If there’s a caliber that’s gained popularity at ever-increasing speeds in recent years, it’s the .380 ACP. The diminutive round has been on the market since 1908 when it was first introduced by Colt and features a .355” in diameter bullet, an overall length of .984”, and a maximum pressure of 21,500 psi, and it’s become so widely purchased there have actually been .380 ACP ammo shortages in some places. Perhaps the greatest reason for its advance in popularity is its small size and lightweight, both of which make it easy to conceal and simple to carry. There have been a rather large number of pistols hitting the shelves chambered in .380 ACP, each boasting – or lacking – various features, but for fans of this caliber, there are certain characteristics that should take precedence far and above aesthetics or brand. Your .380 ACP had better be reliable; after all, the average .380 ACP owner uses the gun as their main carry weapon. Yes, a caliber that was once seen mainly as a backup gun (BUG) is now being used as a primary gun, and while reliability is always paramount, it gains an extra layer of significance when it may well be the only weapon on your body.
Remington’s .380 ACP
Answering the call for a reliable pistol chambered in .380 ACP is Remington, the manufacturing giant with half a dozen plants throughout the South and on the east coast with a 200th birthday looming on the horizon. Although the official, formal announcement of the new gun won’t be made until the NRA Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, a small group of writers were given the opportunity to test fire the gun at length on two occasions, and as one of those writers, I’m now able to fill you in on the details of their new gun.
I was invited to test-fire the new gun on two occasions, once back in December 2014 and again just last month in March. Both gun release events took place at Gunsite in Paulden, Arizona, the site of renowned marksman Col. Jeff Cooper’s firearms academy, which allowed us to put the gun through its paces in a wide variety of scenarios. Gunsite spans a vast part of the desert and includes numerous ranges, challenges such as the incredibly fun Military Crest – which is what is sounds like, a drill run along a crest, firing at metal Frankenstein targets across a ravine – and, of course, shoot houses. There’s more, but the point is we put the gun through its paces time and again up against various targets in different situations: stationary, moving, paper, steel, we did a little of everything. Here’s what I learned.
The new gun is a micro pistol called the RM380. When it comes to a small stature and lighter weight, the RM380 fits the bill; it weighs 12.1 ounces, has a 2.9” stainless steel barrel, and a slim grip. To promote durability and a longer life it has an all-metal frame – aluminum, specifically, for lighter weight – and care has been taken to make the gun’s shape more grip-friendly.
Make Sure a Micro Pistol is Right for You
One of two things can happen with a micro pistol if the design isn’t right: you may fail to seat the pistol properly in your hand, which has a detrimental effect on accuracy and control, or you may grip too high, which also has negative results including the slide reaching out and touching your hand in a sensitive area. Yes, some of this is user-related regardless of design, but design has a lot to do with it, too. The combination of the angle of the RM380’s grip, checkering on its front strap and grip, and an extended beavertail beneath the rearward portion of the slide allows for a secure, positive grip while also preventing the slide bite that sometimes occurs with smaller guns. Getting a high grip is also assisted by the trigger guard being undercut. My hands are by no means small – my fingers are longer than those of most of my male friends – and as a result small guns can be more than a slight challenge. The RM380’s grip design combined with a pinkie extension on the mag allowed me to hold the gun firmly and fire with confidence.
Although there is no external safety the gun does have internal safety features as well as the logical safety addition of a longer trigger pull. It’s DAO (Double Action Only) which serves as a safety feature in itself, and with the long pull an inexperienced shooter won’t pick it up and fire a round without effort or thought. Experienced shooters can work with the long pull and DAO style trigger by taking up the slack as they go on target; after the first shot is fired, don’t allow the trigger to reset all the way. Keep it at that first stage; you’ll know by the first soft “click” and be able to fire your following shots with more speed and accuracy than if you allow it to reset entirely. The trigger pull measures 7.9 lbs and the trigger itself is ergonomically designed at a natural resting curve for your finger. The reach is longer than I’d expected from a micro pistol, which is a good thing because abrupt reaches make for sore trigger fingers and sloppier shooting for those whose fingers aren’t short. That said the reach is not long, either, so shooters with short fingers should find it just right, whereas I found it slightly short, although nowhere near as short as the reach on some micro pistols.
Racking the Slide
Racking the slide is easy thanks to its light weight and design, which includes wide serrations along both its sides, so it would be the rarest of shooters who would be unable to handle it single-handed. The slide is also fully functional, locking open after the last round. Recoil is manageable; it’s the light snap typical of small pistols in this caliber, but it isn’t so sharp it affects target re-acquisition.
Sights are fixed and low-profile. Keeping them sleek to the gun’s surface serves to keep the gun snag-free, which is an important aspect of concealed carry. Despite their small stature it was easy to obtain a sight picture although it might take some getting used to.
The magazine holds 6+1 and each gun will come with two mags, one flush to the base of the grip and one with a pinkie extension. There’s also a 7+1 mag being designed although I don’t know how soon it will be made available after the gun’s release. The magazine release is ambidextrous and raised enough so it can be easily maneuvered, but it isn’t so high that it will be activated during firing.
Speaking of whether or not pertinent components can be activated at inopportune moments, let’s back up and discuss the lack of an external safety (and throw in the aforementioned mag release). Micro pistols like the RM380 are frequently pocket carried and when a gun lacks an external thumb safety that can bring up some concerns for certain gun owners. I was able to talk at length to the men behind the RM380, one of whom, Zach, spent more hours than he can recall carrying the pistol in various ways around the office. He spent a lot of time carrying the gun in his pocket, going about his day and bumping into things, never experiencing a single ND (negligent discharge) or random mag release. A great deal of time and effort went into this gun and men like Zach performed all means of testing throughout this past year.
