Three versions of the Taurus 738 TCP, or Taurus Compact Pistol, were introduced at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando.Â The TCP, also known as the model 738, is a .380 ACP pistol clearly aimed at taking market share from the wildy popular Ruger LCP.
The TCPÂ is a very small, thin and lightweight polymer pocket gun. The sights are described by Taurus as “low-profile,” but I would more accurately describe them as almost non-existent. Â That’s too bad, because this would have been one way the gun could have differentiated itself from the Ruger.
The SIG P238 pistol is a single-action, semi-automatic pistol chambered for the .380 ACP cartridge. Â The pistol is considered to be very similar to the workings of a 1911 pistol and is said to have borrowed heavily from the design of the Colt Mustang pistol. Â Most likely, SIG SAUER purchased the rights to manufacture the Mustang from Colt, though under their own label: the P238.
The P238 was introduced by SIG SAUER at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando, Florida. Â At that time, there were few quality .380 ACP pistols on the market, but the 2008 introduction of the Ruger LCP proved there was an untapped market demand for them. Â Unlike other manufacturers who were mostly bringing DAO polymer guns to the .308 ACP pocket gun market, SIG SAUER went with a high-quality gun on a metal frame.
The SIG P238 has an anodized aluminum frame and a stainless steel barrel and slide. Â The pistols are single action guns that have a frame mounted safety. Â P238 handguns also have a trigger bar disconnect safety, an automatic firing pin block and a Â hammer safety intercept notch to enhance the pistol’s overall safety.
First P238 Pistols
In the first year of production, SIG only offered two variations of the P238: Â a standard black finish and a two-tone finish. Â The basic model was called the “Nitron,” which is the name of the special corrosion-resistant finish that gave the gun it’s black appearance. Â The Nitron was available with standard SIG “contrast” sights or night sights.
The two-tone model had a black frame with a stainless slide, slide stop, hammer and safety. Â The P238 grips were a stainless steel (silver) color. Â Both the original Nitron and the two tone models are still available from SIG SAUER.
The SIG P238 saw exceptional sales in it’s initial year, and sales of the gun have continued to be very positive. Â Since being introduced, SIG SAUER added numerous variations to the P238 line including various finishes, different grips and a variety of custom etchings.
Kahr Arms has announced they are shipping a new pistol chambered in .380 ACP: the Kahr P380.
Maintaining the distinctive styling of the larger Kahr pistols, the P380 is a DAO (double action only) pistol that features a black polymer frame with a matte stainless steel slide.Â The firearm holds six .380 ACP cartridges in the magazine and ships with two magazines.Â The Kahr P380 has a 2.5″ barrel and a choice of standard or night sights.
Kahr has clearly targeted the tiny .380 ACP pistol market by making direct comparisons to the diminutive Kel Tec P3AT.Â The Kel Tec pistol developed a large following after it was introduced, and many say is directly responsible for Ruger’s introduction of the LCP at the 2008 SHOT Show.Â With that in mind, let us compare the three guns.
The P380 is slightly shorter than both the P3AT and the LCP with a 4.9″ OAL compared to 5.2″ and 5.16″ of the other two pistols respectively.Â Kahr lists the slide width as a mere .75″ compared to the .77″ width of the Kel Tec and .82″ width of the Ruger.Â However, the Kahr is slightly heavier (9.97 oz unloaded) than the P3AT (8.3 oz unloaded) and the LCP (9.4 oz unloaded) and taller (3.9″ vs 3.5″ and 3.6″).
Need some Ruger LCP ammo? Â According to Michael Bane’s blog, a major ammunition manufacturer will bring a new .380 loading to the market that is specifically designed for the Ruger LCP. This is exciting, as two current problems exist with the current crop of ammunition and the LCP.
The first problem is the .380 ACP cartridge is an underpowered chambering. Generally, the .380 loads are weaker than what is available for the .38 Special. For self-defense, you need all the bang you can get.
The second problem is I have been getting some reports that the LCP is ammunition sensitive. Some popular cartridges are not feeding properly. This, of course, is a HUGE problem if it extends to the entire line of LCP’s and not just a few examples. One of the reports was posted as feedback here (scroll all the way down).
Time will tell who brings what to the market. However, Bane has a lot of good contacts and I expect this information is very reliable. Â I expect we will see a variety of Ruger LCP ammo loads in the near future.
There are a number of smaller ammunition manufacturers who are producing .380 ACP ammo and I imagine they are testing the loads in the LCP. Â They might not market the loads as “Ruger LCP ammo,” but I suspect that they are definitely testing it since it is such a popular handgun. Â After all, if your ammo doesn’t work in one of the most popular concealed carry pistols, why would anyone buy it?
Update – November 2008: Â Hornady has introduced a new line of ammunition: Critical Defense.Â The Hornady Critical Defense ammunition is designed for self-defense from small handguns like the Ruger LCP.Â I’m not sure this is the ammunition that Bane was hinting at, but it certainly fits.Â More information about the Critical Defense ammo can be found here.
Sturm, Ruger and Company just released a new concealed carry handgun: the Ruger LCP . The new handgun is chambered for the moderately powered .380 ACP cartridge.
According to Ruger, the “LCP” initials stand for Lightweight Compact Pistol. It would appear it gets that name for good reason. Weighing only 9.4 oz unloaded, the polymer-framed gun has an overall length of only 5.16″ and a width of a mere 0.82″. The barrel is 2.75″ long and the trigger pull is an even 8 pounds.
Although the new pistol looks like a Kel-Tec P3AT, Stephen L. Sanetti, president of Sturm, Ruger & Co., was quick to point out that the LCP is not cheaply made during an appearance on the Gun Talk radio program. Sanetti told Tom Gresham, the radio show host, that the LCP has a machined extractor, loaded chamber indicator, and a slide stop (hold open) which are features not found on other brands of pistols in this category.