.380 for Self-Defense? Question of the Day

I pocket carry a Ruger LCP II chambered in .380. “Some among my colleagues consider any pistol in 380Auto caliber to be inadequate for serious purposes,” gun guru John Farnam writes below, “and maybe they’re right.” Hang on; I carry my gun fun! But seriously folks, shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. And a .380 is easy to carry and easy to control. So I say yes. Yes?

John Farnam writes [via ammoland.com]:

What is called the “380 Auto” over here, is called “9mm Kurz,” “9mm Corto,” or “9×17” in Europe. “Kurz” and “Corto” both translate to “short” The cartridge has been around for over one-hundred years, nearly as long as the currently more-popular 9mm Parabellum (AKA: “9×19,” “9mm Luger”).

The 380Auto’s enduring popularity is due partially to the fact that it is a low-pressure round, even by pistol standards. That being the case, pistols chambered for it have largely employed (until recently) straight “blow-back” designs and are thus much less expensive to manufacture than are pistols that incorporate a locking system.

And, because there are so many blow-back pistols chambered for this round, commercial ammunition manufacturers load the 380Auto strictly within SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) specifications. Thus, the 380Auto can be loaded only so “hot.” For that reason you’ll probably never see a 380Auto “+p.”

Some among my colleagues consider any pistol in 380Auto caliber to be inadequate for serious purposes, and maybe they’re right.

And yet, GLOCK’s G42 (Glock’s single-column 380Auto pistol) has been extremely popular among consumers (many of whom are admittedly naive) since it was introduced several years ago. So popular is the G42 in fact, that S&W recently brought-out their version, the S&W Shield EZ handgun.

S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ Pistol

Kahr’s version, the P380 (which has been around the longest) is smaller than either the GLOCK or the S&W Shield. All are designed for discreet concealed-carry and personal protection.

Hardball ammunition is, of course, available for practice, but “serious” ammunition for the 380Auto is generally a hollow-point between 80 and 90grs. Velocities range from 950 to 1050f/s. Reputable manufacturers all make their own versions.

Penetration generally falls short of the 12″-18″ FBI Standard.

The real question is this: Can we instructors, in good conscience, recommend for serious purposes, any 380Auto gun/ammunition combination? As noted above, there is no universal agreement on this.

Some will insist the 9×19, even with modern +p ammunition, is still only marginally adequate, even grossly inadequate, and that only 40S&W, 357SIG, and 45ACP should ever be considered.

What I tell students is this; Any pistol/ammunition combination can be correctly called “grossly inadequate.” Pistols, in general, have scant “redeeming social value,” save the fact that they are small, and we can carry them around discreetly concealed.

When using a pistol, any pistol, in a desperate effort to save your life, multiple, precisely-aimed impacts will likely be necessary in order to precipitate any observable behavioral change on the part of the person(s) you’re shooting. Even then, long seconds may agonizingly tick-by, with no sign of discomfort on the part of your attacker!

Accordingly, we must be trained and prepared to hit the violent felon, no matter what kind of pistol we’re using;

(1) in vital areas,

(2) multiple times,

(3) rapidly.

Some calibers/pistols may represent a better choice than others, but any pistol, even a lowly 380auto, will surely be a significant improvement over being unarmed and unprepared!

.380 ACP bullets are notoriously unreliable when it comes to expansion, especially when fired from pocket guns like the Ruger LCP. This Sig Sauer V-Crown load tested well.
For some of my students, particularly the small-statured, with small hands, limited upper-body strength, and limited tolerance for recoil and noise, a 380Auto pistol will be better than nothing, and surely better than anything less, such as 22 rimfire.

I encourage students to purchase what they can comfortably carry concealed, can comfortably and accurately shoot in training (several hundred rounds at a sitting), and that they can comfortably fit into their lives.

Of course, the bigger and more powerful, the better. No doubt.  Is there room for the humble 380Auto in here? You tell me!


