Shooting the Taurus Model 85



With mortgages, student loan debt, and bills, having the coin to get the means for personal defense can be tricky. It gets even more confusing as the fads and what is in or out seems to be changing with every passing year. But you don’t need a $1000 gun with a ton of extras to prevail. Despite all the trends going on, budget minded revolvers continue to be popular. At the top of the heap is the Taurus Model 85.


The Model 85 has been around for decades, manufactured by the Taurus firm out of Brazil. It is similar in size, though a bit beefier than the Smith & Wesson J frame revolvers which remain the gold standard of small revolvers. But at its heart, it features the same 5 shot capacity and hand ejector action as well as the same diminutive blade front and rear notch rear sights. The standard Model 85, (the one we have today) is of all steel construction with an exposed hammer, 2 inch barrel, and uses Taurus’s ribbed rubber grip. It also features a keylock on the hammer spur that can be used to disable the gun for safekeeping.

It is also chambered for the quintessential snub nose revolver round–the 38 Special. The gun is a double action revolver, requiring a long pull of the trigger to discharge the gun. But the hammer may be cocked for a lighter trigger pull. While the basic Model 85 is bland and basic, Taurus offers other variants utilizing lightweight alloy frames and various hammer or hammerless configurations and calibers. But all the variety in the world won’t save a gun if it can’t shoot.


I took the Model 85 for a workout armed with 300 rounds of ammunition–one hundred rounds of Winchester 130 grain FMJ, and an equal amount of 38 Special +P Remington Ultimate Defense 125 grain hollow points and Remington 158 grain LRN ammunition.

This is how the ammunition fared in a three shot average over my Caldwell Chronograph:

Winchester 130 grain Full Metal Jacket–813 fps

Remington Ultimate Defense 125 grain +P–930 fps

Remington 158 grain Lead Round Nose–706 fps.

*figure given in feet per second.

The Taurus Model 85 is an excellent shooting handgun–especially  class of small, short barreled revolvers. The m85 is heavy for a snub-nose and the rubber grip fills the hand well. Thanks to this, recoil was quite soft even with the +P loads. The sights, being just a fixed notch and blade arrangement, are clearly not meant for target work, but they pick up well for what they are. The trigger pull proved quite smooth in double action at eleven pounds, but tended to stack at the end of travel.

All loadings produce acceptable accuracy at both seven and twenty-five yards, firing double action. However, the 158 grain loading produced the best accuracy. At the former distance, a 2 inch pattern was easy to achieve and deliberate fire produced a steady 8 inch pattern at twenty-five yards.


Some might say that revolvers are too slow to get hot, but the Model 85 was hot to the touch at various points in the little torture test. Constant shooting and reloading did it and that was how I found the one quirk with the Model 85–the reload.

Breaking the cylinder open and a smart smack of the ejector rod will often throw the empty cases right out, despite the rod itself is not long enough to make the cases clear the cylinder. Here the comfortable grip gets in the way–hanging up an empty case when the time comes to reload. The thickness of the grip also impedes the proper use of a speed loader as well. They fit in tightly and require a good shake to free the rounds from the HKS loaders I was using that day.  Will you need to reload quickly? Probably not. But I would be more comfortable getting the gun back into action in a hurry with modified grips.


Final Thoughts

It is especially true with firearms that you do get what you pay for, but in the case of the Taurus Model 85, you get a good bit for the price point and it is easy to see why the model is a flagship of Taurus. Though not as polished as some others, the M85 does not have the tool marks and burrs common on some other budget minded handguns. All the parts are well finished and well fit for a tight lockup of the action. On the face of it, the m85 is a very run of the mill defensive revolver without adjustable sights or even a lightweight alloy frame. It is a no frills gun that keeps the cost lower while still being able to hold its own against the competition. At its price point, it is tricky to find a defensive handgun that is both reliable, shoot-able, and easy to use. In that respect, the m85 is a true contender. While I wouldn’t star in a Hollywood action movie with this little five-shooter, I am confident it could get me home.




Shooting the Colt 1849 Pocket Revolver


Today we take for granted the many lightweight carry guns out there on the market. Lightweight polymers and alloys combined with high quality steel makes for guns that are as small as ever, yet able to handle potent cartridges. This might seem new, but today’s carry guns are part of an evolution that started with one little handgun, the Colt 1849 Pocket.

