Tuesday, January 4, 2011

mighty mite

The Bersa Thunder .380 is an excellent carry pistol, a good compromise on concealability and caliber, easy to clean, and now that .380 is starting to show up again, easy to feed. But for a while now I've wanted something even smaller, something super concealable*.

I read Lissa's Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 review, have tried some out at the range, decided I really disliked those bitey Kel-Tec grips and thought I had settled on the LCP (Elsie Pea!) - until I realized Ruger might have some, ahem...issues.

So what's a diminutive, mild mannered librarian concerned with self-defense to do?

*possibly using this Kangaroo Carry holster. Thoughts?


ViolentIndifference said...

My wife has an LCP and loves it. It is as big (.380) of a gun as she wants to carry right now.

I had Jennifer's hubby Mike make a custom holster for her. (Review coming out yet in Jan.)

I also bought her a cleavage holster which she likes when she is in a slinky dress.

I might have to give that Kangaroo holster a try - she needs something secure for when she jogs.

Mike W. said...

I would say Kahr PM9, but that's not .380 and I'm assuming you want to stay with one caliber.

Sdv1949 said...

My wife likes the little .380s to carry, but not to shoot. We went with the Sig P238 for her. Not to big and she shoots it well. BTW, a tiny woman barely five feet tall.

HTH, sv

Mad Saint Jack said...


I have a love hate relationship with Ruger.

The Recalls can be a reason not to be first in line to try a new design, but they also shows that Ruger is willing to fix any flaws that come to light. Just be sure that the gun you buy was made after the issues have been fixed.

My second recommendation for you would be the Sig P238 because it is 1911ish.

(My first recommendation would be to go the other way and move up to 9mm or .45.)

Anonymous said...

I carry a Kahr PM9 and love it. It's easy and fun to shoot so I don't mind shooting a lot at the range for practice. However, this little Ruger looks mighty interesting.

Bubblehead Les. said...

If you're in the market for something new, there's a Gun Show this coming weekend at the old K-Mart off Babbit Road in Euclid. I'd take the opportunity to see what's on the market and do a little "test driving" to find what might fit you best. Also, you might find a older piece that would work. It IS the 100 year Anniversary of John Moses Browning's (PBUH!) 1911 (Hint! Hint! Nudge! Nudge! Wink! Wink!). Might be a little hard to carry concealed in a thigh holster, though. ; )

Jay G said...

Kahr makes a 380 as well - the P380 - that might be worth looking into if the offerings from Ruger, Kel-Tec, and S&W leave you wanting...

Or, if you want to move up to 9mm, the aforementioned Kahr PM9 or the new Sig P290 might be worth investigating...

Mad Saint Jack said...

Bersa Thunder .380:

Barrel Length:3.5”
Length: 6.6”
Height: 4.9”
Weight: 20 oz.

SigSauer P290 9mm:

Barrel Length:2.9”
Length: 5.5”
Height: 3.9”
Weight: 20.5 oz.


(Did you get your hands on a S&W Bodyguard? Yea/Nay?)

Justin Buist said...

Roghbaugh and Seacamp are two brands I haven't seen mentioned yet.

In case you've never seen it here's a PDF with dimensions for pocket pistols.

Mad Saint Jack said...

"something super concealable"

There is the Beretta 950 Jetfire: .25 ACP (I hate, hate, hate .25 ACP).


The smallest thing I would want to carry is the Kel-Tec p32. I think the .32 will be easier to shoot than the .380 and I like that they make a 10 round magazine for it which gives you more to hold on to. With the .32 I would mix FMJs and Silvertips.


LC Scotty said...

Oleg has had some interesting pics/range reports of a Boberg 9mm that's about the same size as the LCP.

I've got an LCP that I pocket carry in a DeSantiss Nemesis. I've got about 400 rounds through it with no failures to feed or eject.

JP 5.56 said...

I just picked up one of the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 380s, the day after Christmas.

So far I REALLY like it, even with some minor problems it has.

Ask me in GBC if you want to know more!

Scott said...

Try a Kahr CW9.... a little bigger, but it has excellent ergos and is actually something more than a belly gun... three fingers on the grip and waaaay lower barrel height is key to excellent recoil control... Something to think about...

