Remington 380 Reboot

By Gordon Meehl

When you think of Remington, pistols don’t immediately come to mind. The name Remington conjures up images of the iconographic Model700 or the equally legendary 870. Pair Remington with pistols and you’ll point to the half decade old R1 -1911. Beyond that visions of Remington compact pistols get fuzzy with the short lived and less than stellar R51. Remington, however, redeemed their non-1911 shortcomings with the introduction of the sub-compact RM 380 chambered in the titular .380ACP. This all metal hammer fired micro-pistol is a welcomed contrast to its trendy polymer framed, striker fired brethren.

The .380 round, having been developed in 1908 by John Browning, is nothing new. It is and was from its inception, a self-defense round made to be eaten by small “pocket” pistols. Originally designed for Browning’s Colt pocket sized hammerless Model 1908, the .380 is a rimless low powered cartridge, usually fed into blow-back style pistols. The diminutive .380 and the smaller pistols using the round quickly became popular for concealed carry, often as a secondary firearm. The resurgence of .380 usage in recent years has seen more and more people carrying a .380 chambered compact pistol as their primary weapon.

The RM380 is not a wholly new design, rather it’s a re-work of a Rohrbaugh R9. As with other companies (Para and AAC come to mind) Remington acquired Rohrbaugh and assimilated their culture and designs into the larger Remington family. The challenge this time however was to take a niche market, $1200 pistol and re-work it into a mass marketable but quality sub $450 .380. Remington has exceeded expectations in achieving these goals.

The design of the RM380, as a whole, still adheres to the basic principles of the Rohrbaugh R9. In a “same mother, different father” manner the two firearms have very similar dimensions. The Remington is only slightly lighter (by 1.3 oz.) and a little taller (by .16 of an inch). The liberties Remington took with the original only prove to enhance the platform and increase its fit form and function. Most notably the RM380’s grip and mag release location are dramatically improved over the original.

Picking up the RM380 I immediately surprised at how comfortable it felt. I’m used to shooting full size 1911’s and expected the Remington to feel more like a toy than viable a defensive weapon. At a little more than 12 ounces, the understandably slim single stack sat firmly in my hand. The addition of a small beaver tail allowed my hand to get up high on the grip to be more inline with the axis of the barrel, allowing for better recoil management. Front strap checkering provides increased purchase for a positive and secure grip. The original Rohrbaugh had a magazine release on the heel of the grip; Remington wisely relocated an ambidextrous magazine release on the grip just behind the trigger guard for quick easy reloads. Other design differences include a slide stop and a smaller more easily manageable trigger guard.

The RM380 is purpose built as a highly discreet carry weapon, whether you choose IWB holstering or pocket carry. There are are no sharp corners or protruding controls. The slide catch/release is extremely low profile as is the mag release. The RM380 can comfortably be carried in your pocket without worry of snags or dropping a mag on the draw. Without an external safety the long pull, 10-pound double action only trigger gives you the security you want in a pocket gun (though my preference is to holster the gun even when carrying in pocket).

At the range the RM380 surprised me again, with lower felt recoil and more accuracy than expected. The fixed barrel, high grip position and full length slide rails help the pistol shoot flatter and smoother than most in the category; making follow up shots less of a struggle than with snappier lighter pocket pieces. For 1911 shooters like me the all black fixed sights and long pull DOA trigger may take a few magazine loads to get used to. Once I settled in to the rhythm of the gun, however, I felt I could drive tacks at close, self-defense distances.

I started shooting at a closer defensive distance of 5 yards. In addition to the beaver tail allowing for a high grip position (and preventing slide bite), the undercut trigger guard afforded better grip for my supporting hand. This allowed me keep the pistol on target for follow up. The DAO trigger had a consistent smooth break, so adjusting for better trigger control is easy from the get go. Serrations on the slide made for quick and effortless racking and press checks. The slide stop is small but fully functional and, if you’re not riding the slide, locks open after the last round in the magazine is sent down range. As I pushed the target further out the accuracy remained acceptable. At 15 yards accuracy diminished very little remaining within “minute of bad guy”. Consistency and reliability are key in any pistol but especially so with a defensive carry pistol. The RM380 delivers in both regards.

Getting it back to the work bench and breaking down the RM380 couldn’t be easier. Simply pulling the slide back with the pistol rotated 90 degrees (around the shooting axis) allows the takedown pin to fall out. There’s no need for special tools or processes to field strip for cleaning. With the pin out the slide comes off allowing the barrel and recoil spring to be easily cleaned. Reassembling is as simple as lining up the take down pin holes on the frame and on the slide and re-inserting the pin. It’s that easy. Don’t worry about the pin sliding out during normal use. The slide cycles so quickly that even if you were shooting gangster style, the pin would remain well seated.

Though commonly called a “pocket” pistol, there are many holstering options available. Most notable are the those manufactured by Cross Breed and Alien gear. Cross breed offers IWB, OWB and ankle holsters. Having an Alien gear holster on hand I wore the RM380 IWB with a dress shirt tucked. The slim profile of the RM380 does not print, even when, like me, you have a little bit more inside the waist band than you should. The draw from Alien Gear’s kidded holster is smooth and fast.

If you’re looking for an easily concealable, reliable and accurate micro pistol, the RM380 should definitely be on your short list. The positive and high grip position provide an easily drawn pistol with highly manageable recoil. The long DAO trigger pull may take some getting used to but there’s a very shallow learning curve. The only potential down side I could find was that the all black fixed sights can be hard to acquire when drawing in lower light conditions. With a tilt of the hat to the $1200 Rohrbaugh R9, Remington has provided an equal performer at a third of the cost. Well Played.

In the Box

Remington RM380 Specs

Caliber: .380 Auto
Magazine Capacity: 6+1
Barrel Length: 2.9 inches
Barrel Type: 410 Stainless Steel
Twist Rate: 1:16
Overall Length: 5.27 inches
Overall Height: 3.86 inches
Overall Width: .94 inches
Sights: Fixed
Trigger Pull: Double Action Only (10-pound pull weight)
Average Weight: 12.2 Ounces (unloaded & without magazine)
MSRP: $417.00





This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V20N5 (June 2016)
and was posted online on April 22, 2016


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