Concealed Carry

Top Modern .380 ACP Pistols for Self-Defense

CTD 380 Ammo and Mags

It is no secret that the 9mm is the most common handgun cartridge for self-defense in the world. However, those who may be more recoil-sensitive, or need a firearm with a smaller footprint, have long turned to the .380 ACP. The .380 still provides decent ballistic performance and has a good assortment of ammo available. 

Quality .380 ACP pistols are accurate and reliable. They often fall into two different size ranges, micro or compact. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and each has its place in the gun safe. 

Micro .380s

A lot of the .380 handguns fall into a category referred to as micro pistols. These provide minimal size and weight for everyday carry. They are great to toss in the pocket and forget about. Unfortunately, they feature limited capacity, sight radius, hand fit, and exhibit a bit more recoil. 

SIG P238

At first glance, the SIG Sauer P238 resembles a miniature 1911 pistol. Although the mechanics are a bit different, the manual of arms is the same. This makes the P238 a great backup carry option for those whose main firearm is a 1911, 2011, or other single-action pistol. 

The small .380 features a manual thumb safety (either single-side or ambidextrous) that is positive in operation. This is a nice added security measure for pocket carry. The pistol has a 2.7-inch barrel and accepts either 6- or 7-round magazines depending on whether you prefer a flush fit or an extended baseplate. The Legion model offers the most features and enhancements, including an aluminum trigger, X-Ray night sights, and custom G10 grips. 

Similar to the classic Colt Mustang of the past, the P238 is incredibly easy to carry all day long. Kimber offers a similar option in its Micro 380 line for those who prefer a more rounded silhouette. 

SIG P238 Legion
The SIG P238 Legion resembles a mini 1911 and easily slips into the pocket.

Glock 42

The Glock 42 is a no-frills carry gun with the simplicity and reliability of the popular full-size duty pistols. The striker-fired design incorporates a bladed trigger safety that prevents the trigger from being depressed without intentionally being pulled. Further, the Safe Action system means the striker is not fully cocked until you pull the trigger. 

With a 2.8-inch barrel and 6-round magazines, the G42 is on par with other common micro .380 options. The minimal parts and intuitive construction make for easy disassembly for cleaning and maintenance. No matter your mechanical prowess, you will be able to get this puzzle back together. 

Additionally, Glock pistols have a ton of aftermarket support. You can upgrade or replace any part on the pistol for a custom look and feel. 

Glock 42
The Glock 42 is a simple and reliable micro .380.

Ruger LCP Max

Ruger took its popular LCP carry pistol to the next level with the LCP Max. With a slightly expanded grip frame to accommodate a staggered-stack magazine, the LCP Max offers an impressive 10-round magazine capacity. 12-round extended magazines are also available and add little to the overall footprint. 

The hammer-fired pistol utilizes Ruger’s safe and reliable Secure Action fire-control system, which combines a protected internal hammer with a bladed trigger safety. The trigger has a short, smooth pull with a clean break and positive reset resembling a single-action pistol. 

Ruger states that the barrel cam geometry delays unlocking, slows the slide, and ultimately reduces felt recoil compared to other .380 Auto pistols. Notably, the pistol ships with a front tritium night sight and serrated blacked-out rear U-notch. This setup provides a sight picture that’s quick to pick up and works well for defensive shooting. 

Ruger LCP Max
Ruger’s LCP Max packs the most ammo in a tiny footprint.

Seecamp LWS 380

Seecamp’s LWS 380 is the smallest pistol on this list. With a mere 2.1-inch barrel, the gun easily fits within the palm of your hand and still manages to pack 6 rounds in the magazine. 

The LWS 380 operates on a simple delayed-blowback action. Its stainless-steel frame and double-action-only trigger make it a durable and safe choice for personal defense. However, at just .91 inches wide at its thickest and just under 11.5 ounces with an unloaded magazine, it absolutely disappears on your person while carrying. 

Given its small size, the pistol takes some getting used to as you learn to manipulate it proficiently. The heel magazine release makes for a different manual of arms while reloading, although it works well once you get it down. The G10 grips provide a good hold, even with sweaty hands. 

Seecamp LWS 380
The Seecamp LWS 380 is the smallest option on this list.

Mid-Size .380s

Compact enough for carry, and large enough for fun at the range, these mid-size .380s offer a good balance for most tasks. They have a higher capacity and are easier to handle than their micro counterparts. Additionally, the longer barrel length and sight radius help improve ballistics and accuracy potential. 

