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The 5 Best 380 ACP Pistols

What many concealed carry consumers do is use Gun Tests grades and write-ups to identify problems and things to look for when purchasing a firearm. But the final decision has to be made by the buyer, because a gun should fit the shooter like a pair of well-worn shoes. That requires very personal decision-making for the CCW licensee. With that said, here are five handguns I believe stand out above the others if you're looking for a handgun with modest recoil.

Smith & Wesson 638 Bodyguard .38 Special +P

The name Bodyguard has to be one of the all-time classic names for a self-defense gun. Certainly this Smith & Wesson design has been with us a long time, and in many ways it should be considered an unsung hero among the latest super-light firearms, mainly because it did so much so well.

Bersa Firestorm .380 ACP, $307

Back in April 2006 Gun Tests magazine tested three .380 ACP pistols, one of which was the Walther PPK, as made here in the U.S. under license by Smith & Wesson. They loved the well-built little PPK, even though it had to go back for rework before they gave it a clean bill of health. It had failed in DA shooting, but a stiffer spring gave it the equivalent of their Grade A appraisal. They recently found a gun that looked a lot like the PPK, the FireStorm by Bersa ($307 MSRP), from Argentina. Here's what they found.

Kimber Eclipse Target II 45 ACP, $1393

We compared two full-size 1911 handguns in the June 2013 issue to see which model offered the most bang for the buck. This Personal Defense test pitted two pistols of disparate price points to see if the less expensive model offered enough to consider it versus a fully equipped modern handgun. Tested were the Rock Island Armory Standard GI No. 51421 45 ACP, $410; and the Kimber Eclipse Target II 45 ACP, $1393. Here's an excerpt of that test.

Colt Trooper Mark III .357 Magnum

The Colt Trooper was made from 1953 to 1969. The Trooper Mark III superceded the Trooper and had a redesigned lock mechanism. It was manufactured from 1969 to 1983 in blue and nickel finish with 4-, 6-, and 8-inch barrel lengths. An owner's manual can be obtained by calling Colt at (800) 962-2658. The Trooper III in our test was made in 1974.

The Colt Trooper Mark III is for all practical purposes the working man's Python. Sound good? It features a serrated front sight pinned in place. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and it should be more durable than similar designs since the rear notch moves back and forth inside a protective frame. While adjustment for elevation is clockwise for down and counter-clockwise for up, the windage adjustment is reversed. Turn it to the right if you want the point of impact to move left, and turn left to bring the POI to the right.

Another feature is the direction in which the cylinder rotates. While other revolvers move counterclockwise, expecting a Colt to go bang requires the first round to be in the 11 o'clock position prior to cycling. Also, to release the cylinder one pulls rather than pushes on the latch.

California Bans Advertising of the Sale of Handguns

California has argued that a provision of California Penal Code section 26820 enacted in 1923 prevents the displaying of any "handgun or imitation handgun, or placard advertising the sale or transfer thereof" anywhere in or on their store that can be seen outside their store by passersby.

Apex Announces New Flat-Faced Action Enhancement Trigger for Sig Sauer P320

Apex Tactical Specialties has announced its new Apex Flat-Faced Action Enhancement Trigger, about $45, for the popular SIG Sauer P320 series of pistols.

Gun Tests Index 2014-1989 Updated

Here are all the items tested in Gun Tests magazine from 2014 back through 1989.

Beretta Cheetah 84 LS .380 ACP, $652

Smaller guns have always had a certain appeal. In some cases it was just the aspect of miniaturization that captures our imagination. In other cases it was the reassurance of a highly concealable weapon. One niche of such guns were semi-auto .380s, which have long been popular sidearms because of their flat, short footprint and sufficient, if not outstanding, power. Even in the small world of 9mm Shorts there is a pecking order in terms of size, with the Beretta 84LS being one of the largest.

Ruger Redhawk KRH-444

Rugers $780 KRH-444 Redhawk was our top pick among three 4-inch .44 Magnum revolvers. Heres why. When Ruger engineers sought to make a more compact revolver, they did so by shortening the barrel and introducing a new grip. They left the frame alone. This meant the gun was plenty strong to take any punishment we could dish out.

Metro Arms American Classic Compact Commander Now Available in the U.S.

Metro Arms Classic Compact Commander 1911 pistols are now available in the United States for the first time. MSRPs range between $714 and $812, and the pistols come with lifetime warranties. The American Classic Compact Commander single-action 1911 is built on the compact Officer frame with a full-size Commander slide. This combination provides a smaller carry profile without sacrificing the firepower of a traditionally full-sized 1911. …

August 2014 Issue Remington R51 9mm Pistol Range Results & Ammunition Sources

In the August 2014 Issue, we tested a Remington R51 Pistol with three ammunition choices. Here are the results per ammunition and links to the retail source of the ammo. In all cases, velocity was recorded at 10 feet using an Oehler 35P chronograph with proof channel. Five-shot groups were fired at 15 yards from a solid two-handed rest. …

Hard to Argue

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) said recently that if state agencies and officials around the country who are responsible for issuing concealed-carry licenses or...