Caliber Warz: 380acp vs. 38 Special

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Deputydave, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. 380acp

    24 vote(s)
    34.8%
  2. 38 Special

    45 vote(s)
    65.2%
  1. GlockFan7

    GlockFan7

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    I absolutely hate shooting snubnose revolvers. Caliber is irrelevent. I can carry a P365 or Hellcat in less space than my 442. My .380 choice is a Bodyguard. A snubbie looks like a .44 Magnum next to it. Caliber wars are a waste of time. Nobody wins, nobody changes their mind.
     
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  2. Fatboy2001

    Fatboy2001

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    S&W M&P 340 with the hottest +P I can get. The five round capacity makes me nervous but I can ALWAYS carry it.
    It is not my G48, but better something than nothing. :flag:
     
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  3. DANGW

    DANGW

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    I'd pick the .38 special. I sometimes carry a SW640. What I like about it is if I need to hand it off to someone else, they will probably be able to work it better than my Kahr P380. Tiny semi-autos don't like sloppy grip/limp wristing from my experience.
     
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  4. snowbird.40

    snowbird.40

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    Man, I just love reading some of you folks (and I'm not assuming you're all men) because I hear 'experience' from the street speaking directly to me. Thanks for sharing.

    I've been up and down the ladder with J-frames and little .380s and really paused when shadowlands said he had experience with .380s, whatever that means (but I can guess).

    At the MOMENT - which can change - I'm comparing my recently-purchased G42 with a Sig P365 that has seen a lot of range time and action pistol matches. But then you folks post a picture of an LCP or an LCPII and I get nostalgic.

    The difference for me is the learning curve on a DAO revolver compared to the semi autos I've grown to appreciate through lots of action pistol matches.

    So tell me: I've got a good supply of Federal HST 90(?) grain hollow points, which did very well in the Lucky Gunner gel tests in terms of penetration and consistent expansion. I'm looking to pocket carry a G42 with those loads and get back into BUG matches with the gun. Am I under-gunned and -bulleted?
     
  5. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

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    'Under bulleted' to be sure as far as I am concerned. I don't like HST in any caliber. (yes I'm a minority) ;) :rolleyes::p but I especially would NOT consider HST's in a mouse gun. Why put a 'rapid expanding bullet,' in an under powered gun? In the real world, and the threats are human, and not gello, this HST from a weak powered 380 especially, is NOT going to penetrate through clothes and muscle and bones, and everything else to get to vitals, especially at oblique angles or in big heavy clothed, heavily put together people.

    Between the two calibers DD ask us about, I do vote for the 38sp+P, and a deep penetrating bullet.

    Yes, at times I throw the little LCP in a pocket, 'very rarely though..' When I do, I use the hard cast bullets I load, that are pictured in my post above somewhere. They are constructed very well and will get good penetration even through bone, and have a little chance to deform as well due to the pentagon HP construction.

    To be fair to HST here, I will not use 'any JHP,' in the 380 other than a hard cast... ;)


    Good luck amigo!






    CanyonMan
    :horse:
     
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  6. Railsplitter

    Railsplitter

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    IMHO the .380 should be considered more as an aid for escape than a combat weapon.

    The 38 Special however when loaded properly can be considered as a weapon for SD.

    https://www.underwoodammo.com/colle...-jacketed-hollow-point?variant=18785726955577
     
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  7. fastbolt

    fastbolt

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    Oddly enough, that was my choice today.

    One of my M&P 340's (with & without the ILS), carried with Speer 135gr +P GDHP. I typically carry either 125gr +P GS, 130gr RA38B +P (PDX1, in a plain 50rd box) or Speer 135gr +P GDHP, depending on what boxes are closest at hand when reloading after cleaning, or filling speedloaders/strips.

    I sometimes carry one of them with 145gr STHP Magnum, or the standard pressure Hornady 110gr FTX/CD .38SPL, but most commonly I'm carrying one of those +P loads (and using the same for quals or practice drills).
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
  8. 5pins

    5pins Millennium Member

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    I haven't carried my .38 snub in years. With all the sup compact 9mm at nearly the same size and weight available, I just don't see any real advantage. If I feel like I need something smaller and lighter then my Sig 365 I carry my .380 LCP.
     
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  9. BL33D 4 M3

    BL33D 4 M3

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    The Hornady XTP 90 gr have shown to be able to achieve 12"-15" penetration in various tests with and without clothing while expanding as designed. I run the Fiocchi Extrema but there are other loadings. I seem to recall reading about a new Hydra Shok bullet also that was testing well in the 380s. I agree with the comment about it being an escape gun aka "get the f*c$ off me" gun.
     
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  10. Deputydave

    Deputydave Millennium Member

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    I voted for 380acp. While I love a good revolver, a little LCP or LCP II is just easy on the pocket. And with the extended mag on the LCP II I've got 8-rounds on tap which is pretty good for a pocket pistol.

    Fiocchi XTP as mentioned above seems to be a top performer in terms of adequate penetration with modest expansion. Can't ask more out of the caliber.