Girsan MC-14T

The Girsan MC-14T is an affordable clone of a popular discontinued Beretta design. The MC-14T features a unique 3.8-inch, tip-up barrel for loading the chamber without having to rack the slide. The method works great for those with disabilities or limited hand strength. 

The double-action/single-action pistol features a frame-mounted manual safety. The aluminum frame is designed with a Picatinny rail for attaching accessories. The pistol holds 13 rounds in the magazine and is available in plenty of different finish options from standard black to polished gold. 

Girsan MC-14T
The Girsan MC-14T features a unique tip-up barrel system.

Browning Black Label

1911 fans will be naturally drawn to the Browning Black Label. The design is available in full-size and compact models, with and without a rail, with plenty of different finish options. The “Medallion” models feature an attractive two-tone finish with checkered rosewood grips. 

The pistols utilize single-stack 8-round magazines. The single-action pistol is carried cocked and locked. The Black Label even features all the common upgrades found on modern 1911s. However, the .380 is much smaller than a standard Colt .45, which makes everyday carry a breeze. 

I prefer the compact models with a 3.62-inch barrel and shortened slide because they conceal a little easier. You’re not sacrificing much in the way of accuracy and terminal ballistics. 

Browning Black Label Compact
The Browning Black Label functions as a .380 ACP 1911.

S&W Shield EZ

Smith and Wesson designed the Shield EZ series specifically for shooters who have issues with hand strength. The pistol is based around the “EZ Rack” slide, which reduces the force required to retract the slide for loading/unloading and clearing malfunctions. Additionally, the pistol utilizes specially designed magazines that are easier to load. They feature pull tabs to reduce spring pressure and hold 8 rounds. 

Along with a manual safety option, the Shield EZ incorporates a grip safety for added security. This pairs well with the internal hammer-fired design, allowing for a crisp trigger press that makes for good accuracy. 

Intended for self-defense, the Shield EZ has an accessory rail for mounting a light or laser. Performance Center models incorporate ported barrels for recoil reduction and attractive slide cuts. 

S&W Shield EZ
The Shield EZ Performance Center incorporates attractive slide cuts and functional barrel porting.

Beretta 80X Cheetah

The Beretta 80X Cheetah breathes new life into a classic design. In typical Beretta fashion, the double-action/single-action pistol features the iconic open-top slide design for improved reliability. Additionally, forward and rear slide serrations enhance gripping surface for malfunction clearance and slide manipulation. 

Beretta 80X Cheetah
The updated Beretta Cheetah does a great job at carrying on the legacy of the original.

The pistol incorporates a frame-mounted safety that is ambidextrous. The frontstrap and backstrap have checkering to increase traction and recoil control. Further, the new Cheetah has an added rail for mounting accessories. 

Do you ever rely on a .380 for self-defense? What are your favorite .380 ACP pistols? Share your thoughts and experiences in the Comment section.

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a younger firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting since he was a kid. He loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding, and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related and he tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills.

His primary focus is on handguns, but he loves all types of firearms. He enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn. He’s not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
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 (39)

  1. @SGT Davis: I think one thing that always stood out to me in too many of those cases that the cops related to us was that if the shooter had not drawn a weapon and shot their assailant, they would have only lost their possessions, tangible and replaceable things that do not last. Instead, they drew a weapon, shot the person robbing them, who became pissed (which I understand, I have been shot at and that act pisses me off and I have never been hit but became very pissed on too many occasions) resulting in physical attacks on the shooter and the shooter lost his life AND his possessions. In those cases, generally the shooter was the one who was most injured, (in the rare cases where they survived) or killed, while we generally saved the shootee so the cops could arrest him as soon as he left the hospital to spend the rest of his life at Big Mac (McAlester State Penitentiary) in Oklahoma occasionally on death row, but many there for life.

    There seems to be a mentality that in some of those cases drawing a weapon is a good thing. I believe more restraint is needed in most of these cases. I have been in several situations where there was a possibility for firearms to be drawn. Rather than wait around to find out (I was armed and had the means to defend myself, but having been in situations overseas where I was one of the lucky ones) I found exfil (extracting myself from the vicinity) kept me from shooting people even though it was tempting and at the time I thought they possibly deserved it, but it kept me out of legal trouble.

