home defence caliber questions


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p5200
February 6, 2010, 11:55 PM
I just helped the wife pick out a Walther PK380 to keep with her when I'm gone. The problem is, neither of us know much about hand guns but I do own several long guns. Well I have been reading the net about the .380 caliber and most, of what I have read doesn't speak too highly of this round for home defense. Did I have her waste her money on this firearm for the intended purpose? should I have her trade it in for something in a larger caliber? I hate for her to have to do that as I know I always take a great loss on trade ins myself, on rifles. I realize I should have done more research before, I helped her choose one since I myself know very little about hand guns. :o Thanks for all advice! :)

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Zerodefect
February 7, 2010, 12:00 AM
I'm not familiar with the Walther, but the .380 might be a good idea because it's light recoil for female hands. With today advanced defense ammo I'd expect it to be near 9mm power wise.

Load it with Reminton Goldensabre or Corbon Powerball for defense. And practice till she's accurate. Realisticly, in the right hands thats plenty of power for most normal problems.

dispatch55126
February 7, 2010, 12:02 AM
A .22lr that you are completely confident and competent with will be more effective than a 45acp that you cannot shoot straight or handle.

If she likes the PK and shoots it well, then it is effective. Don't fill her head with doubt about the caliber. Just take her to the range and run a few mags through it.

mnhntr
February 7, 2010, 12:08 AM
I honestly would have steared her towards a 642 or 442 S&W or a ruger SP101 for several reasons.
1) recoil is not much worse than the 380acp
2) better stopping power from the 38spl
3) easier to use for a new handgun shooter
4) easier to find ammo
5) when the 380 jams and she is in a high stress situation and cant clear the malfunction it becomes a rock to throw

p5200
February 7, 2010, 12:09 AM
Thanks for the advice folks, and I will get her started practicing she has shot my .243 rifle pretty accurately so maybe, she can get accurate enough for the normal home defense distances. :)

StorkPatrol
February 7, 2010, 12:16 AM
Well, yeah, there are probably better choices for HD. However, as others have already pointed out, now is not the time to start second-guessing your equipment. It's time to start building your SKILL SET. Get to the range. Build her skill. Build her confidence.
--Stork

wrs840
February 7, 2010, 12:28 AM
I honestly would have steared her towards a 642 or 442 S&W or a ruger SP101 for several reasons...

For pocket-carry, maybe. My wife will shoot my 442, but doesn't care for DA trigger-pull on pretty much any revolver other than my Smith M63. That said, she likes and is very comfortable with my BHP and her S&W 5904. I'm happy that she's a good shot and very comfortable with these 9mm autos. Whatever the lady "likes" is what you want to have handy for her.

Les

Confederate
February 7, 2010, 12:52 AM
Personally, the .380 is lacking for home defense. It's mostly for concealed carry where the user must give up power in order to have a more concealable gun. The .22LRs put out so much lead in such a short space that I have a lot of respect for them, especially when coming out of a Ruger Mark II/III. Other than that, I prefer a good revolver, a .357 stoked with +P .38 ammo.

GigaBuist
February 7, 2010, 12:53 AM
You're correct that the .380 isn't thought much of for self defense. Even the whiz-bang fancy factory loads don't get the 12" penetration that the FBI wants in their loads. Maybe somebody's done it, but I generally don't see it when I look at .380 gel tests.

That said, it's better than a sharp stick.

The general problem with the .380 and female shooters (or anybody, really, they're not all that different from us men folk) is that they usually come in small and light guns. Small and light guns translate into greater felt recoil. I'm not too familiar with the PK380 but it is a polymer frame and that's not going to help in the recoil department. Does look to be of substantial size though which helps with sight radius. Something that's really lacking when people suggest going with a snub-nose revolver like the 642 and 442 mentioned above. Honestly I can't see why anybody would suggest those to a novice shooter of any stature. Felt recoil is substantial because they're so light, triggers are heavy DA, sights are nothing to write home about, sight radius is absurdly low, and all that adds up for a difficult so shoot handgun. Hell, I've been doing this handgun shooting thing for 9 years and I find my 442 difficult to shoot when compared to something like my CZ-75B in 9mm.

As for trading it in and taking a hit, that might work out well in your favor after you take into account ammo prices Right now .380 ammo is hard to come by. Even when it is in stock it's still more expensive than 9mm. Economies of scale and all that.

Personally I think the easiest handgun to get newbies on, aside from a .22LR, is something like a full-sized 9mm with a steel frame and SA trigger. The BHP and CZ-75B come to mind. The heavy gun soaks up some recoil, the SA trigger makes it an easy reach and pull for folks with small hands like myself and most women.

shockwave
February 7, 2010, 01:17 AM
Shot placement is critical. A bullet through the eye is going to stop somebody. Through the mouth? Sternum? Groin? Anybody want to shoot a .380 into their groin? A practiced marksman with a .380 should be able to ruin somebody's day.

Dolph92
February 7, 2010, 01:20 AM
I dont feel under gunned with a 380 auto however I am probably going to be a little better shot than a new shooter as I have many many rounds out of my guns. The best advice I can give you has nothing to do with the caliber or the gun. It has to do with practical practice and being ready for what I hope and pray you or your wife will never have to be ready for... To many time I have seen someone go out and get a gun to keep for home defense then it sits in the dresser or in a safe and never gets used. The person who purchased it doesnt shoot it often enough to be comfortable with it at a range let alone in a defense situation.

Reguardless of the caliber of the gun it won't help if you cant pick it up, load it up, and shoot it with decent enough accuracy to stop an attacking intruder. Handguns are a lot different than rifles. They are harder to aim and easier to miss with.

