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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

One of the most popular handgun cartridges available on the market today, the .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) is an easy-to-carry self-defense cartridge. With a variety of small, lightweight compact pistols chambered in this caliber, its mild recoil and minimal muzzle blast make it a popular choice among those who carry concealed, police officers looking for a capable back-up gun, and general backyard plinkers and target shooters.

Typical .380 ammunition, also called .380 Auto ammo, features an 85-95 grain (gr) bullet that measures .355 inch in diameter and 0.984 inch in cartridge length. It's rimless and straight-walled, and is equipped with low-pressure percussion caps.

While .380 ACP ammo has gone up, down and back up in popularity over the last century, there’s still not a general consensus about the cartridge. When asked about their opinion on .380 ACP ammo, shooters either love it or hate it – and there’s not much middle ground for discussion.

Development of .380 ACP Ammo

Designed by John Moses Browning, .380 Auto ammunition was first introduced by Colt’s Manufacturing Company for the Colt Model 1908 Pocket Pistol in 1908. Browning’s design stemmed from his previous .38 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) cartridge, which are made for blowback pistols.

In 1912, .380 ACP ammunition was introduced in Belgium, where it became known as the 9mm Browning short. It remained popular during World War II – German forces used the Walther PPK and Italian forces used the Beretta M1934, both pistols chambered for .380 bullets.

The .380 Auto ammo was also used in other military pistols around the world until many replaced it with the 9mm. European law enforcement agencies also issued pistols chambered for .380 ACP ammunition as duty sidearms for their officers during the first decades of the 1900s.

In Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Sweden, the .380 still remains the official military cartridge.

Uses for .380 Auto Ammunition

The .380 ACP is not a high-energy round, but its accuracy makes it suitable for self protection, especially since recoil and muzzle blast are moderate. The bullets feed well and the firearms chambered for this round are as dependable as most other semi-automatic pistol rounds.

.380 ammunition shows a significant improvement in power and force when compared to the .32 Auto, especially in stopping power. The .380 ACP has become the standard minimum chambering for military, law enforcement, and self-defense rounds.

Outside of self defense, the .380 Auto provides high velocity and sufficient power for hunting small game. Many hunters use the round for rabbits, birds, and vermin like groundhogs and opossum. Using .380 ACP snake shot can come in handy for reptiles and indoor varmint, including rats.

Throughout history, even a few machine guns have been chambered for the .380 Auto, including the Mendoza HM-3 and the PP-19 Bizon.

Types of .380 Ammo

The range of .380 ammunition for sale today – from practice ammo to personal protection and target shooting – is abundant, with all major manufacturers of pistol ammunition in the U.S. producing .380 ACP ammo.

Today’s self-defense ammo is high quality and light years ahead of the basic round nose or simple hollow point bullets that the .380 ACP was originally created for. These advances have made .380 ammo cheap, readily available, and a viable choice of self-defense rounds for those who criticized past stopping power.

While there’s specialty .380 ACP ammo for sale, like Hornady Zombie Max, the cartridge is generally found in traditional ammo types:

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): The FMJ is a typical range round and consists of a lead bullet nestled into a brass, nickel-plated, steel, or zinc-plated steel casing. The visible part of the bullet is covered with a harder metal, most often copper. When looking for bulk .380 ammo, this is often the cartridge people opt for. It’s a great round for practice, but is not designed for self defense or personal protection.

Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP): Designed for self defense and hunting, JHP .380 ACP cartridges feature a lead bullet that, like FMJ, are jacketed in a harder metal. Yet instead of being round, these .380 bullets have a hollow point. This allows the bullet to expand significantly more than FMJ bullets, increasing the .380 ACP bullets’ stopping power and wound size.

Lead Round Nose (LRN): When a shooter’s goal is to buy .380 ammo cheap, they can find it with LRN rounds. These cartridges have the same lead bullet, but these aren’t jacketed, making them less expensive than other options. LRN bulk .380 ammo is used for plinking, target shooting, and training. While they offer an economic option, they’re restricted in some public hunting grounds, certain shooting ranges, and even in some states because of lead exposure. They do not offer the best options for self-defense rounds.

Total Metal Jacket (TMJ): TMJ rounds are similar to FMJ, but even safer when it comes to lead exposure. The lead bullet in TMJ .380 ACP ammunition is completely covered in a harder metal like copper. Buy .380 ammo like this to protect the shooter and environment from accidental lead exposure. TMJ cartridges are mandatory in some shooting ranges.

