380 ACP Pocket Gun Review
By Dan S.
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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