Kahr’s guns are sometimes hard to describe accurately. These polymer framed pistols are perfectly sized, almost always perfect in form and function, and they have always been designed with concealed carry in mind. Yet some of the Kahr pistols are priced above their competitors guns. That isn’t to say they’re not worth the extra scratch. But the features that make them more expensive are not easy to see. That’s a big hurdle for Kahr.
I’d be willing to bet that the price tag that is the main reason more people don’t carry Kahrs. This isn’t lost on Kahr, who is responding to the market. Kahr has now created the Value Series, which makes owning a Kahr much more realistic for most of us. And the guns are still living up to Kahr’s excellent reputation. The latest addition to the Value line is the CT380.
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO;
Barrel: 3.0″, Conventional Rifling, 1 – 16 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 5.52″
Slide Width: .75″
Weight: Pistol 11.44 ounces (w/o magazine)
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight, pinned in polymer front sight
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
Magazine: 1 – 7 rd, Stainless
The CT380 is a polymer framed double-action sub-compact pistol chambered in .380 ACP. It utilizes a stainless steel slide and locking breach action. Keeping true to Kahr’s lineage, the pistol is built with care and attention to detail. Its footprint is small and its function above par. Though the CT380 is a value series gun, it is still built with above standard materials. What makes this pistol a value series firearm is that Kahr has exchanged a few over-the-top features for a more standard approach.
They’ve exchanged the match grade polygonal rifled barrel for a conventional rifled stainless steel barrel. The machined slide stop has been replaced by a metal injected molded part. Simplifying the machining processes saves build time. They’ve also changed to simple engravings for the slide markings. The gun ships with one magazine and it arrives in a cardboard box instead of the plastic case. All cost saving measures allow the new pistol to meet and compete in a much lower cost market.
Shooting the CT380 is a pleasurable experience that everyone from novice shooters to experts will enjoy. The CT 380 has some serious springs, which helps eat the shock of recoil. For a .380, the little Kahr’s kick is mild. It also has above standard capacity (7+1), which makes the CT380 even better for personal defense situation. The extra grip covering that 7th round makes it easier to hold. No magazine extensions needed.
One thing that makes Kahr unique is that their double action only trigger actually cocks the gun. It is a true double action, more like a revolver than most polymer pistols that are always cocked. Iniside is a passive striker block which makes the gun even more safe. And there is no magazine disconnect, so it will fire without a magazine in the gun.
There is no external safety on the CT380–just draw the pistol and pull the trigger. No extra steps in the draw. No safeties to worry about disengaging. The CT380’s sights are also a benefit, as they’re larger than those typically found on mouse guns. The back sight has a white stripe that aligns with the white dot on the front blade. Simply line the two up and squeeze. For fans of one handed manipulation, the CT380’s sights may prove challenging. It is possible to rack with the rear sight, but more difficult as it has a slight pyramid shape.
That said, the sights work. When combined with the clean trigger pull (which is breaking right at 4.4 pounds), I was able to stretch out target engagement distances well past the standard 7 yards I generally use as the proving distance for defensive handguns. I could hardly believe that the barrel was one of the cost saving features of the Value line. I’d really like to see just how accurate the other Kahr .380s are comparison–the P380 line. These aren’t target pistols, and I hadn’t even brought any paper targets to the range yet I was still able to group 5 shots into a 2 inch pattern on the painted steel from 7 yards with no difficulty at all.
Carrying the CT380 is easy. It slides into a pocket or holster it inside the waistband. The gun instantly disappears. Printing isn’t much of a problem thanks to its overall size. If you do plan on carrying the pistol in your pocket, I’d still suggest a pocket holster, as this gun doesn’t have an external safety. For me, out-of-sight isn’t always out-of-mind, but with the incredibly lightweight CT380 I found myself forgetting I was even carrying the gun. And if you want one that’s even smaller, Kahr makes the CW380 which has a shorter barrel and grip.
Is the CT380 the ideal .380? It fills that gap created by most .380s on the market. It seems as if 6+1 has been the recipe for 380s for the last few years. For those of you who like to challenge yourselves by limiting your guns’ capacity, 6+1 may work. But smaller is, theoretically easier to conceal–that is the only benefit. Everything else, from capacity to control, is made better with a little extra to hold onto. In an environment were every round counts, the one extra round means everything; it could mean the difference between life and death. Gaining this round doesn’t really changes the overall height of the gun by a half inch which is half an inch more to hold while employing the weapon. So for me it’s a win win.
I wouldn’t mind having front slide serrations to make two handed manipulation a bit easier. It isn’t a must, but I sometimes reach over the front of the slide to clear a malfunction, and the finish on the slide is slick.
I had some issues with the CT380 and steel cased Tula .380. They don’t play well together. I like to try, though, even though I know it will create the occasional hiccup. And if you run steel cased ammo when the CT380 is dry, it gets even worse. This isn’t the guns fault, though. Keep it clean and well fed and you won’t have any issues. When I oiled it up and fed it a steady diet of decent ammo, the CT380 ran like a champ.
The one and only complaint I have about the CT380 is the amount of effort it takes to pull the slide back. It is not easy for me, and I have ample strength and experience. To see if this was really an issue (or just me being pampered) I handed the empty gun to my 100 pound sister and asked if she could lock the slide open. She simply couldn’t do it. To me, this is a big deal. This gun maybe a backup weapon or deep concealment option. But for some, the CT380 could (and most likely would) be their main line of defense. It is a hard balance to maintain. The CT380’s springs make the slide stiff and cumbersome. But the stiff slide makes this a fast pistol that is easy to control–when shooting.
After working with the CT380, I think Kahr has a horse in the concealed carry race, and with the quality of the Value Series, I think Kahr may be a winner. These pistols are a steal at $399–and they’re selling for less (which is good, as you’ll want the extra money for another mag or two and a holster). All in all the CT380 is a working man’s gun begging to be brought along on his every day adventures. If you haven’t checked one out yet, head down to your local Kahr dealer and see it for your self. Put your hands on it. Work the slide and see if it fits.