    I have conversed with too many people who seem to lust after this kind of experience. I have BT, DT and do not care for a repeat performance. It took me several years to become socialized back into a normal civilian life after I came home. It is not a cool thing to go through. Even then, when I got married more than five years later, every now and then, I would have one of the dreams where I was in triple canopy Hell being stalked by an unseen enemy who was taking out men on the team, one by one. I never had that happen in real life but stuff I did go through brought certain fears to light that are hard to explain to non-vets. My wife could not understand, no one who was not in the Army can, but she supported me and helped me through.

    I have not had any of those dreams in at least twenty five years, but the first twenty years after I got out were… let’s say, they were not always good times when I would wake up, sit upright in bed, dripping with sweat, my heart racing, and gasping for breath. When I would lie down to sleep, I would find that waking up was just the equivalent of a commercial break and the dream would commence where it left off. I would not wish that on anyone ever.

  2. @Bo, I totally understand. I’m a former LEO who was on ERT, a 2nd armorer, range master, and instructor as well as former ARMY. I’ve had to neutralize threats and I’ve been shot at and shot. Took a 9mm almost dead on center mass serving a high risk warrant one evening. Soft armor only, no plates. Armor did its job but it still hurt like hell. Turned several shades of bruised. Not fun. Wife works as an ER/ED nurse in a small town hospital, barely getting a small handful of GSWs in year (sadly that number has been increasing the past few years but I’ll leave the reason why out of this). But you’re correct, a lot of folks have unrealistict expectations of what happens when they shoot someone with a smaller, low powered caliber handgun. I know you’re a .45/1911 guy, and that’s fine, norhing wrong with that. I’m not a personal fan of the 1911 platform but the .45ACP is fine as a cartridge. Personally I’m a .40 S&W preferrer myself but sometimes I’m not able to carry my .40 so I’m stuck with my 9mm Shield Plus (if they made one in .40 I’d have it instead) or my 6 shot .38 Spl. The 9mm is loaded with 124gr Federal Hydroshok and the revolver with 125gr Federal Nyclad. I have no aversions about what they will or will not do. Same as you, trained to neutralize. Both the 9mm and .38 Spl can be and are deadly but I’m certainly not going expect them to be one shot stoppers. Far from it. As far as the .380ACP… if it’s all I had it’s what I’d use but it’s far from my first choice. I just find it funny/odd that so many folks actually do get assaulted/killed by their targets, and yes, I know it happens, more than folks realize. I just don’t understand the mentality these shooters have about hanging around long enough after shooting to get beat. Do they not understand the concept of retreating to a safe distance? Discharge your weapon into the threat, retreat, reload. Just a different mindset, training, and experience I suppose.

  3. FYI – A true “One Shot” stopper round was demonstrated on an internet video (by Garand Thumb?) a short time ago. Video was shot in Texas, at DRIVE TANKS. A ballistic dummy was shot with the 75mm HE round, fired from a WWII Sherman Rank. 75mm HE round removed a large portion of the dummy’s mid-section. So – How many folks have a fully functional Sherman Tank handy??? As for me – I will carry my BERSA 380 until I can afford the 75mm cannon and the HE rounds. YES – I do know that a working 75mm cannon or the 75mm HE rounds are illegal for civilians to own, which is why I can’t afford either item.

  4. @ SGT. DAVIS; I have no answer as to why some people respond in the way that they do when weapons are drawn. I was trained to shoot until the threat is neutralized. One of the things I saw with the 1911 was that there was seldom a need for more than a couple of rounds. To me, it was a no brainer. Now, I have never claimed that the .45 will always, in every case, take out the bad guy with one shot. I have said that in my experience, I have never seen anyone with a center of mass hit who was not removed from the fray. And in all the excitement, there may have been more than one hit in center of mass, going back to the removing the threat theme. Your mind blocks out most of what went on for hours, even days, after the incident.

    However, when I started working civilian ERs, I was bumfuzzled or gobsmacked, as the Brits say, that so many shooters were being attacked and injured and /or killed by their shootee after the shots were fired. I never went to any scene of the crime, only talked with the officers who related the circumstances to us.

