.380 recommendation


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Stebalo
July 21, 2008, 06:30 PM
I'd like to pick up a small pocket gun. Something that I can very easily conceal but also something the 98 lb. wife could comfortably shoot at the range. .380 seems to be the most obvious choice. I've been wanting a Walther PPK but I've heard bad things about the recoil plus the weight of the gun, so I'm looking for recommendations.

So for the moment, I'm looking at the

Walther PPK
Ruger LCP
Kel-Tec P3AT
Kahr P380
NAA guardian .380
Seecamp .380


1) Have I missed any contenders?
2) Why is the Ruger so hot right now?
3) any particular recommendations?

Also, I'd prefer her never experience the joy of slide bite. One instance could turn her off shooting for good. So please take that into consideration when making any recommendations.

[edited to add Seecamp and NAA--I goofed]

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jocko
July 21, 2008, 06:33 PM
the P380 kahr will not be out until late Sept. so eliminate that one already. MY choice of the other 3 would be the lcp

Dobe
July 21, 2008, 06:40 PM
The very small .380 will have a stiff recoil. One nice larger .380 you may wish to consider is the Beretta, which is about the size of the PPK/S.

The Ruger is so hot now, because it is a small compact .380, and it works. The Kel-Tec didn't always.

The Seecamp is a very small .380, and is much more expensive. There is also a long waiting list.

Stebalo
July 21, 2008, 06:43 PM
Ok, I added 2 others I'd left off the list.

What merits do the Ruger have that make it such a hot gun right now? Anything other than the newness and limited supply driving the frenzy?

Dobe
July 21, 2008, 07:02 PM
Reliability, price, size and the name. Ruger generally makes a firearm, which is reliable.

woad_yurt
July 21, 2008, 07:11 PM
I have a P3AT, which, I believe, is the lightest of all. The recoil isn't bad. It's a little stiff but totally bearable. Get a Kel-Tec or Ruger. They're both small; the Ruger's the bigger of the two. They're like having nothing in your pocket.

basicblur
July 21, 2008, 07:13 PM
I've been wanting a Walther PPK but I've heard bad things about the recoil plus the weight of the gun, so I'm looking for recommendations.

Iíve got a PPK and I donít see how anybody could complain about the recoil? I am impressed with how accurate it is, but the weight could? be a problem depending on how light/how deep a backup gun you want. The LCP should be quite a bit lighter than the PPK.
If Iím not mistaken, the PPK is not ďdrop safeĒ if the safety is off. (old Massad Ayoob article)-you might want to do some research (Iím assuming theyíre still made the same)?
Which reminds meÖIím assuming the LCP is drop safe (firing pin block?) since itís a newer? design, but I may have to do a bit of research myself!

After inspecting one, Iíve got an LCP on order-always eyed the Kel-Tec but just never could bring myself to buy one. Not that it makes any difference in the function, but the Kel-Tec looks a bit ďunfinishedĒ. The LCP has a much nicer finish to it than the P3AT.

Tully M. Pick
July 21, 2008, 07:17 PM
Kel-Tec P3AT, or the Ruger P3AT.

Thernlund
July 21, 2008, 07:24 PM
The grand mack daddy of all .380's... the Sig P232.

http://munchkinwrangler.files.wordpress.com/2008/04/sigp232-6x4.jpg

Spendy though at $750 (+/-). You didn't mention a price range.

Stainless is also a tad heavy for a .380, but will help alot with comfort (ie. the recoil).


-T.

AMBASSADOR
July 21, 2008, 07:25 PM
I have a Walther PPK/S and I like it very much,it is accurate,minimal recoil,fun to shoot.If I were you I would also consider a Bersa .380 if you can find it at a descent price.The Bersa has just about doubled in the last year.

teknoid
July 21, 2008, 07:25 PM
I picked up a Bersa T380 last Friday. Only one range trip so far, but I like it a lot. For a $250 gun ($257 at Bud's), the trigger surprised me with it's smoothness. Accurate too, and negligible recoil. It's definitely worth a look. 23 ozs, unloaded.

