9mm vs .380 for EDC

9mm vs .380 for EDC

This is a discussion on 9mm vs .380 for EDC within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello all, I'm new to handguns and a recent CCW permit holder. I'd like to get my first carry gun and am trying to decide ...

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Thread: 9mm vs .380 for EDC

  1. #1
    New Member Array Wingnut330's Avatar
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    9mm vs .380 for EDC

    Hello all,

    I'm new to handguns and a recent CCW permit holder. I'd like to get my first carry gun and am trying to decide between a .380 like the LCP or a 9mm. I have read a ton of posts in here and all the choices seem overwhelming! : )

    I have been to the shop a few times and held plenty. I have fired the LCP and was surprised by the recoil. I know it's a small gun, but that little booger kicks. Like many folks, the larger guns feel more comfortable to me, but they are more of a challenge to carry.

    I really liked the feel of the Springfield EMP and the similar Kimber. I like the Walther .380 because of it's size, but at that size I feel like I should just go 9mm.

    Any help in clearing this fog is appreciated!

  2. #2
    RPB is offline
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    lighter guns and heavier bullets and +P ammo make more recoil

    You would have less recoil in a heavier gun, but then you have a less concealable gun

    You have less recoil with lighter bullets, and they penetrate less.

    You have less recoil with standard pressure instead of +P and they penetrate less and won't wear out a gun as fast as +P can.

    If you want .380, Look at the Diamondback DB380, locked breach and low bore axis and a strong recoil spring make it kick less.

    .380 is really more of a backup gun or a gun for when you are in Tennis shorts and your every day gun won't conceal well..... 9mm is better.

    If you can handle a Kahr's price, the Kahr PM9 is nice, it is fairly light weight, so for less recoil you might try a NON-+P 115 grain (lighter weight) bullet like #90250 9MM Hornady Critical Defense 115 gr. JHP or #23614 Gold Dot Personal Protection

    PM9 is easily small enough for carry in a pocket, or in a IWB holster.

    Only thing I don't like about Kahr is they are overpriced and unfinished when you get them, so you'll need to fire hundreds of rounds through them to finish the deburring/polishing/smoothing they didn't do at the factory. They call this a "break in period".

    A 9mm will be better protection than a .380

    My Taurus PT92 (Similar to Beretta 92) kicks less than any 9mm handgun I own, but it's a bit big to conceal easily, so I carry it in a Safepacker on my belt, though it does get a bit heavy sometimes.
    sensei2 likes this.

  3. #3
    Distinguished Member Array P7fanatic's Avatar
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    A pistol to compare to the LCP would be the Kahr P380. A much better quality pistol in my opinion, but you pay for it. You could also step up to 9mm with the Kahr PM9 or the Kahr MK9 which is all stainless steel but it is much heavier.
    My advise is to go with a 9mm. More potent round, ammo is more widely available and cheaper than .380 ammo.
    If you want to stay small, this is a direction you should look at. I'm sure you'll get many other suggestions. The two most important things to keep in mind though, IMO, is that the weapon is extremely reliable(no FTF's) and that it is comfortable in your hand.
    Good luck in your search. Let us know what you decide on.

    "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." -Thomas Jefferson

    "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder." -Michael Savage

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  5. #4
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    If you want a 9mm in a small, dependable package, consider the Glock-26.
    Proverbs 27:12 says: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

    Certified Glock Armorer
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  6. #5
    Distinguished Member Array PastorPack's Avatar
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    While the .380 is on the bottom end of the list of defensive calibers, it is weak. Go with the 9mm.
    God is love (1 John 4:8)

  7. #6
    Distinguished Member Array Spec's Avatar
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    .380 ammo is a little harder to find.. if you like shooting for practice I would get the 9mm (just buy American Please... Smith&Wesson, Ruger, etc. ) P.S. glock is not american made..
    NRA Certified Rifle/Pistol Instructor

    Accuracy ALWAYS WINS! So carry what you can hit with.

    If you find yourself in a fair fight your tactics stink.

  8. #7
    Distinguished Member Array Wasabi's Avatar
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    Look hard at a Kahr PM9. It's my preferred EDC loaded up with Federal HST 147g +P. Very easy to conceal, accurate, potent and recoil isn't bad at all.

  9. #8
    Distinguished Member Array pirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RPB View Post
    Only thing I don't like about Kahr is they are overpriced and unfinished when you get them, so you'll need to fire hundreds of rounds through them to finish the deburring/polishing/smoothing they didn't do at the factory. They call this a "break in period".
    Overpriced compared to what? They are inline with other comparable high quality handguns, and quality typically has a price. The Kahr recommended break-in period is 200 rounds not 500. Kahr Arms / Q & A And many if not most manufacturers recommend a break-in period of some sort and it has nothing to do with lack of hand polishing or deburring in the case of Kahr. Kahr's guns even the entry-level CW series are well finished Handguns. Kahr's are made to very tight tolerances/specs and some, not all (both mine were 100% reliable out of the box) need the break-in period. More than anything else the manufacturer will recommend the break-in as a method to make sure the gun is reliable enough for carry and to give the handgun some time to break-in before the owner would want to send the gun back in for service if they experience a few initial issues. A handgun break-in or mechanically wearing in of a new gun is not meant to be a means of mechanically deburring and polishing the internals that was not done at the factory. The 200-round break-in period is equivalent to the first 500 break-in miles on a new car. It gives the parts a chance to "seat" with one another, to "wear in," to become the sum of their parts. Particularly a very tight tolerance gun like Kahr.

