Gun Review: Remington RM380

 

By: Dan Zimmerman

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The gun for this review was provided by the Kentucky Gun Company.

In 2014, Remington Outdoor purchased Rohrbaugh Firearms. Considering Remington’s stewardship of other assimilated brands, devotees of Rohrbaugh’s fabulously expensive, finely-crafted pocket pistols were apprehensive. Remington soon realized their worst fears, consigning the Long Island gun brand to the dust heap of history. But not before going full Borg. Enter the RM380. It’s basically the Rohrbaugh R9 – Shooting Illustrated’s 2005 “Handgun of the Year” – made new . . .

 

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Remington ships the all-metal RM380 with two six-round magazines, one flush and one with a pinky extension.

 

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There’s no mistaking the RM380’s DNA. The photo above shows the RM380 spooning with a Rohrbaugh R9. Other than a little bling, they’re identical. Well, almost. As you’d expect, in their quest to convert an almost $1200 niche market pocket pistol into a competitively priced, mass-marketable self-defense gun, Remmy’s altered a few things, mostly for the better.

 

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Remington replaced Rohrbaugh’s Eurotrash-style heel-mounted magazine release with a good ol’ traditional ambidextrous button behind the trigger guard, right where it ought to be. The relocated mag release makes for easier, quicker mag dumps and reloads. They also added some well executed checkering to the front strap for a surer grip.

 

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In the interest of keeping their little guns as sleek and snag-free as possible, the Rohrbaughs lacked a slide stop. The resulting gun didn’t lock back when empty (obviously). The RM380’s slide stop ensures that once the hammer’s dropped on your last round, you’ll know it – without that awkward ‘click’ on an empty chamber.

 

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Remington’s also reworked the Rohrbaugh recoil system. Rohrbaughs were notorious famous for needing a spring swap every 200 rounds (some wags called them “the gun you aren’t supposed to shoot.”) Big Green wisely subbed two nested recoil springs for the Rohrbaugh system.

 

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Getting to those recoil springs is not as easy as one would hope. Takedown on the RM380’s a bit on the fiddly side. Remington included an addendum to the manual telling owners that holding the gun ejection port up (i.e., gangsta style) and moving the slide back slowly will release the takedown pin enough to remove it. No such luck. The pin on my T&E gun dropped slightly, but not enough to grab and remove it.

I needed a paperclip to push the pin free. On one level, that’s a good thing. If merely aligning the hole in the slide with the pin caused the pin to drop free, that could happen when you really don’t want it to (especially if you’re a gangsta). Still, takedown’s an issue.

 

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Like most safety-less pocket guns (and the Rohrbaughs before it) the RM380’s got a long trigger pull. How long? If I were to aim the gun downrange and pull the trigger you’d have enough time to check your email before it launched lead. While the RM380’s bangswitch isn’t as buttery as its forebear, it’s noticeably smoother than most mouse guns. Smith & WessonAirweight fans won’t be jelly, but owners of the class-dominating Ruger LCP might turn slightly green. So to speak.

As with all of its competitors (e.g., the aforementioned Ruger LCP, Smith & Wesson Bodyguard and Kel-Tec P3AT), the RM380’s trigger’s re-set is a bit of an issue. There isn’t one. No audible or felt re-set point. An RM380 shooter has to let the trigger all the way out before squeezing off a follow-up shot. If you short-stroke the gun, you ain’t got nothing. Avoiding that unfortunate outcome takes regular training.

 

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I brought our RM380 sample to the range and fed it everything you see above — an assortment of rounds from cheap cheap range reloads to premium self-defense ammo. In all, I pulled thetrigger more than 500 times on little gun. It shot everything I threw at it — or into it — without complaint. I fired the RM380 in about every position I could imagine. That potentially troublesome pin caused no troubles whatsoever.

Thanks to the RM380’s re-set, or complete lack thereof, I found myself slapping the mouse gun’s trigger. Or, yes, short-stroking it. With a little practice, I could keep my finger on the go-pedal and fire reasonably fast follow-ups and double-taps. Under stress . . . who knows?

 

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As far as accuracy is concerned, you needn’t be. Concerned, that is. With its fixed, low profile, snag-free sights, the RM380 delivers minute of bad guy good terminal ballistics, which is all you need in a pocket gun.

Rohrbaugh’s little pistols had a devoted following. Big Green’s version removes the defunct New York gun’s biggest (smallest?) problem: the 200-round recoil spring replacement issue. The “new” gun also puts the design well within reach of the average gun buyer. While the tiny nine market has sucked a lot of oxygen out of the once-fashionable .380 market, the RM380 is an almost perfectly suitable alternative to the established players.

Specifications:

Caliber: .380 auto
Capacity: 6+1
Action: DAO
Overall length: 5.27″
Barrel Length: 2.9″
Overall height: 3.86″
Pull weight: 8-9 lbs.
Weight (empty): 12.2 oz.
Price: $417 (MSRP), about $360 street

Ratings (out of five stars):

Build quality: * * * * *
Steel slide and barrel, metal frame. A solid, nicely executed deep conceal or backup gun.

Ergonomics (carry): * * * *
Slightly chunkier (wider) than its primary competitors — think LCP, Bodyguard 380 and P3AT. Still eminently pocketable.

Ergonomics (shooting): * * * *
No mouse gun is fun to shoot, but the RM380’s added thickness fills the hand which reduces felt recoil and makes emptying a few mags at the range more than tolerable. You’ll need to practice with that trigger.

Customize this: * *
You can replace the grip panels and add a laser. That’s it.

Reliability: * * * * *
Rock solid.

Overall: * * * *
One star deducted for the RM380’s long trigger pull and fiddly takedown. Still, Remingtonbought a proven design and made it better and cheaper.

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