Who makes a good, little .380?


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viking499
December 9, 2013, 01:49 PM
Trying to find something small and compact for the wife to shoot and possible carry. Looking into the 380's since her arthritis and my 642 didn't mesh.

Never had a 380 before. Anything I need to know or be aware of?

Recommendations........

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Hometeached1
December 9, 2013, 01:54 PM
SIG P232? It's about as long as a j-frame nice and thin, good sights and you can change the grips. Can be about $500 or so. They have very nice triggers too. Have heard good thing about Bersa thunders. As far as things to look out for can't help to much, just let your wife try a lot of different ones.

Shipwreck
December 9, 2013, 02:07 PM
Be aware that many 380s are blowback in their design - which means the felt recoil can be as much as a locked breech 9mm, or even more. Plus, the blowback designs tend to have a recoil spring that makes them hard to work the slide (an issue for a woman)

wgp
December 9, 2013, 02:08 PM
From reading posts it seems the Beretta 84 or 85 (I think I'm right about model numbers here) are considered extremely high quality .380s but a bit scarce due to cost. I have an 84 and it is a fine gun, I'm just not thrilled by the caliber. It looks just like a scaled-down 92 and fits my hand perfectly.

rcmodel
December 9, 2013, 02:17 PM
Just be forewarned.
The really small .380's like the Kel-Tec P3AT and Ruger LCP are a real handful.
Like a two finger grip, hard recoil, and hard to rack slides for loading and unloading.

Even the larger blow-back guns like the Walther PPK and SIG P-232 are hard for some people to rack the slide.

Ruger has just came out with a slightly larger locked-breech .380, and it is supposed to address some of those issues.

http://www.ruger.com/products/lc380/models.html

But I haven't handled one yet.

At any rate, I would judge most all of them to be harder to operate & shoot then a J-Frame S&W with light .38 Spl loads.

rc

guyfromohio
December 9, 2013, 02:24 PM
I can be a gun snob. I admit it. I have Walther PPKs, beretta 84s (fantastic gun), Sigs, and the list of once-hads goes on and on. I actually really like .380s. That bring said, my wife's little S&W Bodyguard is one of the best shooting, smoothest, most accurate .380s I've had the pleasure of shooting. Check one out and see if it works.

theotherwaldo
December 9, 2013, 02:28 PM
The best .32acp self-defense pistol that I've seen that can be used by folks that can't rack larger guns is the Le Francais (which has been out of production since the '50's). It's DAO, striker-fired, the barrel flips up for loading, and the slide never gets pulled back. A simple and sturdy pistol. It's a pity that no one has made an updated version in .380.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 9, 2013, 02:32 PM
I'm a .32 aficionado who has had his go with a number of .380's over the years. I'd second the suggestion of the S&W Bodyguard as a modern .380 pistol for SD. I like the Sig P238 as well.

I like the Walthers and the Berettas as well but recoil springs and the amount of recoil for the amount of performance is pushing the limit....my wife has the same issues and has fallen in love with our Beretta Px4 sub compact in 9mm as it is easier on her hands and the recoil is not much different than a typical .380 pistol.

If you can find a Colt 1903 Model M in .380 that would be a good choice as well but they are getting spendy and rare.

VooDoo

viking499
December 9, 2013, 02:37 PM
Would a small 9mm be better than a .380?

Hokkmike
December 9, 2013, 02:38 PM
Just picked up a S&W .380 BG after my own research was concluded. Also liked the Ruger LCP.

I preferred the S&W primarily because it incorporates a manual safety which is not found on any other pocket .380.

Some people would say that a manual safety is either redundant and/or unnecessary. Not so for something that goes in my pocket.

Have not given it a thorough range test yet.

rcmodel
December 9, 2013, 02:39 PM
No.

Nothing truly small is going to be easy to operate.

And a small 9mm will kick harder then a small .380.

rc

C0untZer0
December 9, 2013, 02:51 PM
Glock will be coming out with a little something or other soon...:D

decoy562
December 9, 2013, 02:57 PM
I like my little LCP but not sure if your wife would like it. The Sig P238 has an easy slide to rack.

rskent
December 9, 2013, 03:02 PM
The Sig 238 is about the sweetest little 380 I have ever shot.