A Brief History 

Pocket guns existed before the 1849 Colt, but the most practical of these were single and double barreled small flintlock or percussion cap handguns like those made by Henry Deringer. But there was, and always will be, the desire to have a gun that fires more rounds without having to reload. With a deringer or muff pistol, it is one and done.

But the world was changing. Colt’s revolvers had been on the scene since 1835. The earliest, the Patterson, was a commercial failure, but it worked. The big 44 caliber Walker and Dragoon series of pistols really got Colt back into the business for good. These guns were meant for war, but they did find some use with civilians. However, they were huge and heavy. The guns were made of wrought iron and they needed a lot of it to withstand 44 caliber pressures. If Colt was going to survive in peacetime, he needed a small handgun to market to civilians. In the era before economical steel manufacture, the only way was to reduce the caliber.


In 1848, Colt put out the Baby Dragoon revolver. It was a shrunken version of the 44 caliber Dragoon in Army service at the time. It was a 5 shot 31 caliber revolver, but it was a pain to load. Most of these little guns did not have a loading lever, so the gun had to be disassembled in order to load. After adding a loading lever and some other minor improvements, the Colt 1849 was born.

With rapid Western expansion and the California Gold Rush in full swing, the little gun sold like hotcakes, often selling for a few hundred dollars out West. But, it was worth it for a five shooter you can stick in your pocket. And the fan base kept growing, to the East Coast.

The fledgling police departments in the US at the time carried no firearms, but that changed when the Baltimore Police Department began issuing the 1849 Colt to each of their officers. No longer did a policeman have to rely on a club or a cheap single shot pistol. Other departments, would inevitably follow suit.

Colt’s new revolver also proved popular in other corners of the world thanks to Colt’s factory in London. They would see use with adventurer and civilian alike in all corners of the British Empire.

But when one thinks of a percussion revolver, often it brings up images of the American Civil War (1861-65). However, the little 31 was never considered for military issue. The guns were privately purchased by men on both sides and were well regarded, though not as powerful as the 36 and 44 caliber guns in service.

Despite the lack of a military endorsement, the Colt 1849 is still Colt’s most popular percussion revolver with over 330,000 made when production finally ended in 1873.  Colt occasionally reissues the gun, but Uberti has taken up the helm to produce this classic.





With so many Colt 1849s out there, even 150 years after their heyday, they are a collector’s dream and came in quite a few different types. They generally came with a 3-6 inch barrel and with or without a loading lever.

Uberti’s 1849 Colt features a blued 4 inch octagonal barrel complete with a steel loading lever and open top frame that is case hardened. The stagecoach engraved cylinder is also blued steel and has a five shot capacity with a single safety pin that allows the hammer to rest in between chambers to prevent accidental discharge.


The 1849 is a single action revolver that requires the hammer to be cocked all the way back for each shot. Cocking the hammer exposes a notch rear sight on the hammer face that is lined up with a brass bead front sight. The gun has a single piece walnut grip inlayed in the brass grip frame.

The barrel is held in with a screw tensioned wedge that mates with the robust cylinder pin.

The 1849 is all things typical for a Colt percussion revolver, but is much smaller, at just 23 ounces. That does not seem lightweight now, but at the time, that was a big deal.



Loading and shooting the 1849 Colt was a fun experience, but it also gave me and anyone else who enjoys percussion revolvers, a sense of what people had to go through in the 19th century beyond just historic writings.

Loading the 1849 Colt is a little more cumbersome than larger percussion revolvers just due to the small size, especially without the convenience of paper cartridges these revolvers were designed to accept. Loading goes as follows:

1) Pull the hammer back to half-cock so that the cylinder can rotate freely.

2) Drop a premeasured charge of black powder in each chamber, rotating the cylinder as you go along.

3) Drop a lead round ball on the mouth of a chamber and rotate it under the loading lever. Unlatch the lever and push the ball into the chamber. If you happen to have a conical bullet, it should be started slightly in the chamber mouth before ramming. A ring of lead should be shaved off, indicating a tight ball fit. This tight fit prevents chain firing, a condition in which an undersized ball is used and flame from another cylinder would make its way into other cylinders and past the ball, resulting in detonating multiple chambers at once.

