8 best .380 ACP pistols for concealed carry

8 best .380 ACP pistols for concealed carry

The .380 ACP round is used in slim, lightweight pistols—perfect for concealed carry. Though less powerful than larger calibers, today's .380 pistols pack impressive firepower into tiny, easily hidden frames. 

Quick links:

Glock 42

Browning 1911

S&W EZ Shield

Kahr CW380

Bersa Thunder Plus

Walther PPK

Sig P238

Ruger LCP II

Pros and cons

How to choose?

We've selected the top .380 ACP pistols that combine effortless concealability with sufficient capacity and shootability for EDC. Read on and find out which one best suits your concealed carry needs.

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Glock 42

Glock 42

Glock 42. Image source: https://us.glock.com/en/pistols/g42

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.25”

Overall length

5.94”

Width 

0.98”

Weight (unloaded)

15.87 oz

MSRP

$419.00


The Glock 42 is a slim, subcompact semi-auto pistol that can disappear under clothing with ease. 

The striker-fired mechanism offers the same striker, short-recoil operated, and locked-breech barrel as the larger framed Glock pistols, and uses the Gen4 dual recoil spring assembly. A textured grip supplies ample control while the Safe Action trigger enables accurate shot placement even under duress.

Standard white-dot sights facilitate rapid targeting in various lighting conditions. The trigger, trigger guard, and magazine release mimic full-size frames as well, promoting familiarity across the Glock family.

With dependable function, accuracy, and ergonomics, the G42 presents a great choice as an everyday carry firearm. The pistol ships with two single-stack 6-round magazines, maximizing slim dimensions for concealability while providing adequate firepower for personal defense.

This YouTube commenter loves his G42. The only issue he had was a grip, so he got extended grip mag covers.

UGC

Browning 1911-380

Features

Details

Capacity

8+1

Barrel length

4.25”

Overall length

7”

Width 

1.07”

Weight (unloaded)

18 oz

MSRP

$949.99


The Browning 1911-380 brings iconic 1911 ergonomics to an eminently concealable .380 ACP platform. Browning preserves the classic 1911 design cues, including the single action trigger system, grip safety, thumb safety, and 4.25” barrel length. The ultralight aluminum alloy frame minimizes weight for comfortable all-day concealed carry.

Despite compact dimensions, the 1911-380 retains excellent shootability thanks to front and back strap checkering augmenting the thin grips. Low-profile sights rapidly align while the single action trigger breaks crisply to enable accurate shot placement. The 1911-style magazine release and slide release facilitate smooth reloads.

Reliable feeding comes courtesy of the modified feed ramp and chamber geometry along with the dual recoil spring assembly. These enhancements allow the 1911-380 to cycle a wide variety of .380 ACP ammunition without a hitch, including hollow points.

Single stack magazines holding 8+1 rounds supply plenty of firepower while signature 1911 controls will prove familiar to most shooters.

Smith & Wesson EZ Shield

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P Shield EZ.

Image source: https://www.smith-wesson.com/product/m-p-380-shield-ez-manual-thumb-safety

Features

Details

Capacity

8+1

Barrel length

3.68”

Overall length

6.7”

Width 

1.04 oz

Weight (unloaded)

18.5 oz

MSRP

$459.00


Smith & Wesson designed the M&P380 Shield EZ as an easy-to-operate personal protection pistol, ideal for both experienced and first-time shooters. The standout feature enables remarkably smooth slide manipulation courtesy of grasp grooves and a light recoil spring. This allows swift chambering of a round without excessive force.

The crisp single-action trigger pull consistently breaks at 6 pounds allowing for accurate shot placement. An embedded tactile and audible reset also bolsters real-world performance. The manual thumb safety on ambidextrous models provides an additional layer of security.

The lightweight polymer frame soaks up mild .380 ACP recoil even in rapid-fire strings. Muzzle rise proves to be relatively minor thanks to the low bore axis. The grip texture supplies ample purchase without abrasiveness for comfortable all-day carry capacity.

The easy-loading 8-round single-stack magazines offer ample capacity. Windage adjustable white dot rear sights also enable intuitive sight alignment while the Picatinny accessory rail accommodates tactical lights or lasers.