Law Enforcement
July 21, 2008, 07:33 PM
I have the Sig P232 in blue (allow frame, steel slide) which is outstanding. It fits easily in my front pants pocket, is lightweight, controllable, and reliable. It is the BMW of .380s. Thernlund is spot on with his observations of the Sig P232. If you go to the Sig Sauer web site you will see blued Sig P232s MSRP of $629.00

Buy one. You won't regret it.

Thernlund
July 21, 2008, 07:41 PM
If you go to the Sig Sauer web site you will see blued Sig P232s MSRP of $629.00

Ah yes. I do stand somewhat corrected on this point. My price quote was aimed at stainless. Blued models are in fact less expensive.

Thanks for the clarification LE. http://www.thehighroad.org/images/icons/icon14.gif


-T.

rondog
July 21, 2008, 07:45 PM
Only .380 I've ever owned/fired is my Bersa Thunder .380, and it's a great little gun. Found it new for $225 from a kitchen-table FFL.

Prepster
July 21, 2008, 08:07 PM
I love my PPK, but it can be a little snappy with a heavy load (Buffalo Bore, Corbon). I've never had the slide bite problem, but I have pretty small hands, so that might be why. If recoil is a concern and you like the PPK, try it out with some Remington Golden Sabers or Federal Hydrashok 90 grain loads. Both are pretty nasty and very gentle on the hands.

Robert14
July 21, 2008, 08:21 PM
Check out the Beretta double stack 380. The new one looks like a mini-me 92f.

Bobo
July 21, 2008, 09:41 PM
Walther PPK ...
The Bersa Thunder is very similar but less costly.
The SIG 232 is also very similar but more costly.
All these guns are a bit larger and heavier than the others below. This may be good due to less recoil and softer to shoot.
A bit large for pocket carry.


These below are good for pocket carry:
Ruger LCP ...
Kel-Tec P3AT ...
These are very similar and are very small and light, easy to conceal and carry a lot.

Kahr P380 ...
Not available yet.

NAA guardian .380 ...
A bit smaller than the Kel-Tec or Ruger. It is also heavier and costs a bit more.

Seecamp .380 ...
The smallest of all and one of most expensive. Not as easy to find as the others.


My personal choices would be:

Bersa if she can easily carry a slightly larger and heavier gun.
They are low cost, reliable and quite accurate, and comfortable to shoot. Better as a "fun" range gun than the smaller guns.

Kel-Tec or Ruger if a very small gun is preferred.
They are low cost, reliable once broken in, and accurate at self-defense distances. Not very comfortable to shoot, but fine for the few rounds necessary for self-protection purposes and some practice at the range.

Bobo

Halo is for Kids
July 21, 2008, 09:44 PM
cz83
http://www.danwessonfirearms.com/product_detail.php?id=40
http://www.danwessonfirearms.com/data/productimg/main040.png

btg3
July 21, 2008, 10:01 PM
The smallest .380 pistols may not be comfortable for your wife. Hope I'm wrong, b/c they are easy to carry.

The Bersa Thunder is worth checking out. Small enough for CC, even if not a pocket gun and big enough to help reduce felt recoil. It is a pleasure to shoot.

BamAlmighty
July 21, 2008, 10:24 PM
Another vote for the Sig 232, but with the Hogue grips.

http://mysite.verizon.net/nothinghere/IMG_0300.JPG

R.W.Dale
July 21, 2008, 10:39 PM
I've owned a Bersa DLX that I enjoyed greatly. It was a very reliable and accurate firearm but it's on another level in terms of size and weight compare to a Kel-Tec/LCP sized gun.


I love how the ruger hasn't made out to the countries ranges yet, but people are heralding it's reliability and quality.

Halo
July 21, 2008, 10:42 PM
Another recommendation for the Bersa. I have a Bersa Thunder and a Bersa Series 95 (they're practically identical). They are great pistols, and you can find them NIB for around $250. I keep mine fed with Speer Gold Dot, 90 grain. Recoil is a bit snappy, as with any small blowback pistol, but it is more than manageable. I sincerely believe you would be doing yourself a disservice if you don't include the Bersa in your hunt for a small .380 pistol.

dogtown tom
July 22, 2008, 12:04 AM
Bobo Walther PPK ...
The Bersa Thunder is very similar but less costly.
The SIG 232 is also very similar but more costly.
All these guns are a bit larger and heavier than the others below. This may be good due to less recoil and softer to shoot.
A bit large for pocket carry.


