Best .380 Pocket Pistol for Concealed Carry: 2019 Guide & Reviews

The .380 Pocket Pistol has been among the most beloved firearms of the modern era for different reasons. What it comes down to is this: it is compact, easy to handle and offers enough firepower to stop most threats.

This is a list which seeks to showcase the best 380 pistol for self-defense and concealed carry. On it you will find a plethora of firearms that are well-built, easy to conceal and made for daily duty.

Given manufacturing and ballistic improvements, is the .380 Pocket Pistol still relevant?

With the 9mm making a massive comeback even against bigger calibers like the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP at many law enforcement agencies and in the minds of many shooters. The reason the 9mm is so hot right now is that it achieves a substantially similar ballistic advantage as other calibers without the disadvantages relative to other needs of the user.

It’s not as heavy or bulky as the .40 or .45. (Usually) it’s got greater capacity than either of those as well. It doesn’t recoil as heavily as the usual suspects for CCW or other comparable cartridges.

Recently the major manufacturers have managed to make the 9mm into a compact carry gun that rivals much smaller guns in size while offering superior firepower.  

Relative to the .380, it is faster, hits harder and doesn’t have the same issues with functionality that some makers just can’t seem to get over with semi-autos.

All that said, the .380 ACP is STILL as relevant as ever.

It still performs well enough and offers a compact framework that keeps it in the mix. The .380 cartridge is no slouch. The penetration is still moderate, and the velocity high enough to allow for good stopping power. The snappy muzzle flip isn’t so great as to make it hard to handle, and the ability to carry a larger diameter centerfire projectile in a sub-compact form factor means it’s not going anywhere any time soon.

So yes, the 9mm is a better performer apples to apples, but it doesn’t matter, because the .380 is still preferred for several reasons, by many shooters who would be in the market for a sub-compact carry gun that is easily concealable and can be used as a last ditch effort, or even a front line defense in the case of a serious situation when it is least expected.

It is for this reason that this list is here: the .380 is a legitimate compact carry gun contender. We have chosen 13 guns to highlight the interesting, capable firearms that exist on the market now and we think you’ll easily find enough in this list to help you choose which pistol makes sense for you.

Since the early days with the Colt semi-autos at the turn of the century (1908), the .380 ACP automatic pistol has held a special place in the hearts of those who prefer to carry concealed. That legacy has been recently redefined, and a slew of new, serious variants have entered into the marketplace to help shooters everywhere exercise their right to finding a great pocket pistol.

Here is my list of 13 best 380 pistols for concealed carry:

  1. Glock g42
  2. Smith & Wesson - Bodyguard 380
  3. Sig Sauer - P238 Legion
  4. Smith & wesson - m&p380 shield ez 2.0
  5. Ruger - lcp
  6. Ruger - lcp ii
  7. Kimber - micro tle
  8. Beretta - 84 cheetah
  9. Bersa - thunder 380 plus
  10. Kel-tec - p-3at
  11. Remington rm380
  12. Browning 1911-380
  13. Kahr cw380

The 13 Best Compact .380 ACP Pistols for Concealed Carry


GLOCK - G42

GLOCK - G42

Highly touted as the next big thing; it wasn’t just Glock brand fanboys who wanted to shoot this pistol when it made its way to the market. Unprecedented order fulfillment occurred for this plain looking, simple striker fired handgun.

Legendary Glock reliability and proven brand performance has helped to sell a lot of these guns. Those who own them seem happy to keep using them and the negative press is few and far between. Turns out that the .380 ACP still has a very robust following.

This 7 shot (6+1) gun is slim, compact and easy to handle, while providing more than enough firepower for a close encounter with the criminal element. It’s near perfect for concealed carry.

Specs

  • Action Type: Striker Fired
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 3.25"
  • Length: 5.94"
  • Weight: 0.78 lbs

Pros

  • Legendary Glock reliability in the .380
  • Simple to shoot and fast to first shot

Cons

  • No real Cons

This is best for

This is the best 380 pistol for the person who absolutely must be able to carry in any conditions and needs a slim, reliable .380, but still wants something more to hang onto when they pull out their firearm. It’s not the smallest on the market, but it may be the best balanced of the smaller guns available on the platform. It's not too much to say, this is most reliable 380 pocket pistol on the market.


SMITH & WESSON - BODYGUARD 380

SMITH & WESSON - BODYGUARD 380

The Bodyguard has made a huge impact on the market, and for good reason. It’s an all-in-one solution to the carry needs of just about everyone who would consider a sub-compact carry form factor.

