In 2016 Remington will celebrate its 200th anniversary, and in the months running up to the big 2-0-0 it should come as no surprise they’re unveiling a new addition to their handgun line: a .380 ACP. The new pistol is descriptively named the RM380, and it fills the basic parameters of function-meets-form as required by what has become one of the most popular defense calibers on the market today.
The .380 ACP has been around since 1908 courtesy of John Browning and Colt. It was originally created for the era’s blowback pistols, although there have also been submachine guns chambered in it, such as the vz. 83. The recoil of the diminutive round is insubstantial enough a locked breech is not a must, and in fact the recoil spring and slide weight are typically enough to cushion the shooter from what recoil is created during firing. While the .380 ACP has always had a following due largely to its ease of concealment it’s gained new fans in recent years. Five years ago many sellers reported the tripling of .380 ACP sales, which led to the caliber actually selling out at times in the years to follow, and today it’s become the go-to gun for many. It’s gone from being a common backup gun selection for those desiring a semi-auto to being a frequent top choice as the main daily carry of both new and old shooters alike. The trends are still spiking upwards, and if you’re in the market for a .380 ACP, you might want to take a look at the RM380.
The RM380 is a DAO micro pistol designed for gun owners interested in a smaller-caliber gun they can count on. It’s quite compact, with a 2.9” 416 stainless steel barrel, lightweight at 12.1 ounces, and neatly slim with an as-expected single-stack. For a positive grip – and to help prevent slide bite which can be a more common issue with micro pistols – it has an extended beavertail and checkering on the grip and front strap. The magazine release is ambidextrous and sleek to the gun’s surface, so it cannot be easily bumped and activated if the user chooses to pocket carry. In fact, during a discussion with one of the gun’s designers I was informed he carried the RM380 in his pocket at work at great length for the purpose of real-life testing regarding the magazine release and trigger: the gun met his design requirements and expectations by not having any issues of that nature. As mentioned above the trigger is DAO, and it weighs in at a 7.9 lbs. trigger pull. The frame is aluminum for durability and a long life, and the magazine holds 6+1. Each gun will come with two magazines, one with and one without a pinkie extension. There’s a 7+1 magazine in the works as well.
I was fortunate enough to have trigger time with the RM380 on more than one occasion, spending time not only putting lead down-range into paper targets but also hearing the satisfying ping of lead on steel plates and putting it through its paces in a shoot house. I performed single and multiple-shot drills with the gun, firing from low-ready and from a holstered position, also performing speed drills and shooting both from a stationary position and while moving. Thus far I’ve put approximately 750 rounds through it in a combination of FMJ and HP. The RM380s we fired were production-model pistols.
On the range we began with drills from a distance of just 3 yards, eventually moving out a few yards at a time with an end point of 15 yards. Considering the .380 ACP performs at its greatest at close ranges, staying closer to the targets was a good way to gauge its abilities. In addition the average self-defense scenario takes place at distances of 7 feet and less, so finding out how the RM380 did in distances mirroring what could take place in real life was a good experience.
At 3 yards the gun makes nice, tight groups as you’d expect and holds it as the distance extends. My hands are not small; my fingers are long, and because of that compact guns can be a challenge. The trigger reach is somewhat short but not unusual for this type of pistol and, in fact, I had more space than with other similar pistols I’ve fired in the same caliber. Remington undercut the trigger guard which allowed me to grip the pistol more securely despite its small size and that combined with the aforementioned extended beavertail gave me a solid hold on the gun. The trigger is, as mentioned, DAO, and the pull is long. Being careful not to let all that slack back out after the firing the first shot makes rapid fire not only possible but accurate. Having a longer trigger pull is a good safety feature and one many shooters will enjoy for that very reason. Racking the slide was extremely easy; it’s lightweight and there are serrations on both sides of the slide for a positive grip. The slide stop on the RM380 is fully functional and holds the gun open when the last shot is fired.
