Industry Trends – The New Genre of .380 ACP Pistols

As 2023 closes and 2024 starts, it’s interesting to look at the way the firearm industry trends. 2023 had lots of 5.7s, a few interesting PCCs, and some fairly radical guns. One trend I’ve noticed is the rise of new .380 ACPs. For over a decade now, close to 2, the .380 ACP has been regulated to micro-sized pocket pistols. However, in the year of lord 2023, the guns chambering the .380 ACP have changed radically. Like most things, this trend didn’t start in 2023 but has been a slow growth that just exploded. 

The Rise of the New .380 ACPs 

The new .380 ACP series is nothing new. If anything, it’s truly a return to tradition. Browning designed the .380 ACP to work with the Colt M1908 Pocket Hammerless. The M1908 was basically Glock 19-sized, thinner, but still fairly large. In the modern era, the gun I give credit for creating this new genre of .380 ACPs is the S&W EZ series. The original .380 ACP gave shooters a low recoil round that still packed a punch. 

From there, SIG released the P365-380, giving us a lower recoil .380 ACP option of the famed originator of the Micro Compact. Beretta and Ruger both released bigger .380s. Beretta brought back the Cheetah series. The new 80X Cheetah provided a fairly large pistol chambering the .380 cartridge. Ruger released the Security-380, which gave the user something between compact and subcompact with ten to fifteen rounds of ammo on tap and an easy-to-rack slide. 

We also saw guns from Glock and even Girsan. Bigger .380s are the quiet cult hit of 2023. It’s welcomed as far as I’m concerned. I have strong feelings about the pocket.380, mainly that it’s stupid and too hard to shoot to be worth a damn. A compact .380 offers us a new genre of firearm that’s downright excellent. 

The Benefits Of These New Guns 

The .380 ACP gets its rep as a pocket-gun cartridge, but it was never really meant to be. I say that understanding that pocket was in the name of Pocket Hammerless. Pocket-size is the real decider of what’s a pocket pistol and what’s not. I specifically mean the Ruger LCP, the S&W Bodyguard .380, the P3AT, and similar guns. 

While it’s not great as a modern-duty firearm, it’s dang near perfect for concealed carry. In guns like the Security-380, Glock 25, and P365-380, it’s a low recoil alternative to 9mm. The little .380 ACP is nothing to laugh at. It can reach the established standards for a defensive round and penetrate deep enough to reach something vital. 

Additionally, through these longer barrels, the round can gain more velocity, and more velocity can aid in ensuring expansion. Expansion means we are getting a bigger and better hole. The round performs a lot like a 9mm. It won’t do as well through barriers like glass. It also doesn’t work as well if you shoot through an arm with the idea of hitting something in the torso. 

A medium-sized .380 offers recoil-adverse shooters a very capable defensive round in an easy-to-shoot gun. These shooters are getting modern options with the ability to add lights, optics, and more. While the .380 ACP might not blow your socks off, it’s a very capable defensive round, especially for those who find 9mm a little harsh in the recoil department. 

What’s Next 

I think these new .380s are a great sign of the times. It’s a smart design and a great caliber. The pocket options ensured defensive ammo is still easy to find. I hope we keep seeing modern options with modern features in the .380 ACP world. It’s not the best fighting round, but it’s enough for the average joe and concealed carrier. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.