Go to the range or take a defensive shooting course at the local gun club, use the 380 cus its what you have. If you find its hard to shoot, not comfortable, or not accurate for you or your wife by all means trade it up down or sideways but dont make the mistake to make the decision on what gun to use based only on caliber.

clem
February 7, 2010, 01:20 AM
I've seen .22 LRs out of handguns kill people.
It was all "shot placement".
The .380 will be just fine for her if she can shoot it well.

The Reverend
February 7, 2010, 02:06 AM
I honestly would have steared her towards a 642 or 442 S&W or a ruger SP101 for several reasons.
1) recoil is not much worse than the 380acp
2) better stopping power from the 38spl
3) easier to use for a new handgun shooter
4) easier to find ammo
5) when the 380 jams and she is in a high stress situation and cant clear the malfunction it becomes a rock to throw

Of all the pistols one could choose, short barreled .38spls. are among the most difficult to master due to the handling characteristics. The jamming argument is a red herring... not even worth responding to.

General Geoff
February 7, 2010, 02:14 AM
I'm not familiar with the Walther, but the .380 might be a good idea because it's light recoil for female hands.

A PK380 will have very sharp recoil compared to a full size handgun. Most .380 Auto pistols will have sharp recoil due to their diminutive mass. This is not to say the intended user can't handle said recoil, but I know I've fired my fair share of .380 pistols, and none of them were pleasant to shoot for me.

dmazur
February 7, 2010, 02:30 AM
We have "been there, done that" with the small .380 thing.

My wife started with an AMT Backup. Not only did she carry it, she qualified with it! While she certainly didn't need to shoot it frequently, she did comment on how hard it was to hang onto when fighting recoil. The magazine "extension" helped as her hands were small enough to get all three fingers below the trigger guard.

When I got her a Colt Officer's Model, she switched to that and never looked back. Sure, it's a little bit heavier than the diminutive .380 (which was one of the smallest .380's made, at the time), but it is easy to shoot. And for her, that made practice something she wanted to do rather than try to avoid. I thought the little Officer's Model was kind of "snappy" in the recoil department, but she said she preferred it to that AMT!

She's small-statured, and marvels at the "get a small gun" tendencies that are encountered today, especially at gun stores. Small guns are most definitely not easier to shoot.

butters
February 7, 2010, 10:39 AM
I would not use a 380 for HD. A 9mm or 45 would be my choices or even a short barreled shotgun. That said I do carry a Ruger LCP in 380 and while I'd prefer a bigger caliber I am willing to compromise for the concealability. (I also carry a 9mm but not as often since the LCP is so easy to carry)

I think that if she gets familiar with the pistol and is confident and comfortable with it then it should be fine. That is the most important thing anyway.

As for recoil, it shouldn't matter as long as she practices and becomes comfortable with the gun. While my LCP does have a bit of snap to it, you do get used to it. I think that practice makes perfect and that will be more important than the caliber you choose.I would not use a 380 for HD. A 9mm or 45 would be my choices or even a short barreled shotgun. That said I do carry a Ruger LCP in 380 and while I'd prefer a bigger caliber I am willing to compromise for the concealability. (I also carry a 9mm but not as often since the LCP is so easy to carry)

I think that if she gets familiar with the pistol and is confident and comfortable with it then it should be fine. That is the most important thing anyway.

As for recoil, it shouldn't matter as long as she practices and becomes comfortable with the gun. While my LCP does have a bit of snap to it, you do get used to it. I think that practice makes perfect and that will be more important than the caliber you choose.

harmon rabb
February 7, 2010, 10:45 AM
I honestly would have steared her towards a 642 or 442 S&W or a ruger SP101 for several reasons.
1) recoil is not much worse than the 380acp

please put down the crack pipe. the p380 is a large 380. as such, felt recoil will be very low. meanwhile, the j-frames have pretty heavy recoil, even with plain 38spl.

ol' scratch
February 7, 2010, 11:35 AM
Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. If she is comfortable with the 380 and can shoot it well, it is better than a larger caliber handgun she can't control. What is the point in having a 9mm, .40 or .45 if when she needs it she misses?:eek:

DancesWithSquirrels
February 7, 2010, 11:38 AM
Manufacturers tend to put smaller calibers into smaller, lighter framed guns. What you wind up with is similarly snappy recoil to a larger caliber in a slightly larger gun. In my opinion the smaller framed guns create a problem with gripping and controlling them making what recoil they produce more of a problem.

If she is able to shoot the gun accurately under stressful conditions then the gun should serve the purpose. But getting to the point where she can shoot it accurately is going to take practice. Putting 100 rounds through a snappy, small framed pistol may not be much fun. In which case she will be less likely to do it regularly.

I am in the "shot placement is more important than caliber" camp of self defense.

DWS

Al LaVodka
February 7, 2010, 01:01 PM
Lotta Rambos in the world.

The .32 is generally held to be the smallest caliber useful for defense. The .380 ACP is bigger and better. Did you know it used to be the most popular calliber in the country? Not the best maybe, depending on a particular circumstance, but, and not just for a woman, in a semi-auto, not at all terrible with the right ammo and, as stated, it is time to move on. My nightstand AND carry guns are 9x18 which is just a shade more powerful than the average .380 ACP. There's actually no reason for buyer's remorse -- sounds like you woulda ended up right back where you actually are to me. Fine gun, decent cartridge, now get used to the combination, shooting, and the other important aspects!

Knowledge, skill, and attitude are always the most important parts. The gun is just a tool...