JERRY
December 9, 2013, 03:05 PM
BTW, small 380s and arthritis don't go well together. if it must be a small gun id recommend the .32acp instead. if the size of the gun isn't as restricted, the .380 will work if its a locked breach design. stay away from blowbacks....

2wheels
December 9, 2013, 03:17 PM
Sig P238 or Colt Mustang, very little recoil compared to most other pocket .380s.

VA27
December 9, 2013, 03:27 PM
...her arthritis and my 642 didn't mesh...

Didn't mesh how, recoil or trigger pull?

If it's recoil, either load the current gun with factory 148gr wadcutters or go with an all steel J-frame and that load.

If it's trigger pull (hand strength) there's going to be a problem manipulating the slide on a semiauto without knowing a trick or two, and a lot of DA 380's have J-frame-like trigger pulls to boot.

Beretta made a DA 380 with the pop-up barrel like the Jetfire (I don't recall the model number) and a nice pull that might work, but it's about PPK/SIG 230 sized. If the size (and price) isn't a problem this would be my first choice.

Another alternative would be a single action like the Colt Mustang or SIG P238. The trigger pull would be easier, though there is still the problem with slide manipulation.

The same goes for the Kahr P/CM 380. Nice trigger, but tough slide and the need for a firm grip to ensure reliable functioning could be a problem.

If it's small you want, the Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle is smaller than everything but the Seecamp, it's all metal (if that matters to you) and the gas-retarded blow back action means the slide will be a little easier to work, but again the trigger is J-frame like.

Good luck with your Quest.

snooperman
December 9, 2013, 03:51 PM
You are fortunate because we are in the age of the .380 "carry" gun , because of the conceal carry laws that have swept the country. Any one of the locked breech guns will do fine for your wife: Ruger LCP, Taurus TCP, S&W has one, SIG P238, Walther PK380[ not PPK], and others I probably can not think of. Which ever you choose , get a grip sleeve from Hogue or Pachmayr to put on it, as it will enhance the grip and make it much more comfortable for her to shoot. Best of luck in your search and be sure to let your wife have a say in the gun she is to carry.

snooperman
December 9, 2013, 03:57 PM
By the way, My wife also has Arthritis and she picked the SIG P238, which is very easy to rack and easy to shoot as well. It has a higher price tag but worth the extra money.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 9, 2013, 04:00 PM
Would a small 9mm be better than a .380?

My wife and I feel that our Beretta Px4 subcompact 9mm shoots "about the same" as a Walther PPK/s in .380 with 115 gr. Fiocchi hardball. The Beretta is also heavier and quite a bit larger.

The only reason I mention it is that my Wife's favorite pistol was her Colt Officers ACP in .45 but now that she is older and arthritic to some degree and a cancer survivor she has less hand strength and tolerance to recoil. Stiff slides, hard to actuate mag releases, slide releases, and stiff magazine springs almost ruined shooting for her.

We have shot an awful lot of pistols this summer...pretty much everything out there in fact either as a purchase, a rental, or a Gun Buddys gun. In general we have found that automatics are much more difficult for her to deal with and her main squeeze seems to be her (it was mine...) Beretta Px4 sc in 9mm. She can manipulate the slide and load the mags using the tool and the recoil is virtually the same as the blowback .380s we tried. She is also partial to her new Ruger LCR .38 Special but factory loads have too much recoil with it.

So, I am building hand loads and that helped a lot.

A hot .380 for SD in a tiny blow back operated pistol bucks as much as a heavier 9mm with 115 gr. ammunition in some pistols. You might look at some .32 acp guns as well unless you subscribe to the idea that .32 is simply too small to be used for SD. My Wife's bedside gun and pocket gun is her Colt 1903 model M in 32 ACP with handloads or Buffalo Bore 75 gr. hardcast lead.

