Best .380 Subcompact Pocket Pistols for Concealed Carry

Best 380 ACP Subcompact Pistols for Concealed Carry

.380 subcompacts or “pocket rockets” make up one of the most fun and cool sub-categories of pistols in today’s market. A typical .380 pistol generally weighs less than 20 ounces and can fit almost entirely in the palm of your hand. They also tend to be more affordable than larger framed pistols and feature some uniquely beautiful designs.

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Check out the table below to compare size, price, and action type of our picks. We've chosen the following options as the best .380 pocket pistols:

  • Kahr CW380
  • Ruger LCP II
  • SIG Sauer P238
  • Glock 42
  • Smith & Wesson Bodyguard
  • Walther PPK
  • Beretta Pico
  • Colt Mustang Lite
PistolLength/(Barrel Length)HeightSlide WidthWeightCapacityAction TypeThumb SafetyPrice
Kahr CW380

Kahr CW380

4.96 in / (2.58 in)3.9 in0.75 in10.2 oz6Striker Fired$319.99
Ruger LCP II

Ruger LCP II

5.17 in / (2.75 in)3.71 in0.75 in10.6 oz6SA Hammer Fired$279.99
SIG Sauer P238

SIG Sauer P238

5.5 in / (2.7 in)3.9 in0.818 in15.2 oz6SA Hammer Fired$599.99
Glock 42

Glock 42

5.94 in / (3.25 in)4.13 in0.8312.17 oz6Striker Fired$399.99
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

S&W Bodyguard 380

5.3 in / (2.75 in)3.78 in0.75 in12.3 oz6DAO Hammer Fired$349.99
Walther PPK

Walther PPK

6.1 in / (3.3 in)3.8 in0.865 in22.1 oz6DA/SA Hammer Fired$629.99
Beretta Pico

Beretta Pico

5.1 in / (2.7 in)4 in0.725 in11.5 oz6DAO Hammer Fired$278.00
Colt Mustang Lite

Colt Mustang Lite

5.5 in / (2.75 in)3.98 in0.752 in13.7 oz6SA Hammer Fired$499.99

Before getting into our top picks, I want to point out that .380 pistols do have a couple of drawbacks, most notably that, given their size, they don’t pack as much stopping power as larger caliber pistols chambered in 9mm or .45ACP. Nevertheless, pocket rockets are becoming increasingly prominent in the concealed carry community.

And it’s not hard to see the appeal; .380 pistols are ideal for those looking for a low profile firearm to comfortably carry in the lightest of clothing, and their practical use cases extend to both men and women.

Although these subcompact pistols often get flack within the gun community for supposedly not being as effective as their higher caliber counterparts, there is actually a fair bit of data that suggests .380s pack more than enough stopping power to be used for concealed carry.

Check out, for example, this analysis by Primary Instructor and President of Active Training Response Greg Ellifritz.

In short, Ellifritz examined the effectiveness of different caliber firearms in real-world self-defense scenarios by analyzing data collected from police and media reports across a 10-year period. According to the data, the .380 caliber class performed on par with, and in some cases better than, the .45 ACP and 9mm caliber classes.

While Ellifritz's report isn’t conclusive, it does suggest that it is at least fair to argue that .380 pocket pistols are effective under certain circumstances for concealed carry—just be sure you’ve gotten enough practice time with them so you can be confident in your shot placement. These baby pistols can sometimes feel awkward when you are first firing them, and their 6-round magazines don’t leave you with as much room for error in a self-defense scenario. But with the notion that .380s are merely peashooters hopefully dispelled, and an awesome set of pistols awaiting us, let’s get started with our list.

 

Kahr CW380

$319.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Kahr CW380

At only 4.96” long and 3.9” tall, the Kahr CW380 is one of the smallest pocket pistols on the market.

This striker fired pistol has a nice smooth trigger pull and a crisp break. The CW380's trigger does have a bit of an overtravel, but otherwise performs great. And at a price of $319.99, it's also extremely affordable.

Notable features include pronounced rear slide serrations that make the slide easy to grip and rack. I also find the the full-contrast dot-and-bar sights to be very reliable.

Any drawbacks? Well, maybe one. The matte stainless finish of the CW380 might not be

as corrosion resistant as some other pocket rockets out there. With that said, Kahr is reportedly planning to release the CW380 with diamond-steel coating which would make corrosion a non-issue.