4) Putting some form of grease or shortening over the chamber mouths or using wads beneath the ball is an optional step in the loading process. This does not prevent chainfires, like what is often stated, but it keeps black powder residue soft and allowing for easier cleaning and the ability to fire far more shots.

5) Place a No. 10 percussion cap on each of the nipples snugly. At this point, the gun is ready to fire by simply pulling the hammer back to full-cock.


Loading in 15 grains of FFFg was a little awkward, due to the small 32 caliber holes, but it seems there is plenty of room left for the ball, which is easier to load, despite the short length of the loading lever. The lever also has a positive catch on the barrel so it will not fall down under recoil. For the long term shooting I had planned, I greased the chamber mouths with Crisco after seating all the balls.

Seating the percussion caps proved to be tricky. The recess in the recoil shield where I can get my fingers in to slide caps onto the individual nipples was, in a word, small. But with some fumbling on my part, they were seated. I like to push the caps further onto the nipples with a dowel rod for sure fire ignition.



The 1849 feels excellent in the hand, with a similar grip used on the 1851 Navy, and later the Colt Peacemaker. For a small gun, it is downright pointable with little need for the sights.


Speaking of the sights, like all percussion revolvers, they are very fine just do not jump out. Cocking the hammer takes instinctive effort and it reveals the rear notch on the hammer nose. Line it up with the small brass bead front sight and squeeze the trigger. 

Trigger pull on my particular example comes in at 4 lbs. 2 oz.

Firing was done at 7 yards on paper and 25 yards on steel 8 inch plates. First, I took to steel scoring just 2 shots out of 10 with most of the rounds sailing well over the plate without that satisfying metallic ping.


I should have gone to paper first, which I eventually did. At a more appropriate 7 yard distance, the little gun put the balls where they needed to go in a six inch group, some fifteen inches from where I was aiming. This is typical for percussion revolvers to be sighted for 75 yards, even the pocket models! I thank the very mild recoil of the 31 caliber defensive load and a good trigger pull for the group.

How about power? My chronograph picked up my 3 shot average using 15 grains of Graf’s FFFg and a cast .321″ 50 grain round ball traveling at a leisurely 717 feet per second. About 22 LR in power, yet effective in its time.

Loading and shooting was fun, but what else did I learn?

1) Cap jams suck.

2) The Colt keeps on working.


Cap jams are a common failing of Colt’s open top system of revolvers. Spent caps have a tendency of falling into the action under the hammer, creating failures to fire the next round or worse, gumming up the action. This is because the notch in the hammer face intended for the safety pins pull the caps off the nipples after the firing pressure back the caps into that space. This is solved with good aftermarket nipples or a bit of epoxy to fill in the gap on the hammer face. An old fix was to raise the pistol over the head and cock the gun, so the spent cap falls clear of the action. Quite unnatural, if I do say so myself. I am only interested in how the gun performs. Out of the box. So no mods. So, some cap jams happened.

Despite this, the Colt revolvers were more popular in the American Civil War than the more closed action Remington and others. Why? Well, part of it was Samuel Colt’s nack for business and another part of it was that the open design was more tolerant of black powder fouling. All that black powder shooting makes a lot of soot and that does bad things to guns over a period of shooting. The little Colt 1849 kept chugging at round 60 as it did on round 1. I never fired so many rounds out of a percussion revolver at any one time, but the 1849 took to prolonged shooting well.


A Note About Bullet Selection and Safety Pins 

31 caliber revolvers will take a 32 caliber bullet and as a general rule, oversized bullets are best for good accuracy and preventing those chainfires I mentioned earlier. In general, a .321″ or .323″ diameter projectile will work with a shaving of lead being produced by each seating of the bullet. The maximum charge of black powder used in these little 31s will be 15 grains of FFFg or an appropriate substitute powder. Why? Because the chambers are simply too small for anymore. These little guns sacrifice powder capacity for their size. A lead round ball of about 50 grains is the most common fodder today, though a 70 grain conical bullet was offered in the past and in some current bullet molds that you can cast yourself. By far, the lead ball offers the most velocity and it is quite easy to buy. Simple O buckshot used in shotguns is great food for the little 31.

Now that we have safe loading out of the way, safe carrying is next. Because there is no hammer block safety like on modern guns, the 1849 should be carried on an empty chamber. If you insist on loading all five chambers, there is a single safety pin set in between two chambers that allows the hammer to drop on it and interact with a notch in the face of the hammer. This locks up the gun and prevents the hammer from striking a cap and accidentally setting off the pistol.