In very small pistols I doubt the .380 outperforms the .32 but let's not start that argument again. My input is based on the similarity of my Wifes situation to your dilemma and I'd open the field to more choices than just .380 for a good solution. There is nothing wrong with a .380 caliber pistol. She'll need to shoot anything anyone might suggest to see if it works for her. My Wife did not think a 9mm would be feasible for her but now when she is frustrated or challenged at the range she reaches for the 9mm as this has turned out to be her Soul Mate despite skepticism that the recoil would be too snappy.

VooDoo

Schwing
December 9, 2013, 04:06 PM
My Dad has arthritis and is unable to operate the slide on his LCP or my Bersa thunder .380. For that matter, my arthritis makes it uncomfortable. Both of them are great guns though (the LCP second generation is a far cry better than the first so I would recommend a second gen if you do get one). The felt recoil is, actually, quite substantial on both as well. The low weight translates into more snappy recoil.

I would keep your options open and even look at something like an LCR. It is slightly larger with only 5 rounds but the felt recoil is substantially less than the LCP or the Bersa. It will still have a snappy recoil but the larger grip coupled with NO slide made it a better option for my Dad.

As Voodoo has mentioned, the PX4 is a great little gun as well. I carry the PX4 subcompact in 9mm and love it.

weblance
December 9, 2013, 04:17 PM
I bought my wife the Ruger LC380. She tried my revolvers with light loads, and that was too much.. She couldnt rack the Bersa Thunder 380, and its that not bad. She didnt like the "Cocked & Locked" operation of the Sig 238. She would be happiest with a 22, but I pushed her to find something with more power. So far, the LC380 is working for her. Not the LCP, but the LC380.

Vodoun da Vinci
December 9, 2013, 04:18 PM
As a PS I'd add that my Wife has progressed as we now shoot about 800 rounds a month...she has become much more recoil tolerant and guns that were painfull and "too snappy" 6 months ago are now acceptable to her.

Again, nothing wrong with the .380 as I think it performs as well as a .38 Special out of a snubby 2" barrel with more capacity and faster reloads but she still has to deal with the stiff recoil springs and thumb buster mag releases and slide releases. My Wife is 5' 120 soaking wet and has gained a lot of recoil tolerance by shooting progressively snappier pistols with good form.

Some guns are simply a better match for her. She liked a lot of the guns we shot but ended up favoring the Px4, her Colt's in .32 ACP, and now her Ruger LCR with handloads. She'll be shooting factory 125 gr. .38s soon.

The 9mm Beretta kicks a lot less than her LCR with factory 130 gr. FMJ. Some .380s are tamer on recoil like the locked breech guns but those didn't seem to be as accurate in her hands or as easy to operate. We have spent a lot of time at the range sorting this all out....we'll spend a lot more getting our CCW first part of 2014. But I think she has settled on a slightly more powerful caliber and slightly larger gun rather than the very small pistols and smaller calibers.

VooDoo

C0untZer0
December 9, 2013, 04:26 PM
Beretta 86, tip up barrel and longest barrel for a 380 AUTO short of the Cobray:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=165300&stc=1&d=1338329529

Odd Job
December 9, 2013, 04:36 PM
Sig p238

HexHead
December 9, 2013, 04:59 PM
The best .32acp self-defense pistol that I've seen that can be used by folks that can't rack larger guns is the Le Francais (which has been out of production since the '50's). It's DAO, striker-fired, the barrel flips up for loading, and the slide never gets pulled back. A simple and sturdy pistol. It's a pity that no one has made an updated version in .380.
Beretta made the .380 Model 86 with a tip up barrel for a while. They still make the .32acp 3032 Tomcat.

C0untZer0
December 9, 2013, 05:04 PM
Whoops I forgot the Tanfoglio FT-9 has the longest barrel short of the Cobray:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=192173&stc=1&d=1386626624

wally
December 9, 2013, 05:07 PM
Another vote for the Beretta 86 if you can find one and don't mind the price. My wife loves hers.

My friend's daughter really liked the Walther PK380 which is a bit smaller than the Beretta 86.