These below are good for pocket carry:
Ruger LCP ...
Kel-Tec P3AT ...
These are very similar and are very small and light, easy to conceal and carry a lot.

Kahr P380 ...
Not available yet.

NAA guardian .380 ...
A bit smaller than the Kel-Tec or Ruger. It is also heavier and costs a bit more.

Seecamp .380 ...
The smallest of all and one of most expensive. Not as easy to find as the others.


My personal choices would be:

Bersa if she can easily carry a slightly larger and heavier gun.
They are low cost, reliable and quite accurate, and comfortable to shoot. Better as a "fun" range gun than the smaller guns.

Kel-Tec or Ruger if a very small gun is preferred.
They are low cost, reliable once broken in, and accurate at self-defense distances. Not very comfortable to shoot, but fine for the few rounds necessary for self-protection purposes and some practice at the range.

Bobo

A HUGE +1 !!!

I've owned & shot quite a few .380's over the years.

There is often little difference in recoil between a locked breech 9mm and a blowback action .380

While the SIG is a beautiful, well made handgun, it is waaaaay to big for a .380 pocket pistol. All Kahr polymer frames (P9, PM9, CW9) are lighter and smaller than the Sig 232. They are also 9x19- meaning much cheaper to shoot than .380acp.

The Kahr CW9 can be had NIB for less than $400. If you a bound and determined to get a .380, let your wife shoot a Bersa and a KelTec/Ruger LCP. She'll let you know which she likes.

The_Sheriff
July 22, 2008, 12:05 AM
Bersa .380 is great, they also make a concealed carry model.

knicks118
July 22, 2008, 12:16 AM
SIG 232, blued of course.

http://www.sigsauer.com/images/catalog/product/232_Blk_left.jpg

Lonestar49
July 22, 2008, 12:27 AM
...

PM sent, i.e. Sig P232 SL w/night sights I'm selling..


Ls

Stebalo
July 22, 2008, 12:32 AM
Thanks for all of the feedback. I'm glad I asked as you guys have brought up a couple of intriguing options I wasn't aware of (the Bersa and the Beretta). I'm picking up my new XD from a dealer who specializes in Sigs on Wednesday so I'll be sure to check out the 232 while there.

I'm not looking for necassarily the smallest or lightest .380. Basically, the wife is unlikely to carry in the near term if ever but I'd like to get something that she can comfortably shoot while I go to the range. At the same time, something I won't mind carrying concealed and maybe eventually she could carry concealed.

Thebees
July 22, 2008, 12:44 AM
The lightweight .380s can kick pretty stout due to the straight blowback design. Most kick about the same as a midweight 9mm. But they are much easier to hide.
I personally like the Sig. 230/232 in blue. Not a small gun but very light and very thin. Quality holsters are made for it. I also like the CZ but with the all steel and double stack mag they get a little weighty.
A Kahr CW9 compares in size and weight and also recoil to the .380s and is a 9mm.

MICHAEL T
July 22, 2008, 12:53 AM
Bersa Thunder or Bersa CC both 380 and nice pistols for less than 300

http://bersatalk.com
over 3100 members and growing every day

BamAlmighty
July 22, 2008, 01:39 AM
I have both the Sig P232 and a Kahr CW9. As you can see, there really isn't huge dimensional difference between the two. I do find the 232 to be more comfortable to carry than the Kahr.

http://mysite.verizon.net/nothinghere/IMG_0295.JPG

jocko
July 22, 2008, 07:47 AM
sig great gun, but IMO if I was going to carry one that big and heavy, I would opt out for the kahr pm9, smaller and much liter and 9mm...

teknoid
July 22, 2008, 08:21 AM
At 23 ounces unloaded, I wouldn't describe a Bersa as being heavy. As far as recoil, I'd describe it as comfortable and very manageable. While it is a bit large for pocket carry (at least to me), it is also very concealable. Nothing against the others mentioned, they are also very good. Most are a heck of a lot more expensive, though.

