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380 Pistols

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by greg_r, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. greg_r

    greg_r Member

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    I am wanting a new 380 pistol. The 380 is one of my favorite pistol cartridges, the 45acp and 38 Special being the other two. Since the 380 is basically a 3/4 size 45acp, I figure what better platform than a 3/4 size 1911! That leaves me looking at the Browning Black Label and the Rock Island Armory Baby Rock.

    The Browning turns me off a bit because of the plastic frame and series 80 type action. That is a lot of Benjamin’s for a plastic pistol. It’s a looker though!
    C003BCB5-93A7-4907-A540-FF5482EA0660.jpeg

    The Rock Island turns me off because it just somehow does not look proportional to me. Something about the grip. It’s at a good price point though, and all steel.
    A7178778-CE8D-45BE-B59E-6E56AEBEA5EC.jpeg

    The pistol will be replacing an early FI model D that is worn out and I can not find parts for.
    upload_2019-2-10_5-47-45.jpeg

    I do have a Beretta 85FS that the wife says I need to be happy with, and I do like it a lot.
    upload_2019-2-10_5-53-32.jpeg

    I am thinking I will get the Rock Island Armory Baby Rock. I am almost certain that I don’t like the wife’s suggestion of just be happy with what you have!

    What say you?
     
  2. bersaguy

    bersaguy Member

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    I didn't realize the Browning had a poly frame...that is disappointing:(
    Did Colt ever release a run of the 1908 pocket hammerless in 380? I know they did the 1903 in .32. Now that's a very cool pistol chambered for 380 that has the right proportions:)
    modelm_380_sn1i1.jpg
    I'd love to see someone release an updated version with a frame mounted mag release and modern sights.
     
  3. Hasaf

    Hasaf Member

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    This is a bit of the path I have taken with 380's. The bulk of this post was written about a year ago, maybe a bit longer than that. In the meantime the Kimber Micro 380 became a regular EDC and I have a Browning Compact 1911-380, it is slowly replacing the Kimber.

    First, I like 9x17 as a cartridge. As such "it's only a 380" will not mean a lot to me. I reload 9x17, I have several years experience with it and am aware of the weaknesses, and strengths, of the 9x17. I am satisfied with it.

    [​IMG]

    For several years I carried my Colt 380 Government Model. Things I liked, it is a very good sized pistol. It shot well and, with the right magazines, was very reliable. It also has the best trigger I have experienced on a 9x17(light and crisp) . Things I didn't like: I sometimes found the safety off, the sights are terrible, and it is now an out of production gun, which limits parts availability. The safety, I was not the only person that experienced this. Once we started paying attention to this, several others who carried the same model reported this same issue. It is a series 80 pistol; so, as odd as it sounds, it wasn't a show stopper.

    The sights are an issue. They are just not too good and I am close to thirty years older than I was when I got it. I know I can send it to Novak and get good sights put on it. That brings me to the third issue, it has been out of production for many years and is going to continue to be harder to get parts for. I don't want to chop the slide up for sights, drill out the safety for more positive action, when these are parts that cannot be replaced. I just feel it is time for this one to be on the range and in my safe, not on my belt.

    [​IMG]

    In the meantime I purchased a Glock 42. A thousand rounds or so through it, using a Mantis shot analyzer, and I am now at a level that I am satisfied with it. I think you can see that I added things to it. Those would include, grip tape, Glock Nite sights (I don't recommend them), extended slide release, I also had some trigger work done to get it to within factory specs.

    This is my current EDC. I shoot it well, it is reliable and accurate, I just don't like it. It is a random tool. Yes, it works well. There is just a lack of something. I would not hesitate to recommend a Glock 42; I guess it is just a little too utilitarian. I don't know, it just isn't a gun to get enthused about.

    [​IMG]

    I then purchased a Kimber Micro 380. First off, I really like the size, the look, and the sights. If it had a grip safety, it would be "The Gun." It had reliability trouble out of the box and I had to do some file work to get it right (This should come as no surprise to other Kimber owners). At this point it is reliable. I now have over five hundred rounds with no stoppages.

    It is accurate, I attribute that to the single action trigger (still not as good as my 30 year old Colt though) and the great sights. The sights were the reason I went for the Kimber over the similar Colt Mustang (I just didn't like the angular look of the similar Sig).

