.380 for Home Defense?


March 18, 2009, 08:13 PM
Well yet another caliber question, here's the deal. I ran out and bought a small safe from Wal-Mart after the $150 one I bought from the safe store broke, this safe is very small but I'll stick with it for a while. I have to keep my nightstand gun in a safe, it's just my policy and all that I can fit in the safe is my Bersa .380 and possibly my S&W 640 or Taurus 85 but I'd rather not use them for home defense. My question is do you think that my dinky 380 will get the job done for home defense? And the reason why I am asking about the .380 over the .38 specials is that I am much more accurate with it and it holds 2 more rounds in it (without one chambered) that the snub noses. Will it get the job done?

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March 18, 2009, 08:19 PM
I would definitely not use it in place of a 38 special, but if it is what you are more comfortable with it, then it is better than praying the intruder wont find you quivering under the bed. I would suggest investing in a good shotgun.. even a single shot would be sufficient, though a pump would be better.

Duke of Doubt
March 18, 2009, 08:24 PM
A safe that small is simply a box for the burglar more conveniently to carry the contents away.

Why the safe for your nightstand gun and not your other guns? That seems bizarre; the nightstand gun is the one gun you want to reach out and grab, not retrieve from a locked safe.

harmon rabb
March 18, 2009, 08:24 PM
if you're much more accurate and comfortable with it, as you say, load it with some quality hollowpoints and call it a day.

March 18, 2009, 08:24 PM
I have a shotgun also, I don't think that theres a good way to secure it without throwing it into my big livingroom safe which is in the livingroom by the the way! What about keeping the shotgun loaded with birdshot, with no round chambered?

March 18, 2009, 08:26 PM
Yes, a .380 can do the job if you hit em... use good ammo

harmon rabb
March 18, 2009, 08:26 PM
Why the safe for your nightstand gun and not your other guns? That seems bizarre; the nightstand gun is the one gun you want to reach out and grab, not retrieve from a locked safe.

Agreed. I sleep with my sig on the nightstand. Loaded mag, no round in the chamber (i know, i know, but my dog will give me plenty of warning if someone breaks in and i'll have time to grab it and rack the slide before they can make it upstairs).

March 18, 2009, 08:59 PM
My .380 is basically my HD weapon. My .45 is locked in the safe and I go to bed hours after my girlfriend does so taking it out every night is not really an option.

March 18, 2009, 09:07 PM
I have a Bersa 380 under the bed
in the Box Spring and a Rossi .38
in the night stand.
I have Speer Gold-dots in both.
I keep the SIG in a gun Safe with 124 grain NATO rounds in it.
almost forgot ...a 410 snake chramer
with a slug.
Im ready for anybody.

March 18, 2009, 09:10 PM
Whats a good ammo choice for a .380?

harmon rabb
March 18, 2009, 09:10 PM
well, i also keep my cz-82 with a loaded mag in a drawer, but i figure that if the 15 hydrashocks in my sig can't deal with whoever is invading, i'm ****ed anyway :o

March 18, 2009, 09:20 PM
most knowledgeable people will tell you that shot placement trumps caliber. I'd recommend the 38 over the 380, but if the 380 is the one you're comfortable with, go with it. But I want to recommend this safe below. I use it. It certainly is not a serious gun safe, but children will not be able to break into it, and it has a programmable digital code as well as a key. And it is large enough for almost any handgun.

Now, again, it's not a serious safe, but it may beat what you currently have and it can be bought at Wal-mart for about $40. If you chose to do so, you could return what you have and exchange it for this.

Hope this helps.


March 18, 2009, 09:23 PM
.380 is a great HD caliber. Especially if you live in an apartment.


Guns and more
March 18, 2009, 09:32 PM
I doubt that a burgler will ask, "Is that only a .380?" when the shooting starts. A.380 is just a short 9mm. I believe the 9mm. Luger is 9 x 19, while a .380 is a 9mm. short (kurtz) or 9 x 17.
If you shoot it well, then go with it.

