Guns for concealed carry are not short on the ground. When it comes to self-protection and personal safety, the reasons are fairly obvious, but there is a lot more involved. We will look at a weapon that is suitable for these purposes: The .380pistol.
In this respect, there will be seven reviews of the best .380 pistols for concealed carry. We will also include buying tips that will hopefully steer you in the right direction when it comes to concealed carry weapons and the .380 pistol in particular.
The best .380 concealed carry pistols are quite rightly known as “Pocket Rockets.”
These handguns are perfect for IWB (Inside-the-waistband) carry. This is a generalized term, but rest assured, you will have no problem concealing one in a reasonably sized pocket, under the arm or inside of the bra, for example.
While small handguns are designed for ease of concealment, they should also be easy to access. Fumbling around and trying to get your gun quickly into the ‘ready’ position is the last thing you need.
Ideal For Concealment, But Will They Down Your Target?
Carrying a concealed weapon for self-defense means exactly that. You want the gun you are carrying to be effective when it comes to stopping your assailant. This means that you need to be aware of exactly what your chosen .380 pistol can do.
Understanding its effectiveness is very much down to a variety of factors. This includes the type of ammo you use, the recoil the gun will give, and how efficient you are at using your gun with accuracy.
In our buying guide section, we will get into the different types of ammunition available and what effects gun recoil. We will also touch on the all-important matter of efficient, accurate use of the most reliable .380 pocket pistol models.
First, let’s take a look at seven of the:
This list is by no means exhaustive. There is a wide, excellent choice of best .380 pocket pistol models out there. Our ‘Super Seven’ choices will cut across different manufacturers of the best .380 concealed carry pistols.
This includes models that can be classed as the best .380 pistol full size, the most reliable .380 pocket pistol, and much more.
Top 7 Best .380 Pistols For Concealed Carry 2020 Reviews
1 Ruger – LCP® II 380 ACP 6+1 – Best .380 Pocket Pistol
If you are looking for a handgun, then Ruger will certainly not disappoint. In terms of the best/most reliable .380 pocket pistol models, their LCP II is certainly worthy of consideration.
The original LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) was undoubtedly a highly popular pistol. With its refinements, the LCP II is a much-improved offering. It has to be rated in the best .380 pocket pistol category.
This best .380 concealed carry pistol comes with a polymer frame and plain muzzle. It has a barrel length of 2.75 inches. Other dimensions are 3.71 inches tall by 0.75 inches wide and an overall length of 5.17 inches. It certainly will not weigh you down; it comes in at just 10.6 ounces in weight.
Capacity-wise, you are getting a 6-round magazine with one in the chamber. It takes .380 Auto ACP cartridges and is recoil-operated.
Improved sights are yours. Both the front and rear sights are fixed to enhance visibility.
The original LCP models trigger gave some concern. However, this upgraded, highly reliable .380 pocket pistol features a single-action, short and crisp trigger with inner trigger safety included. Staying on safety, this best .380 pocket pistol also has an easy-to-rack slide. This comes with an improved slide stop mechanism with a last round hold-open feature.
As for the grip – You are getting a larger grip surface, this helps to better distribute recoil
We touched on ease of access for the best .380 concealed carry pistols. The Ruger LCP II achieves this thanks to its smoothed edge finish. It is ideal as a pocket-holster carry gun.
The most reliable .380 pocket pistol models have one thing in common: Simplicity of use. The LCP II is a point in case. This user-friendly gun has controls that consist of a magazine release and slide release plus an easy pull trigger that has integrated safety.
The excellently priced Ruger standard LCP II model comes without a laser sight but has the ability to take one at a later date. However, those who know they want a laser attachment immediately to deal with any low light conditions have an option. They can purchase Rugers all-inclusive laser attachment offering. The same gun, but it comes pre-installed with a Viridian Laser.
- A very popular pistol.
- Ease and speed of use are yours.
- Improved t
- rigger and safety.