ZerCool said...

SDV beat me to it - check into the Sig P238. Feels like a baby 1911.

Speaking of baby 1911s, perhaps a Colt Pocket Hammerless?

ViolentIndifference said...

The P238 looks like it would catch on clothing.

Gunmart said...

Kel-Tec's P32 is great. Its two ounces lighter then the LCP and an ounce lighter then the P3AT.

.32 ACP gives up a little performance to .380, but its not enough to be significant. Here are some denim covered gel test done with a P32:

You can also get CorBon DPX for .32ACP and that thing is a monster when it comes to expansion.

The P32 carries one more round then the P3AT, but the best part is that there is nearly no recoil... I would compare it to shooting a mouse gun in .22 lr

Anonymous said...

Even with the recall, maybe because of it, the LCP is the hottest ticket going in the "super concealable" category. While it has all the cons of the category (hard to hold, sights aren't, etc.) it feels much better in the hand than the P3AT.

This particular guy on the internet thinks the LCP is past the new gun growing pains. Just get one built after the recall serial numbers and you'll be good.

Weer'd Beard said...

Colt Officers ACP! ; )

Lot of good choices listed.

Don’t you still have that S&W642? I can hide the crap out of that gun, and there is a holster of every make, model and color for that gun.

No fun to shoot, lousy capacity and awkward reloads, but .38 Special+p is a cartridge not to sneeze at, and the airweights are easy to pack and conceal.

Arthur said...

I used to have the LCP, but sold it and bought a Kahr P380. The Kahr is twice the price of the Ruger and worth every penny. The sights are actually usable*, the texture on the grip keeps the gun from squirming around when I shoot it even with hot loads and the stainless slide doesn't rust up in my pocket.

* yes I know these small pocket 380's aren't supposed to be target pistols, but I can actually make reliable hits at 25 yards with the Kahr. That's a good thing, right?

Rivrdog said...

I'm packing a Colt Government Model .380. It's a direct shrinkage of the 1911, by JMB (PBUH). It's light, slim, fits the hand well, and safe to carry Cocked and Locked, with 7+1. I've redone it with the Bedair Machine Works full-length guide rod kit and a new Wolff spring. It is utterly reliable, digests everything at every hold angle, is VERY comfortable to shoot. I rate this pistol a 9.8 out of 10, dinging it only for lack of three-dot sights and +1 magazine extension/finger rest.

BTW, it's a small compact. If you want a sub-compact mousegun with BITE, consider the $$$ North American Arms Guardian in .32NAA, a wildcat. It's a .32 Cor-Bon DPX in a necked-down .380 hull, and it equals some lighter 9X19 offerings. I have one of those, and would shoot it more except for the ridiculous price of it's ammo, well over $1/round. It fits nicely in a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster, but it's about twice as heavy as the P3AT, and about 1/8" wider. It has a WAAAY better trigger than the P3AT.

ViolentIndifference said...

Given Breda's library salary I'm sure she'll got one in ever color and a buttload of ammo...

Marko said...

I've owned one of the post-recall LCPs for a year now. Totally reliable so far (~200 round ball, 70 rounds mixed JHP), and a dream to carry. Quite accurate, too, even if the sights aren't exactly stellar.

I have a wallet-type pocket holster for it, and it's so light and flat that you can forget you're packing. Anyway, I endorse little Elsie Pea.

Ed Rasimus said...

I'll second the vote for the Kel-Tec PF9. Thirteen ounces, seven shots and will take +P loadings. Comfortable shooter and doesn't bite even big meaty hands. Looks and operates like a Kahr for about half the price.

For cute, I really like the Sig P238. How could anyone deny a "teacup" breed of 1911?

Michael Bane said...


Careful of comparing apples and oranges! Sig 238 is a superb little gun (and carry choice for my partner Marshal Halloway), but ut us a single action, a la a 1911. That has implications for your carry options (no bags, for example).I carried a Colt Mustang, another single action .380, cocked and locked for years...you have to be careful on on holster choice.

I love the double-edged meme on the Internet these days...get a Kahr even though it's expensive, because hey, what is your life worth? And if you can't, get a Kel-Tec, the very cheapest gun you can get because, hey, it's really really cheap!

