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American Sheepdog Online CCW Resource Magazine - .380 Comparison Chart
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  • The .380 CCW Option

    Things have changed in recent years regarding concealed carry. Many states have adopted "Shall Issue" carry laws in the last decade. Handgun manufactures began to cater to the concealed carry crowd as well as vendors for holsters and other accessories. The election of President Obama resulted in a wildfire of gun sales and ammunition purchases. Many people were purchasing a firearm for the first time. Many of these new shooters also received permits to carry. Many states reported that applications for carry permits increased by 30 to 50 percent, and some reported figures slightly higher. Many new shooters purchased .380 caliber handguns and stocked up on ammunition. While all calibers were being purchased as soon as the dealer received them, the .380 was especially hard to get. The story behind ammo shortages is for another time, here we will focus on the .380 handgun. I plan to follow up this article with the various options in ammunition for the .380 in the coming weeks.

    (Authors Kel-Tec P3AT pictured)

    Why would new shooters or anyone for that matter, purchase the .380? Well, let's look at the .380 platform. It's a small caliber, and being a small caliber the recoil is far less than that of a 9mm or .45 caliber. The "small" factor carries over with the size and weight of the handgun, which is of course, a major factor in choosing a daily carry handgun. Weight plays a large role in comfort and size plays a large role in carry options. The same could be said of both in vice-versa scenarios. Whether it's carried in a pocket, purse or in an ankle or waistband holster, the smaller it is, the easier it is to conceal. The popular .380 fits that requirement for many people. New shooters carry it for the above reasons and veteran carriers often carry it as a back up gun (BUG) to their primary carry handgun in a pocket or ankle holster.

    Handgun manufactures have focused on designing their products with concealed carry in mind. It's a focus driven by the CCW crowd and a selling point that cannot be ignored. While many manufactures have built small handguns in calibers such as .22, .25, .32 and .380, this recent focus has been on the complete carry package with weight, size and function.

    It is not my goal to tell you which to purchase, only to give some information to assist you in making your own decision. Let's look at a side by side data comparison of current handguns being produced, some of which are brand new to the manufactures line of handguns.

    Links are provided for more information from the manufacture. (if available)
    Click the name of the pistol to view the website for more info...

    Pistol Ruger LCP Kel-Tec P3AT Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle NAA Guardian Rohrbaugh R380 SIG P238 Taurus TCP Walther PK380 Kahr P380
    Operation Recoil Recoil Blowback Blowback Recoil Recoil Recoil Recoil Recoil
    Action DAO DAO DAO DAO DAO SAO DAO DA/SA DAO
    Frame Polymer Polymer Steel Steel Aluminum Aluminum Polymer Polymer Polymer
    Barrel Length 2.75" 2.75" 2.22" 2.49" 2.9" 2.7" 3.3" 3.66" 2.5"
    Capacity/Rds 6+1 6+1 6+1 6+1 6+1 6+1 6+1 6+1 8+1
    Sights Notch in Slide & Post Front Notch in Slide & Post Front Notch in Slide & Post Front Notch in Slide & Post Front Notch in Slide & Post Front Notch & Post, Drift Adjustable In Slide Notch & Post, Drift Adjustable In Slide Notch & Post Three Dot, Drift Adjustable Square Notch Rear & Post Front
    Trigger Pull 7 lb, 7 oz 8 lb, 8 oz 8 lb, 8 oz 13 lbs 7 lb, 9 oz 5 lbs 5 lb, 6 oz 10 lbs/5 lbs 8 lbs
    Overall Length 5.16" 5.20" 4.52" 4.75" 5.20" 5.50" 5.19" 6.50" 4.90"
    Width 0.82" 0.77" 0.90" 0.93" 0.95" 1.11" 0.88" 1.20" 0.75"
    Height 3.60" 3.50" 3.71" 3.53" 3.70" 3.90" 3.47" 5.20" 3.90"
    Weight 9.4 oz 8.3 oz 14 oz 19.72 oz 12.8 oz 15.8 oz 10.2 oz 19.4 oz 9.97 oz
    Spare Magazine No No No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes
    SRP $364 $318 $535 $449 $1,150 $543 $336 $425 $758

    DAO=Double Action Only
    Double action means that the pistol is cocked and fired with each trigger pull. In it's normal state, the hammer/striker is not locked back in position with tension applied to strike the firing pin. This action will require more force to pull the trigger than single action.

