Rise of the 380? Which is best?


March 22, 2009, 09:08 PM
So, what exactly is the cause of the rise of the 380?

It was always my understanding that only European police and the mafia use the 380. Now it appears to be THE hot item.

It seems every time I get my American Rifleman or pick up Guns & Ammo there is a new 380 being developed. Beretta & Walther have been making them forever in the PPK, but even they have gotten in on it with their new PK380 which looks exactly like the P22.

Kel-Tec had their mini one which is been copied by Ruger. (I hate my LCP, by the way).

Taurus and Magnum Research now have new ones.

Kahr even has new one.

So is the successful sales of Kel-Tec and the hard to find LCP that has made them all jump into the fire? Is it that more people are getting their CCW and want something small for their pocket?

On the flip side, I am going to guess that this is why that 380 ammo is now difficult to find. Ammo makers simply weren't ready for these sales.

Since the LCP not only hurts my XXL hand but gets lost in it, what would one recommend instead? The Walther P22 is a fun little item. Will the Walther PK380 fit the bill?

Thanks everyone.

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March 22, 2009, 09:11 PM
Bersa 380 CC, very cool! easy shootingt and accurate to 10 yd.

March 22, 2009, 09:17 PM
Yeah, Bersa is cheap, I paid 229 for mine last year.
500 rounds through it no problems.
Clips are kinda high.....but thats the only complaint I have.

Guns and more
March 22, 2009, 10:06 PM
More CC = more pocket guns = more .380's

March 22, 2009, 10:20 PM
I got tired of trying to get an LCP, so I'm wide open to suggestions too.

March 22, 2009, 10:45 PM
My vote goes to the CZ 83, Bersa Thunder is a close second.

March 22, 2009, 10:50 PM
Don't forget Sig.

They're coming out with a little .380 that's basically the Colt Mustang equivalent of their GSR 1911s.

March 23, 2009, 06:39 AM
Since the LCP not only hurts my XXL hand but gets lost in it, what would one recommend instead? The Walther P22 is a fun little item. Will the Walther PK380 fit the bill?

No answer on the new Walther because they are not available yet.

The best .380acp IMHO is easily the Beretta 84/85. These are extremely well made, reliable and easy to shoot. The Beretta 84 is the same weight as the Bersa, the exact same size as the CZ, and some great deals can be found on well cared for used Berettas that make them the best deal in many cases. The most I ever paid for one was $400, and that was a new one.

The Sig P230 or older P230 is also an excellent .380. Sig offer several finishes. These are small, very accurate, and very high quality guns.

The CZ is an OK gun. Mine gives me hammer bite and I don't like the factory grips much, but it is reliable and pretty accurate. It's one downfall is it's weight...it's the heaviest of the bunch. Some pretty good deals can be found.

I'm not a Bersa fan, so I'll let others tell their story.

If you have a large hand, the Beretta may be your best bet, the Sig a close second, the CZ may be a good option and if you look at the Bersa, you may as well get the Bersa Plus with it's larger mag well, (15 rounds) and thus larger grip.

March 23, 2009, 07:52 AM
I have a Beretta M85FS that I often carry. Its slim, light, accurate and conceable, but its no pocket gun like the Ruger or Keltec. But, if you have large hands, it will fit and not hurt you.

Mad Magyar
March 23, 2009, 08:52 AM
So, what exactly is the cause of the rise of the 380?

With my PPK, size, weight, portability....There are certain times, like the other evening going out to dinner, strapped on the .45 (damn it felt more heavy today); placed the .380 on the hip and out the door....:)

March 23, 2009, 08:55 AM
The Beretta, or the Cz83, would be the best for larger hands. Although Taurus did make a bigger .380 at one time. I forget the model number, but I did see a few at the gun show this weekend.
Hopefully the ammo situation will change soon, for all these new guns. There was no .380 ammo for sale at any of the tables that had ammo at the show. I don't know of any gun store that has any either.

March 23, 2009, 09:10 AM
Sig P232

March 23, 2009, 11:50 AM
Walther PP.
Walther PPK.
Walther PPK/S.

You can never be too rich, not too thin, nor own too many Walthers.