If you want to go smaller, anything smaller than the SIG p238 will be a handful when you shoot it.

rem44m
December 9, 2013, 05:16 PM
Glock will be coming out with a little something or other soon...

Countzero, can you expand upon this? I'm not aware of Glock releasing new products.

C0untZer0
December 9, 2013, 05:33 PM
Glock 42 is rumored to be a 380 AUTO.

Will be unveiled at SHOT Show.

IMO it has to be something different than the G26 & G19 sized models 25 and 28. They wouldn't come up with a completely new model name for an existing model just because they started making It in the U.S.

On the other hand - the G42 could be a single-stack 9.

Odd Job
December 9, 2013, 05:58 PM
I like the look of that Beretta 86. Anyone got a picture of it alongside a G26 or a P3AT or P238?

Joespapa
December 9, 2013, 06:06 PM
The short answer to the op's question is NO ONE! IMHO the terms "good" and "little" in that context are mutually exclusive. Best .380's I've ever seen Baretta/Browing or Sig 230/232 are not Little. All the little ones I've seen are junk IMHO. :)

Mike1234567
December 9, 2013, 06:13 PM
I can't speak from experience but a friend of mine bought a Walther PK380 and loves it. It seems like a nice pistol... appears to be well-made.

Grmlin
December 9, 2013, 06:37 PM
My wife prefers her wheel guns but wants a semi auto for CC. She has tried my Walther PK380 and SIG P230, she can shoot both, although the P230 is more snappy. She got the opportunity to try a SIG P238 and loves it, she was good with it immediately with no problem racking the slide at all. Now that is all she wants, she has the model picked out(desert) and every gun show or store we go to she's looking. The only problem for me is the price.

rodinal220
December 9, 2013, 06:44 PM
Colt Govt 380,Mustang,Pocketlite.The Mustang is back in production and a "better" build than the older version,but my older original Mustang has worked just fine.The Colts have a locked breech and have less felt recoil than most blow back .380s.

http://www.coltsmfg.com/Catalog/ColtPistols/Colt380Mustang®.aspx

wgp
December 9, 2013, 06:49 PM
To my mind the Para Ordanance Carry 9 is a better choice than the .380. It's as small as many .380s I've seen, shoots a better caliber and I really don't think the recoil is any worse than the snappy recoil of a .380. I have not shot the Kahrs but I wonder whether the same can be said for them.

oneounceload
December 9, 2013, 06:54 PM
As far as racking tough slides, look at Pax's www.corneredcat.com; Kathy has techniques for weak-handed folks to work the slides - whole site is a good read for both of you

tommy.duncan
December 9, 2013, 06:55 PM
I like my PPK/S and my wife loves her LCP. They are both carry pieces.

Stevel
December 9, 2013, 06:56 PM
Not trying to be sarcastic, but if she is so sensitive to recoil maybe a can of mace or taser would work well for her. Otherwise, a Smith 60/649 Colt Detective Special or Ruger SP101 in 327. Each firing light target loads or in the case of the 327 firing 32 H&R Mags or 32's. The point being a 20-23 ounce gun firing lighter loads. You can have the action worked such that it is both reasonably light and reliable.

Or could consider something like a Smith 317 Kit Gun (http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_765497_-1____ProductDisplayErrorView_Y). 8 shot 22 weighs 12.5 ounces.

gym
December 9, 2013, 07:28 PM
Kahr, Seacamp,colt,Sig, Walther and just about everyone else. I would stick to one of those.

rcmodel
December 9, 2013, 07:41 PM
Apparently, a lot of you have never had old age and Arthritis in your hands sneak up on you yet.

I have shot 1911's for about 55 years.
And now I have a little trouble racking the slide on them without hand pain.
Or tearing the skin off some fingers!!

