Handguns > Semi-Auto

The Taurus PT638 Pro SA .380 ACP

Are you looking for an accurate, low-recoil defensive pistol? Taurus has you covered.


Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to meet with the representative of a well-known defensive firearms company who will, for the course of this conversation, remain anonymous. I learned that due to certain changes in its business plan, the company would soon have the capability to produce a top-notch full-size .380 ACP pistol with a tactical rail and other desirable, up-to-date defensive features. Note that I said they would have the capability, not the desire. When I expressed an interest in knowing when the pistol might be available, I was told there were no plans to produce it. Besides, he said, with all of the .45 ACP, .40 S&W and 9 mm versions of the company’s pistols readily available, who would want a high-capacity .380 ACP anyway?

It was a disappointing, but not unexpected, response to the question. At the time of this conversation, I could think of several people I knew who would choose a tricked-out.380 if it were available. I’m talking about smart, dedicated individuals who want to enjoy the shooting sports and be prepared to defend themselves, but who also cannot or do not want to deal with the noise and recoil of a big-bore pistol.

Taurus, on the other hand, has long been a friend to small calibers like the .32 ACP and .380 ACP. One reason is that it sells pistols to markets outside of the United States, where civilians cannot own guns chambered in law enforcement or military calibers. Therefore, the company takes defensive handguns in smaller calibers seriously. As a result, it also provides American shooters with low-recoil defensive options that they will have a hard time finding in other gun companies’ catalogs.

Pistol Features
The Taurus PT638 Pro SA is a medium-framed .380 ACP semi-automatic pistol loaded with the same features found on other members of the Pro series of handguns. The example used for this review arrived with a stainless-steel slide, but a blued version is also available. The slide is topped with a three-dot sight system, including a steel front sight blade and an adjustable polymer rear sight.

The slide is fitted with a 3.2-inch barrel, a two-spring dual recoil rod, a red loaded-chamber indicator and a Taurus integrated security lock. A red cocked-firing-pin indicator is located at the rear of the slide just below the rear sight. This pistol has a variety of safeties, including a firing pin block, an ambidextrous thumb safety and an integral trigger safety that must be fully depressed in order for the pistol to fire.

The single-action trigger features a grooved surface for an improved feel and a pull weight that gauged out at 7 pounds, 3 ounces. Although the trigger is on the heavy side for a single action, its short travel distance and no-creep crispness make it easy to work with. The trigger guard is curved to provide a finger rest, and the frame is dimpled on both sides above the trigger guard to provide a natural point for the trigger finger to rest.

The polymer frame features a full three-finger grip with molded-in checkering along the front and back straps. The short tactical rail allows for the attachment of various lights and lasers. Although the rail is not long enough to accommodate some of the larger modules on the market, it proved to be a perfect fit for compact units like the Laserlyte FSL-3 Subcompact V3 laser sight and the Streamlight TLR-3 tactical LED flashlight.

The textured magazine release fits flush with the grip frame to help prevent accidental bump ejections of the magazine, but the release's wide textured surface makes it easy to operate when it's time to reload. The blue-steel 15-round magazine quickly drops free of the frame when ejected. The unloaded weight of the pistol is 23.8 ounces, which provides enough weight to effectively reduce recoil while still keeping the pistol light enough for longer practice sessions.

At the Range
Before receiving the PT638 for testing, I had a chance to test fire it with a group of media members at a writers’ event. As a result, I had a good idea of what to expect. All of the pistol's controls are ergonomically placed and comfortable to use. I have smaller hands than some shooters, but I can run everything on the PT638 without having to shift my grip.

I found the slide requires about a third less hand pressure and effort to rack back than similarly sized 9 mm pistols. Seating a fully loaded magazine in the grip with the slide closed only requires a modest tap instead of a hard slap. The only operation that proved to be on par with most 9 mm or larger pistols is loading the magazine. A good magazine loader, such as the UpLULA loaders from Butler Creek can be a big help if you find pressing rounds into a magazine to be challenging. 

