Handguns

The Best Concealed Carry .380? Girsan MC 14T Tip-Up

Girsan MC 14T, left profile, with 4 boxes of .380 ACP ammunition and hearing protection

In my world as a gun writer/reviewer, any new firearm represents an opportunity to acquire a new gun, learn about and shoot it, and pass along my experiences. Many times, I greet a new handgun as “just another black gun” until I get a chance to get to know it. My reaction to the Girsan MC 14T when I first heard about it was different — way different.

My reaction was something along the lines of “Finally, a gun that meets the needs of people like me who struggle with racking slides, loading magazines, and other factors related to shooting a handgun because of arthritis, neuropathy, and other physical limitations.” For 10 years (starting 15 years ago), I was an active instructor teaching the Texas License to Carry course to 50–60 people a week. Students of all ages and backgrounds came to those classes, and many turned to me to help them acquire the handgun that would be perfectly suited for them to carry.

Classic styling of the MC 14T harkens back to the clean lines of the Beretta 84 Cheetah series.
Classic styling of the Girsan MC 14T harkens back to the clean lines of the Beretta 84 Cheetah series.

It was easy for the able-bodied, but inevitably some of the elderly participants were attracted to such guns as the Beretta Tomcat and Taurus PT22 or PT25. At the time I responded, “No, No. That’s not enough gun!” I’ve always been an advocate of at least a 9mm, while sometimes admitting that a .380 will do (when realizing the person would not be able to handle a nine). The Girsan MC 14T totally solves the dilemma of finding a gun the person could operate and still have a suitable caliber for self-defense.

MC 14T Features

The tip-up barrel is the key. To make the gun ready, you simply load the magazine (using a magazine loader such as the Uplula) and insert it into the gun. Then, to get a round in the chamber, press a little lever on the right side of the gun downward. When the barrel pops up, insert a round in the chamber, and press the barrel down until it locks in place. Your gun is then ready to go.

But there’s more to this gun — a lot more. Once you’ve got the gun loaded, you’re holding a gun that is artfully constructed and a pleasure to hold and shoot. I want to start with the grip. After the tip-up barrel, that’s what impressed me first and foremost.

The grips are ambidextrous, made of a composite material, and configured for both comfort and security. Diagonal lines create the texture. The grip has an indention on both sides that doubles as an easy ‘thumb access’ to the magazine release button, and a guide for the trigger finger to find exact placement with no effort.

Both the front and backstrap have vertical lines for added grip security. Those lines are a real plus in my book. There’s a beavertail to protect from hammer bite. The very top of the grip panel is recessed to provide access to the ambidextrous safety.

The grip panels and ambidextrous safety add to the MC 14T ’s charm. In place of a slide lock on the right side is the lever for the tip-up barrel.
The grip panels and ambidextrous safety add to the Girsan MC 14T ’s charm. In place of a slide lock on the right side is the lever for the tip-up barrel.

At the base of the grip is a lanyard loop. When a magazine is in place, the baseplate of the magazine serves as a pinky rest. All-in-all it’s quite comfortable, plus it looks good. The magazine is a 13-round model. Only one came with the gun, but more are available for purchase.

The trigger guard is raised in the back to facilitate a high grip on the gun. The mag release button operates positively. It doesn’t appear to be reversible which is interesting because the safety is ambidextrous. Neither the slide lock nor magazine release share that feature. That’s probably because the tip-up release lever for the barrel is on the right side occupying approximately the same real estate as the slide lock on the left side. The safety totally disengages the trigger when in the safe position.

Ahead of the trigger guard, which slopes up in front, is a Picatinny rail. The slide does have serrations for that rare time when you may need or want to rack it. Many people compare this gun to the Beretta 84, and I guess that’s a fair comparison because of the open side and tip-up barrel which are like the Beretta.

Girsan MC 14T .380 ACP pistol over a paper target used for accuraccy testing
The flyers here pertain to how the author held the gun. A firm grip works for him, but squeezing extra tight did not.

The only one of the Beretta Cheetah series that was a tip-up was the Beretta 86, and these are pretty rare. I’ve seen one of them at auction, and the bidding for it was around $2,000. Sights on the MC 14T are a three-dot configuration with the rear sight being drift adjustable and the front sight fixed to the frame.

Tip-Up Function

To get the barrel to tip up, you press down on a lever that’s on the right side of the gun just above the trigger. The lever does not automatically return to its starting position but must be there for the barrel to lock in place. So, once you’ve released the barrel for loading, push the lever back up. After you’ve loaded the barrel, simply push the barrel back down until it snaps in place.

The gun is 6.8 inches long with a 4.5-inch barrel. It weighs 1.4 pounds. I’m sure there will be holsters made for it. However, in the meantime, I’m finding I can carry it easily in either the DeSantis Gunhide Vanquisher Medium to Large Frame Pistols IWB Holster or N8 Tactical OT2 G2 IWB Holster that I use for my SIG P365.

