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380 ACP Pocket Gun Review


By Dan S. Defense

Pocket guns, especially ones in the 380 ACP category, are very popular. Once refereed to as "mouse guns", 380 ACP handguns are making a comeback. In fact, it's more than a comeback, since 380 ACP handguns are breaking new sales records everyday. The periodicals I read, seem to feature a new 380 ACP handgun, more often than it rains in Seattle. Why are pocket guns, chambered in 380 ACP, so popular?

In this article, we'll look at the resurgence of the 380 ACP, some handguns that I like, good, self defense 380 ACP ammo for these guns, and last but not least, some critical caveats that you must consider and take to heart. But first. a peek back in time, at the origin of the 380 ACP.

John Browning, who was nothing short of a genius engineer, developed this bullet, which was adopted by Colt in 1908 and introduced as the 380 ACP, which stands for Colt Automatic Pistol. The 380 ACP came from the same brilliant mind that gave us the 45 ACP and eloquent Model 1911. A great start for a small 380 bullet, which was first chambered in a Colt. You'll also see the 380 ACP called the 9mm Kurtz, or short 9mm.

Now that we have some background on the 380 ACP, let's take a look at the answers to 1) the popularity of the 380 ACP, 2) Some brands that chamber the 380 ACP and that you ought to explore further , 3) good ammo for said 380 ACP handguns and 4) important caveats to 380 ACP handguns.

Why are handguns chambered in 380 ACP so popular?

1. Superior concealment: there are times in which it is impractical to carry a full size self defense handgun. Think a hot summer day in Florida, or an evening out to the symphony in formal evening wear, or for Ladies, a pair of tight fitting jeans. Some times size matter and smaller, in this case, is better. A small, lightweight and slim 380 ACP handgun will be able to accompany you in each of these cases.

2. Superfluous convenience: we live in a society that seems to value convenience above all else. People drive rather than walk. They park as close as possible to their store of choice. People prefer fast food to good food. In my mind, people simply refuse to "sacrifice " convenience for anything, and that includes their personal safety. A full size 45 ACP self defense handgun is big and heavy. Even a lightweight Glock or Springfield XD requires some modification to clothing and style. The 380 ACP negates the need for any type of change. Just put it in your pocket and you're armed.

3. Historical coolness: The smallest percentage but somewhat interesting, is the crowed that buys the 380 ACP handgun for bragging rights or self satisfaction. I've seen people look for the James Bond handgun. That cool gun they saw in the movies when they grew up. Some are satisfied with the Walter PPK, but some find it to be too bulky, so they keep what's in their mind is a "cool" 380 ACP bullet and buy a pocket gun that will maintain the coolness factor.

Good 380 ACP handgun brands, that I own and use, to get you going:

No matter which group you may associate with, you may want to get a 380 ACP handgun, or at least research it further. To you I offer a starting point with the following:

1. SIG SAUER P232 :this 380 ACP handgun is the largest of the group I'll share. It is my 380 ACP handgun of choice because it offers a good grip, excellent sights (my SIG SAUER P232 has night sights) and it's very slim. I don't like the magazine release but for a backup handgun the SIG SAUER P232, with its 7+1 380 ACP ammo, is good enough. It worth mentioning that the SIG SAUER P232 is the smallest and lightest pistol in the most excellent SIG SAUER family.

2. Ruger LCP: this 380 ACP is a small marvel. It's just over 5 inches long and weights just over 9 ounces, when it is unloaded. Compare that to the SIG SAUER P232 which weighs almost 18 ounces and is about 6.5 inches long . This 380 ACP pocket gun is a marvel of engineering at such a small package. I sometimes forget the LCP is in my pocket. Yes, the Ruger LCP is that small and lightweight. Out of the pocket gun family, the Ruger LCP is my favorite, 380 ACP.

3. Magnum Research Micro Eagle: this 380 ACP has a long name but small form. It was the first pocket 380 ACP in my collection. If you know the family tree on the Micro Eagle, you'll be amazed when you see it. It is the shortest 380 ACP of this group at about 4.5 inches long, but it weights "much" more than the Ruger LCP at 14 ounces. It is a solid little 380 ACP, and because the Micro Eagle as a Teflon finish, sweat or water won't do much to it, in the short run.

Now we get to 380 ACP ammo selection:

In my mind, the most important element in effectiveness. Any of the following ammo will be of the highest quality, but 380 ACP handguns are small and finicky-make sure you find the right ammo for your 380 ACP:

1. Winchester: The" RA380" ACP Winchester Ranger.380 ACP 95gr T-Series. It has a 95gr. bullet, low flash for better night vision retention and the cartridges themselves are made from nickel plated brass, which lasts longer and is easier to see in low light.

2. Cor-bon: if you can get it, comes the Corbon DPX 380 ACP Auto 80gr Self-Defense. I'm a big fan of the DPX line, and while its expensive, it is very reliable and packs a strong punch. Even in 380 ACP. Since Corbon is a relatively small ammo maker, it can't keep up with the current ammo craze and you can expand long delays in shipping, and/or high prices.

3. Speer: The Speer 380 ACP 90 Grain Gold Dot Hollow Point --A good load, which seems to work well with my SIG SAUER but not my Micro Eagle is the Speer 380 ACP 90 Grain Gold Dot Hollow Point. Speer ammo is top notch and this fellow is no exception. If you 380 ACP handgun feeds it, you can carry it and know that it will go bang when you want it to.

Last but not least some important caveats that you must consider and understand:

1. Pocket guns are finicky. The short distance that the slides needs to travel, makes feeding bullets harder and therefore pocket guns are notorious for feeding issues.

2. Pocket gunskick like small mules. They have short barrels that translates to lower velocities and therefore reduced stopping power. Some ammunition makes try to make up by adding powder but that translates to more recoil, which leads us to the last and more important caveat.

3. Pocket guns are hard to shoot. It takes skill, practice and some more skill to turn a 380 ACP handgun into an effective self defense tool. 380 ACP handguns mostly have DAO (Double Action Only) triggers, which are heavy and long. Add to that the fact that they have tiny grips and hardly any weight to counter the recoil and you end up with a snappy, hard to shoot gun.

Buying a pocket 380 ACP handgun for self defense is fine, as long as you understand these points, and take them to heart. Take the time to practice with you pocket 380 ACP. Select good ammunition, make sure your self defense ammo feeds in your handgun. Then, master the trigger pull and grip--learn to deal with the recoil. You don't need silly 1" groups here--you need to hit a man sized target at a very short range. If you do that, your pocket 380 ACP may save your life one day!

Until next time, stay safe by being alert!

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