AMT Backup 380
Travis Pike for TTAG
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AMT Backup 380
Travis Pike for TTAG

Way back when the ultra-small handgun market seemed to be dominated by the J-frame revolver. The small .380 semi-automatic seemed to barely be a thing. Of course, classics like the Walther PPK and PPK/S existed, but compared to modern .380 pocket pistols, these guns were rather large.

The AMT Backup 380 likely seemed either revolutionary or crazy back in 1978 when Ordnance Manufacturing Company made the first models. Arcadia Machine and Tool eventually purchased the design and began pumping out AMT Backups. 

AMT Backup 380
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

This particular model is the earlier single action only model with a manual safety. It came to me for next to nothing, and the fact that it was a mini .380 from the late ’70s piqued my curiosity.

These days you can get a good pocket-sized .380 from nearly any major gun company. GLOCK, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Kahr and more produce tiny .380s for concealed carry.

The AMT Backup – Ahead of its Time?

The AMT Backup was ahead of its time in a lot of ways. The problem with being head of your time is often not having the technology to flesh out your idea successfully. It was a good idea, but was poorly executed.

The AMT Backup is an all-metal gun without a lick of polymer anywhere. It has 5- and 6-round magazines available. I only have a 6-round magazine with a pinky extension. “Pinky extension” being a joke since it’s still not long enough for my hand. Magazines seem to be available to this day, but they’re a little pricey.

AMT Backup 380
“Pinky” Extension is an optimistic idea (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The AMT Backup is a blowback-operated weapon that seems par for the course for .380s from this period. Blowback operation can be a safe and reliable means for a handgun to operate, but it has some flaws.

The first is increased felt recoil. This Backup doesn’t seem to have much muzzle rise, but it has a ton of slap to it. After firing half a box of ammo, my hand felt quite sore. It bruised the area of my palm right below the thumb. It most certainly has some snap to it.

The other downside is the ultra-stiff recoil spring. If you have compromised hand strength, this gun isn’t for you. The near-microscopic rear serrations don’t help much either.

The ergonomics are interesting. The gun uses a heel magazine release at the bottom of the grip to lock in and drop magazines. I imagine the idea of reloading under fire wasn’t really on the designer’s mind when creating a pistol called the Backup.

Where a magazine release would generally be on the grip, there’s a manual safety that slides up for safe and down for fire. It’s effortless to reach and use.

AMT Backup 380
The AMT Backup’s safety is where the magazine release is located in larger semi-automatics.  (Travis Pike for TTAG)

In addition to the manual safety, the AMT Backup also has a grip safety. It seems redundant, but the 1911 was the gun back then, so I’m assuming a grip safety was a selling point. The grip safety also gives you a visual clue if the weapon is cocked.

AMT Backup 380
Uncocked Weapon (Travis Pike for TTAG)

If the safety is nearly flushed with the grip (above), the gun is uncocked. Once you cock the gun, the grip safety flares outward (below).

AMT Backup 380
Cocked weapon (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Small and Smaller

The all-metal AMT Backup weighs a stout 18 ounces. At 1.06 inches, the firearm is also thick for its size (and not the good thicc). For reference, the SIG P365 holds twice as much ammo in a more capable caliber, and it’s 1.0 inch thick.

AMT Backup 380
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The Backup has a short 2.5-inch barrel, an overall length of 5 inches, and a height of 4.1 inches. When compared to the Ruger LCP, they are quite close in size. The LCP is half the weight and about a quarter-inch thinner. Without a doubt, this was an ultra-small .380 ACP for the period and impressive that they found a way to make it work. Mostly.

Mostly Works?

Mostly works is about the best way I can describe this gun. It will not feed hollow point ammunition very well and chokes on stock standard 95 Grain FMJs. Oddly enough, if I fire it with a single hand, the gun works flawlessly. If I take a two-handed shooting grip, the gun chokes and fails to feed.

I tried adjusting my support hand to ensure I wasn’t touching the slide in any way, and it still caused the gun to choke. The one-handed firing is 100% reliable.

AMT Backup 380
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

The gun has teeny tiny sights that sit flush with the slide. The slide has a trench running down the center of it, and inside the trench are the rear and front sights.