Girsan MC 14T .380 handgun, right profile with pocket dump items
Check out the size of the gun compared to everyday objects. The MC 14T is a great carry size.

How It Shoots

I tried four different brands of defensive ammo in the gun, and it liked them all. My groups were tight, but when you look at the pictures, you’ll see a couple of flyers. It was kind of interesting how those happened.

If I squeezed tightly on the gun while firing, I got the flyers. If I eased off, however, holding the gun firmly but not too tightly, I found recoil was less and accuracy was better. You’ll just have to try it for yourself, but remember what I described. I found the sights easy to see and right on target.

The trigger is extraordinary. My wheeler gauge measured the double-action first pull at 10 pounds. The single-action trigger pull was just over 5 pounds. The double-action pull is sort of long, but in single-action mode the trigger is set pretty far back. It has about ¼-inch slack, then an easy break.

I could shoot this gun all day. Some reviewers complained about the beavertail, wishing it was slightly longer. They claimed they experienced some hammer bite. I never experienced that myself.

Maintenance

When it came time to clean the MC 14T, I was prepared to do a standard takedown but couldn’t find any levers or buttons used to release the slide. I consulted the manual for the takedown procedure. I discovered it consisted of tilting up the barrel and racking back the slide and that was it. Anything beyond that was not recommended by anyone other than a gunsmith.

The Girsan MC 14T opens the door to EDC for people who have difficulty manipulating the slide on a handgun with its tip-up barrel design in .380 ACP.
The Girsan MC 14T opens the door to EDC for people who have difficulty manipulating the slide on a handgun with its tip-up barrel design in .380 ACP.

Sounds simple, huh? Well, not exactly. I discovered two things when trying to accomplish this takedown procedure. The first was that after dropping the magazine and attempting to lock the slide open, I couldn’t. I simply could not pull or push the slide back to the position where I could push the slide lock up to hold it open.

I reinserted the magazine, pushed the slide back until it locked open by virtue of the magazine being in the gun and empty. Then, I tried to tilt the barrel up only to discover it would not budge with the slide open. So, when you get yours and you’re ready to clean the gun, tilt the barrel up, open the slide, remove the magazine. This procedure works every time.

Final Thoughts

I predict this is going to be a big seller. Girsan workmanship is already well known, and it shows in this gun as well. The fit and finish are first class, and everything functioned flawlessly. It is also a very attractive gun.

Girsan MC 14T .380 ACP gun open and ready for cleaning with the magazine removed
This is it for takedown for cleaning. Tilt the barrel up, lock the slide back, remove the magazine.

The .380 caliber was good enough for James Bond, and that was before we had today’s modern ammunition in which ballistics continues to improve. If you can shoot your gun well, the .380 will do what you need it to do in a defensive situation. And with reduced recoil, many people find they’re able to shoot a .380 better than they can a higher caliber.

Let me know what you think, especially if you’re one who struggles with slide manipulation and other factors related to shooting a higher caliber.

What do you think of the Girsan MC 14T Tip-Up .380? Have you tried one yet? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

  • Girsan MC 14T .380 ACP pistol over a paper target used for accuraccy testing
  • The Girsan MC 14T opens the door to EDC for people who have difficulty manipulating the slide on a handgun with its tip-up barrel design in .380 ACP.
  • Classic styling of the MC 14T harkens back to the clean lines of the Beretta 84 Cheetah series.
  • Girsan MC 14T .380 handgun, right profile with pocket dump items
  • Girsan MC 14T .380 ACP gun open and ready for cleaning with the magazine removed
  • The grip panels and ambidextrous safety add to the MC 14T ’s charm. In place of a slide lock on the right side is the lever for the tip-up barrel.
  • Girsan MC 14T, left profile, with 4 boxes of .380 ACP ammunition and hearing protection
  • Sight picture of the Girsan MC 14T with the barrel tipped up

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (11)

  1. This is a follow up post to my previous review, of the tip up bbl. I had trouble w/ failure to feed, and it had seemed to work itself out. On my next trip to my range, I started w/ the session w/ the 6 magazines and had worked my way thru the first 2, on my first mag, I had a failure to feed, w/ the usual round caught between the slide and bbl, at an an angle, which cleared w/ a slight pull back on the slide to chamber the round. After the second magazine, and prior to the third, I discovered a failure of the pistol. The hammer was cocked, the slide safety was inoperable, and the trigger flopped around, w/out any connection to anything. Complete failure of the pistol, after less than 500 rounds fired, and 75% of those rounds were a failure to feed, out of 6 different mags.
    I sent in the pistol in to EAA, and received it back in 2 weeks, w/ the repair/action taken, “Replaced and fit new trigger bar supporter, test fired OK. The next test is back to the range, to check out repairs, and see if the damn thing feeds. This is my second Girsan pistol, and probably my last! I bought this one because of the beretta design, the tip up bbl, caliber, and price. Poor choice so far. Lucky I have the patience and ammo to break it in, to hopefully make it a shooter.