It ain't fun kids.
But it is a fact of life if you live long enough!

rc

Jim NE
December 9, 2013, 08:12 PM
I love my Ruger LCP. and will never sell it, but it's a 20 footer - beyond that range, I have no guarantee that that all of my shots will hit a man size target. At least when I'm shooting it. But it's completely reliable so far. And there are rare times when nothing else I own is going to be small enough. Recoil isn't horrible at all, but not great either. Maybe I could shoot more accurately with a .25 or .32, but I wouldn't have confidence in those calibers, personally.

I only have one other .380. Let me tell you about it: The recoil is amazingly low, the gun is amazingly accurate, and it's been very reliable after it's very short break in period. Know what it is? A HI POINT!! :)

wally
December 9, 2013, 08:28 PM
I like the look of that Beretta 86. Anyone got a picture of it alongside a G26 or a P3AT or P238?

Its closer to a CZ75 compact than any of these, except probably not quite as thick as the G26. I suspect its why its been discontinued there are a whole lot of 9mm pistols the same size or smaller.

TRX
December 9, 2013, 09:15 PM
All .380s are going to have similar slide spring tension. Can she rack the slide of one? Will you load the gun for her?

For arthritis or weak grip, a 2" .38 Special revolver is bulkier, but might be easier for her to handle.

Stevel
December 9, 2013, 09:22 PM
Beretta 86
23 ounces
7.28 inches long
4.92 inches high
4.37 inch barrel length
1.18 inches grip width
1.3 inches wide
8 round magazine

Looks like it is a fairly large gun. That said, it does have the tip up barrel feature which might really be a benefit.

A quick scan of Gunbroker shows a price for a really nice condition one at $600-$700. 3 were listed when I checked. Mags were $45 for factory new in package.

rcmodel
December 9, 2013, 09:26 PM
All .380s are going to have similar slide spring tension.No, they actually won't.

The locked-breech models like the Kel-Tec P3AT, Ruger LCP, SIG P-238, etc will have much softer recoil springs then the blow-back operated ones like the Walther PPK, SIG P-232 & , etc.

rc

Mayvik
December 9, 2013, 10:05 PM
CZ83...

Odd Job
December 10, 2013, 03:03 AM
Beretta 86
23 ounces
7.28 inches long
4.92 inches high
4.37 inch barrel length
1.18 inches grip width
1.3 inches wide
8 round magazine

Looks like it is a fairly large gun. That said, it does have the tip up barrel feature which might really be a benefit.

Thanks.
I was thinking the same thing about the tip up barrel.

jvberryjr
December 10, 2013, 06:20 AM
BERSA THUNDER 380! Walther PPK clone but less than half the price ($270) and more reliable with very manageable recoil!

bannockburn
December 10, 2013, 06:41 AM
1) Beretta Models 84, 85, and 86
2) Colt Government .380, Mustang, and Pony
3) SIG P238

The Lone Haranguer
December 10, 2013, 06:43 AM
I don't see how someone with arthritis and limited hand strength is going to do better with a pocket .380 than the revolver, for example, pulling a long DAO trigger with only 1 1/2 fingers on the grip to brace it.

MedWheeler
December 10, 2013, 06:48 AM
Post 49 echoes my sentiments on the Bersa Thunder 380.

That being said, the OP has not said why his lady does not like the 642. Is it the recoil? Trigger pull? Grip/frame size?

If the recoil bothers her, but not the feel/action, Charter Arms offers its snub Undercover (normally in .38 Special) in .32 caliber as the "Undercoverette." Also, as has been mentioned, there are plenty of light loads available in .38 Special.

Threads like these just aren't complete until the CorneredCat.com site is mentioned (as in post 37.) It's all over there.

HexHead
December 10, 2013, 06:48 AM
I don't see how someone with arthritis and limited hand strength is going to do better with a pocket .380 than the revolver, for example, pulling a long DAO trigger with only 1 1/2 fingers on the grip to brace it.

Much less having to struggle with the slide.

GBExpat
December 10, 2013, 07:39 AM
Who makes a good, little .380?

Kel-Tec ... P3-AT

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y285/Jungesblut/Stuff/P3AT.jpg

daehawc
December 10, 2013, 07:44 AM
Another vote for the Sig P238. Awesome little gun. Very easy to operate slide, best sights of any .380 I've seen, reliable and accurate. I shot an IDPA stage with one and had no issues with targets out to 25 yards. My wife loved this gun as her primary carry.

Only reason I don't have one now is we upgraded to the 938 in 9mm. I little bigger and snappier but much more power.

HexHead
December 10, 2013, 07:47 AM
Kel-Tec ... P3-AT

http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y285/Jungesblut/Stuff/P3AT.jpg
Seems like that mag would get in the way of getting a good grip on the gun in your pocket?

5-SHOTS
December 10, 2013, 08:22 AM
I'd go locked breech: softer recoil and easier to rack slide.
Ruger LC380;
Walther PK380;
SIG-Sauer P238 HD (which is the all stainless steel version);
a used Colt Government 380 stainless (it's on the expensive side).

bikerdoc
December 10, 2013, 08:28 AM
Bersa thunder CC 380. My go to for pocket carry and BUG.
Reliable soft shooter, that eats anything I feed it.

http://i247.photobucket.com/albums/gg134/bikerdoc1948/bersa380002.jpg (http://s247.photobucket.com/user/bikerdoc1948/media/bersa380002.jpg.html)

GBExpat
December 10, 2013, 03:32 PM
Seems like that mag would get in the way of getting a good grip on the gun in your pocket?

Y'think? :) Obviously it is impossible to properly grip the piece when it is fully holstered.

viking499
December 10, 2013, 03:54 PM
I don't see how someone with arthritis and limited hand strength is going to do better with a pocket .380 than the revolver, for example, pulling a long DAO trigger with only 1 1/2 fingers on the grip to brace it.

That may be the case. I am seeing what my options are and then will have to take the wife out and see how things go from there.

aarondhgraham
December 10, 2013, 03:57 PM
I had a chance to fire one that is owned by a range acquaintance,,,
It was quite surprising in that the felt recoil was very low,,,
Much lower than the recoil of my Bersa Thunder 380,,,
It was also less than my Beretta model 85.

The perfect pistol for your needs would be that Beretta Model 86,,,
But good luck finding one that's affordable,,,
Or even finding one at all.

My Beretta is a model 85 which is the single-stack version,,,
I use it when I take newbies to the range,,,
Recoil isn't bad for a blow-back action,,,
And the slide isn't too stiff for them.

If you can,,,
Get her hands on a Ruger LC380,,,
I was truly amazed at how it performed that day.

Aarond

.

777TRUTH
December 11, 2013, 05:19 PM
Bersa makes excellent guns. You would do well withe the Bresa Thunder .380 or .380 Concealed Carry.

browningguy
December 11, 2013, 10:22 PM
My wife also has RA and she recently switched to a Walther PK380 and loves it. It's a locked breech design so doesn't have the extremely heavy recoil spring of the other small to mid size .380's, and is very soft shooting. I don't particularly like the longish trigger pull but it's not for me and she likes it.

As far as the recommendations for a revolver you guys have got to be kidding. I have a performance center 642 and she really can't use the trigger on it. Also she thinks the recoil is much worse than the Walther, even shooting low recoil loads.

Hurricaneforcewinds
December 11, 2013, 10:46 PM
Both the smith and Ruger are very nice guns in 380. The Smith kicks a bit less due to design and weight but both have enough recoil to require a firm grip. If you go with the SW Bodyguard you must get the Galloway Precision Short Trigger Bar. It makes a big difference in ease of shooting for the gun..

cocojo
December 11, 2013, 11:33 PM
Working the slide on most of these pistols is going to be a chore for her. I own a Beretta Tomcat 3032 in 32 acp. This gun is really a gift to women and men for that matter. You never have to rack the slide. Just pop up barrel insert the round and put in the magazine and your ready to go. Recoil is mild and the women love this gun. My girlfriend loves this pistol and so does her daughter. The 32 has enough power in a defensive situation and it hold eight rounds. Now if Beretta got on the stick and made a run on these pistols, I would buy another gun in a heart beat. Ideal handgun for people who have medical or have trouble with hand strength. A real pleasure to shoot and accurate to boot. I own a lot of pistols and if she can't handle the 38 special revolver this is the way to go.

gc70
December 12, 2013, 02:13 AM
Trying to find something small and compact for the wife to shoot and possible carry. Looking into the 380's since her arthritis and my 642 didn't mesh.

