Why .380?

Discussion in 'Caliber Zone' started by tallbump, Nov 13, 2015.

  1. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    I mean this as a serious question and an opportunity for me to learn.

    I guess you could discuss this with any caliber. But I am really curious about the .380.

    Is there ANY advantage of the .380 over a 9mm?
    I have heard/read some discussion about possibly less recoil, but i have seen the .380 referred to as snappy many times.
  2. Not2ManyGuns

    Not2ManyGuns Member

    Because the Walther PPK & PPKs are the most beautiful guns ever made and the largest caliber they came in was the 380ACP.:D

    Because there are some modern plastic receiver 380's that are so small and light, they are actually quite comfortably kept in a front pocket in a Kydex pocket holster (e.g. PJ Holsters, LLC.). Even if it has a laser sight on it. If a bad looking guy is approaching, one can nonchalantly keep a hand in the pocket on the grip ready to use, if needed, rather than lifting a shirt and then reaching to pull out a 9mm out of a IWB holster after the threat has already begun to play out.

  3. talon

    talon the banned wagon

    The only reason i could see anyone calling 380 "snappy" is because in general, most 380s have tentatively short barrels and lightweight frames.
    Otherwise, its far from a powerhouse round.

    Im far from an expert on that round, but the only true advantage i can see for using it, is again, most of the guns that use it are nice and compact and light. I still think with the current models of 9mm out there, id still take the 9mm for availability and convenience.
  4. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Availability and personal preference.

    In firearms which are, ceteris paribus, identical, the .380ACP will have less recoil because it has less energy to start with. There aren't that many handguns which can say that. Is the slide weight on the CF380 the same as the C9? I don't think so, but if they are then the CF380 would have less felt recoil. The Ruger SR9 and SR380, I believe, are identical except for the chamber and springs. My recollection is that there were some Berettas in the 92 lineage which were chambered in .380ACP. Did the Hi-Power come in .380ACP? Anyway, you get the idea.

    The reason that 380's are "snappy" by most standards today is that they're what the super-compact pocket-rockets are chambered for. And when you shave that much mass and size off, even the 380 will be snappy.

    Another reason is if you want to consolidate cartridge chamberings. Say you have a Kel Tec P3AT or a Taurus TCP and want to only buy one kind of ammo. So you get the Bersa Thunder 380 or a vintage Beretta Cheetah for your "full sized" handgun and hunt around for a .380ACP carbine (or maybe wait out the HP 3895TS). Now you only have to buy/reload for one caliber and you still have a pocket-rocket gun smaller than any of the 9mm pocket guns out there.

    My recollection is that JMB designed the .380ACP not from or to compete with the 9mm, but because he needed a rimless, straight walled, cartridge for his pocket hammerless, a simple blowback (ims), and for his own reasons decided that the power of the .380ACP struck the perfect balance for concealability/carry with the mass/size of the pocket hammerless.

    Had he the benefit of modern engineering, machining, materials, and ballistics, he likely would have designed something much more powerful.

    OTOH, I have a buddy who's convinced that .380ACP ammunition was originally loaded WAY hotter than modern SAAMI top. He says the same of .32ACP. I believe one of his primary research sources is WWI-WWII era German military documents.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  5. I haven't read all the other responses. But my reason for carrying a .380ACP
    Is because my gun weighs 11oz and it fits in my front,back,chest, coat, shorts pockets.
  6. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    I guess at that time it made sense. But like talon suggested, with the subcompact 9mm on the market today, does it make sense to buy a .380 now?

    The only advantage I see, with the information included in this thread, is all things being equal, the .380 would have less recoil than a 9mm. For some, maybe that's enough.

    But with the plethora of small, easy to conceal 9mm on the market, and the fact that 9mm ammo is cheaper, I just don't get why someone would make the choice if they were buying a new pistol now.

    I am not criticizing someone who would do it, I just don't understand it. Maybe if you got a killer deal on a .380?????

    I almost had a good deal on one, but it didn't work out. I seriously considered it just becuase of that, and I get that. So I guess that's one reason
  7. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Stick a S&W M&P Shield 9 in front pants pocket and walk around for a day, then replace it with a P3AT and get back with me.

    Peace favor your sword,
  8. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter

    You'll ask why again after reading this page:

  9. Atomic_Ed

    Atomic_Ed Member

    It’s the same old power verses convince compromise. Back 35 yrs ago, when I had a FFL, there was only one or two well-known choices for the 380, the Walther PPK and the AMT 380 backup. Generally available ammo was then limited to ball only. But the 380 was still a better choice than the 22lr and 25 for concealed carry, even back then. The only real choices other than the 380s that was really available was either a 38 special or a small 45 (Star or Detonics). At this time, the performance of a 380 was about the same as a 38 special, so the choice was either a 38 revolver or a 380 pistol for a small, but useful defensive firearm. (35 yrs ago, the 9mm wasn’t much of a consideration for concealed carry due to a lack of firearm selection at that time.)