This trench and sight design is well done, and I like the idea when it comes to reducing snag. The sights aren’t great, but if you take your time, the gun can be quite accurate. I managed a respectable headshot group at 15 yards.

AMT Backup 380
(Travis Pike for TTAG)

Watch the brass ejection, though. It shoots mostly up and to the right, but occasionally they launch straight backward. One got caught in my flannel shirt and gave me a brass burn on the neck. Fun times to be sure.

While the recoil is quite snappy and palm slapping, the little Backup stays on target. The trigger is light with this single-action design, but very spongy.

The reset is also impossible to feel or hear. Several times I thought I had let it out far enough and found I most certainly had not. I just got in the habit of moving my trigger finger all the way out to the trigger guard.

AMT Backup 380
Travis Pike for TTAG

The AMT Backup isn’t a gun I’d carry concealed by any means or would even shoot in a high volume. I’m betting parts are tough to find these days if it needs repairs.

I keep this hefty paperweight around out of an appreciation for the forward thinking that went into it. Even if that forward thinking resulted in a less than stellar gun.

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  1. I have three, two different versions. Cleaned and lubed they work flawlessly. I can get one more round in the mags but the slide won’t strip them. Lots of original handgrip and mags still around.

    • While I’m not a fan of .380 ACP, I do like the clean and simplistic style of this gun.

      Ironically, I finally disposed of the last 150 rds of my leftover .380 ammo. Nobody wanted them, as nobody in my circle has .380 guns anymore. Tried giving it away for free to anyone who cared to take it, but everyone turned it down. Seemed a downright shame to toss good ammo, but if there’s no gun to shoot it, then it’s worthless. So yesterday it went into the Live Ammo can for proper disposal.

      Oh well.

      • How much space can you save by discarding 3 boxes of pistol ammo? I have thousands of rounds in calibers I don’t shoot at this time. At least one .50 cal ammo box full of 38spl, 357mag, .380, .45acp each. I made (cast, powder coated and loaded) at least three ammo boxes of 9mm before I built my first 9mm AR pistol.
        Lead is cheap, range pick up cases are free, reloading is fun. Properly stored ammo keeps long time and may come handy down the road.

  2. I had one back in college. Total POS. Jamomatic Worst gun I ever bought. Terrible. Horrible. Hated it. Miserable. Crap. Garbage.

    • I carried one for years. The moron at Birmingham Pistol Parlor in Tarrant City Alabama, sold me Silvertips, which would not feed in the gun at all, but Remington Jacketed Hollow points fed fine.

      I even shot Massad Ayoob’s LFI1 class with it, putting 600 rounds through the gun, and qualified with the second highest score in the class.

  3. They weren’t a “thing” because they didn’t work well.

    People like the idea of a small pocketable gun.

    When they came out I bought one along with friend of mine. We sold them as soon as possible.

    We figured a 25 that worked was better than a 380 that didn’t.

  4. A LGS near me had a .45 version with several extra mags. I toyed with picking it up, but after reading about their reliability problems, I passed.

    I know not every gun has to be a carry gun, and maybe I’m just too OCD for my own good here, but I just have a hard time buying any handgun that doesn’t go bang reliably. Even if I don’t intend to use it as a self-defense firearm, I want it to be able to fill that role if I needed it to do so.

    • I’m with you. If the thing doesn’t function it doesn’t really matter how pretty or cool it is. In the same vein, I’m finding myself only drawn to guns that are carryable (if that’s a word). For example, I can appreciate a berreta 92, but I don’t think I’ll ever buy one because I only carry really small guns.

    • Well my .45 AMT backup is one of the few pistols I own that has never, not once, failed to go bang and cycle. So theres that.

      • As long as I fed it ball, or Remington Jacketed Hollowpoints, it never jammed on me either.

    • Yeah. Unfortunately. Back in the day, I owned several AMT’s. The hard baller, the .22 mag,
      And the above pistol.
      Fortunately for me, I bought them from a friend who owned a small LGS. He allowed full trade in value so I didn’t lose any money.
      Sharp edges, heavy, and that gritty stainless on stainless galling feeling if you didn’t dunk it in a bucket of 30 weight before shooting it.

