.32ACP vs .380ACP

.32ACP vs .380ACP

This is a discussion on .32ACP vs .380ACP within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I want to buy a pocket pistol but am wondering about the difference between these two rounds. Is there a significant difference in how each ...

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Thread: .32ACP vs .380ACP

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array High Altitude's Avatar
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    .32ACP vs .380ACP

    I want to buy a pocket pistol but am wondering about the difference between these two rounds.

    Is there a significant difference in how each of these perform?

    Any good ballistic information out there for them?

    Opinions most welcome.

  2. #2
    Lead Moderator
    Array pgrass101's Avatar
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    You can start here The Box O' Truth #26 - Little Guns vs. The Box O' Truth - Page 1

    .32ACP has a smaller mass at almost the same velocity as the .380

    Kentic energy =mass x velocity squared
    A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.

  3. #3
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    Array RETSUPT99's Avatar
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    Of your two choices, I would certainly go with the .380, but I would still go to a higher caliber. OMO

    Stay armed...any caliber for SD should start with a 4 and end with a 5...stay safe!
    Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

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  5. #4
    Array SIXTO's Avatar
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    Between those two, I'd take the .32 based on platforms (pocket sized) available and ballistics.
    "Just blame Sixto"

    I reserve the right to make fun, point and laugh etc.

  6. #5
    Member Array mikeMAGNUM's Avatar
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    Hello All,

    High Altitude, IMHO there is NO substitute for CID. However, any

    caliber out of a reliable platform is waaay better than counting

    on a POS pistol in a larger caliber. With that being said I feel it would

    be in your best interest to choose the most reliable pistol that

    you can afford then choose the size of the pill.

    Keep in mind that one of the most important things when using a

    small caliber handgun is shot placement. I can also tell you

    from personal experience that a .380 does have the ability to stop a

    threat with one shot.

    Safety First....Keep your groups tight,


  7. #6
    VIP Member Array David in FL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    Between those two, I'd take the .32 based on platforms (pocket sized) available and ballistics.
    Buy a Seecamp and you can have the .380 in the exact same footprint as the .32. Problem solved.

    I carry a .32, but have a .380 on the way. Bigger hole, higher velocity, and heavier bullet. As long as the shooter can handle the increased recoil, the .380 wins all around.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

    Theodore Roosevelt

  8. #7
    New Member Array chirogreg's Avatar
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    A few years ago we had a LEO friend of mine in a bar shoot out off duty. He was carrying a .25 auto. The suspect had a .40 or .45. Suspect was hit 7 or 8 times with the .25. LEO was hit 5 times with .45. Suspect died and the officer recovered. Shot placement!
    fcretired likes this.

  9. #8
    Distinguished Member Array jarhead79's Avatar
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    Consider this, North America Arms has a .32NAA caliber that is a .380 case necked down to a .32 round. Better ballistics than both.
    www.ubgholsters.com short wait times. Use 'defensivecarry' as a coupon code for a discount to your order.

  10. #9
    Member Array Wilky1121's Avatar
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    Like it's been said in above posts, whatever you can reliably shoot better with, go with that. Try out a couple of pistols beforehand and see. Personally I lean towards the .380 platforms but that's simply because I have severely limited experience firing a .32 ACP.
    People do not lack strength; they lack will. — Victor Hugo

  11. #10
    Member Array Bando's Avatar
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    Your going to get all sorts of answers. Here's my take. If you go with the kel-tec platform you have the P32 and the P3AT.


    One more round than the .380. 7+1
    Slide locks back after last shot.
    Very Similar velocity to the .380(relatively)
    Biggest pro for me- Can dump the entire mag very quickly, very accurately(for a gun this size. It's not a target pistol)
    I'm not impressed with JHP from my unscientific tests and stick with FMJ.


    Bigger Bullets.
    Slower to fire/Harder to control, keep on target
    Barely Perceptible size difference to the P32
    Couple of oz. heavier than the P32
    May feel more confident with bigger round.
    but trade off with only 6+1 in the magizine

    I have much tighter rapid fire groups with the 32. It also doesn't hurt my hand as much to practice. Having an extra round could save your butt too. Most people choose the .380 anyway because it's bigger. You'll get a lot of people telling you that .380 is as low as they will go. As posted before, it's about shot placement. If you miss, who cares how big your gun is? Shoot both at a range and get a feel.
    The Problem: When stupid people do stupid things, smart people end up getting killed.

  12. #11
    Distinguished Member Array ripley16's Avatar
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    Here is some Gel tests on the .32 and .380acp.

    IMHO, you first need to find the pistol you feel most capable of fullfilling your needs and then adapt to the caliber. The different features and benifits that the wide variety of small pistols available today offer may span from .22lr to .40, from 9 ounces to 25 ounces, plastic or steel. The good news is that there are several very competent pocket guns in production and one on the way, (Kahr .380)...maybe.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Array paul45's Avatar
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    My current (active) bach up autos are :
    NAA .32
    K-T .32
    K-T .380
    PPK .380

    If clean, I chose the K-T .380, then the K-T .32. The PPK functions great but big and the NAA .32 hits my knuckle when fired. It hurts.

    Very little size diff in the K-T's and only slightly more felt recoil and 1 round difference. Becareful with the K-T .32 the wrong HP ammo (short stuff) has caused rim lock on my gun. I carry silver tips or FMJ and do not have that problem. Just test the rounds for yourself in the .32. The K-T .380 has not failed me in over 1000 rounds. I recently shot the Ruger. Handled about the same as the K-T .380. Only feed back I have gotten is 1st year teething issues from some local owners. Do your research.
    "Being PARANOID is just plain smart thinking when they are really out to get you!"

  14. #13
    Senior Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    I like the larger diameter, heavier .380 bullet. I will carry a Kel Tec .380 as a small hide out but am not interested in the .32.

  15. #14
    VIP Member Array LongRider's Avatar
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    The Bersa Thunder is an excellent 380 supposed to be a better gun than the PPK based on reading not experience. Not exactly what I would call a pocket gun and it is a tiny caliber compared to a .45 but I trust it will get the job done if need be. Fast follow up shots are much easier than with a .45
    Abort the Obamanation not the Constitution

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  16. #15
    Member Array TarletonRanger's Avatar
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    My wife has "confiscated" my Bersa .380!! I tried showing her some of the 9mm XD's, Glocks, and even different snub nosed revolvers to see what felt the best to her. In the end she kept coming back to my Bersa, and the sad thing is I think she may shoot it better than I do. In the end I'm confident enough in her shooting ability with it to make up for the small caliber....and like I told her, .380 is the SMALLEST I will go for a personal defense handgun. One thing I did make clear to her when she decided on this particular pistol/caliber is that if she ever does have to use it, fire and keep firing! One shot might not get the job done but 2-7 would make anyone turn the other cheek.

    "They kept tryin' to put me in the ground, but I wasn't ready"

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