small CCW handgun, what to get?


October 15, 2003, 08:21 PM
Been looking for a small CCW pistol. I"ve more or less narrowed it down to a few choices.

Ruger SP101 in .357mag about $350
Colt Mustang .380 auto about $395
Taurus .38 snubbie $250?

maybe a Kahr, haven't really looked at them, about the same price range?
Are there any other obvious choices that I'm overlooking?

The Ruger and the Colt kinda jumped out at me when I was browsing the shop. Would $395 be worth it for the Colt, seems to be in decent shape, no big gouges or rust and comes with an extra magazine.

Wondering what other people use that I haven't thought to look at, thanks for any help I can get :)

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October 15, 2003, 08:51 PM
You have some nice choices on your list. The Kahr is a great little gun but a bit heavy and cost is above those you list. The Kel Tec .380 is a very small, light gun and well under three bills. Might be worth a look.

Good luck in finding what works for you. You need to handle, shoot and trying them out if at all possible.

October 15, 2003, 09:01 PM
You have good choices there.

Just a couple of things to consider.

I had one of the little stainless Colt 380's. Lots of fun to shoot and certainly small enough to conceal well. But, you have to cock it or carry it cocked with the safety on. Makes for less than the easiest deployment and the .380 is at the bottom of the defense ammo scale. However, with the right ammo it is just fine. Try to find a Colt Pony. Under 15 oz loaded and the same .380 in a dao pistol.

If you look around you can find a Model 38 S & W in .38. They can usually be had around $300. 15 oz loaded, very small and just point and shoot.

The .357's are ok, but second shot follow ups are tough unless you have a monster grip. Your mileage may vary but its a lot of flash and bang and kick in a small package. And a steel j frame is probably around 20 or so oz before you load it! A bit heavy to carry.

If you don't mind an automatic, take a look at a Kahr p9 or pm9. I think each is around 15 oz. Light and reliable and now you are up to a 9mm round.

October 15, 2003, 09:21 PM
You've narrowed your options to some nice guns. Of your choices, I'd go w/ the SP-101 :)

October 15, 2003, 09:23 PM
I had a colt pony that I carried for awhile, very well made, trigger was a little gritty but not terrible. Not the most accurate .380 I've ever owned, but more than adaquate for it's purpose. .380 is on the weak side for my personal preferance, but with good ammo and good placement it's not a bad choice.

I currently carry a taurus .357mag snubby and am quite happy with it, I'm sure the .38 snubbies are every bit as good.

I've never owned an SP101, but I looked at one quite closely before I bought my Taurus. Very well made, a bit too heavy and just a tad too large for what I wanted. I get the impression you could shoot one continually and you would quit long before it does.

Of those 3, I would probably go with the Taurus and use the $100 you save on a bunch of cheap ammo. Practice makes perfect, and the most expensive gun on the shelf won't make up for lack of skill.

And, if you are really interested in the .380 I would look around for a Sphinx AT-380. A little bigger than the Colt, about the same price, but the nicest auto pistol I've ever owned.

October 15, 2003, 10:22 PM
Thanks for the suggestions, I think I saw a Sphinx at the gunshop I stopped at, they were a bit busy so I didn't get to take a real close look.

I would prefer a .38/9mm/.357 over a .380. I currently carry a Kimber Pro Carry HD II in .45ACP. I thought the little Mustang would be familiar yet smaller for when I don't want to tote the .45.

the taurus' are decent looking guns, anyone know how they are for durability/reliability compared to Ruger or S&W?

too many choices :banghead: I suppose I could just buy all of them:D , but I don't think the bank account would go for it.

October 15, 2003, 11:54 PM
I have the Sp101 3” with a CT laser. A little on the heavy side, but it handles the full power .357’s real well. It’s my primary carry piece and very dependable.

October 15, 2003, 11:58 PM
the taurus' are decent looking guns, anyone know how they are for durability/reliability compared to Ruger or S&W? I have a Taurus 85 that I bought used a few months ago that was made in 1991. When I got it the thing was filthy (I doubt it was ever cleaned). The leading was so bad in the barrel that there was basically a caked on layer of lead almost completely covering the barrel. It cleaned up nicely, the rifling is perfect, the gun locks up tight. It is (probably temporarily) my favorite gun.

Before that I had a Taurus 605 for a short time. It was very well made, but I didn't like .357mag out of such a small gun and for shooting .38s I'd prefer the 85 since it is a few ounces lighter.

All your choices are nice. However, I'd go with the Taurus. The Ruger is quite a bit heavier (yet still small and light enough that it is likely to be a bit rough to shoot magnums out of it). The Colt just doesn't appeal to me (especially at the prices they go for). Get the Taurus, and as said before, spend the extra money on ammo (these small guns take a lot of practice to get good with them anyway).

As for the Kahr, they are really nice guns. My best friend has an MK9. Incredibly reliable, accurate once you are practiced with it, well made. They do tend to be a bit pricy though.

