The Kahr CT380 Review: Compact 380 Punch, Pocket Pistol Size
Kahr Arms has a long history of making compact pistols. By specializing in compact pistols, Kahr has turned out some high quality yet affordable pocket guns. We find out in this Kahr CT380 Review Kahr continues this tradition of solidly-built little guns with this compact pistol.
The CT380 is the smallest of all the guns in our test. Its size is more in line with .380 ACP “pocket pistols” like the Ruger LCP2 and Smith & Wesson Bodyguard, but it can also work as a defensive gun in the home. The CT380’s light weight and small size means that, compared to the other guns in our test, it’s a bit of a handful to shoot. However, it turned out to be a solid performer on the range.
The CT380 is a striker-fired gun (the only such gun in our test). As such, its trigger is very nice, being one of the better ones in our test. However, CT380’s slide required the most effort to rack.
Kahr CT380 Review: First Impressions
The Kahr CT380 might be the smallest gun in our 380 ACP pistol tests, but it’s still a step up in size from a true .380 pocket gun. It should be considered a compact .380. The CT380’s 7 round capacity is on the low end of the test, and at just over three quarters of an inch wide, it’s the skinniest of all the pistols in our test. But it still felt very comfortable in my hand.
Speaking of hands, my little finger is almost half off the grip when I hold onto this pistol with my strong hand. Sadly, there is no magazine extension available. If your hands are larger than mine, be prepared to shoot this gun without the support of your little finger on the grip.
The CT380’s sights are of a dot and post type. In order to get a proper sight alignment, you need to center the white dot of the front sight on top of the post that’s in the middle of the rear sight. The rear sight is drift-adjustable for windage, but the pistol I tested didn’t need any adjustment.
The CT380 is the only striker-fired gun in our test. This means that, unlike the other pistols that use a hammer that is cocked back and dropped onto the firing pin to shoot the gun, the firing pin in the CT380 is held back by spring tension and then driven forward to ignite the cartridge.
One thing that is quite noticeable with the CT380 is the amount of effort it takes to manipulate the slide. It took me, on average, over 24 pounds of effort to get the slide to lock back on an empty magazine. This is almost double the effort of the other guns we tested. This heavy slide pull might be difficult for people with weakened strength or physical disabilities. On the plus side, however, the serrations on the back of the slide make it easy to hang onto the gun as you are pulling the slide back.
The CT380’s trigger is quite nice. There is some takeup (slack) when you initially press the trigger, but it is easy to tell where the break (the point where the trigger makes the gun go BANG) is on this gun. This makes it easier to shoot and control recoil.
Despite its small size and light weight, the CT380 is easy to keep on target during rapid fire. The lighter-recoiling .380 ACP cartridge makes a big difference here. Plus, I found the dot and post sights were easy to use and helped provide a fast and precise sight picture.
While the CT380 is thin and light, it is nevertheless easy to hold on to. And, I found that all the controls (like the slide release lever and magazine release button) were right where I expected them to be.
250 Rounds Tula 91 Grain FMJ
100 Rounds Blazer Brass 95 grain FMJ
50 Rounds PMC 90 grain FMJ
50 Rounds Fiocchi 95 grain FMJ
20 Rounds Federal Premium 99 grain JHP
25 Rounds Remington Golden Saber 102 grain JHP
20 Rounds Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain FTX
Round 258: Stoppage (Failure to Eject), PMC FMJ
Total Issues: 1
The Kahr CT380’s short sight radius and short barrel don’t do it any favors when it comes to accuracy. However, with an average group size of 4.6 inches, it was only 0.2 inches larger than the groups from the Ruger LC380. The gun’s accuracy is more than suitable for its intended purpose as a defensive pistol.
Chronograph: Shooty Alpha
Chrono Distance: 10 ft
Distance to Target: 15 yds
Blazer Brass FMJ
Average Velocity: 913 fps
Average Group Size: 4.6 inches
Federal HST JHP
Average Velocity: 946 fps
Average Group Size: 5 inches
Average Velocity: 973 fps
Average Group Size: 4.1 inches
Cumulative Group Size: 4.58 inches
Average Trigger Pull: 5.5 pounds
Average Slide Rack Effort: 24.19 pounds
One little quirk with the Kahr CT380 was how it handled Tula FMJ ammo.
My usual procedure for sending the slide forward and returning the gun into battery (a fancy way of saying “making it ready to shoot again”) is to pull back on the slide and release it, which lets the slide go forward and load a round into the chamber. Because it doesn’t rely on a slide lock lever, this procedure is supposed to be the most reliable way of returning a semi-automatic into battery. However, it didn’t work when shooting Tula ammunition in this gun. I’d grab the slide, pull it back, let it go, and the gun would fail to feed a new round of Tula into the chamber, jamming the first round in the magazine up against the barrel.
This was a tad frustrating, as I’d then need to lock the slide back (remember how I said it took a lot of effort to do that?), drop the magazine, cycle the action, load the magazine, and then remind myself to use the slide lock lever this time, at which point, the gun worked just fine.
I should stress that this only happened with Tula ammo. Whether this is an issue with just Tula ammo or it might show up with other steel cased ammo remains to be seen. The only other issue we encountered with all the other ammo we tested was one failure to eject at round 258 of our 500 round test.
Kahr CT380 Review Wrap-up
The Kahr CT380 stands in between what most people define as a “pocket pistol” and a compact 380 pistol. Trim and lightweight, yet solidly built, it has enough accuracy to work as a home defense gun but is small enough to easily use as an everyday concealed carry pistol.