March 18, 2009, 09:37 PM
LOL...it didn't used to be, but now it's just fine. Before Kel-Tec, Kahr, Ruger, etc. came out with all the cute pocket pistols in .380 it wouldn't kill anything...even the common house mouse would stop running and roll on the floor in hysterical laughter if you pulled out a .380. But now?!...it is just fine for self defense. The advent of all the new pocket pistols has even made the PPK and Bersa in .380 much more powerful weapons. This is all fact...if you don't believe me, just try to buy a box of .380 ammo! :D

Now, there IS another way to look at this. If you're thinking of buying a .380 and you don't already have some ammo, then it's only good for throwing(make sure you buy an all steel model such as the Walther PPK/S that has the frame running all the way through the grip). I can "hum" a stainless Walther and any intruder is definitely going to pause and think twice about his decision when that PPK/S hits him in the forehead!

March 18, 2009, 09:38 PM
Yeah, it's perhaps the best choice for an apartment or an urban home. I used to keep a Sig P230 for that purpose. It would be my choice now if I still had it. It'll do serious damage to a person yet it doesn't have the velosity to penetrate walls as easily as hotter loads. It would be a terrible day to discover a stray bullet in a neighbor or a loved one in another area.

It's the same reason that many localities restrict hunting to shotguns only rather than permit high powered rifles. It may not be everyone's favorite choice, but it will ultimately save lives due to the occasional accident.

Dan Crocker
March 18, 2009, 09:38 PM
What kind of safe costs $150 but you can only keep a Bersa .380 in it?

March 18, 2009, 10:27 PM
.380 will serve you well for HD. It's not the ideal caliber, but it will do. I have several .380's and I wouldn't feel "vulnerable" if I had that on my nightstand and something went bump in the night. .380 has stopped and killed many perps. That being said, I still sleep with my 1911 45acp by my bed everynight. (why take unnessesary risks?):evil:

March 18, 2009, 10:37 PM
About the safe, the $150 one was from J&G and I kept my Kimber in it 24/7 well it broke and now the front door won't close on it. The new one I bought (the small one) was purchased from Wal-Mart.

March 18, 2009, 11:57 PM
At least it broke with the door open. It would be a tragedy for the Kimber to be stranded in it!

Duke of Doubt
March 19, 2009, 12:04 AM
A locked safe which will not open ... boy does that bring back memories. About fourteen years ago a buddy bought an old garage across the street from my loft, which old garage contained, among other things, a big old safe, buried in debris and detritus. No key, obviously. He finally got it open after much speculation (well, it WAS Grand Avenue), and found nothing inside. Nothing at all, not even receipts or files. Felt a little like Geraldo at the Lexington Hotel.

A broken safe with a gun locked inside? Wow. That safe would not be locked for long.

March 19, 2009, 01:16 AM

With .380 ammo, the issue is getting good body penetration as well as shock and expansion from a small, not so fast bullet. I think you'll want to look at Federal Premium Hydra-Shok. It's 90 grains with a central spire in the hollow area.

I read a test report regarding several .380 SD ammo and this had the best combination of penetration and shock of all. I've been shooting it since and find it to be pretty accurate in my Bersa.

March 19, 2009, 01:34 AM
I load my 380 with Buffalo Bore +P, 90gr Gold Dots, although it is not my go to HD gun.

March 19, 2009, 03:27 AM
There are many countries where the 380 is the largest pistol caliber available to civilians. Also in many countries it is a standard police caliber. No worries at all.

March 19, 2009, 07:45 AM
People seem to worry too much if the caliber of thier weapon of choice is right for defense spend more time shooting whatever caliber your weapon is and you and it will not fail you in your time of need. Stop looking for a hardware solution to a soft ware problem.

be safe

Just One Shot
March 19, 2009, 08:41 AM
My choice when it comes to ammo is the Hornady hollowpoints.

But, I alternate ball ammo with hollow points in all of my ccw's (.380, 9mm and .40 S&W).

This way I don't worry as much about the penetration or expansion limitations of a particular type of ammo.

I guess you could say it's the best of both worlds. ;)

March 19, 2009, 12:19 PM
12 gauge pump trumps all 380 for HD..

March 19, 2009, 12:29 PM
If you don't have kids, why can't you leave it on your nightstand, then lock it up in the morning?

March 19, 2009, 08:03 PM
People seem to worry too much if the caliber of thier weapon of choice is right for defense spend more time shooting whatever caliber your weapon is and you and it will not fail you in your time of need. Stop looking for a hardware solution to a soft ware problem.

