September 2016

Folks Liked the 380 ACP Review

Several readers had advice they wanted to add to our coverage of three pistols in the August issue. Then one reader built his dream gun, and figured out what he really needed was low tech.

Re: “380 ACP Shoot Out: Ruger LCP Takes On Remington, Rock Island,” August 2016

I enjoyed your latest 380 ACP shoot out between the Remington RM380, the Ruger LCP, and the Rock Island. Good article. In November 2014, you had a review of a quartet of 380 ACP pocket pistols, including the Colt Mustang Pocketlite, SIG Sauer P238, Glock 42, and Kahr CW380. Another good article. That’s when I went shopping for a 380 and tested a number of pocket 380s, including these and several others.

While you didn’t like the sights, short grip, or the long DAO trigger of the Kahr CW380, I loved all of them when comparing this gun to the others available at the time, especially the long smooooooth trigger. What a wonderful trigger the Kahr has! Once I bought it, I began adapting it to my own needs and use. First, I added two additional magazines and a pair of Pearce grip extenders, then added a Hogue rubber grip. The Pearce grip extenders allow me to get all three fingers on the grip, and the Hogue makes it extremely comfortable.

Kahr 380 ACP handgun

Next I added a Crimson Trace laser for low-light situations. Now, I have what I consider to be a perfect pocket pistol. It is invisible in a pocket holster. Sorry to disagree, but IMHO, the LCP doesn’t come close to my Kahr. I suggest everyone adapt whatever they buy/use to their hands, eyes, stance, needs, and abilities to maximize its utility. Then practice, practice, and practice.

As far as your article on 380 ammunition, I hope to try the Black Hills 60-grain Xtreme Defense and the Federal Premium 99-grain HST, when and if I can find them locally. Currently, I carry the Hornady Critical Defense, the Ruger ARX and/or the Civil Defense 50-grain 380 ACP loads. My gun [pictured right] likes all three, plus the SIG Sauer and any other premium ammo I can find. I don’t bench rest, but I currently can keep most two-handed shots in the black at 50 feet and am working on extending this to 25 yards. At 79, as long as I can still rack the slide, I’ll keep my Kahr. Did I say I love the sights and smoooooooth trigger? Keep shooting and testing.

— Robert

Hi Todd. I liked the article on the 380s, but I already have one. A Llama, and the Rock Island appears to be a clone, with a few exceptions. I prefer a spur hammer, rather than the “rowel” hammer. I have never needed a beavertail grip safety, so that is a non issue, as mine doesn’t have one. My Llama is a true delayed-blowback action, just like a 1911. My Llama is an earlier gun. I had a later Llama in 22 LR, but it was blowback and had poor accuracy. I got an earlier one that is toggle link, and it shoots fine. To me, cocked and locked is the only way to go, and I have no use for the Remington or Ruger with their heavy double-action triggers and sights that are essentially non-existent.

I think the Rock Island is a real sleeper. I carried it when I spent nine weeks commuting to “the city” for treatments. Now, if I have to go again, I think I will just take the T-series Hi Power, although it is not a pocket gun. But it is a bit more authoritative, should I need it. Besides, 13 rounds versus 7 rounds makes a difference, too, and I always carry a spare magazine.

Looks like the Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics is the load for me. Great price, 50-round boxes, and an A-. Keep up the good work.

— Bill

I always look forward to seeing your next issue in the mailbox, and this one is another good example of why! I feel that the 380 comparison is good for two of the pistols, the smaller and shorter-barreled Ruger and Remington, but trying to compare them to a mini-1911 isn’t fair or useful, in my opinion. They are just not in the same class of firearm. The RIA mini-Rock is over twice as heavy as the LCP, and 10 ounces than the RM380. It has nearly an inch longer barrel, and half the trigger-pull weight. Yes, these are all good things, but this firearm would be better served being compared to something closer in size, barrel length, and weight than these two pocket pistols. I would have used another true pocket pistol, like a Kel-Tec P3AT, S&W M&P Bodyguard, NAA Guardian. There’s lots of them. And lots of side-by-side competitors for the mini-Rock, too, like Kimber, SIG, MRI Micro desert Eagle, etc.

The Ruger LCP is a fine firearm. I’ve owned one, but it is still inferior, in my opinion, to the gun it was directly copied from, the Kel-Tec P3AT. The Kel-Tec has the advantage of a slick, top-grade aftermarket 9-round magazine, with extended grip surface, and made by Mec-Gar. That extra 3⁄4-inch of magazine length makes all the accuracy difference in the world, because it allows for a natural grip and aim. Keep up the good work!

— Marc

I was looking for a 380 pistol that my arthritic hands could operate easier than my Ruger. Went to an Academy store and looked at the Remington RM380. Rolled it right side up while attempting to feel the strength of the slide spring regardless of the trigger lock. The slide locked up and would not move. A manager came and removed the trigger lock and discovered the pin that locks the slide in place had slipped out of its place and caused the slide to lock. I asked the clerk to show me a different one, and he removed one from its box, cleared it, and handed it to me. I rotated the second one right side up, and the pin fell completely out of the pistol. I decided I didn’t need one of those. One of your old tests was on the SIG P938 that I purchased. I fired two hundred assorted rounds through it with no failures, and its slide is much easier to manipulate than any of these 380s, I believe. I love the green ECR laser and the controls that are very similar to the 1911s I’ve used since I was in Sunny Southeast Asia.

— John

Re: “Firing Line,” August 2016

I am in the same boat with Richard concerning the older-than-dirt thing. I, also, was having difficulty unloading my post-2013 Ruger LCP. Have Richard try Handi-Racker.com. They make an item that really eases the “racking” effort of the LCP.

