Pocket .380


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wendelb
February 22, 2011, 12:11 AM
I'm in the market for a pocket 380. So in commenting, please refrain from the beretta 84/85, makarov, etc. Yes they fit in my pocket, but so does my 1911- but it's not considered a pocket gun.

What I'd really like is opinions from owners. I'm torn between the Keltec P3AT, Diamondback 380, Sig P238 and the new S&W bodyguard. I have held all three, but only shot the keltec. Currently, I own a Micro Deagle, and hate it. It's reliable so far, but it's very uncomfortable to shoot- was painful until I used a jr rubber sleeve grip, and added some epoxy to the grip- and ext. mag baseplate.... and it went from feeling like a .500 S&W to just uncomfortable. Despite it not jamming yet, I still don't trust it.

Most importantly is reliablity, obviously. However, still important is comfort. Not comfort as a range gun, but not cringing from shooting 20 rounds either.

I love the feel of the diamondback. For it's size, you can get a lot of grip on it. I know some people have had problems with it. But someone, somewhere has had a problem with every gun. The range reports on it are all A+'s. Also, being designed loosely after the glock, and being striker fired, I'm inclined towards it, as striker fired has proven it's reliablity.

The keltec wasn't too bad shooting... fairly mild, which was impressive since it's polymer, and weighs 40% less than the micro deagle. Adding extended base plates would help even more.

The S&W bodyguard I know nothing about, beyond the basics. I haven't read a range report on it, and have only met one person who has one. And they hadn't shot it yet, so didn't have an opinion. I played around with it, and it was fairly nice. 380s are really the only thing that I'll tolerate a laser on, and it has one built in- though I'm not sure if it's decent construction, or something that breaks after 200 rounds, and I'm better off with a crimson trace on the diamondback or keltec.

Lastly, is the sig P-238- modeled after the Colt Mustang, but aluminum frame. I love sigs, they've always shot well. It's a mini-1911, so that's kind of nifty. Never held it, don't know anyone who's shot it. I know the originals had a recall about a spring or something, but nothing bad since. And, well... it's a sig.

There are a few other 380s I've thought of, but harder to come by, and up in the $600 price range. Those four are $250-$400. I'm sure without this I'll get a dozen people ignoring my plea's and suggesting the Kahr 380. While comfortable, and similar to Glocks, I bought a Kahr PM-9 for my wife's first gun. It had a dozen issues, bad recoil spring, bad magazine springs, bad ramp, the last of which was the nickel plating rubber off the striker, and gunking up, preventing a good primer strike/ignition. While that may have been a fluke, I'll never trust my life with a Kahr.

So, opinions on those 4 please? Good, Bad, and the Ugly?

ADD ON: Does anyone have a crimson trace laser on any of their pocket pistols, doesn't matter what type of pistol, I'm interested in the CT and it's operation... easy on? Does it AD whenever you touch the gun, or from pressure in your pocket? Yay? Nay?

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MICHAEL T
February 22, 2011, 01:23 AM
I carry a KelTec a lot or my Colt mustang So I would say KT and SIG you now decide which one . If Sig shoots like my Colt Then be little recoil like shooting a 22

heeler
February 22, 2011, 08:00 AM
wendelb when you mention somewhere someone has had problems with every gun certainly holds some truth.
The guy that runs the small indoor range by my house was telling me last week that his new LCP was heading back to Ruger for the second time for the same issue of firing pin problems and that pistol has been around quite some time.
Here's another for you.
I own an early production Diamondback and frankly like mine very much.
But even though mine has close to a 1000 rounds through it last week at the range the trigger mechanism went south and it left yesterday to head back to DB on their nickel.
Diamondbacks customer service is very good.
If you buy a DB try finding one in which the serial number starts with ZD as these are the latest production batch with a lot of internal upgrades.
Will wait and see what they do with mine as I have read they are starting to replace the early ones like mine that come in.
I will know soon enogh about that.
The Kel-Tec is a very good little pistol but like the Ruger a snappy little biter.
But,it and the LCP have been around long enough to have most if not all the kinks worked out.
The Sigs have had a lot of issues but the newer ones not so much from what I read.
And I know what you said about the Kahr but at the price point of the Sig you are practically already there with the Kahr.
Not sure if the PM9 you mentioned was an older one or not but I just recently bought one and like mine very,very much.
Although I have never fired or even held the S&W everything I have read sounds pretty good.
There are some very good choices out there for a small lightweight .380 carry gun.