Continue reading 380 ACP (Auto) Ammo at Ammo.com.
 

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I have a few .380s and it is a fun round to shoot in most guns...I have a Diamondback .380 that is a bit painful on the hand...but I blame that on the light weight of the gun and the grip design...I shot a mag full of Buffalo Bore .380+P and it was very noticeable..there is no SAAMI spec for .380+P
 

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That is an interesting write up. I use Precision One 90 gr HP/XTP for carry in my .380 , good penetration.

I let my neighbor lady use my FEG AP9 .380 to qualify for her CC permit. A couple of days before we went I asked her what gun she was going to use and she said " All I have is my late husbands 44 mag.". I asked her if she'd like to use my .380 instead as a 44 is a bit much for her. She used the .380 , it was the first time she had even shot it, and put all 30 rounds where they had to go to qualify. I love shooting that gun, accurate, little recoil and a nice size.
 

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Taurus quit making them but several years ago I picked up a model 638, its a slightly larger than small .380 with a 15 rnd mag. First couple boxes of ammo i don't think I had a hole more than 2" from the center at about 25ft, super smooth and low recoil. I liked the first one so well since I found them on clearance at a Farm & Home store I picked up two more. As far as I can remember everyone that I let shoot it when they find out I have more than one starts bugging me about letting one go..

They are even pretty rare on gunbroker these days.
 

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Yes, that is a nice carry piece, but I think I'll stay with my ATI Warthog and Star PD, both 45 ACP, until the current situation settles down a bit. (11-87 20 Ga.is still riding in the truck, in case I'm not home when SHTF)

RED
 

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I have a Bersa Thunder in 380. I was impressed with the penetration I was getting on some rotten logs. I realize that is not a very scientific test but the comparison with other calibers shot into the same log showed the 380 was not quite the pipsqueak I had thought it to be. And the gun shoots accurately - even on the 100 yard berm, clay pigeon fragments that I love to shoot. (I don't hit every one but close enough that I can tell when it was my fault and it's fun to try )
With good, hollow-point, ammo, I am OK with carrying it.

I will admit that I don't carry it often and that if for 3 reasons: 1) I prefer safeties that press down to fire. The Bersa is the only one I own that is opposite that. 2) My 9mm Shield is about the same size and shoots a more powerful cartridge.
3) Right now, I cannot find any 380 ammo so I am not shooting off what I have for practice.
But I have no plans of getting rid of it, if that tells the reader anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
For me micro .380 pistols are generally out as they get too tiny for my hands.
Same here. It's hard to exercise good trigger discipline when your finger's longer than the barrel.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I asked her if she'd like to use my .380 instead as a 44 is a bit much for her.
Unless she wants to reenact the climactic standoff with Scorpio, I'd say she made the right choice.
 
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The only thing that I dont agree with is " its either love it or hate it"

I dont love or hate the .380. its ok. 9mm is better in virtually every manner except that it has slightly more recoil. .380 is better than any rimfire or smaller centerfire.

I've got a sig p238 that i got used and its a sweet little shooter. only draw back is low mag cap of 6 -7 rounds. i do think that the low recoil of the .380 makes it easier to shoor more accurately than larger centerfire pistol rounds, for average folks. if you practice 1000 rounds of .40sw every month you probably hardly notice the recoil. you get the point.

I did find it interesting that the Germans used an American cartridge. though I think they renamed it 9mm kurz, or 9milimeter short. they liked to develop their own stuff back then.
 

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I have a Ruger lcp and reload lead rounds for practice
I have medium hands and that dinky little gun is a joy to shoot
I hate losing brass however so I rarely shoot it
I have it in my truck all the time
 

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I’m a gonna take a thwacking for this more N likely. But I view the .380 as an experts gun. A person who is going to avoid every potential possibility of using the firearm, but when they do, they are deadly with it as far as shot placement goes.


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Like Bond ...James Bond?
Seriously someone with either a PPK or a SIG 230/232 that's really trained on it ain't nothing to sneeze at if skilled enough. Or the bigger CZ-83. Even the new micro ones in the right hands.
 

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I have a Ruger lcp and reload lead rounds for practice
I have medium hands and that dinky little gun is a joy to shoot
I hate losing brass however so I rarely shoot it
I have it in my truck all the time
My lcp sits in my left front pocket when we go out. Unfortunately I can't carry at work or it would go with me every day. I carry 2 extra mags in my right front pocket also. All mags carry hollow points.
 
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