.380 VS .357 magnum!


March 27, 2007, 11:24 PM
My buddy wants to get a .380 for carry as his 9mm is too large. He's been doing some reading and finding a lot of the 380s out there sound less than reliable. The .380 mainly in question here is the CZ 83 .380, I don't know about its reliability, maybe some of you can chime in on this.

I've suggested maybe dropping the .380 idea and going with a Ruger sp101. Less than half the capacity, but it's .357 magnum.

What would you do and why?

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March 27, 2007, 11:28 PM
The CZ 83 in .380 has a pretty good rap for reliability. Some folks say it'll even feed empty cases. I'd probably go with the CZ, but that's just my personal preference for autoloaders showing.

March 27, 2007, 11:39 PM
Some folks say it'll even feed empty cases.

It will if it has a sloppy, out of spec chamber, anyway.

March 27, 2007, 11:46 PM
.380 vs. .357 Magnum? You're kidding, right? That's apples & oranges if ever there were.

March 27, 2007, 11:52 PM
While the CZ 83 is a great little gun, it would take up to 3 closely placed hits with a .380 to equal the same energy imparted by most .357 magnum SD loads. Is your friend a proponent of the "spray and pray" theory or the "one shot stop" methodology? Personally it's a no-brainer - get the .357!

March 27, 2007, 11:55 PM
My daily carry is a .357 mag. I love and adore the .38/.357 chamberings and have built my meager arsenal around the cartridge.

That being said, I voted for .380. .357 mag is a bit stout coming out of a snubby. Even the SP101. Not bad for me (i carry .357mag in my 3"SP101 every day-shoot it just fine), but for an average woman who is not very used to heavy recoil, i would rather see her with a .380 that she would not be afraid to shoot. The 357 while more effective on an order of magnitude, may scare her away from practicing with her CCW, make her flinch more, and make her less confident in her gun. Hell, I'd rather see a woman be well practiced, and confident in her .22lr weapon, than scared an untrusting of her .357 mag.

Someone who is not confident with her gun will not be nearly as likely to use it if the chips are down.

March 27, 2007, 11:57 PM
Totally different applications here. Best power cartridge vs. a questionable one. But then, big and heavy (relatively) vs. small and easily concealed.

If small is what you need, go with the .380. Nothin' wrong with that. Otherwise go with the .357.

Example sizes, length/height/width/weight:

SP101 2.25" : 7.125/4.5/1.35/25

Kel-Tec P-3AT 5.2/3.5/.77/8.3

March 28, 2007, 12:00 AM
.357 every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

March 28, 2007, 12:04 AM
my vote for the lion tamer, don't aguila hyper velocity .22 shells have more energy than the average .380?

March 28, 2007, 12:14 AM
I voted for the .357 mainly because you can still shoot .38's out of it. I carry a .357 and I like it. The .380 isn't a horrible choice, but if push comes to shove, I would rather have that .357 on my side...

March 28, 2007, 12:22 AM
don't aguila hyper velocity .22 shells have more energy than the average .380?


This friend is actually a guy.

No, this isn't a joke. I thought 12 rounds a .380 would maybe come out close to 5 rounds of .357 magnum.

Personally, I voted for and was the one suggesting the .357 in the first place. Keep the suggestions and thoughts coming.

March 28, 2007, 12:29 AM
.380 vs. .357 Magnum? You're kidding, right? That's apples & oranges if ever there were.:scrutiny:

Strikes me more like apples and watermelons.

March 28, 2007, 12:39 AM
whoops. I don't know why but for some reason, i read "friend's wife".

In that case .357 mag ALL THE WAY!!!

March 28, 2007, 01:01 AM
How about a Bersa Thunder 9 Compact. It is as small as a .380 (it rivals the Bersa Thunder .380) and 13 shots of 9mm Luger to boot.

March 28, 2007, 01:05 AM
his 9mm is too large
Well, you know, you could get a smaller 9mm.

Kel-tec makes the new PF-9.