An integrated laser to take the guess work out of locking onto the target with iron sights; the slim, compact size and miniscule weight and the excellent track record of the design by Smith & Wesson makes this an easy choice for those who absolutely want the smallest format they can get, but prefer the design of the S&W over the obvious competitors (Ruger LCP, etc.).

A very reasonable price point for a lot of gun in the carry genre makes this a top choice easily.

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action/Double Action
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.75"
  • Length: 5.25"
  • Weight: 0.77 lbs

Pros

  • Integrated laser
  • Very slim and lightweight

Cons

  • No real Cons

This is best for

Athletic types that need the smallest from factor while running, or for those who want a secondary or last-ditch style pistol. This is only 12.3 ounces and carries like less due to the well thought out design.


SIG SAUER - P238 LEGION

SIG SAUER - P238 LEGION

If you need the smallest form-factor, but can’t stand polymer construction, this is the pistol you are likely to fall in love with. The classic Sig Sauer lines and the great design features make this a very nice choice for purists that still need modern sizing and low weight.

The thumb safety and exposed hammer give you the single action that was made famous in the earliest modern versions of the .380 compact pocket pistol. The slick Sig action and the well finished aesthetics and functional design elements also make this a legendary gun in its own right. 

It’s slightly bigger than most, but the extra size gives a nice perk: an extra shot in the magazine (7+1).

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action
  • Capacity: 7+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.7"
  • Length: 5.5"
  • Weight: 0.95 lbs

Pros

  • Highly refined design
  • Top notch action work for a factory .380ACP

Cons

  • Expensive

This is best for

The concealed carrier that isn’t quite satisfied with 7 shots, and who won’t compromise on an all-metal pistol. This is a lot more expensive than many of the offerings on this list, but for those who want a single action, slim compact .380 ACP, there are few contenders.


SMITH & WESSON - M&P380 SHIELD EZ 2.0

SMITH & WESSON - M&P380 SHIELD EZ 2.0

Closer to a full-sized firearm than it is a compact concealable pocket .380, this is the go-to option when you trust the caliber and need a legitimate duty weapon. Great for those who don’t have the taste for the higher velocity 9mm; or don’t want the extra recoil inherent in the larger calibers (.40 and .45).

Smartly designed and intuitive enough for anyone who has picked up a pistol in the last 35 years, this is a design that really seems to pack as much functionality as possible into the .380 pistol.

It’s marketed well to the female shooters and those who don’t want a tough to actuate slide, due to the .380 compact spring requirements for a blowback operated firearm, this gun is significantly easier to become proficient with for shooters who don’t have the hand strength, or don’t want the drawbacks associated with the blowback style.

Smith & Wesson has patented a few safety features on this gun, and it seems to be well designed and heavily invested in, from the manufacturer’s perspective. It features a prominent grip safety that is slightly different than the one we are all familiar with on the 1911.

Specs

  • Action Type: Semi-Auto
  • Capacity: 8+1-Round 
  • Barrel Length: 3.675" 
  • Length: 6.7"
  • Weight: 18.5 oz

Pros

  • A new design that seems to get rid of the complaints of most .380 haters
  • Proven brand name and R&D team

Cons

  • Not a compact firearm relative to most on this list
  • Unproven compared to some of the guns on this list (a new design)

This is best for

This is the best 380 pistol for any shooter who doesn’t love the blowback operation of the classic .380’s for whatever reason. Any shooter that needs it to be easier to manually function the firearm. Early adopters of new firearms innovations, especially those on the safety side.


RUGER - LCP

RUGER - LCP

Quite possibly the single firearm that re-ignited the .380 ACP craze when the market went soft a little less than a decade ago. This gun reimagined what a .380 Auto could be and has since taken its fair share of the marketplace for the platform.

Smooth, intuitive, easy to shoot and still manageable despite its compact size, this is the world beater that helped to fan the flames of a trend that has yet to cool down. The 7-shot dynamo is inexpensive, more than a value and offers everything a concealed carry advocate could want in the smallest possible form factor.

Combined with the inherent value of the .380 ACP, it makes for a potent pocket gun that truly could be drawn from the pocket.

Specs:

  • Action Type: Striker Fired
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.75"
  • Length: 5.16"
  • Weight: 0.6 lbs

Pros:

  • It’s potentially the best overall value in a crowded field
  • Proven design

Cons:

  • None

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the first-time concealed carry user. The shooter who knows they want a .380, but also knows they don’t want to overpay for the “privilege”. The shooter who absolutely must have the smallest most proven gun on the market in .380 ACP.


RUGER - LCP II

RUGER - LCP II

The sophomore release behind the amazing freshman success of the LCP in .380 ACP. This is the refined variant that still doesn’t break the bank, but offers a bit more control, an additional shot and to many, a better looking gun.

