Gun Reviews: NAA Guardian 380 ACP & Micro Desert Eagle

A .380 Can Fill Your Needs: Your Purse or Your Pocket
A .380 Can Fill Your Needs: Your Purse or Your Pocket

Gunfights happen quickly and will be over before you know it. So, you need something that fulfills those two requirements. You won’t have time to go get your gun once the fight starts and, if your gun is too big, too bulky or too heavy, you won’t carry it all the time.

Of course, the one time you don’t carry it will certainly be the time you need it.

Accuracy withthe NAA .380 was not bad for a gun with a 2.49-inch barrel.
Accuracy with the NAA .380 was not bad for a gun with a 2.49-inch barrel.

Which gun fills both those needs? How about the lowly .380 auto? My friend Mas Ayoob calls them “mouse guns” but readily admits he would rather have a mouse gun than no gun at all. We should all think so clearly.

And if the market shows us anything, it may be that many gun buyers are starting to think as clearly. These days there are plenty of .380 automatics on the market; too many for us to review all of them here. But we can look at a couple that will fill the bill.

Both are stainless steel pistols designed for deep concealment and completely easy carry. They are simple in operation, plain in design and robust in construction. They are the North American Arms Guardian and the Magnum Research Micro Desert Eagle. In short these are the type of tools you would want to have when a fight starts.

North American Arms Guardian

The tried and true North American Arms Guardian is not a new design, but as a classic should not be left out of the discussion when talking about a .380 for personal defense.  This six-plus-one auto sports a stainless slide and frame and the standard fixed-barrel design that works so well with a tiny auto-loading pistol.

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The Guardian 380’s design is based on the popular Guardian 32 ACP, which was introduced in 1997. Introduced in 2001, the Guardian 380 ACP is popular with law enforcement and for concealed carry. Over the years, NAA has made many subtle improvements to the design, based in part on the many suggestions received from customers. The result is an extremely high quality gun that’s convenient, reliable, and very effective. It is also backed with a lifetime warranty.

The gun is comfortable, easy to shoot and the controls are all in the right places. Forget about the sights, you will not be using them as anything more than a reference point. This is a CQB pistol. If you have to take a 25-yard shot across a street, you are using the gun for something other than its designed purpose. Ideally, you want to be using this gun at 20 feet or less.

The Guardian is easy to carry in a pocket or purse and with any number of good pocket holsters on the market, the pistol will disappear until it is needed and can be brought into action quickly.

For those who feel they need it, North American Arms has introduced the Guardian 380S with an Integral Locking System (ILS) safety. The part number for this gun is NAA-380Guard S. You’ll need to check with your local dealer to order this version of the Guardian 380 ACP. You can also get Crimson Trace Lasergrips for the Guardian. That’s a nice feature.

On the range, the Guardian performs admirably. Firing offhand at 15 feet, the pistol puts all six rounds within an 8-inch bull’s eye rather easily. The trigger pull is long and stout, but very comfortable and controllable. The sights are too small to be anything but a reference point. Still, they work well for that and will not snag on the draw. The finger rest extension on the magazine is a nice touch that adds comfort without sacrificing the ability to conceal the pistol. Overall this is a good solid performer.

As a side note, Guardians are no longer available in California, which seems like a good reason to move out of California.

Micro Desert Eagle

The .380 Micro Desert Eagle is no "lady's gun"
Some people might call this .380 Micro Desert Eagle a “lady’s gun,” but these pint-sized pistols pack a punch and fulfill the first rule of a gunfight.

The Micro Desert Eagle pistol from Magnum Research is also chambered in .380 ACP. And while the measurements show this to be a true compact personal protection pistol, it offers a much different profile than the Guardian.

Weighing in at less than 14 ounces, the Micro Desert Eagle is comfortable in a pocket or in a purse, easy to deploy and features the Magnum Research gas-assisted blowback system for ultimate reliability and amazing accuracy in such a small package. Again, don’t count on the sights to give you match-grade accuracy. This is an “up-close-and-personal” gun.

While I don’t have data on the official trigger pull weight, I can say the trigger pull on the Micro Desert Eagle is “different.” It took me a bit to get used to this trigger. To fire the pistol requires a long heavy trigger stroke and there is considerable stacking as you reach the point where the sear releases. In short you really have to want to make this gun go off. Pull hard and pull long.

On the range the Micro Desert Eagle proved every bit as accurate as the NAA Guardian and both guns functioned well considering the job they are expected to do.  Shooting comfort was simply a matter of shooter preference. The ergonomics are right for both guns, though the Micro Desert Eagle looks like it has more mass in the slide. It looks top-heavy, but that didn’t interfere with its shooting performance.

As far as carry and concealment; both are great. They can be slipped into a pants pocket or a purse with no trouble. Though a good quality pocket holster or CCW-type purse would help to keep the gun under control.

These are not target pistols. They are not comfortable to shoot for long range-time sessions, but with the right ammo, like Extreme Shock, (www.extremeshockammo.net) you will have all the power you need in a package you can hide just about anywhere. Everybody needs at least one small gun and the know-how to use it correctly. Either of these two will fill the bill nicely.

NAA Guardian 380 ACP
Caliber: .380 ACP
Magazine Capacity: 6 rounds
Operation: Double Action Only
Material: 17-4 pH stainless steel
Barrel Length: 2.49 inches
Height: 3.53 inches
Overall Length: 4.75 inches
Width: 0.930 inches
Weight: 18.72 ounces unloaded
Sights: Fixed, non-adjustable
www.naaminis.com/magnum.html

Micro Desert Eagle
Caliber: .380 ACP
Magazine Capacity: 6-rounds
Operation: Double Action Only
Finish: Nickel Teflon
Barrel length: 2.22 inches
Height: 3.71 inches
Overall length: 4.52 inches
Width: 0.90 inches
Weight Empty: 14 ounces
Sights: Fixed, non-adjustable
www.magnumresearch.com

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