Gun Test: Taurus M380 Revolver
By Paul Scarlata, Personal Defense World
Readers familiar with my writing already know that I’m a revolver man. I cut my handgun-shooting teeth on double-action (DA) revolvers, and, while I own, carry and compete with a wide variety of semi-auto pistols, when it comes right down to the nitty gritty, I prefer a handgun that rotates rather than reciprocates. And one of the neatest little roundguns I’ve seen in quite a while is the Taurus M380IBULSS, or M380. As you may have already deduced from its name, the revolver is chambered for the short .380 ACP autopistol cartridge.
The Taurus M380 is built on a shortened version of Taurus’ M85 small revolver frame, in this case the Ultra-Lite series’ aluminum alloy frames. The M85 has been in production for decades and revolvers based upon it have sold in the tens of thousands (maybe even hundreds of thousands) around the world.
The stainless steel cylinder is locked into the frame by a spring-loaded center pin passing through and projecting out past the rear of the ejector rod, where it enters a recess in the recoil plate. This holds the cylinder in place while a spring-loaded stud on top of the cylinder crane engages a mortise in the frame.
To open the cylinder, a thumb latch on the left side of the frame is pushed forward, which in turn forces the center pin out of its locking recess, allowing the cylinder to be swung out to the left. Pushing in the ejector rod then forces out a star-shaped extractor that extracts all the cartridge cases simultaneously.
Like all Taurus roundguns, the M380 has a transfer-bar ignition system. When the trigger is pulled through a complete stroke, a flat bar raises in front of the firing pin, which the hammer strikes when it falls, driving the frame-mounted firing pin forward to ignite the cartridge. At all other times the hammer rests on the frame where it cannot impact the firing pin.
Another standard feature is Taurus’ Security System, which allows the shooter to lock the hammer and trigger to prevent unauthorized firing. You simply insert a key (two are provided) into the lock located on the rear of the hammer and rotate it clockwise until it clicks. To unlock, simply insert the key and rotate counter-clockwise.
Because the .380 ACP is a rimless cartridge, Taurus supplies a number of full moon clips with each revolver. These are flat pieces of spring steel that have semi-circular cutouts into which five .380 ACP rounds can be snapped so that the rimless round can be fired and ejected by the revolver’s extractor. They also prevent stray rounds from falling under the extractor, effectively jamming up the revolver.
Upon opening the box for my test gun, I found a demure-looking revolver whose alloy frame and steel cylinder boasted an attractive bead-blasted finish. As befits a revolver designed for close-range personal protection, the M380 has a spurless hammer and double-action-only (DAO) lock work. The latter feature is eminently practical while the former allows it to be drawn from concealment without snagging on clothing.
The 1.75-inch barrel has a full-length underlug that adds a bit of recoil-dampening weight up front while protecting the ejector rod from damage. Sighting equipment consists of a high serrated blade up front, while the rear is a square notch that projects above the topstrap that can be adjusted for windage. Combined, they provide a clear, sharp sight picture, although I feel that a colored insert or fiber-optic rod in the front blade would be a marked improvement.
Considering the M380’s short barrel (and thus sight radius) and DAO trigger, I felt that limiting my accuracy testing to 10 yards would be a most practical decision. It took considerable nursing of the trigger, but I was able to produce groups running from 1.6 to 3 inches in size, which I felt were more than adequate for this class of handgun. The little Taurus showed a slight preference for the Black Hills 100-grain FMJ loads.
To see how the M380 would perform in its true role in life, I ran it through a series of off-hand drills at 5 and 7 yards. Once again the heavy DAO trigger required nursing along, especially at the farther distance, but by the time I was done the center of the target had many holes in just the right places.
Loading and unloading with the full moon clips was fast and fumble free. Out of curiosity, I fired 15 rounds without the clips and did not experience a single misfire, although the empty cases had to be poked out with a pencil from my shooting box. Recoil was extremely controllable even with the heavy Remington 102-grain Golden Sabers.
In conclusion, I found the Taurus M380 to be a nice-handling, good-shooting little revolver that would be quite suitable for concealed carry or home defense.
|Caliber: .380 ACP|
|Weight: 15.5 oz.|
|Barrel Length: 1.75″|
|Front Sight: Fixed|
|Order #: 2-380129UL|
|Rear Sight: Adjustable|
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