My experience with Kel Tec has been that the .32s are amazingly reliable: the .380s less so. My FFL dealer will no longer carry them. I have no personal experience with their 9mms, but I have friends both who carry them and who tried and stopped carrying them.

I went to a dinner at SHOT, all high-end civilian, police and military trainers. For the heck of it, I polled the table on who had what little blaster in his or her pocket/purse...everybody was carrying...12 out of 20 had Ruger LCP .380s (including me), the remainder J-frame S&W revolvers in various configurations. Just those 2 flavors...

My primary LCP has more than 800 rounds through it with no failures at all. Most of the rounds are premium self-defense rounds. I wish it had the same set of sights as the new LC9. I'll probably tinker something together through Novak or XS...


Michael B

George said...

]I've got both an LCP and a Kahr P-380. The sights on the Kahr are the best I've seen on a pocket gun and the slide lock function works just like a slide lock should. The LCP is a little smaller and more "melty" than the Kahr. The Kahr is a great gun. The LCP is a great gun. You can't make a bad choice here. See what feels better and don't look back.

BTW, if you are looking at the Ruger LC9, you might want to check out the Kahr PM-9.

mike's spot said...

My mother carries an LCP that she loves. I touted a mustang for a while, but it was too small for me to really get a hold of it. For me the answer was an officer sized 1911. Have you handled the EMP? I doubt its smaller than the bersa, but it might make you happy enough not to mind.

Clint said...

With NJT's post about commander 1911s, I was thinking: "You know, Breda likes 1911's and she not recoil shy. And her Bersa is about the same size as a small 1911... So what would it take to convince her to go up inn size for a carry gun?"

And now I find out you want a new gun, in the other direction!

Mulliga said...

I'm testing a S&W Bodyguard 380 right now - review will be up on Shangrila Towers soon.

It may be unpleasant to shoot, but it's never failed to extract, unlike the P3ATs I've tried. The post-recall LCPs also seem to be building a good reputation. The Kahr and SIG are good options, but spendy.

Montana said...

9mm has a whole lot more going for it than just being more powerful than the .380.

1. It's cheaper
2. It's easy to reload
3. It's much more common
4. You can get any size gun in it, including rifles

The two .380s I've shot, I didn't notice any less recoil than I get out of 9mm.

Warrior Knitter said...

I have the Sig P238 that I use when dressy clothes or lawn mowing shorts don't work with my usual carry. For a holster, I have an little IWB suede Galco STO436 that fits it perfectly. I throw a couple of extra mags in my pocket and I'm good.

I don't like small polymer or airweight guns because they have way too much kick for my small hands. This had nice feedback, less than my 9mm carry and much more accurate at 7 yards than most of the other tiny polymers out there.

Ambulance Driver said...

if you're willing to go beyond .380, I'd say the Kahr CW9.

I also got my Taurus SLIM at half the price of the Kahr, and I've been well satisfied.

lee n. field said...

The KelTec it's copied from works, is simpler, cheaper, and available now.

That said, the Ruger will be better made, and with real sights.

Roadkill said...

I know too many people that have Ruger LCPs and that like them. Like everyone is saying, as long as its post-recall serial numbers, why should you worry?

I want to give an LC9 a try. The caliber, weight, and price are right. I'll until march or so to try for one. Just in case there IS a recall.

Clint said...

Why is the Keltec “bitey” but the LCP not?

If you go for the LCP or Keltec, try both (new ones) in the store. At Stonewall's (google says it's in Cleveland), I handled both a P3AT and the copy. The counter guy and I were both surprised that the Keltec had a better trigger(!) As for the sights, the Ruger is a glossy whatever-coating and, for me, that made a good sight picture much more difficult. The p3at has a matte finish and less glare was better. But the sights on both are horrid little nubs. I would paint either one dayglo orange or something.

Also, a friend, and Keltec fan, told me that the p3at has been quietly upgraded over the years. A redesign was made sometime before the lcp hit the market and an upgraded trigger was released after the lcp. Apparently Ruger has already copied the new trigger style. Point being that the early p3at's were sub-par and the new ones give the lcp a run for the money. Ymmv.

