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Reviews : Arsenal

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

Easy to Shoot

I wanted to put some rounds through the gun before I sat down to test its accuracy. My concern was that the gun's weight would make it uncontrollable or at least uncomfortable to shoot. I was also concerned that its petite dimensions would cause me to compromise my shooting grip to fire it effectively. What I found was that the P380 is an incredibly easy gun to shoot.

Recoil and muzzle flip are minimal for reasons already noted. One thing I did need to alter was my thumb position, however. The Kahr P380 has an external slide lock which is activated by the magazine follower to lock open on the last shot. I fired several magazines of ammo through the pistol and noticed that it was not locking open on the last shot. I tried various other ammunitions and it was still not working as it should. Then I realized that my thumb was resting on the rear of the slide stop and that slight pressure was enough to keep the slide lock from working as designed. By switching my grip to have my thumb ride alongside instead of on top of the slide lock the problem was solved. It was operator error not mechanical failure.

My test sample's trigger broke at a crisp five pounds without any stacking. The P380 possesses the same double action only trigger that is used on the rest of the Kahr semi-auto pistols and its smoothness made it easy to keep my sights aligned as I squeezed off the shots. I loaded the magazine with Winchester's 90-grain FMJ bullets fired the P380 as quickly as I could at my MGM steel target set up at about 10 yards. It seemed like I got faster with every magazine I put through the pistol. I was really starting to like this gun.

For the accuracy testing I set my targets out at 15 yards and used a Millett BenchMaster for support. One of the few criticisms that I have of the new Kahr pistol is the height of the front sight. It's just too short and made shooting groups painful. As it was the pistol already shot between 2 to 2.5 inches low at 15 yards. Replacing the front sight with a taller one would cause the pistol to shoot even lower. While I felt as though the stubby front sight hampered my ability to shoot tiny groups with the pistol it is consistent for the gun's intended deep concealment use. Though it was difficult for my eyes to see the front sight I think that you'll agree that the groups are pretty respectable for a .380 with a 2.5-inch barrel.

Ammo selection for a minor caliber subcompact is extremely important and Dakota Arms ( was kind enough to send me a good selection of high-performance cartridges. I received frangible Glaser Blue Safety Slugs, Cor-Bon's 90-grain JHP's, Deep Penetrating 100-percent copper DPX hollow points and Pow'RBall loads. All of these loads fed and cycled well and produced excellent accuracy. Any number of factors will dictate which load is right for you.

I also got a small sampling of Enhanced Penetration Rounds (EPR) from Extreme Shock Ammunition. Quoting their catalog, "EPR was engineered for applications where greater penetration is a must. The EPR has greater terminal success through glass and wood. This round has the ability to penetrate heavy skin and dense bone and then fragment once inside the softer tissue of the target."

As with the other high-performance ammos I tried, the P380 worked flawlessly with these rounds. Recoil was noticeably sharper but the upside of this equation is that it produced 22 percent more energy than the next closest ammunition, the Glaser Safety slugs.

Breaking It Down

Disassembly of the P380 for cleaning and routine maintenance is easy and requires no special tools. Simply line up the witness marks on the left hand side of the slide and frame and push out the slide stop. Pull the slide forward, off the frame while pulling the trigger. Once the slide is off the frame, compress the recoil springs and remove the guide rod. The barrel can then be dropped out of the slide. Particular attention must be made during reassembly of the spring system and positioning of the slide stop. Kahr has a very helpful video on its Website,, that will keep you from reassembling the pistol incorrectly.

For those who need a highly concealable gun for undercover work or for use as a backup weapon, the new Kahr P380 may offer a solution. I found the gun to be extremely reliable, accurate, easy to control, and comfortable to shoot. Its light weight and small size made it possible to conceal easily regardless of what apparel I was wearing.

Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.


Kahr Arms

Dakota Ammo

DeSantis Hoster & Leather Goods Co.


Extreme Shock Ammo

MGM Targets

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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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