My father once refused to listen to a pop song. “I stopped listening to new pop and rock in the 60’s,” he declared. “I just listen to country music now.” Whenever I’m in a situation that calls for an open mind, that childhood memory pops into my head. So when Jeremy handed me the NAA Guardian — an all metal, hammer-fired, direct blowback pocket rocket — I had to remind myself to “keep an open mind.”
If first impressions last, the Guardian sets a high standard right from the git-go. NAA ships the Guardian in a simple, attractive, foam-lined locking metal case. It’s a far cry from industry standard plastic or cardboard clamshells; a testimony to the company’s attention to detail.
No surprise, then, that the Guardian’s fit and finish are fantastic. Machine marks are minimal and all edges are smooth. After handling another modern plastic fantastic pocket pistol (which may or may not be a Ruger LCP), the old-fashioned metal semi just feels better: stout, solid and substantial.
Many small gun grips don’t offer enough gripitude, even in ideal conditions. Add a dash of heat and a splash of humidity and sweaty hands quickly reveal their shortcomings. Testing the Guardian in the hothouse known as the Lone Star State, the gun’s rubber grip panels provided just the right amount of griposity; they’re textured perfectly and not too soft. The Guardian settles comfortably into the hand and stays there. And even with a high grip I never experienced slide bite.
The Guardian 380 ships with two, six-round magazines — one with a pinky rest and one with a flush-mount base. On these tiny pistols, though, the finger extension serves the ring finger instead, making the Guardian a three-finger gun.
Both mags are easy to load. Additional mags can be found online for $18.50, and there’s a 10-round version available.
The Guardian’s sights are fixed and practically invisible. We don’t need no stinkin’ sights! This is a contact distance gun; the pistol’s tiny sights are designed to prevent snagging on clothes when drawing the weapon.
I naturally assumed those tiny sights would lead to big groups. But I quickly got used to them and grew to really appreciate the precise sight picture they allow.
Like many — but not all — pocket pistols, the Guardian doesn’t have a dinky manual safety to futz with. Like the Kahr equivalents or any revolver you can name, the Guardian’s long, heavy, smooth trigger pull is its safety. Right answer.
That said, I’m no fan of double action triggers. I find them an inherent limit on my accuracy. The Guardian’s trigger is the exception that proves the rule.
Even with that mile long pull and near-14-lb pull weight and those tiny sights and short barrel, the Guardian’s accuracy was excellent. I shot the target above at 25 yards with about 3/4 second between each shot.
Jeremy and I kept pushing the pistol’s limits, and very soon were reliably hitting steel targets at 100 yards. I regularly shoot pistols at 100 yards and typically find that the front sight completely blocks the target.The NAA’s tiny front sight actually helped create a better sight picture at extended ranges. This gun is obviously not intended for that kind of distance, but it’s good to know it’s capable.
While recoil is snappy, the Guardian is easy to control and follow-up shots are surprisingly quick. Jeremy and I both noticed that the trigger slaps the shooter’s finger under recoil. It isn’t bad, but worth noting.
As the Guardian is a defensive, concealed carry pistol, reliability is paramount. I shot six different types of ammo, including factory Hornady and Fiocchi and Gorilla Ammo Silverback 95 grain hollow points. All functioned perfectly, with one exception. The pistol repeatedly choked on Creedmoor Ammunition 90 grain XTP hollow points, which measured slightly longer than its competitors.
Disassembly is a bit fiddly — until you find the sweet spot for removing the slide. Then it’s a snap.
To disassemble the Guardian, clear the gun, depress the small button on the passenger side of the grip and slide the slide to the rear a tiny bit, then lift and separate. To reassemble the pistol, ensure that the small guide rod contacts the front of the slide, hook the front of the slide into the frame, pull the slide to the rear, and push the slide down onto the frame. You will either need to push the hammer back with the slide or squeeze the trigger a little bit to allow the slide to click onto the frame.
Those of you who consider .380 too small for self-defense will be pleased to learn that The Guardian comes in two frame sizes and four calibers: a teeny-framed version chambered in .25 NAA and .32 ACP, and a small frame for .32 NAA and .380 ACP. The two North American Arms-created cartridges, the .32 NAA and the .25 NAA, are exclusive to these pistols.
At around $400, the NAA Guardian ain’t cheap. Not in terms of money or in terms of construction. NAA’s pocket pistol shoots accurately and reliably — as do many of its similarly sized, lighter, less expensive polymer-framed competitors. What you’re paying for here is the feel of real steel and longevity. Durability. Solidity. Is it worth it? You tell me.
Specifications: NAA Guardian .380
Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel Length: 2.5″
Weight: 20.4 oz.
Build: stainless steel frame and slide
Sights: Fixed Blade Sights
Action: Double Action Only
Grips: Hard Rubber Grips
MSRP: $456 ( street price is closer to $400)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * *
Jeremy and I fired several hundred rounds through three guardians, two in .380 and one in .32 NAA. All functioned flawlessly except with the aforementioned Creedmoor Ammunition 90 grain XTP.
Accuracy * * * * *
Surprisingly good for a gun this size. The tiny sights are precise and carry-friendly. Reliably hitting bad guy-sized targets at 100 yards was no problem if you can pull that long, heavy trigger smoothly.
Ergonomics * * * *
The grip angle is ideal for a carry gun and the Guardian’s rubber grip panels are comfortable. I really liked the slide serrations’ size and depth. The Guardian’s on the heavy side but not uncomfortable. Star deducted for annoying trigger slap.
Customize This * * * * *
NAA’s custom shop can trick out a Guardian with custom sights, frame stippling, slide serrations, and even custom serial numbers and engraving if that strikes your fancy. They also offer replacement grip panels, pinky rest extensions for magazines, and a variety of holsters. Really, more options than most would ever need on a carry weapon.
Overall * * * *
The Guardian .380 is a small, simple, well-constructed pocket pistol. If you can live with the trigger slap and want a slightly heavier gun (for better recoil control) that isn’t made of plastic, a properly maintained Guardian will help keep you safe for life.