Final Thoughts 

Despite that the 31 caliber has little power and sensitivity to cap jams, it is easy to see why a traveling lady or a Civil War guerilla would want such a diminutive little pistol and Uberti brings that brilliance to modern shooters today with their fine replica. Given, that more Colt 1849 pockets were sold than any other percussion revolver, says that the gun must have gotten something right. It was the first true pocket or vest gun that gave you more ammunition and was more reliable than the alternatives.

Despite never seeing official military use, the little Colt Pocket worked and endured with many still around today. The Uberti Colt 1849 lived up to the originals in aesthetic beauty and performance. It turns heads at the range and its accuracy is on par with any modern pistol. Small game hunting and reenacting are a no brainer, but enjoyment is where the Uberti Colt 1849 really is. It is just plain fun and a reminder that in our quest for a smaller gun that holds more ammo is still on today, a trend started by the humble little five gun.

Walther PK380: A Better 380 Carry Gun?

The 380 ACP round and guns that fire it have experienced a renaissance of sorts in recent years. John Browning designed the round to be the most powerful one could get in a cartridge for use in small, blowback operated pistols. It was a 380 pistol that started World War I and the round remained popular for years with European and Latin military forces and police, with a limited following here in the US amongst civilians. As pistol technology advanced and concealed carry permit systems became a reality, the need for small carry guns have kept the cartridge going, if it is not more popular now than ever before.

New generation 380 guns tend to be very small, very light, and with nonexistent sights. They also operate on the old blowback mechanism. In guns so light, the moderately powerful 380 round can be hard to handle despite the round’s reputation for being mild on the shooter. Though convenient and powerful enough, there has to be a better way.

Enter the Walther PK380, introduced a few years ago by Walther. It boasts some full sized features in a relatively compact, yet lightweight gun. Here is the skinny:


The PK380 is a polymer framed, double/single action hammer fired handgun made by Walther—the same company that makes one of the most legendary 380s out there, the Walther PPK.

The frame is, of course, black polymer, and the slide comes in either a stainless or black matte finish. Externally, the PK380 is very similar to the P22 it is based on, but in a more serious and reliable cartridge, 380 ACP. The pistol holds a fair number of them: Nine, Eight in the magazine and one in the chamber. Fully loaded, the gun weighs just 21 ounces.

The magazine release is ambidextrous and located at the bottom of the trigger guard. The firing pin block safety, is also ambidextrous.


The sights are highly visible and consists of a fixed blade front sight dotted in red and an adjustable white dotted rear sight.


Note the rail for use with mounted lasers or lights.

Unlike most 380s, then and now, the PK380 operates on the Browning locked breech system.


The PK380 is no slouch in operation. Equipped with one hundred fifty rounds of Privi Partisan 94 grain FMJ rounds and an equal number of Remington Golden Saber 102 grain hollowpoints. After expending all my ammo, here are my impressions:

The PK380 is a pleasure to shoot on the range. Recoil is very light thanks to the locked breech design that absorbs recoil far better than the heavy spring on a blowback operated gun.  This also means the gun is butter smooth to operate when reloading. The slide is big enough to manipulate and the slide serrations help. If you choose to stick with the single eight round magazine provided with the gun, you will be reloading a lot so getting extra magazines is highly recommended.

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The double action and single action trigger pulls break cleanly and smoothly and the single action pull has a nice short reset.  The gun points naturally, yet lightly and a full grip gave confidence. The magazine release does require a shift of grip to release, but which would you rather?—Retaining the magazine or losing it when you are under stress?

So how about accuracy and reliability?

In my brief testing, there were no malfunctions, even with the hollow points. The gun has great accuracy and shoot ability that most micro 380s can’t achieve in the hands of an ordinary user—like myself.

At a distance of ten yards, I was able to achieve off hand groups of about two and a half inches. The easy to pick up sights definitely help in this department and reaching out further would be easy. Firing as fast as I could, I was still able to put eight rounds into a foot sized group at that distance.


Ten yard groups: left is slowfire, right is rapid fire.