Guns and more
March 23, 2009, 12:25 PM
Rise of the 380? Which is best?
Best is a subjective term.

Since the purpose of any firearm is to go "bang", best might be described as the most reliable.
Maybe to you best would be the lightest, or smallest for CC.
Or best might be the one that has the nicest machining, or design.
Best might also be the one that "best" fits your hand.
Finally, best might be the most expensive, so you can show your friends that you bought the "best".

In reality, there is no "best", that's why we keep looking.

March 23, 2009, 12:49 PM
wow really?
how about the seecamp lws380
"rolls royce of pocket pistols"
takes near a year to order one, but you can get a personalized serial number

March 23, 2009, 02:11 PM
I like locked breech .380's. People talk about .45 ACP being too much recoil but a 1911 is much more comfortable to shoot (opinion here) than a blowback .380, or the little plastic guns even with a locked breech. In a pinch though all that matters is hitting a vital area after drawing from concealment. The PPK/S is much more accurate in my hands than a Kel-tec. The Colt Government .380 fills both locked breech and comfort, but not as accurate as the PPK/S for me. Heck, I like any all steel handgun. :D
No doubt that "shall issue" is the big driver of .380 popularity.

Ala Dan
March 23, 2009, 03:48 PM
a) Seecamp LWS-.380
b) Walther PPK
e) Ruger LCP

March 23, 2009, 04:05 PM
Just my old fart opinion, and it's a prejudiced one at that..

As I see it, the only reason to carry a 32, or 380 cal. pistol for personal protection is because you need a firearm actually small enough to conceal easily under most conditions, OR if you are a small person female or male who simply cannot handle the drama, recoil, etc. of a larger caliber weapon.

There are simply too many better choices now, not the least of which is the Rohrbaugh, which is an extremely small pistol, and in 9mm.. The Walther PPS is extremely slim and offers a 9mm round also.

The Berettas mentioned are fine pistols. But they come from the era when there were few larger caliber pistols available in a small size so the fine 380cal. Sig (forget the number, but it is extremely high quality, but huge in comparison to some of the new compact 380's), the mentioned Berettas and the Browning BDA (I bought one new, and it was a very nice pistol) were the best choices in the 380 caliber.

But you plunk down a BDA380, Sig or Beretta 380 side by side with my Seecamp LWS380 and it is readily apparent that one is a tiny, easily concealed 380, and the others are huge in comparison.

I'm a big fan of carrying the largest firearm with the largest capacity you can honestly conceal for personal protection... Trouble is in the SE (Ga) in the summer the extreme heat and humidity prevents you from carrying such a weapon.

I've NEVER found a place I couldn't carry my Seecamp in my Hedley rear pocket (wallet style) holster.. Trouble is it's so easy to carry concealed you often forget you even have it on, and in those places where firearms are forbidden you've to stay alert. I walked into the local Courthouse and was stepping right on through the metal detector when my brain kicked in and I did a quick retreat..

The Police officer at the detector laughed and (having never seen I was carrying) said you might wanna lock "that" up in the trunk of your vehicle and we'll do it all over again. He was very cool about the whole deal, but some police under those situations don't necessarily have as good a sense of humor as this gentleman.

Just personal opinion, no offense.


P.S. Some folks think the LWS380 is too pricey and takes too long to get, but the LWS32 is not (IMO) too pricey, and it's the same size as the LWS380 and lots of folks consider the modern self defense ammo (I use Gold Dots) in 32 as "almost" equal to the same round in 380. I've always felt perfectly armed with the 32 or 380, but my wife has a 32 and prefers it. (less drama, recoil, etc in such a small firearm).

I have plenty of larger caliber choices, and when I can I like my S&W CS45 a lot... Something about the 45ACP round that just brings a smile to my face, but EVEN when I can carry my CS45 I STILL have my trusty LWS380 stashed away in my back pocket..




March 23, 2009, 05:38 PM
I don't know if any of these are the "best" but I'm happy with them.

A picked up this SW PPK used on consignment, I have no knowledge of it’s history or why it was sold. I’ve put about 400 rounds through it since I’ve had it with no troubles at all. It is amazingly accurate and I really like the safety/decocker setup. Unfortunately it’s now subject to a recall… I registered on the SW site a month ago and have yet to hear back from them. Mine works fine, I’m not sure I want to send it back if they ever do respond.

