Suggested retail is $330. Weight is 9.4 ounces and, unlike the similar Kel-Tec, it comes with a manual slide-lock lever.

The 2009 Crop

I've just returned from the 2009 SHOT Show, where subcompact .380 options continued to grow. Kahr Arms is shipping its P380, which barely "makes the weight class" at 9.97 ounces unloaded, and is in essence a standard Kahr design scaled down for the smaller cartridge. Unlike the others it has regular service pistol sights, and this plus the famous, butter-smooth Kahr trigger made it the most "shootable" gun in its class in my opinion, with the best hit potential. Suggested retail is $649.

At the Taurus booth, Bob Morrison displayed a prototype of his company's planned entry for this market. This new .380 will weigh exactly 10 ounces unloaded with stainless steel slide, and 8.5 ounces with Titanium slide. Plans are to manufacture it stateside, at a Miami facility. I don't believe price has been finalized at this writing.

Speaking Generically

These guns all carry six rounds in the magazine and a seventh in the chamber. (The Taurus will have an optional extended magazine as well). All in current production are double action only, though the Taurus may be available in the SA/DA configuration of the company's OSS pistols.

All can sting the hand just a bit, particularly the Seecamp, and usually more at the trigger finger than the web of the hand. This is because they're so compact, the index finger gets a whack from the inside front of the triggerguard. I first test-fired a prototype Kahr .380 in second quarter 2008, and introduction was held up because the company re-engineered it with a larger triggerguard to reduce this effect. However, all are substantially less unpleasant to fire than, say, an ultra-light .38 Special revolver with +P ammo. If you want small size and all-metal construction and can stand more weight, the almost 19-ounce NAA Guardian (introduced 2001), the recent baby .380 from Magnum Research, or the new SIG P-238 single action of

"Friends don't let friends carry mouseguns."

2009 (remarkably similar to the Colt Mustang) may serve your needs better.

The ".25-size factor," the slimness (all well under an inch thick), and especially the super lightweight give the "10-ounce .380s" ultimate convenience and comfort in carry. Our own Clint Smith has wisely said, "a handgun doesn't need to be comfortable, it needs to be comforting," but in a nation where comfort and convenience have become core values among the general public, there are a lot of folks who have less dedication than Clint and don't agree with him. And they're buying these guns in droves.

The baby .380s are here to stay. Yes, they are marginal in power. Yes, I'm the guy who said "friends don't let friends carry mouseguns." But the fact is, something is better than nothing, and for a lot of people, 10-ounce .380s will make the difference in whether they can carry a gun or not, at least sometimes. There is a reason they've become so popular. rri

1 AM THE.22

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