This is a subject that is very popular of late – small sub-compact handguns, AKA mouseguns or pocket guns. While a great deal of focus in many of these discussions centers around the caliber of ammunition itself, the value and purpose of these types of guns is often dismissed or overlooked altogether.
The main concept behind a sub-compact gun is that it is small enough and light enough to carry with you at ALL times. Let’s not forget the first rule of any gunfight – HAVE A GUN! This type of gun has the potential to dramatically increase the likelihood of a gun being carried more often. The fact is that these guns are smaller, lighter, and much easier to conceal and carry than many other models/sizes of handguns. You’ve heard it a million times – a small gun with you at all times is much better than your full-sized .45 that’s left at home. It’s absolutely true.
Is the .380ACP round ever going to match a .45ACP? No. But then again we are not likely to see many manageable .45ACP’s that are the same size as the new generation of pocket pistols. Even a gun such as the Kahr PM40 offers a very small frame in a larger caliber but the recoil is pretty stiff. So for those people who can’t afford to carry a large caliber gun due to its physical size, the .380ACP sub-compact semi-auto’s fit the bill very well.
Another point on the subject to ask yourself – how many of you have seen people lining up on the streets asking to be shot with a .380ACP??? I know I haven’t seen any. No one wants to be shot with ANY caliber of ammunition including .380ACP.
For those who argue that the .380ACP isn’t manageable in such a small sized frame (often citing the polymer LCP or Kel-tec), you likely have not shot a gun such as the Sig P238. I can tell you from direct experience (owning 2 of them) that the recoil of a P238 is very manageable (almost negligible). It is not hard at all to get consistent combat accurate shots quickly on target using this particular handgun. Understand that I’m not saying that the P238 is a perfect gun without flaws (anyone who has read my review or posts on this site about it knows what I’m talking about). I’m just stating the fact that there are very small .380ACP pistols out there that are controllable and accurate and fill a very useful place in the concealed carry and personal defense market.
I think it would be everyones ideal preference to have the largest caliber gun possible at all times. The reality is though that its not practical to carry a .50BMG with you most places!
I would caution against dismissing the .380ACP cartridge so quickly. The sheer number of manufacturers making these guns and the consistent shortage of .380ACP ammo in the market are indicators that many people are fond of them. They definitely serve a valuable purpose in personal defense and concealed carry when combined with proper practice and training.
I look forward to hearing your opinions of this in the comments below or in the user forums.