Accuracy testing was conducted from the bench using five-shot groups fired at 25 yards. A short-barreled pistol capable of producing shot-group averages of around 3 inches is a keeper. The PT638 kept every group right at or below the 3-inch mark. The best single group of 2.5 inches, as well as the best group average of 2.65 inches, was produced by Winchester's 95-grain PDX1 jacketed hollow points. DoubleTap's 95-grain brass-jacketed hollow points averaged 2.90 inches, followed by HPR's 90-grain Hyper Clean jacketed hollow points at 2.95 inches.

Where the PT638 really shines is in close range defensive drills. At ranges of 7 yards or less, informal testing was fun, if not downright addictive. The pistol's modest recoil and good sights make it a simple task to cut small, ragged holes at any point on the target you choose. Along with its point-and-shoot accuracy and wrist-friendly level of recoil, this pistol proved to be a "roach" gun. It gladly digested a variety of ball and hollow-point loads without a single hitch or hang-up from the first round to the last.

Final Thoughts
Once again, Taurus is the company choosing to step up to the plate and provide an uncommon, but practical, shooting solution. The PT638 Pro SA semi-auto is ready to fill a variety of roles. It's an ideal home-defense handgun for those who want less recoil. It's a solid primary carry gun for shooters who use a .380 pocket pistol as a back-up. This pistol is also an ideal candidate for training new or young shooters who are still mastering the basic skills. The PT638 has all the tactical goodness of the big-bore PT pistols, but with a level of recoil almost every shooter can handle.

Manufacturer: Taurus; Taurususa.com
Model: PT638 Pro SA (638SS-15) 
Action: Single Action
Caliber: .380 ACP
Frame: Medium
Finish: Stainless Steel
Grips: Polymer
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 3.2”
Overall Length: 6.2”
Height: 5.3”
Width: 1.4”
Weight: 23.8 ozs.
Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:9.84" RH
Suggested Retail Price: $498

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21 Responses to The Taurus PT638 Pro SA .380 ACP

JEFF wrote:
September 14, 2014

I was a bit skeptical in the beginning but my soon found out after putting 3 clips through this gun, this was no chump! I really love this PT 638 PRO. Never jammed once! Recoil was minimal and accurat like my PT 101 AFS. Range was great, better than I thought. Five stars and two thumbs way up!!!

Braxton wrote:
February 26, 2014

Great gun for close an quick defense.

Bruce wrote:
December 31, 2013

Just purchased my PT638 prior to Christmas and took to the range for the first time last week. Wow, did I enjoy shooting this great pistol from Taurus. I had read a lot of articles from various manufacturers over the past 60 days prior to making my choice of which pistol to buy. Major advantage for PT638; two, 15 round mags and a manual safety and a safety mechanism in trigger. Also will enjoy the lifetime guarantee from Taurus. I have had many handguns over the years, never Taurus. Glad I made this decision. Oh, by the way, at the range, 99 out of 100 rounds found the target, one failed to fire due to hard primer. Very happy.

bria wrote:
September 11, 2013

i bought this gun back in February and its by far my favorite gun out of the 4 i have.. its very easy to conceal, and the recoil is no problem. initially i had problems with loading the 15th bullet in the magazine, but after firing the weapon a few times, it was no issue.. i recommend this gun for any woman who needs a little proctection, but dont want any thing too big!!!

Justin wrote:
March 20, 2013

Jacob: I had the same issue with my PT111. If you give the "MAGAZINE" a good wack on the bottom (which you should be doing anyway) it will snap right up. The top round is actually hitting the underside of the slide. It's designed that way, so that the round will pop up to be taken by the slide when it opens. The problem is that at full capacity, the magazine spring is nearly fully compressed so it's really tight.

Kim wrote:
March 11, 2013

I just bought this one as my personal defense. I travel alone a lot & I chose it for the safety's on it, the mag cap. and the ease of firing. It has very little recoil. I am only 4'10" so I felt like this little lady needed a gun that fired and looked big without the true bulk.