Disclosure: I am anti-hype, I want people to make decisions for themselves based on facts not slick magazine covers.

[half joking]Maybe we can have another Northcoast Blogmeet and shoot various mouse guns. Anyone reload .380 acp? :D

Midwest Chick said...

Gotta put in my vote for the Sig P238. It's actually fun to shoot. I wanted something concealable but shootable. I can go to range and send a couple of hundred rounds downrange with no problem.

My version came with the laser sight and aluminum grips (also has night sights). Definitely worth spending the extra $$ since the other .380s I tried were absolutely no fun.

Theredneckengineer said...

Not sure if you are stuck on Bersa or not, but they do make a compact .380 thunder

Linky to auction for one

It is somewhere between the P3at and regular thunder in size.
Much more streamlined than the full size thunder .380

Had one a few years ago and loved it. Carried it in a pocket holster or an ankle holster.

Hope this helps.

doubletrouble said...

The Mrs. carries an LCP, bought new in 2Q10- works fine.
I have the P238- nicer, heavier, bigger, actual sights, more bony edges.
Same capacity on both (6+1).
The LCP is the way to go if you want more options for concealed carry- YMMV.

Clint- Yeah, I reload .380 'cause I couldn't get any for a while.

SavageKnight said...

I own a Ruger LCP, and I have friends that own Kel-Tecs. The Ruger has a slide lock (does not lock automatically at the end of an empty magazine) and a far superior fit and finish. All of the ultra-compacts seem to have atrocious sites, so I would definitely suggest getting the crimson trace laser grip.

My favorite thing about the LCP is most assuredly NOT the way it shoots. It's grip is too small for my hand which combines with the recoil from such a light gun to be extremely annoying. On the other hand, the gun goes with me when I want one. My .45 H&K may be my favorite, but the Ruger LCP gets the nod a majority of the time.

There are two major advantages to the Ruger. The first is the size of the weapon. Not only do the dimensions make it comfortable to carry in almost any position, but the weight is negligible by comparison to most compact autos. The second (and real reason it goes with me everywhere) is the form factor. I can carry this pistol in the front pocket of my shorts / jeans without it printing. I have folding knives that are harder to conceal than the LCP in a pocket holster.

I forgot to mention the accuracy of the LCP. It is surprisingly good. Far better than the Kel-Tec!
After sighting in the laser sight, I repeatedly put all six rounds into a 3" circle from 10 yards. Not bad for something so small.

Earl said...

I have Kangaroo Carry holster, it hides well, washable, but then it won't work for FAST draw times. But I have always figured that having the pistol with me out weighs the need for speed. It slows me down enough to think about the whole shooting the bad guy through...

James said...

Nobody mentioned the Taurus TCP. I ended up with one in a trade and retired my Kel-Tec P3-AT soon afterward. I like(d) the Kel-Tec, but te TCP has better sights, a better trigger and less felt recoil. The price is right too. My GF bought a Sig P238 and loves it, but since my main gun is an M&P .40c, I want my backup gun to have the same type of controls. I don't want to have to think about which type of safety system I'm dealing with at critical moments.

John B said...

well I was going to politely mention the Kel-Tec PF-9, whose grips aren't as bitey as the lesser calibers, and suggest a move to a higher caliber. In the good ol days of five years ago, .25 cost the same as .45. Thus the smaller calibers did not make financial sense.

Of course I am 6 foot 6 inches, and can conceal 3 or 4 pistols about my person. If I were Breda's size, I'm sure my worldview would be different.

Midwest Chick said...

I have a PF-9 and it's not nearly as concealable as I'd like. I stand 5'2" and despite trying several options, the PF-9 just doesn't conceal on me. It's thin, but much bigger than the Sig P238. It's also not much fun to shoot since the grip is much thinner.

Will said...

If you stumble across any of the .380 Colts, they are very nice. Look for the "PocketLite" versions for aluminum frames. Three sizes: Mustang, Mustang II, and Gov't. The middle one is a Govt frame (long grip) with the short slide. Single action.
Then there is the double action Pony.
Wish I hadn't sold my Mustang 'Lite.