The Myth that .380acp is ineffective for personal defense.

This is a discussion on The Myth that .380acp is ineffective for personal defense. within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by BugDude Effectiveness is defined by its ability to end the threat. A vast majority of SD situations in which a gun is ...

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Thread: The Myth that .380acp is ineffective for personal defense.

  1. #16
    Member Array ladman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugDude View Post
    Effectiveness is defined by its ability to end the threat. A vast majority of SD situations in which a gun is utilized a shot isn't fired. I doubt that a BG is going to check caliber before he decides to advance or not. BGs are typically opportunistic and choose what they believe to be easy targets. When armed resistance is presented, they are less likely to continue viewing the target as easy. There are plenty of examples where actual SD shootings with a .380 have been successful in stopping a threat (up to and including lethal). There are also plenty of examples where larger caliber shootings have not resulted in immediate stops. Plenty of BGs end up found in ERs hours later with multiple shots of 9mm just to walk out a little bit later (hopefully escorted by guys in uniforms and wearing stainless steel jewelry).

    A .380 that a person can load, rack, and shoot comfortably and can become proficient with is a much better choice in my opinion than a .40 caliber that the person can't handle. TRUE Effectiveness is more determined by the shooter than it is the weapon.
    ^
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    What he said.
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  3. #17
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    Just remember guys the bad guys do not read the statistics that say they must stop when shot by a .40 plus caliber bullet or keep coming when shot by a .22 in my years I have seen both.

    A handgun generally speaking is rather anemic when it comes to a determined attacker. Placement is always the key, yes bigger calibers will sometimes be more forgiving, but placement of the round is what makes the difference. The .380 in the hands of someone who knows how to use it can be very effective as can a .22 for that matter.
    A firearm in simplest terms is the ultimate pain compliance device. You employ it to make someone stop what they are doing. Depending on the determination of the attacker the sight of a handgun may be enough, maybe it takes one hit to a non vital area to cause him enough pain to stop or ultimately one or more shots to the vital organs to physically make him stop his actions. In the end it is your ability to place the shot where it will do the most good not the caliber that will make the difference.
    Just an opinion
    "A first rate man with a third rate gun is far better than the other way around". The gun is a tool, you are the craftsman that makes it work. There are those who say "if I had to do it, I could" yet they never go out and train to do it. Don't let stupid be your mindset. Harryball 2013

  4. #18
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    I would not like to be shot with a .22 short or any other caliber, but IMO the .380 is barely acceptable as SD ammo. If it can kill? Of course it can, but I do not consider it has enough stopping power, and IMO stopping power is the answer key.
    "The Second Amendment: America's Original Homeland Security"

  5. #19
    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDBraddy View Post
    I've heard this myth repeated for years, by supposedly knowlegable people. I heard it again today at a gunshow, a woman was looking to buy a consealed carry weapon, and the salesman was telling her not to even look at the .380acp's because they where ineffective for defence, and she'd probably be safer using a BB-gun or pepper spray! I couldn't hold my tongue any more, and disagreed. The guy literally told me to shut-up, because I didn't know what I was talking about, he teaches gun safety classes, and he's an expert! I did my best not to laugh in his face as I walked away snickering.

    Granted I'm no expert like this guy!, but..... If 25+ years of professional nursing have taught me anything, it's to respect the damage any gun can do! When I got home, I looked over some recent chrono data I did for my handloads and factory ammo, and estemated the foot pounds of energy they produce, starting with my BB-gun, and going up through my .45acp.

    My pellet rifle, will propel a .177cal 8gr pellet at 530 fps, to produce roughly 5 foot pounds of energy.

    My .22lr does 1050fps with a 40gr bullet, to produce 97 foot pounds of energy.

    My .380acp propelled a 95gr bullet, at around 900fps, to produce 171 foot pounds of energy.

    My .38 Spl. load does roughly 800fps with a 147gr Moly bullet out of my 1 7/8" barreled 340pd, to produce 209 foot pounds of energy.

    My 9mm does 1050fps with 125gr bullet, to produce roughly 306 foot pounds of energy.

    The .357 Magnum load I recently tried in my 340pd averaged 1069fps with 147gr moly bullet, to produce 373 foot pounds of energy.

    My .40 S&W does roughly 900fps with a 185gr bullet, to produce 333 foot pounds of energy.

    My .45acp target load uses a 200gr moly bullet at 830fps to produce 306 foot pounds of energy, and my full power defence load firs a 230gr JHP, at 900fps, to produce 413 foot pounds of energy.