    The recoil is a bit snappier than the Glock 42, I attribute that to the narrower grip on the Kimber. This one still may become a favorite. However, I still haven't taken it through any official firing course. It still may become my EDC, as far as liking it, I definitely like it better than the Glock 42; but that is entirely subjective (It isn't a "plastic gun" thing. My favorites also includes my braced CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1, which is a plastic 9x19). As I said before; If it had a grip safety, it would be "The Gun."

    That led to me visiting a gun store and looking at the Browning 1911-380. Frankly, I liked it. It had the grip safety (the grip safety thing may just be a holdover from the standard 1911, but I just feel that it should be there), it just felt like quality. I was able to compare, side to side, the Baby Rock, the LLama 380, my Kimber, and the Browning. That being said, the store did not have a range.

    Of the three, the LLama 380, the Baby Rock, and the 1911-380, if I had been told to put them in order of price, it would have been easy. The 1911-380 was leagues ahead of the other two in oeral feeling of quality, "fit and finish" as it were. The Baby Rock looked better than the LLama, but still nowhere near the more expensive Browning and Limber. Further, the Baby Rock and the LLama appear to be blowback, where the others use some form of delay.

    So, with all that said, did you get a 1911-380? If so, what do you think of it?
    There are four basic configurations, with and without a rail, and the standard and commander length barrel. I am, pretty well, in the "no rail" camp. I just don't like the way they look and I cannot see myself mounting a light on a pistol.

    As far as standard, or compact length, I am leaning toward compact. Yet, I am not sure, as it is already a compact pistol. Thoughts and experiences of 1911-380 owners would be appreciated.

    [​IMG]
    1911-380 Black Label Medallion Pro, from here

    [​IMG]
    1911-380 Black Label Medallion Pro Compact, from here. Ultimately, this is what I went with. However, I also picked up a full length slide assembly.

    Yes, I know there are several different cosmetic "styles" this just happens to be the "style" that I like.
     
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  4. greg_r

    greg_r Member

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    IIRC, the 1903vwas a .32, the 1908 was a .380.

    And I would not mind one just like JMB designed it!
     
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  5. greg_r

    greg_r Member

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    I have fired both the Browning and the Rock Island Armory. The Browning is definately the better looking one, and true to the operation of the 1911. The RIA is blowback, but outside of that, it is a series 70 1911. The triggers on both the Browning and the RIA both pull straight back, like a 1911 should, but the RIA had the better trigger, a tribute to the series 80. The Browning has the memory hump on the Black Label, the RIA does not. It’s easy to not depress the RIA and it will not fire, safety doing its job and all. The sights on thevRIAcwere also hard for my tired eyes to see, looked kind of like a black lump to me. But night sights are available and I would go that route.

    I started my 380acp likings with the FI model D. It was one of the early ones meant for Colt and has the Colt serial number. It’s worn to the point that if you take the slide off, the internals just fall out.

    My second 380 was a Lorain. Nuff said.

    Then the Beretta, which I like very much. After that was a Bersa Thunder. What an accurate pistol! Shame it was unreliable. My pocket 380’s are the Taurus TCP, a fine one until the mag catch wore and it started dropping magazines. It was replaced with a KAHR CT380, and I bought the Ruger LCP II the week they were introduced. What a sweet little pistol! And I call it Elsie Pea for obvious reasons!

    My daughter carries a robin egg blue, Tiffany I think they call it, G43. I am no fan of the GLOCK, but I do like that one. Have handled a Sig 238, but chose the 938 due to the 22 conversion. No grip safety and a hinged trigger. But I did like it in 9mm. Hated the 22 conversion. I sold it, one of the few I have sold, to fund a 238. But I have decided on the 1911 RIA or Browning instead.

    My other 380’s are the Walther PK380, good one. The BERSA BP380CC, a favorite for carry, great trigger. A Ruger LC380, not a favorite. And finally a Hi Point CF380, which is as accurate as the Bersa and was 100% reliable until this past year when the slide started locking back and getting stuck open.

    I too load the 380acp, my favorite bullet overall is the Ranch Dog T/C, favorite hollow point is the XTP, and general all-around billet is the Lee 102 grain cast. Powder is Unique.
     
  6. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

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  7. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Colt did release the Model 1908 in .380, but they had extraction/ejection issues which were never fully resolved. My mint '08 would never make it through an entire magazine without a jam of some sort, whereas both of my .32s are very reliable feeders.

    I find it telling that when US Armaments made their (Colt branded) reproductions a few years ago, they were all chambered in .32 rather than the much more popular .380. Incidentally, the Armys General Officers Pistol that they were meant to resemble were all .32s as well.....