About John Farnam & Defense Training International, Inc
As a defensive weapons and tactics instructor John Farnam will urge you, based on your own beliefs, to make up your mind in advance as to what you would do when faced with an imminent lethal threat. You should, of course, also decide what preparations you should make in advance if any. Defense Training International wants to make sure that their students fully understand the physical, legal, psychological, and societal consequences of their actions or inactions.

It is our duty to make you aware of certain unpleasant physical realities intrinsic to the Planet Earth. Mr. Farnam is happy to be your counselor and advisor. Visit: www.defense-training.com


  1. avatar Jackass Jim says:

    Is there some legal requirement that this same question be posted more than twice per year?

    1. avatar Robert Farago says:


      1. avatar Flinch says:

        Is there an LCP chambored in any other flavor than .380? Didn’t think so.

    2. avatar Rick says:

      Of course there is.

      But sure, 380 is fine, if 38 Spl is OK, so is it.

      For the 9mm rounds, it goes 38spl, 380, 38spl+p, 9mm, 357sig, 357mag.

      1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

        I would move the .38 special above the .380. If you load the .38 with 158 grain hard cast bullets you will get better penetration than the .380. Neither round, unless you go +p, can be trusted to reliably open hollow points.

        Basically the 9×18 mak is the +p variant of the .380.

        1. avatar Rick says:

          I was basically going with generally available stuff, you could 9mm Dillon in there too.

          In my 21/4″ Smith, std pressure 158 run down around 650fps.

        2. avatar Jeremy B. says:

          ShootingTheBull410 disagrees with you. Hornady XTP and Federal Hydra-Shock are consistent performers in .380 (other calibers need not apply).

      2. avatar J.D.Fowlerton says:

        I always thought .38 spl tended to edge out .380 by a bit.

        .380 wouldn’t me my first choice of a primary carry gun but there are considerably worse options.

        1. avatar Rick says:

          I’d say yes with +p, but 38spl is S L O W.

        2. avatar Art out West says:

          I occasionally carry my LCP, when I’m too lazy, or too much printing to carry my 642 (with Gold Dot +P).

          I don’t like carrying the .380, but realize it is much better than nothing. I like the .38+P revolver much better.

          Now, a larger double stack .380 like a CZ83 or Beretta 84 is a totally different ballgame. I’d feel very comfortable with those, but it I’m going with a pistol that large, I’ll just take my G19.

    3. avatar Bloving says:

      Well Jackass, I suppose the answer is: it gets posed often because so many people carry it often. RF has little interest in asking if .41AE or .25NAA are adequate for defense because I’ve never met someone who even owns one – let alone carries one.
      Another fun question he’s been known to ask that gets interesting and opinionated responses: “What is the smallest caliber you regularly carry?”

  2. avatar JDC says:

    I carry a Kahr CW380 ALL the time. I also carry other pistols, in addition to the CW380, at other times, depending on the situation. I carry the CW380 in a Recluse holster in my back pocket. I have this set up because I know I will always have it on me, no matter what. Anything bigger, maybe not.

    1. avatar Joel says:

      I second this. I ALWAYS have a small pocket pistol. (Right front pocket for me). If I’m going somewhere that I might actually think I should have a gun, I carry a second, larger weapon. But if I’m awake and wearing pants I carry a gun.

    2. avatar gp says:

      Yup. I have my P-3AT on me 24/7, except in shower. THAT’S why 380.

  3. avatar Woody from NY says:

    I carry a G19 with a surefire x300 iwb all day in a Lux holster. Definitely not for everyone but completely doable. We all have to make our own choice, i recommend you go to the range and run your 380 through drills on a timer and mix in reloads and awkward shooting positions. Also shoot from 3 feet to 75 feet and see whats possible. If u r happy, carry on. If you aren’t than make a change. Dont listen to anyone that tells you what to carry, do listen to people that offer suggestions backed by experience or evidence.

  4. avatar anonymous says:

    .380 for Self-Defense?

    Yes. Next question…

  5. avatar Astigmatism says:

    Buffalo Bore has a 380 +P

    1. avatar Jeremy B. says:

      “Thus, the 380Auto can be loaded only so “hot.” For that reason you’ll probably never see a 380Auto “+p.””