      • I got to run a box of 50 through the .45 Hardballer long-slide in the mid-80s.

        For me, it functioned flawlessly. But yeah, sharp edges were *everywhere* on that puppy, and noticeable ‘grit’ in the slide action.

        With a bit of refinement, I would have been happy to carry that on a salt-water center console fishing boat…

    • I had an AMT “Government Model”, which was the Hardballer with better sights and trigger. Never gave me the slightest problem, put thousands of rounds through it. Accurate and reliable. Maybe I got a (the?) good one, but I can’t relate when I hear that “everybody” knows AMTs are garbage.

  5. I have the newer, and much better double action only DAO .380, and the matching .45 from the late 80s. Its about the smallest .45 there is.
    No safety, just very heavy no-nonsense triggers. It appears they will take standard 1911 mags if you cut a new notch for the release that lives on the bottom of the grip–I need to try and verify. With a rubber sleeve to cover the extra mag length it may be a better range toy. They never fail to fire or cycle any kind of ammo like this article highlights. Under rated pistols, but yes recoil is a problem.

    • “Are we lowering our standards of “desire” ??”


      It’s like this, owning that gun is a bit like riding a moped. You don’t want anyone to see you do it, but they are fun to ride.

      ‘Spinal Tap’ said it best :

  6. I had an acquaintance who said he has had one. And said it jammed a lot. Last I saw was he was carrying a 638 in his pocket(he owns an antique shop off 111th street in Chicago). That hood has gone to hell…

  7. Good write up, thank you for the education. I didn’t know about these. I wasn’t always but I am becoming a 380 fan, so this is a cool idea to me. It really is a beautiful gun, I wish it worked. I even like the grip safety! Isn’t there a boutique gun company that makes a similar looking gun in 25 acp? I remember seeing one in an edc pocket dump on this site.

  8. Very nice article. You hit on what was always the knock on the AMT Backup… reliability. I’ve seen one or two of the early models that could be expected to run pretty reliably. Most did not. I can recall lots of guys saying “look at this cool new backup gun I just got” and then throwing it in a drawer or selling it after they tried to qualify with it. Most of them went back to the J frames they’d been using before the Backup arrived on the scene.

    • The later DAOs were much better in reliability. The only time mine ever failed to cycle was if it slipped in my hand.

      For a first shot, mine *always* went ‘bang’…

  9. These pistols are nothing new to many of us that have been around a while. A friend of mine had the single action like this and I still have a DAO version. Both always ran well as do my two AMT 1911’s, a 5″ and a 7″ Longslide. The metal galling could be a problem but if kept lubed it should be a non-issue. Mine do not exhibit the signs of this issue. The Back Up 380 DAO has a heavy trigger and is a heavy pistol especially compared to all the tupperware out now. I’ll admit though that I’d pick the Colt Mustang over the AMT every day of the week.

    • Oooo a double action only version would be very atractive to me. How is the trigger on the DAO? Is the hammer exposed or internal?

      • The hammer is exposed but is not “cockable” with your thumb. It does not protrude outside the slide when at rest. Trigger is long and on the heavy side which it should be.

        • Interesting note that there was a true pocket holster that you could fire the pistol from and it would cycle the slide if broken in well. I still have one of these in original packaging. If I remember right the gubment stuck their nose in this and it was altered to not cover the slide completely.

        • That ‘wallet’ is legal as an NFA device, if memory serves. AOW, a 5-dollar stamp, isn’t it?

          If you have one, and NFA is legal where you are, spend the 5 bucks and file the paperwork…

        • The thing is in mint original condition. It’s relegated to the collectors stuff along with the pistol. No reason now to carry either with all the modern alternatives and certainly no reason to pay the gubment for permission to carry it. But thank for the info.

  10. I remember seeing an AMT 9mm that was a blow back. It had an annular ring cut in the chamber to slow down or momentarily lock the the rearward movement of the slide. I have always wondered if this gun worked and was reliable.

    A friend of mine had an AMT hardballer and it was a jam-a-matic

  11. Passed up one of these in the early 90’s for a Colt Mustang. Loved that gun, but always wished I could have gotten both.

    • When they’re all about the same size, I’d say a locked breech Mustang or P238 beats a blowback action every time.

