Kahr P380 Review - Pistolsmith

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Old 04-25-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Kahr P380 Review

We recently did a review of the Kahr P380, which includes a field report, ammunition reports, accessory reviews, breakdown, etc. You can take a look at the original post here. I'm also posting it below so it can become a resource for those considering a concealed carry pistol. We'd really like to get your input and your questions. I tried to stay picture-easy, but there are more pictures on the original post. Enjoy, and hopefully it helps some people make a decision.


Kahr P380 Overview

We live in dangerous times, and the security of our family and ourselves comes down to individual responsibility. A responsibility we know isn’t taken lightly by those of you who carry concealed. Here at the Brown Safe Research Labs we’ve tested and retested many sub-compacts and micro compact pistols to identify the one that best fits with our approach to self-defense and our overall philosophies regarding a personal defense weapon. It’s imperative that the tools we stake our lives on fit certain criteria; not the least of which are effectiveness, accuracy, reliability, and comfortable concealabilty. After a lot of examination we’ve found the Kahr P380, fulfills all the needs to meet our core principles.

The Kahr P380 surpasses its competition simply because it hits on the key components necessary for a pocket carry pistol: it’s extremely reliable, very concealable, and highly effective. Don’t let the size of this little beast fool you, it packs some serious punch, and the ability of this particular micro compact to fire +P rounds puts it in the same arena as a 9MM sidearm. Even still, and possibly best yet, the Kahr P380 is a surprisingly fun gun to shoot. And let’s face it, if you don’t actually enjoy shooting the gun you are relying on to save lives, then you’re really not likely to adequately practice with it. Reality check Annie Oakley, practice is requisite to making sure you’re are in top form when called upon in do or die scenarios. So having a carry gun like the Kahr P380 that is made to see serious use makes all the difference in self-defense.


Much like its older brother, the Kahr PM9, the P380 is bound in black polymer and stainless steel. As is with most of Kahr’s firearms, the construction of the P380 is considered one of its strongest traits. Attention to detail is top-notch, one very cool feature unique to Kahr construction is the addition of steel inserts molded directly into the polymer. These ensure the action on this weapon is both smooth and durable, and holds up much better to excessive use and heat in comparison to other subcompact pistols, such as the Ruger LCP. And although the Kahr is very lightweight compared to an all steel pistol, its clever design results in much less felt recoil, making the Kahr P380 the most fun of all the subcompact and micro-compacts we’ve tested.

Setting itself apart from the competition again is the P380′s sight system. Considered to be much closer to a full-sized pistol’s system, the Kahr P380 provides steel, dovetail mounted front and rear sights that are both durable in construction (to ease the fear of damage in a holster or pocket) and providing a broader range of sight. Did we also mention the sights are horizontally adjustable? This simple addition wrecks much of the competition, as many pocket pistols don’t even have sights, let alone adjustable dovetail.
Ok, ok, I know what you’re thinking. “ooooh fancy sights! Yeah, that’s real great if it’s a full length barrel, but we’re talkin’ sub 3” pal.” And my response is: First, I don’t appreciate your tone. And secondly, If you’re wondering what those sights are going to be assisting you fire, the answer is a premium, Lothar Walther, match-grade barrel that far exceeds the barrels that are installed on most subcompacts. Which I know sounds crazy, but is actually pretty dang accurate. Check out these images of the grouping we got our first time out with the Kahr P380. Again, just another addition that’ll give you a bit more peace-of-mind when you have to make split decisions that your life may rely upon.

Range Testing

With our first grouping, we already saw amazing accuracy. With 5 inch groupings (from 10 yards away), we were sure we’d struck gold with the P380. The results from our first magazine were comparable to many .45 caliber and 9MM sidearms we’ve tested.
We captured the first firing of the minuscule mighty P380 on video. Not bad for a virgin christening.

We found that using a single stiff arm technique, where the dominant arm is locked out, gave us a longer sight plane and greatly reduced muzzle flip to a very manageable level even with the +P rounds, resulting in rapid follow up shots with better than average accuracy. Combining the straight arm technique and practice along with the addition of the Crimson Trace Laser Sight for the P380 our final grouping ended up being within 3 inches, which far-exceeded our expectations. Check out this video of us shooting the Kahr P380 using the straight arm technique. Note the minimal muzzle rise.

Looking closely at the above video, you may notice the Crimson Trace laser is functioning intermittently. Sure, a bit troubling to us at first, but having worked with Crimson Trace customer support before and having found them to be more than responsive (on one occasion even able to talk to a real live person at 12am) we weren’t too concerned. Just as we thought, one quick call to Crimson Trace and the rep told us they were not only aware (and apologetic) for the issue, but they had a solution for us right away. It was simply a bad batch of batteries, and the laser now functions flawlessly. Gotta love companies that actually stand behind their products!