    The only thing I can think of is the shooter was expecting a television response from the shootee, where the shootee either flies backward with a huge hole in his chest or drops dead on the spot, just like in the movies or TV. I have known too many people who were carrying mouse guns years ago before it was legal to carry concealed, and very few of them had any realistic expectations of what happens the first time one draws on another person. They seemed to think that it was not going to be that big of a deal. They thought I was exaggerating the responses people have in reality when gunfire erupts. I have had conversations on various threads, here at CTD, et al., where I was assured that they had been under a lot of stressful situations so they would be fine because they handle stress well. They did not believe being in any kind of a shootout could be more stressful than any of the things they had already done. I speak from experience when I say that the first time you face, and recognize, incoming fire that is probably the most stressful thing anyone can experience. Everything else in life seems to pale in comparison after one is involved in a hostile, live fire situation.

    I have been on more than one Code Blue Team in more than one hospital. There were a lot of people on the floors who could not understand how I could be so calm in a Code because people are trying to die, and frequently, more times than not, they succeed in dying. In one ER, I once had a newby nurse, when I was charge, who told me I did not understand how stressful it was in the ER. My response was to ask her if anyone was shooting at us. She said no and I told her to not talk to me about the stress in ER. She did not last in ER very long because she would fall apart under the stress of a patient who started going downhill fast. That prevented her from seeing what needed to be done and do it. I think that response is similar to what those shooters went through when the shootee did not go down like was expected.

  5. My 85 year old grandma has a Performance Center 380 EZ. When she first bought it with help of my brother (I was unavailable when they went shopping)… she brought it over, I stripped, inspected, cleaned and lubed it. Set up some targets, and having never handled the EZ, even though I’m a Smith guy, I loaded it up, stepped off ten paces and rapid fire emptied the mag into a 3″ circle. Very easy to control. Overall it’s not bad. Easy to load and rack, comfortable, accurate. My biggest gripe is that damn grip safety. It’s an annoying ass “feature” on the 1911 platform and it’s just as annoying on the EZ. Other than that, I like it. Not gonna rush out and grab one for carry over my .40 S&W or even the so-so 9mm in my Shiled Plus plus but if it’s all I had I’d feel plenty secure with it. @Bo… you’re all the time mentioning the patients that had been shot with smaller calibers that survived and their shooters did not because the shootee had “beat them to death with their own shoes” 😆 but here’s a serious question. If they’re shooting someone with a mouse gun, WHY the f*** hang around within arms reach to be able to get beat to death? Pump as many rounds as possible until the mag is empty and then GTFO of there. You don’t hang around to admire your handiwork. Either that or don’t bother putting yourself in that kind of situation to begin with.

  6. I have owned a Sig P238 for some time now and anyone who shoots it has the same issue. With just a little pressure and a solid grip, the magazine catch will release and result in a jammed gun.

  7. I have read most of the posts in this category and have to agree with them as written. I personally am a huge fan of John Browning’s design of the 1911 45 auto pistol. I don’t carry that large heavy pistol But I do carry the “Baby Rock” a fantastic scaled down and very functional pistol made by Rock Island Arms and at a superb price. It too is a 380 caliber but with today’s ammo producers the choice for self defense is optional. Agree or not take a look at this little pistol and decide for yourself.

  8. @Adam. I am glad you were not injured. Your story is unique from my perspective in that you were not injured. I guess one success story out of a couple of dozen is better than none out of them. In the ER, we never bothered to find out the particulars as far as the ammo that was used on our GSW patients beyond caliber used. We did what we could to save lives regardless of the circumstances leading up to the shooting, even those who had shot cops. What I have described it what I have seen over more than three decades in multiple ERs.

    As Grumpy49 has stated more than once, there are no guaranteed “One Shot” manstopper handguns. In the FBI Miami shooting, Platt was shot with a 9 mm (the round that killed him) and then multiple other times. In the time AFTER he was shot, he killed the agent who fired that fatal round along with one other agent and seriously wounded three others. He died, but it did not prevent him from destroying the lives of at least five families before he died.

    That being said, I will repeat what I have said, I have never seen a center of mass hit with the .45 that was not taken out of the fray. From my experience, that round has the best record around. I have seen too many failures of the other calibers to protect the lives of the shooter when they were called upon to do their one job. It is not necessarily about scoring a fatality hit but taking them out of the fray. People who cannot fight cannot harm you. As long as he can fight, he can hurt you. Platt is a great example of that.

  9. Bersa 380 Thunder Plus. Very comfortable in an Urban Carry holster. 15 + 1. DA, Single action. Only slightly larger than the Bersa Thunder. LeHigh bullets.