Jacob wrote:
February 25, 2013

I was just wondering if im the only one with this problem, or if its normal for this gun. When I have the clip fully loaded to 15 rounds, it will not go into the gun unless the slide is pulled back first. But if I have 14 or less in, it goes in just fine. Whats up with that?

tony wrote:
January 09, 2013

were can I get some extra mags for this pistol..No one has any..if you have 1or 2 please give me a e-mail thanks.

January 06, 2013


João da Silva wrote:
September 01, 2012

Taurus can't stop making .380 because the brazilian law just allow civilians to use pistols .380, .32 and .22. (The main calibre for police is the .40)

E. J. LeLeux wrote:
May 14, 2012

how to adjust the rear sights on a Taurus PT 638 .380

D wrote:
April 07, 2012

I honestly believe that smaller rds are overlooked by so many gun enthusiasts. Bring military there is a common thought of overkill if effective is just effective killing. That being said I will gladly trade 4 landed shots from a 22 mag any day over 1 missed shot from a 44 mag. Lets be honest, if you wound a kick door intruder with a couple well grouped shots from a 380 they are 1 immobilized, 2 panicking about their choice of houses and 3 ineffective as you clear them as a risk. I have a kel tec pmr 30 and it's very effective for doing the trick. Going on that, notice that traditionally several mafia groups use 380 or less when conducting hits as a supressor sounds like a loud fart and gets the job done. Look at most articles regarding killed organized crime gangsters and you will notice a 22lr or mag was used to do the job. An experienced shooter can make excellent shot groups with smaller caliber rds.you should always be concerned about what is effective, violence or the act if self defense is not about looking cool.

Michael wrote:
March 31, 2012

This is a great gun I love to shoot it.my wife took it away from me she said it hers because she like all the safety,s the gun has if the safety is on the slide can not be pulled but she keep it chambered in her purse and the safety on so the story is if mamas not happy nobody is so Taurus team mamas happy lucky for me

Eduardo wrote:
March 20, 2012

Funny but this product shows as "discontinued" in the Taurus on-line catalog, both last year and this year. Makes no sense. They show a .40 and a .45 but not the .380. ?

Eric wrote:
March 08, 2012

I picked this .380 a few days ago and my 7 year old son loves to shoot it. This is his first gun and is doing very well with it, so well in fact I got one for myself. I take my CCW class this month and was thinking about using my 9mm as my carry but have for sure changed my mind due to the size, feel and all round comfort of this pistol.

Billy wrote:
March 06, 2012

I will be buying mine soon I love 380 great round very controllable for a guy with girl sized hands like mine

Rob wrote:
March 03, 2012

Bought this Taurus .380 a few months ago. I like the solid feel of it and as mentioned - is an ideal home security weapon. So much attention is given to 9mm models in general, that the tactical advantages of a .380's size and magazine capacity is often overlooked. Give me a .380 anytime.

Richard W wrote:
January 12, 2012

I realy understand the idea of a medium frame .380 and have owned and enjoyed a Taurus PT-58 for years. It was my wife's go to gun until she bought her own Walther PK380. Fun to shoot, handles great and with proper ammo I trust it to defend us if called on. The only comment on new Taurus is I am old fashion and do not like striker fired systems, give me my single/double action any day.

Robert wrote:
January 11, 2012

Ok, I will agree. Big bores are intimidateing and have more stopping power. But, as a longtime owner of a 1911A1, I also know that in a close quarters defense situation the blast of a big bore is devastating as far as noise and flash go. If a one can rip off a dozen or so .380s if there are any assailants left standing, I don't think many would stick around. Seeing to escape is important

Robert wrote:
January 11, 2012

My lovely wife just bought me the new PT638 PRO SA .380acp for X-MAS. Hats off to Taurus for a fast action, safe, easy to handle conceal carry gun. Would love to see a review of the PT638 SA vs Spingfield Armory's new XD .40.

Gary wrote:
January 11, 2012

Kudos to Mr. Horman for promoting the .380 as a restricted round for people with special needs. Most gun articles sell the .380 as just another general purpose defensive round, in the same category as the larger rounds. With the FBI turning thumbs down on the 9mm and the military ready to do the same, the smaller .380 just shouldn't be recommended as a first choice in the search for a good fight-stopping self-defense cartridge.