      That whole paragraph is a pointless exercise. There is no SAAMI spec for .380 +P. Nor is SAAMI willing to create anymore “+P” designations in the near future.

      Anything in .380 ACP with a +P rating is either a lie (conforms to SAAMI specs) or is a potentially dangerous over pressure load.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:


      BuffaloBore also sells standard pressure .380 Auto with 100 grain HARDCAST LEAD bullets. Those should have no trouble penetrating 12 to 18 inches.

      (Hint: that is what I load when I carry my .380 Auto “mouse” gun.)

      1. avatar Joel says:

        Gel tests show that the cheapest .380 FMJ rounds will penetrate 20+ inches in balistic gel. That buffalo bore round probably penetrates in the 30-35 inch range…. I’d call that a woods carry round. Except it’s a .380.

        I think the extreme penetrator .380 rounds have as close to ideal .380 penetration as I have seen. But they are expensive, unproven in the real world, and possiblly unreliable in some pistols. The XTP bullets are usually in the 11-13 inch range when they expand and 15-17 inch range when they tumble. Not great, but adiquite. Barely.

    3. avatar Matt(TX) says:

      My LCP is not rated for +P. I am OK with that as any self defense round I have put through it is very uncomfortable to shoot. My Walther PK380 was fun to shoot and very easy on your hand and rated for +P. First rule of a gunfight, is to have a gun. Any gun.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Any caliber is deadly if it hits a vital area or causes exsanguination. Hence, shot placement.

    The problem with the .380 and lesser calibers is margin for error. At less-than-contact distances, the lower-power, smaller calibers have no such margin. Bigger and more powerful ammunition can provide a greater margin for error at all distances — if the defender can handle them.

    People would be best served by carrying the most powerful gun they can conceal and shoot well. If that’s a .380 or even a .22, so be it.

    1. avatar EWTHeckman says:

      I fully agree.

      In my wife’s case, shooting 9mm is a problem, therefore she is stuck with a .380.

      Because of .380’s marginal performance, ammo selection _really_ matters. That means giving her the most effective ammo I can find, which means I’m paying the stupid price for Underwoods Xtreme Defenders for her carry ammo. I chose that because it has the reliable penetration of ball rounds (critical for .380!) with better damage than ball.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        “Because of .380’s marginal performance, ammo selection _really_ matters.”

        EWTHeckman for the win!!!

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      The ‘margin’ between a .380 and 9mm is quite small. Diameter-wise, almost non-existent. Power-wise, sure, but the amount of bad guys that would be stopped except the bullet going through their chest needed an inch more… probably also pretty small.

      .380 is not a great choice when you have 9mms, .40s and .45s available but it’s also not that much worse.

  7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Better than a pointed stick.

    1. avatar Jeremy B. says:

      And who actually carries a sharp stick in these post-neanderthal days?

      1. avatar Jackass Jim says:

        I carry a dull stick – (36-inches of hickory) when walking the dog). The 38 special is great backup.

      2. avatar VaqueroJustice says:

        I made my wife a sharp stick once, just playing around in the back yard.
        She said she preferred something more modern,
        so I fire hardened the tip and informed her that at one time,
        that would have been a state of the art military weapon.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Then mankind discovered – rocks.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Even a small handgun in .380 ACP is far, far better than a pointed stick. Remember, something like 90% of all attackers immediately vacate when their victim merely produces a handgun and points it at them.

      And of the approximately 10% of attackers who linger after their victim draws and points a handgun at them, most of those attackers immediately vacate when the victim starts shooting. After all, the attacker has no idea that their victim only has .380 ACP.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        I don’t know u_s, nobody ever took a woolly mammoth or giant sloth with a .380.

        1. avatar Hannibal says:

          Do you know a lot of people that took a woolly mammoth with anything?

          Bet it wasn’t all that easy to do with a stick either. Unless you just poke it and make it run off a cliff, which was a pretty useful method. A gun would probably achieve a similar effect.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          The best tool for taking mammoths these days is the pick-axe.