The NAA is small but heavy and goes bang every time. Basically it's "inspired" by the little Seecamp. The quality is apparent. There is a lot of stinging trigger slap so it's not much fun at the range, but I trust it if I ever need it.


I also have an LCP, not pictured, but it's the most likely of the three two reside in my pocket.

March 23, 2009, 05:42 PM
Since the LCP not only hurts my XXL hand but gets lost in it, what would one recommend instead?

If you are a big fella, you could just go with a sub-compact 9mm... Kahr, Glock, XD, etc. The 380 only makes sense to me for a pocket pistol, anything larger than a pocket pistol and you may as well get a small 9mm IMO.

As for the LCP, I like it but the prices are bloated. I can get 2 Kel Tecs for $500 or only 1 LCP for $400. They both work the same. You can decide.


March 23, 2009, 05:46 PM

Absolutely nothing wrong with the PPK or NAA..

I've always thought the original Walther PPK's were among the most beautiful pistols ever made, and the extended "tang" of the S&W PPK's are, to me, a plus in that it solves the old "slide bite problem" of the originals..

I had two NAA 32's, and they were fine pistols. I have nothing bad to say about NAA at all. Some folks even prefer the NAA to the Seecamp because of the different mag release, and takedown button..

Best Wishes,


March 23, 2009, 05:54 PM
Nice pics PX15.

Question for you. I mentioned the NAA Guardian does have some trigger slap, my trigger finger starts to sting pretty good after a couple of mags. How are the Seecamps in that department? Are they comfortable to shoot?

March 23, 2009, 06:10 PM
I got a Walter PPKs and love the feel and is very accurate. The Walter design is about as classic as John Browning's 1911.

I bought it because of the history brhind the pistol. Hitler had 2 Walter 380 acp/ 9mm Kurtz and 32 If it was good enough to kill old Adolf it good enough for me. How many Nazies did Glock kill?

Badger Arms
March 23, 2009, 06:48 PM
The best .380 is a 9x19mm Parabellum. I'd follow that with the .357 SIG in a properly-designed double stack... or do you mean guns chambered for the .380 ACP? Well, I'd have to say the Beretta model 84.

March 23, 2009, 07:01 PM

I got my first LWS32 a year or two before my LWS380, and I had no trouble at all with "trigger slap" excessive recoil, etc.. I'm of the opinion that almost anyone would be comfortable shooting the LWS32 for self defense, although I don't think the Seecamp would qualify as a "pleasure plinker". :D

Now the LWS380 is a whole different ballgame, for ME.. I'm probably just a woose, but if you want to shoot the LWS380 for pleasure you NEED real bad to WANT to shoot the LWS380 for pleasure.:uhoh:

Having said that, I carry my LWS380 daily, and I would have absolutely no problem or hesitation pulling the little jewel's trigger 7 times in self defense. I'm of the opinion that in a crisis the last thing I'm gonna be worrying about is whether or not my trigger finger is going to be tender after the last round is fired.

What I have found in my LWS380 is absolute reliability, and I can hit the center mass of a threat consistently at three yards (yep, three yards, or less... That's what I consider self defense range, and that's the distance I practice my "point and shooting" from.)

I don't say that everyone might want, or care for a Seecamp LWS380.. The price of admission is high, but if it's too high, buy the LWS32.. What I have seen over and over on the Seecamp forum is new members come along and ask the "32 or 380" question, and without fail those folks with considerable experience will tell that person to buy the LWS32..

What happens then is those folks buy the LWS32, fall in love with it, and THEN still want a LWS380.. Not everyone, but a considerable amount.

You buy the LWS32, then you place an order for you a personalized serial numbered LWS380 and it'll cost you pretty near $1000 after all's said and done, and take 12-16 months to get it too boot.

Then when you get your LWS380 recoil and trigger slap and expense and the long wait are forgotten you have yourself an example of what I consider (and many gun writers & experts have called) the best mouse gun in the world.

You HAD intended to sell the original LWS32 to help finance the LWS380 but now you have no intention of doing that.. You know that IF you are dissatisfied with the new LWS380 you CAN sell it, and quickly, for probably as much as you paid for it, often even more, seldom less... :) Try that with your new $35,000 automobile..