ultradoc
February 22, 2011, 08:14 AM
I have two p3at's. they are handy. just drop them in your pocket and go. but they do have a kick when fired.

shootingthebreeze
February 22, 2011, 09:00 AM
I know the Kahr P380 is around $600 however I have stretched my budget (saving) and will settle with the Kahr P380 because it feels comfortable and is invisible.
A firearm has to be comfortable to you. Sometimes to achieve this one has to stretch a little. I looked at all .380 and I always go back to the Kahr P380.

G27RR
February 22, 2011, 09:21 AM
Most comfortable to shoot/most accurate - Sig P238
Next most comfortable/accurate - BG380

Most reliable - BG380
Next most reliable - Sig P238
Least reliable - DB380 (and I really don't like the lack of a slide lock)

The above is my experience, others may feel differently. (I don't own the other one you're looking at so no comment there)

armabill
February 22, 2011, 09:29 AM
Pocket: I'm not sure that I'm getting your meaning.

I have mine in a holster in an inside coat pocket but not in a pants pocket. If no coat, I IWB carry. I have too much other stuff in my pants pockets: like money, wallet, change and keys, etc.

kokapelli
February 22, 2011, 09:33 AM
I own or have owned the following 380 pocket pistols:
P3AT, Micro Desert Eagle, Diamondback, TCP, NAA and P238.

I would rate them in the following order.

P238: By far the best shooter of all of them and mine has been 100% reliable.

TCP: Fairly soft shooter, accurate and reliable.

P3AT: Reliable, accurate at self defense distance and not too uncomfortable to shoot. I have shot my son's LCP and would rate it just below the P3AT.

Micro Desert Eagle: Accurate, reliable, but very punishing to shoot.

NAA: Unreliable and Punishing to shoot.

Diamondback: Totally unreliable even after a major rework at the factory.

Ballistics
February 22, 2011, 12:49 PM
I am in agreement with G27RR. I don't have shooting experience with the Diamondback, so I can't comment on that one, but based on the other 3, the most comfortable shooters to me are the P238 and the Bodyguard 380. I give a slight edge to the P238 (in my hand, anyway) because of it's slightly wider grip.

I did a lot of research before I bought my first pocket .380. When it came time to finally open my wallet, I bought two Bodyguard 380s--one for me and one for my wife. You're getting a lot of gun for $350... S&W fit/finish and warranty, integrated laser, one of the best shooters in this segment, and it's been out for about a year now so most of the design hiccups have been addressed.

wendelb
February 22, 2011, 03:46 PM
Thank you everyone for your comments.

I think I am going to get two. One will be a BG380, unless I can find a well priced P-238.

And, taking Heelers advice, look for a DB380 with serial starting in ZD.

If after purchasing either guns give me trouble, I will leave feedback.

Thanks again for all your help and input

jbr
February 22, 2011, 04:00 PM
I have only shot a couple of these - I did not like the LCP for a host of reasons. I sold it and bought a TCP738. I am very pleased with it so far- soft shooter - decent sights - easy to carry. I have about 150 rounds thru it so far - no failures. Still need some more rounds downrange before i can testify to the reliablity. Was considering the BG but can't get my hands on one. Lots of problems early on i have read but love the features it offers. Let me know how you like yours. Good Luck

Holo
February 22, 2011, 07:40 PM
I can't believe there arent more people suggesting the Ruger LCP. I love mine. It was a bit snappy but a stiffer recoil spring mellow it out nicely.

CZguy
February 22, 2011, 08:00 PM
I can't believe there arent more people suggesting the Ruger LCP. I love mine. It was a bit snappy but a stiffer recoil spring mellow it out nicely.


