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View Full Version : .380 defenseve load Power? Recomendations?


brianm767
01-01-2011, 3:47 PM
Ok I don't really want to start a debate on what caliber is better or any thing like that, we all have our preferences, I just have a few questions about .380's

Can some one in laymen's terms tell me about how powerful a hot .380 round is when compared to a 38SPL or 9MM round?

I have a Kahr P380 that I will be carrying from time to time, and it looks like my father is going to retire his S&W 36 and pick up a LCP, he wants light and small.

Any recommendations on a good defense round for a P380 and LCP, Brand? weight etcc..? we will use cheap Winchester FMJ ammo from Wally World for the break in periods.

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 3:49 PM
WWB FMJ flatnose... 100 rounds for around 32 bucks. That is what i use for my LCP. There is no point using JHP for 380 rounds.

paul0660
01-01-2011, 3:51 PM
There is no point using JHP for 380 rounds.

Please explain. You don't think 90 to 100 grains going 900 to 1000 fps is going to go through a body?

003
01-01-2011, 3:53 PM
One of the best if not the very best .380 self defense loads on the market today.
http://www.buffalobore.com/

Mac Attack
01-01-2011, 3:55 PM
I used Corbon rounds after seeing some tests. Corbon rounds are hot loads.

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 3:55 PM
380 rounds are way too weak. They dont penetrate deep enough. Especially in winter when people start to wear thick clothing. Look at the FBI testing, most 380 JHP only penetrate around 7-8 inches. That is not enough in my book.

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 3:57 PM
One of the best if not the very best .380 self defense loads on the market today.
http://www.buffalobore.com/

Most people dont recommend +p for 380 round especially in a small and light gun. I don't think my LCP can handle +P.

paul0660
01-01-2011, 4:07 PM
http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/product_info.php/pName/25rds-380-auto-hornady-xtp-90gr-hp-ammo/cName/380-auto-hollow-point-ammo

11 inches penetration.

http://hunting.about.com/od/guns/l/aast9mmv380a.htm

Corbon is very good too. But maybe you should use FMJ until the halter tops are out. :43:

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 4:10 PM
Here is a very good thread to read regarding 380 rounds. It is over 14 pages long.

http://smith-wessonforum.com/ammo/98508-380-load-calling-erich.html

pyromensch
01-01-2011, 4:35 PM
One of the best if not the very best .380 self defense loads on the market today.
http://www.buffalobore.com/

this is where i am going for my bda

very good thread indeed!
thanks for the link

ZombieTactics
01-01-2011, 4:56 PM
There is a LOT of confusion about .380 effectiveness.

It's not ever going to be a standard round for any U.S. law enforcement agency, mostly due to its lack of effectiveness at longer ranges. In other words; if you need to shoot someone 50 yards away this is a piss-poor choice by any measure.

Its effectiveness at distances more common to self-defensive scenarios is plenty fine, although not ideal. I am unaware of any clothing (short of actual armor) likely to prevent a .380 FMJ round from sufficient penetration at "conversational" distances.

Given a choice, I'd much rather be shooting 9mm, .40S&W or .45ACP, (or a shotgun, or .416 Barrett for that matter, lol) wherever possible. But, that gets to the real question: "What will you consistently carry?" A Ruger LCP - for instance - is almost a trivial matter to carry and/or conceal in almost all cases, and therefore likely to be at hand when you need it. I am tired of acquaintances offering their opinions about the absolute terminal-ballistic awesomeness of their full-sized .45ACP 1911 when they never seem to actually have the thing on them.

I carry a .380 pistol often, whenever a larger handgun would be overly cumbersome. I never feel especially out-gunned.

Yes, you can play the "but what if ... !?!" game to the Nth degree, but that gets silly pretty quickly. If I sense a possibility of encountering roving bands of 10+ armed NAZI-biker mutant zombies wearing level III+ body armor, I'm just not going to the Quickie Mart for milk just then, numsayin'?

nrakid88
01-01-2011, 5:12 PM
i wish i could get a lcp and a permit. can't wait to leave or change this wretched place

bear
01-01-2011, 5:15 PM
The .380 was issued to government agencies in Europe, like police detectives, border patrol, etc. You're right about any caliber with you, is better than any caliber you are without. It's definitely for 'close-in' self preservation.

From what I've read, the Remington 102 gr. Hollowpoint is a good bullet. I think it's Golden Sabre. If you can load your own (like me) you can tailor it to what gun you have, or how much recoil you (or your spouse, kid, gramma) can handle. I'm pretty sure some cast-bullet places are now selling versions of the 102 gr. bullet too.

The original .22 short was considered a personal protection round, until the late 1890s, and by my father until the 1960's at least.

I have a Remington 51, and it just disappears, in any of several pockets.

