It’s been well over a century since John Moses Browning designed the .380 ACP cartridge for the Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless pistol, and the round is still popular today. Despite its moniker, the Pocket Hammerless did have a hammer, but it was hidden within the slide so the pistol could be drawn from concealment without snagging on clothing or other items.
Now, more than 110 years later, we are taking a look at a couple of modern equivalents to the Pocket Hammerless with the Remington RM380 Executive and the Ruger LCP II. Despite the recent striker-fired craze, both of these .380 ACP pistols are fired with the aid of a hammer, and, like the Pocket Hammerless, both the RM380 and LCP II are intended for deep concealment and an effortless, snag-free draw.
In 2014, Remington purchased Rohrbaugh Firearms, a boutique company that made its name manufacturing a micro-compact 9mm pistol called the R9. Highly regarded for its small size, smooth functioning, radiused edges and ultimate portability, the R9 was extremely popular in the concealed-carry community, though it was quite pricey since there was no real economy of scale.
This is where Remington’s size and manufacturing capacity paid off for the design. Before Remington acquired the company, however, Rohrbaugh introduced a .380 ACP version called the R380. Despite the smaller cartridge size, the R380 was built on the same frame as the R9. In fact, the same exact magazines were used as well, with a sheet-metal offset inserted to reduce the gap presented by the .380 cartridge.
Since both models used the same frame, the R380 offered less recoil, which may have been the reason Remington introduced the RM380 as its first iteration of the Rohrbaugh design. The company’s most recent variant is the Remington RM380 Executive, which sports a stainless slide and laminate Macassar grips for a touch of elegance and class.
Updated Remington RM380 Executive
At its core, the RM380 is a double-action-only (DAO) semi-auto that utilizes a locked-breech design and incorporates a bobbed hammer. It has a fairly long and heavy trigger pull that the company rates at 10 pounds. The RM380 sports an aluminum frame with a black anodized finish. It comes with two single-stack, six-round magazines—one with a flush-fitting baseplate and the other with an extended baseplate.
With the RM380, Remington made a few changes to the original design to benefit the user. The company included an ambidextrous magazine release rather than the European-style heel release, and a beavertail was added to the frame to negate slide bite. Remington also included a slide stop that locks the slide back after the last round is fired. And, of course, the biggest improvement is the price, with the RM380 Executive’s MSRP of $405. This is a far sight better than the original pistol’s $1,200 asking price.
The triggerguard has a decent undercut for a slightly higher grip on the pistol, and the frontstrap is checkered for a positive grip. Probably the least functional features are the plain, integral sights that are machined into the slide. That said, the RM380 wasn’t set up for long-distance shooting. It was made for deep concealment and fast presentations—both of which it does very well.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over 10 years since Ruger set the concealed-carry market on fire with the introduction of the .380 LCP. Another hammer-fired design, the LCP set the standard for an affordable and reliable deep-concealment pistol. Weighing just 9.6 ounces, it had an ultra-thin profile at just 0.82 inches wide and carried six rounds in each magazine.
Having sold well over a million of the pocket pistols, there’s no question that the original LCP was a huge success. However, the folks at Ruger decided there was room for improvement, and in 2016, the company released a new and improved model called the LCP II. Sporting the same barrel length of 2.75 inches as the LCP, the LCP II sports a larger slide stop/release for easier manipulations and front cocking serrations where the LCP had none.
The LCP II also has a roomier triggerguard for easier shooting with gloved hands. While the LCP II still utilizes integral sights that are machined into the slide, they are taller and more prominent than the sights on the original. The current sights are beveled for snag-free draws, and they’re also serrated to help minimize glare.
Updated Ruger LCP II
The most outstanding change made to the LCP II is the updated trigger. The original LCP had a long and heavy trigger pull. While it was usable for a pocket pistol, it was nothing to write home about. On the LCP II, when the slide has been engaged, the hammer is partially cocked, making the actual trigger pull lighter than the original’s with an exceptionally crisp break. In fact, according to my Lyman digital trigger gauge, my sample pistol’s trigger was just 4.8 pounds. The trigger is not only fantastic in comparison to the original LCP’s, but it also holds its own against some of the best triggers on the market.
