If you are like me, when I grab a handful of an American made firearm, I prefer the feel and heft of all steel construction. The North American Arms Guardian .380 is such an American made firearm. As in all North American Arms (NAA) firearms, the Guardian .380 sample I received is truly a work of art. It is one of the world’s finest .380 semi-autos.
A Little History
NAA known throughout the World as a maker of the finest mini revolvers, introduced in 2001 an all stainless steel semi-automatic, fixed barrel, blow-back operating, 6+1 .380 acp bad-boy pocket pistol. This was a natural step for NAA as in 1997 they introduced the Guardian model in the low powered .32 acp. Over the years NAA fine-tuned the Guardian models to the excellent firearms they are today.
NAA also offers the Guardian in the .25 NAA acp whipper-snapper and the .32 NAA acp which is a necked down .380 case to a .32 caliber. Both the .25 NAA acp and .32 NAA acp are high speed rounds.
Guardian .380 acp
NAA designed the pocket pistol Guardian models for conceal carry. Pocket pistols are just that, a pistol you can carry in your pocket. Pocket pistols are not designed for target shooting but you can shoot at targets if you want. Pocket pistols are not designed for major gun fight engagements. If you strongly believe when you leave your house you are going to get involved in a firefight, do not leave your house. If you have to leave your house anyway, take a multiple round semi-auto AR type rifle with you. For backup, take your NAA Guardian as well.
The NAA Guardian was designed for citizens who feel the need to have with them more protection than bare knuckles and a Case pocket knife. My Guardian test model is sleek, smooth without sharp edges. The exception is the tiny front blade sight. If you were to shove the Guardian into a bipedal dirt-bag’s face you might cause an abrasion but other than this, you have little worries on harming yourself. Now keep mind, I do not recommend the Guardian for beating a bipedal dirt-bag about the head and shoulders. The Guardian is strongly built but not designed to be used as a club.
The Guardian is a double action only (DAO) pistol. If you are a revolver fan, then the DAO Guardian is the closest cousin to the revolver you will find. My test model has a very smooth trigger pull which remains the same till the hammer falls. The stainless steel hammer is exposed but tucked away into the slide. As you pull on the DAO trigger the hammer comes back out of the slide and falls back forward on the firing pin. Once you have fired a round out of the Guardian, you must allow the trigger to go fully forward to reset the action. The Guardian has no slide stop. After the last round is fired the slide does not lock to the rear.
In shooting the Guardian I found it has a big trigger pull which tested at an average of 12.2 pound pull. I have seen other writers claim a 14 pound pull but my test model is 12.2. For me the 12.2 pound trigger pull is not an issue. I don’t want a 4 pound trigger pull on a fully loaded pistol being carried inside of the belt or in my front pocket pointing downward. I feel this is a plus to diminish the chance of an unintentional discharge. If I was compelled to pull the Guardian out and point it at a bipedal wishing me harm, I know when the pistol goes boom I meant for it to happen.
Conceal-ability is what NAA is all about. Yes they have some of their mini revolvers like the “Hogleg” with a six inch barrel and a few with a four inch. With that said, the meat of their business is concealed mini revolvers with the wicked .22 magnum round. So when NAA designed and made their Guardian model semi-automatic pistols, it was a big step for them in research, development and cash outlay.
The Guardian was designed for consumers to carry a highly concealable manly all steel top of the line pocket pistol. I carried the Guardian sample in my front jean pocket fully loaded. Since I am law enforcement I use the Guardian as backup. I have my SIG 1911 “We The People” .45 acp as my primary and the Guardian as my secondary. As a backup, I like the fact the Guardian has no safety. I know if I have to pull the Guardian as my backup, I do not have to fumble with a safety. All I have to do is pull and engage.
Sighting down the slide of your Guardian you will see a ridge which travels down the slide, continues down the barrel to the small post front-sight. The rear sight is two raised blades setting on the ridge. Small back sight and small front sight. Now if you are going to shoot the Guardian hoping for good groups at 25 yards, you better stock up on ammo. Groupings at 25 yards can be done but by very experienced combat shooters. NAA does offer custom sights. But I think these sights just defeat the purpose of a pocket pistol.
The Guardians’ low sights are functional and help in pointing. The reason they are so small is when I pull this pistol from my jean pocket or raid jacket pocket, the sights will not snag on my clothing. Now you can buy grips for the Guardian which have a cool laser sight built in the side. For me, if you depend on other sighting systems such as laser sights, at the time you need them the most, in a time of life and death, you must consider they could fail you.