Spanky8601
01-01-2011, 5:15 PM
There is a LOT of confusion about .380 effectiveness.

It's not ever going to be a standard round for any U.S. law enforcement agency, mostly due to its lack of effectiveness at longer ranges. In other words; if you need to shoot someone 50 yards away this is a piss-poor choice by any measure.

Its effectiveness at distances more common to self-defensive scenarios is plenty fine, although not ideal. I am unaware of any clothing (short of actual armor) likely to prevent a .380 FMJ round from sufficient penetration at "conversational" distances.

Given a choice, I'd much rather be shooting 9mm, .40S&W or .45ACP, (or a shotgun, or .416 Barrett for that matter, lol) wherever possible. But, that gets to the real question: "What will you consistently carry?" A Ruger LCP - for instance - is almost a trivial matter to carry and/or conceal in almost all cases, and therefore likely to be at hand when you need it. I am tired of acquaintances offering their opinions about the absolute terminal-ballistic awesomeness of their full-sized .45ACP 1911 when they never seem to actually have the thing on them.

I carry a .380 pistol often, whenever a larger handgun would be overly cumbersome. I never feel especially out-gunned.

Yes, you can play the "but what if ... !?!" game to the Nth degree, but that gets silly pretty quickly. If I sense a possibility of encountering roving bands of 10+ armed NAZI-biker mutant zombies wearing level III+ body armor, I'm just not going to the Quickie Mart for milk just then, numsayin'?

I agree, if it is not being carried it is worthless. Better small than none at all.

RedFord150
01-01-2011, 5:15 PM
380 rounds are way too weak. ...

The OP clearly stated he did not want a caliber debate.

Ron-Solo
01-01-2011, 5:18 PM
I keep Remington Golden Sabre in my LCP. I think it is 96 grain and has a nasty looking jacketed hollow point.

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 5:18 PM
The OP clearly stated he did not want a caliber debate.

If you read my whole post, I was comparing between JHP and FMJ of the 380 rounds. :rolleyes:

I carry Winchester White Box 380 FMJ Flat Nose from Walmart.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v105/cadetcode3/guns/rugerlcppocket.jpg

jdg30
01-01-2011, 5:18 PM
I would personally get something in a larger caliber than .380 just for size. There are higher caliber guns that are available that are around the same size and weight of a LCP. My favorite CCW gun is the S&W Airweight (442/642). It's the most reliable, easiest gun to carry that I've ever had. It fits in the pocket of all my pants and I've never had anyone even suspect I was carrying a gun.

I don't own a Kahr PM9 but I've shot one and they are nice guns in a small package. 9mm is way more abundant to purchase than .380 and is less expensive as well. I would look at the other options for subcompact guns before choosing a .380 just to make sure I didn't like a larger caliber gun better. One thing is for sure though, I wouldn't want to get shot by any of them so a .380 is definitely better than nothing.

CSACANNONEER
01-01-2011, 5:28 PM
I would just go with FMJs or even hardcast bullets.

I would personally get something in a larger caliber than .380 just for size. There are higher caliber guns that are available that are around the same size and weight of a LCP. My favorite CCW gun is the S&W Airweight (442/642). It's the most reliable, easiest gun to carry that I've ever had. It fits in the pocket of all my pants and I've never had anyone even suspect I was carrying a gun.

I don't own a Kahr PM9 but I've shot one and they are nice guns in a small package. 9mm is way more abundant to purchase than .380 and is less expensive as well. I would look at the other options for subcompact guns before choosing a .380 just to make sure I didn't like a larger caliber gun better. One thing is for sure though, I wouldn't want to get shot by any of them so a .380 is definitely better than nothing.

Sorry, a .380 can be loaded with the same "size" and weight bullet that a 9mm can. It's only 0.0015" smaller in dia. than a .38 which can be loaded with a LIGHTER bullet than a standard .380.

paul0660
01-01-2011, 5:30 PM
Well put Zombie.


Can some one in laymen's terms tell me about how powerful a hot .380 round is when compared to a 38SPL or 9MM round?


Hot .38 has a little more energy than hot .380, hot 9mm about twice the energy.

Wikipedia is a good source for basic numbers on all calibers.

brianm767
01-01-2011, 5:36 PM
I would personally get something in a larger caliber than .380 just for size. There are higher caliber guns that are available that are around the same size and weight of a LCP. My favorite CCW gun is the S&W Airweight (442/642). It's the most reliable, easiest gun to carry that I've ever had. It fits in the pocket of all my pants and I've never had anyone even suspect I was carrying a gun.

I don't own a Kahr PM9 but I've shot one and they are nice guns in a small package. 9mm is way more abundant to purchase than .380 and is less expensive as well. I would look at the other options for subcompact guns before choosing a .380 just to make sure I didn't like a larger caliber gun better. One thing is for sure though, I wouldn't want to get shot by any of them so a .380 is definitely better than nothing.

