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Preview – Remington RM380

Can the RM380 Micro Pistol Shake Remington’s R51 Curse?

Sometimes, printing isn’t an option and getting asked to leave your daughter’s ballet recital because someone called you on the 1911-shaped bulge on your side might cause some family drama down the road.

The .380 pocket guns have their place. Small, light, and … well, OK, that’s pretty much all they’ve got going for them. Short sight radius, limited ammo capacity, two-finger grips … plenty of downside. They’re convenient, though. And we aren’t here to judge — the gun you carry is better than the one you won’t because it’s too big.

When Remington Outdoor Company decided it wanted to continue its expansion into the handgun market back in 2014, it noticed a small, popular pistol being manufactured in suburban Long Island, New York.

The Rohrbaugh 380 is an example of a boutique success — enthusiast designed for a single purpose, price be damned. The little pistol made no effort to appeal to a larger market with extra features or a competitive price.

Small, light, fully dehorned, and devoid of any protrusions that might snag, print, or press uncomfortably against the body, the brothers Karl and Eric Rohrbaugh envisioned their .380 auto as the ideal carry gun. No safety, no slide lock, mag release on the bottom …. Practically speaking, the Rohrbaugh 380 was a fine belly gun.

Family Addition
In 2014, Remington’s handgun family was growing. The 1911 R1 was out of the nest, the subcompact R51 was in summer school, and what would become Remington’s full-size and compact semi-auto, the RP9 platform, was in diapers. The next most lucrative segment in the handgun market for Remington to enter was micro pistols.

The company saw the potential of the Rohrbaugh R380 to fill that gap. Just as important, though, Remington recognized the profit margin hiding in the high cost, hand-fitted, small batch, low-yield manufacturing process the Rohrbaughs were forced to use because of the small size of their operation.

ccw-remington rm380-pistol

Remington acquired Rohrbaugh with the intention of turning the R380 into a mass-market micro pistol. It did so with the help of the pistol’s original designers. Remington’s pistol product manager, Daniel Cox, says the company spent months at the outset of the redesign process working with the Rohrbaughs to understand the gun and its design more comprehensively.

Having them around, Cox told us, meant the company had insight into what made the pistol special to the people who bought the R380. This helped Remington’s product development team build a road map of what they should and shouldn’t change as they transformed the R380 into the RM380.

“It helped us understand those things we had to maintain in the new design that appealed to people paying $1,200 to $1,300 for the pistol,” Cox says.

Don’t Mess With This
The mechanical simplicity that makes the gun exceptionally reliable is unchanged. All of the bones of the R380 are present in the RM380, just tweaked in small ways to optimize the geometry for operation and manufacture.

Remington didn’t want to deviate from the true double-action-only trigger, though at one point Cox tells us there was an internal conversation about trying to do a half-cocked, double-action, similar to the Ruger LCP with a preloaded mainspring. “But Karl and Eric’s trigger is great because it requires a deliberate trigger pull,” Cox says. “It offers a level of safety for pocket and purse carry, and it gives you second strike capability.”

Second strike capability is great on a small, hard-to-manipulate pistol. Since a common type of misfire is due to a hard or partially seated primer, much of the time second snap will make it go. And, that second trigger pull is a hell of a lot easier than running a malfunction drill on such a tiny pistol.

Fixed sights machined directly into the slide also didn’t need to be changed. Adjustable sights on a gun this size, with such a short radius and a long trigger pull, offer little benefit. Plus, adjustable sights are just one more thing to break or snag.

We’d like to see tritium offered as an option the RM380, though. We’re not going to go blasting finely aimed shots in the dark with a sight radius no longer than a Marlboro, but the sights are so nubby that we’d appreciate a little more contrast when bringing the gun up under ATM alcove lighting.


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