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Combatives UnderGround >> Went .380 shopping

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5/1/12 4:47 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 05/01/12 6:22 PM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 45993
 
I bought a Glock 26 as a CCW gun, and I love it. It feels great and I can definitely hit shit with it.
But, too often, I feel like it doesn't conceal enough. It's pretty fat on my hip and too bulky for my ankle. I wind up opting to not take it out instead of worrying about it.
So, I went looking for a PPS, LC9, or P9, thinking they'd be better. They were smaller, but they were still sizable.
And then seeing the 380s there... And then slipping one of those in my pocket and tucking it in my waistband... I realized I could take one of them anywhere, and well, better have a small gun on hand than a big one at home.

I read the reviews, call around, went back to the store to squeeze a few, and finally made a decision.
What'd I get? (Yup, it's under there)

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The Kahr P380

Yeah, it was freaking expensive. But, everthing about it felt better, especially where it counted in grip comfort and trigger pull which is shorter, firmer, and has a crisper break than the Kel Tec or LCP. When I picked it up, it felt like the gun I wanted Glock to make only with a much better trigger.

Came with two 6 round mags:



Breaks down without any tools, and the striker mechanism and firing pin block remind me of my Glock, only slightly rearranged.




The finish on the feed ramp is mirror-like:



How does it compare to the Glock 26, size-wise?




OMG, no comparison. The Kahr is a small fraction of the size and weight of the G26, which now feels massive in my hands. I've got a IWB holster coming in the mail, but even just tucked into my waistband (unchambered, of course), it totally disappears from sight and eventually even from mind. Tiny.

How'd it do on the range?
LOL, I couldn't hit shit with it. I had 12" groups at 20 feet. (I'm an otherwise decent shot.)
One, the sights are the stick and dot, which I do not care for because I never gauge the elevation right. I'm seeing either some Tritium 3-Dots or a Crimson Trace in the near future.
Two, although recoil was manageable, it was snappier than my 9mm and that lead to me anticipating the jump.
Three, I love the trigger, it's a dream, but it's longer than the Glock and it's going to take a little getting used to.

If I had to pick one gripe with it, it's the magazine fit. You can't just slap one in and be sure that it's seated. It really takes a firm push to get it to click. While I won't be carrying a second mag and expecing to do any fast changes, if that kind of thing is important to you, this gun isn't made for a fast, sure reload.

Am I happy? Oh hell yes. I feel like I got more gun for the premium, I tknow I'll be carrying more often this summer, and I think the accuracy issues are something I can overcome with practice or some modification.
 
5/4/12 3:51 PM
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BshMstr
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thanks for the review!

that is a pretty big size difference between the two...i suppose that's the cause of the increased recoil?

i agree that the mag change issue is prolly not a big deal. i've never carried an extra mag for CCW...if i start doing that, then i'm gonna need a fanny pack or Maxpedition sling pouch, and might as well carry a full size gun, then...

one thing i hate about Glock's are the triggers....every time i've seen one shoot them for the first time they struggle with the trigger safety. the main reason why i chose a Glock for CCW is because it's similar to what i carry a work.

5/6/12 12:15 AM
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Skpotamus
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Congrats on the new gun. It's always a warm fuzzy feeling :o)

Keep on dry firing that kahr trigger, My wife got her PM9 to the point where she could hit the 45 yard steel target regularly with it. Never got that good with her kahr 380, but did get decent with it to use for defensive work. Hers had a problem feeding hollow points though.


Carry tips: Try appendix carry. I carry a glock 21 (full sized 45) appendix and nobody notices with an archangel holster (suarez international holster). It's actually more comfortable for most people that 3 oclock or behind the back carry, is faster, works when seated, and a few other advantages. And no, it's not pointed at your groin (I just know someone is going to say it).

For ankle carry, I always put the holster on the inside of my non carry hand. EX: I'm right handed, carried the holster on the inside of my left leg. No tell tale bulging at the ankle. Helped me keep deep concealment at a job that didn't allow carry (carried for 2 years with no one knowing this way until I finally found a better job).
5/6/12 8:43 PM
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Willybone
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Skpotamus - Hers had a problem feeding hollow points though.
Funny you should mention that. I just picked up a box of Federal hollow points at Walmart and it seems to have a problem feeding those. Now, Federals have a very sharp edge and a huge, wide hollow, so it's like trying to load the big end of an empty ice cream cone. I'm hoping it has no problem with Hornady Critical Defense, which has a more acute angle and that little plastic ball in the end to round the tip. We'll see.

