. You’ve got to read this!

SAA

SOURCE: Shooting Illustrated
by Sheriff Jim Wilson

Far from being antiques, modern single-action revolvers are extremely popular among today’s handgunners. In this day of higher-capacity semi-autos and double-action revolvers, it’s difficult for some to consider the single-action as a viable choice for personal defense. But, single-action revolvers were originally designed as fighting guns and they did an excellent job of taking care of defensive chores for many, many years.

Today, the modern semi-automatic pistol and double-action sixgun have the old single-action beat in capacity and speed of reloading. But, center hits stop dangerous attacks, not the amount of ammo your gun carries or how fast you can recharge it. Let’s look at some who favor the single-action and examine some of the techniques that make the single-action a viable choice.

A large number of hunters and outdoorsmen choose a single-action because it is tough, sturdy, and can be relied upon when you are on the backside of the Rockies and miles away from the closest gunsmith. In addition, many find the single-action sixgun the most comfortable handgun to shoot when fed a steady diet of heavy .44 Spl., .45 Colt, .41 Mag., .44 Mag., or .454 Casull loads. The Colt-style single-action grip frame tends to roll in the hand and absorb a good deal of the recoil these big-bore loads produce. This reduction in felt recoil minimizes the tendency to flinch, and heavy handgun loads are mighty important when dealing with an angry bear.

Outdoorsmen and trail riders are often concerned about a predatory animal attack while enjoying a day in the woods. Today, however, they are almost as likely to encounter some two-legged predators. When properly managed, the single-action revolver is perfectly capable of dealing with either kind of threat.

Another group to become huge champions of the single-action revolver is cowboy action shooters. I was recently told 300,000 shooters participate in some form of the sport. Many of these folks fire hundreds of rounds a week through their single-actions. Naturally, a person is going to do his best work with the handgun he shoots the most. It makes sense to consider the same single-action as a personal-defense gun.

A few years ago, a group of us gathered at Gunsite Aacademy for a defensive single-action class sponsored by Ruger, XS Sights, and SureFire. We examined shooting techniques designed to make the best use of single-action revolvers.

Some years ago, the fast-draw craze gave single-action revolvers a bit of a bad name. This came about due to the tendency of the fast-draw boys to cock their handgun as it was drawn from the holster. If you were a bit faster on the trigger than you were on the draw, the gun could easily go off before it cleared the holster, which tends to send a heavy lead slug down in the vicinity of your feet.

Well, a better and safer method can be found.

The first step is to take a shooting grip on the holstered sixgun, with your trigger finger straight and outside of the trigger guard. The second step is to draw the gun straight up and out of the holster. The third step is to rotate the handgun until the barrel is pointed toward the threat.

At this point, the support hand (which has been flat against your body) comes out to meet the gun and a two-hand hold is secured. Make sure your support hand is never in front of the muzzle. Shooting your support hand will certainly ruin your day and nearly always spoil your aim.

With the muzzle pointed downrange (or at the threat) and a two-hand hold secured, the support thumb is used to cock the handgun. Throughout the draw stroke, the trigger finger is still straight, out of the trigger guard and along the gun’s frame. It is only as the gun is thrust forward and the sights go onto the target that the trigger finger goes to the trigger. Throughout the shooting sequence, the strong hand maintains a secure grip on the sixgun and the support thumb is used to cock the hammer.

Finally, the defensive single action shares two traits with the defensive shotgun: It just doesn’t hold very many cartridges and both are slow to reload.

The single-action revolver should be reloaded when there is a lull in the fight. Learn to flip open the loading gate, punch out the empties and top the gun off as quickly as possible.

If a single-action revolver is the handgun you shoot the most, you owe it to yourself to be as proficient with it as you possibly can. And, as with any defensive practice, it is important to work for smoothness, not speed. Speed results from smoothness.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Folks I just had to step in on this one… It struck a chord and rang a bell I hadn’t thought about much for years. Most know me as a competitive rifle shooter. That’s where my “credentials” are and also where I’ve focused my editorial attention over my career as a writer, well, that and handloading for those rifles. But! I’ve had a long life of guns, all kinds of guns, and all kinds of shooting. At one much (much) earlier time in my life I was obsessed with Single-Action-Army Colt’s-brand handguns. SAA’s. Based on my best recollection and a calculator, I’ve fired well in excess of 50,000 rounds through a few of those. I had a beloved mentor in my youth who shot competitively with rifles and helped me along there immeasurably, and also put on his own brand of “Wild West” shows for rodeos and what-not. And I learned all about that (I never quite got the rope tricks down…) Yep. One of those “fast-draw” guys that Sheriff Jim just suggested we not emulate. I strongly agree. However! What I learned about SAAs, what I know about SAAs, is that (after putting in the time, and it’s some time) to develop handling skills unique to these guns, they are daggone fast to the first hit. Reasons abound, but simplicity, balance, and “pointability” lead. Would I recommend anyone go out and purchase a Peacemaker for defensive use? NO! Would I carry one? YES! I can also tell you that a hit with one counts a little (or a lot) extra than anything rimless… Underneath all this, this blizzard of words being written in every publication about defensive handguns and their use, the topic of this article called back the basics: the winner of an armed encounter is almost always the one who hits first hardest.
— Glen Zediker

