38spl +P out of a snub nose vs. 380acp out of the LCP

38spl +P out of a snub nose vs. 380acp out of the LCP

This is a discussion on 38spl +P out of a snub nose vs. 380acp out of the LCP within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; i want to get a Ruger LCR 38spl but i'm wondering if it's worth it since i already have a LCP 380acp. so my question ...

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Thread: 38spl +P out of a snub nose vs. 380acp out of the LCP

  1. #1
    Member Array TTPower's Avatar
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    38spl +P out of a snub nose vs. 380acp out of the LCP

    i want to get a Ruger LCR 38spl but i'm wondering if it's worth it since i already have a LCP 380acp. so my question is how much more powerful is the 38spl. +P out of the 2 inch (1.88 to be exact) snub nose revolver versus the 380acp out of the LCP (2.75")? i know there is formula to compute for the energy but i can't remember and i can't find it. i also watched different ammo testing of the 38spl. +P and the 380acp and it shows the 38spl penetrates 3" deeper on average.
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  2. #2
    sgb
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    357and40, oneshot and marcclarke like this.
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    No contest. The .38 Special offers a good deal more punch, even out of a snub. Don't have time to support that right now but can do so later if others don't take up this thread.
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    Senior Member Array craze's Avatar
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    I personally don't think there is a huge difference between the two at least in terms of ft/lbs of energy. The .38 does what it does with a bullet thats a good deal heavier so I do think it has an advantage over the .380 acp but it's not night and day.
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    Most people will agree the 38 is a better performer. I agree with that, many will also throw wild unsubstantiated numbers out, which I think is amusing. Most opinions, which is what you will get for answers, including my own opinion, are just that with no scientific data, which is why I suggest you go to ballistics by the inch (ballisticsbytheinch.com) and look at real world test results, (velocity) from real world weapons, including the 1.875" barrel snubs and the 2.75 LCP. If you are looking solely at energy which you seem to state in your original post, take the velocities and bullet weights from ballistics by the inch and go to Muzzle Energy Calculator and plug in the numbers. Then you have the energy graphs from muzzle out. It gets a little interesting then.

    Example
    380acp test results out of a LCP
    Speer Gold Dot 90gr-918fps = 168.4ft-lbs muzzle energy
    Corbon 80gr DPX-849fps = 144.03ft-lbs energy
    Buffalo Bore 90gr JHP+P-1054fps = 221.99ft-lbs energy

    38 special out of 1.875 inch S&W 642
    Speer Gold Dot 135gr-897fps = 160.78ft-lbs muzzle energy
    Corbon 110gr DPX-961fps = 184.54
    Buffalo Bore 110gr JHP+P-1104fps = 243.55ft-lbs muzzle energy (Buffalo Bore fps from their site [1.875" barrel] as ballistics by the inch hasn't tested Buffalo bore for 38)

    As you can see, if you look solely at energy there is not as big a difference as one might expect. Is 20-40 ft-lbs a lot? That is a subjective question. And many will lean toward the 38spl is better due to the heavier bullet loads, but looking solely at energy as the weight increase the velocity decreases, to the point of diminishing returns, and energy drops off quickly. Now, is the 38 special, especially +P, a better overall "performer" than a 380acp from an energy stand point, yes. But the fact is a 38spl was designed for 4 inch + barrels and therefore starting at 4 inch barrels on up you begin to really see the gains over the 380acp that you would expect.

    Just a note, I have an LCP, and 4 1.875 inch S&W's, and one Taurus 38spl snub. I see no difference regardless of which (LCP vs snub) I carry, it is really tomatoes-tomotoes to me. So, IMHO, unless you just want a LCR (which are great guns and that is enough reason ), I don't think you will be getting the "step up" you desire. Now, for a wheel gun, a Ruger SP101 357Mag with a 3" barrel stoked with Buffalo Bore 125gr JHP-1476fps = 435.33ft-lbs muzzle energy (513.47ft-lbs from a 4"), may be more what you are looking for as an upgrade..........
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    sgb
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    Energy has little correlation with bullet effectiveness. While shot placement is key it requires that the bullet has the ability to reliably reach the vitals under less than ideal conditions to be effective. A bullet that expends all its energy yet fails to reach the vitals is much less effective than a bullet which expends 60% of its energy while passing completely through the vitals. Expansion is bonus points as it increases the damage done to those vitals. The FBI protocol has proven to be a good indicator of those rounds most likely to be the most effective on the street in real self defense shootings. The organizations that train professional trigger pullers pay attention to these tests, so I tend to follow suit.
    oneshot likes this.
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    My wife has both, loves them both. You will be happy with which ever one you get. I would, however, recommend the LCR without the laser, the grip is much better without the laser, much less shock felt in your hand with the hogue grip.
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    There's no reason to have to rely on light bullets in the .38 Special such as would be appropriate for the .380 ACP. Buffalo Bore also publishes data for +P 158 grain bullets.