They've taken the lessons learned from their other 9mm offerings, along with their P3AT (.380) and come up with a very compact 9mm pistol.
Here she is
The PF-9 is a semi-automatic, locked breech pistol, chambered for the 9 mm Luger cartridge. It has been developed from our highly successful P-11 and P-3AT pistols with maximum concealability in mind. The PF-9 has a single stack magazine holding 7 rounds. It is the lightest and flattest 9 mm ever made. Firing mechanism is Double-Action Only with an automatic hammer block safety. The PF-9 will be available in blued, parkerized, and hard chrome finishes. Grips will be in black, grey, and olive drab.

The PF-9 accessory rail will accept the latest compact weapon lights and lasers.
Also with light & laser:

And it's smaller than most .380 pistols.

So, if your friend already has a 9mm, this lets him get a new gun and keep the same ammo.

Jorg Nysgerrig
March 28, 2007, 01:42 AM
If the size/weight is an issue, a .380 in the pocket always hits harder than the .357 sitting at home.

But again, if size/weight is the issue, the CZ 83 is a terrible option. There are smaller/lighter 9mm pistols out there, like the CZ 2075 RAMI and there are also smaller .380s, like the P3AT. If you are going to get the smallest one you can find so you'll carry it all the time. If you are going to go with a bigger gun, get a bigger caliber.

March 28, 2007, 01:44 AM
A .380 in the pocket beats the heck out of a .357 in a safe.

Leave the laser crap off - makes it bigger.

Look for a .380 that was built around the cartridge - not adapted to it. Big difference there.

I'll take sloppy and out of spec all day long if it goes "bang" every time, and hits a 1' circle at 7 yards with fair regularity.

If you can get a 9mm in the same size packge, get it.

March 28, 2007, 02:49 AM
I would never carry a .380 if a .357 was available - the stopping power difference is like night and day! But if I had to I would carry the 380 and load it with the best HP's I could find. That used to be Hydra Shocks but it may have changed.

March 28, 2007, 03:20 AM
This is actually my fathers exact dilema but he chooses .380 because of gun size. His options are

1. .380 Astra
2. .357 Ruger Service 6 (5in Brl)
3. .38 Colt Detective Special

He chooses the astra to carry because it fits him better I argue and say he just needs to by more guns but he is not quite as devoted to the cause as I am, and rarely carries.

Jorg Nysgerrig
March 28, 2007, 03:34 AM
don't aguila hyper velocity .22 shells have more energy than the average .380?

Only if you shoot it out of a rifle. While it will do about 200 ft/lbs out of a rifle, the velocity drops from 1750 to around 1266 out of a 5.5" barrel. This takes the ME down to about 100 ft/lbs, substantially less than a .380.

March 28, 2007, 04:00 AM
trueblue1776 my vote for the lion tamer, don't aguila hyper velocity .22 shells have more energy than the average .380?
:what: NOT even close.
If fired from a 20" barrel Aguila super max can achieve 204 ft/lbs of energy, but if fired from a 3.5" barrel it will be more in the neighborhood of 80-90 ft/lbs. the .380 acp will be 190-220 ft/lbs of E from a 3-3.5" barrel
If I were to carry a .380 I would load it with FMJ and shoot well. I've seen folks struggle to hit a pie plate at 15 ft with a .357 mag. snub. I can unload my 9x18 Makarov in short order with a golf ball sized group at that distance.

March 28, 2007, 05:13 AM
It should go without saying that the .357 Mag is the more powerful round, but is using that power at "personal defense" distances the wisest choice?

Living the poor and obscure life that I lead, I don't foresee my ever being in a position to have to shoot through automobiles, walls, or at longer distances, so my own .357 mag revolvers are stoked with .38 spl +p, in a effort to save my ears and possibly more of my night vision.

That being said, however, I also agree with JibJab, that an up close and well aimed .380, loaded with FMJ ammo, has the capacity to penetrate far enough to be a valid choice in a defensive round. Certainly not the best, but still nothing to sneeze at.

March 28, 2007, 05:36 AM
I'd go with a compact 9mm such as the Kahr MK9, PM9 or the Keltec PF9 once all the bugs are worked out of it.

