Snub .357/38 vs. .380 auto


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Erik M
February 18, 2010, 05:52 PM
My most used CC gun lately has been my Walther PK380. It is a good gun and I got a decent deal on it. One of the first guns I ever owned was a used model 66. lately I have caught a small dose of the revolver fever. I am much more comfortable carrying a wheel gun for CC just as a personal preferance. Even with a mag full of Speer Gold Dots I feel like I would be more comfortable with a stout wheelgun.

If you were to wiegh the performance of the two, would you stay with a .380 or trade it for something along the lines of a 642/M&P/.ect revolver?

would have made a poll but the option has disappeared.

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rcmodel
February 18, 2010, 06:02 PM
My main carry pistol, out of about 25 handguns I own, is a .380.
But it's a Kel-Tec P3AT weighing 10 oz, and is small enough to fit in my shirt pocket.

Nobody could accuse a Walther PK380 of that!

I'd say with a size & loaded weight as much as many 9mm guns today, you could go with a lighter revolver with more power, or a lighter 9mm with more power.

rc

NinjaFeint
February 18, 2010, 06:09 PM
My main carry pistol, out of about 25 handguns I own, is a .380.
But it's a Kel-Tec P3AT weighing 10 oz, and is small enough to fit in my shirt pocket.

Nobody could accuse a Walther PK380 of that!

I'd say with a size & loaded weight as much as many 9mm guns today, you could go with a lighter revolver with more power, or a lighter 9mm with more power.

rc
I have to agree with rcmodel. To replace that gun I would get something along the lines of a x42/LCR or a PF9/PM9. I feel comfortable with 7 or 8 rounds of 115gr 9mm+P DPX on my hip in my PM9. That said, I am going to get a small 380 for those times when I need a true pocket gun. Either an LCP or a Kahr P380 depending on my budget at the time.

wrs840
February 18, 2010, 06:23 PM
FWIW, my LCP weighs 12.1 oz loaded 6+1 with 90gr. My 442 weighs 17.5 oz loaded w/ 5 125gr. They both have their place among useful carry options.

Les

ronto
February 18, 2010, 06:43 PM
380 is a barely minimum SD round. They don't call the 357 MAGNUM for nothing ...You make the call.

Erik M
February 18, 2010, 06:46 PM
380 is a barely minimum SD round. They don't call the 357 MAGNUM for nothing ...You make the call.
This is the exact reasoning in my madness. I knew I wasnt the only person that saw it that way.

MachIVshooter
February 18, 2010, 06:54 PM
The P3AT/LCP/Diamondback/P380/etc. are the only guns that make carrying a .380 practical. The Walther PPK/S or Beretta 84/85 are larger than todays micro 9mm's, so that's a no-brainer, IMO. Shoot, that Walther is almost as big as my CS-45 (thinner, but otherwise....)

Paints
February 18, 2010, 07:14 PM
.380 ballistics are no where near a .357 ballistics.

.357 penetration will be at least 50% deeper than a .380, along with more reliable expansion.

When I want something small and easily concealed, I carry a 3" 5 shot .357 (Taurus 605). It is easily concealed and light enough. It is all steel but light enough that it's not noticeable. Mine came with factory Hogue rubber grips and recoil is very reasonable.

I do have a Sig P230 (.380) but it only gets carried about once a year.

ronto
February 18, 2010, 07:17 PM
Erik M...We both may be mad but we're not stupid...

rha600
February 18, 2010, 09:27 PM
I don't know how the .380's shoot but I can tell you I have a S&W 386NG with the 2 1/2" barrel and whileit does shoot nice to about 10 yards, it's not much good after that. don't get me wrong, shooting at center mass from 15 yards you'll probably hit them, but the groups really start to open up after the 10 yard mark.

i guess it can be me, but I have no problem placing 4" groups or better at 10 yards and 2" at the 7 yard mark.

Erik M
February 21, 2010, 07:36 PM
I traded the PK380 and some change for a S&W Model 64-3. Im also considering buying a .44 that the dealer is supposed to have in stock in the morning.