You are correct on both counts. But the LCP wasn't one of the three pistols the OP was asking for comments on. :)

Holo
February 22, 2011, 08:11 PM
Correct, but in his OP he said he enjoyed the KT p3AT, which is 95% the same as an LCP and comes with a mag extension (which is said he wanted for the p3AT.)

Just my $.02 on a great pocket pistol.

HisSoldier
February 22, 2011, 08:20 PM
Unlike most people I draw a distinct line between "tools" and "treasures". In the genre of pocket pistols it seems to me that we are talking about a tool, one that you would like to forget is there until you need it. I have many .380 pocket sized pistols, and honestly there is only one I will carry, and interestingly enough it's the one gun farthest from being a treasure to me.
I carry a Keltec P3AT, I never think about it, would never show it off to my friends because it's ugly and made of plastic and aluminum. It's reasonably accurate and reliable. The trigger pin worked it's way out soon after buying it, and I had to fix that. The mag release button sat too high and I found it dropping the mag in my pocket way too often, so I ended up belt sanding it down to flush. A better solution would be to change it's spring to a stronger one and sand off about 1/2 of it.

I seldom shoot it, and did so last night. Sliding the slide back showed rust where the barrel pokes through the front of the slide, I would never let one of my treasures get to that state, but a drop of oil and she shot all 7 (6+1) without any hickups. What's more to ask? A gun that is extremely light, has no great value so that if a policeman confiscates it it's no big loss, if it gets rust or nicks or scratches that's no big loss.

It's like an old pair of pliers!

JerryC
February 22, 2011, 09:44 PM
I bought a new diamondback two weeks ago. No problems at all. Ships from factory totally dry, so be sure and lube it before shooting. Have shot 200 rounds and not a single problem. Bit of a kickback, but expected from shooting 380's from such a small gun. Accuracy was very good, decent sights for a small gun.

kokapelli
February 22, 2011, 09:52 PM
I bought a new diamondback two weeks ago. No problems at all. Ships from factory totally dry, so be sure and lube it before shooting. Have shot 200 rounds and not a single problem. Bit of a kickback, but expected from shooting 380's from such a small gun. Accuracy was very good, decent sights for a small gun.
If you think the Diamondback kicks you should try shooting an NAA or a Micro Desert Eagle or a Seecamp. Shoot one of those and you will think the Diamondback is a cap gun.

CZguy
February 22, 2011, 10:36 PM
Unlike most people I draw a distinct line between "tools" and "treasures".

I understand what you are saying.....but most of my tools are Snap On. :D

So I bought an LCP, but am strongly thinking about a Kahr.

Clockwerk
February 22, 2011, 10:40 PM
+1 on the Sig P238. One of the better 380's I have ever shot.

welldoya
February 22, 2011, 10:49 PM
As a poster said earlier, I like my LCP a lot. Not sure why you are not considering it.
Before I bought it, I did a lot of research. I really wanted to like the Diamondback but everything I read said stay away. Academy had them on sale last week for $229 but I still didn't buy one.
For me it would be the LCP or the Kahr.

helitack32f1
February 22, 2011, 11:44 PM
I have the LCP and it has been perfect, just not very fun to shoot for long periods. If I had the money I would buy the Sig. It is not much larger than the LCP and feels like a bank vault compared to the toy-like LCP. Beautiful little gun.

WRGADog
February 23, 2011, 04:42 AM
My two favorite pocket pistols are the P380 and PM9. I own both. After the required 200 round breakin period both guns work flawlessly. The P380 is so light weight you can actually forget you are carrying. The gun is accurate, easy to conceal, and easy to shoot.

Cemo
February 23, 2011, 07:46 AM
For a pocket carry auto, get something small so it doesn't print much, made of plastic/poly so as to be light weight and won't rust, double action only so as to be safe while carrying and quick 1st shot ability, and get a pocket holster. I carry a Ruger LCP in a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster daily as my primary or as a backup gun.

Water-Man
February 23, 2011, 08:02 AM
You just can't beat the P3AT. Tried and true. Feeds all types of ammo. Great customer service. The epitome of a pocket pistol!

