Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Water-Man, Apr 25, 2016.
Bersa Thunder CC if you're skilled with DA/SA triggers. Ditto for Walther PPK/S.
Glock 42 if you're more comfortable with their trigger type.
Sig P238 if you like 1911-type triggers, but they can be heavy for pockets.
Still too big? S&W Bodyguard 380 or Ruger LCP.
Most small pocket .380's are in the 11 oz class unloaded. It takes polymer to get them that light, so it becomes a required item. Alloy frame guns are generally heavier and higher priced which don't make them worse but put them at a disadvantage if weight and price are used as a criteria.
A decent trigger is important, and unfortunately it seems the most popular guns sold exhibit poor triggers and aren't the most comfortable shooters, either. To get a good trigger and a working gun pleasant to shoot costs money, and the least expensive ones on the market traded those benefits off to be the low price leader. Most pocket .380's are DA - you pull the trigger thru to fire it. Because of that they delete a separate safety but require a holster even in the pocket to cover the trigger.
You have to go out and either dry fire or rent them to discover what trigger you prefer. It can't be done second hand off an internet screen. What can be done is to pay attention to the pound weight of the trigger listed and to sort them accordingly. Not everyone prefers a 12 pound trigger, and not all of us will suffer the additional cost of a trigger upgrade to "fix" it when you could have simply purchased a better gun for the total price.
Length of trigger pull is also important. The P238 has a nice short crisp pull, the typical DA not so much. Some are quite long and where your finger rests naturally on them can also change it's feel - the higher up the shorter the trigger but heavier the pull. Hinged triggers are the norm and your natural gripping position can make one acceptable while the other a less optimal choice - even if the specs looked better on paper. Be aware some triggers requiring pulling almost all the way back to the frame to discharge - better to discover that up front before you buy.
Another significant feature is a slide hold open on last shot. The less expensive guns delete the feature but it's a false savings for two reasons: First, a gun that holds open on the last shot signals You Are Out of Ammo, vs the dreaded "click" when you needed one more round. Second, a slide hold open means you don't rack the gun every time you load a magazine, and you don't have to load that mag against the stack pressure of the springs in it under the slide. It's a frequent and even amusing thing to see a magazine fall out of the grip at the range while racking the slide on those guns, but it's not funny when it's important, and it's less safe to have to rack it every time just to enjoy shooting a box of ammo.
If you can't enjoy shooting a box of ammo with it at the range, you won't, and it becomes an unknown gun when you really need it. "I probably won't ever shoot it in self defense" doesn't really cut it as an excuse. And why buy a gun that is less than comfortable or has snappy recoil known to strike your shooting knuckles?
Try a Kahr CW380 and see if the trigger falls inside your expectations. For many it's much smoother and shorter than a lot of other pocket guns. The recoil spring is stiffer but it shoots more easily and with the slide hold open you aren't racking it every magazine like it or not. It's also a much more pleasant gun to shoot at the range which increases your familiarity with it and you make less mistakes using it because of more proficiency. The trigger pull is DA but it's at the 6 pound end of the scale, not 12 like others recommended. It was done right the first time by a company who's triggers have always excelled, not like some others which immediately got aftermarket triggers to improve what was apparently a poor one to begin with. The gun weighs in the 11 oz class, it's polymer so it's under $350, in the typical price range of the better guns - unlike the cheaper stripped featureless ones in their third generation attempting to get the trigger right. It has magazines available at dealers and Mag Guts also makes +1 spring and follower kits to add capacity if that's desired, with good results across the board. That makes it a 8 shot pistol with one up, something not always available with others. Good sights are on it from the factory and night sights are available.
I owned a first Gen LCP and the newer ones have reportedly better triggers but it doesn't make them better shooters at the range. They are snappy and two magazines were the limit. The Kahr got a box of 50 the first day and even loading the one magazine was a pleasant experience with controlled recoil and good accuracy. I can say you can definitely buy worse triggers than a Kahr in this category and constantly racking the slide on some of them - like the LCP - can definitely take some of the joy out of a range trip.
