38 or 380?

This is a discussion on 38 or 380? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've had the CC permit for almost 5 years but rarely use it b/c my 9mm pistols (SW Model 3906, Ruger P85) are too large ...

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Thread: 38 or 380?

  1. #1
    Member Array xsquidgator's Avatar
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    38 or 380?

    I've had the CC permit for almost 5 years but rarely use it b/c my 9mm pistols (SW Model 3906, Ruger P85) are too large for easy and low profile CC.

    Been thinking to get something smaller so I could carry it say in a cargo pants pocket or something. Had a bug in my mind to get a 38 special (with the low profile hammer, not a hammerless) like my dad used to have, unfortunately he gave it away years ago.

    While window shopping at the gun store, the owner showed me what he carries in the store, a little 380 that fits into a wallet size holster. Nifty little thing.

    So today, I tried a box of 50 rounds with a borrowed 38 to see what it was like. It's been 25 years since I shot a 38, and I'd forgotten about the brisk recoil. I brought my 9mm along for comparison, and shooting that was like shooting a pop gun after the 38. In the USN I qualified expert with the 45 (and I grew up in rural TN shooting all kinds of guns), and even while rusty I can pretty reliably quickly put 7 of 8 into the head or COM of a man size paper target at 7 yards. But, I was doing well to hit the broad side of a barn with the 38, definitely will take more practice if I want to get one.

    So, I'm curious what you experienced ones think of this, what would you suggest for someone like me who's looking for something more reasonably sized for CC? Until today I thought I'd just get a 38, but now I don't know. Despite the size of the full size 9mm auto, I really feel a lot more comfortable with that about being able to hit what I'm trying to hit, and it's comforting to have at least 8 or even 15 rounds ready to go. I worry about the 38, only getting 5 rounds now and having trouble even hitting a mansize target at 20 feet. But, I can't stick a 9mm auto in my cargo pocket like I could a 38. For CC situations, I also like the idea of just grabbing the 38 and it's ready, no jacking a round into the chamber (to avoid shooting myself, I don't feel comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber).

    Or, would a 380 be better? It'll be harder to find a loaner to try out (the range only had 38s) so I'm relying on the words of others. I believe the 380s almost all hold only 5 shots, and I'd image the recoil and aiming issues are similar ,since the 380 autos are generally so small.

    Or, should I just man up and find a way to carry my 9mm's? I'm thinking of getting a shoulder holster and wearing a windbreaker, if i have to, even though I live in FL and it's damn hot. And, I guess I won't have to listen to the wife crab about how many more guns I've bought.

    What do the voices of experience have to tell me?

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  3. #2
    Member Array xsquidgator's Avatar
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    One other little thing: I was thinking of a 38 snubnose versus a small 380 auto. Was shown 357 airlights but think a 38 would be ok, if I have trouble being accurate with a 38 snubnose I don't think I'll be any better with a 357 snub.

  4. #3
    Distinguished Member Array dimmak's Avatar
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    I recommend G33/27...
    Light, small and well put together.....
    "Ray Nagin is a colossal disappointment" - NRA/ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox.


    "...be water, my friend."

  5. #4
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    Bersa Thunder .380 has capacity of 7 - or 10 if you buy the required mag'. There are tho some quite small 9's to choose from.

    That is a fairly easy gun to conceal and shoot so - if thinking .380 it's one to consider and would not break the bank either - great value.


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    Senior Member Array '75scout's Avatar
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    What guns do you have no that you are thinking about concealing? There are some awesome holstermakers on this site that can make concealing a bit easier amd more comfortable. Also a real gunbelt is essential for most guns.

    I have recently started to dislike the polymer framed semi-autos and now have a preference for all metal guns. I blame my Sig 220 for thatn. I have a Kahr PM40 which is about a 15oz 6-shot 40S&W semi-auto and I can stuff it in my pocket easy enough. But I'm selling it because of my new preference for metal. I will be getting a S&W 360PD, which is a 12.5oz 5-shot 357Mag. Just my opinion and experience, but to get a very reliable gun that can be comfortably carried in a pocket all day long it's better to go with a J-framed revolver. I have had problems with my kahr and the ever so popular kel-Tecs get mixed reviews. I'm hesitant about the KTs because one almost fell apart in my hands and would have if I had kept on shooting it.

    The amount of money I have right now to spend on guns in very small and I prefer to buy a gun I won't have to tinker with, spend more money on, or even send back to the factory just to have a reliable carry piece.

  7. #6
    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    you sound like a person who needs both.... I did...and all's good...

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    Senior Member Array '75scout's Avatar
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    Yes look into the sub-compact Glocks, Springfield Armory Xds, CZ Rami, S&W M&P Sub-compact (when they are out), S&W J-frames, Ruger SP101, Bersa Thunder.