      AMT had the Backup years before Colt had the Mustang. If the Mustang had come first we’d never have heard of the Backup.

  12. I had the later DAO version, long heavy trigger, and it was dead-nuts reliable.

    Slide-bite was a serious issue, when practicing you had to PAY ATTENTION before firing, or it would likely cut the web of your hand. I was seriously considering having a ‘beaver tail’ welded to the frame before life happened and I needed to sell it.

    There was no problem at all with sticking it in the back pocket of your jeans and just forgetting it was there. It was near-impossible to damage it by sitting down on it, no matter if it was hard concrete you sat on.

    I do believe I will hit up Gun Broker and see if I can find a replacement…

  13. wanted one. couldn’t swing it back then. ditto for a mustang. davis was 85, sold it soon for fifty. years later went looking for a 238, was told hang on, it’s comin’ out in 9mm.
    and here i am. the 938 carries a bit easier than the hipower. cz compact is in between.
    geoffpr, how are you geting along w/ your 2075?

    • I still need to hit the range with it, thanks for nudging me in that direction.

      I cured the slippery-slide issue with a strip of skateboard tape, so I’m able to cycle it and check for a clear chamber.

      Seriously, thanks for the boot in the behind. I’m planning on doing up a review on it to submit for Mr. Z, now that I have a decent camera for photos…

  14. I have found mine very reliable with care, frequent cleaning, proper lubrication, and good ball ammo. Hornady defense with the polymer ball feeds reliably too. That being said, I don’t carry mine and I won’t sell it because I am concerned that someone might bet their life on it without the aforementioned care.

    I wonder if anybody else has guns they won’t sell because of reliability issues.

    • “I wonder if anybody else has guns they won’t sell because of reliability issues.”

      I think there are quite a few of those out there. Like 10s of millions of them.

      I know I wouldn’t want to sell a gun that I knew was unreliable to someone I know, unless I make it it very clear it isn’t reliable, and that kills the value of it.

      So they toss it in back of the safe…

  15. You missed the 1989 change to Irwindale Arms Incorporated (IAI). I have this version. Owners/Users should keep them well lubricated (its a stainless on stainless issue). Light grease the rails! You also need to ensure the Grip screws STAY TIGHT as they retain the trigger bar and trigger. They will fall out of the gun. It is for that reason you will find examples for sale that are missing those parts. I’ve found the firing pin cracked and replaced it as the only mechanical failure. Bought used I don’t have a total round count but I’ve put over 1K down the pipe and don’t feel the recoil as sharp or snappy. More than a 22LR and less than a 22Mag pistols. As it’s a spitting distance gun and extremely small, I’ve never tried two handed firing and can’t address authors operational failures there.
    From many other reviews over the decade: reliability is all over the place. Three Mfrs and tweeking the production line led to ups and downs. I can only address my experience and the only time I had issues was early on before I figured out it REQUIRED more than cursory lube. This is deadly important if you have it in a defensive role. Again: grease the slide/frame rails and disassemble it to do it right. Disassembly is a pain but its your neck on the line.
    After two decades of service, I finally retired mine to the Safe as a “Keeper”. I replaced it with the much larger larger G42. I could put the muzzle in the coin pocket (blue jeans) and grip under my belt!

  16. These little guns have very little slide over travel, and thus are very sensitive to cleaning, lubrication, and ammunition performance. Slide over travel provides both a margin in gun dynamics (reducing ammunition sensitivity) and provides time for the magazine to elevate the next cartridge fully into position.

    Your failure to feed with a two handed grip suggests that your magazine is fouled or has a weak spring. It is not fully presenting the fresh cartridge with sufficient rapidity, unless the gun dynamics are slowed down with a loose grip.

    The biggest problem with these handguns is their difficulty of disassembly. They are all 40 years old now. No one ever cleans and lubes them. So they are all dirty and dry. This, and their sensitivity to ammunition, explains the variety of experiences shooters have with them.

  17. My experience was with the OMC, easily the most painful gun I have ever shot. Unreal…Two mags worth and see ya later.