Go shoot them if at all possible - It has to fit your hand and your expectations. It may even result in choosing something different, but if it works, good. If not, then it's another waste of time and money that was preventable and it only fills up another listing in a gun for sale forum as something that didn't work. We can all get used to any gun regardless, but for some certain features and time work against us and it's better to spend some of it up front sorting them out rather than later tossing them out.
Makarov PM, slightly slimmer than the Bersa, slightly heavier, about the same price. Mine is Bulgarian, totally reliable, but smaller sights than the Bersa. Some of the Russian commercial models do have bigger adjustable sights.
Don't forget to factor in a good pocket holster in your budget.
Here is mine:
The LCP from what I understand outsells most every other pocket 380 by a good margin. The LCP can be had for about $220 these days. I personally own one and it is very reliable.
There is a mindset that these little pocket 380s need to be "pleasurable" to shoot. Nonsense. My LCP is a real pain to shoot, it's not a range toy.
G42: Price $400
Trigger: B (6lbs, short reset)
Size: C (Kinda big for pocket)
Shooting: B (Nice)
Field Strip: A (Easy)
Fit & Finish: A
**Final Score: B
LCP: Price $250
Trigger: C (7.5lbs long reset)
Size: A (Perfect for pocket)
Shooting: C (Short grip/Long pull)
Field Strip: C (Assembly pin sucks)
Fit & Finish: B
**Final Score: C+
Well after owning, shooting, and carrying both pistols, the LCP rides in my pocket everyday. It just slips in my pocket easier and is less prone to printing. Its proven to be reliable and while not having the nicer sights, trigger and more comfortable grip like the G42, the LCP will get the job done in a nice compact affordable package, a true pocket 380. Both are great guns imo, I still have the G42 and keep it as a backup just in case my LCP ever goes down and as a range companion for the Ruger lol, two 380's are better than one. Good luck with your purchase, Nacho...
I have owned an LCP (long gone) and have shot the Kahr P238.
Of the smaller and most pocketable the Taurus TCP gets my vote hands down.
My Keltec P3AT is often in my pocket. It is light and tiny, easy to conceal in the lightest of clothing. The Ruger LCP is extremely similar. They are great to carry but not fun to shoot.
My favorite 380 for shooting is my FiL's CZ83. It is doublestack and just barely "pocketable". But it is extremely accurate and pleasant to shoot.
In fact, many say the reliability issues were only with practice ammo and even then conditionally.
I believe there is a factory $50 rebate right now as well.
It is worth checking out, but it is definitely one you need to handle before even considering. The grip is so tiny.
It is literally a one-finger grip for me without the extended mag baseplate, and the factory extended baseplate is too long to be pocketable.
I wish someone would make a different grip/frame for it. The thinness and shortness are OK for what it is, but the distance from the trigger to the rear of the grip is too short--for me anyway. I'd love to see someone come out with a frame that had a substantial back strap on the grip and maybe just a little bit of a palm swell on the sides.
I bought my wife one a couple years ago. Beautiful gun (and, being a huge Bond fan, she loves it). It's very comfortable for me to hold and it's as accurate and reliable as one could hope for in a pistol.
However, it's a very hard hitting gun in my hand, and I'm speaking as one who has no problem shooting larger caliber guns or carrying a full sized .45 ACP. The PPK/S really puts a beating on the knuckle/webbing area on my hand between my thumb and forefinger.
It's also quite stiff to rack, though I have no problems with it.
But it is sleek, beautiful, comfortable in the grip, reliable, accurate, and would easily fit the bill as a pocket gun. I'm going to get one for myself, just for these factors.
I got a good deal on mine from the used counter at the LGS but than I like used guns...someone is always looking to see one for a good price.
1) The trigger is fine, but the amount of grip you have and the sights are what are going to be a detriment to accuracy.
2) This is definitely not a range toy. It is the most brutal of my guns at the range, due to the light weight and small grip.
3) While I have never had a failure to feed, it kind of stutters when feeding hollowpoints. I carry it with ball ammo just to be safe.
I don't have experience with others, but I can say the Ruger LCP is probably the best pocket pistol for the money, in terms of its size, reliability with round-nose ammo, and price. These are just some things to watch for.
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