Try appendix carry.
  I have honestly never tried that, but I'll give it a shot on your recommendation. Normally, I'm at 4:30.

For ankle carry, I always put the holster on the inside of my non carry hand.  
I love ankle carry, really. With the right pants, the concealment is unbeatable. I'm psyched because the P380 is much lighter than my G26 or old S&W snubby.
 
5/26/12 2:30 PM
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WidespreadPanic
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The Kahr is an excellent choice. Only problem is that the company is reported to have quality control issues. If you get a good firearm, you've bought a superb gun, and IMO, trigger is one of the top elements and there aren't many better than the Kahr.

5/28/12 8:52 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 05/29/12 10:59 AM
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Well, I spent a few hours yesterday taking the gun through its break-in, all 250 rounds worth.
I learned a few things.
On the positive side, the trigger only got sweeter as time went on. It's smooth in the extreme. It feels even lighter than the 5lbs its supposed to be.
Once I got used to where it shot (low and left), I was able to keep the majority of shots on target, even at 50 feet. Any accuracy issues are mine and definitely not the gun's.
And even after all 250 rounds, my wrist never got sore. It's just a really comfortable gun to shoot.

On the bad side... Man, this thing hates rounds that don't come to a point. HATES them.
I had some Winchester white box ammo, full copper jacket but sort of a wadcutter flat nose. Failed to feed like a mudderfugger. I also had some Federal hollow points, which are really wide open tips. Again, the gun hated them. It was a 50/50 gamble if the first round would load. And it was jamming maybe 1/5 times on the second round. BUT, it never ever jammed on the last four rounds with either ammo (which I don't really understand).
Now, compare that to a box of Blazer .380, FMJ round nose, which never jammed once.
The feed ramp is set slightly off center to the left, and when a flat-ish bullet goes to load, it can catch the sharp edge of the ramp and get stuck. Even cycling the action won't get it to feed. It hits so hard, the bullet actually gets a little dent where it hit.



I'm a little bummed. Now, I have to consider either sending the gun to Kahr to get fixed (which I wonder if they can even do, given the design), or do I just make sure to use only round nose target bullets or Hornady Critical Defense rounds (which come to quite a point and have that little plastic ball at the end).

(edit) Kahr has offered to open up a service ticket. I'm going to send it back and hope they can fix it.
 
5/29/12 10:06 PM
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Skpotamus
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Edited: 05/29/12 10:07 PM
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Some thoughts:

Hitting low and left for a right handed shooter is usually indicative of "milking" your grip. Your pinky finger flexing while your trigger finger is pulling the trigger. Couple things to try: Dry fire and really focus on that front sight. If it moves AT ALL, you're probably milking or flinching. On little guns, it's even more pronounced when you're shooting it as you're just trying to hold onto the damned thing.
Try shooting with your pinky finger off the gun, see what happens.

The wife had some problems with her shots going low and left with hers as well until she got used to it. She was definitely milking, just trying to hold onto the little thing. I was even worse with it, I was better off taking off a sock, dropping the gun into it and then beating someone with it.

http://www.piedmontnrainstructors.com/resources/CorrectionChartRight.pdf (the same page has a target for left handed shooters as well).

We never did get my wifes to feed hollow point ammo. She ended up switching back to her PM9, and later switching to a glock 26 as her regular carry gun.

Good luck, I hope it works out for you.
6/1/12 1:21 PM
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BshMstr
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^in reference to hollow point ammo, i wound't worry about it too much. i'm really drifitng away from the concept that hollow points are that much better for stopping someone....

theoretically, they expand, making a larger wound channel. however, i've seen quite a few .40 cal Ranger XT's spin off bone, making shots to the head and chest non-lethal.

personally, i like the consistency of the FMJ, and it should penetrate deep, as well as possibly incapacitating by smashing bone. unless you get a CNS shot, it's all a matter of making enough holes that cause enough blood loss to make the bad guy pass out or shut down organs, which are all generally pretty deep and protected.
6/1/12 9:38 PM
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Willybone
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Edited: 06/01/12 9:42 PM
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Skpotamus, I'll think about what you said about milking it. I know it's not my pinky, because it doesn't even fit on the gun, but I could be squeezing in with my other fingers.
I have no such problems with the G26, but that feels like a Cadillac after a few hours with the Kahr's MINI.

BshMstr, I hear what you're saying about hollowpoints too. I read an FBI report that stated penetration as being more important than cavity size, and with the .380's relatively pokey velocity, it seems like a nice pointy bullet would be better.

