Kahr’s New P380 Semi-Auto Pocket Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

February 18th, 2009




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Kahr Arms has been producing high quality, high-tech defensive handguns for several years now. I remember handling the Kahr pistol back when they first hit the market. I was amazed at the design ingenuity built into making the pistol so compact, yet so reliable and comfortable to hold. Back then, all Kahr pistols were compact, but relatively heavy compared to their newer designs being sold today. Those all-steel pistols were, and still are, very comfortable to shoot, and fit even small hands very well.

Today, Kahr makes several models with polymer frames, and the newest of these is the tiny P380. I have heard rumors of this little gun for several months, and have held a couple of pre-production samples, but now the littlest Kahr is in full production and shipping to dealers. It was worth the wait. This little Kahr operates from a locked breech, like a couple of its competitors, but the P380 is very compact, yet still has a striker system instead of a hammer. The P380 is basically a shrunken PM9 or PM40. I am sure that it wasn’t as simple as all that to produce a reliable miniaturized Kahr, but this little gem is true to the Kahr design. The pistol has a polymer frame and stainless slide, just like some of the larger Kahr pistols. It is odd to refer to any Kahr as “larger”, as they are all very compact, but this little .380 ACP pistol is very short, very thin, and very lightweight. Weighing in at barely over eleven ounces unloaded, the P380 rides unnoticed in a jeans pocket. Having the same basic internal design as the larger Kahr pistols, the P380 requires a long pull of the trigger to fire, and no external safety device is needed. Simply point the pistol and pull the trigger to fire. The P380 is small, light, and thin. The critical dimensions are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces. The linear dimensions are in inches. Weight is listed with an empty magazine in place. Overall height includes magazine base and sights. Maximum thickness includes the slide release lever.

Overall Length 4.877
Barrel Length 2.52
Slide Thickness 0.75
Frame Thickness 0.778
Maximum Thickness 0.925
Grip Thickness 0.778
Overall Height 3.89
Weight 11.3 ounces
Trigger Pull 5.25 pounds

The magazine release is on the left side, at the rear of the trigger guard, right where it should be. The release must be pushed in about a tenth of an inch before the magazine drops free. This is a good feature, and prevents the magazine from being inadvertently released while riding in the pocket. The trigger pull can best be described as “perfect”. It is very smooth, and the wide trigger makes it feel even lighter than the five and one-quarter pounds shown on the scale. The trigger has a small amount of take-up before it starts to activate the striker. It is a single-strike design, and the striker must be pre-cocked by the slide to fire. The grip length allows for a good two-finger hold with my large-sized hand, and the pistol is very comfortable to shoot and easy to control, even with Plus P high performance ammunition. The magazine holds six rounds, for a total loaded capacity of seven. Again, it is perfectly safe to carry the P380 with a round in the chamber. The pistol cannot fire unless the trigger is pulled. The slide locks open on an empty magazine, and the P380 comes from the factory with two of the stainless steel six-shot magazines. The grip is very well-textured for a positive hold, and again, the pistol is easy to control.

I tried every type of .380 ACP ammo that I had in my supply through the little Kahr. No failures to feed, fire, or eject were experienced. The pistol ran perfectly. It also locked the slide open on an empty magazine every time, as designed. I did the function and accuracy tests on a cold, windy day, with air temperatures hanging around the 35 degree Fahrenheit mark. Velocities are listed in feet per second (fps) in the chart below. HP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. FMJ is full metal jacket. HC is a hard cast lead bullet. Glaser is a specialty round with compressed lead shot in a bullet jacket topped with a plastic ball. PB is PowRBall, another specialty load from Cor-Bon. DPX is a load using the Barnes X homogenous copper hollow nose bullet. Bullet weights are listed in grains. Velocities were recorded twelve feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore HC 100 1046
Buffalo Bore FMJ 95 980.2
Buffalo Bore HP 90 1054
Cor Bon PB 70 1193
Cor Bon DPX 80 974.4
Cor Bon Glaser 70 1088
Cor Bon HP 90 915.3
Handload HP 88 808.9
Remington FMJ 90 851.8

The P380 exhibited very decent velocities from its abbreviated barrel. Accuracy was good, especially from a small pocket auto. The gun shot close to point of aim with most loads tested handheld at seven yards. The Kahr was showing good accuracy at seven and fifteen yards, and considering that it has an excellent set of sights, I decided to try the accuracy at twenty-five yards as well. This is something that I usually do not do with a pocket gun, but the Kahr proved capable of fine accuracy at that range as well. The pistol was fired handheld over a solid rest, and grouped in the two to three inch range with most ammo. The P380 fired slightly to the right in my hands, but that is no problem, as the sights are drift adjustable for windage correction. Many, many full-sized pistols are not as accurate as this little Kahr, and I was delighted with the accuracy of the little gun. The sights on the test gun were very easy to use, and Kahr also offers the P380 with optional tritium night sights, which I highly recommend on a defensive handgun. Most gunfights happen in low light, and you need every edge that you can get. There are several good .380 autos on the market now that are about the same size and weight of the P380, but this little Kahr has by far the best sights of the bunch.

Anyone who regularly reads Gunblast already knows my thoughts on defensive handguns, but I will recap anyway. Your defensive handgun must be one that you can always have within reach. In a vehicle and at home, I always have a bigger gun at hand, but I also always have a smaller pistol or revolver in my pocket. If I leave the house or step away from my truck for even a few minutes, the larger gun is no use to me. If I am in a more dangerous area, I will strap the big auto on my hip, and around the farm, I usually have a carbine nearby, but usually I rely upon my pocket gun more often than not. That pistol in my pocket must be one-hundred percent reliable, reasonably accurate, and powerful enough to resolve an unsavory social situation. The Kahr P380 certainly qualifies. It is rugged, reliable, lightweight, and accurate. It is built right, and built in the USA.

You can check out the P380 and other Kahr products online at www.kahr.com.

For the location of a Kahr dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the P380 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

Jeff Quinn


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:


Size comparison with a Ruger LCP.





Sights are excellent for a pistol of this type.





Takedown for cleaning is quick and easy.





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Click pictures for a larger version.


Kahr P380 Semi-Auto Pocket Pistol.



Pistol comes with hard case, lock, instruction manual, and two magazines.





Magazine release is right where it should be.



Trigger is wide and smooth.



Grip is well-textured for a positive hold.





Chamber area locks into ejection port using the tilting-barrel short-recoil principle.



Feed ramp is highly polished to ensure reliable feeding.



Extractor is large and designed for positive extraction.





The P380 proved to be impressively accurate.