On a final note, the ammo at home and a little tested at the range, should be a reliable feeding +P. Corbon might be a good choice indeed.

Al

bds
February 7, 2010, 01:50 PM
Over the years, I have helped a lot of female shooters at the range/work pick out their gun.

What we normally do is not to fill their heads with caliber/ballistics information, but allow them to shoot different gun types and let them make the decision based on whichever they feel comfortable shooting and most accurate with.

I believe 380/9mm compacts with smaller frame kicks more and are better suited for carry/back up purposes. I found many female shooters ultimately choose the full size 9mm over the 380/9mm compacts. They state the felt recoil is much less with the full size frames. Surprisingly, some prefer the 40/45 over the 9mm (Have you felt the hand/arm strength of ladies who milk their cows/goats?).

One exception this past year has been a coworker lady who runs marathons. She often runs early in the morning in the dark and chose the Glock 26 with Fobus paddle holster. She said after 30 seconds, she can't even notice the gun/holster being at her waist.

BTW, FWIW, we have some ladies bring their ex-boyfriend/husband's picture to range day. We blow up the picture on the copy machine and OMG, they don't miss! And their concern over grip/trigger/stance, etc. becomes non-issue. :D

SideArmed
February 7, 2010, 02:00 PM
No reason a female or small person could not shoot a fullsize 9mm, hardly any recoil.

Check out a Glock 34 or Fullsize M&P / H&K / 5" XD...etc

For a home defense gun you could go as big as possible. Heavier weapon, longer barrel is going to recoil less and generally easier to operate.

try even a full size 45, you maybe surprised how you can get used to the recoil

KevinR
February 7, 2010, 02:09 PM
I have read that 50% of all Americans are programed (by the movie industry) to fall down when shot (no matter what caliber) I have also read that more people have been killed with a .22 than all other calibers combined.

However what I did was start my wifes training with a .22 then up to a .380 and now she she shoots a 9 with confidense.

When she started with the .22 she was a nervous wreck and could not hit anything.

bds
February 7, 2010, 02:37 PM
FWIW, G22/G27 stay with my wife and G30/Taurus PT145 Pro with me. As to HD, our drill is I reach for the shotgun as she reaches for the rifle with our pistols as backup (tactical vests with extra mags/flash light/knives/cell phone pre-loaded).

Our dogs sleep with us and they would be sent out first while we reach for the firearms.

If the bad guys make past the dogs, it will be like the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

mnhntr
February 8, 2010, 06:57 PM
please put down the crack pipe. the p380 is a large 380. as such, felt recoil will be very low. meanwhile, the j-frames have pretty heavy recoil, even with plain 38spl.
They do? I guess if your a sissy! My better half has no problem with standard38s or +p ammo. Maybe you should work on your limp wrist

mljdeckard
February 8, 2010, 07:18 PM
(Standard disclaimer, the handgun is what you use to fight your way back to the rifle you never should have put down in the first place. Get a shotgun.)

Look at it this way. If it's a house gun, it's not something she has to conceal or carry all day. Why worry about the size?

Small handguns are harder to shoot than big ones. The tendency is to steer women towards little guns, because they are less intimidating. But smaller guns have less mass to soak up recoil, and shorter sight radius, making them more difficult to aim. If you want to make it easy for her to shoot, try a 4" or even 6" K-frame, and let her shoot .38s through it. she can train up to .357 loads.

easyg
February 8, 2010, 07:42 PM
To be honest, the .380 really isn't that great of a round for quickly stopping human aggressors.

I recommend an auto that fits her hand well and in 9mm, .45ACP, .40S&W, or .357Sig.

I don't recommend a revolver.

In my experience, most women of average female size simply don't have the finger and hand strength needed for quick and accurate double-action shooting while using a revolver.

It's also been my experience that most new shooters, regardless of gender, tend to be much more accurate learning to shoot an auto than a revolver.

Bohemus
February 8, 2010, 07:45 PM
7,65 in suitable package (http://img159.imageshack.us/img159/293/scarabeusfk9.jpg) ;-)

Cosmoline
February 8, 2010, 07:54 PM
she has shot my .243 rifle pretty accurately so maybe, she can get accurate enough for the normal home defense distances

I have to ask, if she's already familiar with the .243 why waste time with some plinker handgun for home defense?

Small handguns are harder to shoot than big ones. The tendency is to steer women towards little guns, because they are less intimidating. But smaller guns have less mass to soak up recoil, and shorter sight radius, making them more difficult to aim.

Very true. I still can't figure out why so many will suggest some small semi or J frame wheelgun for a novice woman, or any novice. These are really difficult firearms to master. The sight radius is tiny, and the sights are often difficult to see. For home defense you'd at least want a full size handgun with some nice sights on it and enough heft to absorb the recoil.

Zerodefect
February 8, 2010, 08:05 PM
This Walther PK380?
http://i584.photobucket.com/albums/ss290/zerodefect2533/arfcom/zzzzzSWWAP40002.jpg

Big gun for a less than 9mm round. That should be a piece of cake to shoot. Deosn't Walther have a 9mm version of this gun?

ttheel
February 8, 2010, 08:05 PM
I nearly bought my wife a .380 for defense last year. She just could not get comfortable with semi's. She had a very hard time racking the slide on most of them and she had to think to much about what to do. I ended up buying a S&W model 60 357 Magnum(3 inch barrel) for her. She is very comfortable with it because all you do is pull the trigger and it goes bang. She actually keeps it loaded with .38 Special +P's and .38's is all she has shot through it at this point. She is pretty darn good with it for such a new shooter.

