.380 or .38 ?

This is a discussion on .380 or .38 ? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; In my view the sharp-shouldered semi-wadcutter featured in the .38 Special +P 158 grain SWC-HP has it all over the .380. I carry a P3AT ...

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Thread: .380 or .38 ?

  1. #16
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    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
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    In my view the sharp-shouldered semi-wadcutter featured in the .38 Special +P 158 grain SWC-HP has it all over the .380. I carry a P3AT when I absolutely can't fit anything larger but prefer .38 Special. I tried out a Mika pocket holster last week with a J-Frame Smith & Wesson and it was great! The revolver/holster disappeared in my Dockers. I'm ordering a Mika holster.

    As far as accuracy both are fine at realistic self-defense range. I shoot better with a J-Frame than I do with the P3AT.

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  3. #17
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    I've got a 642 I use for pocket carry or when I need something small for concealment. I've also got a .380 PPK on layaway that I like for the slim profile and reloading speed. As has been said, neither are optimal defensive handgun calibers and, while .38spl +P probably has the edge in power factor, accuracy with either will be critical for effective use.

    I have limited dexterity with my support hand so I feel the advantage I gain in reloading speed with a mag fed auto outweighs the loss of power that goes with it. Seems it's another one of those personal questions that everyone has to answer for themselves, sort of like which holster is best - for me it's the MaxCon V but only you can answer that question for yourself.

    BTW, layaway is your friend!
    Jack

  4. #18
    Senior Member Array sjones's Avatar
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    Well,the P3AT is strictly when I can't carry anything else.I use speer gold dots in it.Out to 15 yrds,I can hit anything I want to with it.I've never even shot a 38 snubbie so I know nothing about them.My main gun that I carry 95% of the time is a kimber ultra carry.I always carry an extra mag for the .380 so I can reload in a hurry if I have to. I believe I will just stick with it for awhile. sj

  5. #19
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    Well, I wouldn't suggest selling off the little Keltec if you're that comfortable with it. Have you looked at the ballistic info for the Hydra-shocks and Cor-bons? They seem to be about even and I haven't seen any "published" info that tops either yet. Might give you a slight edge with the .380.

    I currently carry Speer Gold Dot 135gr. +P in my snubby and the their 230gr. in my Mil-spec, I like them fine but for the PPK I'll likely use the Federal HS load until I can pony up the cash to try out the Corbons (those things are expensive!).
    Jack

  6. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by maclean3 View Post
    Well, I wouldn't suggest selling off the little Keltec if you're that comfortable with it....Jack
    Agreed. That said, the .38 Special +P will almost certainly be more powerful than any .380; but I carry both on given occasions. Right now (in the summer), I carry a Walther PPK/S in .380 in ankle carry or a Colt CCO in .45 ACP IWB given wardrobe considerations. Is the .380 Auto perfect? No. Is something else guaranteed? No. My advice, FWIW, is to select the one with which you are most comfortable and then continue practicing with it. With good fortune, you'll never need to use it! If you ever do,well...I'd rather have something I am comfortable with (gun and load) than something someone else likes...YMMV.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.

  7. #21
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    I agree with Falcon, it comes down to what you're most comfortable with. I just re-read my previous post and should clarify: I didn't mean to imply the Hydras or Cor-bons would give the .380 an advantage over .38spl +P, only that they might offer better ballistics that the .380 Gold Dots. Sorry for any misunderstanding.

    When we start talking mouseguns and/or light calibers power factor becomes a greater consideration.
    Jack

  8. #22
    VIP Member Array NY27's Avatar
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    I would go with a j frame .38 loaded with Speer 135 gr +p Gold Dots.
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  9. #23
    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    I favor a J Fame 638 for pocket carry. With a pocket holster it works for most people pretty well. I used to carry the 135 +P GD but recently switched to the Double Tap +P 125 GD loads.

    1.875" bbl S&W - 1100fps
    Bullet: Speer Gold Dot Low Velocity

    336 ft. lbs. 1.875"
    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.