  8. avatar tdiinva says:

    Most DGUs end without shots fires and most of those that don’t end after the first round, hit or not. Getting shot, even by a lowly 22lr, hurts and that generally ends things so carrying a 380 will be sufficient for virtually all self defense situations.

    Having said that, I won’t go with anything smaller than a 9mm.

    1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      Bad guys don’t look at the gun in the good guys hands and think to themselves, ‘that’s a Colt 1908 in .380 acp. I can shrug off at least 2 hits from it without major damage. Time to continue the attack.’

      More like. ‘Oh shit! Gun! I’m out!’

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        And you win the Intertubez today!

        (I am still laughing out loud.)

    2. avatar Robb says:

      You beat me to it. Watch YouTube or LiveLeak videos. Pretty much anytime a gu n comes out, let alone being fired, the bad guys duck and run.

      If all anyone c an handle is a .380, so be it.

      Better to have one and not need it…..

  9. avatar rocketscientist says:

    380 allows me to pocket-carry, which is my preferred mode these days. Plenty of good ammo, underwood, buffalo bore, those newfangled extreme defender ones that make hollow points supposedly moot if penetration is your concern. Glock 42 all day long, driving or not driving, super comfortable. Best of all, if you suspect something is about to go down you can basically have the pistol already in your hand and it just looks like you are walking with your hands in your pockets. can’t imagine being able to draw faster than having it in your hand already. so yes, if deep concealment is your thing, .380 is kosher given new ammo…issue will be capacity since these bug guns only seem to carry 6rds in the mag. Those that can carry bigger day to day, I envy and salute you.

    1. avatar raptor jesus says:

      P238 has a handy 7-round magazine – that gives you 7+1 if you refresh after chambering one.

      1. avatar Bigus Dickus says:

        And P238 is an excellent little pistol that will not fail you. I have one, it goes in my pocket, my Shield goes on my hip.

  10. avatar Alex Waits says:


  11. avatar raptor jesus says:

    “”Penetration GENERALLY falls short of the 12″-18″ FBI Standard” my ass.


    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      The rounds that penetrate more than 12″ don’t expand properly. They are expensive ball ammo.

      1. avatar Stereodude says:

        There’s one that expanded reliably and achieved >12″ penetration (though only by a small amount). Hornady 90 gr FTX Critical Defense.

        1. avatar Scott says:

          The SIG Sauer ammo also made the cut as far as penetration and expansion.

        2. avatar tdiinva says:

          If you want to go with a compact (3.5″-4.25″ barrel) 380 will penatrate well and expand properly. Lucky Gunner and STB tested 380 out of a pocket pistol because that is the 380 people want to carry.

        3. avatar Stereodude says:

          Scott: The Sig ammo expanded reliably and the average penetration is over 12″, but several of the bullets didn’t penetrate to at least 12″. The Hornady had all rounds to at least 12″ & expanded.

    2. avatar A H says:

      Wow, very nice resource. Thanks.

  12. avatar Tile Floor says:

    I have an LCP in .380 that I pocket carry. When clothing allows I carry my Shield or Glock 17 but particularly in the summer I find myself carrying the LCP. I have enough confidence in my skill and experience (11B and PD, PD firearms instructor) that I can take care of whatever I need to with the LCP, but I still prefer a little bit bigger when feasible.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Tile Floor,

      With careful ammunition selection and good tactics, a “mouse gun” in .380 ACP is a fine choice for fighting off a street punk who attempts an armed robbery or a run-of-the-mill rapist at contact distances — which is the vast majority of attacks.

      In my opinion a “mouse gun” in .380 ACP is wholly inadequate for:
      (1) Defending against a determined stalker or ex-boyfriend/ex-spouse
      (2) Defending against spree killers
      (3) Defending against terrorists

      I want as much gun and ammunition as possible when defending against stalkers, ex’s, spree killers, and terrorists. And any handgun in .380 ACP isn’t it.