FYI: I also have a S&W 642 and S&W M&P40SC along with my Kahr P380 listed on my permit app (allready approved), and will probably get a PM9 or more likely a PF9 due to price to take up the last spot on CCW.

I didn't want a caliber debate, I know a .380 is no 9mm or .40 , but I got just about all cal's I'm interested in covered, and at times I know I would not carry a bigger gun because of it's bulk, I'd rather have the .380 then go without, as my son who is LEO always does, he almost never carry's because his XD40SC is too bulky, and my father also has stopped carrying his S&W 36 because it's too heavy , so a .380 is better than not carrying.

I'm sure 7 rounds of .380 in the chest wont feel too good to any one, it is a belly gun after all.

And no way does my 642 carry as small as my p380, it is a true pocket gun,

FYI: I will be posting my kids XD40SC never fired with insight light and my fathers S&W 36 and S&W 10-5 for sale here soon.

oddjob
01-01-2011, 5:40 PM
The few times I carried a .380 it was with FP FMJ rounds. Like others have stated the .380 doesn't have the umph to expand reliably. The .380 is lowered power compared to the .38 Special and 9mm. I did hear of a clothing penetration failure in a bay area off duty LEO shooting with a .380. The suspect was wearing a heavy coat (pea coat?) and was found with welts on his chest. I don't know what rounds were used.

I have a USPSA shooting partner who is a X-Ray tech. He has examined/X-rayed a victim who was shot with several .22 lr rounds and the bullets were falling out of a heavy coat the victim was wearing (the "victim" was a drug dealer). One .22lr round was just underneath the skin.

I think your father's 36 is a good CCW. A S&W 442 is lighter. I know more than a few retired LEO's who bought the Ruger LCP and carry it daily because of its light weight. They understand the limitations of the .380 and the LCP. They love it. Its better than harsh language.

I carry a Colt Det Special or a S&W 640 with 158grn lead SWC HP's. A 442 is on my "want" list.

brianm767
01-01-2011, 5:40 PM
Well put Zombie.




Hot .38 has a little more energy than hot .380, hot 9mm about twice the energy.

Wikipedia is a good source for basic numbers on all calibers.

Exactly what I was looking for, thank you

RedFord150
01-01-2011, 5:44 PM
If you read my whole post, I was comparing between JHP and FMJ of the 380 rounds. :rolleyes:...

I read Post #6. Where EXACTLY did you refer to JHP and FMJ? :rolleyes:

BTW, I use Cor-Bon 90 Grain JHP in my Bersa.

Sunday
01-01-2011, 5:46 PM
I wouldn't want to by shot by a 380, They are nasty.

Trapper
01-01-2011, 5:53 PM
My LCP is loaded with Corbon 80gr DPX, accuracy is good, recoil is mild and reliability is excellent. I haven't cronographed this round but it is rated at 1050fps with 196ft/lbs of energy.

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 6:09 PM
I read Post #6. Where EXACTLY did you refer to JHP and FMJ? :rolleyes:

BTW, I use Cor-Bon 90 Grain JHP in my Bersa.

How did i start a caliber war? Did I even mention or recommend a different caliber in this thread????? :rolleyes: 380 round is weak due to lack of penetration. That is why I highly recommend FMJ over JHP.

I said....

WWB FMJ flatnose... 100 rounds for around 32 bucks. That is what i use for my LCP. There is no point using JHP for 380 rounds.

Another member asked me to explain...

Please explain. You don't think 90 to 100 grains going 900 to 1000 fps is going to go through a body?

Here is my reason why...

380 rounds are way too weak. They dont penetrate deep enough. Especially in winter when people start to wear thick clothing. Look at the FBI testing, most 380 JHP only penetrate around 7-8 inches. That is not enough in my book.


How did I start a caliber war again? :rolleyes:

pyromensch
01-01-2011, 6:28 PM
"caliber" is a bore diameter, (u.s. measurement) 380 is the same as 9mm, .355 diameter, 38/357 is .357 diameter, not a caliber war, but a "round" war :)
i kid, but now as larger caliber rounds, are being fit into smaller framed guns, us that have 380's, (when that used to be the smallist "concealable" auto), in a "minimum" defensive caliber, are trying to keep up, with good ammo

RollingCode3
01-01-2011, 6:31 PM
This is from DocGKR an expert in the ballistics in another forum.

"Many small, easily concealed semi-automatic pistols which are recommended for law enforcement backup or concealed carry use fire .380 ACP or smaller bullets. While these small caliber handgun bullets can produce fatal wounds,they are less likely to produce the rapid incapacitation necessary in law enforcement or self-defense situations.