  10. #24
    Member Array senseiturtle's Avatar
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    I only consider my P3AT as the "gun I use only to get to my other guns."

    I vote for the .38spl Snubby. Get a .357 version of the same, and load it with whatever you want (38, 38+p, or .357) It'll give you some options.

  11. #25
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    My primary carry gun in the summer months for casual duty (errands with the wife, etc) is a S&W M642 in .38+P in a Mikla pocket holster. It nestles down in both my 5*11s and my new Woolrich pants without a bulge or a print. The Woolrich's pockets are cut slightly differently from the 5*11s but there's an upside and a downside. The UPside is the draw and reholster is easier and faster. The only downside is that IF a person is right next to someone pocket carrying in this fashion and glances straight down the butt of the gun can be seen inside the pocket. But only under those narrow circumstances. If I have my hand on the grip, forget it.

    But I'm off topic! I've owned and carried both the 38 and the 380. I consider the 380 marginal at best as a self defense round and almost always will I counsel against it to my CCW clients who wish such an opinion. The P3AT has it's size and light weight going for it. Period. There is a marginal capacity benefit and of course the fast reload of all semi-autos over the revolver, even with a speed loader. The M642 is both light and compact. Yes, shot placement is crucial in any self defense situation. The reason bigger calibers are better is that a marginally accurate shot with a bigger bullet is still going to take more of the fight out of a BG than a marginally accurate shot from the smaller caliber. I carry a speed loader AND a cell phone atop that in the mag pouch of my Woolrich pants, something I can't quite manage in my 5*11s with the same feature.
    Last edited by ExSoldier; June 21st, 2007 at 11:56 AM. Reason: Got off topic.
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  12. #26
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    Double Tap Loads?

    Quote Originally Posted by ELCruisr View Post
    I favor a J Fame 638 for pocket carry. With a pocket holster it works for most people pretty well. I used to carry the 135 +P GD but recently switched to the Double Tap +P 125 GD loads.

    1.875" bbl S&W - 1100fps
    Bullet: Speer Gold Dot Low Velocity

    336 ft. lbs. 1.875"
    Are these loads made by Double Tap...reloads? Can you provide a link to their website?
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  13. #27
    VIP Member Array ELCruisr's Avatar
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    New manufacture!

    http://www.doubletapammo.com/php/cat...roducts_id=215

    Give the owner a call, he seems to be glad to answer questions and knows way more about ballistics than I'll ever need to know!
    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.

  14. #28
    Member Array Tin Bender's Avatar
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    Go out one day and put your hands on a couple of these puppies.
    I'll bet you go back to the S & W 642 !! I did and I don't leave home without it. It sometimes serves as a backup to it's big brother SIG. The 642 is a dream to shoot and has a GREAT FEEL.
    You'll see !
    -Tin Bender-

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  15. #29
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    I would agree with most here that it's all about what you're most comfortable with. I have a S&W 442 & enjoy the gun very much, but because of a couple off-duty instances, I wanted (& felt I needed) something with more firepower. I ended up getting a Glock 26, but now have a Kahr PM9 (They weren't available then).

    Having said all that, ballistically, there's not a great deal of difference between a .32, .380, & .38 (Through a sub-2" barrel). Personally, I would stick with your K-T P-3AT. While the trigger might not be as smooth as a J-frames, it's lighter, the gun's lighter, thinner, slightly more capacity, & easier/quicker to reload.

    With guns that are relatively weak (For handguns, & yes I know, any handgun round is relatively weak), ease of shooting/follow-up shots & capacity are probably more important than the little bit of extra power the .38 "may" have.

    Besides, you'll save yourself the $$ of having to buy another gun & holster(s).
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  16. #30
    Member Array fjmaring's Avatar
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    .38 SPL S&W J Frame...That´s ok for me in the streets. Home Mossberg 500A, Beretta 92 FS (lot of spare magazines) and G26 (lots of 17 mags)

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