    So, in summery, the .380acp produced roughly 34 times as much energy as my BB-gun! Almost twice as much energy as a .22lr. 82% as much energy as my .38spl, and 42% as much energy as full power .45acp! And I can attest first hand that it has more than enough power to disable, and/or kill someone, because I've personally pronounced patients dead who had been shot with one.
    If you think 42% of what is available IS adequate for your defense that's what you should carry...its your life...
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  6. #20
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    Discussing the effectiveness of any caliber for SD is like balancing a seesaw. Every bit of discussion tilts it one way or another, and no one knows where the final balance point will be.

    Is the .380 "ineffective"? No.
    Is the .380 as effective as some more potent calibers? No.

    The advantage of the .380 is its small size permits smaller guns, and its lower recoil. Now, to tilt the seesaw, the smaller gun restricts the number of rounds, and the smaller size and firearm weight negates the lower recoil, making them not-so-fun to shoot.

    The .380 is effective if rounds are on target. Tilt - the smaller .380 pistols are difficult to aim accurately.

    As for the salesman? Well, they're out to make money. He probably had a higher profit handgun in mind for her.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

  7. #21
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    Admittedly, when a fairly new shooter comes in looking for a semi-auto, I usually start looking at 9mm's with them. But sometimes, a 380 is a better choice. Heck, there are times when I have to carry my Walther P22 due to a medical condition (it's the only gun I can fully manipulate with my weak hand). While not the most effective/immediate defensive round, it's better than nothing. I don't want to be holding the target for any of them.

  8. #22
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    I am going to share a somewhat biased opinion on the matter now.

    What is meant by "effective stopping power". Well hopefully when you all took your CHL, CPL, or CCH class, whatever its called in your state you were taught that the goal during any attack in which your required to use deadly force, you want to "stop the threat".

    At times multiple carbine rifles, shotguns, let alone pistols chambered in 9mm, .40, or .45 aren't enough for police to stop the threat when they are going after some bad guys. Since we aren't police and aren't going after bad guys, we are carrying in case the bad guys come after us, what is effective takes on an entirely different meaning, or at least it should.

    When we are talking about personal protection, pepper spray, a .22, .380, or even a .500 S&W can be equally effective in stopping threats depending on what the threat is and what they are wanting from us. Am I saying that all those choices are equal, no. We all know that a .380 is not ballisticaly equal to many of the other calibers out there. That is not what I am saying.

    But if an attacker is presented with a potential victim who produces a gun and starts shooting at him, they are not going to take the time to see if they are shooting a .380, a 9mm, .40 or .45. or whatever caliber is being carried. Many times the simple fact that the victim is ready and willing to use deadly force is enough to stop the threat and allow the victim to seek safety. If the attack doesn't stop then the second most important thing to the CHL holder is shot placement. Then comes caliber, because if you can't hit what your shooting at and the attacker continues his attack, I don't care what you have you better be quicker on your feet than the bad guy is. Least important is what caliber projectile comes out of the end of the barrel and how much energy or bullet configuration.

    One of the reasons this hits home right now is that I am in the process of getting the wife to make the transition to on the body carry instead of in her purse carry like she has been. She has been carrying a 642 for some time in her carry purse against my recommendations. However recently she has tried to carry a small .380 IWB and has decided she is starting to like it. Actually she has been carrying both the .38 in her purse and the .380 IWB. But the point being that I am much happier with her carrying the .380 on her person than whatever she can fit in her purse, even when that was a G19.

    So was the guy in the gun shop wrong when he was talking to the lady. Absolutely. If he was that against .380's he should replace them for some Red Ryders. I doubt very seriously any of us would be willing to get shot by a .380, nor would the moron behind the counter at the shop. Do I choose to carry a .380, no, I still choose 9mm, and .357 mostly, but have options of .45, .38 sp and .380 if I see fit because I can shoot all of them and hit what I am aiming at with any of them. My goal for a self defense pistol is as everyones should be to "stop the threat".
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  9. #23
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    I also are no firearms expert. But for decades past the 380 and even the 32 ACP have been used by police, military and intelligence agencies seemingly effectively. Yes the energy and speed don't match 9mm 40 S&W, 45 ACP and other it seems to have been effective. Look at the cop shows on TV and how many DOA are shot with 380's. Modern ammunition has leveled the playing field on effectiveness. Shoot placement is key. And yes a 380 is an easier carry than say a 45 S&W M&P. Like any job you do you must chose the tool based on the job. Different tools for different jobs.

