Question of the Day: Is .380 a Suitable Self-Defense Caliber?

“Raven Smith doesn’t usually take a gun to Applebee’s,” tampabay.com reports. “But something made him reconsider Sunday night as he held his .380 caliber weapon in his hand, about to leave it behind as he stepped out of his car to have dinner with his girlfriend, Ashley Tanner. In a split second, he found himself firing the weapon at a masked stranger who rushed up behind Tanner with what looked like a gun.” Hmmm. Smith just happened to have his gun in his hand when an armed robber appeared? Anyway, Jungle Boogie . . . [Note: it's a pun on a popular song, not a racist remark.]

“Get down, get down!” Smith yelled to Tanner. She ducked and he fired four shots at the stranger from less than 6 feet away, over the head of his crouched girlfriend. The would-be robber was Anthony Lawrence Hauser, 17, of 3760 38th Ave. N, police said . . .

“I saw orange flashes over my head,” Tanner said. “And then my ears were ringing.”

Smith recalled shooting the robber four times. He fell to the ground, then yelled to Smith: “Don’t shoot me anymore!”

Assuming that this report gets the basics facts right, a man intent on killing Mr. Smith and Ms. Tanner gets shot four times from six feet and he has enough presence of mind to beg for his life? Sounds like he had enough life left in him to f them up.

Shot placement is all. A gun is better than no gun. Stopping power is not the same as lethality. Feel free to carry a .380 for self-defense and feel good about it. But I wonder what would have happened if Mr. Smith had shot his would-be attacker with a .45 caliber handgun. Four times. Would the perp have still been able to mount a counter-attack?

I know: caliber wars are so last decade. So let’s make this personal: do YOU carry a .380? If you carry something more ostensibly potent, would you feel under-gunned with a .380? And finally, why not a sub-compact nine?