Kahr’s attention to detail with the P380 is astounding. Whether you look to the fact that they incorporated a locked breech/tilted barrel system or an external slidestop lever, it’s apparent that Kahr designed the P380 with the intention of bringing all the basic features of a larger-caliber pistol to the P380, sans size.

Another benefit of the Kahr’s construction is simply how much more solid it is in comparison to other subcompacts. The guide rod, magazine, slide, trigger, extractor, and firing pin – all of which have a tendency to feel pretty marginal on most small everyday carry pistols – are much larger on the P380. This only boosts the Kahr’s durability and strength as the premier pocket carry pistol.

Here’s a video that gives you a good gauge on the muzzle rise of Kahr’s competition. And although we didn’t’ didn’t shoot this particular video, we did shoot the majority of the compact pistols featured here, and it does give a good idea of the other 380s in the carry category.

The Kahr P380 is built to be the gun that can sit in a drawer or your holster for years without being shot, but be ready for that critical life-or-death moment. That’s the type of reliability you want in your home, defending your family, and that’s the type of reliability you want on your hip. Well played, Kahr.

Safety is another area that the Kahr P380 has nailed, especially for the everyday carry pocket pistol. It’s double action only, requiring a further pull of the trigger for each shot, which we also like from an accuracy standpoint because the length of pull is always the same. It also has last-round hold-open feature, an internal safety, and if you purchase the California version, a chambered bullet indicator. All ideal features for those who plan on having this gun with them at all times.


Much analysis has been done regarding ammunition for the P380, but no guide for .380 ammunition (with the P380) is more extensive than the following guide, published by “Bruce F.”, a self-proclaimed “mousegun addict”. Here are his findings for the Kahr P380.
After testing here’s what we at the Brown Safe Research Labs had narrowed down to our favorite ammunition Loads:

For Maximum Firepower: Buffalo Bore 95 Grain FMJ +P. This stout round is by far and away our preference numero uno due to the potent punch it provides. Plus you just can’t beat a concealable carry pistol that accommodates a full 8 rounds of ammo that rivals the power of a 9mm.

For Maximum Reliability: Hornady 90 Grain Critical Defense FTX HP. A solid round that the P380 loves to eat for lunch but whose ballistics just don’t pack the oomph of the +P.

For Target Firing: Federal American Eagle 95 Grain FMJ. This is some good stuff that works just fine, feeds reliably, and won’t break the bank while you’re honing your skills down at the range.

While all subcompacts require a break-in period, due to the smaller size and proximity of certain parts to each other. Kahr is the only company to actually give you the gracious heads-up, and let you know that it’ll take upwards of 200 rounds to get your Kahr P380 reliable. And although this may sound like a fairly high number to some, we love the fact that this gun is meant to be shot, and shot A LOT, rather than the showpiece you’re hoping will work when you finally have the need to pull it out.

It is worth noting that while the P380 boasts the exclusive ability to fire +P rounds, it has a strong distaste for flat-nosed .380 ammunition. Luckily, the Kahr P380 has hardly any issues cycling Hornady’s or Buffalo Bore’s. Just a piece of advice if you rely solely on flat-nosed Wal-Mart ammunition.


No firearm is complete without some handy, sleek accessories. Making a great weapon even greater, we attached the praised Crimson Trace Laserguard to our P380. Since the late 1990s, Crimson Trace has been developing custom lasers for a variety of different weapons, including the Kahr P380. This specific laser’s design is both sleek and reliable, providing you with extra target visibility, especially in low-light situations. Did we forget to mention that Crimson Trace has 24/7 customer service?

If you’d like added visibility, or are not as comfortable with a gun-mounted laser, then Kahr offers a few different options for illuminated sights, but we recommend the Trijicon Bright & Tough for both the original P380 and the California-legal CLI version. Make sure that you purchase the sights made specifically for the California version, if that’s the one you have. They can be found here. Sights can be switched out by your local, trusted gunsmith, or by Kahr themselves.

Every round counts in the world of self-defense, and that’s why Kahr manufactures additional 7-round magazines to go with your P380. These magazines are also great for those who have issues with the handling of subcompact pistols, as they provide additional space for grip.

For everyday carry of your P380, we have a few suggestions. For concealed carry, the Talon in-the-waistband works well for men, as it provides comfort and security, while also making the firearm less visible to those around. For women, UCC Holsters distributes “The Flashbang”, which is a firearm-molded bra-mounted holster that is great for quick draw and ultra-concealment. Another great gift option for your wife might be this hot-pink Cobra in-the-waistband holster. Perhaps to go with her new pink Kahr P380?