Out of curiosity of what the 3.66 inch barrel affords in velocity and power, I ran the selected rounds over the chronograph for a 3 shot average of:

Privi 94 grain FMJ—936fps

Remington Golden Saber 102 grain—962fps

Once the fun is done, in order to disassemble the pistol for thorough cleaning, one requires the use of a small wrench that’s included in order to free the take down lug to take the slide assembly off the frame.


From left to right: 380 ACP, 9X19mm, and 38 Special.

Final Thoughts

Is the PK380 right for you? Well, it all boils down to what you want out of a handgun. Would it be a good range gun/ home defense weapon? How about concealed carry?

The PK380 boasts better capacity, better sights, better handling features and recoil management than just about any popular 380 pistol on the market today. Not to mention the excellent trigger and good old Walther quality. But it all comes at the price of being bigger and less concealable than the 380s we have today. One could also beef about getting only one factory mag or the tool required take down process, or perhaps the addition of an unnecessary safety. On the other hand, you get more enjoyment out of it and therefore more practice and proficiency, despite the relatively high cost of 380 ACP ammunition. This is very important to those who are inexperienced and new to shooting or are otherwise recoil sensitive. The Walther PK380 lives up to the promise of a 380 that’s actually accurate and soft shooting with features well above its class.


The Ruger LCR 22 Magnum

Ruger came out with the greatest innovation in revolver technology in some sixty years with their Lightweight Compact Revolver line of guns. The LCRs are a lightweight, hammerless revolver designed specifically for personal defense and is chambered in 38 Special. The problem is when you couple a relatively powerful round in a light handgun, it makes the gun harder to shoot, especially for those getting a gun for defense for the first time. Even so, the LCR 38 sells quite well and the shooting community was demanding them in different calibers and Ruger answered. Their LCR 22 seemed like a natural choice for a no-frills handgun that could reliably cycle the recoiless (and not entirely reliable) 22 LR cartridge.




The 22 LR definitely is at the bottom floor of self defense calibers, but fewer people dismiss the 22 Magnum cartridge. Revolvers chambered for the fast, little round are getting increasingly popular and I was excited to see the chambering in the LCR platform, though I personally never liked the looks of the gun. But I caved and bought one anyway. Here is the rundown:


Ruger’s LCR 22 Magnum is the same size as the others in the line and, therefore, will use standard LCR holsters and accessories. It features an aluminum frame and barrel shroud. This is coupled with a polymer grip frame, hammer shroud, and trigger guard. The important bits, like the six shot cylinder and barrel, are stainless steel. The cylinder and ejector rod assembly is released via a push button on the left side. Like the other LCRs, the 22 Mag has the same Hogue Tamer grip.

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The sighting system is fairly typical with a removable black ramped front sight and a rear notch milled into the top strap of the frame.

The 22 Magnum cartridge is a rimfire round developed for rifles, but later found its way into handguns. Though you won’t achieve high velocities out of the LCR’s 1.875 inch barrel, it will still outperform the 22 LR in velocity. Unlike the LR round, 22 Mag ammunition comes in more variety other than just plated lead and ammo quality tends to be better across the board.

At The Range

I loaded up on three types of 22 Magnum ammo for three different range outings. The ammo included:

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Speer Gold Dot 40 grain JHPs

Winchester Power Point 40 grain JHPs

Hornady 30 grain VMax

All shooting was done at seven and fifteen yards distance.

And my conclusion?

In short, it is complicated.

Loading the LCR is easy enough by pushing in on the cylinder release and loading six rounds of 22 Magnum ammunition before closing the cylinder and engaging the target. The stock sights are easy enough to pick up and they are low profile so there won’t be any snagging involved when drawing the gun from cover. You may choose to unpin the front sight and install a more visible post like the XS standard or large dot, but I want to know how well the gun will shoot out of the box.

And it does shoot. Since there is no external hammer to cock, or snag on clothes, all there is to do is pull the trigger.

With all the ammunition available, you can place all the rounds into a 2-3 inch group at seven yards with not so slow fire with Hornady’s offering giving the best accuracy at 2 inches even at that distance.


The same is repeated at fifteen yards, but with the groups widening out to about 12 inches. Recoil was nonexistent, even firing one handed. Even so, the Tamer grip that is stock for recoil management on the LCR line is hand filling and comfortable.