— Steve

Re: “Takedown ARs from DRD, Ruger, Windham: Who Takes the Cake?” August 2016

Hi Todd. I was reading the article about takedown ARs in the August issue, and I was really interested because I had tried to solve this on my own just a few months before Ruger actually up and solved it for me by releasing their Takedown AR. Of course, it was too late for me because I had already spent the money for my project. This is my sad face. {:•(

As mentioned in the article, isn’t an AR-15 just another iteration of takedown rifle? Yes, the purpose-built takedown versions are shorter than a carbine-length upper, but still, with just two takedown pins and a short-enough barrel, you can fit a carbine into a backpack without too much difficulty. Anyway, I ended up spending a total of $6,243.24 (plus tax and shipping, and not counting the bag) to assemble a kit with a common lower and two uppers, all of it custom built. That total included $400 in tax stamps for a suppressor and to register the lower as an SBR. Here’s what I got for that money:

The Lower:

1) Spike’s Tactical Gen II Billet Lower. It comes with all the small parts except a trigger/hammer group. Includes anti-walk pins, springs, detents. It has been machined for lightness, and it is a beautiful piece. It should be. It costs $450 by itself. The safety, bolt release, and mag-release buttons are all ambidextrous, which as a left-handed shooter, I really appreciate.
2) Spike’s Tactical buffer assembly.
3) Mission First Tactical Battlelink Minimalist buttstock.
4) Timney 3-pound Single Stage Competition Trigger.
5) Hogue Overmolded pistol grip.

Carbine Upper:

1) Spike’s Tactical Gen II Billet Upper. Comes with small parts already installed. This has also been machined for both strength and lightness, and matches the lower above. The matching Gen II lower comes with a tensioning set screw that locks up the fit between receiver halves so it’s nice and tight.
2) BCM Gunfighter Ambidextrous Charging Handle.
3) Adams Arms mid-length XLP piston conversion kit. (Includes the bolt carrier.)
4) Leitner-Wise 5.56 Upper Receiver Service Package. Includes a NiB plated bolt, cam pin, and solid firing pin retention pin.
5) Rainier Arms Select 16-inch 416R stainless 5.56 medium-contour barrel, mid-length gas port, 1:8 polygonal 5R rifling, guaranteed sub-MOA at 100 yards with match ammo.
6) AAC 3 prong flash hider/suppressor mount.
7) AAC 762-SDN-6 Suppressor.
8) Rainier Arms/Samson 11-inch Evolution Keymod rail.
9) Trijicon 4x32 BAC ACOG (TA31F), affixed with a BOBRO quick-release mount.

I try to use BOBRO mounts almost exclusively because they are so good at returning to zero after dismounting/remounting the optic.

SBR Upper:

1) Spike’s Tactical Gen II Billet Upper (same as above).
2) BCM Gunfighter Ambidextrous Charging Handle.
3) Smith Enterprises M16 Chrome Plated Match bolt carrier.
4) Leitner-Wise 5.56 Upper Receiver Service Package (same as above).
5) Rainier Arms Select 10.5-inch 416R 300 Blackout medium-contour barrel, pistol-length gas port, 1:8.5 polygonal 5R rifling, guaranteed sub-MOA at 100 yards with match ammo.
6) AAC 3-prong flash hider/suppressor mount.
7) BCM 9-inch KMR Alpha Keymod rail.
8) Aimpoint T2 Micro, on a BOBRO quick release mount.

All in, $6200+ is more money than I’ve ever spent on any other firearms system ever, but oh mama does this thing shoot! All of the above stuff fits into a LaRue Covert Rifle Case, Mk II, along with four 30-round mags of 5.56 M193 ball, two 20-round mags of 5.56 77-grain OTM subsonics, two 20-round mags of 125-grain SST 300 Blk supersonics, two 30-round mags of 208-grain AMAX 300 Blk subsonics, two or three shop rags, a small bottle of WeaponShield lube, a Leatherman MUT, a small cleaning kit, and copies of the two ATF stamps. The case is a nondescript gray color, and it doesn’t look like a rifle case or anything “tactical,” and it kind of disappears into my SUV without drawing attention.

Here are the two problems: (1) The whole package weighs a fair amount, so it’s not really “bugout-bag worthy.” (2) I worry that someone might break into my vehicle some day and steal the bag when they find it (not to mention the vehicle), unless I can bring it inside with me wherever I am — and for a lot of reasons, that’s just not practical. This wonderful setup might be great for a range trip, personal defense at home, or even a hog-hunting trip, but I have too much money invested in it to just leave it unattended in my vehicle.

So here’s the laugh. I’m now searching for a good-condition 18-inch-barrel Marlin 336BL 30-30 Win. for a truck gun.

— Chris

You know, growing up in Texas, we used to see lever actions in truck rifle racks all the time, so I get the appeal of the lever gun. I might also consider Marlin’s 308 XMLR. The stainless finish would resist the inevitable condensation that would form. — Todd Woodard

Comments (3)

I have a Bersa Thunder .380. This is the first I've heard about long term reliability.

Posted by: tedwhite@cableone.net | May 13, 2017 7:55 PM    Report this comment

How does the Ruger LCP, compare to the S&W Bodyguard?

Posted by: Lima400 | September 10, 2016 9:22 PM    Report this comment

Years ago I bought the bersa thunder .380 after reading your review. Love the feel of the weapon but after reading other assessments, question it's reliability long term. Can you re-assess this .380 and put my mind at rest? I may want to replace it with a ppk for concealed carry. Thanks, rg

Posted by: ransomdnfull | September 10, 2016 9:05 PM    Report this comment

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