October 16, 2003, 12:29 AM
Chaim, just a quick question. What full power mags do you shoot in your Sp101 that are rough? That’s why I like the extra weight of it. In my SP full power mags are quite manageable and .38’s produce hardly any noticeable recoil.

October 16, 2003, 07:48 AM
I've got a Ruger SP in .357 that I like a lot. Full house magnum loads are actually pretty easy to shoot but I usually load down to .38+Ps. Yes, the Ruger is heavier but not by a lot; that weight goes a long way to soak up energy. And, the Ruger is built like a tank; I doubt I'll ever wear it out in my lifetime. I'd suggest it over a Taurus any day of the week for the shear durability factor.

October 16, 2003, 08:34 AM
Small Caliber: Bersa Thunder 380
Small Gun: Ruger SP101


Ky Larry
October 16, 2003, 09:46 AM
Check out the CZ-83. I bought one in .380 a couple of months ago. So far 100% reliability after 1500 rounds. Great otb trigger and it's built like a tank. Cost me $300 out the door. It comes in satin nickel and blued.:D

October 16, 2003, 09:54 AM
My CCW is a S&W 311 in 32 H&R Mag. It is very light and accurate using Federal 85 grain HP. The double action is smooth. Byron

October 16, 2003, 10:34 AM
Hi, Bulgy makarov 9X18mak . Inexpensive and reliable. Also carry a Rossi M971 SS 2 3/4" .357 that is also reliable and remarkably comfortable to shoot with the rubber factory grips . About 500 rounds thru it since I bought it used for $190 OTD and still as sound as ever ! Wife uses it loaded with .38's for the HD gun .........WVleo

October 16, 2003, 10:41 AM
Hi wintermute76,

Which ever handgun you pick for CCW, reliability should come before price.


October 16, 2003, 12:20 PM
Glock 26/27/33

October 16, 2003, 01:38 PM
If you can get a Colt Mustang for $395, buy it! The going rate for these has now passed $500, and is edging higher!


October 16, 2003, 04:57 PM
V-fib, I don't own and never have owned an SP101. Hence the word "likely" before I said it would likely be a bit rough to shoot magnums out of it. I have shot them before, and while they are better than Taurus or S&W snubs in .357 (due to a few more ounces) they are still far from comfortable. In fact, I don't own one because they are too heavy to be ideal for the snub's mission (light, small, easy to conceal revolver) yet too light to be a good choice for a .357mag. I'll stick with .38spl and soon 9mm and .32H&R mag for my small snubs (and in the form of the noticably lighter Taurus, S&W and Colt snubs), and go to K-frame sized guns for my .357mags.

October 17, 2003, 12:58 AM
I've gone through them all over the years, and for me the Kahr K40 is the flattest, smoothest, most accurate and powerful all-around "small" pistol I've ever used. It's a gem.

October 17, 2003, 01:35 AM
Chaim, sorry to ruffle you. I carry my SP all the time, hardly know its there. Was out back just today practicing with 158gr swc’s and as I said recoil and most importantly follow ups were pleasant and manageable. It’s all in the weight. I wish Ruger still made the SP in 9mm, I’d like to compare it with the .357.

October 17, 2003, 08:56 AM
I bought the Taurus 650 CIA. Nice gun. Went for the stainless option, although Titanium is available. I wanted something that I could use for a casual day at the range as well as for CCW. Only paid $270 for it new.

I have a Taurus 85TI and I just don't like shooting it very much with defense loads.

Just bought a new SP101 at the last show. 3 inch barrel .357. Haven't shot it yet, but it is considerably heavier than my Taurus 650 as well as my old .38 centennial. Should be great for range work and ok for carry with a strong belt.

Don't have any experience with the Colt Mustang, but I would be unlikely to choose one for concealed carry. They're out of production and parts are bound to become more and more scarce. Also, you may have problems finding somebody local to work on it.

October 18, 2003, 10:03 AM
I have a Taurus 85UL. They change their productline constantly and I no longer see this gun, except with titanium...mine has an alloy frame. It is great little gun but its hammer jabs me in the side. I also wish the IWB holsters allowed the gun to sit deeper. Being so short I have the sensation that the pistol is rolling out of my waisteband. I would recommend the 85ULCH, with the bob'd hammer.

I now mostly carry a Keltec P32. It is a neat little gun though I like the 38spcl better . The problem with the Colt Mustang that I owned was that I did not feel comfortable carrying it cocked and locked. Weather pemitting, I'd carry my Kimber compact... now we are talking...

The SP101 is an awesome gun, but heavy. I can carry the Keltec in the waistband of my gym problem.


October 18, 2003, 11:42 AM
I find the grips on the Smith J frames and the Ruger SP series too small for best control. I prefer the slightly larger grips on the Colt D grames, Smith K frames and the Ruger Security Six better for control.

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