With its smooth cycling slide, crisp trigger pull, manageable snappy recoil, and fast-to-acquire rear sights, the M&P380 Shield EZ creates a seamless shooting experience. The result stands out as an eminently sensible choice as an EDC self-defense pistol.

This reviewer recommends the Shield EZ because of its reliability.

UGC

Kahr CW380

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

2.58”

Overall length

4.96”

Width 

0.75”

Weight (unloaded)

10.2 oz

MSRP

$457.00


The CW380 maintains a slender width for seamless everyday carry while still including key features for personal defense use.

An enhanced combat grip texture reinforces adhesion during firing for better control. Drift adjustable white bar-dot sights also bolster low-light sight acquisition versus plain black configurations. These align quickly thanks to the smooth double-action-only trigger pull averaging around 7.5 pounds.

Trigger cocking remains consistent from the first to the last round thanks to the locked breech and tilt-barrel design. This solidly locks the chamber closed using Browning short recoil operation, eliminating potential rapid-fire timing issues.

Built on a rugged stainless steel slide riding on a textured polymer frame, the CW380 rates for +P ammunition while keeping weight at a discreet 10.2 ounces unloaded. Other nice touches include a flush-fitting 6-round magazine, snag-free sights, and all metal trigger components.

Despite so many negative reviews he read about Kahr CW380, this reviewer is very satisfied with his gun. 

UGC

Bersa Thunder Plus

Features

Details

Capacity

15+1

Barrel length

3.5”

Overall length

6.6”

Width 

1.35”

Weight (unloaded)

20.50 oz

MSRP

$399.99


The Bersa Thunder 380 Plus packs impressive build quality and features into a budget-friendly .380 ACP defensive pistol. Constructed primarily of steel with an aluminum alloy frame, the full metal body brings sturdy firepower for personal protection.

The Bersa Thunder 380 utilizes a traditional hammer-fired double-action/single-action system. This enables a chambered first shot if needed while follow-ups benefit from a crisp SA break. The trigger can lock in the decocked position for enhanced safety during carry.

Speaking of manual safeties, the Thunder 380 Plus incorporates an ambidextrous frame-mounted lever. Swept down to fire, the safety blocks the firing pin to help avoid accidental discharges.

Additional protection comes courtesy of an automatic firing pin block, while comfortable rubber wrap-around grips and a fixed barrel increase recoil and limit muzzle flip.

Walther PPK

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

3.3”

Overall length

6.1”

Width 

1”

Weight (unloaded)

19 oz

MSRP

$969.00


The Walther PPK has maintained its reputation as an iconic concealed carry pistol, blending a sleek profile with adequate firepower. The latest .380 ACP chambering retains the compact dimensions, concealable design, and premium all-metal pedigree of the Polizei Pistole Kriminalmodell (PPK) lineage.

Walther streamlined the time-tested blowback action for consistently smooth trigger pulls from shot to shot. The double action plus trigger delivers a heavier 11-pound first stage pull, followed by a lighter 7.5-pound single action. This enables confident chambering and accurate follow-ups when speed counts.

On-target visibility flourishes courtesy of low-profile 3-dot tritium sights. The high-visibility green lamps align rapidly even in poor lighting, while a snag-free profile allows smooth draws from concealment. Walther also extended the grip and magazine capacity to a handy 7 rounds in the .380 variant.

Weighing in at just 19 ounces unloaded in the stainless finish, the svelte PPK disappears under light clothing with ease. The ergonomic wrap-around grip curves seamlessly into the frame for comfortable carry and recoil-mitigating control.

Sig Sauer P238

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

2.7”

Overall length

5.5”

Width 

1.1”

Weight (unloaded)

15.2 oz

MSRP

$650.00


The Sig Sauer P238 is a slim, lightweight semi-automatic handgun that features all-metal construction with an aluminum alloy frame and stainless steel slide and barrel. 