The LCP II utilizes a glass-filled nylon frame, which helps it remain lightweight at 10.6 ounces. Since the original LCP was very thin and difficult for some to grip and shoot effectively, Ruger beefed up the rear portion of the grip to add a little thickness for better traction. Ruger has the LCP II’s slide width listed as 0.75 inches. I measured the width of the grip and came up with 0.93 inches.
At an MSRP of $349, Ruger only ships one magazine with the LCP II, though the company does include a pocket holster, which makes the pistol carry ready out of the box. Ruger includes a flush-fitting baseplate if the user wants to swap it out for better concealment. If a user has any six-round magazines from the original LCP, they will work with the LCP II. However, the older magazines won’t lock the slide back after the last round is fired. Only the new LCP II magazines will do that.
Both the RM380 and the LCP II were fairly easy to squirrel away into their assigned concealment locations on my person. The LCP II is thinner than the RM380 and was easier to conceal in a pants pocket, though not by much. If you don’t wear skinny jeans, nobody’s going to notice the RM380. On the flip side, with the weather still being on the cool side, I found myself carrying the RM380 in a coat or jacket pocket quite a bit. Like a double-action revolver, the Remington’s heavy trigger pull makes it more conducive to that style of carry as opposed to the LCP II’s lighter trigger.
The main differences between the pistols became apparent on the range. First, the RM380’s trigger was much better than Remington’s 10-pound rating. The pistol I received had a fairly smooth pull that broke at an average of 6.51 pounds, though the last quarter-inch of the pull required some extra effort. Even so, the Ruger still had the better and crisper trigger of the two, and I was able to shoot the LCP II much more quickly.
Out of the box, the sights on both pistols are fairly useless in a fast-moving scenario since they’re very hard to pick up quickly. These are close-range defensive weapons that are essentially for pointing and shooting. However, the Ruger’s front sight is a little more prominent and offers more room if you want to add a bit of high-visibility paint.
I shot each pistol from a bench at 7 yards just to get a feel for its inherent accuracy. I used a mix of hollow-point and ball ammunition from Federal and Sig Sauer. Despite the Ruger’s slightly better sights and excellent trigger, it was somewhat wonky when it came to accuracy. One out of three 5-shot groups would be excellent, but then the other two groups were kind of all over the place. Then it would happen again with the next three groups.
I got consistently better groups with the RM380, with the best group measuring 1.25 inches at 7 yards with Sig Sauer’s 90-grain V-Crown ammunition. The best group with the LCP II was just over 2 inches wide. That said, when addressing a human-sized target at 7 yards, both pistols were easily capable of center-mass shots, but as mentioned, the LCP II was significantly easier to shoot rapidly.
As for advantages, the Remington’s slide was easier to rack, and the magazines were easier to load. The LCP II’s magazine got a little fussy as the sixth round was loaded. The RM380 was also more comfortable to shoot, with its thicker grip and extra weight. The LCP II was pretty snappy. My hands would buzz for a little while after shooting 25 to 30 rounds with it. But that’s not too much of an issue since micro pistols like these aren’t going to be used that often.
Even with their differences, the RM380 and LCP II both shared one very positive trait. No matter what type of ammunition I ran through them, neither pistol had any type of malfunction. Both were superbly reliable. For this type of pistol, I can live without match-grade accuracy as long as it fires when it counts most.
For pure aesthetics and coat-pocket carry, my money goes to the RM380 Executive. To be honest, I’m a little weary from all the black polymer-framed pistols on the market. But for an even thinner profile and a faster mag dump in a do-or-die situation, the LCP II gets the nod. It just depends on the user’s style and needs. Either way you go, both pistols will provide excellent service. And if you’re feeling really froggy, you could just carry both and no one would be the wiser.
Remington RM380 Executive Specifications
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Barrel: 2.75 inches
- Overall Length: 5.27 inches
- Weight: 12.2 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Laminate Macassar
- Sights: Fixed
- Action: DAO
- Finish: Black, stainless
- Capacity: 6+1
- MSRP: $405
Ruger LCP II Specifications
- Caliber: .380 ACP
- Barrel: 2.75 inches
- Overall Length: 5.17 inches
- Weight: 10.6 ounces (empty)
- Grip: Glass-reinforced nylon
- Sights: Fixed
- Action: DAO
- Finish: Blued
- Capacity: 6+1
- MSRP: $349
This article is from the September/October 2019 issue of Combat Handguns Magazine. Grab your copy or subscribe at OutdoorGroupStore.com.