  10. I’m willing to bet that the long-winded, highly opinionated former ER dude never encountered someone shot with Underwood or Hornady Critical Defense .380. Guess who DIDN’T get beaten to death by his assailant after shooting him twice with his .380? Me.

  11. I have carried a Sig P230 for a long time, and have tried several different types of ammo for it. The only time I ever had to use it, the load was silvertips. They worked.

  12. It’s an ok list. I have the 238 and 938 Sig variants and not only are they reliable, they are a joy to shoot with accuracy. It’s low round capacity isn’t a hindering when it comes to quality and good bullet placement.
    The 238 recoil is better mitigated than it’s slightly big brother the 938 but both are easy to shoot.
    I own the Colt Mustang xsp which is Colts first take on polymer frames. It’s chambered in 380 and is the pinnacle of micro carry. It’s function is flawless.
    Neither of these three guns is cheap.
    The Sig 238 nitron and 938 SAS run over $800 new.
    The Colt mustang xsp (if you can find one) will be used and I was able to snag one for $400 which is a great deal especially since the gun had no wear or tear and appeared to have never been fired.
    The Beretta Cheetah is fantastic and has some unique functions that are impressive. Italians know how to make high quality firearms. It’s a no brainer if one wishes to fork over the money for a 380.
    380 in my personal experience is a great cartridge for self defense if within twenty yards or so. I can plunk steel from 40 yards no problem but close and personal, the 380 aka 9 shorty is plenty a nasty round for all recipients.
    Woman generally like the light recoil and good stopping power the cartridge provides.
    Something basic, something ugly , the Glock 42 maybe a good fit for some.
    The industry has moved far beyond Glocks less than great round capacities and mediocre looks but Glocks ,for the most part, are as reliable as any. Easy to shoot , clean and understand.
    It’s the king of entry level companies to choose from.
    That’s my experience.
    One last thing. I purchased a seacamp 32 a few years back at a pawn shop for $220 our the door for a backup but spite them being reliable, tiny and heavy with a full steel frame, the one I had was so uncomfortable to shoot it made me loathe using it. I’d rather shoot a 500 nitro express 3” double action revolver more than the seacamp. The grip is awful and big hands leave you with one and a half fingers hanging off the grip. Having to adjust or reset after each shot.
    I traded it to my neighbor for an AMT backup to which is just as bad to shoot.
    It was a turd I traded for crap.
    Only the seacamp was worth more I’m told.
    Btw, they run $440 ish and that’s double what I payed used never used. So if you absolutely want one then pawn ships are the best places to get a never used / used gun for half the costs.

  13. I am a retired police armorer and have to put inmy 2 cents worth on the 380. We carried the Sig 226 in 9mm on duty, Off duty I carried the Sig 230 stainless, in, of course, 380. As with any semi-auto, they have to be maintained. I found the 230 to be easily concealed, comfortabe to carry, accurate very reliable. I have not had any experience with the replacement 380 236, but expect it has the same qualities as the 230, and judging from p[hotos, amybe even an easier concealed carry.

  14. I own the Ruger Security and the S&W EZ. They are both excellent for seniors that are hampered by the weakness in hand srenght. I prefer my Ruger due to the magazine capacity. I also have the S&W EZ 9mm. which is a nice carry. I was able to locate a maazine to increase the count from 8 to 12 rounds.

  15. Odd rhat you didn’t mention the Sig P365 chambered in .380. You get a micro pistol for concealed carry AND 10+1 round capacity without an extended mag. It’s a far better option than the Glock or other low capacity choices.

  16. You all forgot about the Bersa 380. Best of the best. Own 2 and would purchase another before I purchase the ones you have listed

  17. Everyone wants to have the best weapon. I love my Sig 380 when my 108 year old 1911 is too big.
    In Europ they have used the 380 years. Any weapon will save you if you are well trained.
    Even my 25 cal stopped a fight years ago with no injuries to anyone.
    We must pray that we never will have to use our weapons in anger.