FAS1
February 23, 2011, 08:16 AM
You just can't beat the P3AT. Tried and true. Feeds all types of ammo. Great customer service. The epitome of a pocket pistol!
The P3AT is the one I own and don't have any experience with the others. It works for me.

iblong
February 23, 2011, 08:37 AM
I have one pocket 380 and thats the no frills goes bang every time with any ammo P3AT.Plain, light ,small,replaceable.
Its rarley carried as it not a primmary for me.If Iwas going to use a 380 as a primmary I woul probablly go with a little larger plat form with a double/single action.But for occational pocket carry The P3AT just works.

bannockburn
February 23, 2011, 11:39 AM
wendelb

I have experience with three of your choices: the SIG P-238, the S&W Bodyguard, and the KelTec P-3AT.

If you're okay with the SAO of the P-238, then that would be my first choice. The newer ones seem to have overcome the earlier problems, are easy and pleasant to shoot, and are surprisingly accurate. Very well made with good ergonomics and real sights, yet not too heavy for pocket carry.

My second choice would be the DAO Bodyguard. I don't have much need for the laser and its on/off buttons aren't as intuitive as some others are, but I doubt I would ever use it anyways. It also has a thumb safety, which again I don't think I would use because the gun is DAO, and the safety is rather stiff in its operation and makes a loud "clacking" sound when it's used. But at least it's there if you're so inclined. The DAO operation itself is quite smooth and even; definitely better than that found on a P-3AT or an LCP. Like the P-238, the Bodyguard is made from quality materials, has a good set of "real" sights, and is also easily carried (with the proper holster), in your pants pocket.

While the P-3AT is not as nicely made or as refined as the other two, it still is a viable choice for pocket carry. Lightweight, easily concealable, with a proven DAO design, the P-3AT offers you a decent reliable gun at a very affordable price.

kokapelli
February 23, 2011, 11:50 AM
the safety is rather stiff in its operation and makes a loud "clacking" sound when it's used.
I don't see the problem with the clicking sound of a safety being disengaged. It's kind of like a rattlesnake's rattle warning or the sound of the slide of a 12 ga and anyway if the BG does hear it, it's probably too late for him anyway.

shootingthebreeze
February 23, 2011, 12:38 PM
Holo, I have looked at the Ruger LCP very seriously but the Kahr P380 beats it as far as hand fit and it's also invisible.

Holo
February 23, 2011, 12:48 PM
I would go for the Kahr if i could afford it. If you are considering the p3AT i would spend the extra $30 and get the LCP, but if you have a $600 budget, for sure go for the Kahr or the p238. They are tiers above the rest.

rugerman
February 23, 2011, 03:39 PM
I'm going to get outside your limitations for a second here. I have a p3at-good gun easy to carry, the sig to me is a mite heavy and I would prefer a grip saftey on a 911. I also have a ppk (I know outside your price range) but its heavy and the sights are rather small. My suggestion is a keltec pf9, more power, about the same size as the sig and ammo is easier to find and cheaper.

IMTHDUKE
February 23, 2011, 03:50 PM
P-238- modeled after the Colt Mustang, but aluminum frame. I love sigs, they've always shot well. It's a mini-1911, so that's kind of nifty. Never held it, don't know anyone who's shot it. I know the originals had a recall about a spring or something, but nothing bad since. And, well... it's a sig.

If you shoot it....you'll love it. The new ones will get you the updated spring and mag.

I had to get a new recoil spring to made mine 100%.
http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/238.jpg

http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/238side.jpg

IMTHDUKE
February 23, 2011, 03:57 PM
If you think the Diamondback kicks you should try shooting an NAA or a Micro Desert Eagle or a Seecamp. Shoot one of those and you will think the Diamondback is a cap gun.

The reason my Seecamp went bye bye.

bannockburn
February 23, 2011, 03:58 PM
kokapelli

Personally I found it rather annoying; kind of like the same loud clacking sound of an AK-47 safety. And definitely nowhere near as intimidating as when you rack a pump action shotgun. Now if the bad guy wants to think I've got an AK instead of a Bodyguard .380, then that's just fine with me. Other than that, to each his own; I doubt I will ever use it.

heeler
February 23, 2011, 04:20 PM
IMTHDuke,just how does the prospective buyer of the Sig know the gun he's about to purchase is one that has been updated??