Ruger LCP II

$324.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Ruger LCP II

Next, we have the Ruger LCP II, which is one of the most popular .380 firearms on the market. At 5.17" long, 3.17" tall, and weighing in at 10.6 oz, the LCP II is only slightly heavier than the Kahr and is the second smallest pistol on our list.

The LCPII features textured dot-bar sights, which help cut down on glare. The sights protrude enough to make it easy to aim, while also featuring smooth tapered edges to help prevent accidental snags on clothing when drawing from your pocket or waistband.

The traditional jet-black coating and cool geometric styling gives the LCP II an excellent overall look, and the widened backstrap makes it easy to fit your hand around the gun.

It also comes equipped with a Glock-style trigger safety blade for added protection against accidental discharge. This is, however, where its safety features stop. Unlike the other hammer fired pistols on our list, the LCP II lacks a thumb safety.

Lastly, the LCP II's trigger pull is not quite as smooth as the CW380's, but the upgraded LCP II now has a smooth single-click reset, which is a significant improvement from its double action predecessor, the LCP I.

SIG Sauer P238

$599.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

SIG Sauer P238

Patterned after the classic 1911, the SIG Sauer P238 is a sure candidate to make any top .380 pocket pistols list. It’s 5.5” long, 3.9” tall, and slightly heavier than most of the other firearms on our list at 15.2 ounces. For fans of the functional design and gorgeous aesthetic of the 1911, look no further.

This single action hammer fired pistol is the first on our list to include a thumb safety. It's typically carried with one in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the safety engaged. Like the 1911, the P238’s trigger pull is very smooth and the reset is short.

The P238 features an all-metal construction, and the added weight helps fight recoil.

The slide is made of stainless steel, and the frame is aluminum alloy. The P238 also features a pronounced, easy-to-handle slide lock.

At a starting price of $599.99, the P238 is pricey compared to our other options. However, it’s one of the most solid, durable, and dependable firearms on our list. It also comes equipped with SIGLITE night sights, which saves you from needing to upgrade them later.

It should be noted that the P238 can be a bit difficult to assemble and reassemble for those not familiar with it. Take extra care to remember to put the ejector back in properly when reassembling, or you can permanently damage the gun.

Glock 42

$399.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Glock 42

You knew it was coming. Glocks are praised the world over for their reliability, accuracy, and ease of use; and the Glock 42 is no exception. This polymer-framed striker fired pistol weighs in at 12.17 oz and fits right into the middle of our list in terms of overall size.

Despite its size, the Glock 42 has a very smooth and familiar feel when drawing it out of the holster. It features easy-to-use high-profile sights that make it effortless to get on target in defensive situations. The instant familiarity I felt when first trying out the Glock 42 quickly made it a personal favorite on this list.

For fans of Glock, you likely already know what to expect from this pistol, and at $399.99, you can be sure it will live up to every dollar you pay for it.

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

$349.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380

The Bodyguard 380 is the smallest handgun in the vast S&W catalog, only weighing 12.3 ounces and being 5.3” long and 3.78” tall.

What first struck me about this pistol was its beautiful aesthetic. The Bodyguard 380 has a stainless steel slide that is black anodized to match the rest of the gun. The drift-adjustable sights and barrel are also made with stainless steel. Both the barrel and slide have a matte finish.

I also like that the Bodyguard 380 comes with some interesting features not typically seen among other pocket pistols, such as double-strike capability, meaning that if the primer isn’t ignited on the first trigger pull, pulling it again will allow the cartridge’s primer to be struck a second time.

The Bodyguard comes with two six-round magazines, one of which has an extended grip to help out those with larger hands. It’s a cool feature, but I have heard mixed reviews regarding the grip extension, suggesting fit will vary by individual.

I found that the pistol's metal bar-and-dot sights are pronounced enough for easy aiming, but keep a low enough profile that they won’t snag on clothing. The sights also feature anti-glare texturing like the LCP II.

One downside to the Bodyguard is that the trigger pull feels a bit too heavy and stiff, particularly when compared to other pistols on the list. This is largely due to it being one of the only two double-action-only handguns we've included. It's not a deal-breaker, however, and I'd recommend giving it a try before passing up on a great-looking and fairly priced .380 like this.

