Is the .380 an anachronistic handgun round? Despite my proclivity for the undersized .38 caliber, I think there’s a case to be made for its growing irrelevance. As more 9mms come down in size, I can only really recommend the .380 round for shooters who can’t handle the kick of the 9×19. Yet companies continue to make some very compelling firearms that make a good case for the timelessness of the .380. The Beretta Pico should be out soon, and we’re waiting anxiously.
Still, very few companies are debuting .380s with metal frames. The emphasis these days seems to be on shrinking size and weight. If the 9mm can come down to the size of the bigger, heavier .380s, than the .380 can shrink itself into something much smaller. So what about the more old fashioned .380s? Are the antiques? Are they obsolete?
The Walther PPK
The Walther PPK is an amazing gun. If any one of the guns in this list will remain in production, indefinably, it will be the storied PPK. It isn’t going anywhere. It is big enough to hold onto and very accurate.
Some calibers of the PPK (like the .22) have alloy frames. Others are steel. They are all hearty guns that age gracefully.
But these guns are more expensive than their polymer competition. And that is the sticking point. While the PPK can’t be legitimately compared to the subcompact polymer .380s that are taking over the market, people insist on doing so. They shoot the same round, so the guns get compared. And when size and cost are factored in, the PPK ends up looking much worse than it actually is.
The Colt Mustang
If there was one gun likely to resist the polymer craze, it is the 1911. So much for that.
And its little brother, The Mustang, has a new life in plastics. The new polymer framed version has a slightly updated look.
The recent re-release of Colt’s .380 has remained popular. The polymer framed Mustangs are selling well, too. Many of those who want a small .380 also want the option of an exposed hammer.
The mustang takes that one step further by incorporating a single-action style that will be very familiar to fans of the 1911. If you carry a full-sized single action, the Mustang won’t require a whole new set of skills to master.
Will the new polymer version be even better? I’m currently carrying a mustang that looks exactly like the one above. I’ve yet to get my hands on a polymer framed pony. But I do like the look of that trigger guard. With so little to hold onto under the trigger guard, I find myself putting my left hand higher on the guard than I would like. And the aluminum framed version is a bit slick. Not cool slick. Slippery slick.