March 28, 2007, 05:57 AM
I like the SIG P232, (It's plenty reliable,) but I can't imagine taking .380 if I had the option of taking .357mag.

The Amigo
March 28, 2007, 07:05 AM
If all he is convinced is .380 you must do some careful chosing in rounds.
it all depends in the barrel length more 3 up inches go with corbon. Less than 3 stick with Remington golden sabers in 102g or DPX or Win silvertips these are all hollow points. The golden sabers will expand to .57 and usually penetrate at least 10.5 inches. The corbons tend to not to expand if fired from a barrel less than 3 inches but do good on longer if hes a believer that all he wants is best penetration and only believe in full metal jacket then try and get him some santa barbara surplus ammo made in spain. This is a very hot round and will do some more than usuall penetration but its hard to find since its no longer produced i believe. Normal fmj will do 11-12 inches in gell and sta brba will do a little more. The KELTEC PF9 is a find choice and the bugs have been worked out since keltec has redesigned the barrel to accept any 9mm round now. if you go this way make sure you purchase a gun serial no#R0900 + since these have the new barell improvement. However a PF9 is not as light and pocketable as a P3at these are the king of counsealment in .380 since there so small and light. This is what I carry every day with 8 rounds of .380 and a spare mag and sometimes i forget its there. However theres a nice PF9 in the shop thats calling my name at nights....

March 28, 2007, 08:05 AM
380, no way. Spend the money for a 340PD S&W, you can go 38, 38+P, or 357. I shot a box of magnums out of my 340PD in one range excursion and the red mark across my palm did not go away for hours. However, for the ultimate in pocket carry defense, the 5 shot can't be beat.


Baba Louie
March 28, 2007, 10:12 AM
Power differential is pretty significant between the two, but you know that.

Assuming exact placement of each round with either weapon I think it'd be about equal in that if I was to carry and use a CZ83 I'd be planning on firing two rounds minimum for each 'shot' required for self defense... vs 1 round of .357. if you can call that equal (and I mean EXACT shot placement). I know from personal use comparing my CZ83 to my S&W 60 (.357) I can squeeze off two rounds faster from the Czech semi auto, and do so accurately, than I can with the 60 firing magnum loads. If I need to factor in multiple targets I could probably do so quicker with the smaller power level (doh!)

But... would I stake my life on that choice? No.

Having said that, when comparing the two, the CZ is more fun to shoot a hundred plus rounds per session at the range, easier to reload and does hold more rounds... but I still prefer to carry and depend on my little Smith & Wesson for self defense when out and about.

I agree with others who've stated since you can now buy tiny 9mms and even small .40's or .45's, a large format .380 doesn't make much sense... but it is better than nothing. And a lot of fun to shoot.

March 28, 2007, 04:00 PM
Always overlooked is the fact that SHOOTING 357 rounds our of a snub is not a whole lot of fun for most folks. I routinely carry my Taurus 85 snub in the summer months. A five shot revolver is so accurate, reliable, and versatile. You cant' go wrong. 380s can be finicky if you get the wrong one and with the exception of the KT p3AT there are several small nines out there that are the same size or smaller than most 380s and it gives you a much broader variety of ammo. THe P3AT, while I mentioned it, is a neat, realiable, and accurate gun. BUT it is also a bear to shoot, in my opinion. It is so small and light it does jump around quite a bit.

March 28, 2007, 04:13 PM
Get what you can handle and carry comfortably, if it's uncomfortable it's probably not right for you.

I have a Walther PPK/s in 380... accurate, incredibly reliable and FEELS good!
I also have a S&W Mod 66 4" BBL. all the above and a lot more SPANK.

If I KNEW I was going to need something bigger, I would make room for it.

Pretty simple huh.

Oh, almost forgot to add..... Either caliber is LETHAL provided a good hit.


March 28, 2007, 04:23 PM
.357 Magnum.