NMGonzo
February 8, 2010, 08:07 PM
My wimpy gf can shoot my bersa straight and true ... with no other training than "Point that thing that way and grip it like this" (not literaly)

TexasBill
February 8, 2010, 09:24 PM
I commend your choice. I own a Walther PK380 and can say it's one of the best .380s on the market, especially for the price. Because of its design, it's a bit easier to rack the slide on the PK380, an objection that comes up with straight blowback pistols. It shoots very well and is happy to feed most anything after a few rounds to break it in (I had one FTF my first time out and that was it: not a single problem since.

The PK380, while larger than the "postage-stamp" pistols that are currently the rage, is much smaller than the typical full-size automatic. It will fit quite comfortably in a pocket or any woman's purse except one of those little opera thingies.

Fully loaded with nine 82-grain Remington Golden Sabers it weighs 22 ounces. The extra size and weight make the PK380 a very pleasant gun to shoot, which means practice is more enjoyable and more likely to happen. It also means the gun is back on target faster for follow-up shots than a pistol with more significant recoil.

The .380 is more than an adequate round at typical SD distances. No, it won't stop a raging rhino but nine rounds will definitely get someone's attention.

Two quirks: First, the PK380 does not have a slide release lever. When you insert a fresh magazine, pull back on the slide and release it. Second, a special takedown key is required for stripping. Don't lose it. I believe Smith & Wesson does have spares now. The Walther Part No. is 2769581.

labhound
February 8, 2010, 09:46 PM
If she shoots the .380 fine then go with it. I own two .380's, Beretta Cheetah 85 and CZ 83. Both on the large size but this dampen the perceived recoil. The Beretta Cheetah 85 is my wife's and she likes it better than any gun we have (9mm's, .38, and .380's). Don't get caught up in "caliber" wars. Remember these guns have more than one shot so you don't necessarily need large caliber, just something she can shoot comfortably, accurately and often!

mljdeckard
February 8, 2010, 09:49 PM
That's great. If you know you will get more than one shot.

wrs840
February 8, 2010, 10:44 PM
Can someone tell me why ".380" and "large-ish format" belong in the same thought? I like .380 in a pocket pistol, but there are great moderately-sized auto choices in 9mm that women find comfortable in the hand and comfortable in recoil, like BHPs or 5904s... Why a "big" format for a "little" round?

Les

AOK
February 8, 2010, 11:31 PM
Obviously we don't know much about your wife or why you chose the gun that you guys did. However, I'm curious if you guys considered her trying out a 20 gauge shotgun for home defense? Throw in a #4 buckshot and you have yourself one heck of a powerful and effective home defense gun. While a 12 gauge can be a little much for the average lady, MANY are more than capable of handling a 20 gauge.

bds
February 8, 2010, 11:35 PM
I still can't figure out why so many will suggest some small semi or J frame wheelgun for a novice woman, or any novice. These are really difficult firearms to master. The sight radius is tiny, and the sights are often difficult to see.

So the girlfriend/wife won't make the boyfriend/hubby look bad. ;)

mnhntr
February 9, 2010, 12:11 AM
So the girlfriend/wife won't make the boyfriend/hubby look bad. ;)
Pretty easy to figure out really. The J frame revolvers are very easy to operate, have a better choice in calibers than the 380. It is laughable to think about the short sight radius in a self defense handgun when most of these situations take place in a distance of 10ft or less, and last long enough to get 2-3 rds off. They are not hard to master and in fact easier for new shooters over any semi-auto.

Gunfighter123
February 9, 2010, 12:24 AM
Well , I've been shot twice and I have never said or have I ever heard ANYONE say " gee I sure wish I was shot with a bigger bullet" !!!!

My main choice for SD in a semi-auto is 10mm and .45acp , in a revolver its 10mm and .357 mag. ----------- BUT , will a .380 stop/kill someone ??? YES !!!!

I'd say try to rent a .22rf auto for her first range trip and after 50 rds. then turn her loose with the .380.

Hawthorne2k
February 9, 2010, 12:41 AM
Can someone tell me why ".380" and "large-ish format" belong in the same thought? I like .380 in a pocket pistol, but there are great moderately-sized auto choices in 9mm that women find comfortable in the hand and comfortable in recoil, like BHPs or 5904s... Why a "big" format for a "little" round?

Newton's Third Law of Motion. A bigger gun will suck up more of the recoil, allowing for a faster and more accurate 2nd, (or 3rd, or 4th, or 5th...) shot.

And put me down in the "If she can use it and hit what she aims at, then it's great for her" column on this issue. A gun that she's comfortable with and can shoot well is far more useful than one that one that she'll not want to trust her life to if/when she needs it.

The only drawback I could see is that .380ACP ammo is still scarce (at least around here) so getting in regular practice time could be a challenge.

bds
February 9, 2010, 12:58 AM
I've been shot twice and I have never said or have I ever heard ANYONE say " gee I sure wish I was shot with a bigger bullet" !!!!

Mind us asking WHY you were shot? :D

mljdeckard
February 9, 2010, 01:12 AM
At the same time, you've never heard someone who just dropped a bad guy with a .44 say; "Wow, that was over-doing it. I didn't really mean to hurt him THAT badly. Nest time I'll use a .32."

wrs840
February 9, 2010, 01:32 AM
Newton's Third Law of Motion. A bigger gun will suck up more of the recoil...

Yes, I get that. I just always thought of the .380 as a "acceptable compromise" round, well suited to "necessary compromise" (small) formats. If the choice of a larger format is acceptable, I never understood chambering it for .380 when fine 9's are available in comfortable medium formats.

