June 21, 2019
Remington Arms Company celebrated its bicentennial in 2016, and that same year the company introduced the subcompact RM380 semiauto pistol. Affordably priced and easy to conceal, the RM380 was an ideal choice for the nation’s growing number of concealed-carry permit holders, estimated at 13 million in 2015.
Since the original RM380’s release three years ago, the number of concealed-carry permits issued has risen by roughly 25 percent. To draw the attention of this rapidly growing segment of the firearms market, Remington is dressing up the pocket-size .380 semiauto. This year, Big Green unveiled the latest iteration of the RM380: the spiffed-up RM380 Executive.
Functionally, it’s the same as the previous model: a hammer-fired, double-action-only, single-stack .380 that’s compact enough to conceal under the lightest clothing. And it retains the double-recoil-spring design, which helps reduce the force required to operate the slide—a major selling point for many people.
Like the original RM380, the new Executive version shares the DNA of the Rohrbaugh R380/R9. Remington acquired Rohrbaugh in 2014 and, with the purchase, became the owners of one of the best compact pistol designs on the market.
All Remington RM380s incorporate 416 stainless steel slides and a locked-breech, recoil-operated, tilt-barrel design with a flared muzzle bell to provide reliable and secure barrel-to-slide contact. A beefy external extractor lies flush in a machined channel on the right side of the slide.
The frame is machined from 7075 aluminum, and that makes this pistol one of the few all-metal subcompact pistols available today. The 416 slide comes with a satin stainless finish, and the 2.75-inch, 1:16-twist match barrel features a matte stainless finish that contrasts nicely with the matte black anodized frame.
At first glance you might think the Executive’s grip panels are wood, but closer inspection shows the grips are actually a high-pressure wood-grain Macassar laminate. They also feature a large palm swell, which helps fill the shooter’s hand and provides better control of the gun when firing. The Executive’s grip panels are replaceable and can be removed from the gun by loosening three small screws.
It’s worth noting this pistol’s double-action, hammer-fired design has one advantage that striker-fired counterparts do not. In the rare event a shooter encounters a cartridge with a hard primer, hammer guns allow the shooter to continue striking the primer with additional pulls of the trigger.
As I mentioned, the Executive is designed with concealment in mind. This end-use engineering is apparent in every aspect of the gun’s design, from the beveled slide to the minimalist machined sights to the recessed controls. The rear portion of the slide is angled forward, and the spurless hammer rides flush against the back of the gun.
A small beavertail prevents the shooter’s hand from being bitten by the slide during cycling, and a small undercut on frontstrap checkering helps maintain control of this pistol when firing. The laminate grip panels are textured and feature a shallow recess on either side just aft of the trigger guard.
In terms of controls, there is no manual safety or takedown lever. An ambidextrous, triangular magazine release button is contoured to the grip profile, and the low-profile slide stop rides in a cutout on the left side of the grip. The trigger, extractor, slide stop and mag release are nickel-plated.
Wide serrations machined into the rear of the slide makes for easy operation of the pistol even with gloved hands. Takedown is relatively simple. With an empty chamber and the magazine removed, pull the slide rearward until a round hole in the slide aligns with a longitudinal pin that can be pushed free.
Every RM380 Executive ships with two six-round magazines, one that fits flush with the base of the frame for maximum concealment and another with a finger extension that provides more gripping surface when shooting at the range.
Despite its all-metal construction, the RM380 Executive is very light. With an empty magazine in place, the pistol weighed exactly 14 ounces on my scale, and when fully loaded, it weighs right at a pound.
Overall length is 5.3 inches, which compares favorably with other guns in this class—the Ruger LC380 (six inches), the Glock 42 (5.9 inches) and the Kahr CW380 (five inches). The slide measures 0.83 inch wide, exactly the same as the G42, and at the widest point on the grips, the RM380 Executive is just 1.1 inches wide. The Remington’s overall height is 3.9 inches with the flush-fit magazine and 4.4 inches with the extended magazine.
One of the primary complaints I hear from new CCW permit holders is that the slides on most compact and subcompact semiautos are heavy and difficult to manipulate. That’s not the case with the RM380 Executive—again, thanks to the dual-spring design. The reduced slide weight means that most any shooter—even those who suffer from arthritis or who have weak hands—will be able to effectively operate this pistol.
The slide serrations aren’t overly aggressive, but they’re deep enough and wide enough to allow plenty of purchase when operating the gun. There were no issues with the slide failing to close properly and chamber a cartridge, an important consideration when selecting a carry pistol.
