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Old September 4, 2012, 12:06 AM   #1
Ignition Override
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To select a Very First handgun, a .380, for later CCW.

My guns are rifles. Two friends carry the Polish P-64 in their front pockets. Yes, it's the 9x18 Mak round.
I've read about the lack of parts commonality between the P-64 and actual Maks (German, Bulg., Rus., Chinese). Lots of people online dislike the stiff spring DA pull on the first shot.

If you were to probably decide on a .380, and like the size of a Bersa, PPK, Sig-Sauer 232 or Beretta Cheetah, would it be a matter of weight or size, if we Exclude prices? Have done several hours of both Google and a little Youtube reading/listening about most of these. Some smaller 9mms are about the same size, but the listed .380s have a strong appeal.

A local range in Bartlett TN (Rangemaster USA) has a selection of 9mm and .380 handguns for rental.
Even as a lefty, I don't really want to be limited to the few left-handed or ambi choices, and most of the time I wear shirts tucked in, or wear t-shirts in the summer.
Discovered the CCW clothing on Google, but my wife already has a large chunk already invested in clothes.
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Old September 4, 2012, 12:13 AM   #2
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Iam a lefty and my Bersa Thunder 380 has served me well . It has a firing pin block. So I carry with the safety/decocker in fire position. It has a long trigger pull and in a proper holster as safe as any other pistol of this design
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Old September 4, 2012, 12:23 AM   #3
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Not sure how you're planning to carry. Sounds like IWB.

Assuming I guessed right, of the ones you mention I would like the Bersa and SIG P232 the best. I just don't think the PPK is at its best in .380, I believe you will find the SIG is considered more reliable, and it's definitely a more modern design.

I like the Bersa Thunder 380 also, found that very competitive with the SIG on accuracy and general shootability, at much less cost. Beretta is bigger than the SIG but offers no real advantages in my opinion.

Take a look at a Kahr CW9/P 9 if you can. Similar size, higher caliber, very nice to shoot. Even more comfortable than the .380s you like, all of which are older, blowback designs that magnify recoil.

In the Makarov family, look at the CZ 82. Bigger, but still can be IWB I think and it's much nicer to shoot than the P64 from what I can tell. I admit I haven't shot a P64 but it has a nasty rep for sharp recoil. The CZ 82 is available cheap (210 from J & G Sales), is high capacity, and decent to shoot especially if you get a higher-power Wolff recoil spring. Also extremely accurate and perfectly reliable, and with an ambi safety.

I have owned a Bersa Thunder 380CC and the CZ 82. I regret selling the CZ. I would get the regular Thunder 380 over the CC because of better sights and longer grip tang which helps soften the recoil, which isn't killer anyway.

I have rented and shot all the other guns mentioned except the P64.
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Old September 4, 2012, 01:48 AM   #4
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My superficial exposure to handguns has been five rds. here, six there, with nothing consistent, in various types but no training. With a similar 'first (.380)' thread I started tonight on Gunandgame, one guy suggested buying a .22, to do basic tng. for such a lower cost.

For this option, a guy might then want to sell the .22 and use the money for a .380 or small 9mm.

Mosin44az: I know very little about where guys carry, other than brief online chat or photos of ankles, inside jackets, inside pants waste (4 o clock), or pockets.
Watch on YouTube "falia photography", the young lady's holster location on her inner, upper thigh! My hang-up is that my shirts are always tucked in when I do errands, or we go out to eat, and Memphis is a humid, hot climate. Thus my focus mostly on .380s in classic styles.

Last edited by Ignition Override; September 7, 2012 at 02:45 AM.
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:41 AM   #5
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Some years ago I had the Colt Mustang Plus II -- which was a short "Mustang" slide and barrel on the Colt .380 Government frame. Both the Government and the Plus II were nice, small, flat guns that worked well with FMJ ammo. I regret that mine 'got away'. Now days, they command a small fortune for a .380.

The Kahr P380 looks interesting to me as it is small and has Kahr's smooth, but slightly long, trigger. It's a 6+1 design tipping the scales at about 10 oz. Only problem is that they're pricey. But if you want small (5L x 4H x .75W) it's worth checking out.

Bersa .380 pistols are well liked by their owners. I've not fired one but they're rather large for a small caliber pistol. But they are flat and seem to conceal rather nicely.

The Sig 232 and 238 are their .380 offerings. The 232 is well known and a nice gun. The newer 238 looks like the older Colt Mustang or what some might say is a 1911 style. It's very small and I found it hard to keep a good grip on it with medium sized hands.
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Old September 4, 2012, 06:19 AM   #6
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Bersa, PPK, Sig-Sauer 232 or Beretta Cheetah
These four are all good choices. The best may be the Beretta. It comes with an excellent trigger, rock solid reliability, good ergonomics and several choices of grip style. Pick the double or single stack mag model.