Les

benzy2
February 9, 2010, 01:34 AM
Yes let her shoot the .44. That is the ticket. Heck why not skip straight to a 500 S&W? I mean its not like we could ever over-do it right? I think a lot of people get caught up over a specific number and that number is all that matters. Be it penetration depth, expansion size, pre-expansion diameter, whatever. I will tell you this. I have seen a few women looking for a HD pistol turn their heads up at little .380s as well as full size 9mms. I'm sure these ladies would have been turned off by snub nose .38s as well had they shot them. A fairly large .380 would have fit the bill perfect in these situations. While I would rather a .45 with two mags of jhp sitting in the night stand, I wouldn't feel any more scared if a .380 was all I could handle. Shoot what works for you and the rest doesn't matter.

easyg
February 9, 2010, 10:13 AM
Shoot what works for you and the rest doesn't matter.
I really don't like this kind of sentiment.....it ignores the reality of the situation.

"The rest" does matter.
And it matters alot.

There's just no getting around the fact that the .380 has a dismal record for quickly stopping human aggressors.
It's just not that great of a self defense round.
And I think that it's almost criminal to tell someone "don't worry, the .380 is just fine for self defense".
The 9mm has a better track record for self defense and it's really not much more difficult to shoot in a medium to full-sized pistol.
So for a home-defense non-carry gun, I just don't see how anyone can recommend a .380 in good conscience.

harmon rabb
February 9, 2010, 10:19 AM
They do? I guess if your a sissy! My better half has no problem with standard38s or +p ammo. Maybe you should work on your limp wrist

i'm no limp wristed sissy, and don't mind heavy recoil, but if you try to say that the recoil of 38spl from a j-frame isn't fairly substantial compared to, say, 9mm out of a full sized gun, you're just a liar.

easyg
February 9, 2010, 11:10 AM
i'm no limp wristed sissy, and don't mind heavy recoil, but if you try to say that the recoil of 38spl from a j-frame isn't fairly substantial compared to, say, 9mm out of a full sized gun, you're just a liar.
Quote not directed to me, but I could not resist....


The recoil of a .38 j-frame is really not very substantial at all....especially when shooting standard pressure ammo from one of the all steel models.
In fact, it's quite tame.
And while the recoil from a 9mm full-sized pistol is less, it's not so much less that it would make a real difference.

It is true that +P ammo can be rough from an aluminum framed Airweight snubbie.


I think the double-action revolver trigger pull is the real difficulty when shooting a snubbie....

With a snub-nose, you don't have a long heavy barrel to help keep on target.

If you watch those with weak fingers and hands (especially small women) you'll notice that a lot of them have a hard time with a heavy double-action trigger, and they will often let a short-barrel revolver climb skyward off target during their trigger-pull.

gordy
February 9, 2010, 11:22 AM
Well, I am sorry to say that you missed this one, What does she like?
You as a man buy her a gun that you think she will like. or that you say she should have.
My wife likes a k frame m65 3inch with +p+ 38. she can shoot it VERY well and is going to shoot it well when she has to.
A buddy of mine. His wife likes and shoots a glock 19 very well. If your wife needed a car would you put her in a f350 or a hummer? would you let her drive lots of cars and trucks? firearms are the same. the gun you picked kicks like a small mule and bites the hand that holds it. ask her if she woulkd like to try other guns to find what she likes and you and her will be much happier. and she will feel safe.

wrs840
February 9, 2010, 11:48 AM
The recoil of a .38 j-frame is really not very substantial at all....especially when shooting standard pressure ammo from one of the all steel models.
In fact, it's quite tame.
And while the recoil from a 9mm full-sized pistol is less, it's not so much less that it would make a real difference.

My wife would beg to differ. Like I said earlier, she will shoot my 442 (std or +P... they're only 10% different after all), but does not find it "pleasant". A BHP or 5904 she "does" find quite enjoyable to shoot. That said, I found my friend's wife's Walther PPS to be a real "pain in the thumb" to shoot. The extended beavertail and short grip makes it pretty awful, IMO.

Les

chieftain
February 9, 2010, 12:12 PM
The .32 is generally held to be the smallest caliber useful for defense.

Not by anyone who has experience fighting with guns. Only theorists, and keyboard commandos.

Here are some comments about the 380 for real gun fighting, by the leading researcher in terminal ballistics in the United States today, Dr Gary Roberts:

If you are an LE officer, carry a BUG!!!

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.

While both the .380 ACP and .38 sp can obviously be lethal; the .38 sp is more likely to incapacitate an attacker when used in a BUG role.

BUG--Infrequently used, but when needed, it must be 100% reliable because of the extreme emergency situation the user is dealing with. Generally secreted in pockets, ankle holsters, body armor holsters, etc... Often covered in lint, grime, and gunk. By their very nature, usually applied to the opponent in an up close and personal encounter, many times involving contact shots. A small .38 sp revolver is more reliable in these situations than a small .380 ACP pistol, especially with contact shots or if fired from a pocket.

There have been many reports in the scientific literature, by Dr. Fackler and others, recommending the 158 gr +P LSWCHP as offering adequate performance. Please put this in context for the time that these papers were written in the late 1980's and early 1990's--no denim testing was being performed at that time, no robust expanding JHP's, like the Barnes XPB, Federal Tactical & HST, Speer Gold Dot, or Win Ranger Talon existed. In the proper historical perspective, the 158 gr +P LSWCHP fired out 3-4" barrel revolvers was one of the best rounds available--and it is still a viable choice, as long as you understand its characteristics.