IMTHDUKE
February 23, 2011, 04:55 PM
I am just saying that Sig has learned from the first ones produced, what the issues were and have begun to correct those...being the springs, the mags and the ejectors. I would think that one purchased now will have all that stuff taken care of.

I love mine and plan on keeping it. With me, I guess that I do not have patience as a virtue....if after minor issue of correction and it still is a jamomatic.....I get something that I can trust.

You wont go wrong in getting one.

SwampWolf
February 23, 2011, 05:24 PM
Other than extreme reliability, there's two things I insist on when deciding on a pistol to be carried in a pocket for self-defense: light weight and small size. Anything much bigger or heavier than a Taurus TCP, a KelTec 3AT, a Ruger LCP, a Smith Bodyguard or a Seecamp for pocket carrying duty is too large and too heavy imo and probably belongs in a belt-mounted holster. And if I'm carrying a pistol on my belt, it's going to be chambered in something no smaller than a 9mm.
Just my take on what should constitute a true pocket pistol.

heeler
February 23, 2011, 07:37 PM
Very good point Swampwolf.

omu
February 23, 2011, 10:15 PM
I'll throw my vote for a 238. I've got one that I replaced my LCP with. Love how it feels, love how it shoots, love how it carries.

benderx4
February 24, 2011, 10:29 AM
Seecamp 380

If you want a REAL pocket gun - this is it.

Uteridge
February 24, 2011, 10:47 AM
I am a big fan of my LCP, it is fairly similar to the Kel tec but I think it feels a little better and my LCP accepts any type of ammo I want to throw in it while my dad's Kel Tec is picky with ammo. Could just be his gun but I have had no reliablity issues with my LCP.

tpan
February 24, 2011, 12:10 PM
I carry a little 380 but I have recently browsing the net and forums for small carry guns and came across one that I may have overlooked in the past. The Colt Defender. If I had the money I would have one. Fitted with 9mm or 45, its small and mimics the Kimber 1911 as far as looks and the rounded top of the slide. IMO for a few hundred more than the P238 would be money well spent. Just my $0.02.

kokapelli
February 24, 2011, 12:28 PM
I carry a little 380 but I have recently browsing the net and forums for small carry guns and came across one that I may have overlooked in the past. The Colt Defender. If I had the money I would have one. Fitted with 9mm or 45, its small and mimics the Kimber 1911 as far as looks and the rounded top of the slide. IMO for a few hundred more than the P238 would be money well spent. Just my $0.02.
Why not just get a Springfield EMP or a Para Slim Hawg both are smaller than the Colt Defender and both are 1911 style pistol all the way.

http://ezine.m1911.org/images/reviews/SAemp/table1.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v323/sv1cec/reviews/SAemp/Img_0090.jpg

tpan
February 24, 2011, 12:51 PM
All three of those are awesome. Nice to see them all side by side.

I noticed though in your specs that the Colt is physically the largest but the lightest...interesting.

IMTHDUKE
February 24, 2011, 02:43 PM
I carry a little 380 but I have recently browsing the net and forums for small carry guns and came across one that I may have overlooked in the past. The Colt Defender. If I had the money I would have one. Fitted with 9mm or 45, its small and mimics the Kimber 1911 as far as looks and the rounded top of the slide. IMO for a few hundred more than the P238 would be money well spent. Just my $0.02.

Not a pocket gun, but for me it's keeper.

http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/62520996552615.jpg
http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/62520996567158.jpg
Here's it's rival....

http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/62520996525079.jpg
http://i700.photobucket.com/albums/ww2/imthduke/GUNS/62520996517582.jpg

BP Hunter
February 24, 2011, 04:38 PM
May I respectfully add the Bersa .380 CC in your decision making. I was in the same boat as you a few weeks ago and was looking for a pocket 380. I ended up purchasing the Bersa .380. My wife has the Bersa thunder and I defeintiely love shooting that weapon. My new CC shoots as comfortable and is very accurate. I also bought it for its price - only $278. Give it a look see. Good luck.

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