March 28, 2007, 04:30 PM
.380 marginal summer only proposition .357 best one shot stopper ever nuf said.by the same tokon i carry a 32 seacamp bug when i don't expect trouble.and have been known to carry a walther pp 32acp when walking dog in low crime neighborhood.but main ccw is tauri 605 .357 whith s&w 442 bug

March 28, 2007, 06:31 PM
My first impression, other than this being a rehashing of the ages old revolver vs autoloader debate is that this is the old "magic bullet"/ "one shot stop" nonsense!! It certainly is a marvelous little caliber war!!.
Both these cartridges will do what they are designed for.
Both have their place.
We could get into the endless debacle about whether it's better to use .38spl +P in a short barreled .357.

But why bother!!
Guns are tools and different tools have different applications.
Just evaluate your needs and choose accordingly!!!
There are times when I do carry a snub revolver and there are times when I carry a small auto. It depends upon the perceived threat level, the need for deep concealment and my mood at the time!!

March 28, 2007, 06:38 PM
Look at the original point.

My buddy wants to get a .380 for carry as his 9mm is too large.

If a 9mm is too large, any .357 will be too large, in fact, it will be a wider gun, guaranteed, which may be worse for carry. There are plenty of choices of truely pocket sized .380s.

March 28, 2007, 07:52 PM
I think he should go with the snubbie. The SP101 is a fine choice, smith & wesson snubbies are not built as tough but they are lighter and probably easier to carry. You can even go Airweight with the smiths, though not a range gun, they are very pleasent to carry. I think at least one snubby is a must for every gun owner, 38 or 357. But for personaly defense, SP101 is a great choice.

March 28, 2007, 10:50 PM
Dude, I really like my Bersa .380, but .380 and .357 are an apples to oranges comparison as someone else mentioned. Are we talking stopping power with one shot, number of shots, ease of follow up shot, or effect of same hit at POA? Spray and pray, the .380. One hit stop, the .357.

lee n. field
March 28, 2007, 10:54 PM
My buddy wants to get a .380 for carry as his 9mm is too large.

How big is his 9mm, that it's too big?

I thought 12 rounds a .380 would maybe come out close to 5 rounds of .357 magnum.

Can't really be compared that way.

March 28, 2007, 11:03 PM
I have a SP101 DAO snub that I carry .357 mags in and I also have a Bulgarian Makarov in 9 x 18 (which is close to .380), so I have considered which would be better in a gun fight, if I did not have my 1911.

In very close quarters the SP101 all the way. But if any distance and multiple targets are involved then the Mak gets the nod (although my first choice would be my 1911).

But for straight defense, I'd have to vote for the the SP101.

March 28, 2007, 11:12 PM
How big is his 9mm, that it's too big?


He decided on the CZ 83. I got him a nickel one from work about 98% with box and two mags for $300.

I wasn't trying to make an apples to apples comparison. I wanted to get a general concensus of what people would take, a 380 with 12 rounds or a .357 with 5. It was just a horsepower versus gas mileage poll.

March 28, 2007, 11:25 PM
The SP101 or any quality .38/.357 is how I would go without a second thought. I won't go into all the details but the small framed revolver has a heck of a lot going for it as a civillian self defense firearm, with the only real drawback being capacity.

That is just my own personal two cents and I certainly don't claim to know Jack Schitt or any of his kin. :D

March 29, 2007, 12:05 AM
I voted a S&W 3913LS about size of a Bersa 380 and 9mm. I carry a 380 most of time be the 3913 is my 9MM carry.

March 29, 2007, 03:46 AM
For daily CCW, its very hard to beat the Kel tec P3at.

I have carried a .38 J frame, 9mm, .45 ect.....but the lil P3 is my ALWAYS gun due to its size and weight.

March 29, 2007, 04:02 AM
The CZ 83 is the best choice by far. The ability to strike the target is far more important than the total energy of the strike. The design of the CZ is superb in this respect. I own both a CZ 83 in 380 blue and an sp101 3". They are both excellent weapons but the CZ is far easier to hit with. Most of the SD shootings suffer from lack of accuracy more than a lack of power. The CZ 83 is also the most accurate pistol I own. Try the Fiocchi jhp for accuracy and the Rem Golden Sabers for SD.