While oversimplified, bare gelatin gives information about best case performance, while 4 layer denim provides data on worst case performance--in reality, the actual performance may be somewhere in between. The four layer denim test is NOT designed to simulate any type of clothing--it is simply an engineering test to assess the ability of a projectile to resist plugging and robustly expand. FWIW, one of the senior engineers at a very respected handgun ammunition manufacturer recently commented that bullets that do well in 4 layer denim testing have invariably worked well in actual officer involved shooting incidents.

With few exceptions, such as the Speer 135 gr +P JHP and Barnes XPB, the vast majority of .38 Sp JHP's fail to expand when fired from 2" barrels in the 4 layer denim test. Many of the lighter JHP's demonstrate overexpansion and insufficient penetration in bare gel testing. Also, the harsher recoil of the +P loads in lightweight J-frames tends to minimize practice efforts and decrease accuracy for many officers. The 158 gr +P LSWCHP offers adequate penetration, however in a 2" revolver the 158gr +P LSWCHP does not reliably expand. If it fails to expand, it will produce less wound trauma than a WC. Target wadcutters offer good penetration, cut tissue efficiently, and have relatively mild recoil. With wadcutters harder alloys and sharper leading edges are the way to go. Wadcutters perform exactly the same in both bare and 4 layer denim covered gel when fired from a 2" J-frame. For example, the Win 148 gr LWC: VEL = 657 f/s, PEN = 20"+, RD = 0.36", RL = 0.64", RW = 147.4 gr

When faced with too little penetration, as is common with lightweight .38 Sp JHP loads or too much penetration like with the wadcutters, then go with penetration. Agencies around here have used the Winchester 148 gr standard pressure lead target wadcutter (X38SMRP), as well as the Federal (GM38A) version--both work. A sharper edged wadcutter would even be better... Dr. Fackler has written in Fackler ML: "The Full Wadcutter--An Extremely Effective Bullet Design", Wound Ballistics Review. 4(2):6-7, Fall 1999)
Quote:
"As a surgeon by profession, I am impressed by bullets with a cutting action (eg. Winchester Talon and Remington Golden Saber). Cutting is many times more efficient at disrupting tissue than the crushing mechanism by which ordinary bullets produce the hole through which they penetrate. The secret to the increased efficiency of the full wadcutter bullet is the cutting action of its sharp circumferential leading edge. Actually, cutting is simply very localized crush; by decreasing the area over which a given force is spread, we can greatly increase the magnitude to the amount of force delivered per unit are--which is a fancy way of saying that sharp knives cut a lot better than dull ones. As a result, the calculation of forces on tissue during penetration underestimate the true effectiveness of the wadcutter bullet relative to other shapes."

For years, J-frames were considered "arm's reach" weapons, that is until CTC Lasergrips were added. With the mild recoil of target wadcutters, officers are actually practicing with their BUG's; when combined with Lasergrips, qualification scores with J-frames have dramatically increased. Now 5 shots rapid-fire in a 6" circle at 25 yds is not uncommon--kind of mind blowing watching officers who could not hit the target at 25 yds with a J-frame suddenly qualify with all shots in the black…

Before the advent of the 110 gr standard pressure Corbon DPX load, I used to carry standard pressure wadcutters in my J-frames with Gold Dot 135 gr +P JHP's in speed strips for re-loads, as the flat front wadcutters were hard to reload with under stress. My current J-frames are 342's; previously have used the 38 and 649. I like the 342 w/Lasergrips very much. Shooting is not too bad with standard pressure wadcutters and 110 gr DPX; not so comfortable with the Speer 135 gr JHP +P Gold Dots. Any of the Airweight J-frames are fine for BUG use. The steel 649's were a bit too heavy for comfortable all day wear on the ankle, body armor, or in a pocket. There is no reason to go with .357 mag in a J-frame, as the significantly larger muzzle blast and flash, and harsher recoil of the .357 Magnum does not result in substantially improved terminal performance compared to the more controllable .38 Special bullets when fired from 2” barrels.

At this point in time, the two best loads for 2" J-frames are the Corbon 110 gr JHP DPX standard pressure load and the Speer 135 gr +P JHP Gold Dot.

2" J-frames are a great BUG's and marginally acceptable low threat carry guns, because they are lightweight, reliable, and offer acceptable terminal performance at close range--downsides are difficulty in shooting well at longer ranges because of sight and sight radius limitations, along with reduced capacity coupled with slower reloading. Nonetheless, with the addition of CTC Laser Grips and an enclosed or shrouded hammer, the 2" J-frame models without key locks (I personally will NEVER own firearm with an integral lock) may be the best BUG's and most reliable pocket handguns available.

Another great BUG option if it can be comfortably carried, is a compact 3-3.5" barrel 9 mm pistol like the G26, Kahr PM9, Sig P239, or S&W 3913, as these offer superior terminal performance compared to either .380 ACP or .38 Sp handguns. A G26 is particularly nice when using a G19 or 17 as a primary weapon due to the ability to use the same magazines.

As always, don't get too wrapped in the nuances of ammunition terminal performance. Spend your time and money on developing a warrior mindset, training, practice, and more training.

As to size of a gun for small statured folks, particularly women.

My Youngest daughter, is 4'11" a hundred and nothing pounds. Her shooter is a Colt Combat Elite government sized 45acp. One of the reasons the 1911 endures so strongly to this day, is that the "grip" and dimensions are so adaptable. More so that any handgun I know of. The only one I am aware of that is close is the new HK P30 with three back straps and three different side panel widths. (mine is set up with thick width, and medium back strap. fits even better than my Springer or Colt custom guns).