I still plan on sending it in. If they can improve its appetite for non-pointy bullets, it'd be nice to not have to pass up good cheap flatnose bullets, like the Winchester white boxes at Walmart.
When it comes back, I'll run a test with several brands/shapes of ammo and report on what, if anything, they improved.
  
6/2/12 9:32 PM
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Skpotamus
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WB, one thing that I really had to focus on with the little guns was using my hands like a vise. Firing hand gripped front to back only, support hand gripped side to side (assuming a two handed grip). I've noticed that with smaller guns most people tend to try to wrap their hand all the way around it to try to control the little thing better.

FMJ vs HP: Bullets incapacitate using 3 different methods. Psychological trauma. Blood loss. Tissue/organ Damage.

You can't control the psych issue. Blood loss takes forever to incapacitate (side note: Read Michael Janichs book on contemporary knife targeting for info on exsanguination times).

What you can control, to some extent, is the tissue and organ damage from shot placement and bullet design. A bullet that expands or fragments makes bigger holes than a FMJ at the cost of penetration. How much a difference does it make in a handgun? Well, a 9mm can open up from .355 to .45 inches or so. A .45 can open up to about .7 inches or so. That's still a TINY hole compared to a person's body and the major organs and blood carrying vessels.

The military uses FMJ's in their guns, and has for a 100 years. A lot of PD's outside the US still use FMJ's in their guns and don't worry much about it.

So is a HP necessary? Heck no. But if I'm shooting someone, I want a round that'll do the most damage I can get my hands on. If I had a gun that I loved and shot really well with that wouldn't feed HP's, I'd probably load up on glasers or corbon FMJ profile fragmenting bullets and not worry about it.

The only problem my wife ran into for her Kahr .380 was finding a non semi-wadcutter profile bullet for the .380 for practice. It's like finding round nose bullets for the .40 cal, it's just freakin hard to find outside of premium ammo (around here, you had to order the ammo specifically, which made it as much as premium SD ammo).
6/3/12 11:32 AM
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BshMstr
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Skpotamus - WB, one thing that I really had to focus on with the little guns was using my hands like a vise. Firing hand gripped front to back only, support hand gripped side to side (assuming a two handed grip). I've noticed that with smaller guns most people tend to try to wrap their hand all the way around it to try to control the little thing better.

FMJ vs HP: Bullets incapacitate using 3 different methods. Psychological trauma. Blood loss. Tissue/organ Damage.

You can't control the psych issue. Blood loss takes forever to incapacitate (side note: Read Michael Janichs book on contemporary knife targeting for info on exsanguination times).

What you can control, to some extent, is the tissue and organ damage from shot placement and bullet design. A bullet that expands or fragments makes bigger holes than a FMJ at the cost of penetration. How much a difference does it make in a handgun? Well, a 9mm can open up from .355 to .45 inches or so. A .45 can open up to about .7 inches or so. That's still a TINY hole compared to a person's body and the major organs and blood carrying vessels.

The military uses FMJ's in their guns, and has for a 100 years. A lot of PD's outside the US still use FMJ's in their guns and don't worry much about it.

So is a HP necessary? Heck no. But if I'm shooting someone, I want a round that'll do the most damage I can get my hands on. If I had a gun that I loved and shot really well with that wouldn't feed HP's, I'd probably load up on glasers or corbon FMJ profile fragmenting bullets and not worry about it.

The only problem my wife ran into for her Kahr .380 was finding a non semi-wadcutter profile bullet for the .380 for practice. It's like finding round nose bullets for the .40 cal, it's just freakin hard to find outside of premium ammo (around here, you had to order the ammo specifically, which made it as much as premium SD ammo).


i'd also like to point out that you can incapacitate with a CNS stoppage.... a buddy of mine shot a suspect in the face, and the bullet enter right below the eye, next to the nose, and traveled out through the sinus cavity and out behind the ear. would a FMJ have gone into the brain cavity? i dunno...but this isn't the first time i haven't been impressed with HP/"sawtooth jacketed bullets...

another buddy of mine shot a suspect in the chest, and it traveled around the rib cage out the back, not entering the chest cavity at all. ideally it would have smashed a rib or tow and popped a lung, hit the liver, heart, etc

with all that being said, i do think the Hornady round seems like a good compromise, though...

and again, i am not a firearms/ballistics expert, but the more shootings i see, the more of these weird little things i notice, and am more apt to go with consistency first.
6/3/12 10:47 PM
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Skpotamus
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Most of the shootings I'm familiar with personally involved animals. Only really know two that involved people. One I know that involved a guy taking a corbon powerball to the chest. Shattered a rib and fragmented, turning his lung into swiss cheese. He was lifelined to the best hospital in the area and survived with a 20% loss of his right lung. He showed me his back afterwards, looked like he'd been hit with birdshot in the back. Moral of the story, don't hand your loaded glock to your drunk buddy.