Additionally, there is a trigger safety, some additional fit and finish changes and the ability to be backwards compatible with most LCP accessories; including the magazines.

Specs

  • Action Type: Double Action Only
  • Capacity: 7+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.75"
  • Length: 5.17"
  • Weight: 0.68 lbs

Pros

  • Still a very good gun in its own right, despite the blockbuster success of the “other” LCP

Cons

  • It’s hard to improve upon the original LCP, and Ruger may not be able to justify the price increase for some simple changes and additions when you look at the track record of the original LCP

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the shooter who needs a bit more to hold onto and knows that the LCP experience is worth the money. The extra round in the magazine is helpful too.


KIMBER - MICRO TLE

KIMBER - MICRO TLE

Reminiscent of the 1911 styling, but a completely independent design made for the .380 ACP, this is a potent pocket pistol of uncompromising fit and finish.

Kimber has made a very sleek and satisfying pistol that still weighs considerably less than a pound and still offers 8 shots in a size format that can be justified by just about any shooter.

The rugged good looks and the snag-free outer contouring make this a legitimate tactical contender for those who glance at it, AND for those who use in everyday for carry.

Single action and intuitively designed to match the 1911 in safety features, this is a very familiar gun to most who hold it, despite not having a grip safety and being a much slimmer, smaller pistol.

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action​
  • Capacity: 7+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.75" 
  • Length: 5.6"
  • Weight: 0.83 lbs

Pros:

  • Amazing fit and finish
  • Exceptional grips

Cons:

  • Somewhat pricey compared to some on the list

This is best for:

The 1911 style conscious consumer. Those who prefer the grippy texture of the G-10 composite grip panels and the glass smooth trigger action, as well as a condition one gun that requires a thumb safety deactivation for readiness.


BERETTA - 84 CHEETAH

BERETTA - 84 CHEETAH

Arguably the most satisfying “mechanical” pistol on this list, with only the tried and true 1911 style Browning to compete with it, this gun is a delight for purists, who neither want a subcompact pistol in .380, nor need one.

It is still not monstrous by any means regarding the size, but it is built to handle long-term use, and it feels well-balanced in the hand. The classic take on this gun means you will feel right at home should you ever need to use it in combat.

It also feels right at home on the range, and the easy to handle recoil and follow-up shots are just icing on the cake.

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action/Double Action
  • Capacity: 13+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 3.8"
  • Length: 6.8"
  • Weight: 1.45 lbs

Pros

  • Top-quality fit and finish
  • Great classic mechanical features that make it feel like you’re shooting a gun and not a toy
  • Balanced heft and size

Cons

  • No real Cons

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the shooter who might not carry often or can conceal a larger framed gun. This is a perfect choice for those who want to enjoy shooting their pistol to the maximum. The larger size and classic feature set, as well as the familiar design means you get a lot for the money.


BERSA - THUNDER 380 PLUS

BERSA - THUNDER 380 PLUS - 1

The unsung hero of the last decade or more in the .380 Auto pistol market. This was the great performer in a market that went soft for several years, and the gun has stayed true to its roots, stylistically and from a performance and functionality perspective.

The Bersa is more gun than you expect to get for the money. It’s also the highest capacity gun on this list, and quite a bit bulkier than the others despite still being somewhat compact in length and height. The 16 round capacity is exceptional and makes this more than just a concealed carry contender (though, admittedly, it is not as slim as most of the others on the market).

It’s a perfect gun for the range, and the large volume of inexpensive .380 ACP ammunition available to shooters makes it an easy choice when the price of this gun is right in line with the middle of the market.

Specs

  • Action Type: SA/DA
  • Capacity: 15+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 3.5"
  • Length: 6.6"
  • Weight: 1.29 lbs

Pros

  • Excellent design that is reminiscent of the PPK and the Makarov, with its own distinct styling as well

Cons

  • Quite thick on the hip or in the holster for routine carry, if you are expecting a slim firearm
  • More like a full-sized pistol than a .380 pocket pistol

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the shooter who prefers range time over hip time. Any shooter who wants a great gun at a great price, without all the marketing hype. Lovers of the .380 ACP platform.


KEL-TEC - P-3AT

KEL-TEC - P-3AT

A pistol not unlike the Ruger LCP and the Bersa, that is an iteration of a longstanding proven design that fits well into the .380 Auto market, because it’s been around for a long time in it. Sure, this is not the original offering from Kel-Tec for this space, but it is a well-proven, nicely made firearm for the money and offers all the sub compact perks without any of the hype.

It’s not hard to explain this one: lightweight, compact, easy to control, despite the diminutive size and priced better than most of the market. Did we mention that it’s incredibly reliable with the right ammunition? That’s more than a lot of .380 sub-compact firearms can say.