  18. AMEN Colonel K. Too many folks forget that NO HANGUN is a “One Shot” stopper. About 2400 fps is the minimum velocity to create hydrostatic shock in the human body. Most handgun rounds only run about half that velocity. Even the 8mm or 30/06 rounds used in WWII didn’t cause everyone that was hit to stop fighting. (Colonel Cooper, a WWII combat Marine, stated that a handgun was what you used to fight to a long gun.) A large number of soldiers shot also survived being hit. As to the 380 versus 9mm versus 45 question, most varmints, both four legged and two legged, don’t want to be shot period. The problem is those varmints that don’t run away from the sound of gunfire. P.S. – Anyone that hunts deer or hogs knows that no matter how solid a heart or lung shot appears to be, they will run off many yards and have to be tracked down. And they are not on any drugs!

  19. I’ve read the comments about the relative performance of EDC pistols and now I offer my free advice which is worth less than two cents. I am not nearly as concerned about caliber choice as I am about the shooter’s abilities. If you are comfortable and effective with what you have, be it a tiny .22 or a massive 460, stick with it if you like. I can offer suggestions that may serve you better, but the decision is ultimately yours to make. In all probability you will be fine because in all probability you will never have to use it. But what if you do? Well, again probability is on your side. Firstly, let us dispense with the phrase “only hits count”, for it is an inaccurate statement if the articles I’ve read by some esteemed and not so esteemed researchers are to be believed. The mere presence of a gun has deterred many a would-be desperado. When brandishing fails, a few misses have been known to produce a curative effect. Even poor hits have ended gunfights without anyone being too seriously injured. These less than fatal encounters are said to represent the vast majority of gun related incidents. But what about the rest, the minority of cases where one must stop a determined foe by any means necessary? This constitutes the grey area of probability where placement, penetration, and projectile performance may well be the deciding factors. We can cherry-pick the details to find the best performing cartridge, but this is an illusion. There are far too many factors at play that cannot be controlled, so take your best shot (pun intended). There are more important considerations than firearm and ammo selection, such as the willingness and ability of the good shepherd to act decisively. Few can handle heavy recoil, regardless of the platform producing it. Even fewer bother to master such firearms or any firearm they may assign to close personal defense. And who burdens himself with developing tactics and training to contend with the likeliest scenarios? I suspect most of my fellow readers will raise their hands, but we are a small minority, the kind of folks who now practice the Dicken’s Drill on the off chance it may become a reality for us, despite it being widely misreported as eight out of ten hits from 40 yards in a standing unsupported position. The drill certainly represents an extreme end of the combat scenario pool, but only because it has been misreported and misunderstood. I applaud those who try to master it, even though it is not realistic for anyone lacking the necessary dexterity and eyesight to pull it off (99% of the populace?). We obsess equally over caliber and load selection, as well our EDC du jour. Even though we know most gunfights end with less than six shots, we want more capacity, spare ammo, and a second EDC secreted on our person. We consider the 380 a marginal performer, but if we are being honest, this fact applies to all other practical caliber choices. Handguns are inherently weak in comparison to shotguns and centerfire rifles, but the latter two are cumbersome and draw undue attention when carried in public. So we sit around our keyboards pontificating to one another about what constitutes the ideal choice in EDC. There is no right answer, only intelligent alternatives. May the debating never end.

  20. @BUDGIE: I have seldom seen that verse used in context and this time is no exception. I would respond with Ezekiel 33:6.

    I realize that with the upcoming generation anyone who warns someone about risky behavior is considered to be judging them, but I would have thought you were beyond that. MY BAD! To tell people what I, and others, (i.e., cops I have known) have seen that got people killed and try to inform them of the dangers of such things is not judging them. Should we no longer tell people not to smoke or do drugs? Is that judging?

    The things I have related are factual and facts do not care about anyone’s feelings. You say you do not feel you are undergunned. I don’t think anyone of the dozens of people who used their weapons and got killed by the shootee felt undergunned up until the shootee began to kill them. They were unable to comment on their feelings after the shooting because they were strangely silent on the matter. That is because dead people have no feelings.

  21. I tried out a Ruger .380 auto at the range. That session sent me immediately to the gun shop to purchase my own .380. I have other carry items to choose from but I love the size of the Ruger for easy drop in the pocket & carry. On the other end of my choices, I have Ruger’s stainless .357 7-shot wheel-gun for our Michigan woodlands.

  22. You all left out the keltec,7oz, 3/4″ thick, 9 rounds with the extended mag, can’t see it in your pants,reliable as he’ll. What more could you want?

  23. I cannot give an opinion on any of the mentioned handguns. I bought my wife a Bersa Thunder because she wanted one. And I have never fired a snappier handgun in all my life. It is downright abusive! What my wife doesn’t know is what she is getting for her birthday. A Springfield Armory XD-S in 9mm, and I am going to be VERY picky on what self-defense ammo I get her.