Walther PPK

$629.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Walther PPK

If it’s good enough for 007, then it’s probably good enough for you, right? The Walther PPK is a classic, most famous for being the carry choice for the legendary movie character, James Bond.

The PPK is a heavy pistol, weighing in at 22.1 ounces—largely due to the gun's all-steel frame. Its also 6.1” long, 3.8” tall, and the slide width is .865”.

The PPK is a double/single action hammer fired pistol. As is usually the case with DA/SA handguns, initial double action shots require fairly heavy pressure on the trigger (13.4lbs),

while the subsequent single action trigger pulls feel much more natural, requiring only around 6 pounds of pressure.

In addition to being heavy, the PPK has several other features that are unusual to this list and might take some getting used to. For one, its simple bar-and-dot sights keep a very low profile and can be difficult to lock on to—a common trait among classic pistols. It also has a higher-placed mag release than most other firearms, and the large beaver tail, along with the wide gripping in the back, could be uncomfortable for some. However, as with the weight, some might find that all these unusual features suit them well.

The Walther PPK is the most expensive gun on our list, and if we're being honest, it's probably not the best .380 for concealed carry—but it's damn sure the sexiest.

Beretta Pico

$278.00 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Beretta Pico

This double-action-only (DAO) hammer fired pistol has some drawbacks, but at $278, the Beretta Pico is a workable concealed carry firearm at an extremely affordable price. It’s also small as hell, coming in with a slide width of only .725”.

One of the biggest criticisms launched at the Pico is the trigger. Due it being DAO, the trigger is extremely heavy (roughly 12.5 pounds) and the break is set very far back into the pull. The slide is pretty damn difficult to rack, and the lack of well-defined serrations can also be problematic.

Another point of concern is how difficult this gun can be to handle for those with larger hands. The small grip, in conjunction with the

difficult-to-pull trigger, can frankly be a pain in the ass.

The Pico has a sort of European-style magazine release going along the bottom of the base of the trigger guard. This can be difficult to get to sometimes, particularly for those with larger hands. The Pico does come with a magazine grip extension, but opinions on its helpfulness vary.

When it comes to the positives, the Pico’s disassembly and reassembly are very simple. Due to its modular design, similar to the SIG Sauer P320, the actual serialized “firearm” comes in “chassis” form and can easily be completely removed from the frame. This makes for easy customization for those wanting to experiment with different grips.

The sights on the Pico are also more present than on other pocket pistols. They are both drift adjustable and replaceable.

At $278, the Beretta Pico is a low budget firearm that is as slim as can be for those putting emphasis on concealment. But it isn’t without its drawbacks. It might be perfect for someone with smaller hands, but bigger guys should definitely stay clear.

Colt Mustang Lite

$499.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Colt Mustang Series

Another firearm with a sexy stainless steel slide, the Colt Mustang Pocketlite is a single action hammer fired pistol with a classic feel and design. If opting for the Mustang Pocketlite ($699.99), the steel slide and magazines are complimented by a sleek aluminum alloy frame, definitely a good look and feel for those who aren’t as into polymer. The cheaper ($499.99) Mustang Lite, is lighter weight, as it has a polymer frame.

The length is 5.5” and height is 3.98”. It’s extremely thin, with a slide width at only .752”. If you are concerned about the Mustang being too thin to handle, fear not, as the grips are thick and come out enough for the gun to fit comfortably into the hand.

The commander-style hammer falls into a comfortably fitting beavertail that does a good job protecting against hammer bite. The magazine release is comfortably positioned, and the rounded trigger guard of the Pocketlite version compliments the overall aesthetic.

The Mustang series features a simple dovetail blue sight in the back with a ramp up towards the front. I've found this gun to be incredibly easy to shoot.

We covered a lot of information in this review, and hopefully you found this content both helpful and entertaining. While .380 caliber firearms aren’t the most powerful weapons for concealed carry, they certainly get the job done, and their pros far outweigh their cons.

As always, the most important thing with any carry gun is that you practice with it as much as you can. Whether you’re firing a .380 or a .45 ACP, it all comes down to proficiency at the end of the day.

Have fun and stay safe.

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