      1. avatar Hannibal says:

        Depends on the type of spree killed. Someone like Charles Whitman? Nope, you’re screwed. But if you bring pretty much any gun up against the cowards that attack schools and other soft targets, you’re probably in a reasonably good position. There are very few instances of spree killers shooting it out, they usually surrender, run, or kill themselves.

  13. avatar 5spot says:

    That famous bullet tester guy whose YT posts were placed on TTAG frequently tested a few decent 380 rounds. The guy got sick for a while and disappeared for a bit.

    Remember he did the 9mm shoot out with all the gel tests.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      There was TNOutdoors9 I think, and the ammo quest guy, ShootingTheBull410. They both quit about the same time. Very good info.

      I think the velocity/expansion issues that Hornady’s XTP bullets in various loads has in basically anything else actually makes 380 its best caliber, it allows for better penetration without excess expansion. At high velocity, the petals tend to get pushed back flat so it ends up a wadcutter, but 380 seems to be a Goldilocks caliber for it.

      I have Xtreme Defenders for 380, but I don’t currently have a 380, I think I may pick up an EZ because….I actually don’t have a real reason except because, no thumb safety. That or the Ruger PC, again, because reasons.

      1. avatar Kendahl says:

        Second place in ShootingTheBull410’s .380 tests went to Federal Hydra-Shok. It penetrated a bit deeper than the cartridges with XTP bullets but expanded even less. The biggest issue with .380 is that can penetrate or expand but doesn’t have enough energy to do both.

  14. avatar Nanashi says:

    My problem with 380 is the ammo cost. Practice is the most important thing and 380 quickly gets more expensive than 9mm.

    1. avatar Rick says:

      Yeah, that’s the main reason. My wife is a little recoil sensitive, but her Steyr M9 is 100% reliable with Critical Defense Lite, and its 17+1, and I can always put something else in it. 9mm is just so versatile with modern bullet design, and pretty cheap too.

      1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

        Yep. For practice the 9 is about the cheapest factory fresh center fire option.

  15. avatar emfourty gasmask says:

    plenty of people in eastern europe that’ll tell you the effectiveness of 380 firsthand

    gotta dig them up from the earth first

  16. avatar PsyGuy says:

    I’ve always hated this question regardless of the caliber.

    Stand down range (with normal clothing and no armor or other protection) about 20 yards and let someone shoot you with said caliber.

    If you’re not willing to do that or the bullet doesn’t penetrate/kill you… then we have an answer.
    I know someone who has an attitude where anything 9mm and smaller is just useless… bounces right off people… *SMH*

    “But he could have body armor…”
    And how many pistols would this eliminate?

    Well, in that case let me get my 50 BMG Thunder out…. because you know … he might have super duper armor that everything just bounces off…

    1. avatar Shooter McGavin says:

      Agreed…part of my carry rotation includes a Colt .380 Government…occasionally, someone will bring up the “inadequacy” of the .380 round…but to date no one has felt strongly enough about their position to volunteer to test it themselves…

    2. avatar Hannibal says:

      I mean… I wouldn’t stand twenty yards away and let you shoot me with a pellet rifle. It’ll probably penetrate (unless it’s the head) and it could POSSIBLY kill with incredibly bad luck on my part, but if I decide to charge at you I bet I can get there before I bleed out. That’s the question that matters: not ‘will it kill’ but ‘how fast will it incapacitate’ (the two being unfortunately related).

  17. avatar .45mmACP says:

    The smallest caliber carry .38mm special +p
    I also carry .45mmACP

    1. avatar Bob in Calif says:

      .45mmACP? Damn, that’s half the size of the dreaded .9mm. And .38mm+p? How the hell do you see the ammo to load it?

    2. avatar Just Sayin says:

      Mixed math there, cowboy.

      Unless you are THE inventor of the vaunted .9mm, then of course, hats off to you.

  18. avatar Support the Second says:

    Concealed carriers should only be allowed to carry non-lethal rounds anyhow, because these are sufficient to stop an assailant. A .32 ACP will do the business, with rubber bullets, which avoids gratuitous violence.