  10. #24
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    I recently overheard a conversation among several ER nurses at a level one trauma center in Houston, Texas, regarding people who shot themselves in the head with various ammunition, and failed to kill themselves. This was a fascinating look at handgun "power" from a medical viewpoint, as these nurses reached a consensus that .380 and smaller was not worth using to shoot one's self in the head. Some of the patients mentioned were ambulatory upon arrival. I was not part of the conversation, but the nurses felt OK continuing the conversation in my presence; ER nurses and LEOs share a certain amount of brotherhood, and can "talk shop" in each others' presence. These nurses singled out .380 as being a poor, but popular choice for suicide attempts.

    To be clear, this conversation was NOT about self-defense, but I certainly filed it in my memory. I reckon that if I ever have to use my .32 ACP Seecamp to shoot an assailant, I had better shoot for the eye sockets, and keep shooting.

    When I investigate a shooting, at the patrol level, I don't always know what cartridge was used, but I am generally unimpressed with handguns' ability to "stop" people, as folks tend to run many blocks after being shot during assaults and mutual altercations. I do know at least one .380 projectile broke at least one femur, which anchored one person.

    My wife works as a forensic death investigator, and she tends to be really impressed with the results of .357 Magnum and 357 SIG. She is comfortable using .38 Special +P in her defensive handguns, and .357 Mag in her HD lever carbine. She owns a .380 and .32 ACP, but does not keep them loaded for SD. She thinks the .40 Gold Dots I carry to be quite good; this is a popular local ammo choice, as the major area PD uses .40 duty pistols, the officers must buy their duty ammo, and Gold Dots are the leading choice. She investigates deaths in the field, not the morgue, and sees blood spatter evidence, which tells much about what happened after the person was shot, such as how far and how fast they moved after being hit.

    I will continue to carry the most power I can control, and place accurately. I can still control .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, even if I do keep the practice sessions shorter these days, due to age and ailments.

    Regarding energy figures, and using simple math to compare cartridges: the effects of kinetic energy on living tissue are not necessarily linear. Not that I place much faith in energy figures, anyway, at least at the lower end of handgun cartridge performance. Something does seem to come into play at the higher velocity side of things, such as the .357 Mag and 357 SIG when fired from service-length barrels, when those bullets start chopping some impressive wound channels, rather that simple holes that close up behind the bullet.

  11. #25
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    My .380 is better than a punch in the nose.......................IMO.

  12. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Free American View Post
    The .380 that gets carries is always better than the 9mm in the drawer.
    Truer words were never spoken!!!
    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."
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  13. #27
    Senior Member Array HK Dan's Avatar
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    I dunno...A student of mine had to shoot an attacker--big guy, 400 pounds plus. She put two in his chest at point blank range with her Jiminez .380, which jammed immediately after that. She put one through the heart and one through the lung. He didn't realize he'd bee hit until he saw the blood pumping out on his shirt, then decided that strangling her was a bad idea, screamed "I'm hit" and took two steps back. She threw the gun at him (if you've seen the manual of arms on this POS, that was a really, really good idea), hit him in the head, and ran. The gun hit in the head put him down to one knee.

    He lived. Still breathing today, albeit behind bars. Now, many of you will say that this is evidence of the .380 not working. I disagree. He's not dead, but he DID stop the attack and she DID get away. I'm in the camp that a .380 in a good, reliable gun is an effective defense package. The young lady now carries a GLOCK 19 with hollow point ammo.

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  14. #28
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    One of my carry guns is a Bersa 380 . . .

    "Evidently, the good folks at Corbon were listening and have completed work on their .380 DPX. This standard pressure load uses a solid copper alloy bullet with a large hollow cavity. It has been tweaked by Corbon to provide both expansion and still meet the FBI's 12" minimum. The term "DPX" means Deep Penetrating X-bullet; the bullet is made by Barnes of rifle X-bullet fame."

    Click here for full article
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  15. #29
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    I no longer shoot the .380, cost, but it served as the sidearm for almost all the European Police for 50 years.

  16. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by alachner View Post
    The BB .380 load is equal to a .38 standard load so carrying a .380 pistol such as the Ruger LCP, Kel-Tec P-3AT, Walther PPK or Sig Sauer P238 with this ammo, one is in good hands for self-defense. I chose the S&W 442 .38+P over a .380 pistol as my backup gun because of its better stopping power and reliability. I even find myself carrying it IWB as my main gun with 2 HKS speed loaders and I feel very secure. The main reason I feel very secure is that I have practiced a lot with my j-frame and I can shoot solid groups up to 30 yards.

    Therefore, in choosing a caliber there are more factors other than stopping power to take into consideration such as shot placement, reliability, ergonomics, recoil, grip size, concealability, accuracy and personal preferences. If someone is comfortable and accurate with a .380, then they are going to be fine in a self-defense situation.

    Ruger cautions against busing any +p ammo in the LCP.
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