First time at the range.

Two grocery bags ware put on a stick and rotated freely in the wind. As a result, they got hit from all sides with several .22 and .32 pistols. Revolvers didn’t work out — double action triggers were too heavy and the recoil of .38Spl in an alloy K-frame too harsh. The overall winner was the Star 60S. Since I can’t find any additional magazine son it and the sights aren’t much, I’d like to find a modern equivalent.

What modern production pistol in 32ACP (or locked breech 380ACP) has a single action trigger, thumb safety and decent sights? Sig P238 and Colt Mustang are the only two that come to mind and they may be a bit too small for easy handling. All the other options I see are SA/DA or DAO and have a heavy trigger pull for the first round.

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43 Responses to First time at the range.

  1. seeker_two says:

    Still a lot of Walther PP/PPK and Mauser HSc pistols out there in .32 & .380. Bersa also makes good pistols in .380 & .22lr. The SIG 230/232 and Beretta 80-series guns may also meet your needs.

  2. Mike S says:

    Kahr makes a biggish .32 that’s single-action-ish…

    The Beretta Tomcat can be treated as single-action only, but it’s tiny, too, carried cocked and locked, and the tip-up barrel makes for easy loading. But if the hammer drops, it’s a pain to rack the slide or cock the hammer.

    I think your best options are handguns from the early 1900’s. Tam knows of all kinds of big .32’s from that era.

  3. Ragdragger says:

    Not really modern, but a Beretta 70S is SAO, I think locked breech, and .380 ACP. There’s usually a few on gunbroker, but I’m not too sure about parts support.

  4. Odysseus says:

    This brings me back to wishing that the same Phillipino gun-makers that are churning out 1911 frames would turn out a few reproduction 1903’s.

    In everything but sights and modern the model 1903 fits the bill.

  5. Independently Allied says:

    The CZ 83 seems like the answer to your question.

    It was, sadly, discontinued last year by CZ USA, but I bet there’s one still NIB out there…

    Thanks for a great blog, and for introducing a new shooter to liberty’s teeth!

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Might work but it’s a double-stack pistol with a thick grip.

      • Independently Allied says:

        It’s that, the SIG 238 (with extended grip, 7 round mag), or an antique (i.e. Llama did a 1911 style .380 very like the Spanish Stars in the 80’s I think)…

        Let us know what the final choice is when it’s made!

  6. steve l. says:

    Maybe we should start a petition to get Colt to bring back the .380 Government, the revival of the Colt Ace seems to have worked out well.

  7. MattCFII says:

    How did she like the P22? There’s always the PK380. Unlike the .22, the .380 is not a blowback.

  8. MattCFII says:

    The PK380 is a SA/DA, but not sure how she did with the pistols’ DA pulls, you mention just the revolvers. May not be a option then but thought I’d throw it out there.

  9. MattCFII says:

    Sorry for the triple post, a little more research and it seems that the PK380 does not have a decocker and can be carried cocked and locked. Most report out to be a very light recoiling gun.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      I can’t recall from handling it, does it have a magazine disconnector. That’s not a desirable feature on a defensive gun.

  10. herddog505 says:

    Both Mike S and Independently Allied beat me to it:

    — Ask Tam. With all respect to you and the other firearms afficianados here, if she doesn’t know, nobody does;

    — CZ82 / 83 would be my suggestion, too. Used but mechanically sound surplus 82’s in 9x18mm are still very cheap on Gunbroker.

    Out of curiosity, is the “locked breech” requirement due the slides on blowbacks being rather hard to pull (my wife has this problem with my Bulgy Mak)? Or is it a recoil issue?

    • HSR47 says:

      “Out of curiosity, is the “locked breech” requirement due the slides on blowbacks being rather hard to pull (my wife has this problem with my Bulgy Mak)? Or is it a recoil issue?”

      Probably both.

  11. HSR47 says:

    Someone else suggested the Colt .380 Government, which is slightly larger than the Mustang. It has been discontinued for awhile, but they can still be found used.

    You might also consider something in a larger caliber with a ported barrel. In my experience, my factory-ported XD has the lowest recoil of anything I own short of my M&P22. A solid guiderod (steel or tungsten, I’ve tried both) with a 18-20 pound spring makes muzzle flip almost non-existent.

  12. Adam says:

    Well, I have to vote for the Sig P238. My friend’s mother carries one daily and she’s about the same age. I would say that after some break in sessions it would loosen up enough where she could move the slide. It’s just a fantastic little gun.

  13. Trevor says:

    Browning Model 1955?…available in .32 ACP or .380 ACP.

    No external hammer, thumb safety, back strap grip safety.

    Similar size to PPK. Mags aren’t impossible to find, but do take some looking.

  14. John Bernard Books says:

    +1 for the P238. It’s my winter coat pocket gun when I can’t easily get to the full-size in the IWB. Also handy for grabbing off the shelf for a quick run to the store when I don’t want to take the time to “dress” properly.

  15. Personally, I love the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless. It’s not a new gun, but it might fit the bill, and you can find them in good condition for reasonable prices. Since the sights are dovetailed and staked in, a competent gunsmith could easily replace them with higher visibility sights.

  16. "lee n. field" says:

    Does it have to be a .32 or .380?