Zundfolge
February 21, 2010, 07:40 PM
Erik, if nothing else you'll be leaving that little S&W 64 to your great grand kids ... don't suspect the same of the PK380.

That K frame .38 will last forever and be something your ancestors will be proud to keep in their collection.

I bought my wife a Keltec P3AT a while back and she likes it because its so small and light ... and I like carrying it to the gym because it fits in the pocket and doesn't bother me while working out.

But if I had the choice between .380 and .38 I'd take a wheelgun in .38.

Actually I have a Dan Wesson 14-2 that I recently acquired that will end up a CCW piece too (but its big ... seems larger than an L frame but not quite as big as an N frame).

DFW1911
February 21, 2010, 09:48 PM
I would have done the same for the stated reasons. You picked a very nice revolver, BTW :)

Now you get to do all the fun stuff to "outfit" it: holster, speed loaders, speed loader holder, etc.

When you get the .44, repeat!

Good trade.

Take care,
DFW1911

christcorp
February 21, 2010, 11:12 PM
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a 380 for defensive purposes. Some people will keep chanting how the 380 is weak. Yet, no one volunteers to be purposely shot buy one.

However; you can't compare a 380 to a 38/357. It can't be done. Don't try. The 357 magnum revolver is the MOST VERSATILE caliber in the world. You can buy ammo that is a soft as a 380 (Very light 38spl). You can use normal 38sp, +P 38spl, weak 357 mag, all the way up to stuff that will take down an elk or go through a car.

You simply have to decide which gun you want to shoot. If you can't keep the 380 AND buy a 357 mag revolver; and have to sell it in order to get the revolver; then I would definitely do it. Like I said; the 357 mag revolver is the most versatile of them all. With a good 3"or4" barrel, there isn't anything that it can't be used for. If a person could only have one gun, and it had to be their "Everything" gun; for carry, self defense, home defense, hunting, plinking, or any other imaginable activity, then the 357 magnum revolver is the one and only gun they should have. If you're going to have more than one gun, then you can specialize.

shockwave
February 22, 2010, 12:11 AM
If a person could only have one gun, and it had to be their "Everything" gun; for carry, self defense, home defense, hunting, plinking, or any other imaginable activity, then the 357 magnum revolver is the one and only gun they should have.

That is so well put. Totally agree. My HD setup is considerable, but I'm homing in on the CCW solution now and I'm still working out the trade-offs of 9mm vs .357 snubbie. The Taurus 605 is extremely attractive. The small Kahrs and Kel-Tecs have an argument going for them, in terms of weight and concealableness, firepower and reload time. But then, at the range this weekend my friend brought a Glock 30 and a Baretta 87 Cheetah (22LR).

The Baretta felt so good in the hand - I was looking forward to plinking practicing with it. It was jamming on every second or third round. I don't know, guys. On the one hand, there's all these guys saying they bought an auto and have put 10,000 rounds through it and not one FTF or FTE, and then there's me who has had jams with Glocks, H&Ks, Walthers and now a Baretta. And never one problem ever with a revolver.

The reasons that have led me to select revolvers for HD are arguing strongly for revolver for CCW. Just thinking out loud here, no decision made yet. You can get autos that are smaller, lighter, and in 9mm offer a wide variety of powerful and inexpensive ammo.

duns
February 22, 2010, 12:33 AM
If a person could only have one gun, and it had to be their "Everything" gun; for carry, self defense, home defense, hunting, plinking, or any other imaginable activity, then the 357 magnum revolver is the one and only gun they should have.
I agree with the above.

My view when I bought my first gun (just a few weeks ago as a matter of fact) was that I wanted it to be as reliable as possible. I also wanted it to be pocket sized for summer carry. So I bought a M&P340CT J-frame 357 Magnum. Then I added a Beretta 92FS for home defense. Then I bought a Walther P99C to carry in addition to the J-frame when clothing permits. My plan is that I will always have the J-frame with me because I can rely on it better than any semi auto.

I specifically decided against a 380 caliber pistol partly because of the caliber but more importantly because, from my reading of reviews, most of those little pistols are somewhat unreliable and also not able to stand up to a lot of shooting (and I want to practice a lot with all my guns).

