For some, concealed carry (or off-duty carry) denigrates into a game of “what is the smallest handgun I can carry and still consider myself armed?” And I get it, really.
Despite Clint Smith’s famous saying about handguns being comforting not comfortable, they can still be a pain for many to fit into their life/clothing styles. Luckily for me, my work dress requirement is pretty casual, and I’ve long since given up on ever impressing anyone with my sartorial splendor. Since my wife is onboard, things are simpler.
For those who must fit their handgun to their clothing, rather than vice versa, it behooves them to look for something reliable, reliable, and reliable—delivering as much punch as possible in a package size they can accommodate and control. The secret for sub-compact handguns is the same as for any firearm: good shot placement and the ability to continue place subsequent shots in critical areas until the threat ceases to be so.
We live in a heyday of handgun offerings meeting the preceding criteria. State after state has acquiesced to the demands of their citizens to be allowed to do what the U.S. Constitution already provides— to keep and bear arms!. This “fresh look” at concealed carry has spurred manufacturers to modify old handgun lines or produce new ones that are more concealable and offer what the consumer wants.
One company that has made compact handguns their bread and butter since their inception about 15 years ago is Kahr Arms. Beginning their firearm career with solid, reliable all-steel models, Kahr eventually added a second line of equally solid, reliable, pistols wearing polymer-frames. Their P9 and P40 models were rousing hits, and the subsequent PM9 and PM40, 9mm and .40 S&W versions, respectively, are equally well respected. In fact, in some circles that include well- known trainers and operators, as well as a few of us gun writers, the PM9 is believed to be just about as perfect as a pocket gun can get! I’d find it hard to disagree, especially in light of it being my current pocket gun of choice.
Realizing not everyone wants to deal with recoil approaching the 9mm level from the P9’s diminutive package, or wants to be weighed down by even one extra ounce, several years ago Kahr tossed their PM9 into a hot water wash and full power dryer, shrinking it down to fit the .380 cartridge. The new polymer-framed P380, a more diminutive version of the PM9 with reduced weight and smaller dimensions, certainly fills the bill for those so inclined.
The P380 weighs in at a lightweight 9.97 ounces, down 4 ounces from the PM9’s eminently carriable mass. With the slide planed down 0.15 inches to 0.75, and overall height and length shrunk to 3.9 and 4.9 inches, respectively, the P380 rides unobtrusively in the pocket, even carrying 6+1 rounds of an effective hollow-point load.
Never content to travel the well- worn path, Kahr chose not only to use a shrinking ray on the P380 but also added a few features most other .380 pocket guns are lacking. First, the action is a true John Moses Browning, tilting barrel, locked breech action. A locked breech delivers several benefits—including lower recoil, more reliability, with a recoil spring and slide mass lighter than on blowback pistols. Secondly, the diminutive slide is machined to accept dovetailed front and rear sights. This allows the owner to choose any of a plethora of sights out there for Kahr’s pistols, or the owner can stay with the three white dot system with which Kahr’s P380 is normally equipped.
Undeterred by its diminutive size relegating it to the pocket pistol genre, Kahr’s P380 utilizes Lothar Walther match- grade barrels to help squeeze out that last bit of accuracy possible. This is not normally given much consideration for what many call belly-guns. There are no sharp points, such as external hammers, to disastrously snag during the draw. The trigger system is, like all Kahr pistols, a double-action-only, utilizing an internal striker with all safety systems internal and controlled by the trigger.
A highly effective texturing similar to the PM9’s—sort of “grenade-like”— is used on the grip to lock the P380 securely in the hand. Medium to larger hands will find the grip leaves a finger dangling, but I had no problems related to control despite this.
Kahr topped their P380 package off with two stainless steel magazines, rather than one as typically supplied by many others. Both magazines have flat, steel bases to minimize the handgun’s height. Bi-tone stainless steel slides and traditional black finishes are available for the Kahr P380.
None of this explains what makes a P380 into a Kahr Black Rose P380. I admit that while appearance won’t make any gun shoot any better, a nice appearance certainly never hurts performance, and pride in ownership is a factor of which most people are aware. Truthfully, if you’re deciding between two equally qualified firearms, wouldn’t you choose the more attractive one?
And the Black Rose is just that. With one small exception, all stainless steel metal parts of this Kahr are polished to a mirror-like sheen. That exception is flats inside the cocking serrations, which are matte. Slide, trigger, slide lock lever, and even the portion of this lever extend- ing out the right of the pistol, are all finished to an amazingly bright polish— including the barrel. The left side of the slide is engraved with the black-filled words “Black Rose Edition P380 Kahr,” as well as two decorative leaves with gold-like filling. This side also wears the pistol’s namesake long stem black rose, with gold highlights. The slide’s right side has an identical rose. Both the roses have quite a bit of striking detail to them.
While all of this may never be seen by very many folks, at the end of the day the pistol you pull from your pocket should always cause a spark of pride to burn! And it’ll turn most heads at the range.
After a quick five-minute field strip and cleaning, the Black Rose purred like a kitten through 150 rounds. Accuracy was excellent at 7 yards, a distance I consider appropriate for any pocket gun, with an average group size of 1.51 inches for five defensive- use loads. Headshots were quite doable. The smooth trigger pull, at 6.5 pounds, contributed as much to the accuracy as the barrel from Lothar Walther.
A few exercises drawing the P380 Black Rose from a DeSantis Nemesis riding in my support side pant pocket (where its big brother Kahr PM9 rides every day.), showed the P380 slid smoothly out, with no snags or worries. Once out, my support hand was able to deliver good shot placement. Not that the performance could not be improved by my favorite two pocket gun modifications— XS sights and Crimson Trace Front Activation Laserguard. With these two sighting systems the Black Rose could improve upon its excellent accuracy potential.
Holsters for the P380 are fairly plentiful, including a nice selection of offerings from Kahr’s online store covering most of the concealment genre— pocket, to belly, belt, and ankle—and provided by many of the names in the “leather” business. (Galco, DeSantis, and Mitch Rosen, to name a few) Of course, P380 carry leather is also available from holster makers other than those at Kahr, an excellent indication of the pistol’s popularity.
As with every Kahr pistol I have handled, the Black Rose P380 is a shooter, certain to have more accu- racy than their owner can appreciate. It also has looks galore. Drop this rocket into a pocket and go forth, reliably and effectively armed! Find out more by calling 914-353-5996 or visiting kahr.com.