Well said!

March 19, 2009, 08:50 PM
For home defense I would definitely go bigger. Why not, you're not carrying it?

March 20, 2009, 12:27 AM
I have a WWII vintage Beretta .380 that still works just fine. Unfortunately, I can't find any ammo for it so my best chance is to throw it at the BG and hope to knock him out. :rolleyes:

The Mossy 500 and the S&W .40 M&P keep it company, though. :)

March 20, 2009, 12:36 AM
Until recently it was the police-issued caliber in Denmark. They also have orders to shoot to WOUND.

All handgun rounds suck. With modern loadings, a .380 is almost as good as a 9mm. I USED to say, "Carry a .380 if you are SO constrained by size that you absolutely MUST carry a sub-compact." But that really doesn't apply anymore. You can get a sub-comp in any caliber you want now, you don't HAVE to go with a small caliber to carry a small gun.

Use what you have, BUT, I keep a Remington 870 loaded with #4 buck as my primary, with the chamber empty, magazine full, slide locked as my primary, and my M-1 carbine empty, with full mags on the buttstock as backup, both in the closet.

March 20, 2009, 02:33 AM
I have a Bersa Thunder .380 and I feel confident with it. It is loaded with Rem. 102gr Golden Sabers.

March 20, 2009, 03:36 AM
If you're going to use a .380, the Hornady XTP 90gr and Remington Golden Saber 102gr are the best ammo. They expand to about .45" and penetrate to about 12" through denim. Most other ammo either doesn't expand reliably or else it overexpands and gets very poor penetration.

But .380 is not nearly as good as 9mm. If you have 147gr Federal HST 9mm, they expand to about .85" and penetrates about 12.5". That's a much bigger hole.

I know people have strong preferences for certain calibers, but you have to admit that the difference between 9mm and .40 and .45 is much less significant than the difference between 9mm and .380.

That said, I think the Bersa is such a nice little comfortable gun, and I wouldn't have a problem using it for defense with 102gr Golden Sabers.

March 20, 2009, 11:05 AM
I can recall an incident where a housewife caught a Burglar
in her home.

She was forced to shoot when he charged her with a knife.
After the first shot, he dropped the knife, then swatted his chest
and continued his advance. He finally dropped as she put her 8th shot into him.

Her husband carried a P226 at work, and soon upgraded her to a

I have carried a .380 on assignment and as CCW but always
liked that it had 13 rounds of JHP on board.

You do get low recoil with a. 380, but at the cost of low velocity
and energy compounded by low pen with most JHP loads.

Same with a CZ83
in 9mm MAK, which offer a little more punch..but really prefer 9mm Luger or 38+P as the lowest that I'd go for HD.

David E
March 20, 2009, 11:21 AM
Choosing a gun based solely on the size of a cheap safe/lockbox is misplaced priorities.


March 20, 2009, 11:51 AM
Let me put it this way, I am probably biased in favor of the .380acp since I like a lot of the guns that are built around it. I would have no problem using a .380 for home defesne as long as I was running "trick" ammo in it. Corbon DPX, Gold Dots, Tap, or any of the other premium self defense rounds.

March 29, 2009, 07:59 PM
I have a 7-round Kimber .45 Compact, a 15-round Browning BDM 9mm Luger and a new-to-me Walther PPK/S in .380 ACP.

I also have a CCW. The pistol I am most likely to carry in the future will be the .380 ACP with handloads.

That said, If I have to go where I expect trouble, the 9mm or .45 will likely get the call.

March 29, 2009, 09:05 PM
well, it is sort of a marginal caliber, but if you shoot it well, that make a world of difference. a well placed 380 is going to provide more stopping power than a 45 to the hand! i carry a 380 much of the time for ccw, so i am aware of its short comings. but if given the choice between a 380, and a 3' length of 2x4, i will take the 380. as for ammo choice, a lot of that is going to depend on what you can find right now. i do know from trials, that the magtec jhp's do not open up when shooting water jugs. winchester sivertips do, if you can find them, the remington golden sabres are supposed to be good also. me, i carry alternating fmj and silvertips. i have not found any rems yet. if i do, i will.

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