    1. avatar ATFAgentBob says:

      And if we look closely at this post class, we can see that one’s I.Q. can indeed be a negative number. What’s really fascinating is that this subject still manages to type while respiring.

      1. avatar Just Sayin says:


        You made me snort!

    2. avatar Smitty says:

      CCW rubber bullets, so says you.
      I call BS.

    3. avatar Oh noes says:

      What If this was your wife and kid?……………………..
      If you want to shoot this fucker with rubber bullets be my guest, But I’ll stick with a 12ga deer slug to the heart.

    4. avatar MilitantCentrist says:

      Man people on this forum have notoriously defective sarcasm detectors. I feel for you.

      Guys – wear ear pro! All those booms aren’t just making you deaf, they’re apparently making you tone deaf, too!

  19. avatar Ed Rogers says:

    Oh, the cheap, clickbait question – Well played, well played!

    For me, a non-tacticool, run-of-the-mill type – yes. My research has led me to the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defense ammunition. This is a fairly untested round but has done well enough for me in my gel testing.

    I’m NOT looking for lethality, I want to stop the threat. I also can’t be encumbered by a full sized pistol most of the time. Am I gambling with my life? Sure but so is everyone else. It’s my risk, you do as you see fit.

  20. avatar Rich says:

    I’ve carried a 22, 32NAA, 380, 38 Special, and will eventually get a 25 acp. I’m also a huge believer in a small gun in the hand is better than a big one in the safe. That said, I carry a Glock 42 almost ritually loaded with Gold Dots, and I’m super confident with it. I’ll step up to my 43 if I have a jacket or hoodie on, but the 42 is ultra concealable. And concealing is second, only to reliability, to me.

    1. avatar ironicatbest says:

      I’d be leary of the .25 acp, had s Freind who committed suicide with one, headshot himself and lived three days. Then again they have been one shot stop s on some occasions. The 25 does have a better chance then a .22 out of a short barrel. I have used one and it did prevent a car jacking, it was a gun and not the caliber that made the difference. Like above post, ” gun oh shit’

  21. avatar Red Forman says:

    .9mm FTW

  22. avatar Docduracoat says:

    . 380 was sufficient to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie
    One hit each, two kills
    That .380 started World War One and caused the death of millions of people
    I use wadcutter type truncated cone ammo in my Walther PPK/s as they punch a nice round hole and produce deep penetration

  23. avatar Roman of Texas says:

    I carry a sig 238 along with my sig 229 (in 357 Sig) everyday. You never know. I use the ruger arx bullets in mine my sig 238.

  24. avatar strych9 says:

    Given that most criminals seek every advantage they can get and generally consider a gun in your hands to remove most of those advantages, yes .380 is probably enough in most cases.

    Will there be cases where it doesn’t get the job done? Sure, but you can say the same thing of artillery.

    Personally, I think that if your argument is that you can’t conceal a bigger gun in a bigger caliber you’re not really trying. But I will give a lot of leeway to those who have health problems or disabilities that prevent them from reliably shooting such a piece.

    All that said, generally a .380 is going to be better than nothing but I’d back it up with something like a push dagger just in case.

  25. avatar Derek says:

    One of my all time favorite pistols is a .380, the Beretta 84FS, sleek, sexy, and concealable. Regrettably I ended up selling it and used ones pop up so sparodically I don’t know that I’ll ever get another and the new ones are $700.

  26. avatar MDH says:

    No. Just…. no.

  27. avatar BehindEnemyLines says:

    I reload 9x19mm. .380/9x17mm brass is too close in dimensions to 9x19mm brass to tell apart at a glance. That’s the biggest reason I don’t have a .380.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      I’m not sure if there’s a better way, but I run into the problem too when sorting mixed range brass. My approach is stacking them vertically, and picking out all the short ones!

      And, on the cost issue, I’m amazed how much .380 costs versus 9mm. It’s almost not worth it (to me) to reload blasting 9mm, but I do because I enjoy reloading. But, .380, you can save a ton!