But, you won't sell it.. You will start checking off the heirs to determine which one you might leave the Seecamp pistol (s) to.. Seecamps ARE that good, and you will love one if you buy one, trust me on this.

But honestly Seecamps are not for everyone. I'm sure there are several options out there for the knowledgeable firearms shopper. If you are NOT a "gun person" you will be well served with one of those. Probably get less drama and "trigger slap" in the bargain.

But as for me, I'm 66 years old. I've been buying, selling and searching for the perfect cc pistol since I got my first conceal carry permit in the summer of 1965.. I've tried a pile, NAA, KelTec, Beretta & others among them in mousegun nitch, and 9's and 38's and 45's galore in larger caliber, but NONE have brought a smile to my face, and given me the pleasure of ownership that my Seecamps have..

Any yep, my wife has one too.. (32cal).

I don't want to come across as a gun snob, nor do I have bad things to say about other manufacturers products. What suits one does not necessarily (in fact not generally) fit all... What works for me means only that, it works for me.

But I will say in my experience on the Seecamp forum I have found Larry Seecamp to be a fine gentleman, who is making the pistols he and his late Dad (Ludwig Seecamp) designed and developed, and he takes pride in each and every one that goes out his factory door in Milford, Ct. The Seecamp forum is an extended family, and if you have a question or problem with you Seecamp you can ask your question to Larry directly (thru the forum) and he will answer you pretty quickly, and if he thinks more than a written answer is needed he gives the person with the inquiry his cell phone and says "give me a call"...

At Seecamp building quality pistols is not just job one, it's the ONLY JOB.

As I said, I'm prejudiced in favor of Seecamp pistols... But it's not a prejudice based on ignorance, I've tried most of the competition, and some of them are excellent.. But they aren't Seecamps..

No offense to ANYONE! If I offended you and your particular firearm I apologize and claim senior citizen status of saying what I want to and I am never hindered, nor is my mind changed by facts to the contrary of my opinion..

Best Wishes,



March 23, 2009, 07:07 PM
-1 for the Bersa.
I owned one (A .380 thuder DLX), purchased new in box, and it was the most unreliable pistol I've ever touched. Factory servicing made it worse, it came back with the magazine falling out and the spring broken. YMMV, but in my personal experience Bersa is a bottom quality product.

March 23, 2009, 07:20 PM

Help me out here please.

I THOUGHT 9X19 was plain old 9mm.....?

Could be wrong, but I don't mind learning if I am.



March 23, 2009, 07:24 PM
Unfortunately there are a few different designations for "plain old 9mm".

But, yes, most people mean 9x19 when they say "9mm".

Better safe than sorry, however. There are a bewildering array of 9mm's out there.

Badger Arms
March 23, 2009, 09:09 PM
I THOUGHT 9X19 was plain old 9mm.....?

Could be wrong, but I don't mind learning if I am.

Well, yes, it's plain old 9mm. Herein lies the confusion. 9x19mm Luger/Parabellum/NATO is a high-pressure round with a .355" bullet. But 9x17mm (.380 ACP) also has the same bullet diameter and is a lower pressure round suitable for blowback pistols. It gets worse. 9x18mm is not the same 9mm as Luger developed. It's something like .365" in diameter. Even more confusing, the .380 Revolver cartridge is also not a real (9x19mm/.38 Spl/.357 Magnum) 9mm. Back to "true" 9mm's. There are dozens of other 9mm calibers out there to include:

9x18mm Ultra
9x17mm Browning Short
9x18mm Police
9mm Glisenti
9x19mm Parabellum
.357 SIG
9mm Browning Long
9x21mm IMI
9x23mm Steyr
9mm Bergman/Bergman-Bayard
9mm Mauser Pistol
9mm Winchester Magnum
.356 TSW (Team Smith & Wesson)
.38 Auto
.38 Super
9x18mm Makarov
9.8 mm Auto Colt
9mm Federal
9 mm Japanese
.38 Short Colt
.38 Long Colt
.38 S&W Special
.357 S&W Magnum
.357 Rem Max

Confused yet?

