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Let's Buy A Pocket Pistol

Conceal Carry Self Defense .380 Sig Sauer Ruger Kahr Diamondback Smith & Wesson Desert Eagle

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Poll: You Must Choose (7 member(s) have cast votes)

If you were to purchase a .380 "pocket pistol" today, which would it be?

  1. Sig Sauer P238 (2 votes [28.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.57%

  2. Kahr P380 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  3. Micro Desert Eagle (1 votes [14.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.29%

  4. Diamondback DB380 (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. Ruger LCP (2 votes [28.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 28.57%

  6. Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 (1 votes [14.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.29%

  7. Kel-Tec P-3AT (1 votes [14.29%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.29%

  8. Other (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#1 Jeremiah

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Posted 28 April 2012 - 10:49 PM

Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? I've decided that I need a "pocket pistol" and I've pretty much narrowed my choice down at least to the .380 caliber. I've scanned the field and am quite pleased to see so many viable options these days. (Sorry. Nothing against them, but I'm just not interested in a snubby wheel gun this time around.) Believe me, if it's out there I've likely looked at it. At this point, I must say that I am actually pretty proud of myself. Unfortunately, I'm not always the most patient person. Admittedly, I sometimes impulse buy "sporting goods" the way that some folks impulse buy a pack of gum or candy bar when waiting in a check-out line. So, this has been a positive experience thus far.

With that said, notable pistols on my list thus far have included...

Sig Sauer P238
Kahr P380
Micro Desert Eagle
Diamondback DB380
Ruger LCP
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380
Kel-Tec P-3AT

The above are pretty much listed by price ranging from highest to lowest (not preference). As you can see, my price range is pretty much wide open. In fact, as each of the above seem to be able to be outfitted with Crimson Trace style laser dot sights, I expect to spend even more than the base price for any of them as I will definitely want that option.

Now, I have combed over the specs of each pistol above and virtually agonized over every aspect of my pending purchase. But, I must say that above all, reliability is my number one concern. Price, build quality, features, and looks all wash away if, God forbid, I am ever in a situation where I must actually pull one of these pistols from my pocket to defend my life. In that moment, I fully expect for whatever I am concealing to go "BANG!" when I pull the trigger.

In my research, I have found reviews that range from "glowing" to "garbage" for each of the above pistols. (Hence, one of the main reasons I'm here to ask you folks for opinions too!) A few of the above have sort of worked their way down my "desirability scale". Honestly, with a few of them my reasoning is not solely based upon function or quality. For example, I will say right now that the Diamondback pistols seem to be somewhat scarce in my area. So, right there that is a problem for me as I would like ready support in the event I need it. (Not having to drive an hour to some obscure gun shop is also a plus.) Beyond that, I'd rather not go into too much detail of my opinion(s) of the above pistols as I don't wish to offend anyone if my take is not in line with theirs. With that said, I'll simply state that the Smith & Wesson, Desert Eagle, and Kel-Tec are, in no particular order, at the bottom of my shopping list.

At the top of my shopping list are the Kahr, Sig, and Diamondback. Yes, the Diamondback still makes my short-list based upon what I've seen and read of them. Frankly, they are so similar to the Glock pistols I am already familiar with that I feel I would be nuts for not taking them seriously as a lot of conceal carry confidence is in knowing your weapon and being very familiar with its function. Obviously, this also makes the Kahr of notable interest to me as well.

The Ruger LCP is the one pistol here I am neither hot nor cold for. It's a pretty clear Kel-Tec knock off. Which, I am one of those who actually thinks is a good thing. I think that Ruger has a fairly good reputation for build quality and the LCP, even with laser, retails as low as $400. It's a solid pick. I just can't say that it "excites" me, however.

The Sig... Well, you've likely noticed that it's a Single-Action Only piece. No, I didn't make a mistake listing it. I'm one who doesn't mind carrying "cocked and locked" with a quality holster. That said, of each pistol above this is the only one that may make its way into an inside the waistband holster rather than a pocket holster should I purchase one. For me, it would really be about keeping it a little cleaner. I'd hate to have my obituary read, "Jeremiah was gunned down by a mugger when his trusty P238 failed to fire as the result of a large wad of pocket lint wedged under the hammer." That said, while not a true 1911 design, it sure has that look and I am definitely a fan! (So, yes, it's the one pistol on the list that I do have a little "eye candy lust" for. Sue me.)

