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.380 - enough for SD? Or not...

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Aceman, Sep 29, 2010.

  1. Aceman


    Nov 30, 2008
    I often go back and forth on this issue. Sometimes I say "9mm 124g +p - or more" and at other times I say "At a likely SD encounter range out in public...9mm short (.380) would be just fine."

    Kind of like 12g and low recoil 12g used in doors.

    So what do you think - hit the target issues aside:

    Are you comfortable with 380 (not that you wouldn't be more comfortable with .9, 40 or 45) and if so what is your favorite brand, style, load in .380?

    I ask because I saw a sweet little Bersa Thunder...
  2. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Nope, I gave up long ago on the 380 as a viable SD caliber. With the many small 9mm available, why? The light 90gr bullets going barely 1000fps just don't offer much wounding ability. The smaller blowback 380 are also harder to shoot well & you need to shoot well w/ a 380. Sure, if you can shoot em in the brain pan, it works fine, Sure, if it's all you have, better than nothing, but there are better options. I would rather carry a 38snub or ultra compact 9mm.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010

  3. long as you're able to run away quickly
  4. NonPCnraRN


    Aug 6, 2010
    I think the 380 ACP fills a niche where other calibers are not optimal. The 380 ACP has 2 selling points, low recoil and small concealable handguns made for it. I would prefer my G27 to my Colt Mustang but sometimes especially with minimal clothing in the summer the Mustang is better than a larger gun left at home. I have a Colt 380 Gov't that my wife likes to shoot besides a 22. She will shoot the G27 but doesn't enjoy it. Nor is she as accurate with it. She is not a "gunny" person so I would rather she be proficient with the Colt 380 Gov't. I load it with Buffalo Bore 100 gr hardcast ammo. I am teaching her to put 2 in the chest and one in the head of a silhouette at across the room distances. Because she enjoys shooting that gun I figure she stands a better chance of a successful outcome if she needs to defend herself. In this particular case the 380 ACP fills a niche that would otherwise not be filled. Also somebody else must like the smallish Colts because I have been offered a lot more for them than I originally paid.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  5. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    The .380 fits a perceived need for many owners. Just look at the current wave of popularity of .380's (which just means the manufacturers are making them because they discovered they sell well ;) ).

    I tried it for a brief while when I was young cop. Just once. Then they started making increasingly smaller 9mm's.

    I don't denigrate the .380 if someone has already chosen it, bought a gun and then has brought it to the range to qualify with it. I'm not in the business of undermining someone's confidence or telling them they made a bad choice. (I'm the same way when it come to .32's, as well, but sometimes it's hard not to ask why someone has chosen a .25 or a .22LR for a defensive weapon.)

    I've seen some excellent shooters using .380's as either an alternative chose, or even their only choice, for an off-duty or CCW weapon. I'd not be inclined to tell them that they're ill equipped with their .380's. They shoot them very well.

    Granted, I've observed more feeding stoppages and assorted malfunctions with .380 (and smaller) caliber pistols than I've seen with more powerful caliber pistols and revolvers during 20 years of qualification ranges.

    But then I've also seen a couple types of diminutive 9mm pocket pistols exhibit functioning problems over the years, too, so the topic of quality can come into play regardless of caliber.

    Some folks simply don't want to own anything more powerful or larger than a .380, and as long as they can shoot their .380's safely, accurately and effectively, I'm more concerned about their skills than their choice in guns & calibers. If they can do well with what they've chosen, it's demonstrated itself reliable in their hands and it remains their choice after they've spent some time practicing and then qualifying with it, then that's the way it is and it's not my business.

    I still like a .38 J-frame, too, and it's my usual choice for a small pocket holster gun ... but other folks like .380's. ;)

    So, it comes to do asking yourself if you feel the .380 is "enough" in the way of a defensive weapon for you.

    You only have to satisfy yourself.
  6. SDGlock23

    SDGlock23 Glockoholic

    I have a Ruger LCP. I didn't buy it because of the wonders of the 380 Auto cartridge, I bought it because it's super light and super small, and when it's riding in my pocket, that's what I want. I always carry a spare mag too. I would prefer it to be a larger, more potent caliber, but there are trade offs when your main goal for certain firearms is it's small size.
  7. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    I love the size of .380's but feel much more comfortable carrying a 9. A PM9 is still pretty dang small.

    I consider .380 and .38 Special to be roughly equivalent. 38+P might have a slight edge. A 9 beats the pants off of all those. Plus most of my larger service size guns are 9s so I have commonality.
  8. J_Rico


    Aug 17, 2007
    Small .380s will fit places other guns will not. People talk about how small some 9mm firearms are these days. I have yet to find one that will fit in my pockets.