    The .380 Government Model Colt is an excellent pistol. Some parts are hard to get, including magazines, but then you are highly unlikely to break or wear one out.

    The Mustang/P238/Micro Carry/911 are all very good mini Colts. There is a reason you have four companies producing essentially the same pistol. Ive had the Mustang and the Sig and highly recommend them.
     
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  8. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    greg_r

    I'm in complete agreement with NIGHTLORD40K and have had a Colt Government .380 and still have a Colt Mustang and a SIG P238. The Mustang and P238 are keepers: both have decent triggers (slight edge to the Mustang), are very easy to carry concealed, are accurate enough for the job at hand (the P238 wins here while the sights on the Mustang could be improved upon, they're still functional), are super reliable, and most of all are very comfortable to shoot. Never have had a problem with the thumb safety walking off and I'm not all that concerned with parts replacement with the Mustang (haven't worn out anything yet over the years). Magazines are still plentiful and work perfectly in either gun.

    ayF2G2I.jpg

    g3l5ubC.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  9. rpenmanparker

    rpenmanparker Member

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    I have the Browning in .22LR. If I am not mistaken, it is the same 85% size as the .380. I have to say, I really don’t like that size gun. I have medium sized hands, and it just feels too small. The grip is long enough for comfort but not thick enough. The entire gun was downsized proportionally, and that was not a good recipe for success IMO. Unfortunately there are not a lot of replacement grips that you could use to modify the feel of the grip. But try it out and see what you think.
     
  10. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    greg_r

    I should add that many years ago I had both a Beretta Model 84 and a Model 85FS. Both were very reliable and great to shoot but I felt they were too big for the .380. I much preferred something the size of the Star S (or FI Model D), Colt Government .380, and Colt Mustang.
     
  11. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    It's easy to see the Baby Rock's grip angle is slightly less than the full sized 1911. I have one and love it and find I do not notice that little difference at all. Compared to my wife's PPK/S it's a pussycat. The slide is much easier to rack and it's much more recoil friendly, at least to me.
     
  12. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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  13. zaitcev

    zaitcev Member

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    I'm against Baby Rock, it's a blowback mechanism. Instead of copying Colt Government, they copied a Star. Big meh for me.

    If you really want a metal frame gun, scour Gunbroker for Llama Especiale. It's what they used to make before Minimax. It's a quality gun and uses a Browning mechanism.

    The plastic frame of the Browning 1911-380 does raise questions for me as well. It's not a practical gun, so we ought to expect better. However, I think they lost the production capacity to make alloy frames when they switched the 1911-22 line from alloy to plastic. So, unless they pull a Walther on us (I'm referring to Q5 SF - the steel frame version of Q5), we cannot expect 1911-380 with metal frames. Another thing I'm rolling my eyes at is the white plastic guide rod. At least it's not a blowback, and I like their cute magazines. Just don't slam them home!

    With a plastic frame of the Browning, you might as well get S&W "Shield" 380 EZ (which is actually not a Shield, but based on M&P 22, in the same way Browning 1911-380 is based on 1911-22), and enjoy shooting that.

    The ultimate gun for a .380 collector is, IMHO, the Fromer Stop. However, all of those are prewar antiques, with the corresponding market values and parts shortages. Same goes for Remington Model 51. If I have a chance, I'd settle for Erma KGP-68A. Unlike their (rather ugly) .22LR guns, the 68A actually uses a full-on Luger action with a proper toggle lock.

    Among the current production .380, I cannot even name anything that passes for a fine gun, unless a version of P238 passes your criteria. I really wish this sort of thing came back. Some kind of a modern FN 1910/71 would be so nice.

    {Walther is making PPK in America now, BTW}

    col380.jpg
     
  14. zaitcev

    zaitcev Member

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    Of course they did. IIRC, it was the first gun in .380 actually. The FN designs came just a little bit later.
     