March 23, 2009, 09:27 PM
I too am having trouble understanding why the 380 is coming back. :confused: I had a BDA for a couple years and traded it off. I've not looked back since. With sub-compact "real" 9mm pistols available, I certainly don't understand why anyone would want a 380. I've shot the LCP and it's ok, but just ok. I didn't like the trigger very much. Anyway, maybe some can shed some light on the recent 380 fascination.

March 23, 2009, 09:38 PM
Another vote for the 9mm, unless you really really want a 380 or a really really want a small pocket pistol (because "large" pocket pistols do exist, such as a Kahr - some claim they are fine in pockets, some say they are to big; it's probably up to you). At that point, get both, and still enjoy 9mm +P with the 380 as backup. Or better yet get a small 40 (to some). The 380 recoilwise is different in my 232sl (which I adore, and trust my life to, though it's a 380, but i don't carry it too often anymore with the smallish "big" pocket gun MK9 9mm I use) and more so felt than the 9mm 115 st.pressure rounds out of my similar weight MK9.

I keep buffalo bore's lead fp cast 380 load in my 232sl.

March 25, 2009, 09:34 AM
Its easy to make inexpensive handguns for .380. Its at the minimum mark for defensive power. Its short. The recoil isn't severe in a small gun either. Imagine if they made the Keltec p11 in .380. It would be pretty popular.

March 25, 2009, 10:52 AM
The only 380 I might ever want is one that is not in vogue right now. The Browning BDA/Beretta Cheetah.
A high capacity 380?
Where did we all go wrong?
Its like they were doing it all wrong back then.

About the pocket 380s out there: I call them mouseguns. Though I appreciate them for what they are I look at them as a too convenient solution for a very complicatied problem. They are very easy to CC and that is good. Naturally I have one, an NAA Guardian. Love the feel of steel. I would call the 380 anemic at best but there have been plenty out there who have defended themselves with 22s. I honestly only think they are good for the summer months when the manstoppers dont conceal as well.

March 25, 2009, 11:47 AM
The .380 is an ideal way to harass an attacker.:D

Or maybe people just got confused when the phrase "less-than-lethal" came into vogue, to describe various self-defense tools, and bought .380s.:p

March 25, 2009, 12:01 PM
Just from a personal point of view...

I now carry my LCP in my front pocket to places I otherwise was going unarmed because my regular carry gun would not fit dressing issues.

I am willing to give up some on caliber in order to get it small enough to carry...otherwise it would not have come for the ride.

It was a a good choice for a $300ish priced gun. If it came in 9 mm I would have taken it.

March 25, 2009, 12:30 PM
I think the SIG P238 would make a good pocket .380., but like most PPKs/SIG P232 etc they aren't really much smaller then say a 9mm P99c. Thinner yes, but overall? Not much diff.

Now I see these tiny superlight .380s like the Ruger LCP and I wonder how they are to shoot. My PPK/S wasn't bad at all, but it was like 22.5 ozs, while a LCP is only 9.5 oz! Ouch!

I ended up with a Beretta .32. Pocket size, yet at 16oz it is real easy shooting. Sure it gives up a bit ballistic-wise going to .32, but it will serve its purpose as I have it with me when anything bigger (p99c) just doesn't work out well.

March 25, 2009, 12:40 PM
I guess Bersa 380 is hit or miss...
I know of 2 people that have one and carry for their CWP and have had zero problems. As of yesterday I have put about 600 through mine and had stovepipe yesterday on CCI Blazer ammo.
Seems they either shoot well or not at all.
I wish that I would have kept my Browning BDA that I sold in 92...
I could kick myself in the ass for selling now

March 25, 2009, 12:48 PM
So, what exactly is the cause of the rise of the 380?

This time around? The rise in the number of people carrying concealed.

The cartridge was introduced by FN about a century ago. At that time the most popular small handgun cartridge in the country was the .32 S&W. The introduction of self-loading pistols resulted a lot of sales for the .32 ACP and .380 ACP.

Believe it or not, police departments in this country often chose .32 S&W Long revolvers at the time. I have one my grandfather got from a policeman who was not at all pleased with its effectiveness.