Field stripping the RM380 for cleaning is straightforward. After clearing your gun, simply use one hand to pull and hold the slide slightly to the rear. Next, either tap the pistol lightly on a solid surface to jar the takedown pin loose or use a tool to push it clear of the frame. At this point you can remove the recoil spring and barrel and set about cleaning. I did notice the recoil spring sits lightly within the gun without the extremely tight placement seen on many guns. It did not seem to affect firing negatively but was simply something I noticed. To put the gun back together, move the slide back into position, aligning the holes in the frame with the holes in the slide, and push the takedown pin back into its space. Through the thousands of rounds fired on the two separate trips I never saw the pin move at all unless we were intentionally manipulating it to field strip the guns.
Test-firing the RM380 on the range meant testing it within the parameters the .380 ACP is best as: close range. I started at 3 yards, slowly working my way back with the greatest distance on that particular range being 15 yards. The gun produces nice, tight groups at those distances. Up against steel plates it took down the reactive targets with a single properly-placed round at a distance between fifteen and twenty yards. Punching holes in paper both stationary and moving drills executing both single and multiple-shot drills the pistol continued to perform consistently.
The Shoot House Drill
Going through the shoot house at Gunsite is always one of my favorite things to do, and carrying out the drill with the RM380 proved enjoyable as always. Starting with a closed door outside, each shooter had to open the door and carefully and methodically clear the house, room by room. Paper targets of potential threats were located throughout the house, and the goal was simple: shoot the threats, but leave the empty-handed innocents alone. The drill ended with a masked man holding his own gun to his captive’s head. Choice of shots fired was up to the shooter in this case and I performed it firing single shots and double taps, going through multiple times. In these situations your body helpfully floods your system with adrenaline, your heart rate rises, breathing accelerates, and nerves take over, despite the knowledge it’s “only” a drill. This changes how you handle your firearm as well; the hope is training will take over, muscle memory borne of repetition will result in a series of neat kill shots, and all ends well. The gun, however, is affected only by the shooter, and the RM380 took me through the shoot house time and again, cycling reliably and taking out threats one by one.
In conjunction with the release of the RM380 there are also custom holsters being made. The first company to release an RM380-specific holster is CrossBreed, and I was able to try four different CrossBreed holsters during testing. My personal favorite was a combat-cut leather-backed style worn on the belt; it hugged my hip firmly, held the pistol securely, and was easy to conceal by simply dropping my shirt over it. It passed the jump and bend-over tests, and drawing was easy with a simple upward motion. The holster itself is durable plastic molded to the RM380’s shape and covers the trigger guard, leaving the muzzle open and the grip fully exposed for rapid presentation. I could easily see this holster being a go-to choice whether for open or concealed carry. Other companies working on RM380 holsters include Galco and DeSantis.
After-market customizable grips will also be available.
The RM380 will be the first gun made in Remington’s new Huntington, Alabama, plant, so they’re going to celebrate with a commemorative pistol. The 1st Alabama Inaugural Product will be an RM380 with a black frame and stainless steel slide, giving it a nice two-tone look. It’ll have a black engraving of the edition’s name on the forward portion of the slide and come with a silver challenge coin. There will only be 1000 made, so if you’re interested in owning a piece of firearms history, you’d better be quick.
In all I fired around 750 rounds through the RM380 during these trips. The gun did not experience any failures. In addition, a 250-round failure drill was done, and the gun bulled through it without hesitation. The discovery we made was that your trigger finger will wear out before the RM380 fails. And while it’s important that all guns go “bang” when you squeeze the trigger, it’s absolutely vital your concealed carry choice performs reliably; the RM380 performed quite well.
Does it Get the Job Done?
My job as a gun writer is to find out whether a new firearm gets the job done. Is it well made, does it have any failures, is it comfortable to grip and carry, and so on. Although my personal preferences for a self-defense gun run to larger calibers, its true advances in ballistics have made the .380 ACP more capable today than it was just a few short years ago. That said, it performs its best at close ranges and requires precise shot placement. Studies show most self-defense fights take place at a distance of seven feet or less and a skilled, experienced fighter and former LEO once told me most fights runs from their start to their finish in nine seconds or less. Whatever gun you carry, you’d better be good with it. Practice is about more than putting lead down-range; you need to practice drawing and firing quickly without sacrificing accuracy, and you’d better work through scenarios designed to mimic the adrenaline dump of a fight (there are several ways to do that). Carry the gun you will use; carry the gun you’re confident with.
The RM380 fits the niche it was designed to fill. It’s lightweight and small, so you can CC it easily in a variety of positions, it has a positive grip, so you can hold it more easily during firing than many micro pistols from other manufacturers deliver, and thought it has no external safety its internal safeties do have you covered. Most importantly it cycled rounds reliably, slinging lead down-range every time I pulled the trigger, and that’s the most important detail of all. Significant time and effort went into this gun and the three RM380 team members I know – Zach, Daniel, and Nathan – should be pleased. If you or someone you know is a fan of .380 ACP, take a look at the RM380. If you prefer a larger caliber as your main carry but would like a trustworthy BUG, take a look at the RM380. I believe this micro pistol has promise, and I look forward to seeing it appear on the shelves of my local gun store this year.
Good job, Big Green.
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Barrel length: 2.9”
- Weight empty: 12.1 ounces
- Construction: Aluminum frame
- Finish: Black
- Trigger: DAO
- Trigger Pull: 7.9 lbs
- Safety: Internal
- Magazines: 6 rounds
- MSRP: $417.00
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.