  15. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    +1. I have an old IIIA, nice little 3/4 scale 1911s


    The 51 is a superb pistol, my personal favorite .380. Mine will never be sold while I'm still sucking air

    Remington 51.jpg
     
  16. jstert

    jstert Member

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    in 380acp i have a russian makarov style baikal ij70, bersa thunder and sig p238. oh, and 380acp barrels for a bond arms derringer but wont count that here.

    added $40 fab grips to the baikal, for extended beavertail and thumb mag release, which make this russian a great and pleasant range shooter with any and all ball ammo. too heavy for ccw though. i added two bulgarian mags to the two flawless oem russian mags, but the former can only take six rounds and function reliably.

    liked the slightly more snappy bersa until one cold winter’s day at the outdoor shooting range the safety/decock lever simply sheared off. wth, but internet search revealed that it’s not uncommon. $10 part and $20 gunsmithing made it was useable again, but even after a couple hundred rounds i cannot fully trust it. the bersa also gave a bloody slide bite on the web of my shooting hand that a dremel session fixed.

    sig is recent to me with insufficient range time for a fully informed judgment but so far very good in all regards. i got it on the recommendation of my m.p. son who shoots alot.

    the s&w 380acp ez looks intriguing for its soft and easy use, but i cannot justify its purchase in my semi successful effort to downsize with the sig and some snubbies already on hand for a centerfire ccw.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  17. doubleh

    doubleh Member

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    No "meh" here. You are certainly entitled to your opinion just as I am and they are entirely different. The Baby Rock does it's job and does it well in mine. Whatever we individually think about it the general public will determine it's fate in the market. I don't really care one way or the other. I have one. I like it. That's what counts to me.
     
  18. Hasaf

    Hasaf Member

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    I find it a bit interesting that of my 9x17 pistols, I have none that are blowback. I do have a 9x18 Makarov and it is quite a bit snappier than the 9x17 pistols I have. I would not say that the Baby Rock and Llama pistols are "bad" because they use a blowback system, but I also would not consider them as good as the pistols that use a delay mechanism.

    Of course, the pistols that use a delay system are also, generally, more expensive. This is not a place where there is a right, or wrong, answer. I like my pistols that use a delay. You like yours, that doesn't use a delay. We can both be right.

    I had the opportunity to carefully examine the Baby Rock, the Llama, the Browning, and my Kimber micro 380 all side by side. I purchased the Browning and I still have my Kimber. That doesn't mean the others are bad, they were just not what I wanted. They did have what you wanted, that is great.

    9x17 Pistols I currently have:
    • Colt 380 Government Model
    • Walther PK380
    • Kimber Micro 380
    • Glock 42
    • Browning 1911-380
    8x18
    • Makarov
     
  19. PWC

    PWC Member

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    This is a wonderful thread; top part is really great reviews, better'n the gun rags. Comments are great too. I've not seen a string this long that hadn't degenerated into esoteric adament statements of "I'm right and you are less right", in a long time. All here seem to be gentlemen and don't live under a bridge.
     
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  20. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I, too was disappointed to hear that the Browning .380 uses a plastic frame. Until I read that I was considering a one of the Black Label medallion guns as a nightstand gun for the wife when I’m working. They’re a bit larger and easier to grip/shoot than my LCP’s, but now, not so much.

    Heck, I can’t stand plastic trigger guards on walnut stocked rifles and shotguns much less a 1911 styled pistol with a cap gun frame...they just don’t do it for me. (I like poly -frame guns plenty, but not in 1911-ish form!) if they make a metal framed one, I’ll be in line for sure.

    Good luck with your search and stay safe!
     
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  21. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    The Erma KGP68, 69 and LA22 are not true Luger actions as they do not employ a locked breech and the upper receiver is fixed instead of recoiling with the bolt as in a Luger. The Erma pistols are blowbacks with a slight mechanical delay provided by the toggle joint.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  22. mrmike7189

    mrmike7189 Member

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    I usually carry a 9mm as my ccw. I do have a 9mmshort/kurz/380.........for when I need to pocket carry or carry in the summer wearing shorts. They do indeed have a place and I'm happy there are many 380's to choose from. The thing that bothers me is that 380 ammo is expensive!
     
  23. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    And a semi-pain to reload!
     
  24. Hasaf

    Hasaf Member

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    When I am getting ready to buy I start looking at ammoseek. It is usually 2 or three cents more, per round, than 9x19. That isn't a deal breaker. Of course, I practice with cheap stuff, then a couple of magazines of carry ammo.
     
  25. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    greg_r: My only .380 is the Izhevsk Makarov. Having never owned a .380 in the past, there is only one emphasis here.
    It has seen over 1,000 rds. and never had a single issue. Extremely rugged.

    And it's certainly easier to conceal--both size and weight--than my 9mms: the CZ 'PCR' and German-proofed Sigs.
    The Makarov is the main summer carry gun.
     
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