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Thoughts on .380 ACP as a defense round

Discussion in 'General Handgun' started by mustache79, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. mustache79

    mustache79 G&G Newbie

    Mar 17, 2010
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    I'm curious what the folks at G&G would have to say regarding .380 ACP in a defensive situation. I'm sure this topic has been covered in depth before, but it can't hurt to get some fresh thoughts on the matter. My interest in this caliber came up after a friend of mine showed me his new Ruger LCP. During my last trip to the gun shop I fondled a Bersa Thunder in .380. Seemed like a nice little gun for the price and felt pretty comfortable in the hand. I like that it's DA/SA and small and slender enough to CC.

    BTW, I'm getting my first wheel gun- a Ruger GP100. Just gotta wait the three days. Pretty excited about that!

  2. Ten Man

    Ten Man G&G Evangelist

    Jul 28, 2009
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    The .380 Auto is the minimum caliber recommended by most Concealed Carry instructors, for a personal defense hand gun.

    Personally, I have a .380 Auto pistol (Diamond Back) in my car as a backup to my regular carry Glock, because it was the only gun small enough to fit in the space I wanted it to occupy.

    I would not carry a .380 Auto as my primary EDC gun, when there are so many other excellent guns with more power available.
  3. rondog

    rondog G&G Evangelist

    Aug 19, 2007
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    I have a Bersa Thunder .380, and it is a nice little pistol, I'm glad I bought it. Carry it every once it a while too, in a pocket holster. Sometimes the .45 just ain't the right gun for the occasion. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for defense, but I'd recommend loading it with reasonably hot FMJ's instead of hollowpoints, just for the chance of better penetration. A .380 in your pocket is certainly better than the .45 you left at home, and a helluva lot better than nothing!
  4. aris_unlimited

    aris_unlimited G&G Evangelist

    Sep 28, 2007
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    The way I got it figured any gun is better than no gun should you have to defend yourself.

    But I tend to carry calibers that start with a .4_ lol.
  5. RedneckCatholic

    RedneckCatholic G&G Evangelist

    Jul 11, 2008
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    I keep a.380 in the night stand. I picked that caliber on purpose. It will do as a defense round--if anybody tells you other wise ask them to let you shoot them in the torso! I use Hornady Critical Defense 90 gr FTX--that give 1000fps at the muzzle, 910 at 50 yards.

    I picked it because it gives mess worries about "over penetration"--that is, through the walls of the house and into family members. I picked the round based on expansion--bullets kill or incapacitate through blood loss, and the XTP will expand at the velocities it's loaded for. No offense to other opinions, but an FMJ might not lead to the blood loss needed, but an expanded round will lead inevitably to more blood lose with the same placement as an FMJ.

    Remember FMJ was developed not to improve penetration, but in response to a legal restriction on military ammunition designed to decrease the severity of wounds.

    .380 works. It's not the man stopper some other rounds are reputed to be, but I've seen someone shot with .45 ACP keep right on coming, so perhaps none of them are what they are reputed to be.
  6. jwernecke

    jwernecke G&G Newbie

    Sep 7, 2009
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    It is far better than a sharp stick, or an empty hand all together.
  7. ChaZam

    ChaZam G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Jul 16, 2008
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    I assure you even those who would tell you how inadequate it is; nobody wants to get shot with it. If you load it with good SD ammo, learn to shoot it well, it will serve you far better than a bigger firearm and bullet that you aren't comfortable with.
  8. pajaro

    pajaro G&G Newbie

    Oct 10, 2007
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    if you get really really good with a .380 auto, it will do you just fine.... if you can't shoot a .45 auto, a rock will work just as well....
  9. pajaro

    pajaro G&G Newbie

    Oct 10, 2007
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    oops, i'm getting am little too testy tonight..... sorry.....
  10. Never_Evil

    Never_Evil G&G Evangelist

    Jan 7, 2009
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    Even though dimensionally the .380 is 75% of a .45 acp, it is still 100% kick *** with the correct ammo and training.

    Caliber means nothing when you cannot control the round being fired.
  11. whirlwind

    whirlwind G&G Enthusiast

    Jan 12, 2003
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    380 is great, i carry a walther p-22. and never worried one bit. bad guys dont usually wear body armor. its all about shot placement.
  12. grizcty

    grizcty God, Guns, Glory

    Sep 24, 2009
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    First thing is congrats on buying the GP 100.
    That is a great gun, and you will have years of enjoyment from it.

    I carry one daily. (GP100)
    With a Ruger LCP, as a back up gun.

    Many folks don't seem to care for the .380 caliber.
    They say it is too small, or to light hitting.
    But I like it, for many reasons.
    The size is perfect for most pockets.
    It is so light, you forget it is there.
    It is a very safe gun, even w/o a external safety.
    Many times a person can be in a uncomfortable situation.
    Let it be in a crowd, or inline at a store.
    And there is some idiots causing trouble.
    And you have no idea, if it is gonna escalate or stop.
    It is a good feeling to be able to put "hands on" a firearm.
    That is easily concealed in a coat pocket. JUST IN CASE!
    Instead of worrying about, how your gonna yank out 3 lbs of iron!

