Those who like pocket-sized .380 ACP handguns for discreet carry, and even those who don’t because they are too small to comfortably shoot, should at least take a look at this new subcompact pocket pistol from Remington. It has a few different design features that make it a little easier to handle than many of its competitors.
The popularity of the small handgun that can be slipped into a pocket or purse and be carried comfortably all day has increased in recent years and many companies now offer such a gun. But some people still shun the .380 ACP as inadequate for self-defense, while others, because of the recent offerings by ammunition makers, have a different view. The days when full metal jacket loads were the only option are long gone, and now we have well-engineered .380 ACP self-defense loads that offer the reliable expansion and penetration demanded by knowledgeable shooters. Better ammunition, new pistol designs along with a surge in the number of people choosing to legally carry a gun for self-protection has created a large demand for pocket-sized .380s.
Remington has been paying attention to these trends, and while it’s not the first company to enter the market, it has done so with a design that has a history. Some readers will notice that the RM380 is remarkably similar to the Rohrbaugh R380 that developed a small but loyal following over the years. Recently, Remington purchased the Rohrbaugh operation and design, made some modifications to the R380 and named the new handgun the RM380.
The most notable and welcome change is the switch from a European-style heel magazine catch to the American design that puts the release at the junction of the triggerguard and the frontstrap. But Remington took that change a step further and made the release ambidextrous. When pressed, the magazine falls freely away.
Another major difference is the addition of a slide catch. When the last round is fired, the RM380’s slide locks to the rear, and after a magazine change, it can be released by racking the slide or by pushing down on the slide release located on the left side of the frame just above the grip. Fact is, this is a feature that many of today’s experienced shooters desire.
A third major change in addition to some other subtle ones is the price. Where the Rohrbaugh R380 was priced around $1,200 new, the suggested retail for the RM380 is about one-third of that, putting it in the price range of the major competitors. But there are some features of the RM380 that are not commonly found on other .380 ACP pocket pistols currently being manufactured.
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Instead of the more frequently encountered polymer frame, the RM380 has a black anodized aluminum frame. Remington says the aluminum frame will render a longer service life and adds a bit of weight to help reduce felt recoil. Whether it was the additional weight or the slightly larger width and length of the grip, felt recoil to me did seem to be a bit less compared to other guns in the same class which I have tested.
Because of the aluminum frame, the RM380 has removable glass-filled nylon stocks or grip panels. The backstrap is smooth, the panels and the frontstrap are checkered. The gun is supplied with two 6-round magazines—one has a flat floorplate, but the other has an extended one with a finger rest. These features combine to give the shooter a better grasp and more control of recoil.
Remington provided a sample gun for evaluation that the company said is a production gun and not taken from a special run. The double-action-only trigger has a fairly long but smooth stroke that stacks a bit near the end of travel, just before the external hammer drops. The trigger weight on the test gun was about 9.5 pounds. No one will confuse the trigger with a match trigger, but one does not expect that in a lightweight pocket gun built for discreet carry.
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The all-steel slide is nicely machined and has an evenly applied black oxide over stainless finish. Instead of the blocky, squared features of so many pistols these days, the slide has seven sides, giving it an almost rounded appearance a bit like the traditional 1911. It’s much more eye pleasing to many, and also makes it less likely to create a telltale bulge when carried in a pocket.
The small sights are integral to the slide, meaning they are not adjustable. They consist of a square rear notch and a front blade, both black with no dots, and while they do work for short ranges, they are not built for long distances. On the positive side, they are so low profile that they are unlikely to snag on a pocket or purse during a draw.
One accessory, though, available from Crimson Trace, makes the gun much easier to aim both up close and at longer ranges, and that is the Laserguard. When installed on the triggerguard and properly zeroed, the bullet goes where the red laser dot points. Contrary to what some think, lasers sights are not gimmicks or toys but are a very useful addition to a self-defense handgun. They help to get that first shot off faster and reduce the time between follow-up shots. And when the shooter may not be able to obtain a good sight picture due to very low light or being in an awkward position, the laser can be a lifesaver. But even Crimson Trace advocates becoming competent with the iron sights, because in the unlikely event the laser fails or gets broken, the shooter must still be able to use them.
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Now back to the slide. The rear has angled serrations on both sides to provide good purchase when racking it. And racking the slide does not take a lot of strength, so people with challenges in this area should at least try the gun before dismissing it. Another nice feature of the RM380 not found on most other guns in this category is a firing pin that can be easily removed and replaced for cleaning and lubrication. Unlike most that are pinned in place, this one has a removable stop much like that of a 1911. So, if the firing pin spring becomes weak or the pin needs cleaning, taking it apart is easy.
Disassembly of the RM380 follows a familiar pattern for those who are used to a locked-breech, tilt-barrel design. First, after making absolutely sure the gun is unloaded, the slide is pulled part way to the rear until a small hole in the left side of the slide lines up with the takedown pin. Then, by tipping the gun to the left, the pin may be shaken loose to drop free. But if it doesn’t, a small punch can be inserted through a hole in the opposite side of the slide to push out the pin. The slide then can then be removed from the front of the frame. At that point, the recoil spring assembly, consisting of two springs (one surrounding the other) and a guide rod, is removed. Finally, the barrel can be easily separated from the slide. Assembly is in reverse order.
Holster makers are already manufacturing holsters for the RM380. CrossBreed makes the SuperTuck, an inside-the-waistband holster that many find comfortable to wear. This holster does a good job of allowing the user to wear a gun discreetly, yet at the ready for an emergency. And Recluse makes the Solo pocket holster in a couple of different versions. The Solo allows the owner to carry the RM380 comfortably in a pocket when other methods of carry might not be appropriate due to clothing choices. An interesting feature of the Recluse holster is the square slab of leather sewn to one side of the holster so that when worn, it appears that the person is carrying a wallet. Additionally, other makers like Galco have plans to offer holsters for the RM380 in the near future.
The RM380 provided was accurate and performed without malfunctions during my evaluation. Of course, the performance of one gun is not enough to establish meaningful statistics on accuracy or reliability for every gun of the same model, but it does indicate the potential for quality performance. In any case, the test gun, using three different self-defense loads, exhibited good accuracy at 7 yards, which is entirely reasonable for such a small gun. Even though the gun is small and light, it was more comfortable to shoot in long test sessions than other guns of similar size.
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Remington has recently announced that RM380s are now shipping to dealers, so if you are in the market for a small, concealable .380 pistol, take a look at this gun and decide for yourself if it meets your needs.
For more information, visit http://www.remington.com or call 800-243-9700.
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