When I first saw Remington’s newest pistol, the RM380, last December at a new products event, my first thought was: That’s small…too small?
A semiautomatic pistol that holds six rounds in its magazine, it’s not supposed to be Dirty Harry’s hand-cannon—it’s a .380 caliber micro pistol that will compete with handguns such as Smith & Wesson’s M&P Bodyguard 380. Still, what also bothered me—and many others—is that Remington had some major problems with another small pistol last year, the R-51. Remington ended up stopping production of that model due to various manufacturing problems. While it isn’t fair to judge one gun by another earlier gun of the same manufacture, I couldn’t help think of the problematic R-51 when I first test fired the RM380. Those worries would later be put to rest.
The Remington RM380 is made for concealed carry. The small pistol tucks neatly into a waistband holster, a purse, or even a pocket. While I found it to be accurate, the combination of its short barrel (just under three inches) and the medium power of the .380 ACP round makes this a firearm for up-close use—10 yards or less would be my preferred range.
With that range limitation in mind, I put hundreds of rounds through the gun, and discovered that whatever problems Remington had with the R-5 were not evident in the RM380. It’s a fine little pistol. I’ve fired over 500 rounds of ammunition through various RM380 production guns, including 300 rounds in March through the same pistol. I didn’t have a single malfunction.
While the Remington RM380 is definitely not a long-range gun, I was impressed with the groups it delivered. I shot silver dollar-sized groups of four and five shots at seven yards, and kill-zone hits out to 15 yards without a problem. See me test fire the RM380 here:
I don’t have large hands—you won’t catch me palming a basketball—but I was still concerned that this small pistol might be too tiny to hold onto, especially when firing multiple shots. Nevertheless, the RM380 fit comfortably, pointed naturally, and didn’t shift even during fast-fire exercises. With a standard magazine inserted, my little finger did rest under the butt; when I used an extended magazine, all my fingers could wrap around the gun’s grip.
There are a number of small semiautomatic carry pistols on the market today, and the majority of them are single action—with a round in the chamber, the pistol’s hammer (either exposed or hidden) is cocked back and in the firing position. The safety in the “on” position prevents accidental discharge with a single-action pistol. Some also have a safety built into the grip, which must be depressed for the handgun to fire (though that is more common on larger handguns).
The Remington RM380, though, is a double-action pistol. When there’s a round in the chamber, the hammer is in the un-cocked position. The pistol also has no safety. What it does have is an eight-pound trigger pull, which means you have to give the trigger a very purposeful squeeze for the hammer to travel all the way back and then release. So you can pull the RM380 out of a pocket or holster with little worry about it accidently going off.
This also makes the trigger pull fairly long, and some fellow test-shooters didn’t like that feature. They were used to single-action pistols, which traditionally have much lighter, three- to four-pound trigger pulls. But you also have to carry them locked and loaded with the safety on.
The integral sights of the RM380 are very small. I did have trouble lining up the front and rear sights for shots at longer distances, and there doesn’t seem to be enough metal for any after-market inserts to better focus the sight picture. The front sight blade could, in theory, be highlighted, and I suspect some shooters will tinker with fluorescent paints and tiny brushes to improve the RM380’s sight picture. I’m hoping Remington will look to adding a colored front blade to provide a better and faster sight picture.
If the RM380 looks familiar to some, it’s because the design is based on another pistol, the Rohrbaugh R9, which was a small semiauto once produced by Rohrbaugh Firearms of New York. Remington bought Rohrbaugh last year and set about revamping the little pistol. While keeping the basic design, Remington reworked the recoil system to make it much more durable, added a slide-stop lever, and fixed the front and rear sights.
Currently, CrossBreed Holsters makes three holsters specifically for the RM380. But a number of other manufacturers, including Blackhawk! and Uncle Mike’s, make holsters for smaller .380 semi-autos that will fit the RM380.
Still smarting over the issues with the R-51, Remington officials have made few bold claims about the RM380. “We have a lot to prove and we know it,” Leland Nichols, a senior vice president at Remington and general manager of firearms, told an assembled group of gun writers. “The proof that we’ve done it right isn’t going to be in anything I say. It’s going to be in the RM380 itself, and we believe we got it right. Very right.”
Remington Outdoor Company (which includes Remington and many other gun and outdoor brands) announced last year that it was shifting a good portion of its manufacturing to Huntsville, Alabama. The R-51 was made in Charlotte, North Carolina, when the company was transitioning between the two locations. And, according to many reports, Remington also rushed the gun into production based on the very positive early reviews pre-production models garnered.
By contrast, the RM380 is produced only at the new facility in Huntsville, Alabama—the company’s first “All Alabama Gun.” Nichols stressed that this has been a real plus for the RM380, as engineering, design, and production teams were all together in one location, from day one.
Remington RM380 Specs: Action: Semiautomatic
Caliber: .380 Auto
Magazine Capacity: 6 rounds
Barrel Length: 2.9 inches
Barrel Material: 410 Stainless steel
Rifling Twist Rate: 1:16
Overall Length: 5.27 inches
Overall Height: 3.86 inches
Grip Material: Glass filled nylon
Grip Design: Removable, replaceable grip panels
Trigger Pull: Double-action only, approximately 8 pounds
Average Weight: 12.2 ounces (unloaded and without magazine)