    Today, both the 9mm and the 380 have advanced considerably, in both ammo performance and compactness. Both are capable of severe wound channels over 20” with the right ammo choices.

    While some people can easily carry a 9mm, I can’t; I’m a small framed guy. I’ve tried carrying a Kel-Tec PF9, probably one of the smallest 9mm on the market, but It never became a “learned” carry practice for me. IWB, OWB and pocket carry were never “instinctive”. The 380 on the other hand, slips into my pocket just as easy as a wallet. It’s now a habit, not a task, when I dress.

    As for snappiness, neither the PF9 nor the Taurus TCP 380, my current carry, are range guns, but the TCP is definitely easier to shoot than the PF9.

    Given the new technology of the 380s, I feel very comfortable carrying one. Go check out “Shooting the Bull” on you tube and his testing of the different 380 ammo. The XTP bullet and the new “wound channel” bullet (can’t remember its name right now) make the 380 very effective and worth consideration.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  10. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    That would probably be either the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator in .380ACP or the PolyCase Interceptor. Both of these use modern computer aided cavitation and compression-jet understanding to increase permanent wound cavity far past what we've been able to do in the past with solid or expanding point bullets.

    It's really kinda cool, but it assumes that the permanent wound cavity over bullet path (up to FBI minimum/maximum penetration depths) is the most important part of the "stopping power" equation. That, of course, is still debated. :)

    FWIW, the tests I've seen of the Lehigh stuff has been really pretty impressive but they were all static jello tests, not "I shot this living thing" tests.

    Peace favor your sword,
  11. Atomic_Ed

    Atomic_Ed Member

    I'll have to dig around and see if I have any old 380 ball and chrono it later on. That would be interesting comparison, but age of the old ball ammo may skew the results.
  12. Atomic_Ed

    Atomic_Ed Member

    Yep, that's the bullet design I was thinking about.

    But for us amateurs, the jello tests are about the only thing we have to do reasonably unbiased comparisons with.

    So, ready to trade in your 9mm for a 380 conceal carry Tallbump?
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  13. I have absolutely no faith in tests that do not in the least resemble tissue. I was a butcher, gelatin is nothing like flesh. And even then the flesh of a animal raised to be juicy, and tender is nothing like human flesh.

    Marketing has one goal, that is to relieve the public of dollars. Any way they can.
  14. moona11

    moona11 King of you Monkeys Lifetime Supporter

    I'm with WW lets line up ISIS and try out different rounds
  15. EvilE424

    EvilE424 Death to Dishonor Lifetime Supporter

    I love my .380 for my concealed carry (because its easy to hide) and it doesn't beat the sh!t out of my hand like my Keltec 9mm. Here is an interesting article on the .380 with a fun little video (which WW won't like because its ballistics gel - which I agree I would rather see how it impacts the human body)...Searching for a video for that :D

  16. Atomic_Ed

    Atomic_Ed Member

    I forgot to mention that the "Shooting the Bull" 380 ammo tests were also done with the 4 layers of denim. 12-14" of penetration, with good expansion is were the XTP bullet shines in the 380. If I remember right, the Lehigh bullet penetrated around 20" with a substantial cavity in the gel and through denim.

    The debate on ballistics gel is about as divided as the debate on 9mm vs. 380 as a defensive carry. One of the misconceptions is that ballistics gel is like jello (yea, my bad, I called it jello also). Take a close look at the first video in Evil's post. Notice him slapping the gel and not much motion? Kinda like a piece of rump roast? It's density closely matches the average tissue density of an average person.

    Yes, ballistics gel isn't real world, but it's close and gives us a basis for relative, reproducible comparison. I only wish my gut was as firm as that lump of ballistics gel. :)
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
  17. I can, and have poked my finger into ballistics gel, flesh cannot be torn open with a knife like the gel in the videos. The body is not made up of gelatin. Just for myself, YMMV I have absolutely no faith in gel tests.

    What I do have faith in is doctors who have examined GSW, and the long history of firearms. Before videos, internet, and even tv.
  18. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    NE Utah

    Here's why...the 9mm isn't even CLOSE to as small, as the small .380. I mean..it's wallet size, look at it!:p



    I have the PF-9, which is a freaking small in 9mm, and I have the various Mak launchers, and I have the P3AT.

    And the P3AT fits in ALL my pockets, front, back, vest...it doesn't matter.
    The Rohrbaugh is about the same size..and about 3-4 times the cost.

    But the others simply don't fit in a pocket very well. Anyone that says they pocket carry a PF-9 comfortably must have a different level of acceptable pocket size, or pant tightness, or comfort.:rolleyes:

  19. tallbump

    tallbump Supporting Member

    SO, one thing I can see is that you want somethign smaller than a subcompact 9. Perhaps there are a few (or at lease one) small .380 smaller than the smallest 9s?

    If that is the case, I can see that.
  20. Tactikewl pants have rather large pockets.