Pilot
July 22, 2008, 08:21 AM
My summer carry is a Beretta M85FS .380. Right up there with the Sig in quality, accuracy, relaibility.

outofbattery
July 22, 2008, 09:16 AM
If she isn't going to carry it,forget about all of the above and get a compact 9mm.Not only will it be cheaper to shoot,it will most likely be easier to shoot as well.I'm a large guy who isn't recoil sensative and find that when shooting my Seecamps due to their tiny size and lack of sights,not to mention the relative expense of ammo,I wouldn't say they are the most enjoyable guns to shoot.
The pocket pistols are very small and quite snappy,far moreso than something like a SIG P239 or Glock 19 that will also serve you quite well as a CCW piece.I own and often carry an alloy 230 but the 239 is scarcely any larger and is less snappy,something you're going to find with most small blowback pistols.There are many threads on here pointing out that the thinking of little gun with little cartridge doesn't = easier and more pleasant to shoot.

Something she might want to consider would be a J frame S&W.She could go with light cowboy loads for very soft recoiling practice and you could go with hot 158gr loads for CCW,essentially 2 guns in one.

Deanimator
July 22, 2008, 09:29 AM
I used to have a French PPK/S. Recoil was noticeable, but not brutal.

I can't imagine why I'd want a .380 given the size of current 9x19mms, but if for some reason I did, I'd get another PPK/S.

Marlin 45 carbine
July 22, 2008, 09:32 AM
I've owned Walther, CZ and Browning (BDA have it now, really slick but large for .380). the Walther bit me bad as I have large hands but accuracy and function was fine. the CZ was good sorta wish I had kept it. awhile back a cop was at the range trying his new off-duty Bersa .380 and let me try it - I was impressed. I have a Makarov I carry now. The BDA is just too 'classy' for carry, it's now my 'BBQ gun' or 'dress - up gun'.

NGIB
July 22, 2008, 09:33 AM
I had a Sig P232 and it's a great gun but a bit large for a .380 platform - especially with the Hogue grips that are a necessity.

I just picked up a PPK/S and a Bersa .380 and they are both very nice shooters. The PPK/S is smaller but they both are very accurate - and the Bersa is very economical. BTW, wife is getting the Bersa and I'm keeping the PPK/S...

jocko
July 22, 2008, 09:47 AM
deanimator: Love those french "war" guns. Most I have found are like new "dropped once"???????

samurai
July 22, 2008, 09:49 AM
I have both the Bersa 380CC and the LCP. The LCP hides better the Bersa is easier on the hand

mr.72
July 22, 2008, 10:30 AM
Due to the width of the grip, a Sig 232 is hardly any more concealable than a common high-cap 9mm compact such as a M&P9c, XD9c, PT111, G26, etc. It has a much more snappy recoil than my midsize poly 9mm and IMHO (unpopular of course) is very unpleasant to shoot. Felt like I was being beat on my thumb knuckle with a tack hammer with each shot.

spiroxlii
July 22, 2008, 10:45 AM
Another vote for the BERSA Thunder 380 either standard or CC model. The only difference between the two is that the CC model has curved edges, but the standard one has never caught up on my clothing when drawing from an IWB holster. The CC model has a mag that extends a bit below the grip, so it has one more round of ammo capacity, I think.

romma
July 22, 2008, 11:19 AM
My PPK/S went on a tear at the range this past weekend. 5 people shooting it, all knocking everything off the table like nothing. 4 out of 5 shooters all said they liked the PPK/S better than the Keltec, Ruger, Glock, and Kahr.

This was the best range test it had after I initially had problems with it. It is functioning flawlessly other than the Federal HST I ran through it at the end of the session. I had two nose jams with that stuff.

jocko
July 22, 2008, 11:44 AM
romma, the only 380's in that 4 guns that you mentioned are the kt and ruger. kahrs 380 is not even out yet and glock 380 are not availalbe in the U.S. How can them make such a comparison if you are talking solely about 380's in all 4 makes???? I would think the glock and the kahr at the smallest caliber would have to be 9mm and then we are again at "apples and oranges". ?????

