After a few emails and review of our site statistics, I found many are looking for a comparison between the latest .380 pocket pistols to hit the market. With that said, I decided to write this article to not only possibly help with their decision, but also point out two of the latest options to hit the market in this rather unique class that most are not even aware of. While many manufacturers are careful when venturing into this growing trend, some have managed to release models that are quite enticing to many looking for an everyday carry pistol with a punch. This article will feature two of which have had a product on the market for some time now, as well as two new to the game and one of which is new to firearms in general. After reading this article, the winner may actually surprise you.
What many appear to be researching the most is a comparison between the Kel-Tec P-3AT and the Ruger LCP. What many do not realize though, is that there are two other pistols that just hit the market that should be added to the mix. I’m talking about the new Taurus 738 TCP and the Diamondback DB380. Both pistols have just been released, but one happens to be from a company that is new to firearms. In this article, I will cover all four pistols and provide enough information on each, as well as my personal recommendation.
I will start with none other than the P-3AT from Kel-Tec. This is not only the oldest pistol on the market, but one from a manufacturer that is well-known for releasing the smallest and/or thinnest pistols available. In fact, many try to compete and design a product around them.
From a purely technical perspective, the Kel-Tec P-3AT is no doubt the most appealing when you factor in both its specs and its price. Let’s have a look…
Caliber: .380 AUTO
Weight unloaded: 8.3oz
Loaded magazine: 2.8 oz
Barrel Length: 2.7″
Trigger Pull: 5lbs
Yes, like all their pistols and the reputation they maintain, it is the smallest pistol in this comparison. But is the P-3AT the best option out of the four featured here? As much as I love and respect Kel-Tec, my personal and honest opinion is no. You see, I’m quite familiar with the company and have owned quite a number of their handguns over the years. By far, they do have the best customer service…hands down. However, what I have found is that mostly all their pistols will require one trip back to them in order to get them functioning flawlessly. In addition, the overall quality is what you’d expect from one offered at such a low price. Now, while I have nothing but good things to say about their .32 and 9mm models, the P-3AT was honestly the only model that did disappoint me highly.
I did not own this pistol for very long. After constant jams at the range, it went back to Kel-Tec and they returned it with some modifications. However, it was still too unreliable for carry. Also, this pistol is very unpleasant to shoot. Recoil is very high and you must grip and hold this pistol tightly when shooting it. After one box, your hands are hurting. In addition, despite the 5lb trigger pull claim on its official specs, I found the trigger long and hard to pull. I would put it around 7-8 lbs. I was not impressed with it. I’ll stick with my trusty Kel-Tec P-32.
The next pistol is this comparison is the Ruger LCP. Most call it a Kel-Tec clone and there’s no argument there, as its design does clearly resemble the P-3AT. However, there’s a few obvious differences and one issue that certainly plagued this pistol since its release.
Ruger is known for quality and the Ruger LCP is a step above the Kel-Tec P-3AT in this area. However, what was disappointing was a major recall issued after release involving a very serious problem. The recall was announced after a number of complaints that the pistol can actually fire when dropped. Yeah, that’s a very serious issue. Almost all know about this recall and Ruger has done an excellent job at handling the problem from what I hear. If you are one who does not know about it, I strongly recommend you visit this link to determine if your pistol needs to be sent back.
Moving along, let’s have a look at the technical specs…
Caliber: .380 Auto
Barrel Length: 2.75″
Trigger Pull: 8lbs
Compared to the Kel-Tec P-3AT, the Ruger is slightly larger and heavier in comparison. However, after holding and shooting one, I can live with that based on its overall higher quality. However, just like the Kel-Tec P-3AT, I found it quite unpleasant to shoot as well. It was better than the P-3AT, but still not a fun pistol to shoot nor easy to maintain high accuracy after several rounds. When deciding on a pocket pistol for daily carry, you’re main focus should be peace of mind. You should be comfortable with it and shoot accurately at all times. I personally found the Ruger was not the one for me. The main reason was the very long hard trigger pull that just seemed to drag on before it went bang. Not the DAO pistol I’d like to carry.
The next pistol is a brand new one released by Taurus. It is also the largest, not to mention ugliest in this comparison. This is the only pistol in the comparison that I have not personally shot, but did hold and examine one just recently at a gun show. I was not impressed. What many should also note is that Taurus is well-known for their excellent revolvers. Their pistols are just not reliable and know of many people who have problems with them. However, this is just one exception though…their 1911! I personally own one and have nothing but good things to say about it. I also thoroughly reviewed that pistol here. Despite how hard it is for me to recommend their pistols, their PT 1911 is excellent and the only exception.
