April 2013

Two High-Capacity 380 ACPs:Beretta and CZ Square Off

CZ’s just-defunct Model 83 takes on Beretta’s Model 84 in a used-gun showdown. The result? Two winners that you have a chance of finding or bidding on in this super-tight gun market.

If you have a handgun for what some consider to be a sub-caliber round, it might be comforting to have lots of shots on hand, because you just might need them. Taking our tongues out of our cheeks now, the 380 can be an effective self-defense handgun cartridge, particularly with today’s hotter JHP loads — if you can find any. There are zillions of good used 380s out there, though in today’s market you might have the devil of a time finding one. We managed to acquire two, both slightly used, just like what you might have to consider in today’s super-tight gun market.

Our test pistols were a Beretta Model 84 ($600-$650) and a CZ Model 83 ($550 on up). Both were DA/SA pistols. Their size was about that of the two 40-cal pistols we tested recently here in Idaho, the S&W M&P 40 Compact and the Kahr CW40 (March 2013). Most of the small nines we’ve been testing are considerably smaller than these two 380s. We wouldn’t call either of them pocket guns. They’d fit a purse or a decent holster nicely, though. They both had fat grips, so they’ll bulge the concealment clothing somewhat more than a 45 auto.

These two guns were uncannily alike in some ways, though of completely different designs by two proud old makers. Although both were DA/SA guns, they could be carried cocked and locked. They had ambidextrous safeties and external hammers. They had staggered magazines that held 12 or 13 rounds. Their two-quick-shot, DA/SA feels were so much alike we could not tell a difference. Both were simple blowback actions, with enough mass to their slides that they didn’t require barrel-locking mechanisms. The slides simply reciprocate after each shot and the barrels never move. Both had metal frames, a breath of fresh air, we thought, in today’s plastic-dominated market.

Like the rest of the world, we currently have a shortage of common ammunition here in Idaho, so we had to test this pair of 380s with just one type of ammo, 95-grain FMJ, in two persuasions. Most of that fodder has about the same ballistics, so what we got is about what you’d expect from anything you might find of a similar nature. Cor-Bon makes hotter 380 JHP ammo, as does Federal and a few others, but none was available to our test team at this writing. Here’s what we found.

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