Manny say no.
This is a discussion on ammo question within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; OK, my question is simple, but my reasoning is rather long, so please bear with me. Here is my question... Is the .380 an adequate ...
OK, my question is simple, but my reasoning is rather long, so please bear with me. Here is my question...
Is the .380 an adequate self-defense round, or am I kidding myself?
Let me see if I've got this right...
It seems to me most people feel ammo from 10 or more years ago was not yet developed to the point of offering reliable expansion, particularly through barriers. One needed mass to gain adequate penetration (whatever that is), and one needed speed to help ensure expansion. To gain speed, one needed to either lighten the load (resulting in less penetration) or go to more/different powder to gain more velocity. Too little mass and the round expanded but failed to penetrate. To much velocity and the round fragmented, each piece now having insufficient mass for penetration. This was perhaps the main reason many preferred the .45acp over the 9mm...a heavier round for penetration and it was already big, allowing for less need for expansion. Those who preferred the 9mm usually preferred more rounds delivered faster.
Enter the .40s&w. More mass (155 to 180 grains) compared to the 9mm yet moving at 9mm velocities. One had mass and speed, plus as an added benefit, the round was designed from the outset to be a modern hollow point, offering good expansion.
OK. Jump forward to today. Ammo manufacturers have refined bullet design and construction to allow for reliable expansion through barriers even at lower velocities (don't need +p anymore). If the data supplied from the manufacturers is accurate (and no, I don't believe most of what I read) modern ammo from 9mm and up offers reliable expansion at moderate velocities, and all achieve about the same level of penetration.
My college physics tells me that when a round expands more, the increase in frontal surface area will act as a "break", bleeding off velocity in much the same way as an opened parachute will slow a skydiver faster than an unopened parachute. So, while expansion allows for the bullet to hit more "stuff" as it passes through the target, it still requires the inertia given it by mass to keep moving and penetrate. A heavy bullet will have a given amount of inertia, and to slow this bullet to a stop takes energy from somewhere. This somewhere is the target. A lighter bullet has less inertia, and therefore it takes less energy from the target to slow it to a stop, causing it to penetrate less.
Bullets used to need velocity to expand, now they can trade high velocity for better design, but they still need mass to penetrate.
When I rely on a .380, I have been using the Corbon DPX. The velocity is really no better than any other .380 (out of my Keltec P3AT), yet it seems to expand well even through heavy barriers. That is good, and I will credit it to new design technology. My question... how does it achieve adequate penetration? It still weighs in on the light side of things (80gr), and an 80gr bullet has never been considered adequate for penetration. How is it that now it is enough? Mass doesn't get more efficient because it is new. Mass is what it is.
Am I kidding myself that my .380 is sufficient for self-defense just because it is a new design and has good gelatin numbers, or is my concern over the .380 unjustified, based on old ideas and old technology ammo?
I am a 9mm fan and I rely upon a 9mm when I can. I know there are 9mm's that are small (PM9/MK9), but there is nothing as small as my P3AT, and yes, size does matter. So, back to my question...Is a .380 an adequate self-defense round, or am I kidding myself?
A .380 is better than a rock....but not by much!! LOL
"Do not fear those who disagree with you; fear those that do and are too cowardly to admit it" - Napoleon
No pistol round is a excellent stopper. Good penetration and expansion help greatly in performance , however. If .380 was considered adequate , law enforcement would probably carry it as a duty caliber alot more.
The biggest choice I see needing to be made , is are you willing to carry a larger, heavier gun ?
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson
Nemo Me Impune Lacesset
.380 - is an anaemic 9mm - in theory..... 9 x 17.
But ... as we say to point of boring, ''placement'' - every time. I have my wife set up with a Bersa .380 and altho I want to get her to at least a 9mm proper ....... do give her ball ammo for it, on the basis that IMO penetration is gonna matter more than possible (limited) expansion.
A couple of well placed .380's will still win possibly over a poorly placed .45 - and so it is not a round to be totally disregarded, altho all too often it is laughed out of court!
IMO too - bigger is always better, both the gun and the cal but we have to make concessions and for sure, a .380 is WAY better than no gun at all - I think all would agree that one.
Maybe .32 is what I would call very marginal but a .380 - well, it could still get the job done, and better than zilch!
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
I have no ties to MagSafe and I don't know if their claims are correct.
They claim their 380 to be more potent than a 45 and apparently they base this on some live testing on goats and calculated muzzle energy in foot pounds.
The ammo is VERY pricey, and specifically NOT for the KelTec.
If you have a 380 in a Mustang for example, you might want to consider the MagSafe ammo---Note, I'm not endorsing it, just pointing out its existence.
A .380 will get the job done. Two or three controlled, well placed .380 rounds will do a lot more damage that a .45 fired in haste that fails to hit a vital area or multiple shots of ANY caliber that miss the target completely... or more simply, IMHO a .380 round in the head or heart is better than a 9mm or .45 hit to the foot or arm if you're aiming to stop a BG.