  24. Thank you Alex for a good Read and well researched article.

    Despite the expected cavalcade of Small Caliber naysayers and former Vet/ER Pharases the 9mm Kurz/.380 ACP is a respectable cartridge for close quarter combat and defense.

    The Personal “BallisticTesting” I conducted with Chronograph and Expansion Media gave me solace that my EDC would suffice.

    Originally I had purchased a KBI/Interarms PPH clone of the Walther in the mid 80s but lost it some years later.
    Thankfully my Homeowner’s Insurance covered the cost and I replaced it with a like-new version within weeks (even got a Para-Ordnance P-14 in the deal) but have never felt Undergunned.
    All I can finish with is Mat 7:1.

  25. @Grump49: Re: Greenwood Park Mall shooting at 40 yards in Indiana. It was Elisjsha “Eli” Dicken, 22, who fired ten times with 8 hits at 40 yards using a Glock 19 which is a 9 mm, not a .380. As far as a hit with a .25 ACP, most of those we saw in the ER survived but they brutalized their shooters, who usually went to the ME’s office, per the cops. Saw far more who lived than died. Never saw any of the shooters, they were dead. One man who did die in the ER was shot 5 times in the chest, but he beat his shooter to death with his bare hands before he went down. The cops were happy as they were both known to the cops, and they both were taken off the streets.

    The experience of many, if not most, local cops was that those who carried .22, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 were more likely to die than the shootee if they shot someone with any of those caliber weapons. That is from over 30 years in ER in two different metropolitan areas talking to cops from multiple jurisdictions around each hospital. I was occasionally working one full time ER gig and a couple of part time, per diems in those years.

  26. I agree with Henry Miller. I have had my Walther for more than 30 year.
    Easy to handle and conceal.

  27. You forgot the best 380 of them all. Smiling. The Ruger Security-380 “Lite Rack” with 15+1 magazines. I don’t know if it is actually the best or not, but it is for me.

    As an elderly woman with arthritis and weak muscles, I can no longer shoot a 9mm or higher caliber pistol.

    But the Ruger Security-380 Lite Rack is pure joy for me to shoot even for extended range sessions.

    I also pocket carry a Sig 238, and it too is a joy to shoot but not as much as the Ruger. Both of these 380’s have a thumb safety but being a 1911 gal most of my adult life, I am well trained on that manual of arms.

  28. Let me start out by saying that I was once somewhat of a believer in the .380 as a viable self-defense weapon. That was back in the early to mid-70’s when I first got out of the Army. My perceptions of adequate weaponry changed as I spent the next 30 years plus working in civilian ERs and treating GSWs (well into the triple digits, if not more) of just about every caliber available in the US. I have treated dozens of people who were shot with .380 who not only did they not succumb to their injury, but more importantly, they did not reach incapacity before they killed or severely injured their shooter. We treated the shootee while the shooter generally went to the ME’s Office. That does not strike me as being a success and disabused of the belief concerning the round’s efficacy.

    Let’s look at the numbers for the .380. The Federal Punch .380 ACP is 85 grains and has 189 ft/lbs of energy. The Hornady .380 Auto 90 gr FTX® Critical Defense generates 200 ft/lbs of energy. Looking at ammo sold by CTD, there is Armscor USA Zombie Terminator .380 ACP, 95 Grains which generates 179 ft/lbs. Sellier & Bellot XRG Defense .380 ACP 77 Grain slugs generate 213 ft/lbs. Winchester Silvertip .380 Auto JHP 85 Grains generates 189 ft/lbs. Almost all these numbers were generated from a 4” barreled gun. A shorter barrel will not provide numbers so generous.

    There has been discussion of the FBI Miami shooting in several articles here at the Shooter’s Log. In the Miami FBI shooting, Platt was shot with a 115 gr 9 mm that did eventually kill him. But AFTER being shot, with that round and multiple other times, he killed two FBI agents (one of whom had fired the fatal bullet) and wounded three others. He was not, according to the autopsy, on drugs as some have asserted.

    It took several minutes for a fatal 9 mm round (to the chest) to cause Platt to lose enough blood to stop fighting (He had more than a liter of free blood in his chest cavity. This is called a hemothorax) Now, the .380 is not nearly as powerful as a 9 mm and has about the same, or less, muzzle energy as the ill-fated .38 Long Colt (198 ft/lbs) which was getting American soldiers killed in the Philippine mess back at the turn of the 20th Century.