- Easily concealed, easy to draw quickly.
- Model that allows a Laser to be added down the line and a Laser-inclusive model.
- Popular with Law Enforcement as a back-up weapon.
- Comes with one x 6 magazine only.
- Recommended to purchase at extra cost a spare magazine and have it loaded/ready/with you at all carrying times.
2 Sig Sauer – P238 SPARTANII 380 ACP – Best .380 Handgun
We are certainly moving up a few notches in price with this best .380 handgun. The P238 Spartan II is from the renowned handgun manufacturer Sig Sauer.
Custom finish is yours with this best .380 handgun. It is finished in a coyote-tan and engraved with the famous King Leonidas “MOLON LABE” saying – Meaning “Come and take them.” The Spartan theme continues on the grips with inlaid ‘Spartan Helmet’ panels. If you are looking for a unique, best .380 pocket pistol design to “Wow,” the P238 Spartan II is for you.
The P238 Spartan II is one of the most reliable .380 pocket pistols on the market. The pistol has a stainless steel frame that is paired with a same material slide. This metal-framed approach is not seen in many other best .380 concealed carry pistols. What it does show is the SIG commitment to quality build.
Due to its construction material, the P238 weighs in at 15.2 ozs. This is heavier than the other best 380 handguns we have listed. The build delivers what it promises: High quality, durability, and robustness for the every day carrying it needs to withstand.
It has an overall length of 5.5 inches, barrel length of 2.7 inches, and is chambered in .380 ACP. Included in the purchase price is 1 x 7-round magazine. You also get quality SIGLITE night sights and an excellent trigger for your money.
If you have experience of 1911 pistols, then this SIG offering is even more suitable. The P238 combines all 1911 standard controls into one small, compact package. Examples here being a manual thumb safety along with the single-action trigger. Perfect as a best .380 concealed carry pistol.
- Super cool, stylish design.
- High quality.
- 1911 shooters will appreciate the controls.
- Trickier than some of the other .380’s to disassemble/assemble.
- On the heavier side for all-day IWB carry.
3 Glock 42 .380ACP (Made in USA) UI4250201
Glock by name, Glock by nature – You know what you are getting with Glock. Quality, reliability, and huge popularity. The Glock 42 is the largest pistol on our list but must be ranked amongst the best .380 pistol full size models available.
As mentioned, this is the largest of our best .380 pocket pistol reviewed, but size needs putting into perspective. The Glock 42 .380 ACP has a polymer build and is the smallest pistol Glock has ever released.
It comes in at 5.94 inches in length, 4.13 inches high, and 0.94 inches wide. The right hand twist barrel is 3.25 inches long. In terms of weight, it is 13.76 oz unloaded and 17.29 oz fully loaded with its 6+1 round single-stack magazine.
So, size wise it is not that much larger than other best .380 pistol full size models, but it is still small and light enough to carry in a jacket pocket without a problem.
The trigger functions in the same way as it’s big Glock brothers, and with the 42 model you have a 5.5 lbs trigger pull.
It is used by Law Enforcement officers as a back-up weapon. This should tell you that in emergency situations, it is easy to draw and straightforward to fire from your chosen concealed holster. An additional advantage comes from the high profile sights. These make aiming far easier.
- A proven best .380 full size weapon.
- Functions like a 9mm.
- Particularly effective if you know where to hit your target.
- With the correct holster, very easy to draw and fire.
- High profile sights = easy aiming.
- No manual safety features.
- Magazine capacity of 6 rounds.
- Larger than other pocket pistols.
4 Smith & Wesson M&P Bodyguard .380 W/O LASER ‒ 109381
Yet another famed handgun manufacturer. Smith & Wesson (S&W) have been producing solid, reliable weapons for decades. The model we are reviewing in our best .380 pistols for concealed carry is their M&P Bodyguard .380-without laser. This is the S&W answer to the Ruger LCP II we reviewed earlier. It rates among the most reliable .380 pocket pistol models on our list.
This is the smallest handgun S&W has ever released and has to be rated as one of the best .380 pistol full size models. For the record, M&P stands for Military & Police. The design is based on larger S&W handguns in this format but has been compacted in size and re-chambered for .380 use.
One thing you can be assured of: This best .380 handgun has retained that lethal capacity to stop assailants in their tracks.
The Bodyguard 380 pistol is hammer fired as opposed to semi-automatic. This means it is double action only (hammer-fired). You should expect a long trigger pull prior to the hammer striking the primer.
It has a capacity of 6+1 rounds. Sufficient if you are accurate, but always worthwhile keeping an extra, fully loaded magazine close to hand.
You get a quality stainless steel slide. This has been black anodized to ensure blending with the rest of this best .380 pocket pistol. It’s compact, polymer frame size is highlighted with a stainless steel, 2.75-inch barrel. In terms of overall length, this best .380 handgun is 5.3 inches.
Weight-wise it is 12 oz. (0.75 lbs) unloaded, but don’t worry, even loaded it is light. Both front and rear sights are made from stainless steel and are drift adjustable.
It is usually the case that you can buy the Bodyguard 380 with 2 x 6-round magazines. The first supplied magazine comes with a flat level base. The second has a neat finger extension that will support your little finger. This latter feature should give you a more solid grip.
For those in need, there is a laser version that comes equipped with a Crimson Trace laser. Obviously, this will add to the cost but is a very useful addition for shooters looking at a laser attachment from the get-go.
This handgun has to be ranked among the most reliable .380 pocket pistols out there — small stature – powerful performance.
- From a high pedigree gun manufacturer.
- Solid, stainless steel inclusions.
- Front & Rear sights are drift adjustable.
- Different style magazines available.
- A lot of safety locks, but not that easy to disengage. Practice is a must.
- 9.5 lbs trigger pull – Heavy for a gun of this size.
- Not the cheapest pocket rocket on the block.
5 Smith & Wesson – M&P380 Shield EZ 2.0 No Thumb Safety
This is our 2nd S&W model reviewed. We make no apologies for including 2 of the best .380 pistols for concealed carry from this highly respected handgun manufacturer. S&W really does produce quality handguns. Their M&P380 Shield EZ 2.0 is another fine example of this.
Major specifications include Barrel length – 3.68 inches, overall length 6.70 inches, height 4.90 inches, width 1.07 inches. Single action only (SAO), weight loaded 21.6 oz. (1.35 lbs), trigger pull -4.5 lbs.
This best .380 concealed carry EDC (Every Day Carry) pistol is very easy to operate and has been designed with safety in mind. These two factors make it ideal for new and inexperienced shooters.
The M&P380 Shield EZ’s design means less force/strength is required when racking back the slide. It also has deep serrations on the slide’s rear that increases the gripping surface and further assists with racking.
Staying with the grip, it comes with what is termed as “aggressive texturing.” This design feature means the pistol stays firmly anchored in the shooters hand.
This is a big advantage not just for racking the slide but helping to control recoil. The grip angle of 18 degrees also affords a natural point for aiming.
It comes with a single action trigger that gives a crisp break and a distinctive reset sound. This will help breed confidence in use. It means the shooter will clearly feel and hear the trigger action. The precise trigger control on the M&P380 differs from other models in the M&P line. This trigger does not come with a built-in passive safety feature. Instead, there is a grip safety feature.
With this best .380 handgun, you get three white dot sights – the rear sight is windage adjustable. The under-frame Picatinny rail makes light or laser sight mounting easy, and there is a visual/tactile loaded chamber indicator.
As for cleaning, disassembly is very straightforward. This feature has to be seen as convenient for novice shooters.
All-in-all, this can be classed as one of the easy to use, easy to clean, and easy to load, high capacity .380 pistols on the market. The higher capacity is due to the fact it offers an 8-round magazine.