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Even though the gun can only be fired by a long double action pull, I have put a few new shooters behind the little snubby with surprising results with only basic instruction on how to load and unload the weapon.

But with all that light recoil, the 22 Mag could not have any power? Right?

Well, here are some three shot average velocity readings.

Speer Gold Dot–1011 fps

Winchester Power Point–978 fps

Hornady–1132 fps


The 22 WMR round has been gaining acceptance recently and has been chambered in a number of defensive revolvers like the NAA Mini, the Charter Arms Pathfinder, and the Smith & Wesson 351. It’s a nice, lightweight option that gives you a few more rounds over a standard 38 Special revolver of the same size and some loads are on par in penetration. While speed does not necessarily show penetration, it does show greater power than a 22 LR even out of a little gun like the LCR with recoil more on par with the 22 LR.

The trigger pull on the LCR is deceptively smooth, breaking at about 8 lbs 6 oz. However, like all DA revolvers, it’s a long pull and a long reset. During testing, I have occasionally not allowed the trigger to fully reset.

The gun’s mechanical reliability was excellent and straightforward through some four hundred rounds. But in that time, some potential negatives came to my attention. My main gripes are:

1) The Ammo

The 22 WMR round is a better constructed and manufactured round than the 22 LR, but being a rimfire, misfires are still possible. It happened four times with the Winchester fodder and it took a second strike to set off those rounds. While a revolver like the LCR will fire again just by pulling the trigger, it means one less round in the cylinder at that time. The Speer and Hornady brands had no such trouble. The price for good 22 WMR ammo is a good deal more expensive than 22 LR, though not more expensive than popular centerfire options like 380 and 9mm defensive ammunition.

2) Capacity

I am no engineer, but I feel the LCR should hold more than six rounds. One more round than the LCR in 38 Special, but having seven shots like the S&W 351 sounds a little better.

3) The Reload

Granted, I am a revolver shooter and I enjoy practicing reloads. None of this matters if the LCR is a range or trail gun, but the LCR is really marketed for self defense. Opening the cylinder and a quick stroke of the ejector rod will knock some cases free but often times I found myself pulling out stuck cases. The ejector rod will only push the long Magnum cases out half-way. That is a consequence of being proportional to the short barrel and most snubbie revolvers won’t fully eject the empties. Once you are finally empty, the gun has to be reloaded. Loading a few at a time from the pocket is fine at the range, but there are few speed reloading options out there. I had the chance to try a 5 Star Firearms speedloader with good results and it is really the only economical loader on the market available for the LCR 22 Mag. Speed strips are more available and they work fine. They just are not as fast. DSCN1810.JPG



So did Ruger hit a mark with the LCR 22 Mag? The revolver is accurate and simple to understand. The power is still there even with a barrel that is under two inches. Despite the lack of speed reloading options and the occasional ammo hiccup, I think Ruger has put out a good defensive revolver. The goal was less recoil than the 38 Special and that was met. The LCR has little recoil (but plenty of video muzzle flash). Yet, it is still superior to a lot of small defensive rounds out there. Unlike the triggers on other revolvers, the LCR is easy to shoot and to shoot well, all things considered. All in all, if you are looking for a defensive handgun that will do the work but not be intimidating to shoot, and to shoot well, the LCR might be up your alley. And if you shoot a lot, the LCR would make a great addition nonetheless, defeating the notion that snub nosed revolvers are unshootable.