Well, that just about brings things full circle. After some thought, I elected to turn this into a poll as well. But, please, if anyone has any opinion(s) or personal experience(s) to share with any of the above "pocket pistols", or even any others I may not have listed, I would very much enjoy reading them. Thanks much for your time, folks.

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#2 cayugad

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:28 AM

I think any of them would make a last resort kind of pistol. Face it, you'd carry that thing only to make a stand if someone decided they wanted you. And for that you slip a could .380s in them, while it might not knock them down, it is going to make them think about their life of crime.

Good report. Do they make the same model but in say a 9mm?
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#3 mudduck

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 08:40 AM

I've shot the Sig, Ruger,and Smith from your list, also one not on your list, the Taurus .380.
For me, Width is very important for a "pocket gun" and a low smooth profile. I am a huge fan of the Sigs,but, the Ruger would be my choice from your list. Even the Ruger LC9 is narrower than the .380 Sig. I wouldn't worry about "lint", I seriously doubt YOU would ever let one of your firearms get dirty,lol. There arn't any poor choices on your list. Something else you might want to consider, some of the guns have a mag "extender" to wrap your little finger around, some don't (requires a 2 finger grip) not a big deal because of low recoil, but a comfort consideration none the less

#4 Jeremiah

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 11:55 AM

That's for sure, Jeff. The P238 (Colt Mustang knock-off) is definitely the biggest (at least widest) piece on the list. There are a handful of pocket 9mm's thinner. So, if I'm honest with myself, I'd sooner take the slim 9mm over the Sig if the P238 were the only .380 I was considering. It's just my wild card. I think it's a pistol I will eventually own just to have one. (Hey, I'm not married. So, there's nobody to even apologize to. LOL) But, it probably would never actually be a dedicated concealed weapon.

We also seem to be tuning in to the same wavelength where the LCP is concerned. The more I look at it, the more I think it actually fits what I'm wanting to do. I can even snag the laser model for $399 from Gander Mountain (box store) right now if I wanted it. In many ways, "boring" is looking pretty good to me.

Of course, someone who shall remain nameless did just have to go and open the 9mm can of worms here. Posted Image
Seriously, I have a day of "shopping" planned this Tuesday. (Four or five different gun shops within a one hour loop of home.) I plan to get my hands wrapped around as many pistols as possible one last time before making my decision. I've already agreed to allow myself to look at a couple of the micro 9mm offerings. One plus there, for me, would be that I already own a full size 9mm. So, it would be one less type of ammo to stockpile. Obviously, it would be a more "serious" round as well. I just can't help but think of the extra weight of a magazine of 9mm vs. .380 though. I know, I know... I'm turning into a "girl" in my "old age". (No offense intended to any of our female and/or elderly members! Believe me, I am likely far more physically weak than any of you. LOL)

Oh, yeah... Specific "Pocket Nines"... My list would likely be from the same manufacturers.
Sig P938 and P290, Kahr PM9, Diamondback DB9, and Kel-Tec P-F9, for example. (With the DB9 actually being the thinnest and lightest of them... So, I'll definitely take a look at one when I get to the Diamondback dealer.)

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#5 mudduck

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 03:34 PM

one more consideration, maybe the most important. This won't be a hunting pistol or a target pistol, this will be a pistol to deploy fast,maybe very fast, and dump a clip into a 20" by 20" target at 25 ft. or less. I wouldn't be as concerned with good sights as I would be with how and where I'm going to wear and draw it. An adult male can cover 25ft in less than 1.5 seconds, your shooting distance could be less than 3ft (depending on recognition of threat and reaction time), therefore,sighting is less important than pointing

#6 Jeremiah

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:27 PM

An excellent point which brings up another question for me. Virtually all of the above pistols can be outfitted with a Crimson Trace Laserguard. Despite the fact that it will add a small amount of weight and size, I fully intend to install one. I haven't used a laser dot sight in several years. Back when I had one (ten years ago?), it was difficult to see in bright lighting (and impossible to see outside in the day time). Is this still pretty much the case or have these gadgets seen advancements in more recent years?