At Brown Safe, we are in love with quality, kick-butt products, and because of that, we love the Kahr P380. Proudly made here in the United States, Kahr has taken pride in crafting unique and reliable firearms for years, which is one of the reasons so many law enforcement officials use Kahr firearms to save lives every day.

To supplement the amazing craftsmanship of every Kahr (including our awesome P380) comes human customer service. While doing research on the P380, we found that Kahr was not only helpful, but gracious. Many times, we saw individuals who received free magazines and replacement parts after repairs on their firearms took longer than expected, and because of that, we can only thank Kahr for being on the ball and loyal to its customers.
If you’re looking for the perfect pocket pistol, home defense pistol, or just a fun shooter, then I’m not sure what you’re waiting for, because I think you just made your decision.


(To see interactive disassembly pictures, please look at the original post here)

And for those who love being able to know your gun inside and out, the Kahr was built with simplicity in mind, and offers the ability to be broken down with no tools necessary. Below is a brief breakdown on how to break down the Kahr P380, plain and simply.
  • Always perform a safety check. Remove magazine, verify it is empty, then check the chamber.
  • Push the barrel back with the palm of your hand, aligning the notch in the slide with the notch in the chassis.
  • While keeping the notches aligned, push the back of the slide stop pin, pushing it outwards from the other side. It takes a bit of elbow grease, but you’re welcome to use some sort of plastic wedge or flathead screwdriver to remove it if you’d like.
  • Once removed, set the slide stop to the side. Then, hold the trigger down, and pull the slide forward. It should simply slide out and off the chassis.

Congratulations, you’re P380 is now disassembled for lubrication, maintenance, or repair. If you’d rather see a more interactive video, take a look here.


(Pictures of the P380s concealability available on the original post)

Kahr P380 Specifications

Model: P380
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block
Barrel: 2.53″, Premium Lothar Walther Match Grade Barrel
Length O/A: 4.9″
Height: 3.9″
Slide Width: .75″
Weight Pistol: 9.97 ounces (w/o magazine)
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable, white bar-dot combat sights (tritium night sights, Crimson Trace laser sight optional)
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide (KP3833), Black polymer frame, high polish engraved stainless steel slide (KP3833CSBR), Black polymer frame, matte blackened stainless steel slide (KP3834)
Magazines: 1 – 6 rd, Stainless (KP38233), 2 – 7 rd, Stainless

Remember to take a look at some more high-quality pictures here:
Picture 1 | Picture 2 | Picture 3 | Picture 4 | Picture 5 | Picture 6 | Picture 7
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Old 04-25-2013, 06:42 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 22
Interesting review. I own a "predecessor" to the P380, the infringement Colt Pony Pocketlite. Colt "borrowed" the design but used a hammer instead of a striker and with a slightly longer 2-3/4" barrel.

I knew nothing of infringement when I bought mine. I had seen the old Colt380.com website and the things those guys were doing with it. They considered the Pony the ultimate compromise pistol in power versus size. I was particularly interested in the domed mag release button and just general dehorn of their work. I did several things to emulate their work on mine, one of the main things was stippling the front strap. My Pony has been my "Always" gun for nearly 15 years. I have had no failures to feed or fire EXCEPT when I fail to let the trigger reset fully forward.

The Kahr P380 looks like a stellar replacement if and when the old Pony gets old and tired. A salient feature of the metal framed Pony was that it used a coil spring in the catch (1911 style), you could increase or lessen the force required to dump a magazine - that coupled with doming the button made accidental dumps obsolete in my experience. How well does the P380 resist inadvertently dumping a magazine?
Old 05-13-2013, 02:50 PM   #3
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I guess nobody's home.
Old 05-13-2013, 05:06 PM   #4
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Posts: 1,801
Good question on the Kahr .380 magazine catch.
Other Kahr's use a 1911 magazine catch design with an actual 1911 coil spring.
The .380 uses a long flat spring and the assembly is nothing like a 1911.

The catch button is not round, it's an oval shape.
I'd guess that if the catch is too light, the spring could be bent to give more tension, but that's just a guess.

Other then the above review, there doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on the Kahr .380. Most of the "heat" is over the S&W M&P .380.
Old 05-14-2013, 09:40 AM   #5
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Sorry NewsFlash, didn't even see this. We had zero failures when it comes to inadvertently dumping magazines.

The Kahr P380 has been pretty quiet, as dfariswheel said. It's most likely due to its price, or even its lack of availability across the nation. Kahr is struggling to meet demand.

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