  28. avatar CueBaller says:

    380 is fine. So is 22lr, for that matter.

    Do they necessarily have the stopping power of larger rounds? Nope.

    Will the recipient of your trigger pulls tuck tail and run / stop attacking you / etc. regardless? 99.9% of the time, yes.

  29. avatar A O says:

    380 is probably good enough during summer in warmer climates. Winter in the norther states, no way; that round would clog and not penetrate adequately enough through a thick winter jacket. Just get a weapon chambered in 9- many are not much bigger that a pocket mouse.

    I was speed shooting for practice one day with some friends. Had a few popper targets up. The 380 hit but failed to knock them over. Hit it with a 9 and it fell over. That’s my definition of stopping power, and the smallest handgun round I will carry.

  30. avatar Accur81 says:

    People around here seem to be trendy about calling the .40 Smith and Wesson “short and weak.” Well, the .380 pushes a 90 grain JHP from short barrels around 1000 FPS. The .40 Smith pushes a 180 grain around 1000 FPS from a ~ 4″ barrel. The .40 out of a typical 4″ gun has literally double the power of a .380.

    The .380 is a wimpy round, but better than leaving a .45 back home in the safe. I got a Glock 43 and stopped carrying my .380 for awhile. The biggest issue I have with the .380 is that it costs more than 9mm while delivering a lot less power.

    For recoil sensitive shooters and deep carry, the .380 is great. Otherwise, I’m not a fan.

  31. avatar former water walker says:

    380 is better than nothing. I had a Taurus TCP that was very EZ to shoot. I tested Corbon Pow’rball and it ran great. Supposedly ran 1200fps…at least that’s what Jeff Quinn wrote(a dandy little pocket pocket pistol). Now I won’t go less than 38 or 9mm. Both can easily be pocket carried(Taurus 709/85 Ultralite). 380 is an “always” carry gun-even at your daughter’s school…

  32. avatar Mr. savage says:

    I picked up a taurus tcp, couldn’t shoot the damn thing, every time I did it would “spin” in my hand to the outside of my body 90º, my hands are simply too big, the Remington rm380 we have is more shootable for me, but anything smaller than my xds9 seems to be more problematic to even hold onto, I carry my NAA folding .22 as a backup, but anything more than 5 feet will likely be untouched by it. I can’t do tiny framed pistols, regardless of caliber.

  33. avatar Ray says:

    I normally carry glock 27, BUT, there was a time when working at a govt installation, I had to fire a nut case. Not possible to conceal that G27, so carried a little .25 auto. Sure, its less than marginal, but still better than my letter opener. Whatever the caliber, I say carry what you can EFFECTIVELY shoot.

  34. avatar little horn says:

    lowest i’ll go is 9mm, yes i know they are basically the same sized projectile but ROUND wise, 380 just doesnt fill me with confidence of it being a man stopper. hell, plenty of police reports say the same about 9mm sometimes. yeah yeah shot placement i know.

  35. avatar A Brit in TX says:

    I believe that 380 is fine for 99% of DGU situations.

    Once the statists have banned all semi-autos though, we’ll be having this discussion about .38spl!!!

  36. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I already carry a 380 LCP every day.

    What would be wrong with carrying a larger 380 that is easier to hit with and gives more velocity.

    I think I would lean to the Beretta 84 but I do like me some Beretta. I also like the single action trigger better for placing shots.

    Anyway, if someone can hit accurately and quickly with a 380, it is better than a sharp stick.

    Maybe I’ll carry my Walther PP in 32 tomorrow.

  37. avatar ironicatbest says:

    I used to carry a .380 and felt OK with it same as I used to carry a .25 then I went .357 revolver, then I got in a gunfight with some other bikers outside of a bar, ran out of bullets way to fast and reloading the revolver from a pocket was a fumbling affair. I saw an individual get shot in the mouth with a .380 the bullet deflected off his teeth and went out of his cheek, it put him down like getting punched real hard we all figured he was dead . I also no of a ” narc” that got shot in the chest with a .44, he was still alive when they dumped him in the rock quarry. Nothing is for certain, sometimes a .380 will work, sometimes it won’t. . My cousin killed a guy with a machete for falling asleep with the TV on, so I guess machete’s work too.