    While I think the 38 Special provides many more good options, I've chosen to go with the 380 mouse gun for my pocket needs.
     
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  11. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Enigma

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    Lets compare with bullets that penetrate at least 12'' and consistently expand.

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/
    In 380 there are few loads that can do both, but they exist:
    Hornady 90 gr. FTX Critical Defense 13.2''/.52 (166# KE)
    Sig 90 gr. V-Crown 12.8/.51 (148# KE)

    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolver-ballistics-test/
    2'' barrel
    130 HST Micro 13''/.73 (196# KE)
    130 +P Winchester PDX1 12.3''/.63 (196#KE)

    You are correct, 38 Special is "stronger" expanded to greater diameter and has more KE.
    "Stronger" in this case is still less than 200# KE. (Kinda weak, IMO)
    Still, 7 rounds of 380 > 5 rounds 38 Special, if that is the best one is able (or willing) to do.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I'm willing (and able - thank God) to do better. ;)
    40 S&W 180 HST 18.5''/.72 (372# KE)
    I could go with 357 Sig and increase the energy ("stronger") even more.
    125 HST 18''/.61 (534# KE) - Makes 38 Special "stronger" look not so strong.
     
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  12. arkdweller22

    arkdweller22 Cuhootnified Roamer

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    Neither is optimal in modern times. They each have their advantages/disadvantages.
    I prefer the 38 by a small margin for reliability/versatility and track record. Despite the usual lower capacity and larger size of the typical platforms that chamber 38 special vs 380 ACP.
     
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  13. Deputydave

    Deputydave Millennium Member

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    Agreed. Since 'energy' isn't a significant factor as a mechanism of wounding the real factors come down to penetration, expansion and capacity. As you've demonstrated, penetration with the right bullet design (in either caliber) will be sufficient. Expansion, while nice is kind of a distant second with the nod going to the 38 Special. As far as capacity, the best a 38 snubby is going to be able to do is 6-rounds with the more typical 5-rounds. A standard LCP/LCP II is going to be 7-rounds. My LCP II came with an extended 7-round mag so I've got 8-rounds of Fiocchi XTP in a platform that fits in easily in my pocket.

    So it comes down to either 5-rounds of 38 Special or 8 rounds of 380acp. I chose the 8-rounds of 380acp.
     
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  14. azbuckeye

    azbuckeye

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    .38 Special +P in S&W Model 442.
     
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  15. BL33D 4 M3

    BL33D 4 M3

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    Placement above all else. Lots of bodies behind .22LR.
     
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  16. Kentguy

    Kentguy

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    Both calibers will work fine... if you can hit your intended target. That's the 10 million dollar question!

    For me, I use both, but it depends on where I am going and what I am wearing. With a suit and business stuff, most likely my S&W 442, and for most casual - knock around town it's going to be my Bersa Thunder 380CC.


    This is off topic but if (and I don't do this if I can help it) I have to travel to a "sketchy" neighborhood or side of town... I always have my G19 w/extra mags.
     
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  17. Berto

    Berto woo woo

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    Jello is great for comparing bullets, but it doesnt include large bones that protect virtually every vital organ in humans, or shoot back.
    .38sp with proper loads performs like 9mmP and will defeat large bones and penetrate.
    .380 has come a long way with bullet technology, but still lacks the energy and bullet weight to perform reliably across the same variables. It's a pocket pistol round, the. 38sp is a service round with a solid history.
     
  18. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Enigma

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    I agree with you on the 380 rather than 38.

    About that energy though, I guess it depends on the definition of "significant".
    I shot a deer with a Delta Elite and 10mm 155 XTP handloaded to 1,400 fps.
    Deer was 18 yards away, so velocity at impact probably on par with factory ammo.
    Factory 155 XTP averaged 1,335 fps from my Glock 21SF.
    I documented 1 1/4'' holes in tissue from a bullet that expands to about .65 in gel.
    Unlike the "doctors who can't tell a difference" I have pics.
    A quarter is .95
    Delta Deer pic2.jpg
    Is that "significant"? Don't know, depends on what is considered significant.
    What I do know is, I'm pretty content carrying a Glock 20SF with 155 XTP's. :D
     
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  19. Borg Warner

    Borg Warner

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    Try some of the Underwood Plus+P 90 grain XTP's in your G42. They have enough velocity to r3eliiably both expand an penetrate.
     
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  20. snowbird.40

    snowbird.40

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    Borg - I've been reading about Buffalo Bore and Underwood +P rounds in .380 and I'd love to try them, but the expense is an issue. I know, I know: how much is my life worth?

    In my reality, I've got a good supply of the HSTs (maybe 200 rounds) and they perform reliably in my G42 and the LCPII, which I'm planning to sell. Also, in MY reality, I'm not a LEO and no longer a soldier. I'm simply a retired man who seldom wanders out after dark and NEVER goes into high-risk bars, etc.

    I'll digest what I've learned here and if I ever feel like my personal stash is healthy enough, I might try the high performance BB and Underwood loads for accuracy and reliability. I doubt if I'll perform my own gel tests or penetration tests in a ham or something (especially given the price of meat these days).
     
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