- Good choice for new/inexperienced shooters.
- Slide is easy to rack.
- Low recoil.
- Crisp trigger action.
- Audible reset.
- Under-frame Picatinny rail for optic attachment.
- Ease of disassembly for cleaning.
- Not the most compact concealed carry pistol out there.
- Light trigger pull. This can be classed as both a ‘pro’ and a ‘con.’
6 Kahr Arms CW380 6+1 .380 ACP 2.5″ – Best Concealed Carry pistol
We put this in the best .380 pistols for concealed carry for two major reasons. It has a compact design and certainly packs a punch. In terms of power, you can compare it with a Glock 42, but the CW380 is smaller in all dimensions.
The CW380 measures 4.88 inches in length, has a 2.58-inch barrel, a height of 3.92 inches, and a width of 0.90 inches. It’s loaded weight with 6+1 round magazine is 13.01 oz. (0.8 lbs).
In terms of being one of the best concealed-carry pistols, you should have no issues tucking it away. It comes with a comfortable polymer-framed grip, and similar to all Kahr pistols, it has a ‘striker-fired action.’ The trigger pull is seen as being less than 5.5 lbs.
It comes with a pinned in polymer front sight, and the rear sight is of white bar-dot, drift-adjustable combat design. Many owners like to put their own sight on this pistol, and there are aftermarket options available.
This pistol’s slide is not the easiest to rack. This should not be an issue for most shooters, but if you are a shooter in need of a very easy slide racking function, then look elsewhere. On the plus side, the recoil from this pistol is quite mild.
If in doubt as to the racking function, go down to your local range and hire a Kahr CW380 for a session. Discuss with the range staff its merits, and you will have your answer!
While you are at the range, make sure you check ammo compatibility. This pistol shoots much better with specific types of ammo.
- Compact is the name of the game.
- Packs a punch.
- Acceptably light recoil.
- Smooth trigger action.
- Ammo sensitive
- Racking function may put some shooters off.
- You may feel the need to replace the sights. Aftermarket options are available.
7 FS Taurus 738 TCP .380 ACP
We finish our reviews with one of the lightest, concealed carry pistols on the market.
This is the lightest Taurus handgun ever produced. The 738 TCP (Taurus Compact Pistol) weighs in unloaded at 10.2 oz. (0.62 lbs).
Size wise, you are looking at 3.75 inches height with a magazine and 0.87 inches in width. Its overall length of 5.19 inches includes a barrel length of 3.3 inches. This best .380 concealed carry pistol will fit snugly into just about any pocket you have, with room to spare. For ease of concealment, this is right up any shooter’s street.
For the quality build, stylish looks, size, and most importantly, a most reliable .380 pocket pistol, you will not go far wrong with very attractively priced Taurus 738 TCP. There is a choice of slide colorations to consider. We recommend those with a larger budget to take a look at the Titanium variation. It is even lighter coming in at 9.0 oz (0.56 lbs) and really does look stylish.
It is a fact that 6+1-rounds is the usual ammo configuration for best .380 pocket pistol models out there. The 738 TCP we are reviewing comes as standard with a 6+1 round capacity. However, you can purchase an extended magazine that will take 8+1 rounds.
This moves the pistol into the high capacity .380 pistols category. Although it will mean your pistol is slightly larger, this does not really affect the ease of concealment.
You are getting a thin, lightweight, small polymer pocket gun that has been built to last. It features such things as a loaded chamber indicator, slide lock, and an ambidextrous magazine release. It is rare to find these latter features on this type of small pistol.
The 738 TCP is double action only with a trigger pull that is acceptable. Some shooters may wish for a shorter trigger pull, but this trigger action seems to work for most who are looking at a best .380 concealed carry pistol.
While Taurus does describe these sights as fixed and low-profile, they may be too low profile for some! This can be overcome by purchasing a purpose-made optic for the pistol.