The Bersa isn't the same quality of the Beretta but also offers double or single stack mags, good ergonomics, all at a good price.

The Sig P232 is perhaps the best pointing of the four. It's also very reliable and easy to shoot well with a very good trigger. In it's alloy frame model the Sig is the lightest of the bunch. Great gun for a lefty.

The PPK is a classic but a bit heavy due to being all stainless. Good trigger and good reliability and the smallest of the bunch.

I've owned all four of these pistols and the one I did carry for a long time was the Beretta. It is simply the most reliable of the bunch. I've owned three of them and never had one fail. Great gun. I also have carried a alloy Sig P232 as they are so slim, so light and so easy to shoot quickly and instinctively.

The Bersa and PPK are range guns. If I were to carry a Bersa it would be the PLUS model, (which I haven't owned but I prefer it's grip).

Good luck with your choice.

Last edited by PSP; September 5, 2012 at 06:35 AM.
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Old September 4, 2012, 08:40 AM   #7
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For CCW, I like the blue Sig 232. Light and reliable for daily carry.
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Old September 4, 2012, 09:24 AM   #8
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My $.02....

I'd avoid the .380 caliber entirely, due to the price, given that if you are going to practice with your Carry gun, you will spend more on ammo over the course of owning it than you did on the gun..... not all at once mind you, but over time.

Choosing a 9mm over a .380, you will save enough over time to buy another gun ..... not all at once, but the $2-$5 difference in price per box of ammo adds up.

Do the math.

Also, during the Great Election Induced Ammo Shortage of 2008-09, .380 ACP got downright hard to find, sometimes.
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Old September 4, 2012, 10:08 AM   #9
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I also commented in your THR post, but I'll expand a little here. While I sometimes carry a Beretta M85FS "Cheetah" in .380, I more often carry a compact 9MM like an HK P7 or CZ PCR.

9MM is less expensive for practice, and a better round. There are also a new batch of slimmer, smaller 9MM's on the market. The Walther PPS, S&W Shield, and offerings from Kahr come to mind. If you want small, that is the route I would go.
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Old September 4, 2012, 11:00 AM   #10
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My advice is go to a range and that rents carry pistols and try a few of them to see what you like. I don't like 380s as a main carry gun. Backup only, as a "get off me" gun, for either nasal spray or very close head shots. A good pocket pistol with a pocket holster would be a Kahr PM 9 or Kahr CM 9. A 9mm is as low as you should go in a carry pistol. Desantis makes good pocket holsters like the nemesis. People buy. 380s for carry and never practice with them, since they are hard to shoot.
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Old September 4, 2012, 11:14 AM   #11
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Trying out the ultra small pocket guns is a very good idea. The micro 9m/m's like the Kel Tec's are very good at pocket carry and can have as many as 12 rounds (P-11) but are really really uncomfortable to shoot. so look at the .380's (your list has really very good pistols on it), at the pocket 9's, and look at the small revolvers, Something like a S&W 442 or 642. A hammerless revolver in a pocket holster works very well.
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Old September 4, 2012, 05:48 PM   #12
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If you were to probably decide on a .380, and like the size of a Bersa, PPK, Sig-Sauer 232 or Beretta Cheetah, would it be a matter of weight or size, if we Exclude prices?
For similar designs, it has to do with the feel for me. I prefer the added weight of steel to polymer as long as we are not talking about a rediculously heavy semi auto. I haven't shot a lot of .380s, but the Walther PPK is the only one that I have seriously considered. Pocket carry is of no concern to me, and I liked everything about the PPK... except for the stiff DA, which wasn't a deal breaker after I got some more practice in with it.
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Old September 4, 2012, 08:05 PM   #13
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Don't be afraid to change the way you dress. There are plenty of ways to look good with an untucked shirt.
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Old September 4, 2012, 11:26 PM   #14
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I live in Phoenix, even hotter. If you want to keep your shirt tucked in, options are more limited. There are IWB holsters where the shirt can be tucked over the holster and still inside the pants. Mitch Rosen and Galco have these, I think, and there is the newer Versa-Carry minimalist approach.

There is the Smart Carry/Thunderwear approach where you carry down the front of your pants (!) with a separate bellyband-type holster. There is the classic style of bellyband, where your shirt I think would need to be looser, even if still tucked in.