    When people are shot with handguns, there is not the same kind of tissue damage that is seen with rifles, such as 5.56 or 7.62×39. I have seen too many of those to count. No short-barreled handgun round will ever reach a velocity to do anything more than punch a hole. It cannot shred organs or blow lungs up anywhere other than television/movies. That hole being punched causes bleeding if it hits a major organ of vessel.
    In The Thompson-LaGarde Report, there is mention of one Antonio Caspi who was shot 4 times with the .38 LC which perforated both lungs and was only subdued when struck in the head with a wooden gun stock. He survived the incident, and his picture was included in the periphery of that report. If those numbers did not work then, why would anyone think they will today.

    There is a condition called cognitive dissonance. “Cognitive dissonance or cognitive dissociation is a term in social psychology that describes a feeling of unease and internal conflict that occurs when someone deals with information contradictory to one’s beliefs. Cognitive dissonance involves how the mind tries to make inconsistent information consistent.” There is much cognitive dissonance in the gun community when it comes to recognizing efficacy of certain self-defense ammunition. People will attack me because I dare to introduce reality and personal experience into their world that might pop their fantasy bubble. For anyone using or carrying a .380, I hope and pray you never have to use it. In my experience, the shooter is more likely to die than the shootee. He will go to prison, you to the morgue.

  29. Micro pistols are the main reason to buy a .380. They are not as robust as 9mm pocket pistols; they don’t hold up well with heavy range use. Larger .380 like the Girsan MC14T are great pistols but a bit larger than a P365 or Hellcat with less power. I’m 72 and have arthritis in my hands but find the latter pistols as easy to shoot as ting .380.

  30. Modern advances in bullet technology have made the 380 a viable cartridge for self-defense. While many folks would argue 9mm versus 45 for self-defense, modern 380 pistols combined with the current crop of 380 ammo works as an EDC combo for most. When matched up with a good holster, and spare magazines, a 380 can be easier to carry concealed than most 9mms or 45s. Recently, a citizen EDC shot a Mall mass shooter at ~40 yards with his 380. His 380 was enough gun to stop the Mall shooter. Can you hit a torso size target at 40 yards with your EDC handgun? As always, a solid hit with a 25 ACP is superior to a miss with a 45 ACP. P.S. – Years ago, tried a PPK versus a BERSA, and found the BERSA had a better trigger than the PPK. Still like my BERSA decades latter.

  31. Over the past 40 plus years I’ve pocket carried a loaded LCP .380 & two extra (full) magazines everywhere I go. If I can’t carry it into a business, etc. then I won’t go into the business. If you conceal carry properly then you won’t have to worry about explaining your firearm’s presence. I’ve never had a problem with concealed carrying in stores, etc. yet, I’ve had to intervene in hostile situations before as well. I’m still here, they’re still here walking around in the world. Just be practical, congenial (if possible) and aware, well versed of you local concealed carry laws/requirements.


  32. I agree with your choice of mentioning the Sig 238. It is very controllable to shoot as conceals easily. Another plus is the operating system is similar to the 1911
    One Micro that you could have mentioned was the KelTec 3AT. It is easy to conceal in a pocket or with an aftermarket belt clip. It is simple to operate like a Glock.
    A Midsize that I would recommend others to look at is the RIA Baby Rock. Another 1911 operating system in .380 and it is a soft shooter.

  33. I have the Beretta 84BB and incorporate the Underwood defender ammo to make combo lethal to my satisfaction.

  34. I carry the Sig Sauer P238 as a backup to my colt 45 acp compact, the p238 is easy to carry all I do is put it in my back pocket in a holster that looks like a wallet in my pocket it works very well and with the ammunition that’s out there now I can do quite a bit of damage when I am up close and personal.

  35. Been carrying a P3AT since before Ruger copied it to make their LCP. Works for Florida carry, lightweight shorts and t shirt damn near all year round!

  36. I’m perfectly happy with my Walther PPK/S .380ACP. Thin–no ugly bulges under my shirt when I carry it–and a smooth, curvy, outline–no sharp angles to catch on my clothes when I need it in a hurry. A bit snappy and will sting your hand if you don’t hold it right, but other than that I don’t see much to improve on.

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