A question about the .380 round

A question about the .380 round

This is a discussion on A question about the .380 round within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have noticed lots of conversations about the .380, with the majority of them ending in saying that it is better than not carrying anything ...

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Thread: A question about the .380 round

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    A question about the .380 round

    I have noticed lots of conversations about the .380, with the majority of them ending in saying that it is better than not carrying anything at all. Lots of talk about penetration, or lack thereof... I never see anything said about 9mm's or .45's... or even the .38 special for that matter. And on the other end of the spectrum, I never see anything said in these regards about .25's or .32's. I am wondering, is the .380 considered the "bubble" round? We don't talk about .45's because we know they are manstoppers. And we don't talk about .25's because we know of their limitations, but the .380... it's kind of a "tweener". At least that's what I've gathered. Am I reading this correctly?

    To further my thoughts, there was a time it seemed everyone had one of those little Beretta Jetfires in .25ACP. The ones with the flip up barrels. I had a couple anyway and so did a lot of my friends. I couldn't even say if they make them anymore, but now when it comes to a true pocket pistol the talk is "generally" speaking of the .380. Is the popularity of the .380 why it garners more discussion on it's effectiveness as a SD round than the smaller calibers? I know I feel better carrying my LCP than I did that Jetfire

    Thoughts?


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    Senior Member Array deafdave3's Avatar
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    Really, its all a matter of opinion. Nobody has facts on the .380, no matter how smart they think they are. The .380 is an adequate man-stopper; it killed Adolf Hitler. From personal experience, the .32ACP is a man-stopper, also. So, its really just an opinion.
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    Member Array rglyons's Avatar
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    A .25 auto was my main weapon up until 25 years ago. I had to draw it once to stop a carjacking/robbery on me and didn't have to fire a shot to stop him and have him run off.

    Then, a .380 was my main weapon for the last 25 years and I didn't worry about it not being a "man-stopper". I've heard it said a .380 is comparable to a .38 "short" cartridge.

    I upgraded this year to 9MM and my wife to a .357 mag., but she likes and shoots .38 +P in it. A .380 is usually a much smaller weapon than larger calibers guns, therefore easier to carry, and I think that is the main appeal of them. With a .380 shot placement is much more important than with more powerful weapons. I guess what I'm trying to say is get a weapon that you LIKE and are PROFICIENT with and you will do OK.
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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    The basic reality is no defensive handgun round is going to hit like Thor's hammer. Forget the Hollywood stuff. If you were to see video (and there is plenty out there) of someone getting hit center mass with anything from a .22 to a .45 they are all going to look pretty much the same. The .380 is considered by many (at least in this country) to be the minimum caliber for self defense use. It was considered perfectly adequate in Europe and was carried by law enforcement for a good part of the twentieth century.

    As far as the .32 and .25 go, they will make a bad guy just as dead as a .50BMG. You just might have a little harder to get it to do that though. Any piece of lead entering a body at any speed is something to be avoided. But as a general rule, the bigger the piece of lead, or the faster it is moving the worse the expected medical outcome.