  2. I would suggest to WILLYG, to test the Browning 1911=380. I own both the PMR30 and the Browning, and use the Browning as my EDC. I also have damage to my shoulder/elbow/wrist due to injury AND arthritis, so I KNOW the pain that comes with high caliber shooting. At 45 ft, my browning and I are unstoppable, and no pain, as recoil is easy on the joints.
    The PMR30, DOES have the advantage of having 30 rounds to the 8+1 that the browning has though.

  3. My experience w/ the MC 14T hasn’t been as good @ the range as the authors. Right off the bat I faced failure to feed w/ hollow point ammo, as well as FMJ. The round would 1/2 way load into the barrel, requiring a slight pull back on the slide to chamber the round. At first nearly 6-8 rounds per the magazine. I shot both the factory mag’s and beretta mag’s, all w/ the same results, w/ 6 magazines. At times I had the slide fail to lock back on the last round. I didn’t seem to matter what magazine was used, all were loaded to 13 rounds. After 3 rounds of firing all 6 magazines, I got down the the last 2 mag’s firing nonstop, w/ extensive lubrication of the pistol. After each round of mag’s I cleaned & lubed the pistol. I thought I would try to extensively break in the pistol until it either smoothed out or I became disgusted & sent it back for service, so far it’s been 235 rounds. I haven’t had a chance to return to my range to run another round of magazines thru it, hopefully it will smooth out and function as the author’s did.

  4. I am 77 years old and a 35 yr. retired LEO (with emphasis on the tired part of being retired). For duty I carried .357 ColtPython revolver being first the blued 4 ” bbl. , then the stainless Snake Python 6″ and 2 1/2 “Python when I was a Detective. I also wore the Detective Special .38 made in 1932 strapped on my ankle as back up from late 60’s until we switched over to semi autos. I was shown the Glock. The .45 Model 30 was my choice for duty carry as my next assignment in the Aviation unit. . The Glock was my favorite shoulder duty carry while the 5 shot S&W Chief Model# 36 was on my ankle. I have seen the results from almost every caliber of gun shot . Probably .22 caliber was the most frequent. I want to mention in a very big way the merits of the .22 Magnum. Simply devastating and often overlooked. So, now my CCW as first choice is a well tuned and running Kel Tec PMR-30 with a spare mag. Also High Standard .22 Mag Derringer or any other .22 magnum for carry . So, Check YouTube for some eye popping size holes made in clay blocks courtesy of the .22 Magnun (WMR) compared to many other commonly carried calibers. Remember to clean and practice as often as you can. SHOT PLACEMENT IS EVERYTHING. IMHO Only.

  5. I suppose one day Beretta and Benelli may regret all of that work they farmed out to the Turks!

    Gave them a lot of experience.

    I saw on of these in a shop, had a spare magazine, another in a different box did not. Funny.

    These tip up barrel guns make a lot of sense, a great deal of sense.

    Bob

  6. On racking a slide, not so much for this one, but on others, an advantage to upgrading sights, many times includes the rear sight cut to be used on a shoe heal, belt, table edge, whatever, to aid in racking a slide. Sight upgrades to night sights with this slide cocking feature are usually affordable, and worth it if you still want to carry something above a .380.

    Something unique on a 1911 Government Models WITHOUT the solid guide rod, can be racked by hooking the thumb into the trigger guard, and with the index finger under the barrel, on the bushing, in a pinching movement can rack the slide far enough to chamber a round, but not enough to engage the slide stop. It is the only firearm I know of that has this capability.

  7. I still carry a nine but even with the little ones like the Hellcat, racking the slide is an issue. My delight in this tilt-up .380 is not in weight or easy shooting so much as it for loading.

  8. Nothing against Glock, but so nice to see something new that isn’t another Glock wannabe. Nice to see innovations like the tip up barrel for loading, and I assume safely unloading as well? Small, yet has a light rail. Well thought out.

    Nice looking firearm, while not yet a .380 fan, wondering if they plan on making this in at least a 9 mm? Looks like comfortable grip texture that also leaves your skin on your hand.

  9. How hard is the tip-up mechanism to engage? I have a Beretta Tomcat with a tip-up latch so stiff that it defeats the purpose of this feature.

  10. Looks nice
    Never shot it yet but man that’s a lot of weight to carry for only a .380 caliber
    I’m thinking in line of sig p365, Taurus Gx4 or why not go with 5.7 palmetto arms don’t need extra mags when it has over 22 rounds in 1 mag

  11. David,
    Are you carrying this in a boot?
    Why a 380 over a palm size 9mm?
    I suppose with the right placement shot a 380 maybe
    But most city and sherrif in S.E. Idaho carry S&W 9mm!

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