It depends on your build whether IWB works or not. I have put on a bit too much weight and in the heat prefer something I can carry easily in the front pocket. Don't like having my gun carried behind the hip either, where I can't see whether it's showing or not. I suppose even a heavier person could buy bigger pants and still IWB.

Maybe take a look again at the various carry styles above to see which appeals to you. How you want to carry dictates, in part, what gun you would buy.

If you decide that front pocket or ankle carry is best for you, you are looking at a class of smaller and lighter guns than the classic metal-frame .380s that have caught your eye. These would generally take some practice to get used to shooting.

Consider for pocket carry the Smith Airweight revolvers (with or without holster), Ruger LC9 or the tiny LCP .380, the Kahr CM9, which is actually pleasant to shoot, and the Colt Mustang Pocketlite/SIG P238, which are also OK to shoot but are single action which you may not prefer. The Bersa Thunder 380 CC is bigger but still might work in a pocket without a holster.

I can vouch for the Bersa, the LCP and the Airweights, and most people like the Kahr CM9 though mine was finicky.
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Old September 4, 2012, 11:39 PM   #15
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I've owned Bersa Thunder .380's, a Beretta Cheeta 85, CZ 82/83's

And if I had to chose one.... The CZ 83 would be it hands down.
You get a extremly reliable and accurate pistol with decent capacity. These guns are police/military grade weapons. They are little tanks.

The Bersa had a great trigger and was accurate and reliable but "unrefined" and single stack mags make it easy to hide under a shirt but your not going to have much firepower. The Bersa is nothing special but a good pistol for not much money. Heck, everyone should own a Bersa they are fun to shoot and cheap enough for anyone's budget.

The Beretta was awsome. Super smooth trigger and very accurate. A pure joy to shoot. But a very stiff recoil spring and cut out slide made slide manipulations somewhat difficult compared to the other pistols. (and a few of the female friends that I shoot with found it nearly impossible to manipulate the slide)
Also it was more difficult to field strip than the other two pistols. I sold it to pay for another gun. Every so often I wish that I had kept it but then I just shoot my CZ 83 and the feeling is washed away.

Almost forgot.. The Makarov pistol can be found in .380 as well. Another great pistol.
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Old September 5, 2012, 12:08 AM   #16
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Ignition Override,

Greetings, neighbor!

I own a Bersa Thunder 380 (not the CC model) and occasionally pocket carry it in a sueded leather Galco Pocket Protector holster. It does fit in the front pocket of pleated Dockers or blue jeans. However, it's relatively heavy as a pocket gun and I prefer to carry a S&W 642 .38 revolver in a Desantis Nemesis holster if I am going to pocket carry.

With the optional 9-round magazine that gives you 10 rounds of .380, which is a decent amount of rounds to put downrange if the situation called for it. However, that extra magazine length puts it out of the pocket size for me, so I only use that for belt carry.

It is arguable whether 10 rounds of .380 from a 3.75" barrel is superior to 5 rounds of .38spl +P out of 1 7/8" barrel, but there are always tradeoffs when looking for concealment.

The Bersa 380 is very comfortable carried at the 3 o'clock position in a quality IWB holster (I use the Striker model from However, that does require an untucked shirt, and like you, I prefer to tuck in my shirts.

I have tried a tuckable IWB holster before (for a different pistol) and found that unless you have very short shirttails you get a big bunching up of cloth around the gun, and it seemed that it would take a bit of tugging to untuck it and get to your gun in a hurry.

While I like the Bersa 380 and enjoy shooting it, I agree with many of the other posters here and would have to say that for the same general size and weight you can find some very good single stack 9mms.

At the time I was shopping for an affordable semi-auto for concealment, there weren't many choices in 9mm and I was not as educated on the relative effectiveness of handgun ammo as I am now. If I were in the market today, I'd skip the .380s and be shopping for a pocketable 9mm.
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Old September 5, 2012, 12:10 AM   #17
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if you're going to pocket carry:

Ruger LCP
Keltec P3AT

If you're going for OWB/belt holster:
Walther PPK
Sig P232
Sig P238

Lots of good compact 9MM handguns which are as small or smaller than models such as the PPK if you decide to jump up in caliber carrying OWB.
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Old September 5, 2012, 05:23 AM   #18
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Consider a micro 9mm, too.

With such tiny guns you really need to try a few of them out, since they don't all recoil the same and they all vary in size and shape... it all breaks down to whether you want to pocket carry or IWB.
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Old September 7, 2012, 02:58 AM   #19
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You guys (any gals?) are super. Thanks for the wide variety of info.

