.380 or .38 ?

This is a discussion on .380 or .38 ? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I am considering getting a .38 for pocket carry,right now I have a P3AT but it would be a little bit of a hardship money ...

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Thread: .380 or .38 ?

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

    I am considering getting a .38 for pocket carry,right now I have a P3AT but it would be a little bit of a hardship money wise,but I'm thinking that a .38 is a little more powerful than my .380,but then again the snubbie won't be as accurate as my .380.I keep thinking that an extra 2 or 3 shots will make up for the power. What say you all ?thanks. sj

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Array Smith&Wessonfan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjones View Post
    I'm thinking that a .38 is a little more powerful than my .380
    You would be right. In the case of Buffalo Bore's 158 grain lead semi wadcutter hollowpoint +P, a LOT more powerful.
    Quote Originally Posted by sjones View Post
    but then again the snubbie won't be as accurate as my .380.
    I have a Smith & Wesson Model 637 that might prove otherwise.
    Quote Originally Posted by sjones View Post
    I keep thinking that an extra 2 or 3 shots will make up for the power.
    I don't agree.

  4. #3
    Senior Member Array zero's Avatar
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    depends on what you dig. I have a SW442, love it and yet debate getting a thinner 380...go figure.

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    Don't know how you came to the conclusion that a pocket .380 is more accurate than a snub nosed revolver?

    I shoot 50 yards and beyond with 2 Ruger SP-101's and have shot Taurus M 85's out there too. 6 - 8 inch groups at 50 yards is ok for me.

    I think the guns are accurate enough to do better than that, I just don't shoot the snubbies that far out as much as I do inside of 15 yards.
    -Bark'n
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    "The gun is the great equalizer... For it is the gun, that allows the meek to repel the monsters; Whom are bigger, stronger and without conscience, prey on those who without one, would surely perish."

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    Ex Member Array Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark'n View Post
    Don't know how you came to the conclusion that a pocket .380 is more accurate than a snub nosed revolver?
    A Kel-Tec P3AT would be equal to a .38 snubbie for accuracy.

    A SIG P32 is more accurate due to the longer sight radius and better sights (than the P3AT) and is still considered (by me at least) a pocket .380.

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bark'n View Post
    Don't know how you came to the conclusion that a pocket .380 is more accurate than a snub nosed revolver?
    For me, most definitely the KelTec P3AT is more accurate beyond 10yds than the S&W 442 Airweight I carried for years. Something about how it points, for me. Wasn't for lack of trying, or training. I just never could get to the point where striking within ~8" beyond 7-10yds was all that common, with the 442. Too bad, as it was a fine revolver. I've been quite accurate with a Ruger SP101; partly due to weight, but mostly due to the angle/feel by comparison. For whatever reason the P3AT beats them all hands-down, during single shots and rapid-fire strings. Go figure. Everyone's different.
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  8. #7
    JD
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    SJones, There was thread a while back on this that yielded some good info, check it out HERE

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    I carry a 380 Colt Mustang. Last week I shot a S&W 642? hammerless airweight. Very very nice. If you can put up with the double action only and no way to manually cock the hammer, it is a good weapon. You can more easily slide it out of a pocket than with a small automatic and it will be rock solid reliable---not something that can be said for many autos. Moreover, I shot a 138 gr 38 SP and that packs more punch than a 380.

    I was never a fan of DAO weapons, but my brief use of the airweight was a pretty fun and good experience. It will be my next purchase===after the endodontist, periodontist, general dentist, internist and cardiologist get done with me; and if I still have some bucks and some sanity.

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    Senior Member Array Shadowsbane's Avatar
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    I am in the same boat with the money thing. (Wife in college) so considering that I would stick with the 380 (for now) if you feel comfortable enough with your proficency in its use.

    Since you stated that you feel (Im partly guessing here) that revolvers are less accurate for you than automatics that would indicate the need for more practice with a revolver, more practice= more money (ammo, range, targets etc etc) for all that extra cash on learning the new gun you could become an expert for the one you have now. After all a 22 in the eye is better than a 500 down the street. Do not get me wrong, the 380 is not a powerhouse, however a recent thread proved with the proper shot placement even a moose can be brought down with the lowly 22.

    Extra shots do not make up for extra power, ideally you want a bullet to be able to penetrate between 10-12 inches to cause enough damage to stop your attacker. If none of your bullets reach that vital area then it really will not matter for you how many times you shot them, as you will probably be dead or injured. Both rounds should be able to accomplish that task.

    Now if you really do feel the round is too underpowered for you then that is also a very important factor to consider.

    Good luck with your quest, and remember your the one that will have to spend the money, and your the one that may have to use the firearm at some point. So the final choice is yours. There is no "right" answer
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    Member Array kjdoski's Avatar
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    The only thing the P3AT and the J-frame have in common is that they're small.