    My personal favorites are anything from Sig and S&W J-frames, especially the Airweights.

  9. #8
    Member Array xsquidgator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by artz View Post
    you sound like a person who needs both.... I did...and all's good...

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    Member Array sarhog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xsquidgator View Post
    I also like the idea of just grabbing the 38 and it's ready, no jacking a round into the chamber (to avoid shooting myself, I don't feel comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber).
    If you're not comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber, I suggest you seek out some quality training.
    A couple (or more) days working with a good instructor will get you past that hurdle.
    Barring that, I would recommend a revolver. A pistol carried in condition 3 just doesn't make sense, IMO.
    Good luck.

    On edit: I take it by your handle that you are a Gator Sailor.... which ship and when? I was stationed on the Tripoli and the Belleau Wood.
    Sarhog
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    Member Array myusername's Avatar
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    I have a Bersa Thunder .380. I love the gun but it is larger and heavier than I care for for pocket carry. I've tried cargo shorts. The best pocket carry for those pants is in the regular pocket that ends up being behind the cargo pocket. The cargo pocket conceals the lines of the guns. Columbia makes shorts with pockets designed for holding drink cans, this may give more room.

    I also have a Colt Detective Special that I find heavy for pocket carry. If I was going for pocket carry I would probably go with a small polymer gun.

    I like the idea of a tucked in T Shirt with a larger camp shirt over that. Even unbuttoned it should cover OWB, IWB, or a shoulder holster with a small gun.

  12. #11
    Senior Member Array gregarat's Avatar
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    you sound like a person who needs both.... I did...and all's good...
    +3
    Although my .380 is mostly a closet queen, where I carry my .38 alot. Thats just me...

    Was shown 357 airlights but think a 38 would be ok, if I have trouble being accurate with a 38 snubnose I don't think I'll be any better with a 357 snub.
    I agree.
    I also like all steel frame vs. airweight. I personaly hardly notice any difference when carring. When firing +P rounds I definatly notice a difference in recoil.

    I carry my snub in a thin uncle mike holster, using Strong Side Belly Carry (aka “Appendix Carry”).
    Its very confortable, I can conceal it far better than strong side, ancle, pocket, its easy to draw (even w/h weak hand), very easy to draw when seated, and not as likely to snag on clothing during the draw. Very nice carry style for small handguns IMHO

  13. #12
    New Member Array Rugrat's Avatar
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    Try .38 with larger grips

    I wasn't shooting well with my S&W .38 J-frame until I changed up the grips. The factory grips are very concealable but for me almost impossible to shoot well, especially follow up shots.

    I think you can go with the .38, load with +P and use Hogue grips. They make the grip longer and less concealable, but it's like night and day shooting it. There are some good Pachmayer grips out there, though the ones I got are heavy.

    Rugrat

  14. #13
    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xsquidgator View Post


    While window shopping at the gun store, the owner showed me what he carries in the store, a little 380 that fits into a wallet size holster. Nifty little thing.

    I also like the idea of just grabbing the 38 and it's ready, no jacking a round into the chamber (to avoid shooting myself, I don't feel comfortable carrying with a round in the chamber).


    I carry my colt mustang in a back pocket holster (wallet sized) and no ones the wiser... At first I checked the cock n' locked safety on it about 3 or 4 times the first day. *WARNING !* Checking can get you "made". I just quit. It will not switch off. Its a mental thing....

    I like my .38 too. My taurus 85 ss ultralite in the deSantis nemesis front pocket holster.
    Arthur

  15. #14
    Member Array gunmetal's Avatar
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    My vote:

    Quote Originally Posted by xsquidgator View Post
    find a way to carry my 9mm's
    Take a look at the subcompacts (as has already been suggested); they come in a bunch of sizes, personally I think something around the size of a Glock 26 can be concealed pretty easily, and a tight undershirt will help you with the sweating IMHO (even though it's hot).

    If you *must* choose between a small .380 and a .38 Spl revolver, I'd go with the revolver. Your round capacity wouldn't be much greater with the auto (usually 1-2 rounds), the .380 round is a bit weaker than the .38, and many of the tiny autos suffer from spotty reliability.

  16. #15
    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    I have a J frame Airweight for a BUG. They do need aftermarket grips and there are many good ones available. I dislike rubber grips as they "grab" the clothing more and can make the gun print. Shooting a snubbie well takes some practice. Slow methodical range work will lead to the ability to control the gun and rapid shooting. Just don't shoot till you're too tired to control it, then you're waisting time. I would shoot 50 rounds max with a little time in between cylinders untill I finally got it down. Remember to use a strong grip!
    If you stand up and be counted, from time to time you may get yourself knocked down. But remember this: A man flattened by an opponent can get up again. A man flattened by conformity stays down for good. ~ Thomas J. Watson, Jr.

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