    I think the main issue with the smaller calibers is that with the improvements in metallurgy and designs since the 1950's manufacturers are now producing smaller weapons for bigger cartridges. If you look at the size of .32 and .380 pistols from a century ago and compare them with 9mm and .45 pistols of that time there was a fairly significant difference in size and weight. If you compare what is on the market today the difference isn't as significant. If you have two pistols of the same size, and same capacity, and you can comfortably and accurately shoot both of them, but one fires a heavier bullet at higher velocity, which do you choose to protect yourself?
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  5. #5
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Most times (from what I see), the .380 auto or (9mm kurtz= short), is thought of mainly due to the smaller size of pistols available in that caliber. I used to have a Mauser HSC pistol in 9mm kurtz (.380 auto). The ting about one's choice of caliber is pretty much a moot point (for some of us). Better than nothing really isn't the correct term either. Anything is better than nothing....even a sharp stick. There is a school, or faction that also thinks the 9mm is not worthy for a defensive round. Either way, to each his or her own. Performance can be debated through any number of supposed or real life scenarios. Ballistics tests can also be found in comparisons. In the consideration of any .380 auto pistol for self defense, I think the most important aspect would be obtaining a quality pistol. One that's well engineered. I'm not going to hammer the cheaper (pawn shop) offerings by manufacturer name specifically, but you'll get my gist. As far as the .380 auto being a "bubble round"..........I have no idea of the percentages of carriers that employ the .380 auto compared to anything else. I just see the reasons behind doing so. The .25 and .32 caliber are less thought of mainly due to the pistols manufactured for such. I'm going to come out and say that I believe better quality and engineering can be found in the 22LR pistols than those in .25 or .32 caliber. You'll also have a more difficult time finding a supply of ammo for them, and PD ammo options will be almost non-existent. If you're going to be serious about using either of those calibers for self defense, you should also practice with the chosen pistol. Some of those less frequently thought of calibers in pistols won't last mechanically over a few hundred rounds anyway. They just weren't designed nor engineered for it. Some of the offerings in .380 auto fit into that category as well in my personal opinion. There's a reason for everything. Make the most of what you have, and know your limitations. I have no reason to speak poorly about one's decision to employ a .380 auto for self defense. I just simply make my own decisions and everyone else makes theirs.

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array automatic slim's Avatar
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    I don't consider the .380 even the bare minimum. Sure it killed Adolf Hitler, but not too many assailants are going to allow you to hold your gun to their temple. You want to carry a caliber thats going to perform in all situations, such as if your attacker is wearing heavy clothing or on a drug fueled rage and not feeling a lot of pain. Circumstances are not always ideal.
    The .45 has a proven record due to it's large heavy mass. The 9mm while smaller has velocity going in it's favor, which aids expansion. The .380 has neither. It is lightweight and slow moving. It is popular in Europe because the population density makes large powerful calibers more dangerous in urban environments. (At least that's what they think.)
    The .38 Spl. is far superior to the .380 due to the near limitless configurations it comes in. Bullets weigh from 110-158 grs. and can be loaded to near magnum velocities, something the .380 could never achieve. BTW, there is a handgun round that does strike like the hammer of Thor....the .500 S&W.
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    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    "The .25 and .32 caliber are less thought of mainly due to the pistols manufactured for such."

    Thanks Ram Rod. That follows along the line of my question.
    I just couldn't understand why the .380 was always getting "picked on" (for lack of a better fitting term) when there are far weaker calibers out there, but if it's the popularity of the carry guns being manufactured for that caliber compared to other smaller calibers, plus the lack of versatility like automatic slim mentioned (over the .38 special), that helps clear it up. For me anyway.

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    IMHO, the .380 is relatively on par with regular .38 Spl. rounds.
    But, throw in .38+p and the fact that most .380 firearms carry no more rounds ,(save for most times, maybe one) than a typical revolver, and I would rather carry the .38, and eliminate the possibility of a malfunction from a .380 semi-auto.
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    VIP Member Array peckman28's Avatar
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    I have a Beretta Cheetah that comes with 13 round mags in .380 auto. It is a very high quality pistol that feels like it will last forever, but it was pricey. I keep it in a very much non quick-access gun cabinet, because I don't really expect to be going for that thing if I need to protect myself. OTOH, if this was a state that allowed me to carry, I would be walking around confidently with 14 rounds of .380 Golden Sabers and I believe they would stop a threat. Whatever you're carrying, don't miss...

  10. #10
    Ex Member Array Ram Rod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAcanis View Post
    "The .25 and .32 caliber are less thought of mainly due to the pistols manufactured for such."

    Thanks Ram Rod. That follows along the line of my question.
    I just couldn't understand why the .380 was always getting "picked on" (for lack of a better fitting term) when there are far weaker calibers out there, but if it's the popularity of the carry guns being manufactured for that caliber compared to other smaller calibers, plus the lack of versatility like automatic slim mentioned (over the .38 special), that helps clear it up. For me anyway.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array MitchellCT's Avatar
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    .380 is fine if used within it's limitations.