The other was LEO involved. Chest shots put the guy down with the 40 cal glocks they were using.

The truth is that handguns aren't real good man stoppers. The projectiles don't have the velocity or the mass. Hence the military using them as a backup weapon, not a primary.

FMJ's tend to deflect more than HP's in my experience shooting critters.

You'll have weird things happen with bullets. Just nature of the beast. HP's were designed to flatten out, causing more damage. This also slows them down and helps prevent over pentration.

Note: measurements in centimeters:
http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/9mm%20US%20M882.jpg
http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/45ACP%20230gr%20FMJ.jpg
60-70 centimeters of penetration is roughly 23 to 27 inches of penetration.

If you wanna use FMJ's, use em, just be aware you might over penetrate with some rounds. I'd hate to have a bullet go through some bad guy and hit someone unintended. Can still happen with a HP, but modern, good HP designs are more consistent. (older designs, like hydrashocks and ranger sxt's and cheapo designs like winchester white box aren't nearly as consistent). YMMV.
6/3/12 11:43 PM
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BshMstr
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Skpotamus - Most of the shootings I'm familiar with personally involved animals. Only really know two that involved people. One I know that involved a guy taking a corbon powerball to the chest. Shattered a rib and fragmented, turning his lung into swiss cheese. He was lifelined to the best hospital in the area and survived with a 20% loss of his right lung. He showed me his back afterwards, looked like he'd been hit with birdshot in the back. Moral of the story, don't hand your loaded glock to your drunk buddy.

The other was LEO involved. Chest shots put the guy down with the 40 cal glocks they were using.

The truth is that handguns aren't real good man stoppers. The projectiles don't have the velocity or the mass. Hence the military using them as a backup weapon, not a primary.

FMJ's tend to deflect more than HP's in my experience shooting critters.

You'll have weird things happen with bullets. Just nature of the beast. HP's were designed to flatten out, causing more damage. This also slows them down and helps prevent over pentration.

Note: measurements in centimeters:
http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/9mm%20US%20M882.jpg
http://www.firearmstactical.com/images/Wound%20Profiles/45ACP%20230gr%20FMJ.jpg
60-70 centimeters of penetration is roughly 23 to 27 inches of penetration.

If you wanna use FMJ's, use em, just be aware you might over penetrate with some rounds. I'd hate to have a bullet go through some bad guy and hit someone unintended. Can still happen with a HP, but modern, good HP designs are more consistent. (older designs, like hydrashocks and ranger sxt's and cheapo designs like winchester white box aren't nearly as consistent). YMMV.


interesting...

i'm gonna talk to some of our firearms and labs guys at work and ask them about this, from what they've seen.

i've seen people worry about over penetration, but to be honest, i've never seen anyone get shot through into anyone else. but i have seen bullets under-penetrate....

regardless, not picking an argument, because i think that (theoretically) HP's are better. but in analyzing what i've seen, that's not been consistent....
7/24/12 10:04 AM
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Willybone
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Edited: 03/06/14 10:50 PM
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Quick update:
I did contact Kahr. They were very cool and immediately sent me a FedEx invoice.
I sent the gun out. It was out for a while, about 4 weeks.
It came back with the extractor, recoil spring, ejector, cocking cam, striker block and magazines replaced; and the feed ramp polished back to a shine.

I loaded up a magazine of Federal rounds (wide mouth, sharp edge hollowpoints), hit the slide release, and... Chunk. Closed.
Retest, chunk.
Retest, chunk.
Slingshot the slide, chunk.
Slingshot, chunk.
Winchester flatnose, chunk.
I can not get it to jam.

Now, I haven't had a chance to take it to the range and beat the crap out of it, but it seems fixed. Good job Kahr!

But, my confidence is already a little shaken. This gun will have to go a long way to make me feel like it's as reliable as my Glock. There's no way I'd carry any wide hollowpoints in this thing as a defensive gun now. We'll see how I feel after a few hundred rounds at the range, but as far as I'm concerned, this thing is like hot chick who's a picky eater, and that's never the perfect date.

 

*edit*

I've brought it to the range a few times since writing this last post. It has fed semi-wadcutters without only one issue in 150 rounds. It's never had a problem with my pointy Hornady defense ammo. It's earning my trust back, but I still think twice about the shape of the ammo I'm buying. 


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