.380 vs. .38 +P

This is a discussion on .380 vs. .38 +P within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; The .38 special does indeed have the edge in ballistics, but if you will read any of the work that Marshall and Sanow, two former ...

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Thread: .380 vs. .38 +P

  1. #31
    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    The .38 special does indeed have the edge in ballistics, but if you will read any of the work that Marshall and Sanow, two former police officers, put into their books on stopping power you will find that both calibers are in a virtual tie. That being the case I went with the .380 Walther PPK/s because of the greater firepower and the ease of reloading with a magazine. I liked the way it conceals better, for me anyway, because it is flatter than a S&W 642 .38 revolver I used to own. However both are not that hard to conceal. If recoil is the problem try standard pressure loads instead of the +P's. I had originally started with a 1911 clone and found that it was too heavy to carry all the time. I say carry the one that you think will be with you all of the time. A good .38 snubnose or a .380 auto beats a 1911 .45 left at home or in the car any day of the week. Just my .02 worth. Woo that was a long winded reply.
    Last edited by crzy4guns; March 24th, 2008 at 12:39 PM.

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  3. #32
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    "The lightweight snubbies (which I'll never use) will rip your hand off when fired."

    The perception of the recoil is a bit stout but, it's honestly not nearly that bad at all.
    Liberty Over Tyranny Μολὼν λαβέ

  4. #33
    Member Array RJ Stewart's Avatar
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    We might factor in price also. I believe it's more economical to shoot .38 Special than .380.

    I've found a Taurus 651 .357 at a local shop, and it would conceal much better, being a snubnose with a shrouded hammer. I'm thinking about getting it for a pocket gun and only shooting 38 Specials in it, carrying Remington GS +P's. I would think a steel snubnose designed for the .357 would fire the .38 quite nicely, and be very controllable.

    Oh, and the "almost rip your hand off" was from personal experience, not just a statement. I owned a SW 642 for a short time, and had to sell it because it was way too painful for my arthritic hands to fire. It did indeed feel pretty bad. Maybe not "ripping my hand off" bad, but too uncomfortable to ever shoot regularly. I'll never own another scandium snubbie.
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  5. #34
    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    RJ, you weenie! My girlfriend shoots a 642 with +P's! The soft LaserGrips do help though. Arthritis is a terrible affliction for shooting!
    Treat me good, I'll treat you better. Treat me bad, I'll treat you worse.

  6. #35
    Member Array Breakdaddy's Avatar
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    I think it's pretty much been covered already but I agree that in a similar platform the .38 is a superior performer. I feel that the 9mm +P trumps either in a similar platform which is why I pocket carry a Kahr PM9.

  7. #36
    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    The Kahr PM9 does indeed trump and render both the .38 snubnose and the .380 auto obsolete. In fact I am thinking of getting one myself come to think of it.

  8. #37
    VIP Member Array Ridgeline's Avatar
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    I have a J-frame 38 and a Walther PPK 380, I will sometime carry one of these when "I'm not carrying". But with that said I would likey pick up my BHP 40 and be done with it. And all of there are much better than tossing rocks. What will see you thru is training, training and more training.
    "Eternity is Too Long to be Wrong"

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  9. #38
    Senior Member Array Vaquero 45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tns0038 View Post
    Very few 38 small frame pistols out there that are rated for +P. Even the ones that are, will give you a generous amount of recoil. Thus eliminating a rapid second shot, that I consider to be far more important then the ballistics of the round.
    Actually, the opposite is true. There are very few (if any) modern 38 snubs that are NOT +P rated. I can't even think of any. Even the less expensive Rossi is +P rated.

    +P is no big deal, anyway. The old loadings of standard factory .38 special ammo were hotter than today's so called "+P" stuff.

    A small pocket pistol or revolver is for close-up work. I'll take the reliability of a good .38 snub over any .380, any day of the week. The .38 will work from inside a pocket, it will work pressed up against the bad guy's torso, it is not subject to limp wristing, and it throws 158 grain bullet at the same velocity or greater than a .380 throws a 95 grain bullet.

    Recoil is not pleasant when target shooting with a lightweight snub, but in a self-defense situation, you will not notice the recoil nearly as much. In many police shootings, officers were surprised that their pistols only "popped" instead of the usual "bang" that they were used to at the range, to the point that those officers initially thought that they had bad, underpowered ammo!
    Slow is smooth.....smooth is fast.

  10. #39
    Member Array Dusty Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by homepcmd View Post
    Has the person ever fired a 2" revolver with +p "kick hard but also rip your hand off" recoil?