Anyone have any other opinions on laser sights?

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#7 mudduck

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 05:49 PM

We have a Streamlite TLR 2S laser sight, visible at 50ft at least, in bright sunlight. Now, this light also has a regular l.e.d. lite, and a strobe feature, I believe the strobe feature flashes 8 times a second. The flashing strobe, even in daylight, pointed at you, is VERY disconcerting, even nauseating, and the effects are almost instant. As for the laser, bright red dot, even in sun. Have shot with green lasers on scopes fitted to rifles(don't remember names of those) but they too are extremely visible in sunlight out to 25 yds at least. Make sure you get one that you can switch on easily with one finger as you draw the gun

#8 mudduck

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 06:40 PM

Also, at this point, I want to say- I'm nowhere near an expert on anything, on pistols or shooting or concealed carry, or accessories. I visit the range every 2 weeks with my son, we learn something new each time. My opinions are just that, mine and opinions,lol. But things change, regularly, and so do my opinions. I talk to people at the range, let them shoot our stuff, we get to shoot theirs, trade info etc. Problems, successes, re-load data. I wish I would have done more homework on my P250 sub compact, love the gun and accuracy and reliability, but finding a holster I like.....another story.A good carry gun? They all be good if you can carry them and they work when needed. Enjoy the journey and your shopping trip!

#9 Whitetiger

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 12:15 AM

I've kicked around the idea of trading in my CZ 75 compact and going with a pocket Glock in 9mm. What made you choose the .380 caliber round & why no pocket glocks under your pocket 9 list?

#10 Jeremiah

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Posted 30 April 2012 - 10:54 AM

Because there is no such thing as a "pocket" Glock. Posted Image

Seriously, the Model 26 is the "baby 9mm" of the Glock family. But, it's virtually identical in dimensions and weight to the Model 27 .40 caliber. Well, I currently own a Glock 27 which they consider "sub-compact". I love the thing and would put it up against any combat pistol! But, it is an absolute load to carry day in and day out, especially in summer attire. I've tried and there's just no way to make it really work in a pocket without seriously "printing" at the very least.

The main reason that the Diamondback makes my list above is that it is a near Glock clone only on a smaller scale. It has been said that, "Diamondback put a Glock 30 into the dryer, shrank it, and out came the DB380." If you get a chance, check out some of the YouTube Diamondback/Glock take down comparison videos. It is almost scary how exact a "copy" they are. I haven't held one yet. But, I plan to go do so tomorrow. I want to see both the .380 and the 9mm Diamondback. If the 9mm holds true to listed specs and is only negligibly larger, it may come home with me.

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#11 Jeremiah

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 03:38 PM

Alright, folks. I thank you all for the input. Today was "the big day" and it ended up being the shortest firearm shopping session I've ever had. Let's keep this rolling though... Concealed carry is big these days and the .380, in particular, has really gained in popularity. (So much so in the past year that I was pleasantly surprised with the ammo prices. .380 used to cost just about the same as a box of .45. Posted Image )

I spent a while last evening phoning the gun shops within a 50 mile radius of home that I planned to visit today. I really put some time into determining which shops (supposedly) stocked each (or at least most) of the pistols I had interest in. The first shop, which was supposed to be open until 9:00 pm, didn't even answer the phone. I was concerned as this was the closest shop to me that carried the more "hard to find" brands such as Diamondback and Magnum Research. But, I pressed on. In the end, not one of the other Diamondback dealers had a DB380 in stock. Not one had a new Ruger LCP in stock. (One had a used LCP.) Things were looking bleak indeed. By the time I went to bed, I had pretty much resigned myself to the thought that I would not own either a Diamondback or LCP, at the very least.

This morning I decided to burn a turkey hunting vacation day and set out for the non-phone-answering shop. I figured that since it was within a 20 minute drive from home that it was worth just rolling the dice. I had never been to this shop, so I really had no idea what to expect. When I arrived, the shop was basically an out building to a very nice house (with a detached garage bigger than my entire house). Truthfully, I was worried. (Worried that this would be just a "hobby business" for someone with a little too much spare time on their hands.) I had to walk (okay, limp) to the main house to alert the resident of my presence and desire to browse the shop, per the sign on the shop door. I ended up dealing with the shop owner's wife. She was quite pleasant to deal with.

