Guns of the .380 ACP caliber are immensely popular. They run the gamut from polymer to steel or aluminum frames and as either single-action or double-action. And while the caliber remains the same, the size of the handgun can range from a tiny pocket pistol to as large as a 9mm. Some experienced shooters view the .380 ACP as a compromise in wound ballistics. However, a .380 ACP in the pocket is better than the 9mm in the safe at home. Here I’ve rounded up what I consider to be the best .380 pistols, though each has its own pros and cons. The prices listed are from CheaperThanDirt.com, and the firearms may be found for less or more from other dealers.
This is an all-steel, double-action-only pistol. The Guardian is similar to the original SEECAMP pistol. The action is relatively smooth, and the sights are small bumps on the slide. This is a hammer-fired pistol. It allows a second try at the primer if the cartridge fails to fire. The magazine holds six rounds. This pistol is useful to perhaps 5 yards. It is small, reliable and uses dual recoil springs to control recoil slips easily into the pocket.
The Ruger LCP is a great buy at under $300. The pistol is proven reliable. The long double-action pull offers a margin of safety in a pistol often carried in the pocket. The sights are minimal, and magazine capacity is six shots. The LCP may be fired more accurately than it seems possible for those willing to practice.
Ruger LCP II
For a little more, the LCP II offers superior sights and a very good trigger. The grip and trigger action are redesigned, and the pistol is easier to shoot well than the original LCP. While the LCP is a nice pistol and smooth as a bar of soap for pocket carry, the LCP II is a better shooter.
Ruger LCP Max
This is the best shooter among the Ruger .380 pistols. The LCP Max has been redesigned to take a 10-round standard and a 12-round extended magazine. While slightly larger than the LCP II, I was able to fire a magazine into the K-zone of a man-sized target at 15 yards with the Ruger MAX. Very few small handguns will exhibit this type of accuracy. This is a pistol well worth its price. It’s a lot of protection in a small package.
This little pistol was a long-awaited addition to the Glock line. Legendary Glock design and reliability translated well to this handgun. While the magazine holds only six rounds, the Glock offers a small footprint and will conceal well when other handguns will not. The safe-action trigger is controllable, and the pistol’s action is the same as your Glock carry gun if you carry the Glock 42. This pistol is perhaps the most accurate and easiest to shoot well of the very small .380 ACPs.
SIG P365 .380
This is a different class of pistol than the LCP II and even the Glock 42. Some shooters like a larger pistol that is easy to shoot well while offering light recoil and easy handling. The P365 certainly fills that bill. This 10-shot .380 weighs about 16 ounces. The P365 is a handgun that is friendly and easy to use well. It offers a nice break from hard-kicking pistols.
Smith & Wesson M&P EZ .380
This pistol is designed for safe and easy handling. The EZ rack feature makes for a slide that is easily manipulated. It features a single-action, hammer-fired configuration. And the hammer is hidden. The M&P EZ features a grip safety that prevents firing unless the grip safety is fully depressed. Some versions have no manual safety, some feature an ambidextrous safety. This is pistol isn’t heavy, but it is heavier than most .380 ACP handguns at 18.5 ounces. As a result, recoil is modest. Accuracy is very good. The pistol handles well and easily gets hits. The slim-line magazine holds eight rounds. This is in many ways the best handling pistol of the group, though the largest as well.
Bersa Plus .380
There are shooters who prefer the handling of a double-action first-shot pistol. The Bersa Plus features a 15-round magazine and a handy de-cocker. While the long double-action first shot is more difficult in getting a fast first-shot hit, the pistol is very accurate in the single-action. The Bersa is a controllable and accurate pistol. At 20.5 ounces, it handles well and offers an action that many feel is safer than most, plus a single-action trigger that offers excellent accuracy as well as a manual safety.
This pistol is a straight-up copy of the Beretta 84. And the Beretta is a fast-handling and reliable handgun. Weighing in at 23 ounces and featuring a 13-round magazine, the Fatih is an attractive pistol. The Tisas offers many of the advantages of the Bersa while featuring a manual slide lock safety rather than a decock lever for those who prefer. The Fatih is a large pistol with modest recoil and good accuracy.