The Taurus 738 TCP offers excellent reliability and ease of carry, but for those on a tight budget, a real feature has to be its low price. This best .380 handgun really does offer excellent value.
- Excellent value.
- Compact and lightweight.
- Perfectly easy to conceal carry.
- Highly reliable.
- Smooth trigger pull.
- Extended magazine available – one of the few high capacity .380 pistols out there.
- Titanium slide offers cool looks and is lighter.
- Low profile sights are very low.
- Edges could be smoother.
Best .380 Pistols For Concealed Carry Buyers Guide
Shooters in the market for one of the best .380 pistols for concealed carry need to take a variety of considerations into account. These should be relevant to their particular personal use and needs. We will get one issue out of the way before pinpointing some of the things you should consider before purchasing a best .380 handgun.
The debate continues over how effective a best .380 handgun is when it comes to stopping power. This is not the article to get into a discussion on comparisons between this type of pistol and other more powerful handguns, but would say:
It is important to understand that to make the best use of any gun for self-defense purposes; you need to be confident in use. You also need to have the ability to accurately acquire and hit whatever you are aiming at.
By achieving an accurate shot or series of shots from the best .380 pocket pistol will do the intended job. It will often be the case that well-placed shots will put your assailant down. At the very least, accurately placed shots will certainly slow their intended progress.
This means that practice is vital. Make sure you become very familiar with your chosen .380 pistol. Make it a habit of getting down to the range for regular practice. Getting into this sort of routine could very well save your life.
What You Should Be Looking For In The Best .380 Pistols For Concealed Carry?
Here are ten things to take into consideration before purchase:
It needs to be small enough to conceal – This will depend on such things as the shooters stature and type of clothing they normally wear.
It needs to be light enough to comfortably carry.
The best .380 handguns will be sturdy and durable. They should be built to last a long time.
Trigger actions and ‘pull’ weight vary. Inexperienced or new shooters (or those new to compact handguns) should visit their local range and test different models. Something to bear in mind – Triggers that need a long, heavy pull are not the most suitable for people with small hands.
This is because once the longer trigger pull to release the bullets is achieved, there is generally a heavier recoil. This effect increases the chances of misplaced shots. Double action guns commonly have this type of trigger action
They need to be accurate in order for you to be confident of hitting your intended target. Regular practice plays a big part in this.
The pistol needs to have a good track record in terms of reliability.
The ammo used needs to work each and every time with your chosen pistol. The cost of said ammo should also be taken into consideration. Hollow points, ball ammo, full metal jacket – All have their pros and cons – Understand clearly what you are buying into.
The majority of .380s come with fixed sights – Front & Rear – Are these adjustable? It is better if they are. – Is it possible to add a laser or night sight optic to your pistol? The best available are lightweight and small. They also cost.
This is certainly not a ‘life or death’ consideration. The design and style that suits one shooter does not necessarily meet the appreciation of another.
But, as you are investing in a pistol that will stay with you for a long time, you should choose a design that suits your personal style.
An obvious consideration, but don’t break the bank. Go for one of the best .380 pistols for concealed carry that will fit sensibly into your budget. Do also remember the cost of ammo. This outlay will be on a recurring basis!
So, What Are The Best .380 Pistols For Concealed Carry?
The merits of a best .380 concealed carry pistol when it comes to delivering real “stopping power” will continue to rumble. However, with accuracy, the correct ammo, and a calm mind, we believe the best .380 pistols for concealed carry will deliver what is intended if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation.
Having one of these best .380 handguns about your person is also far better than having no firearm at all!
Taking into account what pistol is suitable for the vast majority of shooters, we go for the…
This best .380 pocket pistol will meet your needs, pocket, and bank balance! It is compact, and lightweight meaning ease of concealment is yours. It is highly reliable and comes with a smooth trigger pull. You can also buy an extended magazine to turn it into one of the few high capacity .380 pistols out there.
As for stylish looks, it comes in different colors, but do take a look at the titanium slide version. Very neat, indeed!