Kahr P380 .380 ACP Handgun Review

The Kahr P380, a compact lightweight pistol, packs a .380 ACP punch— it’s a concealed carry special!

The Kahr P380 takes all the positive characteristics of its popular larger Kahr siblings and reduces them to a pint-sized .380 ACP package.

In the last 20 years or so, it’s difficult to think of a phrase in the firearms industry where the meaning has changed as dramatically as “pocket pistol” has—or a pistol that’s as good an example of that change as Kahr’s P380. Looking for all the world like a smaller version of their popular polymer-framed semiautomatics, Kahr’s long-awaited .380 maintains all the features that made the bigger pistols so well-received—features such as usable sights, manageable controls, and a locked breech.

Pocket Pistol Defined
In its simplest definition, a pocket pistol is just that—it’s a gun you can carry in your pocket. Since they represent a compromise between carrying a full-size pistol and carrying no gun at all, they’re usually small in both stature and caliber. .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, and .380 ACP are all time-honored chamberings for hideout guns, with the bottlenecked .25 and .32 NAA rounds being petite, yet potent latecomers to the game. Since the 9mm Luger is generally regarded as the minimum power threshold for a serious belt gun, though, it’s fair to consider the .380 the top of the heap when it comes to pocket guns. And while larger caliber bullets are better performers—as with cars, there’s still no replacement for displacement—recent advances in bullet technology have made the .380 much more formidable than once it was. Still need convincing? Gunsite Academy, founded by the legendary Jeff Cooper and long known for their strict adherence to the .45 ACP, now actually offers a class devoted to pocket pistols.

The big reason to accept the reduction in fight-stopping power, of course, is that a smaller, lighter gun is more likely to be carried than a larger one—especially if it can be slipped into a pocket holster without the need to change your personal dress code. No doubt the P380, at 11½ ounces empty, is far lighter than something like a full-sized M1911 .45, which comes in at over two pounds unloaded. Yet the weight difference between a .380 and full-sized defensive pistol should come as no surprise; what’s surprising is how it compares to what we usually think of as a pocket gun.

One of the most venerable of the early pocket guns is Colt’s 1903, which was so well-received that it was carried by Gen. George S. Patton, and later adopted as the issue General Officer pistol for the U.S. Army. While you may not know it by name, it was enormously popular, and if you’ve ever seen any film noir movies (such as those with Humphrey Bogart) you’ve probably seen one. Chambered for the .32 or .380 auto cartridges, the scaled-down M1911-looking auto tips the scales at a hefty 1 pound, 10¾ ounces loaded—a couple ounces more than a snub-nosed Colt Detective Special .38 (1 lb, 8 oz), and nearly a quarter-pound more than James Bond’s beloved Walther PPK (1 lb, 7½ oz), perhaps the greatest pocket pistol of them all. What’s stunning though, is that the Kahr is a mere 13¾ ounces loaded—not only lighter than the .38, .380, and .32 but also lighter than Colt’s classic Vest Pocket .25, which weighs 14½ ounces, fully loaded.

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