    On WHAT planet?!!!

  11. #40
    Member Array Dusty Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJ Stewart View Post
    The lightweight snubbies (which I'll never use) will rip your hand off when fired.

    HO-chee-MAMA!! I'm sure glad I shoot a .357 magnum instead!!

  12. #41
    Member Array Dusty Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Husker View Post
    I just did 200 rounds of Remington 130 gr MC and 50 rounds of Remington 125 gr semi-jacketed hp +P's this week in a S&W 642 centennial Airweight. No problems at all. My girlfriend shot both loads and was fine also.
    You mean.............golly, you didn't get your hands ripped off?!

  13. #42
    Member Array Joe70's Avatar
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    I'll have to agree with Metro 40. "Recoil is not pleasant when target shooting with a light weight snub". I carry a S&W 638. It is not fun practicing with 158 gr. cast hps plus ps. I does hurt my hand but I still practice at about 7 yds. and they all go where they are supposed to go. In serious use (why I got it) I won't realize the kick. At least, I carry it where sometimes I leave my Sig220 home because of the hassle of putting on my IWB holster and making sure I have a shirt or jacket covering. With the 638 I just put it in my pocket (w/pocket holster).
    I hunted with a Contender in .35 Rem. A blast to sight in, but can't remember the recoil while hunting.
    The only problem with my 638 (it's new) is you need a super finger to operate it.
    Joe
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  14. #43
    Member Array libertarian5's Avatar
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    I just got back from doing a little test at the range. I soaked three 2-1/2" thick phone books overnight, then taped them together today. I took my 2-1/2" Colt Python and my 2-1/2" Mustang .380 and tested them side by side. Here are the results in terms of penetration. I shot all the rounds from a distance of 6 feet.

    .38 Special 130 Gr Ball Remington UMC 4.5” 4.75”
    .38 Special +P 125 Gr JHP 5.25” 5.25”
    .380 Blazer Brass FMJ 95 Gr 4.25 4.25”
    .380 Cor Bon 90 Gr JHP 4.25” 4.5”
    .380 Gold Dot 90 Gr JHP 4.5” 4.75”
    .380 Buffalo Bore Flat Point Lead 100 Gr 6.25” 6.25”

    .357 JHP 110 Gr JHP Passed through
    .357 Buffalo Bore 180 Gr Solid Lead Passed Through

    The .38 special JHP were the only bullets that had any significant expansions. (5/32" and 6/32") The .380 Cor Bon and Gold Dots had almost no expansion and and only marginally better penetration than the Blazer Brass ball ammo. The Buffalo Bore bullets had no expansion but had the most penetration of all the .380 or .38 special rounds. IMO, none of these rounds really has an objectionable recoil.

    The .357 rounds all passed through - not enough phone books. I carry the 180 grain Buffalo Bore in my .357 when I am working in swamps in the south, but this was the first time I had shot any of it. It has a lot of recoil. Not something you want to shoot a lot of.

    I am now sold upon the Buffalo Bore .380 as my carry round. It would appear to me that it is as good as or better than the standard .38 Special or +P loadings. This test would have been better if I'd had some .38 Special +P Ball ammo, but that doesn't seem to be available around here right now. I'm betting that Buffalo Bore .38 Special +P would seriously outperform the Mustang, but I didn't have any to test.

  15. #44
    Member Array Dusty Miller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by homepcmd View Post

    Has the person ever fired a 2" revolver with +p "kick hard but also rip your hand off" recoil?

    WHAT?!!

  16. #45
    Member Array Dusty Miller's Avatar
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    From the Chuck Hawks Handgun Cartridge Power Chart-Condensed Verson. A 90 gr. Hydra-Shok launched at 1007 fps from a 3.6" barreled .380 ACP gives you 69% one shot stops. A 158 gr. LHP launched at 996 fps from a 4" 38 spec. gives you 78% one shot stops. The penetration advantage goes to the 38 spec. due to the added bullet weight but in my opinion the difference between 69% and 78% one shot stops ain't much. I want something that gives me 90% or more one shot stops. I've posted here before asking folks if they would like to wake up at 3:00 a.m. to face some drug crazed ex-con weighing in at 250# and place three perfect COM shots on the guy using a .380 ACP or if they'd rather be using a .44 mag that can easily launch a 180 gr. JHP at 1400 fps. Hey, you pays your money and you takes your choice. It ain't nuth'n but your life and the lives of your loved ones!

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