4 (More!) Weird Questions People Ask Women Who Carry Guns

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If you enjoyed Tamara’s last article, you’ll love this one! Get ready for a chuckle! (But one with an important message.) Read on…

stupid questions

It’s just after Thanksgiving as I type this, and as the turkey dinner’s tryptophan haze wears off, one of the things I’m thankful for is all the friends I’ve made working in and around the gun industry. The reason I’m thankful for them is they don’t ask all kinds of weird questions about the hows and whys of me carrying a gun.

When I get away from my circle of gunnie friends, though, oh how do I get those questions, and they really put my ability to bite down on snarky answers to the test. Reading an earlier column put me right into story-time mode, because let me tell you, I have fielded some of those same kinds of questions myself. Let me share some with y’all…

Weird Question #1:
“Wow, do you carry your gun to the grocery store?
Snarky response I want to use: “Only on days I’m planning to be robbed in the produce aisle.”

Actually, you can substitute “mall” or “doctor’s office” or “church” or pretty much any other commonly visited location for “grocery store.” It never fails to amaze me that people think that I would only carry a gun to places where I “expect trouble.” If I expect trouble someplace, I generally solve that problem by not going there at all.

Part of carrying a gun, at least for me, is carrying it every day, and everywhere I legally can. It’s not like I drive my car with the seat belt off on Central Avenue because they don’t have many wrecks there, but plan to put it on when I turn on to 54th Street, because jeez have you seen those wreck statistics?

Weird Question #2:
“So, you carry a gun because you think you’re a vigilante? Like Batman?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Yup. You want to see my vigilante badge? I got it in a box of Frosted Flakes.”

First off, let’s address the Batman angle: If Martha Wayne had a CCW permit and a gun, there wouldn’t be a Batman and Heath Ledger never would have won a posthumous Oscar.

Secondly, no, I don’t think carrying a gun makes me any kind of freelance junior cop. I carry a gun for the immediate protection of me and mine. I don’t carry it to go looking for trouble, but rather just in case trouble finds me despite my best attempts to avoid it.

Weird Question #3:
“But…what do you do with it when you have to go to the bathroom?”
Snarky response I want to use: “Oh, I just hand it to someone trustworthy-looking standing by the sinks and ask them if they’ll hold on to it until I’m done.”

A friend recently quipped in an online discussion group that CCW training courses should be a seven-hour block of instruction on legalities and safety and a one-hour block on what to do with your gun in the bathroom. (Note: That thing on the back of the stall door is NOT a triggerguard hook!)

While some styles of carry, such as belly-bands or purse carry, avoid this problem, if you carry a gun in a belt holster, the question of what to do with it in the bathroom will arise. And the answer should be “Nothing.” If you are wearing a quality holster, the gun is not going to fall out even if the holster should inadvertently flop upside down, and the possibilities of the latter even happening are reduced by wearing a belt that is intended to support the weight of a holstered pistol in the first place.

Weird Question #4:
“Is it…loaded?”
Snarky response I want to give: A long hard stare, followed with, “Well bless your heart.”

While I’ve no doubt an unloaded gun has been used to successfully bluff a bad guy before, that’s a thin thread on which to bet one’s life. Of course my CCW pistol is loaded, else it wouldn’t be very useful!

Further, the mere act of pointing a handgun at someone in my state, absent the reasonable fear of an immediate threat to life and limb, is a crime, so it’s not something done lightly. If the gun is coming out, it’s coming out under circumstances that justify its use, and that’s no time to have to say “Oh, hang on, let me load this thing.”

I could go on and on in this vein, but I see the bottom of the page getting closer. How about you? What weird questions do you get? Share them in the comments!