    SAO=Single Action Only*
    Single action means the hammer must be manually cocked by hand (your thumb) or the slide must be pulled back to cock the hammer/striker. With the hammer/striker down in it's rested position, pulling the trigger will do nothing to strike the firing pin. This action requires less force to pull the trigger than double action. When firing, the cocking of the hammer/striker has already been done, all that is left is to release the hammer/striker to engage the firing pin.

    * On SAO striker fired handguns, their is no hammer to manually cock with a thumb. When the slide is pulled rearward, the striker is cocked to engage the firing pin. This of course means that anytime a round is chambered, it is cocked and ready to fire. Most modern SAO handguns have a grip safety and/or an additional trigger safety to prevent the striker from hitting the firing pin in situations such as dropping the weapon.

    DA/SA=Double action and Single Action
    This means that the handgun can be cocked manually by pulling back the hammer or by pulling the trigger. When a round is chambered by pulling back the slide, the weapon is cocked. The hammer can be held and released to slowly lower it to an un-cocked position. It will not be cocked again until the the trigger is pulled or the slide is pulled rearward. In this action, the first pull of the trigger (hammer down) will require more force (DA) to fire, after the first shot, the slide has re-cocked the hammer which will require less force (SA) to fire the weapon.

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    Comments 2 Comments
    1. fyrman273's Avatar
      fyrman273 -
      I was skeptical about carrying a "smaller" caliber weapon. But after doing a bit of research I decided on getting one. I was at the gun shop and was ready to plop down some moolah for a Ruger LCP. My eye caught another .380 in the glass case. It was a Taurus TCP and after fondling it for a few minutes I went and bought it. There were a few factors that made me change my mind.

      *you get 2 magazines instead of 1
      *slide locks to the rear when empty
      *has a slide release like on most full size pistols
      *choice of stainless steel slide vs. blued
      * price point: TCP was $30 cheaper than LCP

      I do not carry my TCP all the time. I usually grab it when my attire does not call for a Supertuck or any other of my IWB holsters. It fits perfect carried in a pocket holster sitting in my front pocket of a pair of shorts or sweatpants. My personal opinion about using .380 as a carry weapon is plain and simple.
      Most bad guys aren't proficiently trained in the use of handguns or being involved in a high stress shoot. Therefore, when the .380 goes bang bang I am sure that they would not continue to engage you in a firefight. Secondly, ballistics have come a long way. I would not want to be hit with a jacketed hollow point .380 anywhere on my body! Anyway, what it all boils down to in an armed engagement is the one who comes out alive is the one who puts a round in the right spot. Be proficiently trained, be quick on the draw, and you come out on top. Peace.
    1. Rossi's Avatar
      Rossi -
      Quote Originally Posted by fyrman273 View Post
      I was skeptical about carrying a "smaller" caliber weapon. But after doing a bit of research I decided on getting one. I was at the gun shop and was ready to plop down some moolah for a Ruger LCP. My eye caught another .380 in the glass case. It was a Taurus TCP and after fondling it for a few minutes I went and bought it. There were a few factors that made me change my mind.

      *you get 2 magazines instead of 1
      *slide locks to the rear when empty
      *has a slide release like on most full size pistols
      *choice of stainless steel slide vs. blued
      * price point: TCP was $30 cheaper than LCP

      I do not carry my TCP all the time. I usually grab it when my attire does not call for a Supertuck or any other of my IWB holsters. It fits perfect carried in a pocket holster sitting in my front pocket of a pair of shorts or sweatpants. My personal opinion about using .380 as a carry weapon is plain and simple.
      Most bad guys aren't proficiently trained in the use of handguns or being involved in a high stress shoot. Therefore, when the .380 goes bang bang I am sure that they would not continue to engage you in a firefight. Secondly, ballistics have come a long way. I would not want to be hit with a jacketed hollow point .380 anywhere on my body! Anyway, what it all boils down to in an armed engagement is the one who comes out alive is the one who puts a round in the right spot. Be proficiently trained, be quick on the draw, and you come out on top. Peace.
      True enough....Hornady's Critical Defense is good food for my BUG Kel-Tec. Another point is that the magical 21' is interesting, but in real life, it's more like 10' with many less than that.

      Rossi

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