Handguns chambered in .380 ACP are small, compact, and generally easy to carry. Unfortunately, testing has shown that they offer inadequate performance for self-defense and for law enforcement use whether on duty as a back-up weapon or for off duty carry. The terminal performance of .380 ACP JHP's is often erratic, with inadequate penetration and inconsistent expansion being common problems, while .380 ACP FMJ's offer adequate penetration, but no expansion. All of the .380 ACP JHP loads we have tested, including CorBon, Hornady, Federal, Remington, Speer, and Winchester exhibited inconsistent, unacceptable terminal performance for law enforcement back-up and off duty self-defense use due to inadequate penetration or inadequate expansion. Stick with FMJ for .380 ACP or better yet, don't use it at all. The use of .380 ACP and smaller caliber weapons is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them."



The October issue of Gun Tests recommends FMJ as the way to go for defensive 380 ACP loads. They rated Fiocchi 95-gr FMJ as the best defensive load out of the seven loads they tested when it comes to penetration. It was the only FMJ load in their tests & it beat out all of the other expanding contenders in terms of penetration. All the research I have personally done has lead me to the same conclusion, don't waste your money on .380 hollow point ammo. Like I said before, stick with FMJ. :mnl:

Jerkdog
01-01-2011, 9:30 PM
For what it's worth, I run Corbon DPX hollow points in my Bersa.

I'm no expert, but here's a couple of links that show you can get a .380 round to penetrate and expand properly.

http://www.bersachat.com/forums/showthread.php/935-COR-BON-DPX-380ACP-80gr.

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Bersa%20Thunder.htm

Good luck.

Mofo-Kang
01-01-2011, 10:34 PM
I have a USPSA shooting partner who is a X-Ray tech. He has examined/X-rayed a victim who was shot with several .22 lr rounds and the bullets were falling out of a heavy coat the victim was wearing (the "victim" was a drug dealer). One .22lr round was just underneath the skin.

I'm an x-ray tech myself. I've personally x-rayed a large gentleman shot in the upper arm by a .22 LR. The bullet went through but didn't have enough energy to go through the skin on the back of his arm...probably because it shattered his humerus. And when I say "shattered," I mean SHATTERED. A dozen pieces or so. So I'm a bit skeptical of claims of .22s or .380s that didn't even penetrate clothing.

.380 was a general issue law enforcement round in most of Europe for most of the 20th century. Buffalo Bore makes a version that they say is comparable to .38 Special--another general issue law enforcement round with decades of data to back its effectiveness up. But to listen to some people on various gun forums, you might as well use a BB gun or something!

For that matter, I regularly see a sheriff's deputy in our ER (on business). She's a smallish woman, and her sidearm is a SIG P232. Apparently, she considers .380 sufficient, and her department doesn't seem to object.

oddjob
01-01-2011, 11:46 PM
The .380 was the heaviest round I've heard of that didn't go through a heavy coat. I don't know if it was a complete 90 degree straight on shot or at an angle. The 22lr rounds was via my shooting friend/partner and he was admittedly surprised the rounds didn't go through. I will admit that these two incidents are the only two incidents I've heard of where thick clothing stopped rounds. I spoke to a suspect who was shot in the chest with a North American Arms 22 lr (wearing a work shirt is all). He dropped like a rock according to the officer (officer was taken hostage). The suspect told me he didn't even know he was shot. He was scared when the .22 went off because he thought the officer was unarmed. He just hit the ground out of fear.

I do agree that the current .38 spec loadings are pretty decent. The old 158grn and 200grn LRN's were notorious poor stoppers. There was a time period where JHP's were the norm and better then the 158/200 LRN's and they did an OK job. I know several officers who shot folks with the .38's (using jhp's) and most were fairly happy with the performance of chest shots. Most were from a 4" barrel and one was from a 6". One was a 2" model 36. But even the .38 was replaced as a general issue round by the 9mm then the .40 in LEO circles.

I attended a ballistics workshop a few years ago and we fired 9mm, 38's, 357's, 45's & etc. All agreed the .380 acp was less than desirable, but better than nothing. It just doesn't have the umph to penetrate for law enforcement/human suspect purposes. Back in 1988, I spoke to Dr Martin Fackler (Google him for info). He was of the opinion that the bigger hole was the better round. He told me he liked a .45 long colt loaded with a 250 grn SWC round.

My former agencies (I'm retired now) only use whats available on the goverment contracts. I know there are some high performance rounds out there made by smaller companies, but most LE agencies don't use them. My old agency did issue .380 ammo by the way.

CCW is a compromise of power, size and comfort. I know plenty of retired cops who carry the .380. I have carried it before and may still carry it depending on the situation, but its unlikely. The .380 is still on the bottom of the food chain for me. Better than harsh language, but still towards the bottom. My CCW is a 2" .38 special with 158 grn Lead SWC HP's.