    Maybe you were thinking of Kel Tec.
    When I leave the home port:
    S&W 642 Airweight, Ruger SP 101, Colt Detective Spec., CZ RAMI, Kahr PM9, Kahr CW40, S&W Model 10-7, Glock 30, 19, and 26, Browning Hi Power, CZ82, Colt Commander, Dan Wesson PM7, Ruger LCP

  10. #9
    Member Array NWCP's Avatar
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    When I need to carry a subcompact I carry my Kahr PM9. I'd rather have the 9mm over the .380 and the PM9 gives me that in a nearly .380 size pistol. My Kahr was shooting reliably right out of the box after a good cleaning and lube. I found the fit and finish from the factory to be quite good. As for the extra price of a Kahr over a Ruger LCP, or KelTec P3AT what is a life worth? The time to skimp isn't when you're buying a personal defense pistol. JMHO
    Join the NRA.

  11. #10
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    You really need to go to a range that lets you rent different guns. Try before you buy.

    A lot will depend on how you will carry. On the belt? In a pocket? etc.

    Are you carrying "concealed?" Or do you need to be more discrete and carry more like "covert?"

    My needs are more covert, so I either carry a 9mm Glock 26 in a Smartcarry holster - or I pocket carry a .380 LCP.

    As far as the whole .380 vs 9mm thing - the only issue with .380 is that it is difficult to get both penetration and expansion in .380. So, I use FMJ in .380 - it gives better penetration than a JHP. I've given up on the caliber wars. As far as I am concerned, it's all about shot placement, and penetrating to the vitals. With proper ammo, the .380 is fine - and has been doing the job since 1908.
    The number of people killed because they didn't have "enough gun" is dwarfed by those who had none at all.

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    Yup, I'll echo the four post above.

  13. #12
    Member Array Hedgelj's Avatar
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    First off welcome. Secondly this forum is a great tool for a ton of great information. I love it because it is a very active forum with lots of members who post about tons of different things. They also remain pretty civil even in heated discussions.

    As to 9mm vs .380 its a personal decision you will have to make. Many people consider the .380 to be a minimum caliber for self defense. Others will consider the 9mm a minimum caliber. Here are some pros and cons for each caliber imho.
    9mm is a more powerful caliber.
    9mm is used by military and police, so it must be reasonably effective.
    .380 was used by european police at one time so it must have been reasonably effective.
    .380 is approximately the same power as the .36 caliber colt navy revolver as used by Bill Hickok and "Doc" Holliday and they killed men with no problems with it (reference here)
    9mm is much more readily available at the stores I frequent.
    9mm is cheaper by 3-10 dollars per 50 rounds when I compare it to .380

    If pocket carry is something you want then the only 9mm option (imho) is the PM9, there are lots of options in .380
    If you go larger then the LCP, P3AT, P238, DB380, etc then you should at least check out something similar in 9mm. Try to figure out what types of carry will work for your lifestyle, clothing and mentality. That will help lead you to your decision.
    Here is a pocket auto size comparison to help you window shop.
    Here is the sub and compact comparison using the same software.

    Those should help you determine some potential pistols to find in the local stores. Go find them, call first and make sure they have them and then go hold and handle them. If you can get some range time in with them to see if you can shoot them comfortably and/or accurately.

    I agree the LCP does kick and is actually uncomfortable for me to shoot as well. The EMP is an amazing pistol and I am currently saving up for one, but you have to be comfortable with a 1911 platform to like them. I do agree with you that if you are going as large as a PPK then you may be able to find a 9mm that also works.

    My personal EDC is a .380, and its the Sig P238. The ability to pocket carry was important to me. I understand the limitations of the .380 caliber and am willing to accept them. I also feel that the first rule of a gunfight (besides the obvious "avoid it!!!") is to have a gun. Your profile location is close to me so if you are wondering about any local stores ask me and I'll answer them the best I can, and I could also meet you at a range sometime if you'd like. If you are interested in any local firearms websites for local CHL information just ask.
    Hope that helps :)

  14. #13
    Member Array Cycler's Avatar
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    I have a full size 9mm that's difficult to conceal so one that I've been considering is the kel-Tek PF-9. You'll hear mixed reviews on the KT's but the same is true with Kahr but the KT is 1/2 the price. I've fondled one and it seems like a nice gun.

  15. #14
    Member Array Blue Jacket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    I've given up on the caliber wars. As far as I am concerned, it's all about shot placement, and penetrating to the vitals. With proper ammo, the .380 is fine - and has been doing the job since 1908.
    I second that statement. End of story!
    May we never forget those in uniform who protect us night and day in lands far away. And those in all wars who paid the supreme sacrifice in defense of our country. May God Bless our Troops and First Responders.

  16. #15
    Member Array ajgranda's Avatar
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    I personally would not carry a .380, especially in NY winters. Take a 300lb BG with a heavy coat and shoot him central mass with a .380. You'll wish you had a 9mm +P+ HP.
    Retired LEO
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    The #1 goal of police work is to go home at the end of your shift!

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