My wife had reconstructive surgery on her shooting hand and loss of grip strength, nerve damage, and a lot of bone-to-bone contact in joints led her to look at 380s. Her criteria were: big enough to control easily; small and light enough to carry; a trigger pull that was not too heavy, and; easy to manipulate the slide.

Walther PK380 ...: 6.5" L, 5.2" H, 19 oz., DA/SA 10/5 lb. trigger, full 3-finger grip
Ruger LC380 .....: 6.0" L, 4.5" H, 17 oz., DAO 6.5 lb. trigger, 2-1/2-finger grip
S&W Bodyguard 380: 5.2" L, 3.8" H, 12 oz., DAO 6.5 lb. trigger, 2-finger grip
Diamondback DB380: 5.2" L, 3.8" H, 10 oz., SAO 4.5 lb. trigger, 2-finger grip

All of the guns were locked breech, so recoil was not painful, and all of the slides were easy to rack.
All of the guns except the Diamondback had manual safeties.
The Walther was the easiest to shoot, but the DA/SA action meant a hammer-down 10-lb. DA trigger or cocked and locked for a 5-lb. trigger.
The Ruger was more compact but still had some heft and the trigger was manageable.
The S&W and Diamondback were more challenging to control due to their size and lighter weight.

toivo
December 12, 2013, 03:37 AM
I think the SIG P238 wins this one hands-down. Small, soft-shooting, easy to rack, most come with night sights ... What's not to like?

I'd go for the HD (all stainless) model. A little extra heft means a little less felt recoil.

http://www.sigsauer.com/upFiles/catalog/product/P238-HD-Detail-hero.jpg

Vodoun da Vinci
December 12, 2013, 07:03 AM
Lots of great choices in .380 acp as already pointed out. The only thing I'd like to add at this point is that "soft shooting" or "easy to shoot" is relative to the size of the shooter, his general hand size/structure, experience, technique, etc.

I consider myself to be "recoil sensitive" to some degree and my feelings on acceptable accuracy in rapid fire SD style shooting have really tempered the way I see "recoil". Living with a person of much less experience and having her be 5' 120 lbs brings the concept of "recoil sensitivity" to the top of the heap.

It's hard to make recommendations to other people about which gun in any caliber might be suitable at any time. I'd caution folks who call some .380 pistols as "soft shooting" to evaluate their hand size and experience before making recommendation....I have little trouble shooting my Wife's Ruger LCR with a 158 gr. modest load .38 round using 4.3 gr. of Unique. They are snappy but I can shoot very accurately at a cadence of 3 rounds per second and keep the groups at 21' to a size I can cover them with my hand.

The same round with my Wife shooting the gun had her icing her wrist and taking analgesics following our last range session. In general, she finds most .380 pistols with factory rounds to be "snappy" enough to cause issues. So, generalities are great (as are the recommendations) but we should be aware that an experienced shooter who is 6'3" and 180ish (or even 5'10" and 220ish with large meaty hands...) may find a particular gun "mild" where my Wife would be shocked to the point of giving up.

Just sayin'.

VooDoo

toivo
December 12, 2013, 11:39 AM
It's all relative, VooDoo. I can't say what will feel "soft" to anyone else, but I can tell you that the SIG P238 HD is probably the softest shooting .380 of the bunch by virtue of its weight and the fact that it is locked-breech. In other words, if the P238 is too harsh, then the person shouldn't be considering a .380 at all.

gc70
December 12, 2013, 12:28 PM
The Sig P238 HD is very nice and its weight helps reduce recoil relative to is size class. However, its 3.9" height means it has a 2-finger grip, which some would find less controllable than a gun with a longer grip. And the P238's 7.5-8.5 lb. trigger is heavy compared to many other pocket pistols.

