The industry has changed quite a lot over the past several years. It used to be that to carry a small gun for good concealment, it would have to be a small 380 Auto pistol.
Nowadays, the 9mm guns have gotten smaller, and the 380 guns seem to be getting bigger, at least to some degree. This is an update to an article originally published in 2017, and things have changed.
The reason why is because with the invention of the SIG Sauer P365 series, followed by the Springfield Armory Hellcat, and then a lot of others, 9mm pistols have gotten smaller and more concealable, all while retaining their shootability.
Instead of going the way of the dinosaur, the 380 Auto pistol makers had to get creative, and, with an aging industry that may or may not have arthritis, the 380-chambered guns have gotten a little bigger.
They tend to be easier to shoot, easier to manipulate (control-wise) and are still quite concealable in that they’re the same size as some of their bigger-chambered counterparts.
What are the best .380 pistols on the market there now?
For this list, we have removed a gun and added a few to make for a bigger list. We did have three originally, now there are five.
Let’s get started.
Sig Sauer P238:
This is a small pistol that has remained on our list, even if SIG seems to be slowly discontinuing them. There is only currently one model available, linked below. If you need an ultra-small, micro-compact pistol with a thumb safety and short single-action trigger, then there is no need to look any further.
The Sig Sauer P238 is a pocket pistol chambered in .380 ACP that conceals nicely just about anywhere it’s holstered, in the pocket or otherwise.
The all-metal gun tips the scale at 15.2 ounces and has a 2.7-inch barrel, with an overall length of 5.5 inches. The P238 is also 1.1 inches wide.
This is one of the best .380 pistols on the market right now that is based on a much scaled-down version of a 1911 platform pistol. So, if you are right at home with a 1911 in your hand or holster, you will love the P238.
Make sure you read your owner’s manual when you get it before taking it apart. It can be finicky, which is one of the reasons why I suspect SIG may be phasing them out.
And, even though SIG only has one model available new, there are tons of these little pocket pistols out in the used market, and most gun shops have them in stock.
The G42 is also a carryover from the 2017 edition of this article.
Glock makes some of the best handguns around and tends to be the standard by which all others are measured. Their G42 is a great 380 pistol that is reliable, functional and conceals well.
They had some issues early on, but it has all been taken care of, and I can’t remember the last time I heard something negative about one.
The ones I’ve shot have all been excellent, and a good friend of mine swears by hers.
The Glock 42 is a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol that weighs in at 13.76 ounces, has a barrel length of 3.25 inches, and an overall length of 5.9 inches. Its width is .94 inches wide.
Of course, you won’t win any beauty pageants with a Glock, but reliability Trumps beauty ten out of 10 times. You can’t go wrong with a Glock 42, and though I do not own one, it is one of the best .380 pocket pistols around.
S&W Shield EZ:
For our first new gun to the list, we’ve got the one that, I believe, started it all for the bigger 380-gun craze currently taking place. S&W’s goal with the EZ was to create a defensive gun that was easy to shoot and manipulate.
While I’m generally not a fan of grip safeties on my guns unless it’s a 1911, I have shot this pistol and do believe that they have fixed some of the issues that the Springfield XDs had. Which, in case you didn’t know, is that a concave palm struggled to press the safety in far enough and could cause a malfunction while shooting.
S&W lists this pistol as a “micro-compact”, but I personally struggle with that choice because it is on the bigger side with a barrel measuring 3.68 inches and an overall length of 6.7 inches. And, in fact, after checking — it is the biggest gun on this list. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
These do get some hate in some circles, but I haven’t had any issues with the ones I’ve shot, and this does fill a niche for people who have weaker hands and want the ability to defend themselves.
Yes, I’ve included the SCCY CPX3 in this list, and you’ll just have to deal with it. I’ve got countless rounds downrange through one and it runs great.
As far as triggers go, it actually has one of the better double-action-only triggers I’ve felt in a pistol of this type, even if it takes 9 pounds or so of pressure to get it to fire.
The pistol has a barrel length of 2.9 inches and an overall length of 5.7 inches, making this a concealable gun. It was designed to work well with the lower-recoiling 380 ACP and is easy to rack the slide because of it.
Someone I know has arthritis and was able to chamber a round, easily.
Better, this is the cheapest gun we’ve featured here with an MSRP currently at under $250. Magazine capacity is best-in-class (tied with the SIG 365-380) 10+1 rounds.
The only thing I’m not a fan of is the grip. I’ve got big hands and feel like a gun company shouldn’t tell me where I should put them.
Rounding out the list is the SIG Sauer P365-380. Shortly after releasing the original 365 series, the good folks over at SIG realized that they had a real winner on their hands and got to work creating spinoff models.
One such model is the 365-380, which I had the pleasure of shooting shortly after release at an industry event I went to. As with many of the other guns on this list of the best 380 ACP pistols, the 365-380 has an easily racked slide and produces minimal recoil.
The guns in this series were already easy to shoot, and by combining them with the lower-recoiling 380 cartridges, they got even milder.
Adding to the benefits is that it comes with a best-in-class 10+1 magazine capacity (tied with the CPX3), has an overall length of just 5.8 inches, and a barrel of 3.1 inches.
Hopefully, our list of what we consider to be the top 380 ACP pistols was able to give you some direction. When you’re ready to purchase a holster for your new gun, make sure you check out our selection of hand-crafted concealed carry gun holsters.
All photos taken from manufacturer websites.