Remington jumped into the handgun market in 2010 with the under-appreciated line of R1 1911’s. Technically, the gunmaker had returned to the handgun market after a 12-year absence, and from 2010 on Remington proceeded to add a good number of handguns to the line. This included the RM380, a tiny pocket pistol chambered in 380 AUTO that debuted in 2016.
I tested the RM380 when it first came out, reviewed it, and have used it as a back-up carry gun ever since. Remington called the RM 380 a “micro” pistol, which was fitting given that it weighed just 12 ounces unloaded and literally fit in the palm of your hand. The little semi-automatic operated in double action only sported a 2.75-inch long barrel and held 6+1 rounds of ammunition.
More recently, Remington upgraded the RM 380 with the RM 380 Executive. Compared to the original RM 380–which is still being made–the new RM 380 Executive is certainly a better-looking pistol. It features a stainless finish on the slide contrasted by a black frame, plus a stainless-finished magazine release, slide release, and trigger. The grips are wood laminate done in a darker, Macassar-grained pattern that looks very classy.
The original RM 380? Black on black on black. Functional, yes, but scoring about a -1.35 on the Looks Scale, with +10 being the best.
Suggested retail prices on the two pistols are different, too, with the RM 380 offered at $328 MSRP, the RM 380 Executive at $405. Prices on the Internet have the RM 380 at $240 while the RM 380 Executive can be had for $310 to $320.
Different looks, and different price points. But do the two RM’s shoot any differently?
To compare the two RM 380’s and given that they are chambered in a minimally powered caliber for self-defense, I decided my shooting would be at three yards, the distance so often given as the average distance for self-defense scenarios. Plus, the 380 AUTO has such low energy versus the 9MM and 45 AUTO, the cartridge really is a close-range option.
At the range, I ran three different ammunition brands through both the RM 380 and the RM380 Executive: Aguila with a 95-grain full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet; Browning BTP, also with a 95-grain FMJ bullet; and, for a self-defense load, Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance and its 90-grain V-Crown jacketed hollow point.
I also decided my shooting would be fairly fast if not exactly furious. Given the lower power of the cartridge, I figured a real-life scenario would have a defender shooting more than once. So, I emptied the six-round magazine at my targets, pausing only to get the front sight back on point.
My process was to first shoot several magazines of a specific ammunition through the RM 380 Executive, then repeat the process with the standard RM 380.
On average, all three brands of ammunition printed similar groups with the RM 380 Executive: six shots right around 2.0-inches. Some of the tighter groups included 1.41-inches with the Browning ammunition, and a 1.68-inch group using the Aguila 380 FMJ. One six-round group with the Sig ammunition scored 2.27-inches, but five of those shots came in at 1.30-inches.
On average, the accuracy results with RM 380 stayed the same regardless of the ammo used: six-shot groups that were .50- to.70-inches larger.
I don’t think the better accuracy with the Executive versus the original RM 380 had anything to do with internal differences. Both have stainless steel barrels of the same length. Both use a double-spring recoil spring system, and both have very heavy double-action triggers.
The difference, I believe, is the wooden laminate grips on the RM 380 Executive. They are wider than the metal grips on the RM 380 and provide a somewhat more stable surface for hands. Plus, the RM 380 Executive comes with extended magazines that engage the pinky finger for added stability.
Now, the magazines on the RM 380 and RM 380 Executive are interchangeable and one could buy the extended grips and use in the RM 380 and would likely get somewhat better groups. But it still would not have the wider laminate grips, which measure 1.08-inches wide on the RM 380 Executive versus .95-inches wide on the RM 380.
Fair question, though: how much difference does a 2.0-inch group make at three yards versus 2.5-inches? Not much is the likely answer. Yet the testing I did still led me to the conclusion that the RM 380 Executive can be shot more accurately than the RM 380.
As mentioned, the double-action trigger on both pistols is fairly heavy—with a very long pull. Specs from Remington put the double-action triggers on both models at a hefty 10 pounds. However, my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge put the pull on both pistols right around 6 pounds. Still significant, but not 10 pounds.
The sights on the RM 380 Executive can best be described as minimal. The front post is very small and hard to pick up, while the rear notch is serviceable. Aiming is more a matter of putting that little nub of a front sight on target than anything else.
Disassembly of the RM 380 Executive is easy. Tilting the pistol on its left side, ease back the slide until you line up the take-down pin with the hole on the left side of the slide. The pin may, at that point, fall out, but you are more likely to need to push on the pin from the right side with a toothpick or something of similar diameter, especially if there is any shooting grime on the slide and pin.
Once the pin is out, the slide comes forward and you can then remove the barrel, recoil springs and guide rod for cleaning. Assembly is simply a matter of reversing the process. Or, at least, it should be “simply.” I had a hell of a time getting that little pin back into place.
Remington made sure to smooth over all edges on the slide, frame, and sights of the RM 380 Executive, and you really must work to make this little pistol snag up on clothing or something similar. It will fit into a pocket, and there are many holster options available, too.
The RM 380 Executive won’t stop a buffalo. Nor was it made for such heavy work. But it is a handy, very portable little handgun, and accurate enough at close range.
Admittedly, the 380 AUTO isn’t everyone’s first choice caliber for self-defense, including this writer. But industry intel has a couple new 380 AUTO self-defense ammunitions being launched for 2020 that claim to increase the penetration of the round by five inches or more.
If that turns out to be true? A little pistol like the RM 380 Executive could be a much more formidable choice for self-defense and concealed carry than ever before.
SPECS: RM 380 Executive
Caliber: 380 Auto
Operation: Semi-automatic, recoil-operated, tilt barrel
Trigger: Double-Action Only
Barrel: 2.75,” stainless steel, match grade
Weight: 12.2 oz. (unloaded)
Frame Finish: Anodized Black
Slide: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Stainless
Magazine Release: Ambi
Magazine Type: Single Stack