Initial accuracy testing took place at 15 yards from the bench, and at that distance the Remington’s accuracy was as good or better than most guns in this class. The best groups of the day measured 2.1 inches at that range with Federal’s Low Recoil HST load and 2.2 inches with Browning’s BXP, but the other loads in the test produced at least one group under three inches.
As you can see in the accompanying chart, average group sizes ranged from 2.5 to 3.4 inches, which is good for a pistol with a 2.75-inch barrel at that distance and particularly good when you consider the Remington’s rudimentary sights. Because they feature the same satin stainless finish as the gun itself, I found the front sight to be difficult to see when I was firing groups from the bench.
The reality is that subcompacts like the Executive are meant to be close-range weapons, and when firing the gun at point-and-shoot distances, the sights are less of an issue. And because they’re machined directly into the slide, they’re extremely robust and won’t hang up when the gun is drawn.
Most double-action-only guns that lack a safety have a long trigger pull to reduce the risk of an unintentional discharge. The RM380 Executive’s trigger pull is quite long, even for a double action. I had to readjust my hand twice because I wasn’t able to pull the trigger completely rearward with my normal shooting grip when shooting from the bench. But it’s smooth and even until the hammer is almost completely rearward, and at 10.4 pounds it isn’t particularly heavy for a double-action pistol.
The undercut on the trigger guard is a worthwhile addition, and it certainly allows for more purchase on the grip. I do wish it was more pronounced, but space is at a premium with subcompact pistols, and Remington had to do the best it could with the minimal space allotted.
After testing the pistol from the bench, I spent some time shooting the pistol from a standing position at ranges from five to 15 feet. At those distances the RM380 Executive performed quite well. The low-profile sights worked fine when drawing and firing the gun at defensive ranges, and it was easy to fire double-taps into the vital zone of a torso target.
Recoil is somewhat stiff, but it’s certainly not unmanageable, and I believe most shooters should be able to control the gun and shoot it comfortably with a bit of practice. The beavertail does a nice job of promoting a high handhold on the pistol while simultaneously preventing slide bite, and there’s room on the frame for a thumbs-forward grip on the pistol without interfering with the action of the gun.
Despite being tucked away in the frame, the magazine release is easy to find and use, but the very compact slide release requires concentration to release. It’s much simpler to jam a fresh magazine into the gun with the slide locked open and pull the slide rearward to chamber a round.
The extended magazine works great, especially for shooters with large hands, and there were few issues with cycling. The pistol jammed twice from the bench, both stovepipes, but during standing fire there weren’t any malfunctions—although the slide failed to lock open after the last round was fired on four occasions. Remington includes metal magazines with a substantial yet manageable spring that makes loading this gun easier than some of its rivals.
Carrying the RM380 is convenient and simple. The gun fits easily into pocket holsters, and when worn in a compact inside-the-waistband holster or belly band, it virtually vanishes under a light layer of clothing. This makes it suitable for year-round carry.
It’s also light enough and portable enough to be carried during outdoor exercise, like jogging or hiking, and its diminutive size and minimalist mass make it perfect for carry in a fanny pack or other small bag. It fits neatly in an ankle holster, keeping it out of sight when wearing dress pants or jeans, and it’s an ideal backup gun for anyone who prefers to carry a second firearm. Additionally, the stainless slide, anodized frame and laminate grips mean this gun is able to withstand the abuses of daily carry, namely exposure to moisture.
Engineering a carry pistol is an exercise in compromise. Remington decided to favor portability, but the RM380 remains a gun that’s relatively easy to operate and use. I’d suspect most potential buyers will be looking for a really small, robust gun that’s simple to carry and shoot, and the Executive fits the bill nicely.
It offers improved ergonomics (and aesthetics) over the standard black RM380 thanks to the new grips, but the price is still within the budget for most shooters looking for a gun in this class. Suggested retail price is $405, which means street prices will likely be in the $300s, and that makes the RM380 Executive an American-made gun worth considering when you’re in the market for a subcompact carry pistol.
REMINGTON RM380 EXECUTIVE
TYPE: DAO semiauto
CALIBER: .380 ACP
BARREL: 2.75 in.
OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 5.3/3.9 (flush mag)/1.1 in.
WEIGHT: 14 oz.
CONSTRUCTION: black anodized 7075 aluminum frame; satin 416 stainless slide
GRIPS: macassar laminate
TRIGGER: 10.4 lb. pull (measured)
SIGHTS: fixed; notch rear, post front
MANUFACTURER: Remington Arms, remington.com