Kahr P380: Perfecting the Pocket Pistol

In recent years, the firearms market has been flooded with pocket pistols. Pocket guns are easy to carry and easy to conceal. Whether used as a primary gun or a backup, pocket sized guns are popular choices for civilian concealed carry. Many people consider .380 ACP to be the smallest acceptable caliber for a defensive weapon, making it a popular chambering for these diminutive pistols.

Kahr Arms is well known for its small and concealable pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W and even .45 ACP. In 2009, Kahr introduced their smallest gun yet–the P380 in .380 ACP. The Kahr P380 is a high quality pocket pistol that offers a new level of performance not yet seen in comparable guns.


The Kahr P380 is a true pocket pistol, weighing about 11 ounces empty, measuring less than five inches long and less than four inches high. The P380 bears a striking resemblance to the rest of the “P” series Kahr pistols, but with much smaller dimensions. The gun is comparable in size to the very popular Kel-Tec P-3AT and Ruger LCP. The P380 is a striker fired, double action only, locked breach pistol with polymer frame and stainless steel slide. The trigger is partially cocked by operation of the slide, in a manner similar to the Glock “Safe Action” system. The result is a double-action trigger pull that is long and heavy enough to prevent an accidental discharge, while still being very smooth and easy to manage.


This pistol is quite easy to handle and manipulate, despite its small size. The external controls are limited to a magazine release and slide release. The magazine release is a button-style located in the preferred location, just below the trigger guard on the left side of the grip. The slide release lever is also in the traditional location, and locks the slide open on an empty magazine–an uncommon feature on a pocket pistol.

Like many guns in this category, the P380 has a magazine capacity of six rounds. The pistol feeds from high quality stainless steel magazines with witness holes for each round. The magazines are expensive, but Kahr includes two magazines with each pistol. Kahr also offers a Pearce grip extension for the magazines to add a little extra grip length if desired.

Perhaps the best feature of this gun is the sights. The vast majority of pocket guns have minimal fixed sights milled into the top of the slide. The P380, however, has true sights fit to the slide. The sights have a white “bar-dot” configuration and are drift-adjustable. Night sights are available as an option from the factory. The standard Kahr factory sights provide an excellent sight picture rarely seen on a gun this size.

Shooting and carry impressions

The P380 excelled at the range. This is the most accurate pocket pistol I have tested. I believe the accuracy of this gun is attributable to several factors: excellent sights, an excellent trigger, and the Lothar Walther match-grade barrel. At fifteen feet, the Kahr could produce a single ragged hole in the target. Although well beyond the typical range for a pocket pistol, I decided to shoot the P380 at 25 yards. Even at that distance, I could keep carefully aimed shots inside an 8-inch diameter circle. Clearly this pistol is more accurate than should reasonably be expected of a pocket pistol.

Recoil seemed quite tame for a small pistol, due in large part to the locked breach design. Many pocket .380 ACP pistols utilize a blowback system, which results in more felt recoil. Even after shooting many rounds in a single session, my hands were no worse for wear. After an extended session, the P380 did not draw any blood like many pocket autos tend to do. The low bore axis helps minimize muzzle flip and keeps the gun on target for quick follow-up shots.

The Kahr functioned flawlessly with my primary testing ammo, Hornady JHP/XTP and Federal Hydra-Shok JHP. I also used an assortment of other ammo without incident. Even before completing the 200 round break-in period suggested by the owner’s manual, the gun functioned perfectly.

Loading and manipulating the littlest Kahr is relatively easy. The external buttons and levers are easy to operate. Having a functioning slide lock makes reloading and malfunction clearance much easier than many other pocket guns, although the small slide can be difficult to grasp, but that is an inherent problem with tiny guns.

The small size of the P380 is perfect for pocket carry. The gun is very light and flat, with no sharp edges to hang up on the draw. For my evaluation, I ordered a Pocket Defender Deluxe from K&D Holsters, which worked exceptionally well. The particular holster shown is finished with an optional exotic skin trim made from bullfrog. The bullfrog skin wears exceptionally well, and is an excellent choice to dress up a pocket holster. For those who don’t like pocket carry, the Kahr would be equally well suited for ankle carry or other deep concealment methods.

Final thoughts

Pocket pistols are always a compromise because of their greatly reduced dimensions. Kahr has done a commendable job of minimizing the compromise, by producing a pocket auto with excellent sights, an excellent trigger, and standard controls. The P380 packs an impressive array of features into a very small package. With a street price around $600 [as of Jan. 2010], the Kahr is priced near the high end of .380 ACP pocket pistols. The P380 comes with a hard case, a gun lock, and two magazines. All Kahr firearms are backed with a five year warranty and a history of excellent customer service.

I am very impressed with Kahr’s rendition of the .380 ACP pocket pistol. Although the price point is higher than other comparable guns, the functionality of the P380 justifies the premium price. Kahr chose not to cut any corners with the P380. While the quest for the “perfect” pistol is never-ending, Kahr has made significant progress in perfecting the pocket gun.

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