So, briefly, my logic was that whatever semi-autos I may have on or around me, I feel more comfortable if I have a revolver on me as well. If I can only carry one gun in summer clothing, I prefer it to be the J-frame.

duns
February 22, 2010, 12:47 AM
The Baretta felt so good in the hand - I was looking forward to plinking practicing with it. It was jamming on every second or third round. I don't know, guys. On the one hand, there's all these guys saying they bought an auto and have put 10,000 rounds through it and not one FTF or FTE, and then there's me who has had jams with Glocks, H&Ks, Walthers and now a Baretta. And never one problem ever with a revolver.
Interesting about your Beretta problems because I bought a 92FS based on its renowned reliability. I was dismayed on first shooting it because it jammed every few rounds (with standard 9mm rounds -- was fine with +P ammo). After 120 rounds, it settled down (i.e. no problems between 120 rounds and the 500 I've now fired). Hopefully, it's now broken in and there will be no further problems for many thousands of rounds.

One of my concerns over the little 380's was that many are not sufficiently durable to take the amount of shooting that's necessary to prove their reliability (I'm a newbie so not speaking from experience here, it was just my concern based on what I read).

As I said in my previous post, the most comforting gun I own is my little snubbie because I perceive there's not much to go wrong.

NG VI
February 22, 2010, 02:21 AM
Shockwave the Beretta 87 is a rimfire and so much more liable to encounter ammunition troubles, and to be picky about ammunition too.

I have never had a Beretta 92 malfunction on me during State Marksmanship Team practices, or on anyone shooting them near me.

easyg
February 22, 2010, 09:36 AM
I would choose the .38 snub-nose over the .380 auto.
The snubbie is most likely going to prove more reliable over the years, and the .380 just isn't that great as a self-defense caliber.

Fiv3r
February 22, 2010, 10:15 AM
.380 handguns usually excel in being very light and very concealable for times when you might find yourself in bad-breath range. Personally, i would pick a .38 revolver over a .380 any day.

I routinely pack a cheap lil' P-64 chambered in 9x18 mak. It behaves like a peppy .380 but ammo is cheaper and more readily available (online). Nice flat carry gun that tucks into my back pocket, in my jacket, or the small of my back.

However, if you like revolvers...well there isn't anything wrong with that:D I also carry a .38sp Model 36 often.

christcorp
February 22, 2010, 10:59 AM
Shockwave; if anyone ever says they've shot 10,000 rounds through a semi-auto and it "NEVER" had a FTF or FTE, I would have to call B.S. on them. Or at least say that they had one and just don't remember.

By it's nature, a revolver is more reliable for defensive purposes. Not necessarily just the gun itself, but because there are 3 things that a revolver doesn't have to worry about. A magazine that isn't engaged properly, mechanical feeding of ammunition, and the human factor or working safeties, slides, etc... A revolver is simply point and click. However, with a revolver, you give up to things. Magazine capacity and speed in reloading. I've never been one who puts emphasis on magazine capacity. ALL of my guns, except 1, has a magazine capacity of 8 or less. Matter of fact, when I'm carrying concealed, I don't even have a 2nd magazine with me. I just happen to like my CZ-82 and my Sig P220. They feel really good, accurate as all hell, and excellent ammo.

But, my main gun in the bed room in case of that late night break in is a 357 magnum S&W revolver. And it's loaded with 158 grain hydra-shocks. So it's all about preference. I have the revolver in the bedroom, because at 2am, your brain is NOT working at 100%. When you hear a noise and get out of bed, a lot of things are going through your brain. I want my mind to concentrate on the intruder. I don't want my mind or my wife's mind to be thinking about the gun. Is it loaded, is their a round in the magazine, did I turn off the safety, maybe I should look, etc... At 2am and your brain like that, is where accidents happen. With a revolver, it's point and click. No thinking about the gun. Think about the intruder. Is it an intrude or your daughter who had a fight with her husband and decided to come home for the night. Was it just part of a dream that seemed real and there was no noise. Doesn't matter what the scenario. Point is, at 2am, and half asleep, I want my 357 magnum revolver. My wife and I are proficient with it. We know if we pull the trigger, it will go bang. We can concentrate on the intruder and not the gun. That is the safest and best way in my opinion.