The guardian comes with two six round magazines one with the finger extension. I had NAA send me an additional magazine to make my test shooting easier. The magazines are all marked with the NAA logo. Their magazines are top quality. However if you received a defective magazine they will happily replace with a new functional one.
Even though the NAA Guardian is a small concealable pistol, how does it stack up against other small .380 acp pistols? In comparison to a Colt Mustang, a highly desirable small pistol, the Guardian is smaller. The grip on my Mustang is 1.042 inches. The Guardian is 0.94 inches. The Mustang slide is 0.76 inches. The Guardian is 0.90 inches. The Mustang from the barrel to the cocked hammer in the rear is 5.562 inches and the Guardian is 4.625 inches. The Guardian fully loaded weighs 20.7 ounces. The Mustang full loaded is 15.1, or a difference of 5.6 ounces.
However, the added weight of the Guardian reduces recoil. The all Steel frame has a higher level of durability than the polymer frame.
NAA Guardian .380 Test and Evaluation
My friends at Winchester sent me some very excellent Browning BXP S-Point 95 grain .380 auto ammunition. In shooting the Browning 95 gr. excellently designed defense rounds I experienced one malfunction. In total I shot all 150 rounds of the Browning ammo and two hundred more rounds of the Winchester 95 gr. full metal jacket. The single malfunction was due to my limp wrist.
Most rounds fired were within the 15 to ten feet range. This is the norm for deadly encounters with bad minded bipedal types. Grouping was very acceptable with two inch averages. At the greater distance, just for grins and giggles, of 15 yards standing I achieved 4.2 inch grouping. All testing was done on my go-to Champion Targets NRA B-27 Law Enforcement (see link below).
In testing the new Inceptor defense ammunition, the nice people there sent me various calibers including the .380 acp. I fired 60 rounds of the Inceptor .56 gr. 380 acp. These light and high speed rounds fired with no malfunctions. In order to see the wound channel damage of the Inceptor .380 acp, I fired one of these rounds into a 50 pound block of clay. The entry wound was about 3.5 inches with a wound channel of about 4.5 inches wide. The Inceptor penetrated about eight inches before losing its energy. The recoil throughout the testing was pleasantly less than my Mustang. Refer to my article entitled: “The Deadliest, Best CCW Ammo for .380, .38spl, 9mm and .45acp.” The Inceptor is an interesting round but still I like the Winchester and Browning ammo for carry. For the Guardian .380 acp I will use the Inceptor round for its added power and lower recoil.
Conclusion of the NAA Guardian .380
I can say I like the Guardian. I can say I like it a lot. I like the American craftsmanship, the design and the manly heft of an all steel gun. I am not convinced the .380 acp is the proper caliber for a person’s main defense weapon. But if you like the round and are okay with its capabilities then the Guardian is your firearm. Shot placement of your round is paramount. Many of a person dropped when shot with a .22 long rifle.
The 12 pound trigger pull is not an issue for me. I like the fact it will be a little harder to fire even under stressful personal defense situations. The sights are minimal but adequate for me who has been shooting for over 45 years. The conceal-ability of the Guardian is easily done. I like to carry mine in my right front jean pocket or even in my right rear jean pocket. It would be perfect for deer hunters who need to dispatch a wounded animal. The Guardian would be perfect defense for farmers and ranchers who like to deal in cash and have considerable amounts on them.
When the wife and I travel on one of our outdoor adventures, I will have the Guardian in the truck console for her use. When we stop for gas and snacks, she will have her defense while I am inside paying. No safeties to worry about, just pull up and pull the trigger.
Guardian .380 Specs
- Barrel Length: 2.5 inches Stainless Steel
- Caliber: .380ACP
- Frame: Stainless Steel
- Slide: Stainless Steel
- Length: 4.81 inches
- Height: 3.69 inches
- Width: 0.94 inches
- Weight: 20.7 ounces (Fully loaded)
- Capacity: 6+1
- Sights: Fixed blade front sights, groove rear sight
- Action: Double Action Only (DAO)
- Grips: Hard Rubber Grips
- MSRP: $486.00
- Can Be Found For: $400.00
North American Arms
Champion NRA Law Enforcement Targets