  18. I have my Dads AMT .380. Put hundreds of rounds through in The 80’s when ammo was garbage. Worked most of the time. Recently, my father in law fabricated a new firing pin. 100 rounds later, feeds modern fmj fine. Don’t remember it being so painful 4808

  19. A relation of mine had one for a while in .380. I recall shooting a magazine or two out of it. Last I heard a weld broke, maybe at the barrel? Not sure, lot of years ago. He fixed it or AMT did or hey swapped it but in the end my relative sold it.

    Some parts are still available:

    I owned another early one, the Accutek 380. Awful trigger, felt like sand and rusty springs and possibly some twigs from a bird’s next in there. Maybe I should have tried improving the trigger, and made a pocket holster out of leather with a riser to hang off the belt into the pocket. I thought about doing that stuff.

    But I sold it and the money went to an other gun.

    You know what, even so, I wish I still owned every gun I ever bought.

    Oh well. Gun money has to come from someplace.

  20. I had one many years ago, I tried everything to get the gun to work. I cleaned and lubed it, tried different magazines, replaced the recoil spring….it was a great paper weight…traded it back to the shop I bought it from and they made well on it as they tried and couldn’t get it to work reliably either….

  21. To me, the .380 acp is the Goldilocks caliber not too big not too small, just right. But, what it comes out of is the key. I’m partial to Berettas especially the Italian Army officer’s varieties. I’ll keep checking gun shows till I find the right one.

  22. If you actually want to look at a practical carry gun from that era that is also “machinist’s art”. Check out the Seecamp .32.

    I owned and carried one from 1990 until 2008, when I got a LCP.

    The Seecamp was perfectly reliable as long as you used the recommended ammunition. And its super smooth DAO trigger was also ahead of its time.

  23. Off the Back Up subject but since we’re talking about AMT and offshoots in general, here’s one for ya.
    I have a 5″ Government model that is by Galena Ind. It’s clearly an AMT, even has the AMT logo in the grip minus any AMT wording/characters. I’m not sure but I think this company may have been the last ones to have a go at the AMT/IAI 1911 pistols. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen and I have no idea if they made anything besides the 1911. Anyone with knowledge of this please share.

    • Yes, Galina then Savage bought it all. Galina assembled what guns they could from existing parts, no info if they actually made some parts to complete some. Savage sold the parts in bulk (Numrich) and repurposed the machinery.

      Here’s the disparity: we read current production handguns have hiccups were some are recalled, others are “free Mfr upgrade (Lol)”, while others are “fixed” by owners by polishing feed ramps and triggers, replacing recoil springs, barrels, bushings, mags and all manner of work and ammo experimenting. A lot of the bigger name Mfrs have had problems. I, like most folks believe guns should be 100% reliable from the box but that’s simply not the reality in the 380 Backups day nor now.

      • Thanks for the input. So in fact (it looks like) Galena was the last to sell complete AMT pistols. I got this thing off Gunbroker many years ago, original box/papers etc. Shoots very well but, as with the AMT (IAI) Longslide and 380 backup it’s relegated to the safe as a collection piece. It’s ok though because I have several 1911 pistols to take out and have fun with.

  24. With good ammo and proper care the backup is reliable in the extreme…problem is that with garbage ammo like WCC White Box that has lower quality control it will not have enough power to fully cycle the slide.. Teflon lube completely negates the stainless on stainless issues…Any of you wanting to get rid of your Jam o matic,, I will take it free of charge….

  25. I have a 380 DAO and if it is cleaned and lubed works great.
    I like the weight , helps with the recoil not like the plastic ones today
    The gun will not fire with a round in the chamber if accidentally dropped
    Happened twice then I got a new holster hat won’t let it slip out.

  26. Jim, i have to disagree, vehemently. The DAO AMT Backup most certainly WILL fire if dropped on its muzzle onto a hard surface from a height of three feet, i know this because i saw it happen to my gun, which i assume means that it COULD very likely happen to any gun of this model type. Unless the DAO .380 Backup was modified in production in some manner, which i am not aware of, or there is some ‘defect’ in my copy, which seems not to be the case as far as i can determine, then carrying one with a round ‘in the pipe’ is unwise, and i no longer do that.

    If you know something about this that i dont, which makes you essentially state that the gun IS ‘drop safe’, then please inform me here.