Deanimator
February 22, 2010, 12:07 PM
The smallest gun I carry is a Smith Model 36.

The smallest caliber I would even CONSIDER is .380acp.

Twenty years ago, I had a French PPK/S. There was no CCW here in Ohio, so I sold it to a friend to finance another purchase. He and I are both out of work again. If I get a job before he does, I'll probably offer to buy it back, just to have it.

If I need to carry a gun and it really needed to be very small, I'd consider a PPK/S, but I'd never have as much confidence in it as I'd have in that S&W loaded with the Federal "FBI" load.

GoodKat
February 22, 2010, 02:16 PM
Depends on where you want to carry it.

duns
February 22, 2010, 02:39 PM
christcorp - good message. My philosophy is to try to keep two ore more guns of different designs about me, one of them a revolver for the reasons you give in your message - relaibility and simplicity of operation.

gearhead
February 22, 2010, 03:03 PM
+1 on the P-64 with Mak. It's my cheap, reliable pocket gun, although I also have been known to pocket carry a .38 Spl. snub (my wife's bedside gun). I have an FNP-9M and a Taurus 24-7 Pro compact in .45ACP for IWB carry. Just depends on what my wardrobe is and where I'm going.

snooperman
February 22, 2010, 03:19 PM
that the revolver is very hard to beat. I have been carrying my Colt detective 6 shot snubbie 38 special for about 35 years and it gives me comfort to know it is much more reliable than a semiauto. I have friends who carry semiautos, and to each his own on this , but I personally think you can not beat the reliablilty of the wheelgun when you need it. Try getting a copy of Ed Lovettes excellent book on "The snubbie revolver" and he will convince you with many years of experiences and case studies using this type of gun for self defense.

easyg
February 22, 2010, 04:28 PM
I want my mind to concentrate on the intruder. I don't want my mind or my wife's mind to be thinking about the gun. Is it loaded, is their a round in the magazine, did I turn off the safety, maybe I should look, etc... At 2am and your brain like that, is where accidents happen. With a revolver, it's point and click. No thinking about the gun.
While I like revolvers, this really isn't a good argument against all autoloaders.

With handguns like the Glock, Springfield Armory XD, S&W M&P, Kahr, etc...
Load the magazine, chamber a round, put handgun in holster, and forget about it until you need it.

And when you need it....

Draw, point, shoot....just like a revolver.
Nothing else to consider.

SaxonPig
February 22, 2010, 05:04 PM
Number 85.
---------------------------------

“Snub” 38 revolver vs. 380 auto?

85. My 380 FEG (a Walther PP clone) is almost the exact same size as a J frame S&W with a 2”barrel… virtually no difference in length, height and width. The FEG has an alloy frame and seems to weigh about the same as the Smith. I had a Walther PPK in steel and it was very heavy for such a small pistol. Too heavy for me and I sold it.

As for power, the best 380 factory loads (something like a 90 grain JHP at around 900 FPS) are a little behind the best 38 Special ammo available (a 125 JHP at a similar velocity, about 900). With custom loads the 38 far surpasses the 380. My 38 Special carry load is a 125@1,100 clocked from my 2” guns.

Advantage goes to the auto in capacity at 7 rounds vs. 5 for the revolver. An extra magazine lies flat and is faster to reload than any revolver loader. To me the revolver carries better being more rounded while the auto feels “boxy” in concealment.

I have carried both, could live with either, but tend to favor the revolver. You choose your own medicine.