After holding one, I did like the grip and comfort, but was just too heavy and bulky for me. Let’s have a look at the specs…
Caliber: .380 AUTO
Barrel Length: 2.84″
Trigger Pull: 8lbs
Despite the specs, its seemed wider than it really is. I also did not like the trigger on this pistol but did like the mag base, which provided a nice grip on the gun. Considering how troublesome their larger pistols are, I just can’t recommend this one to anyone. One nice thing though is that Taurus does include two magazines along with this pistol. None of the other pistols featured here do.
The last pistol in this comparison is from a company new to firearms. They are known and respected for their quality airboats but have decided to get into this business and their .380 is simply amazing. For an in-depth article on this excellent pistol, check out my thorough review here.
The minute I held one of these beauties at a recent gun show, I knew I had to have it. The Diamondback DB380 is not only a sheer pleasure to shoot, but of high quality as well. Before I continue, let’s have a look at its specs…
Caliber: .380 AUTO
Barrel Length: 2.8″
Trigger Pull: 5lbs
For those of you who own Glocks or are familiar with them, this one closely resembles one and already has been given the nickname “Mini Glock”. From its design to its take down, it is pretty damn similar in comparison. However, I’m one who personally does not like Glocks but this little beast is so well-designed, I just had to get one. I’m glad I did and it is now my everyday carry gun. Why? Well, there’s lots to like about it when compared to the other three above.
First off is none other than its accuracy. What you should seriously note from this article is that when compared to Kel-Tec and the Ruger, this one does not have much recoil at all and is incredibly easy and fun to shoot. This is all courtesy of its super crisp and true 5lb trigger pull, as well as its quality dual captive recoil spring guide and rod. These pocket pistol are meant for close defense and while most should always have that in mind, this one does well way beyond 7yds. It is extremely accurate and pleasant to shoot. Taking it down is also incredibly easy and it does not require any tools what-s0-ever. Also note that unlike any of the others featured here, the DB380 is striker-fired, meaning there is no external hammer and you can dry fire it like you can with a Glock.
Folks, if you have an opportunity to shoot one of these, I highly recommend you do. I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it. The only issue with this pistol is the fact that it is from a company that does not really manufacturer handguns and therefore, their customer service is questionable. I personally have not found a need to send this one back so I can’t even properly comment on this. However, don’t let that deter you from considering it.
Now that we have covered all, let’s recap on features and come to conclusions…
Comparing the specs, it is clear that Kel-Tec continues to remain the company manufacturing the smallest pistols available. The Diamondback DB380 isn’t far behind though and the differences are minor. The Taurus 738 is the heaviest of the bunch and does “feel” thicker than the LCP when held.
Both the Ruger and Diamondback are quality handguns. The Taurus looks well-built, but I just can’t say much else about it. It’s not one I would consider. The Kel-Tec P-3AT is on the bottom of the list here. However, when it comes to quality, you also have to factor in the cost of handgun. With that said, let’s have look at what you can expect to pay for any of these…
Kel-Tec – $318 – $377
Ruger LCP – $364 – $399
Taurus 738 – $336 – $450
Diamondback – $399
Depending on slide of choice, the prices are fairly close in comparison. However, the Taurus can run you over 4 bills and I have seen this at gun shows. What is interesting to note here though is that the Diamondback sells for exactly $399 everywhere I have spotted it. I found that most will refuse to go above or below this price for this pistol. The Kel-Tec is obviously the cheapest of the bunch and if you’re a smart shopper, you can actually manage to find it just under $300.
Overall Accuracy & Comfort
Hands down, the new Diamondback DB380 takes the top spot here. While I can’t speak for the Taurus, Recoil is significantly less than the Kel-Tec and the Ruger. It is a pistol that is not only pleasant to shoot at the range, but the most accurate, thanks to its telescoping recoil rod and extremely smooth and light trigger pull.
After comparing these four models, it is clear who the winner is. The Diamondback DB380 is simply designed the way a pocket .380 pistol should be. However, there’s no denying that this purchase is considered a “gamble” for many, as this is a new and unknown company to many. There are many concerns and questions that come into play. However, I did gamble on it and I couldn’t be any happier. In fact, it is now my primary carry weapon. In the end, the decision should be based on which you feel most comfortable shooting and which does manage to provide ultimate peace of mind. The Diamondback DB380 should be at the top of your list…no doubt.
Now, many are probably wondering why I did not include the impressive new Sig Sauer P238 in this comparison which many comment highly about here. Well, the reason is simple…it is not what I consider a pocket pistol. Yes, I fell in love when I held this little beauty in my hands. However, at 15.2ozs and being a single action pistol that should be carried cocked and locked, it is really one that should be carried in an IWB holster and not your pocket. Its quality is no doubt steps above mostly all featured here, but it is just not a practical choice for pocket carry and have with you at all times, regardless of attire.
The .380 caliber is obviously the standard now-a-days and many gun manufacturers are sticking to it, despite just how difficult it is to find such ammo. However, when it comes down to compromise between size and stopping power, there’s just no other weapon on the market today offering the best of both worlds.
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