    Meanwhile, while i like the pistol, i say it is NOT safe and I caution my fellow owners to exercise caution in deciding whether to carry the gun with a loaded chamber.

      • Yes, of course George, you are quite correct. My point is that since people are fallible, then this gun like any other is ‘fall-able’, i.e., it WILL get dropped by someone, somewhere, sometime. And since I myself had that event occur, I have some limited data on the potential result, and that is: THE GUN CAN AND DID FIRE A ROUND.
        Period, that’s all I am saying. If it it happened with my AMT .380 DAO, (admittedly a sample of only one unit), then I think we can agree that such a discharge is at least possible, if the gun lands muzzle down. Barrel pointed up? Whi knows, maybe not. But I sure wouldn’t want to be looking down at it if it did land muzzle up!
        Whatever the reason the pistol discharged, whether due to design limit or defect, I think one should consider the potential risk of an accidental discharge on a dropped DAO AMT .380 very carefully before they choose their loading status and mode of carry.

        Best regards,

        Painless in Stainless (so far)

  27. Mostly works. Lol. I loved my amt/omc/tdk backup.
    Never ever could be guaranteed to work.
    When it worked it was fast , reasonably accurate and felt good in the hand.
    3 trips to factory, 2 trips local gunsmith all failed to get reliable function.

    • Well, Doug, if you were stuck in the bottom of someone’s deep dark pocket wouldn’t you want to get out and travel and meet people in your area of interest like, oh, i don’t know, say….Gunsmiths, for instance ?

      My AMT .380 DAO must be introverted, it never seemed to want to go get massaged. 🤷🏿‍♂️

  28. The AMT Backup 380 it would seem, has earned a bad rep. over the years but having bought one some 25 yrs ago I have to say I haven’t had that many problems with it. I’m curious, is it possible that they corrected some of the earlier problems with a later model. I ask because mine is a AMT Backup II, what do you think, is this a revised model?

  29. I’ve had my beautiful AMT 380 DOA since the early 90s (bought used) and to this day it’s my everyday, carry everywhere pistol. Smooth to the touch, lovingly worn in, always reliable and accurate as hell.

    Over the years, I’ve tried many times to replace her with other newer, “better” guns. But no other gun measures up to the sweet thing that we’ve shared for the past 30 years. And we keep coming back together…

    Sure, I’ve replace the firing pin and some other parts over time, but she’s definitely a keeper and I will keep her forever.

    I especially like how the coin pocket in my Levi jeans makes the most perfect holster for every day carry. 🙂

  30. I have owned AMT Back UP .380 (9mm kurz)(short).I have not had any reliability problems with them.AMT was one of the first companies to make stainless steel guns & they were not aware that the slide & frame should not be made from the same grade of stainless steel.All the reliability problems came from “galling” when the slide rubbed against the frame.All AMT guns need lots of lube & work well fired “wet”. If the lube drys up the guns will “gall” & jam.And yes,mine will feed hollow points.With the thumb safety & gripe safety the single action Back Up is a better carry gun than the DAO model.

  31. I have one of these and it functions well except for one gripe – The trigger can still be pulled if the manual safety is not all the way in the upper position. Move the safety about halfway down and you can pull the trigger. I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous since it’s very stiff to move and probably can’t be disengaged easily, in addition to the grip safety. Just something to note.

  32. Hey Backup people —

    For those continuing to post here:
    Unless its obvious in contextual terms, maybe say whether you are talking the DAO model or the SA model, caliber too if not .380/9mm Kurz, and maybe also who/where it was made (as the company has changed hands and manufacturing facilities too) to keep the relevancy to other folks’ pistols clearer.


    Just a thought.

  33. Well, a quick surf shows the original SA .380 Backup selling for $300-$450 asking price, so they’re not dogs yet.

    I have an El Monte manufactured example bought in 1982. Worked fine with hardball for a few hundred rounds with only a few FTF, FTC & stovepipes. Switched to a few boxes of expensive hollowpoint death ammo for more killing power and and reliability suffered maybe 20% FTF/chambering problems. Bought 200 rounds of reload hollow points at a gun show and they had a 50% FTF/FTC/FTE rate, took the pistol & ammo to a gunsmith for an over the counter exam who said although it was very dry there was no obvious galling, spring, firing pin problems & most likely the dunce reloader used rifle primers instead of pistol primers and way underloaded it, dump that ammo.