Despite compact dimensions, the P238 still manages 6+1 rounds in the flush-fitting magazine. Weighing only 15.2 ounces unloaded, the P238 is one of the lightest handguns on our list, making it extra easy to carry discreetly. The smooth, consistent single-action trigger provides excellent accuracy for a small pistol. 

Other features aiding shootability include classic SigLite night sights, checkered grips, and a beveled magazine well for fast reloads. Though lightweight, the all-metal design gives the P238 heft and durability that inspires confidence. 

For safe carry, the P238 has an external safety and hammer decocking lever. With simple operation, renowned reliability, and concealable size, the P238 is an exceptional backup gun or deep concealment piece.

“When shooting, I like the visibility of the SIG sights and I especially like the tritium in the night sights that make it glow in the dark. I also like that it has a single-action trigger; it is really easy for me to pull and make accurate shots. I can rack the slide easily and load the chamber all with the safety engaged. It is chambered in a small caliber, .380 ACP, which is more manageable in recoil when I shoot, which is very helpful.” —Bradley, Lyns Defense

Ruger LCP II

Features

Details

Capacity

6+1

Barrel length

2.75”

Overall length

5.17”

Width 

0.82”

Weight (unloaded)

9.4 oz

MSRP

$479.00


Ruger built upon the wildly popular original LCP platform to create an even more refined concealed carry .380. The LCP II retains Ruger’s signature ultra-compact dimensions for discreet carry, as well as a locked breech and short recoil-operated action for shootability.

Despite the diminutive size of this pocket pistol, it features rugged construction courtesy of the one-piece alloy steel slide and through-hardened blued barrel. The textured glass-filled nylon grip adheres well while limiting weight to only  9.4 ounces unloaded.

The short, crisp single-action trigger pull averages under 6 pounds, allowing for precise shot placement, further bolstered by the fixed low-profile sights. The integral sights align rapidly from concealment for snag-free fast action when needed.

The 6+1 flush fitting magazine functions reliably, with the slide locking open automatically after the last round. The extended 7-round finger grip magazine option offers extra capacity without sacrificing concealability.

From the buttery trigger to the effortless slide manipulation facilitated by grippy serrations, the LCP II handles beautifully for its size. Durable construction provides reliability and shootability to deliver a  high-quality CCW.

Enhance the functionality of your LCP II with GunZee’s led weapons light!

Pros and cons of .380 ACP

Concealed carry pistols are hugely popular, but the most common type is a small pistol that’s easy to carry. 380 ACP pistols come in super compact and even pocket-sized models. 

Let’s review some advantages and disadvantages of .380 ACP pistols.

Pros

  • Compact. .380 pistols are pretty small and easy to carry, making them great for effective concealed carry.
  • Widespread. With their popularity, .380 pistols are widely available, so you shouldn’t struggle to find one that is perfect for you.
  • Affordable. 380 pistols are affordable compared to most other gun types, with prices starting around the $300s.
  • Good performance. The .380 makes good use of the short .380 ACP round and has enough stopping force to deter threats, so it works for self-defense.

Cons

  • Small grip. The tiny size of the .380 means the grip can be too small for some shooters.
  • Tiny sights. The sights are usually small, making it more difficult to shoot accurately at medium to long distances.
  • Less power. The .380 caliber is not as powerful as some other concealed carry calibers. It has enough stopping power for self-defense but may struggle with achieving clean take-downs.

Despite its limited power compared to larger calibers, the .380 ACP's compact size allows for concealability and still serves its purpose for self-defense.

How to choose the right .380 ACP concealed carry gun?

A .380 ACP handgun is an excellent choice for self-defense, offering deep concealment in your pocket along with enough stopping power to slow down or wound a target at close range.

Here are a few factors to consider when checking out .380 ACP pistols.

  1. Comfort and concealability. Ensure the gun is comfortable to carry and can be effectively concealed.
  2. Capacity. Consider the number of rounds the gun can hold. More rounds are advantageous for self-defense.
  3. Recoil management. Smaller calibers like .380 ACP generate less recoil, making them easier to control during rapid follow-up shots, which can be beneficial for users with less experience or those who struggle to manage recoil.
  4. Ammunition options. .380 ACP offers a variety of ammo options with different bullet types, weights, and speeds. It's essential to choose types of ammo that suit your self-defense needs.
  5. Personal preferences. Different people have different preferences, such as the type of action (hammer-fired or striker-fired) and the size of the gun.
  6. Training and familiarity. Regardless of the caliber, it's important to undergo proper training, become familiar with the chosen firearm, and stay up to date on training and practice.