March 29, 2007, 09:58 AM
My CZ83 never fails, never. As a matter of fact I renewed my CCL last night and I qualified with my CZ83. 13rds of Corbon or Hornady is nice to have.

March 29, 2007, 10:14 AM
Interesting how this thread has degenerated into people simply recommending
what they own. This regularly happens, and it must be due to a need for
some sort of self-reinforcement.

After re-reading the original post, I am a bit confused. It was said that a
user felt his 9mm was a bit too big. What I don't understand is how this
problem morphed into a choice of calibers (and a very strange choice, too).
There is a wide range of very nice and very small 9mm Luger carry packages available. Almost every major manufacturer makes a model of this type that
most of us would feel confident with.

Hence, it seems to me that the user wants a change of caliber, doesn't like the gun he has, or perhaps both. I just can't grasp how these issues
became a choice between .380 and .357 magnum.


March 30, 2007, 05:39 PM
well a 357 SNUBBY with 125 gr bullets is about equal to a full size 9mm in power... but ergonomically it's a handfull to shoot. Like 125/1200 fps.

A good hot 380 is 90/1000 fps froma 3 inch barrel.

It's when you stoke the .357 with a 158 gr bullet at over 1000 that the .380 shrinks in comparison. Thing is the excellent Ruger SP101 weighs a LOT more than most pocket autos. That CZ with 12 rounds is likely getting up to the weight of a loaded SP.

March 30, 2007, 05:50 PM
357 sig, have your power and capacity too. The only situation where I could think of that a 380 would be neccesary is in espionage, say you are undercover, but using your real name, want something that goes with your smoking jacket while you are a guest at some international master criminals compound. a 380 PPK has a lot more power than say a tophat thrown by a korean wrestler.

March 31, 2007, 06:28 PM
Confusion is being expressed about the origin of the thread, I thought it was pretty simple: Choose between a 12-round .380 or a 5-round .357. That's where the caliber 'war' came in I guess. It's not that I was actually comparing the two calibers, but the combination of caliber and capacity; more specifically the SP101 versus CZ 83 (the Browning BDA was also a contender).

It wasn't that he disliked 9mm, it was just that he didn't find a 9mm he liked in the right size and that's where .380 came in.

There were two basic choices and the reasons of the two choices were spelled out in a pretty basic way. I don't see how this was so confusing.

Interesting how this thread has degenerated into people simply recommending
what they own. This regularly happens, and it must be due to a need for
some sort of self-reinforcement.

I do agree with that. Like . . . 357 Sig? How's that help when the 9mm platform is too large?

March 31, 2007, 08:44 PM
Two more cents, if I may.....

I believe that a .380, a .38, a 9mm, a .45, or ANY handgun round to the lungs, to the intestines, or any other non-CNS or non-cardiac/aortic areas, has equal potential to fail at stopping a determined or adrenalin pumped attacker.

I believe that 12 rounds of up close and personal .380ACP rounds will likely do as well as 7 rounds of .45ACP to the same spot, IF non-vital areas are hit.....i.e, a .45 to the lungs will have little advantage over a .380 to the same spot.

Handguns are not rifles.

A .45 to the CNS or to the cardiac/aortic area, however, will undoubtedly have an advantage over the .380.....unless, of course, the additional 5 rounds available to the .380 also hit the same vital area. Strength in numbers, I guess.

When it come to handguns, you still need to hit the right spot, no matter what the caliber.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, my "bump in the night and goto safe" contains a .38spl, a 9mm, a .40S&W and three .45's.

I really don't much care which one I grab if you are a bad guy outside my bedroom door.

March 31, 2007, 09:19 PM
I would be justifiably concerned that the .380 would not have the necessary penetration to obtain the CNS or aortic damage that is necessary.

March 31, 2007, 10:03 PM
I would be justifiably concerned that the .380 would not have the necessary penetration

So was I. We looked at ballistic gel tests and all. 90 grains at 900-1000 ft per second just isn't enough in a hollow point to penetrate much past 8". My thoughts were to use FMJ for more penetration, more reliable feeding and cost. For some reason he wanted hollow points when he picked his gun up from the shop.