FWIW, .380 was a very popular police caliber in Europe for many years, the same as the .38 spl was here. Russia (the old USSR) has their own version of the .380 in the 9mm x 18 Makarov. It's like a "hot" .380 and is still very popular, even here in the US.
Of course, if you want a REAL power, don't waste money on a 9 or 10mm or the .45 ACP. Get a .454 Casull or .500 S&W magnum if you're looking for a true one shot man stopper... or bears, moose, lion, etc. Better yet, carry a shotgun!
Last edited by rachilders; March 1st, 2007 at 04:55 PM. Reason: UPDATE
"... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane
Am I kidding myself? Yes.
"He blinded me with SCIENCE." - Thomas Dolby
Try blinding someone who's actually been involved in a REAL shooting, with science....
Shootings do not occur in a sterile vaccuum of accuracy and sight alignment. They occur when your body is in a state, likened to being hit by lightning.
Do not underestimate circumstance. Carry the largest caliber you can control.
"Id rather be shot in the shoulder with a .45, than shot in the nose with a .22." That's solid rationale.
Try shooting a watermelon, at 6ft, with one hand on a spark plug wire of a running car.
Last edited by Ping Ping; March 1st, 2007 at 01:45 AM.
Original question? No!
Important...well, maybe...depends what you're comfortable with...
A .380 under the chin is much better than a missed .45...
Can you carry something with a '4' starting the caliber?
Are you comfortable with what you have and are you willing to move up?...that may answer your question!
Stay armed...stay safe!
Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”
Certified Glock Armorer
NRA Life Member
It beats an empty hand, I would rather have a 22 I can hit with than a 45 I can't shoot.
Hits count no matter the caliber. If it is all you have at the time it will have to do.
As far as penatratin goes you don't require a great deal of penatration to do damage.
Cor Bon makes a 90 gr. bullet that chronies @ 1050 fps out of my Sig 232 with a 3.6" barrel. They consider it a +P load. So you really can buy faster loads for your .380. I think I would rather go with heavier bullets and sacrifice some speed for more penetration.Just my 2 cents. dgang
.380 good for self defense? Better than nothing.
Great advertising mumbo jumbo about how well a bullet traveled through a bucket of jello? your kidding yourself.
The latest greatest technoligical advance of magical expanding bullets that were not available 10 years ago that spin around, self aim, and serve you breakfast in bed? Sounds like the same stuff they have been advertising for the last 20 years. I am sure some guys here will remember some of the federal hydrashock shootings when it first came out that went horribly wrong for the good guys. The advertisement and data was really spiffy sounding, but it failed in the real world.
But physics told me.... ? Physics does not take into account all of the variables you might run into in the real world. This includes the most important factor: The human/animal instinct and will to survive and react with as much force as possible in order to kill you before they expire. What, IMHO, is most important physics wise is speed, weight, and caliber. Plain and simple put the biggest %$^#%&# hole you can in the bad guy before he has a chance to do any damage to you.
Now I am not trying to rip on you. You wrote a well thought out discussion and you have a legitimate question. I am going to say the same thing that everyone else is: Carry the biggest you can carry and handle with good skill. Something is better than nothing.
I carry a .40 s&w, and a 10mm.
I will support gun control when you can guarantee all guns are removed from this planet. That includes military and law enforcement. When you can accomplish that, then I will be the last person to lay down my gun. Then I will carry the weapon that replaces the gun.
Many people seem to consider the .40+ calibers as best - or at the least the minimum caliber one should carry - when it comes to self defense. OTOH, I talked with a retired Texas Ranger not long ago and he said of the dozens of fatal shootings he investigated over a 25+ year career, over half involved long guns (rifles and shotguns), not pistols. Of those involving handguns, he remembered that less than a handful involved large caliber pistols (calibers beginning with "4"). In fact almost all the pistol shootings were commited using four calibers; .22, .380 .38 SPL or 9mm, with the 9mm and 22 have the lions share. Strangely, two killings involved black powder guns, almost as many as involved "big" caliber pistols?? Still, ALL were fatal, including the BP.
For anyone interested, his personal carry gun is a .357, his duty gun was a .45 ACP and his BUG was (is?) a .38 derringer.
Last edited by rachilders; March 1st, 2007 at 05:24 PM.
"... Americans... we want a safe home, to keep the money we make and shoot bad guys." -- Denny Crane
yes, it will work, a 22lr will work, a .25acp will work, a 380 will work, a 39sp will work. Most peoples do not like a 22lr/.25/380 auto/38 SP for self-defense. But I do not see any one volunteering to get shot by one. A .25 ACP in hand is better than two .45’s back home or under the car seat. (but,,, now for TV it is the biggest gun that the TV star can find, not real world.)
An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject.
Red State State of Mind