It will be easier to digest and understand after a first trip to that range which rents handguns.A second shop with no range has a decent handgun selection.

Will also begin to look at carry holsters, to try to understand them. Did I mention that two friends, who are very seasoned with guns carry the Polish P-64 (Mak. round) in front pockets?

Some people on line really dislike the stiff P-64's DA springs for the first shot, but I can't remember what it feels like.

Last edited by Ignition Override; September 7, 2012 at 03:07 PM.
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Old September 7, 2012, 05:51 AM   #20
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Even as a lefty, I don't really want to be limited to the few left-handed or ambi choices, and most of the time I wear shirts tucked in, or wear t-shirts in the summer.

As a lefty, there is no reason to feel you need to buy a lefty or ambi gun. With a little practice you can do most things using the index finger on your left hand.

There is also no reason to buy CCW clothing. Depending on how you carry, an untucked shirt with a pattern on it will conceal nost guns.

If you want more of a CCW gun rather than a range gun, take a look at the Ruger LCP. Easy to pocket carry and is a very solid well made gun.
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Old September 7, 2012, 07:14 AM   #21
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Personally, I would work on my awareness and skip the 380 shopping. Yes, this sounds aloof and yes I carry a Keltec 32 ACP occasionally.

What you have with a pocket 32 or 380 is a caliber which really isn't getting it done. In 32, the choice is simple, carry the fmj, prepare to shoot them all and run away fast. This is because even decent hits can be ineffective. In 380, wow, maybe you carry the fmj and live with what 9" - 10" of penetration?? Or over 14" with the FMJ's. Maybe you alternate in the mag, who knows. Whatever you do, ammowise is kind of hoping you have enough gun.

Above, sounded like good 380 gun advice, so I will not add.

I get over the hump and have a nice pocket carry gun, you might look at a Kahr PM 9 or PM 40. Small, pocketable and adequate.

I also like. . .and most often carry. . .a S&W J frame. It sounds like my 640 would be too heavy in your mind, but how about the S&W 340PDin 357 mag, or something like a S&W 642.

As for non-CCW looking CCW gear, I generally wear shorts with large enough rear pockets to slip a revolver in and an untucked button up shirt. I do this because untucked shirts are in style and make me look thinner. . .somewhat.

I also, occasionally wear guns in horizontal shoulder holsters under a tucked or untucked shirt.

In the dead heat of summer, I don't mind keeping my P40 in my Maxpedition either, just have to keep that on me, then.

Last, getting to a good CCW is a process. Maybe the first step needs to be developing confident trigger control and handgun accuracy with a 22. Lot's or good 22's. You can't go too wrong with most.
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Old September 7, 2012, 07:23 AM   #22
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the bersa is one of the best valued guns on the market. it is one of only 3 guns under $400 i would trust with my life.

the sig is nice if you have tiny hands. it sits very low in your grip, and the slide will cut up your hand very bad if you have big or meaty hands. i recommend trying before buying.

another sig 380 i like is the p238. it's on the pricey side, but very nice.

the cz 82/83 is a very nice 380, but way too heavy for ccw IMO.
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Old September 7, 2012, 08:10 AM   #23
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I sure wish price didn't matter. I'd pick the Sig 232, chiefly because it is of good quality and it's flatter than either the CZ or the Beretta. It happens to be lighter, too, but over time I've decided that's less important. I've also decided that the .380 is perfectly adequate, while not perfect. Cost of the ammunition does not enter into the matter (partly because cost wasn't supposed to matter in picking the pistol either).

If you have a very small 9mm, not to mention some of the .380s, you'll find you might not want to do a lot of shooting with it in the first place. But on the other hand, I not one of those who believes you need to shoot a few thousand rounds just to be barely competent. If you want to be a trick shooter, then maybe you do.

Another reason I'd pick the Sig is because I haven't owned one. I have owned a CZ, a Beretta and two or three Colt .380 Government Models, which I believe is even better than all the rest, which is no doubt why they quit making it.
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Old September 7, 2012, 04:09 PM   #24
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I love my 85fs. They're pricey but if you hunt you can find a good deal on them.
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Old September 7, 2012, 04:14 PM   #25
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one guy suggested buying a .22, to do basic tng. for such a lower cost.
That's never bad advice for a new shooter,,,
.22 LR ammo is so cheap you can get in a lot of practice.

Another similar option is to buy two identical guns in two different calibers.

These are my two Bersa pistols,,,
My Thunder .22 and my Thunder .380,,,
Both together cost me less than $600 even with transfer fee.

I'm a fan of these guns only because they function perfectly.

Just a thought for you to ponder.


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