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Review: North American Arms Guardian .32 and .380

Originally crated back in 1997 and chambered for the diminutive .32 ACP, the NAA Guardian was redesigned in 2001 to fire the .380 ACP to meet the demands of customers looking for more power.  It has since proven to be very popular and is considered by many to be the most robust design in its class.

Unlike most small handguns the Guardian series has had very few issues and has proven over time to be one of the most reliable small pistols on the market. That being said, with long, heavy triggers (around 10 pounds), a short sight radius, and weighty steel construction, the Gardians definitely fall into the category of last-ditch self-defense tools. The .32 ACP version weighs about as much as a Beretta Tomcat and slightly more than a Seecamp, but with a much heavier trigger. Couple the heavy trigger with too long of a trigger pull and you have a gun that's hard to shoot well.

At almost nineteen ounces the .380 ACP version of the Guardian is still small in size but much heavier. This is a problem because the weight puts it into the same class as other pocket pistols firing larger calibers. However, if weight isn't an issue but small overall dimensions are, then the Guardian deserves a look.  Personally, I find anything over about 15 ounces simply too heavy to pocket carry.  The .380 ACP version is also a bit thicker than it needs to be  and looks a bit like small brick when you stick it in your pocket.  That being said, there is something that feels reassuring about an all steel gun, and if you're one of those people that appreciates strength in small packages, the Guardian series is about as strong as small guns can get.

Although the Guardian pistols haven't found a permanent home in my battery they are certainly finely crafted weapons and the overall engineering is quite good. They are also very reliable, more so than just about any other pocket pistol on the market.  In fact, I've never heard of anyone actually get a lemon. I were to choose between the Guardian in .32 and .380 ACP for pocket carry, I would have to pick the .32 ACP.  Its smaller and weighs less, thus meeting the definition of a pocket pistol better than its plump sibling.  At a street price of less than $400 for steel construction, it's also  fair deal.

Pros: Both are fairly small and potent, reliable, with decent triggers

Cons: Way too heavy for their size and calibers


Model: Guardian .32 / .380 ACP

Action: DAO

Sights: Fixed

Caliber: .32 / .380 ACP

Overall length: 4.4 / 4.75 inches

Height: 3.3 / 3.53 inches

Barrel length: 2.49 inches

Cylinder capacity: 6

Weight: 13.5 / 18.72 ounces