  38. avatar Frank in VA says:

    Bottom line is that when a gun comes out and starts going bang-bang in the direction of a perp, I would guess that 9 out of 10 of them are going to turn and run no matter what size of projectiles are headed their way.

  39. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    I have a “compact” 9 that I cannot conceal other than in baggy shorts and an oversized shirt. The Sig P238 and even more so the 738TCP simply disappear in a pocket. I have smaller hands so the small guns fit. They are both very accurate in spite of the Taurus recoil. The Sig has no recoil. The downside to the Taurus is the very long trigger but in a wallet holster in the back pocket it is perfect for deep concealment in any clothing. Is .380 enough? I read many articles about people being killed by the .380. Seems to me it is about surprise and shot placement. If one of those teachers in Florida had a .380 had come in from behind or from the side, we might have had a very different outcome.

  40. avatar Michael says:

    +1 on the underwood extreme defender. It beats any standard load 9mm hollow point fired from the same length barrel. Penetration and would cavity meets FBI standard with ease.

  41. avatar tiger says:

    If this was still 1964, Packing a Walther PPK & a Double “00” made sense. In 2018, A subcompact 9mm para can do the same job better, In guns about the same size.

  42. first of all, I would not carry the buffalo bore hard cast loads because they probably will over penetrate. they do have some nice hollow point loads though, and I think they will work just fine out of any .380 . and that is one of the companies that make a nice hot load for the .380. there are others. and I am sure the loads will make the fbi test. and as pointed out , a larger .380 would not have those issues ( if there really are any) , something like my Colt gov’t model .380, or my Walther PPK/S or Beretta M84 would work real nice. and these guns won’t kick like the smaller ones. and the PPK/S is nice and flat. ( so is my Colt but they only seem to be making the Mustang now). the larger guns are also easier to shoot, and give you more to hang on to. and about the comment that the .380 is better than the .22 , well I don’t want to be in front of any .22 either. they tend to play pinball once they enter your body.

  43. avatar Dwight says:

    I laugh at LEO,. When they say they shoot 9 m. I tell them ” YA MIGHT as well be shooting 380. They have no comment. Only difference is /9 m . Is a bigger bullet. Hasn’t been around as long a / the 380 bullet. Use hollow point 380 bullets. AND they are going to do the job. If I am defending my son, or wife / My current. I’ll will not do it with a 9m. I’d / want to knock someone on their ass. With a 45. With hollow points.

  44. avatar Jim22 says:

    When I carry a .380, which is not often, I load it with +P ammunition from Buffalo Bore. They offer expansion or penetration. You can’t have both.

    90 Gr. HP at advertised 1200 fps or 100 gr. cast at advertised 1150 fps. I have chronographed the 90 gr. load and it is close to 1200 fps..


  45. avatar Jim says:

    For .380 ammo, I have a recommendation. Check out Lehigh Defense extreme defense / Extreme Penetrator. I got mine from Underwood Ammo for the low flash powder. It is a bit expensive. I believe it’s well worth the investment. Check out the permanent wound cavity.

    1. avatar SteveO says:

      That’s all I carry now. Worth the price😄😄

  46. avatar TB says:

    Well if it’s all about shot placement then just carry a .22. It’s small, cheap, very cheap ammo easy to shoot. And I’m sure your assailant will finally bleed out long after you’re dead😂😂😂😂

  47. avatar SteveO says:

    Look at the Underwood 380 solid core ammo. That’s all I carry. You’ll be surprised at the depth penetration

  48. avatar David says:

    Taurus 738TCP loaded with Ruger ARX rounds. Absolutely disappears IWB or in a pocket, and it drives nails inside 15 yards for me. Goes where other guns won’t. This being said, I prefer my .357 or one of my .45s. Still beats a sharp stick or harsh language though.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email