Short, medium, and long trigger, Full sized thick, or narrow, thin grips even thinner. Curved or flat back straps, etc. I set up my daughters with very thin Navadrix grips and fitted a very short Colt trigger I had laying around my Colt parts box, and a 'low' Gunsite single side safety. She shoots the dickens out of it.

To stay in system type (1911 single action), she has a Springfield EMP 9mm for CCW. I put the thin aluminum grips on it. I offered to modify the existing trigger or get an 10-8 'flat' trigger and make a 'short' trigger for her, but she is happy with the stock trigger.

Another gun that may fit small handed folks is the HK 2000sk. About the size of a Glock 26/27 with changable back grips.

She prefers the 45 for grins and giggles and Home defense. She carries the Springer EMP.

IN her HD/fun gun she loads 230gr Golddots, and for the EMP 124gr +P Golddots.

Go figure.

Fred

mljdeckard
February 9, 2010, 02:12 PM
Like others have said, recoil is tamed by a heavier gun. It's easier to find a heavy gun you can shoot .38s through than .380s.

And I have never heard .32 used as a bare minimum standard for defensive ammo by ANYONE.

cjl8651
February 9, 2010, 03:17 PM
This Walther PK380?
Big gun for a less than 9mm round. That should be a piece of cake to shoot. Deosn't Walther have a 9mm version of this gun?
It's the P99 that's the 9mm. Amazing gun. Although the .40 S&W is snappier than most .40 S&W guns from what I've been told. There's a P99 compact as well.

devildog32713
February 9, 2010, 03:25 PM
Unless you PLAN on taking on Tiny from the Philly Mafia in the back alley, that's plenty of power. lol

2ndAmFan
February 9, 2010, 04:38 PM
My .02: 9x19mm is minimum caliber for a primary defensive pistol, whether carrying concealed or at home due to ballistics/performance both in testing and in real-life situations, and there is a good selection of factory rounds out there. Plenty of documented instances of 9x19 making the grade in real-life encounters.
As others have mentioned, .380 ammo is scarce a lot of places, including gun shops in my area. 9mm is easier to find, at least where I live.
I'm not suggesting the OP run out and trade in the .380 on another gun; I just wouldn't have bought a .380. There are a lot of compact and subcompact 9x19 pistols available which give the user better stopping power than any .380.
Assuming she likes the gun, the OP's wife should take a defensive handgun course, and practice until she is competent/confident in her skill. Since he says he doesn't know a lot about handguns I would suggest he do the same. Any gun is better than no gun and if she likes the .380 she is much more likely to put in the necessary time to get good with it and maintain her skill level. Shot placement counts, and I wouldn't want to get shot with ANY firearm. .
If she doesn't like the gun or feels something with a bit more power is called for she and the OP could go check out some of the 9x19, .357 sig or .40 caliber pistols available. I mention those calibers because I can usually find good target and SD ammo for them at the local stores. Go target shooting with a friend or two who have pistols in one or more of those calibers and check them out, and a lot of ranges have a few models for rent. That would be a lot cheaper than buying one without firing it first. Either way, practice, practice, practice...

mordechaianiliewicz
February 9, 2010, 04:48 PM
I personally think .380 is the bare minimum.... though I would far rather have a 9mm....

That being said, I suggest a larger framed gun. More weight means easier manipulation, and less felt recoil. A full sized .38 revolver, or a Glock 19, Ruger P95, or CZ-75 compact might have been a better deal.

But, most important thing is to have her shoot it. She's the one who's going to use it, and her being able to use it well is what would save her life.

TexasBill
February 9, 2010, 05:54 PM
I have a Smith & Wesson Model 637 Airweight. My wife fired a number of rounds of +P through it. The result was that her hand was in pain for weeks. Guess what? My wife now doesn't want to shoot the Airweight at all. She does, however, enjoy shooting the PK380 and her Browning BDA to the point she plans trips to the range without any prodding from me. She will use the .380 and she is becoming proficient with it, therefore it is a good round for her to use because she will use it. Your wife may vary.

easyg
February 9, 2010, 06:03 PM
I have a Smith & Wesson Model 637 Airweight. My wife fired a number of rounds of +P through it. The result her hand was in pain for weeks.
WEEKS?!?!

I have to ask....just how old is your wife.
I'm not trying to be funny, I'm serious.
.38+P ammo in an Airweight does have a little kick to it, but I've never heard of anyone needing weeks to recover from shooting one.

gordy
February 9, 2010, 06:41 PM
texasbill
that is what I was talking about. she got hurt :cuss:and she wont shoot it. but she will shoot the one that she likes. I would bet a sawbuck that she is good at it also. thats what most men do not understand.
:neener:

hk lover
February 9, 2010, 07:37 PM
when it comes to the nut-cuttin in my home my wife will run past all other guns to get to the 12 guage shotty.if it works for her it works for me.

TexasBill
February 9, 2010, 07:56 PM
I have to ask....just how old is your wife? I'm not trying to be funny, I'm serious. .38+P ammo in an Airweight does have a little kick to it, but I've never heard of anyone needing weeks to recover from shooting one.

You're asking me to tell you how old my wife is? :what:

Let me put it this way, we have grandchildren in grade school. My wife is about 5'4" and has a petite build and small hands. The M637 was as it came from the factory with the Uncle Mike's boot grips and was loaded with Federal Hydra-Shok +P. She fired about 25 rounds before she said she just couldn't shoot it any more and the muscles in the web of her hand between the thumb and forefinger were painful for about three weeks. Not disabling pain, mind you, just sore.

