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; I've heard this myth repeated for years, by supposedly knowledgeable people. I heard it again today at a gun show, a woman was looking to ...

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

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    Member Array JDBraddy's Avatar
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    The Myth that .380acp is ineffective for personal defense.

    I've heard this myth repeated for years, by supposedly knowledgeable people. I heard it again today at a gun show, a woman was looking to buy a concealed carry weapon, and the salesman was telling her not to even look at the .380acp's because they where ineffective for defense, 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 hand loads and factory ammo, and estimated 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 defense 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.
    Last edited by SIXTO; December 7th, 2010 at 01:28 PM.

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  3. #2
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    Array buckeye .45's Avatar
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    I generally consider the .380 the bare minimum that is acceptable for SD use. I don't want to get shot by it, or a .22, or a BB gun for that matter. Shot placement is king in SD, but you still need a powerful round to ensure the bullet gets where it needs to go.

    Plenty of people have been killed with calibers less powerful than the .380, but another important part of SD is how quickly the threat is ended, i.e. how long can he fight after being shot.
    oneshot likes this.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    While I have no desire to be shot with a .380 caliber anything, I do have to question it's effectiveness at stopping an adrenaline charged attacker before the aforementioned attacker kills me.

    Lots of ladies have said, "Bigger is better."

    Biker

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    Distinguished Member Array alachner's Avatar
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    I do think that .380ACP is enough for self-defense since nowadays hollow point bullets and +P loads make this caliber more effective. Nonetheless, I prefer to carry a .38+P as my minimum caliber.
    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That's ridiculous... If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid for?" [Clint Smith - Thunder Ranch]

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    Member Array Hubs's Avatar
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    As BuckeyeLCPL said, shot placement is king. I, however, still carry with a .45 cal pistol.
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    Distinguished Member Array LanceORYGUN's Avatar
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    Buffalo Bore ammo makes the most powerful .380 +P load on the market, using a 100 gr hardcast bullet that penetrates deep.

    Has 281 ft/lbs of energy, basically equalling the .38 Special in power.



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    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    BB is what's loaded in my PPK and IMO, if you're going to carry the .380 this is the next best thing to the .38. The flat nose of the standard pressure loads would be the next in line.
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

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    Distinguished Member Array CDW4ME's Avatar
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    Another way to look at that is the 380 is about 20% less powerful than a cartridge (38) that some people believe is minimal for SD.
    Yes, people are killed by the 380, 32, and 22, but if some 200# drug enraged guy is inside 10' about to stab me or shoot me I wouldn't count on a well placed COM shot from a 380 to prevent my injury.
    For SD the focus is more on immediacy of incapacitation than whether the round is ultimately lethal.
    I do carry a 380 as a pocket / back up gun, sometimes it's all I've got due to circumstances; however, I feel that if my above sceneario happened I would be likely injured attempting to defend myself.
    Rounds with 300# + of KE are where (my) real self defense minimums begin, and 350# is even better. A Glock 26 loaded with +P, or a 3'' 45 with 230 gr. ammo are represenative of a (my) good "minimum".
    Even a round with 300-350# of energy placed COM may fail to immediately incapicate, so less KE than that....either I've made my point or not.
    Spec likes this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDW4ME View Post
    Even a round with 300-350# of energy placed COM may fail to immediately incapicate, so less KE than that....either I've made my point or not.
    The only shot that truly gives immediate incapacitation is a T-Box CNS shot, which is essence separates the brain from the rest of the body. A COM shot is a lot less likely to provide quick incapacitation, even a heart shot can give the attacker a few more seconds to fight back. And a lung shot is something that while lethal, doesn't necessarily render a BG incapable of fighting. Just something to think about.
    limatunes and hienykins like this.
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    Senior Member Array Old Sarge's Avatar
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    Personally; I feel it's what you are comfortable carrying. Just the other evening, I was talking to an elderly gentleman, who had bought a larger pistol, but after taking it to the range, he found the slide very hard to work by hand, and after firing several rounds, took it back to the dealer and traded it for a 380. After another trip to the range, he was completely satisfied, since this slide worked so much easier. So before condemming one for buy this or that, consider we all get older, and lose strength, but still feel we need something for protection. It' much better than a slingshot, for sure.

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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Sarge View Post
    Personally; I feel it's what you are comfortable carrying. Just the other evening, I was talking to an elderly gentleman, who had bought a larger pistol, but after taking it to the range, he found the slide very hard to work by hand, and after firing several rounds, took it back to the dealer and traded it for a 380. After another trip to the range, he was completely satisfied, since this slide worked so much easier. So before condemming one for buy this or that, consider we all get older, and lose strength, but still feel we need something for protection. It' much better than a slingshot, for sure.
    As I am getting older I have been thinking that in a self defense situation I will have to rely on the firearm even more for my self defense, not less. I still have enough fight left in me to carry a 380, but as I get older my caliber gets larger.
    Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around laws. Plato

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    Distinguished Member Array alachner's Avatar
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    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.
    "If you carry a gun, people will call you paranoid. That's ridiculous... If I have a gun, what in the hell do I have to be paranoid for?" [Clint Smith - Thunder Ranch]

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    Senior Member Array Free American's Avatar
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    The .380 that gets carries is always better than the 9mm in the drawer.
    Backnblack and rachilders like this.
    They who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin


    Previously known as "cjm5874"

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    In all actuality there is no best defensive caliber handgun. There are too many variables that can change the dynamics of a situation. While a .380 or .38 may work well with certain loads in the summer months, it may be totally ineffective in the winter when heavier clothing is being worn. Someone hopped up on meth may continue coming at you, even after taking multiple COM hits from a .40 or .45. The best defensive round is the one that is never fired. Avoidance is always a better option, than hoping your choice of caliber is enough to stop the person.
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    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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