    Would I prefer a larger caliber, sure.
  9. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kahr subcompact. Very small, smaller than some 380 designs.
  10. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    This is one of the factors that likely seems to be helping to promote the sale ... (and introduction of some new models) ... of small .380's which are able to fit in many pockets (in pocket holsters) where many 9's & .40's won't fit as easily, or at all.

    For example, some of my jeans & pants pockets will allow me to pocket holster my J-frames, but not my G26/27, SW999c or CS9. In some of my jacket & coat pockets, and some pants with cargo-type pockets, however, I can easily accommodate the larger & heavier pistols. Then it becomes more a matter of weight and personal convenience involved in choosing the J-frame or the heavier pistols.

    In my case I've handled and tried some of the really small 9mm pistols when they've come through our range, and have observed a lot of folks using them during qual sessions, and I've decided that some of the smallest 9mm 'pocket pistols' won't fit my desires and anticipated needs. Pretty much the same way I feel about the smaller .380's.

    However, that doesn't mean everyone else who wants a small pocket-able .380 or 9mm might not find them to suit their desires and needs.

    Just depends.
  11. J_Rico


    Aug 17, 2007
    That does look interesting. Have not seen those before.

    Anyone have a pic next to an LCP or P3AT for comparison?

    ETA: Nevermind. Looked too fast. I have looked at the PM9. Too big for my pockets.

    If someone makes an LCP sized 9mm(that is relaible), I'll buy it.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  12. txgunguy


    Dec 14, 2007
    DFW, Texas
  13. James Dean

    James Dean

    Jan 31, 2010
    East of Eden
    I would trust my Walther PPK 380 for carry. It got Bond out of a lot of trouble. I would rather a Glock G26
  14. Free Radical

    Free Radical Miembro Antiguo CLM

    Sep 11, 2005
    Four Corners
    All carry sized handguns are weak.
    Run like hell for your car where you should have a long gun.
  15. panzer1

    panzer1 NRA MEMBER

    Jun 10, 2006
    I don't know why they don't just make them small guns in 9 mm makarov(9x18). It as a little more power then the 380.
  16. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    That is retail of course, about $650 most places. I am not a Kahr fan, terrible triggers on the ones I have shot, but if I am carrying 6+1, I'll learn the trigger before packing a 380 or just stick to the J-frame.:dunno:
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  17. Sharky7

    Sharky7 Boomshakalaka

    Feb 21, 2009
    In Europe, I hear it is common to have the 380 round for military and police as a duty weapon.

    In my opinion, the 38 special is just a SLIGHTLY more effective round than the 380 and look at how popular the 38 special is. If I had my choice, I personally would choose the 380 over the 38 special revolvers since you generally have 7 rounds with the 380 pistols and only 5 with the 38 special.

    I don't personally carry the 380 now, but I used to as a back up gun some time ago. I think it is the lowest round I would go for self defense, but if I had my choice I would rather have a 9mm. 380 serves a good purpose....Some people are just not able or willing to carry a larger gun for off duty/ccw or back up gun function. The 380 helps fill that void for people.
  18. RottnJP

    RottnJP Lifetime Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    If you want lots of .380 performance data, this isn't the ideal site. Try KTOG or mouseguns.

    I carry a P3AT only when something larger doesn't fit. That's it's role, in my book. It isn't a 9mm, but it beats a sharp stick. From 7m anyway. When things get closer, it's more of a wash, but the P3AT is still smaller than said sharp stick. :supergrin:

    The smallest 9mm I am aware of is kel-tec's PF9. I only carry it when I have the room for it, but not a G27. It's bigger than a P3AT, but not dramatically so. It is smaller than any other 9mm I've seen- PM9, walther, etc.

    HP is not ideal in .380's. Most will not meet the somewhat arbitrary 12" penetration often demanded of a SD round. A very few hot loads with good bonded bullets are reported to get to 12", especially if there is some clothing over the gelatin to plug the HP a little. Many people who carry .380's recommend ball ammo on the theory that the hole may be smaller, but at least you have a chance at vitals.
  19. dreis454


    Jul 11, 2009
    In that case...I'm glad I carry a .45!:whistling:
  20. BOGE

    BOGE Millennium Member

    Mar 21, 1999
    If I had to absolutely CCW a .380 it would be stoked with DPX. However, I would have a Bowie knife in the other hand. :whistling: :supergrin: