When Taurus introduced the new Model 380 back in 2010, I doubt they realized what a hit they would have. In retrospect, it may be easy to understand.
This is a .380 ACP revolver in a small frame that could make a great pocket or backup gun – perfect for concealed carry and personal defense.
And since you don’t see too many 380 revolvers, Taurus seems to have captured most of this niche market.
So, let’s take a look at this Taurus 380 revolver and see if it makes sense for you.
Model 380 Revolver
The Taurus Model 380 is a small-framed, 5-shot revolver chambered for the 380 ACP cartridge. It uses an Ultra-Lite frame, recoil-absorbing rubber grips and low-profile sights.
Many people might say it would make an excellent backup gun.
Although 16 ounces doesn’t make it the lightest handgun on the market, it is very short. It has a 2″ barrel. A real length savings comes from the shorter cylinder. A 380 ACP cartridge is much shorter than a .38 Special, so the cylinder is likewise shorter.
Without any doubt, modern .380 ACP ammo makes the caliber more reliable than in the past. Whether carrying this new Taurus .380 revolver on an ankle or in a pocket, a shorter gun with similar stopping power as a .38 Special +P will be appealing.
As with a 9mm cartridge, the 380 ACP case is a rimless design. That means it lacks a wide rim at its base to position it in the charge holes. Taurus uses Stellar Clips to overcome this problem.
Stellar Clips are thin pieces of metal that the cartridges snap into. The clip acts as the rim for all of the cartridges for extraction, etc. The upside to this is the clips act as a speedloader – you drop all five cartridges into the cylinder at the same time for a fast load.
Functionally, Stellar Clips are the same as moon clips used by other companies to accomplish the same task.
The gun is double-action-only and has a bobbed hammer. It is not fully shrouded or concealed like the Taurus CIA line of revolvers. This means there isn’t a hammer spur to grab onto a pant leg or other cover garment.
History of 380 Revolvers
The history of revolvers chambered for the .380 ACP is remarkably short with the Taurus 380 being the standout.
In fact, the Taurus M380 is one of only .380 two ACP chambered revolvers that I can find. The other is the current production Charter Arms Pitbull (model #73802.)
Frankly, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. The cartridge was designed for a semi-automatic pistol and does not have the rim needed by most revolvers. And, with cartridges like the .38 Special in existence, there is little interest in chambering a wheel gun in a cartridge that doesn’t offer any real benefits.
Nevertheless, “little interest” does not mean “no interest.”
The Enfield No 2 Mk I revolver was sometimes said to use “380 ammunition.” However, this is not .380 ACP ammo.
The Enfield revolvers used 380/200 loads, a variant of the rimmed .38 Smith & Wesson cartridge. It used a 200-grain soft lead bullet.
A subsequent cartridge design used a gilded lead bullet of 178 grains. This round was referred to as the .380 Mk IIz load. Again, it was not a .380 ACP cartridge.
Original Taurus M380
While many of the Taurus guns are first announced at the SHOT Show, this one was introduced on the radio.
“It’s the neatest little gun you’ve seen in a long time,” said Bob Morrison of Taurus USA. Morrison appeared on the May 30, 2010 broadcast of Tom Gresham’s GunTalk radio program. At the time, Morrison was the president of the Taurus USA company.
Shown below, the original M380 revolver had a blued finish and the company’s old-style polymer grips.
The modern production guns have the updated rubber boot grips that are better at mitigating recoil. As described above, new revolvers are not offered in a blued finish – just the matte black or matte natural anodized finishes. Otherwise, the guns are similar.
A 380 ACP revolver is not a common gun, and might not be anything you would normally consider.
While a bit unusual to see the relatively low-power cartridge in a wheel gun, there are plenty of autoloading cartridges that are found in modern revolvers.
Most frequently, the .45 ACP is seen in large frame revolvers. However, there are other cartridges associated with pistols that can be shot in revolvers: the 9mm and 10mm are two that come to mind.
While the .380 is a relatively soft shooting round, in a revolver there is more felt recoil because there is no mechanical action taking place that absorbs some of the recoil.
While I have a soft spot in my heart for rimless cartridges in revolvers – especially the 10mm – I have a hard time determining where the Taurus 380 would fit. It doesn’t offer any weight or capacity improvements over a .38 Special revolver.
Nevertheless, it isn’t a bad gun. If you like the cartridge, go for it. You don’t need my approval to buy something you want.