March 31, 2007, 10:13 PM
I voted other based upon the poster's needs.
So, if you need a small concealable gun, I'd look at a 9 mm.

My most frequently carried fun is a .38 snubby, BTW.

April 1, 2007, 12:58 AM
I would recommend a 38 special as it is far easier to shoot in these little guns. I can't recommend the .380 as no bullets in this caliber can reliably penetrate 12 inches while expanding to at least 1.5 times their original diameter.

April 1, 2007, 02:07 AM
Confusion is being expressed about the origin of the thread, I thought it was pretty simple: Choose between a 12-round .380 or a 5-round .357.Uh.... if you put it that way, I suppose it would be pretty simple.

It's that little extra checkbox stating "Other (specify)" in the poll that sorta threw that whole concept out the window.

Looks to me like folks have been taking that "Other" aspect literally and well... specifying other.

And they get berated for it, too. Can't win for losin'.


April 4, 2007, 10:28 AM
I usually carry a Sig 225 (9mm). Sometimes though I'll also carry a S&W 640 (.357). Then there are times when I'll carry a Sig 230 (.380). THere is always my old trusted S&W Model 60 (.38 Special)... so it depends on the circumstances, what I'm wearing and the weather...

April 5, 2007, 11:53 PM
When I can't get away with a 1911, it's a Kahr PM9 in my pocket....about the smallest 9 out there.

April 6, 2007, 04:01 AM
Tell him to buy an HK P2000sk in 9mm or .40S&W and dress around the gun.

April 6, 2007, 04:33 AM
Rent, rent, rent. . . and then rent some more to find what he is comfortable with carrying and competent with shooting. Take the largest group size shot at any given range and double it. That will be roughly the size of shot group fired by a moderately trained individual at that range when stress is being introduced. If he can physically and logistically do this, try setting the gun on the firing bench(pointing in a safe direction) with the magazine out and slide forward with all applicable safeties on. Now back off about 25-75 yards and sprint to the gun. Load, make ready and engage the target as rapidly and effectively(safely) as he can. To add a bit more stress have his RSO/observer calling out the time as he is are working. Whatever weapon/ammo combination he hits with consistently and quickly would more than likely be the one to pick. And then after the fun of testing and buying is over take a course or two on the basics of pistol craft(malfunctions, reloads, retention, flashlight employment, use of force, use of cover), invest in range time and ammo, and always look for practical ways to improve your survivability. If you read through all of this, thank you for your time and attention.

April 6, 2007, 10:22 AM
I personally go with the Bersa or Kel-Tek 9's if I was looking for something with HI-CAP and good ballistics. I've got a full size BT9 and they are great guns, I had a KT-P11 and traded it (DOH), I carry a KTP3AT and its a verry reliable gun. but I also carry a S&W 66-2 and it's a hand full. 13rds of 9mm will cover most bases. YMMV.

April 9, 2007, 09:24 PM
.38 special - J-frame 642 or X42. Good with CorBon DPX ammo. Good pocket carry with pocket holster.

pete f
April 10, 2007, 12:47 AM
a jframe with a pair of crimson trace grips, man they work great together.

April 10, 2007, 05:03 AM
A 3rd vote on the airweight J-frame .38 in a pocket holster. Gold Dots or DPX.

A good compromise on weight, control, concealability and effectiveness.

April 10, 2007, 12:29 PM
did not notice the other option on the vote. gotta change my vote and say 642.

fast eddie
April 10, 2007, 10:04 PM
A .38 is a baby .357, a 9mm is baby .38, and a .380 is a baby 9mm. Go with the .357

April 11, 2007, 12:47 AM
If I am carrying the weight/size of a 12 shot .380, I'd rather have the .357! Actually, I'd go for a .44 Special with handloads, like the Bulldog. The only advantage of a .380 is when it is in a much smaller, lighter package like a KelTec P3AT or similar.

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