    And IF for some reason, I need to use it.
    It WILL be used, up close & personal.
    As most muggers, thugs etc., are gonna be within striking distance.
  13. cjleete

    cjleete G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Jan 5, 2009
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    I have a Walther PPK in 380. and it is a small, but accurate pistol, and its small enough to slip into a pocket going out the door. However, the light weight and blowback design means that the recoil is more pronounced than my 9mm glock 19 despite the light caliber. not a big factor with my big paws but still a factor for some folks.
  14. lefty o

    lefty o G&G Evangelist

    Mar 15, 2002
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    i personally dont much care for the round, but if you need it, it is absolutely better than not having one.
  15. TXplt

    TXplt Gun Toting Boeing Driver Forum Contributor

    Jan 23, 2008
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    Congrats on the GP-100; an all purpose .38/.357 is a great addition to anyone`s armory. I think you will find it serves you well and be very comfortable to practice with using mid-range 38 rounds. It can be used for almost everything; from target practice to hunting to home/car defense to CCW even.

    I`m not a big 380 fan; having said that my CCW when I`m not carrying my Sig C3 .45 is a Sig 238. These are great little guns with decent triggers (a little on the heavy side for a single action), nice sights, and like a mini-1911. I`m not that much of a fan of the TDA .380s but I`ve shot them and many people seem to like them and they go bang. For me, the trigger difference in a TDA (DA first shot, SA afterward) is hard to master in a CCW gun and I am better off with either a DAO gun without safety or SA gun with safety. This is my personal preference -- the TDA 9mm M9 was our service pistol and did OK but at the end of the day I`d much rather have a 1911--and probably would have gone with the HK DAO compact for the service pistol had it existed in its present form at the time. The LCP and the like (diamondback) are nice because they are small and flat with a consistent trigger--if I was getting a medium size 380 I`d really opt for the LC9 or one of the mini-9`s with superior ballistics. The 238 is as big as I`ll go.

    For me, the NICE thing about the 380s is they are SMALL and FLAT. The sight radius is OK--better than a snubbie but not as good as a laser. The big thing is their flatness which makes them easy to carry always and conceal. They just seem to disappear in a pocket.

    You need to realize they are small guns with inferior ballistics and have definite limitations in all respects -- you`re making a trade off of something you will have with you ALL the time as opposed to something you will have with you SOME of the time (which is worth it for me--ANY gun beats no gun at all). As such you will need to spend time practicing decent shot placement and ensure complete reliability with your carry ammo. 380s will tend to be less reliable than a snubby and will likely only give you one shot from a pocket before jamming (if you have to shoot through a jacket); the trade off is something which is flatter and has a better sight radius with a potentially better trigger.

    As far as ballistics, the best 380 rounds approach the 38 special ballistics from a snubby (but are a little lighter). I load my .38 snubbies alternating the 110 gr. Hornady critical defense (all my guns save the .45 seem to like this ammo) with the Buffalo Bore 150 gr cast wadcutters (accuracy and penetration).

    In my 238, I alternate the Buffalo Bore .380 +P hollow point with the 380 +P hard cast flat point (for penetration). You could substitute the critical defense round with the HP, but I`d recommend at least every other shot to be the hard cast FP for penetration which the round will have trouble with.

    Good luck and cheers !
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
  16. srt 10 jimbo

    srt 10 jimbo G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

    Apr 13, 2009
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    I never have and probably never will own a .380 . you can get 9mm handguns now that are pretty small, ammo is cheaper and more readily available and It's a better round.
  17. olcop

    olcop G&G Enthusiast

    Jun 21, 2009
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    To semi quote one of the gentlemen on one of the gun programs: "Let me shoot you 8 times in the face with my .380, then I'll let you shoot me with whatever you want to"
  18. flyingbrkracing

    flyingbrkracing G&G Enthusiast

    Jan 4, 2010
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    Like Griz and TX,Congrats on the GP100.You will not be disappointed,great gun.
    I have an LCP and like the others said,it disappears in the pocket.Mine also goes bang every time with the Hornady Critical Defense.
    The best thing about it is that I can carry no matter what I'm wearing(so long as it has a pocket) and while it's no hand cannon it's better than my .25.
  19. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    Oct 1, 2007
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    It's all about shot placement. If you can put your rounds where they will do the most good every time, the perp is going down. I'd recommend loading with Critical Defense ammo; previous comments re: development of FMJ. It is unlikely you will be dealing with body armor.
  20. jmp8927

    jmp8927 G&G Evangelist

    Nov 1, 2007
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    I carry a Taurus TCP everywhere and feel completely safe. That being, I also carry a 9mm when I'm wearing enough clothes to cover it properly. The .380 is the only pistol I have small enough to be comfortable in my waistband. As others have said, no one is lining up to get shot by a .380.
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