November 2014

A Quartet of Pocket Pistols from SIG Sauer, Glock, Kahr, and Colt

We’re not against the 380 ACP on principle — we just weren’t that impressed with these small guns. But all four do one thing well that may sell you on them nonetheless: They can hide.

A Quartet of Pocket Pistols from SIG Sauer, Glock, Kahr, and Colt

Many concealed-carry customers pooh-pooh pistols chambered in 380 ACP as being underpowered for self defense, but they may well be in the vocal minority, because sales of 380-chambered handguns and ammunition continues apace, with more of the smallish sidearms finding their way into pockets and purses than ever before. It can be argued, in fact, that Glock kept seeing its rivals sell so many inexpensive-to-make pocket pistols that the Austrians were forced into the U.S. 380 ACP market with the G42 just so they could grab a slice of the ever-growing pocket-pistol pie.

At Gun Tests, we have mined this lode plenty ourselves, finding quite a few worthy pocketguns and pocketguns-plus over the years. We have previously given A grades to a new CZ USA Model 83 No. 91302, a Bersa Firestorm, a Colt Mustang Pocketlite, and a Kel-Tec P3AT. A half-grade down at A- grades have been the Ruger LCP-CT, a used Beretta Model 84 and CZ Model 83, a Ruger LC380 No. 3219, and a Taurus 738B No. 1-73803. Our new e-book on 380s, available on the Gun-Tests.com website, recaps those guns and six more B+ or B pistols, or you can search for “380 ACP” in the archives and pull up the entire list of such firearms we’ve evaluated over the years.

We think many consumers like these pistols because most of them are easy to carry and conceal, and they’re willing to trade off the “carry everywhere” portability for slightly less power than some 38 Specials, for example. Our tests of several 380 ACP self-defense loads had three (Federal 90-gr. Hydra-Shok JHP, Speer 90-gr. Gold Dot JHP, and Fiocchi 95-gr. FMJ) that penetrated at least 13.5+ inches in water, very close to what a Remington 125-gr. JHP 38 Sp. +P did as a control — and not too many experts say the 38 Special is “too little” gun.

This round, we tested three brand-new models and one variation of a previously tested model as a reference point. The first of the new models was the Colt Mustang XSP Pocketlite Polymer O6790, MSRP $649, but which we found at ImpactGuns.com for $565 and $572 at BudsGunShop.com. Or Bud’s would sell it for a cash price of $555. Next up was the Glock 42 Subcompact Slimline, MSRP $480, which SlickGuns.com had for sale at $490 plus free shipping. Bud’s listed it for $437 or $424 cash. Kahr’s CW 380 No. 3833, $419 MSRP, comes in at a $322 retail price at Bud’s or a $313 cash discount price. At GeorgiaGunStore.com, the price was $312. The fourth entry was a P238 from SIG Sauer, No. 238-380-NBS12, with a hefty MSRP of $710 and a retail price of $498 from Bud’s Gun Shop (but listed as out of stock the last time we checked), or $583 from TombstoneTactical.com or $520 from JoeBobOutfitters.com.

In more detail, the polymer Colt XSP is one of two Mustangs in the company’s 380 line. Colt ceased production of the Mustangs in 2000 then reintroduced the line in 2011. The new guns are designed to accept original parts. Both have stainless-steel slides, measure 5.5 inches in length, have 2.75-inch barrels, and operate with short single-action trigger function, or like miniature 1911s. The Mustang Pocketlite has an aluminum frame, while the XSP, introduced in 2013, has a lightweight polymer skin. According to company specs, the polymer XSP is about an ounce lighter than the Pocketlite.

The new Glock 42, made in Georgia, is a slimline subcompact pistol and is the smallest pistol Glock has ever introduced, but it’s not the company’s first 380 Auto. The Glock 25 was introduced in 1995 in Germany as a small-dimension firearm for markets where civilian personnel are not allowed to possess handguns featuring military calibers. In the USA, the G25 is reserved for law-enforcement agencies only. Like the G25, the Glock 28 is reserved for LE. The G25 is 7.36 inches long, 5 inches tall, and has a capacity of 15+1. The G28 is 6.41 inches long, 4.7 inches tall, and has a capacity of 10+1. Both are noticeably larger than our tested G42, which was 5.94 inches long, 4.13 inches tall, and has a capacity of 6+1. Marketed for pocket carry and to shooters with smaller hands, the single-stack G42 lacks the interchangeable backstraps of other Glocks, but field-strips the same way as other larger Glocks.

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