In Europe, 7.65 automatics (.32 ACP) were widely used by the police. The French military even used them.

The .380 is more effective than the .32. The Beretta Model 1934 in .380 was a standard Italian military side-arm.

Colt autos in both .32 and .380 were issued to U. S. general officers until about thirty years ago.

I think the primary appeal was and probably is the flatness of the little auto pistols.

They're not for me. If I were to choose to carry one, I'd be darn sure to use the most effective personal defense cartridges available.

Of course, you won't see a French soldier or U. S. General carrying a 7.65MM pistol any more these days, either. Things have changed. Could be that the bad guys are worse today.

I've often wondered what might have happened had the French or Italians (or even the Russians, who used small caliber sidearms) had encountered the Moro tribesmen who gave our troops so much trouble in the Philippines. Perhaps nothing. The U. S. adopted the .45 ACP after that, but to my knowledge, only Norway and Argentina followed suit.

March 25, 2009, 01:52 PM
I believe that one of the major reasons for the present popularity of the .380 is the recent increase of effectiveness of the round. Until recently the .380 round was considered by most to be marginal in effectiveness.

The recent introduction of more effective expanding rounds such as the Remington Golden Saber, then the Winchester Ranger, then the Cor-Bon DPX, and now the Hornady Critical Defense; and also higher velocity non-expanding and expanding rounds such as the Buffalo Bore and Double Tap has increased the effectiveness of the .380 round to a point where more people trust it as viable defensive round.


March 25, 2009, 02:05 PM
MR 380 w/BB JHP does the trick for me.
carrys like a wallet. 100% reliable

March 25, 2009, 10:56 PM
Beretta 84F and Kahr P380. The Kahr is the easiest gun to conceal that I own and is accurate for a gun so small. The Beretta is a great looking gun, but frankly, I can carry either my Walther PPS 9mm or my Kahr PM9 easier than the 84F. So the 84F sits in the gun safe unused.

USMC 1975
March 26, 2009, 07:20 AM
My vote is for the Bersa 380 Thunder. What an awesome weapon. I have had no problems with mine and have shot a lot of ammo through it.

For $ 280 dollars you cannot go wrong. Rugged, reliable and accurate, they fit the bill very well for a budget conscious shooter. My shooting partner owns nothing but high end guns and he loves shooting my Bersa and has nothing but good things to say about it.

The only problem I see right now with 380's is the shortage of ammo. I have had a helluva time the last few months trying to find 380 loads. I amazingly located 2 boxes the other day but it took me months to find that.


March 26, 2009, 05:18 PM
IMO, the reason the 380 has become so popular is because you can take it every where, even in minimum clothing. super concealable, unless all you are wearing is spandex.

March 26, 2009, 06:19 PM
IMO, the reason the 380 has become so popular is because you can take it every where, even in minimum clothing. super concealable, unless all you are wearing is spandex.

...even then, when you're as lumpy as I am these days. :D

March 27, 2009, 08:01 PM
I've got a few 380's. I like pocket/mouse guns alot and if I had to put an order to the one's I have I guess this would go like this (today anyway)

1) Seecamp LWS-380
Rohrbaugh K380 would go here if I had one I would imagine
2) Desert Eagle Micro 380
3) Kahr P380
4) Ruger LCP
5) Walther PPK 380
6) Kel-Tec P3AT
7) NAA Guardian 380

March 27, 2009, 10:13 PM
Anybody fired the new Walther PK380 yet?
I sure would like to test fire one soon

March 27, 2009, 10:29 PM
Some excellent commentary, PX 15....appreciate your observations on the Seecamp.

March 27, 2009, 11:37 PM
In my opinion it is the Bersa Thunder 380. :)

March 28, 2009, 12:56 AM
I want to get a Seecamp 380....but for now I go in this order....

If I wanta go with class....I carry....

If I wanta go with German style...I go with...

If I need some more horsepower but about same size...
I go with...http://photos.gafana.com/photos/1056252330996550803967.share.jpg

Buck Snort
March 28, 2009, 01:33 AM
Check the ballistics of the .380 against the .357 mag. or 9mm, not to mention the .45 ACP, and you'll quickly conclude your life is worth much more that whatever you'd save buying the .380.

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