I might be wrong but I thought this was a 380 recommendation thread...

btg3
July 22, 2008, 12:39 PM
sig great gun, but IMO if I was going to carry one that big and heavy, I would opt out for the kahr pm9, smaller and much liter and 9mm...
Me too, but I'm thinking his wife may feel differently.


very easily conceal but also something the 98 lb. wife could comfortably shoot at the range.

Tirod
July 22, 2008, 01:56 PM
Have her shoot 1) what's available 2) at a range, and make up her own mind. For recoil, a standard frame 9mm or .38 would be an easier starter pistol.

It's her gun that way, she's the one using it, telling her friends about it, being an ambassador for gun freedom to a vast untapped market generally not too happy to even consider it. Nurture the idea and let her go her way.

Please don't buy a new toy for yourself at her expense - "oh, honey, look, I got you a new laser guided miter saw with all the accessories for your birthday!"

Definitely not.

romma
July 22, 2008, 02:34 PM
romma, the only 380's in that 4 guns that you mentioned are the kt and ruger. kahrs 380 is not even out yet and glock 380 are not availalbe in the U.S. How can them make such a comparison if you are talking solely about 380's in all 4 makes

All I was trying to point out jocko was that the PPK/S in all its .380 caliber glory was accurate and out performed other pistols in general on this day.

In other words, the PPK/S is a great little pistol.

cerberus65
July 22, 2008, 03:49 PM
I went with the NAA Guardian .380.

It's not the smallest but pretty close. It is not the lightest either but that helps with recoil. A blowback operated gun definitely has more kick than a recoil operated gun.

The trigger was definitely stiff out of the box but has either gotten less stiff or my fingers have gotten stronger. My <100 pound wife can pull the trigger so that shouldn't be a problem.

Also, it was half the price of a Seecamp.

Bobo
July 22, 2008, 04:09 PM
cerberus65 said;
I went with the NAA Guardian .380.

It's not the smallest but pretty close. It is not the lightest either but that helps with recoil. A blowback operated gun definitely has more kick than a recoil operated gun.

The trigger was definitely stiff out of the box but has either gotten less stiff or my fingers have gotten stronger. My <100 pound wife can pull the trigger so that shouldn't be a problem.

Also, it was half the price of a Seecamp.Both the Kel-Tec P3-AT and the Ruger LCP are not blowback, they are locked-breach. This makes them a bit softer shooting than the blowback NAA or Seecamp. The NAA also has a heavier trigger than either the Kel-Tec or Ruger, don't know about the Seecamp trigger.

Bobo

camper
July 22, 2008, 06:25 PM
Ceberus,

Get some snap caps for the Guardian and work the trigger, the trigger will lighten up after a few hundred rounds and some dedicated dry firing. I have over 500 rounds through mine with no failures.

rondog
July 22, 2008, 06:43 PM
Here's my Bersa .380 next to my FEG PA-63 in 9x18makarov. You wanna talk about small guns with harsh recoil? Try a PA-63 with Russian Silver Bear ammo! That alloy frame doesn't soak up much.

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/pockets01.jpg

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/pockets03.jpg

JasonMD85
July 22, 2008, 10:02 PM
I have shot my Bersa 380 enough that I needed to get a new recoil spring.. the gun just wasn't as accurate as it used to be. At first I thought the Bersa was just done, since it was a cheap little handgun. Put a new recoil spring in her, the parts lady told me to call them back if I had any more issues after the recoil spring (also got a mag spring, because my mag was getting REALLY lazy, but no jams yet).

Thing was brand new again. Accurate, still extremely reliable. Great pistol. I find myself shooting it more enjoyably than my Beretta PX4 in .40 (Shh.. don't tell anyone!)

cerberus65
July 22, 2008, 10:46 PM
Camper, I've been doing my best to keep the A-Zoom folks in business. :-) I have snap caps for every gun I own.