    It is not a bullet that is going to satisfy FBI spec, but it can be an effective tool.

    The weapons are very small, so they are good for times when you can't carry a larger gun, or want to palm something in the pocket, behind a newspaper or book in the other hand, or can carry a 2nd gun.

    While a .380 may not be a "fight stopper" like a .45ACP, it sure is a great fight starter as an "April Fool's Gun"...as in "You didn't think I had a weapon ready to go...how do you like 6 rounds of 95 grain Black Hills ball ammo in the chest as I move off line, ditch the small gun and bring out my 'real gun' to deal with your friends..."

    A .380 best lends itself to being used as if it's a push dagger rather than a gun.

    Close range.
    Surprise.
    Lots of holes as fast as you can make them.

    You don't 'gunfight' with it...you loudly knife fight with it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Array kb2wji's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAcanis View Post
    I have noticed lots of conversations about the .380, with the majority of them ending in saying that it is better than not carrying anything at all. Lots of talk about penetration, or lack thereof... I never see anything said about 9mm's or .45's... or even the .38 special for that matter. And on the other end of the spectrum, I never see anything said in these regards about .25's or .32's. I am wondering, is the .380 considered the "bubble" round? We don't talk about .45's because we know they are manstoppers. And we don't talk about .25's because we know of their limitations, but the .380... it's kind of a "tweener". At least that's what I've gathered. Am I reading this correctly?

    To further my thoughts, there was a time it seemed everyone had one of those little Beretta Jetfires in .25ACP. The ones with the flip up barrels. I had a couple anyway and so did a lot of my friends. I couldn't even say if they make them anymore, but now when it comes to a true pocket pistol the talk is "generally" speaking of the .380. Is the popularity of the .380 why it garners more discussion on it's effectiveness as a SD round than the smaller calibers? I know I feel better carrying my LCP than I did that Jetfire

    Thoughts?
    Very well put. It does seem that the .380 is the "wednesday" round. More is good, less is not mentality. My thoughts are if a .380 is noticeably smaller and more concealable, go for it. I also think that the advantage to the .380 is ONLY its size. Now that there are pistols that are more powerful, and the same size, I think the .380 is sort of old news. My PPK sits home now, ever since I picked up a Kahr PM9. If the .380 still had the size advantage, I would have no problems carrying one. The size advantage is quickly going away, so I no longer have use for it.

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    VIP Member Array tokerblue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kb2wji View Post
    My PPK sits home now, ever since I picked up a Kahr PM9. If the .380 still had the size advantage, I would have no problems carrying one. The size advantage is quickly going away, so I no longer have use for it.
    - I carry a Kahr P380 quite often as I don't find the PM9 to be a comfortable pocket gun.

    I also carry a Seecamp .32 quite often as a pocket pistol when I absolutely cannot risk someone finding out. I'd much rather carry a 9mm or even a .380 +P, but I'd rather have a pistol on me at all possible times than not have one at all.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array DIABLO9489's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deafdave3 View Post
    Really, its all a matter of opinion. Nobody has facts on the .380, no matter how smart they think they are. The .380 is an adequate man-stopper; it killed Adolf Hitler. From personal experience, the .32ACP is a man-stopper, also. So, its really just an opinion.
    Most guns could be considered a "Man-Stopper" when you put it to your temple and pull the trigger.......and didn't Hilter also simultaneously bite into a cyanide pill??

    Close range.
    Surprise.
    Lots of holes as fast as you can make them.

    You don't 'gunfight' with it...you loudly knife fight with it.
    ^^^I agree with MitchellCT on this ^^^
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Array deafdave3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIABLO9489 View Post
    Most guns could be considered a "Man-Stopper" when you put it to your temple and pull the trigger.......and didn't Hilter also simultaneously bite into a cyanide pill??
    I dunno and that's interesting. I'd like to know.
    A CCW is like a parachute; if you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again.

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