Are you interested in handguns beyond .380 ACP? Our roundup of the best CCW guns should be interesting.

.380 ACP FAQ

Is .380 ACP good for concealed carry?

.380 ACP, also known as .380 Auto, is a popular caliber for concealed carry due to its manageable recoil and compact size. It is considered suitable for self-defense, especially for individuals who are sensitive to recoil and are looking to prioritize concealability.

Is .380 a weak gun?

.380 ACP is often considered a weaker gun compared to larger calibers like 9mm. While it has less stopping power and penetration than 9mm, it can still be effective for self-defense at close range. The trade-off is between stopping power and ease of concealment.

Why is .380 ACP more expensive than 9mm?

The higher cost of .380 ACP compared to 9mm can be attributed to several factors, including economies of scale, demand, and the manufacturing process. Although both calibers have the same bullet diameter, the .380 ACP is a shorter and less powerful round, which may contribute to its relatively higher cost.

At what distance is .380 ACP lethal?

The lethality of .380 ACP depends on various factors such as shot placement, bullet design, and the specific situation. Generally, it is considered lethal at close range, however, its effectiveness can be influenced by the specific conditions of a defensive situation.

What is the best caliber for self-defense?

The best caliber for self-defense is subjective and depends on various factors such as individual proficiency, comfort with the firearm, and the specific defensive scenario. Popular choices for self-defense calibers include 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP. It's important to choose a caliber that you can handle effectively and shoot accurately under stress.

Is .380 ACP better for new or experienced shooters?

.380 ACP is often recommended for new or inexperienced shooters due to its lighter recoil, which can make it easier to handle and shoot accurately. However, experienced shooters can also benefit from the controllability and ease of use of .380 ACP, especially in compact and lightweight firearms designed for concealed carry.

Which .380 pistol has the least recoil?

The level of recoil in a .380 pistol can vary depending on factors such as the design of the firearm, its weight, and the shooter's grip. Some .380 pistols known for having relatively low recoil include the S&W EZ 380 and the Sig P238. These pistols are designed to be more comfortable and controllable for shooters, especially those with a small frame or who are sensitive to recoil.

Do .380 pistols have larger sights than compact 9mms?

Generally, .380 compact pistols such as the Glock 42 and Smith & Wesson Shield have smaller sights compared to larger guns. They may utilize a snag-free low-profile sight design better suited for deep concealment and quick close-range targeting.

Why do some .380s have a heavy trigger?

Some .380 pistols utilize a heavier double-action trigger as a safety precaution on defensive guns meant for concealed carry use. This includes options like the Walther PPK and Bersa Thunder Plus. The heavy trigger pull aims to prevent unintentional discharges.

Why is .380 ACP one of the most popular self-defense calibers?

The .380 ACP offers a proven balance of compact concealability combined with adequate close-quarter stopping power in a versatile handgun platform. Modern bullet technology expands the effectiveness of this mild shooting yet easy-to-operate defensive cartridge.

Which holster works best for pocket .380 pistols?

Due to their tiny profiles, pocket holsters excel for .380 pistols, keeping the hammer protected while a tacky outside prevents unwanted shifting in pockets. Quality options like the Desantis Super Fly holster maintain perfect pocket positioning.

Do wider-diameter bullets expand better than narrow ones?

The wider diameter bullets, especially in jacketed hollow point styles, typically expand larger on impact. This creates larger wound channels and more stopping power. Wide bullet options like the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defense shine in short .380 barrels.

Which .380 pistol has the best laser sight option?

The S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ stands out as the optimal .380 to mount a laser sight, thanks to the integrated Picatinny style accessory rail under the barrel. This rail neatly accommodates laser sights like the Crimson Trace CTS-1300.

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