    I have a Star M43, small, single action, single stack. I did not have any trouble finding magazines, though they are pricier than you’d expect.

    It is a 9×19, and it is fairly heavy for it’s size (2lbs, barely bigger dimensionally than a PF9). I didn’t think recoil was anything much.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      Weight is also an issue. it would be a carry gun.

      PF9 grip size and trigger pull are the most she can manage comfortably.
      1.5lbs is probably tops on the weight.
      I’d love her to shoot a P7 but it’s beyond her in the weight and grip safety activation.

      • "lee n. field" says:

        “Weight is also an issue. it would be a carry gun.

        PF9 grip size and trigger pull are the most she can manage comfortably.”

        Both the SIG 238 or Sig 938 (both 16oz. unloaded) have extended magazines available. (In theory, who knows in these crazy times.) That would give a bit more grip to hold onto.

  17. Peter BE says:

    Tanfoglio GT32 or GT380?

  18. Peter BE says:

    In the same league, Vincenzo Bernardelli 60?

  19. MattCFII says:

    The first ones at least did not, I don’t know about the current ones. No slide release but does last round hold open.

    It does have the weird issue that pulling the trigger while cocked and locked will act as a decocker, could complicate things if the safety is left on, but then maybe the adrenaline may have kicked in and allow a double action pull IF there is still time.

    • MattCFII says:

      Man I just FAIL at comments on your site Oleg, that was suppose to be a reply to you about the PK380. Sorry for the confusion!

  20. herddog505 says:

    Reaching back, what about an old Savage 1907? Delayed blowback, single action, “Ten Shots Quick!”.

    • Oleg Volk says:

      I have one here. Doesn’t run reliably. Awkward safety. Blowback not really delayed. Not drop-safe. No spare mags available. But it is cute and charismatic.

  21. Scott says:

    Just look at that grin on her face!

    Not sure what to suggest for a pistol, though… (my familiarity extends to CZ75 and Beretta M9).

  22. Joat says:

    Ruger has the LC380 now, single stack and a bit bigger than the pf9. Also does anyone make reduced recoil 9mm loads? If she could step up to single stack 9mm there might be more options.

  23. Matthew Carberry says:

    A bit late but the 7 shot Colt Govt. .380 is my suggestion as well, either steel or Pocketlite version.

    The Mustang Plus 2 was the same frame with the shorter barrel, call it the “Commander” equivalent.

    The Mustang and P238, the “Officer model size”, with the extended thumbrest magazines have that same “full size” grip length as the above, so if you have either pistol with the longer mags you can see how your shooter likes the feel of the grip at least.

  24. Matthew Carberry says:

    For that matter Browning has their new little .22. A .32 or .380 on that frame size would be nice.

  25. Scott says:

    I’m late to the party, but a Beretta 81 or 82, B or BB might be ideal. .32 acp, blowback, 12 or 9 round capacity, cocked and locked.

  26. "lee n. field" says:

    Another thought.

    Bersa’s recentry entry in the small slim 9mm category, the BP9cc. 21 oz before ammo. It’s supposed to have a fairly light trigger.

    Word I saw on Bersachat was that Bersa’s supposed to be bringing in the .380 version sometime this year.

    I’m guessing this is for the lady that the “holster for training” blog post was about. As always, you’d want to find someone who had one to borrow for her to try.

  27. Will says:

    Another vote for the Colt Mustang, Plus 2, or Gov’t .380, especially in the Pocketlite (aluminum frame).
    That locked-breach really makes a difference. I was setting up a couple .380’s for a couple sisters in the late 90’s. Found a Mustang Pocketlite, and an AMT .380 Backup II, to match one’s husband’s gun that she was sharing. (talk about unclear on the concept!) Anyway, I shot the AMT first (single action, grip safety, all stainless, blowback). Recoil was very noticeable! And it’s heavy, for it’s size. I think it weighed twice what the Mustang did. When I fired the Mustang, I thought I had a squib load, the recoil was so mild. Took it apart. Nope. This was with a hot defensive load. Golden Sabre, maybe?

    I did the same barrel ramp/throat work I would do to any 1911 type. I didn’t bother shooting it before doing the work, since I wanted it to be able to feed anything she tried stuffing into it, since the other sister was using FMJ in the husband’s AMT, and I wasn’t happy about that. Did her AMT the same way, and included a box of that ammo in each gun box when I shipped them. Haven’t looked inside Colt’s re-issue of their Mustang to see if they did that particular upgrade.

    BTW, she liked the AMT, since with the grip safety she felt secure in just tossing it into her purse. Women and their damn purses… I sent her info on gun purses, but she never followed through, sigh…

  28. Mark Horning says:

    Another vote for the Colt Government 380, Mustang Plus II, or Mustang. Those are all steel frame guns. A bit heavy for pocket carry, but no recoil to speak of. These are all also available in a “Pocketlite” version with alloy frame. I carried a Plus II Pocketlite for years before I bought my Kel-tec. (I like the extra grip length of the Plus II)

    The alloy version of the small Mustang is also available by Sig as the P238. (it’s not actually a perfect clone, but most parts are interchangeable.)

  29. Lyle says:

    Why rule out a good revolver? There are plenty of options there, having decent sights, low recoil and good SA triggers.

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