Shooting Remington’s RM380 Pocket Pistol

Remington’s new RM380 has been hitting the shelves the last few months. While I am more of a 32 ACP fan, it is undeniable that the 380 ACP and the small pistols chambered for it have been dominating the handgun market in big ways over the last ten years. So does that mean Remington is late to the game by introducing its own small 380 carry pistol? Maybe, maybe not. But the bottom line, after the recent history of Remington’s woes with the R51 9mm subcompact pistol, is the RM380 a good performer? Does it offer any advantages over a literal flood of competition?
The RM380 is, at least aesthetically speaking, the same gun as the Rohrbaugh R9. It would come as no surprise since Remington recently bought the small firm. But the RM is no simple copy.
The RM380 weighs just over 14 ounces with a fully loaded six round magazine and another round in the chamber. Clearly, the pistol is a lightweight and it is quite stubby. It sports a 2.9 inch barrel and a short frame. The stainless steel, black matte finished slide is milled angularly to save on weight. The frame of the pistol is aluminum and anodized with polymer grip panels in place.
Like the Rohrbaugh, the RM features low, fixed sights and uses a double action only (DAO) hammer fired action. This means a full, long pull of the trigger brings the recessed hammer out of the pistol and drops it, firing the pistol. There is no way to cock the hammer for a lighter trigger pull or for the slide to cock the hammer. This makes up for the fact that the RM has no manual safety to think about as a simple point and click interface. The RM uses the Browning tilting breech of lock up design, which is necessary for a 380 pistol, but has benefits of its own.
Remington brings an ambidextrous button style of magazine release behind the trigger guard and a slide release, which the Rohrbaugh lacks. Remington’s ability to mass produce this fine design means the end product comes out at about $350 retail.
The Remington field strips by unloading the pistol, and pulling the slide back to line up the pin holes on both sides, and allowing the pin to simply fall out or poke it out with a punch or paperclip. This allows the slide to come free from the cylinder. You will notice that the little pistol has full rails, rather than the tabs present on many pistols.
One caveat of reassembly is making sure the recoil spring is level with the slide.
The RM380 turned out to an excellent experience on the range…for a pocket 380 pistol.
Loading the six round magazines was a little tough with just finger power, but possible. I managed to get off 300 rounds of TulAmmo 94 grain FMJ ammunition as well as 100 Sig Sauer V-Crown 90 grain JHPs with little trouble.
Despite the sore thumbs from constantly loading the two provided magazines, manipulating the slide to chamber a round is surprisingly light and effortless thanks to the Browning lockup and grippy slide serrations.
Recoil was little more than a gentle push and by day’s end, my hand survived the test with no pain and no sore palm. I had much worse experiences firing just fifty rounds out of other 380 pistols.
Reloading is a breeze. The magazine release is not pronounced and won’t lend itself to accidental pressing, but responds positively allow the magazine to drop free of the gun. The slide release is a nice feature not found on most mouse guns and is intuitive to use with a slight inward push. The trigger finger, however, was a little tired. The RM380’s DAO trigger has to be pulled all the way back to fire the pistol for each and every shot, of course. The pull is quite long, but it stages easily and breaks cleanly at about 9.5 pounds on average. This means more peace of mind when carrying the gun around but it also means it can be easy to throw shots to the left or right while shooting.
The sights are there and do not snag around, but they can be hard to pick up, though given the pistol’s intended mission, I am not bothered.
Even so, rapid firing can land predictable hits on an eighteen inch torso target at seven yards.
Slow fire yielded better results with my best group at about six inches center of mass at the same distance, through a flyer opened that group to about one foot using the Sig Sauer fodder. Not bad.
I made an attempt to land hits at twenty-five yards. At that distance, the DAO trigger gets to be a liability. I managed just 2 shots out of 12 on the target.
But what about power? The 380 ACP round offers plenty of pasta and is so popular that there have been shortages of the ammunition in some areas. I chronographed the two available loads and the three shot average for each are as follows:
TulAmmo 94 grain FMJ–846 fps
Sig Sauer 90 grain JHP– 906 fps
The gun was completely reliable, but the ammunition, as well as myself, was not. I had a single failure to go into battery because my finger rode the slide while chambering a round. Two of the FMJ rounds failed to fire, but a simple pull of the trigger again set off the rounds.
A Good Buy?
The RM380 will never be the choice of the handgun hunter or competitive shooter. Nope. It is strictly a self defense number. There are many 380 ACP pistols out there to compete against, so how does the RM380 stack up?
On the surface, the Remington is just another micro 380. The gun is small in every way. From the small grip to the diminutive sights. It has a typical capacity for such a gun as well. The trigger is also nothing to brag about. Nor is it the quickest pistol to field strip.
So where does the RM excel at anything? The little pistol has excellent ergonomics. The slide release and magazine release are right where they need to be, while other small pistols tend to be more awkward. Fit and finish is great, as one should expect from Remington. Despite the small size, the grip feels good and the little pistol is a natural pointer. It definitely helps with recoil, which is already cushioned by the Browning drop breech lock up system. This equates to a gun that is more forgiving in practice, which puts it somewhat above other small 380 pistols.
All things considered, the RM380 has some good things going for it, even if it is late to a very crowded game. Remington finally has a winner.