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Kahr Arms P380 Subcompact Pistol

Kahr’s palm gun shoots great and is fiercely accurate thanks to its excellent design and match grade barrel.

June 01, 2009  |  by Mike Detty - Also by this author

Kahr Arms just introduced a new subcompact pistol chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge. Weighing less than a pound loaded and only .75 inches wide, this new pistol is small and light enough that it should serve just about anyone's deep concealment and/or backup needs.

Kahr has been working on this pistol for more than two years. I first previewed it at the 2007 SHOT (Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade) show in Las Vegas and was excited to see how small the gun was. About a year later, I had a chance to fire a functioning prototype at a writers' meeting. At 15 yards I was able to fire a magazine of bullets into a group smaller than the size of my fist. I couldn't wait to get my hands on an actual production sample and my test and evaluation sample of the Kahr P380 showed up in February.

By Popular Demand

I've had a couple of months now to shoot, carry, and enjoy the P380. And I have to say, I'm excited about this little gun. It's accurate, reliable, and easy to carry. If someone needs to carry a gun concealed, I can't imagine them passing on the new Kahr because of its size or weight.

According to Frank Harris, Kahr's vice president of sales and marketing, it was repeated requests for a .380 pistol that inspired the company to start work on the P380.

"Our sales are driven by the concealed carry crowd," said Harris. "We kept hearing from our distributors that they couldn't get enough Kel-Tec 3AT pistols, a subcompact .380, and we knew that Kel-Tec was making thousands and thousands of them. We also knew that a certain portion of the gun-buying public was willing to spend more for a premium product. And that's where we position ourselves. Not to knock Kel-Tec's gun or the nearly identical Ruger LCP, but we spend a little more time on our guns and use superior materials. Our gun features a Lothar Walther barrel, and we include two magazines with every gun."

Polymer and Steel

It's obvious by looking at the Kahr P380 that it is a quality piece. The patents that already cover the rest of the Kahr pistol line are also used on the P380. However, even though Kahr used its other polymer guns as a template for the P380, none of the tiny gun's parts will interchange with other Kahr pistols. Every P380 part is made explicitly for this particular gun.

Kahr actually molds a one-piece metal insert into the polymer frame. According to Harris the metal insert not only makes the frame more rigid it also gives the slide a steel rail to ride on. The whole idea is to not to have any metal to plastic contact that will accelerate wear.

The P380 uses a stainless steel slide and its edges are nicely rounded for concealed use. Its dust cover has grooves that engage the frame's steel insert, which protrudes from both sides of the plastic in the frame's dust cover and aids in guiding the slide. A MIM (Metal Injection Molded) steel magazine release is used on the P380 to prevent wear and breakage on that part.

As Harris mentioned, the Kahr P380 features a match grade barrel blank produced by the renowned barrel maker Lothar Walther. Kahr does the final machining, contours and then chambers the barrel at its manufacturing facility in Worcester, Mass. Kahr nickel plates the barrel for corrosion resistance.

Locked Breech

All of Kahr's pistols fire from a locked breech and the P380 is no exception. In a lightweight gun a locked breech design helps diminish felt recoil. Also aiding in the reduction of muzzle flip is Kahr's patented offset feedramp/barrel lug. This set up allows the trigger bar to ride next to the barrel lug instead of under it. The result is that the bore axis sits lower in the hand and this helps tame muzzle flip.

With the limited amount of space under the P380 barrel, Kahr engineers had to devise a dual spring recoil system to give the gun the needed spring mass to cycle correctly. Two springs, one inside the other and wound in opposite directions, surround the steel recoil spring guide. This provides the gun with the needed spring resistance yet the slide can still be easily cycled by hand.


What makes the Kahr P380 so concealable is its extreme flatness. It's only .75 inches thick and weighs just a hair over 13 ounces loaded with 7 rounds of 70-grain ammo. During the last month or so I have gotten in the habit of dropping the P380 in my Eotac shirt pocket. If you're not familiar with Eotac they make a clothing line designed to aid armed professionals in concealing their weapons.

The style 408 shirt features zippered hidden pockets under the shirt's breast pockets, and I found it to be just right for the P308. While running errands one day I ran into a cop friend and chatted with him for several minutes in a store parking lot. When he asked if I had anything new to write about I unzipped the hidden pocket and carefully handed him the P380. "Holy smokes," he said, "I had no idea that you had that in there. This would make a great hideout gun."

DeSantis sent me a sample of its InnerPiece inside the waistband holster for use with the little Kahr. It's a neat design with adjustable retention and a rear stabilizing wing to keep the gun positioned. It has dual snap fasteners for easy on and off convenience and the holster mouth is reinforced to make re-holstering easy. With the gun's extreme light weight and slimness it is effortless to carry in this rig.

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Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

R brown @ 11/12/2011 6:25 PM

Just took mine to the range for second time and magazine floor plate lip broke off the mag well while shooting. All remaining ammo and guts fell out of the mag well. Could not fix as mag well is broken. Gun shop reported this has happened to another recent purchaser. I bought for off duty, but a little concerned now.

Pontoondave @ 1/7/2012 4:17 PM

Just bought mine today and examined the magazines. The bottom of one of them fit very tightly against the front of the magazine well. The other had enough play to fit my thumbnail through.

So I slapped both magazines firmly into place and noticed the tight one left shallow strike marks into the inner part of the outer edges of the well. A bit of light filing on the upper front lip of the floor plate gave more slack. Plus just working the mags in and out many times seems to relieve them.

IMHO, close tolerances on high end guns need to be worked in quite a bit. Haven't shot this gun yet, but glad to have been alerted to this issue. If I have problems I will report after a couple of hundred rounds.

Tom Ret @ 7/9/2013 4:52 PM

I have one on order so hope to be shooting in a couple weeks. The break in is recommended to be a minimum of 200 rounds-glad I reload.

Robert Read @ 12/12/2015 4:09 PM

Mine keeps jamming up. Do you have to keep on round in the chamber all the time before reloading?

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