Remington is not just the oldest gun maker in America, it also produces more rifles and shotguns than anyone else. While it is true that Remington has not traditionally focused on handguns, it did produce one of the most popular revolvers of the Civil War, the New Model Army, as well as a pocket pistol in the years between World War I and World War II, the Model 51.
Today, Remington is fully committed to the handgun market with its already successful 1911 R1 and the new RM380, which represents a true pocket pistol. This semi-automatic pocket pistol chambered in .380 ACP has a 6+1 capacity, is double action only and features tilt-barrel, locked-breech operation. It is also made entirely of metal, with no polymer except for the grip panels, which can be removed and replaced. The steel slide features actual sights machined into it. These will not come loose and are very low profile and snag free. The downside is that replacing the sights will require machining the slide. I would add a dab of white paint to the front sight for improved visibility, but that is just my preference. The slide features an external extractor and wide serrations for easy manipulations, even in inclement conditions. The 2.9-inch, 410 stainless steel barrel is the longest in its class, producing a slight bump in muzzle velocity. The barrel is blackened like the slide and features an enlarged cone design for a tight lockup between barrel and slide, improving accuracy.
The Remington RM380’s frame is made from 7075 aluminum, which keeps the pistol very lightweight but also helps extend the gun’s durability and longevity thousands of rounds past its closest competitors. The frontstrap of the frame features aggressive checkering for a very firm hold, although I would have added checkering to the backstrap as well. The triggerguard is undercut to allow for a higher grip, providing better control of the pistol. The higher grip also brings the bore more in line with the hand, helping to reduce perceived recoil and muzzle flip. The small but distinct beavertail at the back helps prevent “slide bite” and allows for a more instinctive grip. The polymer grip panels are also checkered for an improved grip and customizable aftermarket grips will be available.
Another pleasing feature is the slide stop on the left side of the frame. This securely locks the slide to the rear on an empty magazine or when manually pressed. It is rather small and difficult to use as a slide release, but not impossible if so desired. The magazine release is fully ambidextrous and the push-button, frame-mounted release has a small triangular shape that sits below the thickness of the grip panels so there is no danger of the magazine being inadvertently released, say, during pocket carry. The magazine release is also aggressively checkered, easy to use and allows the steel magazines to drop free.
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The steel hammer is bobbed flat with the rear of the slide for a very smooth and snag-free draw. It should be noted that there are no external safeties on the RM380, and there is no internal drop safety either, except for a passive block within the slide. However, according to Remington, the RM380 has been tested using S.A.A.M.I. Jar-Off, Drop, and Rotation test criteria and passed, so it is safe to carry with a live round in the chamber.
There is a loaded-chamber indicator window at the top rear of the barrel, which can be seen from the ejection port. That said, this is a double-action-only pistol and the steel trigger has a long pull that measured nearly 10 pounds. It also requires a full release to reset, so fire it like you would a revolver. The hammer-fired system also allows for a second-strike capability in case of a recalcitrant primer.
Internally, the Remington RM380 features a dual-spring recoil system around a steel recoil guide rod. This system works very well and helps to tame recoil while also making the slide easy to operate, something those with weaker hands will appreciate. The clever dual-spring design also extends the need for replacement to 2,500 rounds. Another welcome feature not always seen with pocket pistols is that Remington includes a spare magazine with the gun, and this spare features a good-sized finger extension that allows almost a full grip on the gun.
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People who know their guns will notice more than a passing similarity between the RM380 and the Rohrbaugh R9. That is not a coincidence. Remington bought the rights to this pistol and based the RM380 on its design. However, the similarities are not complete. Remington made significant changes to the pistol when bringing it into the Remington stable of firearms.
If you look at the top of the RM380 magazines you can see a spacer, as these are (or were) 9mm magazines as in the original design. Remington moved the magazine release from the heel of the grip to the back of the triggerguard, added the slide lock and changed the recoil system to make it much more durable. Best of all, Remington can produce this pistol for less than half the cost of a Rohrbaugh.
On the range, the RM380 I received for testing performed just as well as the production samples I had previously shot, with only a slight break-in period needed. The small pistol does an excellent job of absorbing recoil and only just starts to get slightly uncomfortable after 100 rounds or so. It should also be noted that Remington specifically warns against using any +P or +P+ ammunition. The long trigger pull takes a bit of getting used to for those of us now accustomed to striker-fired guns, but it is smooth and consistent with a clean break. For accuracy testing, I fired off-hand at 7 yards. Better accuracy results could certainly have been achieved firing from a stable benchrest, but that is not how this pistol is meant to be used. It is a defensive pistol and I tested it as such. Group sizes across three different types of hollow-point defensive ammunition averaged about 3.5 inches at that distance, and these were certainly good enough for any defensive use. The RM380 is durable, exceptionally well made and fits most any pocket holsters available.
For more information, call 800-243-9700 or visit http://www.remington.com.