To cut a long story short, I handled a Taurus, Micro Desert Eagle and, awesomely, they had ONE Diamondback DB380 in stock. (I also handled a couple other pistols not even on my list just for giggles). No "baby Sigs" in stock. Posted Image But, as it was, the Diamondback impressed big time. First, it was EASILY the smallest and lightest .380 I've ever handled other than the KT P-3AT. The Magnum Research MDE was also nice. In fact, it was shorter overall. However, it was noticeably wider and heavier. In light of the fact that this was also likely the only Diamondback DB380 in the Tri-State area, I felt almost obligated to purchase it. The icing on the cake, however, came in the form of a nickel slide. This was the option I was most interested in, but fully expected it to be not stocked anywhere. It may sound corny, but it was as if this pistol was there just for me.

At under $400 (even with nickel slide upgrade) I am very pleased. Upon bringing the pistol home, I immediately broke it down and degreased everything with Gun Scrubber. To my slight disappointment, the rear slide plate is very tight compared to a Glock. I had to really work to get it off of there in order to clean the striker, springs, and ejector. (Yeah, stuff that 90% of Glock owners don't even bother to do because they don't even know how.) I'm glad I put the time in because the slide was just filled with oil from the factory. (I don't even oil my Glocks except for the slide rails! Anything more just attracts carbon, brass filings, and dirt.) At this point, the pistol is (fully) cleaned, lightly lubed with Rem DriLube, and back in the case (next to 150 rounds of .380 Posted Image ) awaiting our trip to the range. I can't wait to see how this thing shoots. I did do a little "pre-break-in" and polished the couple sharp (internal) edges that I found. I expect it to cycle... and if the reviews I've read are true it should be scary-accurate.

I snapped a few not-so-great pics with my phone. Enjoy...

Posted Image
Open Up.

Posted Image
Man, that's small.

Posted Image
Wow. Even next to my "sub compact" G27, that's REALLY small.

Posted Image
This is the gun Glock should have made themselves!

Posted Image
Single-stack pocket carry goodness.

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#12 mudduck

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 04:13 PM

Nice! Can't wait to hear the range report.those little guns pack a surprising punch

#13 Jeremiah

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:34 PM

Tomorrow is the day, my friend. Posted Image

I am just a little concerned as I have three different brands of ammo... two of which I have confirmed today to be known as sometimes more "problematic" than others in this gun. However, I'm hoping that between the fact that it is ball ammo and I did do the break-in and polish on the pistol, that it'll all still cycle well. We'll see.

Also pretty excited to be introducing a new shooter to pistols tomorrow. I plan to take along a .40 and a 9mm with this .380 to see if we can't both do our part to poison the Earth with lots of lead. lol

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#14 Jeremiah

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 06:50 PM

Well, we ended up only running 50 rounds through the new DB380. It was my fault for getting off to a late start and taking along two other pistols... one of which "broke" and left me working to fix it rather than shooting. :rolleyes:

I'm exhausted. I even forgot to wear sunscreen and I am absolutely torched. (I BURN within 5 minutes in the sun due to the medications I take and I was outside for about an hour. :doh2: ) As I just didn't get enough rounds through the DB yet to say much, I'll hold off on starting an actual "results" thread. For now, just know that I went straight to the crappiest ammo first; Independence brand. Sadly, I didn't keep good track, but I would say I had five or six failure to eject. For that ammo in a brand new auto, I'm not exactly freaking out. But, if the Federal and Remington ball ammo do the same I'll have reason for concern.

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#15 Jeremiah

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:17 PM

I decided to blog about this pistol as I think there will be some twists and turns along this road. :)

http://forums.huntin...jeremiahs-blog/

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From: Let's Buy A Pocket Pistol

By Jeremiah in Jeremiah's Blog, on 04 May 2012 - 05:04 PM


Alright, folks. I thank you all for the input. Today was "the big day" and it ended up being the shortest firearm shopping session I've ever had. Let's keep this rolling though... Concealed carry is big these days and...

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