    S&W mod. 60, 2 inch- 1040 fps (379 ft. lbs.)
    S&W mod. 66, 2.5 inch- 1059 fps (393 ft. lbs.)
    Ruger SP101, 3 inch- 1143 fps (458 ft. lbs.)
    S&W Mt. Gun, 4 inch- 1162 fps (474 ft. lbs.)


    I tested this Buffalo Bore load over the chronograph and the loads checked out to perform as Buffalo Bore claims from a 2-inch barrel.

    The plain ol' Federal, Remington, and Winchester +P 158 grain loadings known as the "FBI Load" also are still capable. They beat out .380 loads if ft./lbs of energy are important and they do it with heavier bullets.
    Old School, jkurtz7 and ETXhiker like this.
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    IMO -
    38sp - more power with high pressure loads, heavier bullets, more reliable, can be fired from a pocket, simplicity can be beautiful.
    380ACP - flat profile adds some additional carry options, faster reload, slight edge on capacity, *possibly* more accurate with longer site radius.

    I have an S&W 642 and a Sig 238 and enjoy both.
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    Senior Member Array marcclarke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTPower View Post
    i know there is formula to compute for the energy but i can't remember and i can't find it.
    Wikipedia is your friend. I just typed "formula for energy" into the Wikipedia search box. You could have done that too.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kineti...kinetic_energy
    Last edited by marcclarke; May 23rd, 2012 at 10:50 PM.

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    Member Array TTPower's Avatar
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    thanks for all the help and replies guys. i do like to get the LCR but i'm afraid that it just might end up gathering dust in the safe. i want to justify to myself that it would be worth carrying the LCR over the LCP. the LCP is lighter, smaller, carries 6+1 rounds and faster to reload. the LCR is bulkier, a bit heavier, has only 5 rounds and slower to reload. the only advantage i see is it's more powerful round. what would you do if you guys are in my position?

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    Senior Member Array marcclarke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTPower View Post
    thanks for all the help and replies guys. i do like to get the LCR but i'm afraid that it just might end up gathering dust in the safe. i want to justify to myself that it would be worth carrying the LCR over the LCP. the LCP is lighter, smaller, carries 6+1 rounds and faster to reload. the LCR is bulkier, a bit heavier, has only 5 rounds and slower to reload. the only advantage i see is it's more powerful round. what would you do if you guys are in my position?
    Carry a gun with a cartridge that meets the FBI's minimum specifications for penetration and expansion. The .38 Special +P does, the .380 does not. If you want a semi-auto look at the polymer-framed single-stack 9mm pistols.
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    VIP Member Array tkruf's Avatar
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    We have both the LCP, and also several LCR's (one of every caliber they offer so far, .22, .38, .357). Love them LCR's. My favorite is the .38 version. Lighter than the .357 version. I even put wood grips on the .38 and it has become my primary carry gun preferred over my Kahr PM9, Glock 26, the LCP and others.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcclarke View Post
    Wikipedia is your friend. I just typed "formula for energy" into the Wikipedia search box. You could have done that too.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kineti...kinetic_energy
    I'm afraid I got lost reading the link.

    The formula for calculating foot-pounds of energy that I've found useful is found in a Lyman 46th edition reloading manual.

    Velocity X Velocity X Bullet Weight In Grains ÷ 450240 = Foot/lbs.
    Superhouse 15 likes this.
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    Distinguished Member Array CDW4ME's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTPower View Post
    what would you do if you guys are in my position?
    I have j-frame 5 shot revolvers and majority of the time they sit in the safe, while my LCP or P3AT gets carried in my pocket.
    With the ammo I've got, it's about 200# KE vs 160# KE; to me it's not that great a difference. However, the 38 would hit harder and likely penetrate deeper.
    I prefer the 380 because it weighs slightly less, follow up shots feel slightly quicker, and two extra rounds on board.
    No internal lock or magazine disconnect on my pistols!

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