1John1:9
December 12, 2013, 12:56 PM
viking 499: Have you picked one yet?

My wife did NOT like the LCP, though I thought recoil was not bad at all. It is so small that without training with it, it feels like it is climbing up out of your hand when you shoot it.

I just traded a subcompact 9mm for a Sig P232 (used). My wife really liked the way it felt when it had the Hogue grips on it. She didn't care for it once I put the polymer grips on it. The P232 is blowback and so has comparable recoil to the little LCP, but due to it's larger size, is definitely easier to hold and manipulate. Racking it would be difficult for her however (better if she cocks the hammer first but still hard).

I echo weblance on his recommendation for the LC380. From what I hear it is much easier to rack the slide. I suspect it to be more reliable than the Walther PK380 from what I've heard and read. Both of these guns are supposed to be the easiest to rack a slide.

And of course the Beretta's tilt barrel above eliminates the need for racking. They're hard to come by in my experience.

Neither my wife nor I felt comfortable with Sig P238 cocked and locked in the pocket.

madFive
December 12, 2013, 01:04 PM
Another vote for Sig P238. Great little pocket gun, very easy to operate the slide, it's loads of fun to shoot, and has a very good trigger for a gun its size.

http://www.laminackdesign.net/photo12/p238.jpg

Hokkmike
December 12, 2013, 01:14 PM
Having finally shot my S&W .380 BG I am going to add to my previous post. Here are some points in bullet format:

* The recoil was unexpectedly pleasant. No thumb pain or hand discomfort.

*The slide racked easily. I don't think my wife would have problems with it. It compared favorably to the amount of effort needed to open my Walther PPS. This is NOT going to be a problem.

* The gun was fairly accurate off hand to about 15 yards. (pie plate center-ish)

* The gun had no operational problems feeding and ejecting well.

* The trigger (disconcerting until you get used to it) has a lot of travel and engages in the last 5% of motion. (a safety feature I am sure)

* take down was easy, reassembly moderate - the take down lever wants to be exactly so to go back in. It took a while.

* The fit and finish of the gun is great. The material used and finishing are top notch. I couldn't be more pleased in this area.

* The gun come in a great nylon pouch with a separate pocket to hold a (not included) extra magazine. Yes, I'll need to find one. An extra SHOULD be standard.

* S&W has included some direct numbers to call for service and help with this particular model - a nice touch.

* While I played with the laser I did not check it for accuracy. I don't really think I'll use it much.

* Got a cheap $9.75 pocket holster at Wallyworld. Keeps the gun upright, eliminates printing, and is a good idea. A better one might enhance the experience. I'll think about an Uncle Mike's or something.

All I can say at this point is that I am glad I bought the gun. As I said before I would have picked up a Ruger LCP but this S&W has a manual safety that I like.

toivo
December 12, 2013, 01:22 PM
The Sig P238 HD is very nice and its weight helps reduce recoil relative to is size class. However, its 3.9" height means it has a 2-finger grip, which some would find less controllable than a gun with a longer grip.

The extended-grip magazine could solve that problem, especially for someone with slimmer fingers.

http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/P238-Pinky-Mag.jpg

gc70
December 12, 2013, 01:27 PM
The extended-grip magazine could solve that problem, especially for someone with slimmer fingers.

You raise an excellent point. Consideration should go beyond just picking a gun and include accessories, ammo, etc.

Hokkmike
December 12, 2013, 02:18 PM
Sorry, duplicate...deleted.

jon_in_wv
December 12, 2013, 09:57 PM
I had a Bersa 380 I absolutely loved. Great trigger, accurate, and super light recoil. I ended up giving it to my Mother-in law as a home defense piece after her husband passes. I'm pretty sure I'll never get it back since she loves it. I have a Bodyguard 380 and I've owned a Ruger LCP. Both are much harder to shoot and have stiffer recoil than the Bersa. I love my BG380 but for your purposes I would pick the Bersa.

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