    I've owned both. My first P3AT was unreliable and unacceptable in the accuracy department - despite several trips to the factory. My second P3AT was reliable with everything EXCEPT Corbon +P ammo, and I could plink coke cans at 10 yards. The P3AT is the ONLY pistol I've ever owned that I could realistically conceal in the pocket of my Levis (front or back pocket). The P3AT has an advantage in capacity, and reload speed, but a disadvantage in the potency of each round.

    The airweight j-frames I've owned (38, 638, 442, 642) have all been very accurate, if I do my part (I'm also able to keep a cylinder inside of 8" at 50 yards when I'm slow and deliberate). When loaded with +P ammunition, they're tough to shoot quickly and accurately much beyond 7 yards, but that's a function of recoil, not any fault of the revolver's mechanical accuracy. The .38 Special +P is more powerful than the .380 - but how much so is largely academic in my mind. To get this "extra power" you have to sacrifice capacity, size, and reload speed.

    The reality is that there are several factors that are MUCH more important to gunfight survival than the "power" of the round you're shooting. I'm not conceited enough to state conclusively which factor is MOST important, but I'll tell you that shot placement is VERY high on the list.

    So, what's "better" for me, isn't necessarily "better" for you or anyone else. Whether you need to "up gun" to a J-frame is largely dependent on what fits your hand, what you shoot better, and what you're confident with.

    For me, I don't have a lot of faith in the .380 cartridge, but I wanted more capacity, lighter trigger, better sights, and faster reloads than the j-frame offered. I ended up with a Kahr PM9 as my "littlest" pistol - not that I got rid of my 642, mind you!

    For that matter, I had no trouble "pocket carrying" my Glock 26 in the front pocket of my Columbia hiking shorts - which is what I wear most often when I'm off duty (which is when pocket carry becomes an issue for me...)

    Regards,

    Kevin
    "Fast is fine, accuracy is final..."

  12. #11
    Member Array What the?'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sjones View Post
    I am considering getting a .38 for pocket carry,right now I have a P3AT but it would be a little bit of a hardship money wise,but I'm thinking that a .38 is a little more powerful than my .380,but then again the snubbie won't be as accurate as my .380.I keep thinking that an extra 2 or 3 shots will make up for the power. What say you all ?thanks. sj
    I have a P3AT, my wife has a .38 S&W snub, here are my opinions:
    - My P3AT is easier and lighter for me to pocket carry
    - Her .38 is ALOT more powerful
    - Her .38 is a little bit easier for me to get consistent groups
    - Number of shots and stopping power are like apples and oranges
    - I like her revolver better than my P3AT for anything other than pocket carry.

    Hope it helps...

  13. #12
    Member Array Breakdaddy's Avatar
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    I would personally go with the p3at given only those two choices. I have to recommend the Kahr PM9 as another good choice as has already been mentioned in this thread. It fits in my pocket nicely and carries 6+1 rounds of 9mm +p ammunition.

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    I shoot the P3AT and the SW642 very well. The P3AT doesn't feel like a solid handgun in my hand. But if pocket carry is what your after go for it. The 642 is a work horse. It's currently one of the best selling handgun made by S&W. You will not find a S&W 642CT on a dealer shelf very long. It's well worth the wait if you had to have one ordered.

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Perennial debate

    Having read gun magazines and lurked around gun chat sites for years, I have seen this topic come up many times. There doesn't seem to be an overwhelming argument for either option, and I have come to the conclusion that both .380 and .38 special are viable alternatives for small guns.

    From a "power" standpoint, you probably have to specify exactly which gun and ammo type you are talking about. There is quite a range of ammo in these calibers, especially in the .38 special category. In very general terms, most .380 ammo uses a 90 grain bullet with velocity of about 1000 fps, for muzzle energy of roughly 200 ft-lbs. A typical .38 special (not plus P) in a 2 inch barrel involves a 125 grain bullet with velocity of about 800 fps, for muzzle energy of roughly 200 ft-lbs. So the two are similar from an energy standpoint, but the .38 has more momentum (mass times velocity). It all depends on whether you think energy or momentum is more important.

    With the best +P .38 ammo you can probably boost the muzzle energy up to about 250 ft-lbs from a snubby, which would exceed most .380 muzzle energy.

    Accuracy is another issue, and depends more on the shooter's skill and his gun than on ammo, I believe. I'm sure that with enough practice a shooter can become proficient with either a .38 snubby or a .380.

    I believe that both .380 and .38 special are a little marginal for self defense use compared to 9mm and larger calibers, which can easily give you muzzle energy in the 350 ft-lb and up range.

    I personally have one .380 (Walther PPK) and two .38 snubbies (S&W 642 and Colt Detective Special), and have used them all for defense when I couldn't hide anything bigger. Given my choice, however, I'd always go with .357 magnum, 9mm, .40 or .45 instead of these smaller calibers.

  16. #15
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    I would figure out how to carry a .38 in DA/SA or a p-22 with stingers

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