Specs

  • Action Type: Double Action Only
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.76" 
  • Length: 5.16"
  • Weight: 0.46 lbs

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • A proven design from a company that practically helped reinvent the .380 Auto market

Cons

  • Can feel a bit cheap because of inconsistent fit and finish concerns from factory at times

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the shooter who wants a no-frills CCW gun and for whatever reason hasn’t adopted the Ruger LCP. Anyone who already loves the Kel-Tec ecosystem and knows the hidden value of their guns.


Remington RM380

Remington RM380

Remington’s answer to the craze of the Ruger LCP. This has a better trigger and is a better finished gun than either the Ruger or the Kel-Tec, and it’s slightly larger. These are all good reasons for some shooters to explore this gun over those other two. You would be getting a substantially similar experience out of the Remington RM380 as you would with the others, of course with a better trigger and a slightly larger size.

The gun is simple, lightweight, and now, quite proven. A perfect competitor to the Ruger LCP or the Kel-Tec, this is a 7 shot pocket pistol with a bit more heft (though not much, at just over 12 ounces).

Specs

  • Action Type: Double Action Only
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.9" 
  • Length: 5.27"
  • Weight: 0.76 lbs

Pros

  • Simple, and well finished for the money
  • Good trigger feel compared to the most immediate competitors

Cons

  • More expensive than the Ruger with not a ton more upside on the implementation

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for the shooter who likes Remington over Ruger but wants the Ruger LCP experience. It’s so similar to the Ruger LCP in implementation while shooting, and the trigger, while better than the Ruger, still acts like a double action sub-compact trigger should.


Browning 1911-380

Browning 1911-380

For the shooter who doesn’t care for the smallest gun, but instead is drawn to the .380 ACP for other reasons, and wants a traditionalist “feel” to their gun, while using a beautiful piece of hardware. This is a classically designed, pretty gun that heavily draws from the 1911 design and shoots the .380 ACP very well.

It's exceptionally easy to handle, even though it might be a bit on the larger side for those looking for true all-purpose concealment.

The Browning name and the fit and finish caries this gun across the finish line easily, and for those that can justify the larger frame, this is a truly fine firearm for the money (note: it’s significantly more expensive than a lot of guns on this list)

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action
  • Capacity: 8+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 4.25" 
  • Length: 7.5"
  • Weight: 1.125 lbs

Pros

  • Amazing furniture quality and checkering
  • A gorgeous piece
  • Browning Quality
  • Exceptional sights

Cons

  • Not really a compact pocket gun, even if some pockets can conceal it
  • More expensive than most guns on this list by a large margin

This is best for:

Best 380 pistol for those who don’t care about pocket sized .380’s but instead want a gun that reaches across multiple use cases and can easily be put into service as a CCW gun, even though it’s larger than most competitors for the caliber.


Kahr CW380

Kahr CW380

A well-loved, well-proven design that once was a newcomer with a lot of innovations and a hefty weight class. The Kahr Arms .380 dons a lighter weight polymer frame but still has the same quality build that made Kahr Arms a legitimate brand among a sea of guns that were priced more favorably than it.

The no-frills looks and the highly intuitive design philosophy bring out the best from the CW380 to make it easily one of the most well thought out guns in this market space.

The long, consistent, heavy trigger pull has become the trademark Kahr feature, along with the top tier metal finishing and the heavy, but balanced swing of the pistols from Kahr. For those who want a no-nonsense, tough firearm that is made to last, this is hard to beat.

Specs

  • Action Type: Single Action
  • Capacity: 6+1-Round
  • Barrel Length: 2.58" 
  • Length: 4.96"
  • Weight: 0.64 lbs

Pros

  • Built like a tank
  • A good trigger that is still stiff enough to be a legitimate safety feature

Cons

  • No external safety means you need to understand the gun well to feel competent with it
  • It can be somewhat expensive, even if it is exceptionally well-built

This is best for

Best 380 pistol for someone who wants the toughest gun they can put on their hip; and who needs a no-nonsense, fast to action firearm. Those who are comfortable with the double action trigger being their only safety on a gun that is not a revolver.


Our final thoughts

The compact pocket guns of yesterday have been totally revamped into modern, concealable, capable firearms, that only are further enhanced by the ballistic improvements that have been steadily implemented since the 1908 release of the caliber. These thirteen guns on the list above easily showcase the best in the field for those who need concealability, but also want performance enhancing features.

If you are looking for the best 380 pocket pistol or the best 380 pistol for concealed carry and self defense, even if it isn’t the traditional sub-compact design, it most certainly is one of the guns on the list above.

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