I usually do some dry firing almost every night. I think my Guardian is up to 700 or 800 trigger pulls between the dry firing and live rounds at the range. That may be why it's starting to not feel quite so stiff like it first did.

Bobo, I think the P3-AT and LCP would almost have to go to a locked-breech since they have very little weight to soak up the recoil. The Guardian at 19 oz. (all stainless steel - the only plastic is the grips) is a handful. I shudder to think what a mostly plastic, blowback pistol that size would do.

I handled both the P3-AT and LCP at a recent gunshow and the P3-AT looked and felt like a toy. The LCP had a better look and feel. If the quality turns out to be acceptable I would be very tempted to try one out. For now, though, I'll stick with my Guardian since it's the best set of trade-offs for me.

nambu1
July 22, 2008, 10:57 PM
A Colt Mustang is a nice piece.

Deanimator
July 23, 2008, 10:33 AM
deanimator: Love those french "war" guns. Most I have found are like new "dropped once"???????
Purely civilian, the only "St. Etienne" marked PPK/S I've EVER seen. It doesn't say "Manhurin" ANYWHERE. I found it very reliable with Silvertips, as I recall.

The French can't design a decent gun to save their lives, but they're pretty good at making other people's. I'd consider that gun the equal of any commercial Walther, and better than American production. I don't have much use for it, but I wish I still had it. Maybe I'll buy it back from the perpetually broke guy I sold it too fifteen years ago. He'll never get a CCW, so it just sits in his safe.

Flopsy
July 23, 2008, 02:43 PM
My favorite, by far, is the Beretta 84. Reliable, accurate, small but not too small.

But good luck getting a new one for less than $600.

benderx4
July 23, 2008, 05:03 PM
If you want decent recoil, your choices are the Walther PPK (Bond, James Bond), the Sig 232 ($$$$), the Bersa Thunder (great value), Beretta Tomcat (flip-up barrel) or the CZ83 (my favorite).

If you want a REAL pocket gun, you should look at the NAA Guardian .32, Seecamp LWS32, the Ruger LCP, or the Keltec P32.

I own almost all of the above, and my favorites of the larger size is the CZ, and my BUG favorite is the Seecamp.

Moccw
July 23, 2008, 09:07 PM
heres a link i am selling mine make an offer..http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=303512

Stebalo
July 24, 2008, 08:16 PM
Have her shoot 1) what's available 2) at a range, and make up her own mind. For recoil, a standard frame 9mm or .38 would be an easier starter pistol.

It's her gun that way, she's the one using it, telling her friends about it, being an ambassador for gun freedom to a vast untapped market generally not too happy to even consider it. Nurture the idea and let her go her way.

Please don't buy a new toy for yourself at her expense - "oh, honey, look, I got you a new laser guided miter saw with all the accessories for your birthday!"

Definitely not.

Yeah, you know, the more I think about it, the more I think you are right. It's not about getting her some small gun I think she may like. I want to get her a gun that will get her to the range with me, so I'll take her to try a bunch of rentals. I do want something small and ultra concealable for myself. I just won't try to cover both these bases with one gun.

Thanks for the feedback one and all, it was very helpful in several ways.

tiger rag
July 24, 2008, 10:10 PM
Nothing wrong with a Makarov in 380,A little heavy but highly reliable and inexpensive>

klane
July 26, 2008, 05:03 PM
I love my LCP with Remington 102gr. Golden Sabors. I did not like the S&W PPK/S I had. If it is not going to be a true pocket gun and you want a .380 for the wife, I would the Sig 232. FYI my wife likes the M&P9 and M&P9c for around the house and in the car and she is small at 105 lbs.

jocko
July 26, 2008, 06:04 PM
380 Mak a very nice handgun. Had one, never failed ever. just to darn heavy for pocket carry and also abit to big. There are 9mm available with less weight and size.

But still a nice handgun..

broken
July 26, 2008, 07:02 PM
my brother likes his 240.00 bersa .380 but if he had to do it again he would have bought a pa63 like mine,mines all black finish not two tone with new springs installed for 109.00 and its hanging right with his bersa in reliability except for being 9x18 instead of .380.we cant tell a whole lot of difference between them,were both happy.good luck.

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