She will routinely put 100-150 rounds through her Browning on a trip to the range.

To be honest, I don't enjoy firing +P through the Airweight but, as it is a gun I carry fairly often, I do practice with both regular .38 Special and +P. I did junk the boot grips, replacing them with the slightly larger grips from a Model 60 Pro (they add about .56 inches to the height of the gun). This made the gun much more pleasant and controllable.

Enachos
February 9, 2010, 08:08 PM
I really don't like when people overstate the fact that any round will do the job... of course any caliber bullet will kill someone... but how fast? Yes more people have been killed by the .22, but in what time span? If I were ever in a SD situation I'd want a gun of a larger caliber to incapacitate the BG quicker. What good is a .22, or in this case a .380, if it doesn't stop the threat before he/she gets within touching distance? ... ever think of that?

ttheel
February 9, 2010, 08:48 PM
The recoil of a .38 j-frame is really not very substantial at all....especially when shooting standard pressure ammo from one of the all steel models.
In fact, it's quite tame.
And while the recoil from a 9mm full-sized pistol is less, it's not so much less that it would make a real difference.

I agree. My wife's 3 inch S&W Model 60 is quiet tame with 38 +P's. Right now she has Corbon DPX 110gr +P's in it. She shoots it really well and has no problem whatsoever with it. She is a small lady also.

Deanimator
February 9, 2010, 08:59 PM
.380acp is the absolute minimum that I'd consider for a self-defense gun.

I'd be more inclined to go with a .38 Special.

What she's comfortable shooting is high up on the priority list.

A 3-4" k frame Smith is almost always going to be easier to shoot than a PP or PPK/S.

A full sized 9x19mm gun is also easy to shoot. 9x19mm M1911s are pleasant to shoot, have grips that most women can hold, and are not excessively heavy.

benzy2
February 10, 2010, 02:34 AM
I really don't like this kind of sentiment.....it ignores the reality of the situation.

"The rest" does matter.
And it matters alot.

There's just no getting around the fact that the .380 has a dismal record for quickly stopping human aggressors.
It's just not that great of a self defense round.
And I think that it's almost criminal to tell someone "don't worry, the .380 is just fine for self defense".
The 9mm has a better track record for self defense and it's really not much more difficult to shoot in a medium to full-sized pistol.
So for a home-defense non-carry gun, I just don't see how anyone can recommend a .380 in good conscience.

But your point is as arbitrary as mine. We all decide on our own what is the minimum we find acceptable. My point was to set in your own mind what you feel is the minimum acceptable and don't lost sleep over it. The fact you feel the 9mm has crossed some line you personally drew in the sand and now feel that you should preach your opinion as the only truth is no less arbitrary.

As I said before I know a few women who were looking for HD pistols, tried both average sized 9mms and the little .380s and hated both of them, had no desire to practice with either, and gave me a lot of doubt that if things went bad they would A) reach for what ever is in the night stand and B) be anywhere near proficient with it. While your recommendation may be valid, for these women it was no winner of a solution. And back to my original point. If it works for you it is certainly better than having a pistol you can't shoot and refuse (for whatever reason) to become competent with. If 9mm fits that I certainly wouldn't recommend going to a .380, but if .380 in a larger than mouse size pistol is all you can take, well load up with some of the better ammo and sleep tight. Not much else to do.

easyg
February 10, 2010, 11:52 AM
But your point is as arbitrary as mine. We all decide on our own what is the minimum we find acceptable. My point was to set in your own mind what you feel is the minimum acceptable and don't lost sleep over it. The fact you feel the 9mm has crossed some line you personally drew in the sand and now feel that you should preach your opinion as the only truth is no less arbitrary.
"Arbitrary", per my dictionary, means: (decision) taken at random.
But my suggestion of a caliber more powerful than the .380 is not a "decision taken at random" at all.
Do the research for yourself and you will discover that the .380 is just not that effective for self-defense.
You'll also find that the 9mm performs much better in that role.
This isn't something that I pulled out of thin air, this is simply the way things really are....it's certainly not arbitrary in the least.

As I said before I know a few women who were looking for HD pistols, tried both average sized 9mms and the little .380s and hated both of them, had no desire to practice with either, and gave me a lot of doubt that if things went bad they would A) reach for what ever is in the night stand and B) be anywhere near proficient with it. While your recommendation may be valid, for these women it was no winner of a solution.
Well if they hated both the 9mm pistols AND the tiny .380 pistols, then I see no reason to recommend the .380 over the 9mm.
Think about it....
They hated both caliber pistols, but one is still more effective than the other.
Why then recommend the least effective one?

Perhaps they just need more time to get used to shooting.
Or perhaps it was the 9mm pistol, and not the caliber itself, that was to blame for their hatred of the shooting it.

And back to my original point. If it works for you it is certainly better than having a pistol you can't shoot and refuse (for whatever reason) to become competent with. If 9mm fits that I certainly wouldn't recommend going to a .380, but if .380 in a larger than mouse size pistol is all you can take, well load up with some of the better ammo and sleep tight. Not much else to do.
Sounds like you're throwing in the towel before the fight has even begun.
Barring some form of physical or mental disability, there is NO REASON that an adult female can't become just as competent with a 9mm pistol as any adult man.
Thousands of female soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and police become proficient with the 9mm every day.

My final thoughts on this topic:

There's just no reason to settle for a .380 pistol.

If one wants to carry a small pocket-pistol, then yeah, I can see the reason for the .380.
But for a home defense pistol that is never going to be carried, I just can't see any justification.

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