During a failure drill of 250 rounds, which was performed in addition to the 750 rounds I’ve put through the gun on the range and in the shoot house, the gun did not experience any failures whatsoever. With this performance your finger will give out before the gun does; other micro pistols in the past have failed well before hitting 250 rounds, but the RM380 did not.
In the shoot house at Gunsite, which I’ve also gone through with an AR, the gun did well. I went through multiple times and had no trouble obtaining a sight picture and delivering accurate shots. The adrenaline dump of a shoot house gives you the gift of an increased heart rate and faster respirations, and it’s a lot of fun while also being excellent training for real-life scenarios.
Field-stripping the RM380 is a matter of using one hand to pull the slide slightly to the back while lightly tapping the pistol on its side on a solid surface to free the takedown pin. Although tapping does slowly jar the pin free you can also use a tool to push it out. Once the pin is out the slide will come off and cleaning can commence. When you’re done, re-align the hole for the pin that’s on the frame with the hole on the slide and insert the pin. It’s as simple as that, and the pin stayed secure in all the guns being test-fired, which was a combination of several thousand rounds.
In conjunction with the release of the RM380, the formal announcement of which will take place during the upcoming NRA Meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, there are holsters being made. The first company to make model-specific holsters is CrossBreed, and I tried out four CrossBreed holsters with the gun. Most are leather backed with custom-molded holsters which covered the trigger guard but left the muzzle open and grip easily accessed. My favorite was a combat cut that wrapped around close to my hip, giving the gun a low profile and making it easy to conceal despite its being worn on my belt rather than IWB. Drawing from the new CrossBreed holsters was a simple matter of a firm, upward stroke; rapid presentation was easy and re-holstering also simple to execute without looking. Other companies with RM380 holsters in development include Galco and DeSantis.
In the world of self-defense, reliability is key – your gun absolutely must perform each time you squeeze its trigger – and the RM380 was carefully constructed to do just that. Recoil was manageable with the small snap familiar to .380 ACP; re-acquiring the target was simple. Obtaining a sight picture using the fixed, low-profile sights was quickly done and while the sights themselves are small, they get the job done. The entire pistol’s profile is sleek and snag-free, which is a must for pocket carry and a smooth draw. After-market options will include Crimson Trace lasers and customizable grips.
This will be the first new pistol produced at the new Huntsville, Alabama, plant. To mark the occasion Remington is producing a commemorative 1st Alabama Inaugural Product model. This edition will have a black frame and stainless steel slide and barrel for a sharp two-tone look along with a black engraving on the forward section of the slide. The Alabama edition will come with a commemorative challenge coin and production will be limited to just 1000 pistols.
The bottom line is the RM380 performed reliably and consistently. Whether punching into paper or knocking back steel – and rounds fired from this little pistol did, indeed, take down steel reactive targets with a single shot – it got the job done, without hesitation. Mastering the long trigger pull took some time but the payoff was worth it. Thanks to its light weight and small size it’s easy to conceal, wherever you carry, and the angle of the grip definitely leant itself to a sure grip and a quicker, easier draw. Putting it through its paces in the shoot house assured me it can be drawn and fired with confidence in such an environment, and while it’s impossible to mirror the enormous adrenaline dump of a life-or-death situation, going into a shoot house with a talented instructor does give you a good idea of a gun’s performance in such a case – and yours.
Fans of the .380 ACP will undoubtedly enjoy this gun, and those who are simply curious may very well be won over. Speaking to three of the designers at length and sitting through their presentations made it clear a great deal of time and effort went into the gun’s creation, as well it should, and watching one of them nail steel targets with more speed than you’d expect from a DAO micro pistol was downright impressive. The RM380 is worth a second look, whether for use as a backup gun or a main carry weapon. 200 years is a lot of experience to pour into a pistol and Remington appears to have nailed it with the RM380.
Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel length: 2.9”
Overall height: 3.86″
Overall length: 5.27″
Rifling twist rate: 1:16
Weight empty: 12.1 ounces (+/- .1)
Construction: Aluminum frame
Trigger Pull: 7.9 lbs
Magazines: 6 rounds +1