    I’ve always cleaned the bore after a range session but did a full teardown and a light oil lube (ten years after purchase) but I’ve heard the slide lugs need premium grease. I hate running pocket pistols wet because of the gumming up problems when over greasing due cleanup/maintenance required as the years pass when not used.

    So it’s nearby me with hardball in my home, I assume I will work 95% of the time if you surprise me and a quick slide rack for round two solves the problem. The pocket gun aspect is not an option in my State.

    The .380 AMT Backup is a cheap auto pistol but worth it it in closeup encounters when it hits the fan. Lousy sights, limp wrist failures, finicky concerning ammunition, not very reliable, still worth it compared to your fists.

    • Yep, quite right Mark. Worst case scenario, maybe, you can whack some ne’er-do-well with a well-swung chunk of Stainless Steel. 🙂

  34. For those of you who might want one I have a 9mm DAO never shot. Bought it new some 25 years ago. Way cute. Been in the safe all these years. Got my daily carry so this little guy might need a new home.

  35. I inherited one from my Dad but have not shot it yet. After reading some of the comments I may not even bother. Does the serial number CO4826 mean it’s older or newer? Anybody know?

  36. I still have a Ser# A45- Covina, CA. made Backup with three magazines that is very reliable. The trick was to keep it clean and well lubed with dry slide molly lubricant to stop any galling from happening. Additionally, I used Israeli made Samson ammo which was hot enough to reliably cycle the stiff action in my test firings.

    In the late seventies, some cops had bought them for off duty and backup use because there were very limited choices at the time and many carried .25 or .32 cal mouse guns and or Colt Mustang’s, Detective Specials or S&W Chief’s Special’s which cost more and many civil servants and citizens didn’t make much money back then. And they were priced right!

    Also due to their reduced size, they could be easily carried in the front pocket of your jeans without the snub revolvers cylinder bulge which was a plus. And as most wallet holsters had not yet been arbitrarily ruled on by the ATF as NFA items back then, they were carried often but rarely shot.

    Ball ammo was pretty much the standard fair for use in small auto’s as many blow back action weapons were designed for the ammo of the times. Would some of today’s HP’s feed? Maybe, but you could also have reduced penetration which could be the trade off here.

    With it’s all stainless construction and built in gutter sight’s, it’s a belly gun and not a target pistol. After all it’s called a backup for a reason and it could never be confused with a duty weapon, but it did help pave the way for today’s, micro sized CCW firearms. And if you have one that works well, then be sure to take it for a walk and even shoot it once in while too. We do.

  37. I have one of the later 380 models,it is a dao. I bought a new at a gun show back in the ’80s cuz just thought it looked neat being so small. I consider myself VERY lucky as I have one of the models that actually works and I love it to death I still carry it in my pocket daily. I have put lots around through it with nary an issue.

  38. I’ve had one these pistols since my 21st bday in 1981. it definitely will not feed HP rounds but feeds ball and truncated cone rounds well as long as you don’t limp wrist it. limp writing will cause stovepiping regularly.

  39. Guess i got lucky, my .380 DAO, purchssed around ’88-’90, digests the Hornady Critical Defense FTX stuff flawlessly. Maybe its the very conical shape of the Flex Tipped hollow points or maybe my gun just likes pink ammo (?) LOL. Anyway it works. As to expansion? Cant say, havent tested that nor have i chrono data for the Hirnady out of that itty-bitty barrel but i reckon it doesnt have the velocity to do more than puncture a .380 hole to a reasonably effective depth, FWIW.
    Pistol also feeds the old aluminum cased Blazer okay, but not the vaunted SIG V-Crown that gers pretty good reviews overall i think — why that and not this and vice versa ad infinitum… who knows?…go figure!
    With the trigger from hell and considerable weight of stainless its a mixed bag. Not as snappy as the very light little Rugers apparently, and no sights bit fantastic accuracy…at 6 feet… is what it is….or was.
    oh, and btw fyi, as i previously posted: NOT DROP SAFE! And i still have the spall marks on my ankle to prove it, but luckily my life too.

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