gym
February 22, 2010, 05:11 PM
I carried a model 60 and a walther PPKS, from 1975 to 1994 in NYC. The main reason was the size. They were the smallest guns that carried enough power to make sense at the time. That no longer is the case. The only reason LEO's and civilians didn't carry more powerful off duty handguns, were that there weren't any. If it was now, that would not be the case. It' a no brainer. If you can carry a small 9mm that is smaller or the same size as a 380 was back in the day, there would be no gun savvy person who would step down to a 380. A 38 +p is ok, but why go smaller when you don't have to compromise size for power anymore. I carry the largest caliber I can in the smallest package possible until it becomes prohibitive for where I am going. That is just old fashioned common sense. Why folks feel they need 20 rounds with two extra clips is just too much tv. There is no way you are going to have the opportunity to fire 50 rounds in a gunfight unless you are a border patrol agent in on the Mexican border and are pinned down for 8 hours until help arrives. Even then you would need your primary weapon first. My ex brother-in-law carried a high-power a rifle and a shotgun, with a couple thousand rounds in the back of the truck back in the 70-80's. Just in case he got ambushed and had to wait a day or two for help to come. This obsession with mags that carry 20 rounds is just foolishness.

atomd
February 22, 2010, 05:49 PM
People talk like the .38 is way more powerful than a .380. Unless you're using +P rounds I don't think there's a giant world of difference. .357 versus .38+P from a 2" barrel isn't exactly a game changer either. Shot placement is though.

Harvey
February 22, 2010, 09:46 PM
Seems odd that the 1911 gunners haven't chimed in. Anyone proficient with the best-ever handgun platform would naturally pick the Colt Mustang as the best pocket pistol. It's time tested, reliable, accurate and runs with 1911 controls. And you just can't beat that crisp, quick single-action trigger pull. Slip a cocked & locked nickel Mustang into a nice wallet holster and drop an extra mag in your front pocket if you want. A fine pistol that hides well and feels soooo good. Soooo right.

And don't tell me that +P .380 doesn't hurt.

christcorp
February 22, 2010, 11:25 PM
People talk like the .38 is way more powerful than a .380. Unless you're using +P rounds I don't think there's a giant world of difference. .357 versus .38+P from a 2" barrel isn't exactly a game changer either. Shot placement is though.
If you believe that it's all about kinetic energy: Ek=p(2)/2m ; then you are totally correct. However; when a 38 special on average has about 50% more weight/mass behind it, you get a lot greater penetration. When we see muzzle energy listed for a bullet, it's simply mathematics. And that math changes dramatically the moment there is an impairment to the forward velocity of an item. So even if we try and get close mathematically with a 95 grain 380 @ 955 fps and 190 ft/lbs; and a 130 grain 38spl @ 800 fps and 185 ft/lbs; the larger 130 grain 38spl bullet will retain MORE of it's energy and therefor have more penetration. And that is what you need. The numbers of FPS and Ft/Lbs is all mathematical. But penetration is physics. And heavier items retain their forward momentum better than lighter items. Thus, the reason why a 900 fps 230 grain 45acp has been one of the most successful rounds ever created. The mass is great enough, that it is one of the FEW cartridges that the experts even agree can use FMJ or LRN for self defense and it's perfectly acceptable and efficient. You don't need the hollow point to slow it down for over penetration, and the existing diameter is greater than the majority of other calibers even with hollow points that have expanded.

Anyway; the 38 special is definitely a better caliber than the 380. Not that the 380 is a bad defensive cartridge. It's perfectly fine. I even have no problem trusting my 32acp for self defense. But the 38 spl is better for penetration. Of course, we're talking about all other things being equal. A 3" barrel on a 380 is going to neutralize a 2" barrel on the 38 special. However, you take a 150-158 grain 38 special (Not +P) from a 3-4" revolver, against a 95 grain 380 in a 2.5-3" semi-auto, and even though the 380 is going 955 fps and the 38spl is only going 855 fps; the 38spl is going to have much better penetration. Now if you have the same weight bullet in both rounds, it will definitely be much closer. However, the 38spl would have a lot more powder behind it compared to the little bit in the 380. Anyway, the 38spl is in my opinion significantly better than the 380.

ROGER4314
February 22, 2010, 11:42 PM
I let the weather determine what I carry. Houston is hot and humid. During the worst of the summer, I carry a Model 36 in 38 spl, S&W 640 in .357 in a fanny pack. That fanny pack is great as I can stash my wallet in it, too. In Houston, you'll sweat your wallet completely soaked through!

At any other time, I carry a Keltec P3AT or Ruger LCP in my right pants pocket.

We are big on beaches here. At the beach I'll carry a tiny .22 magnum revolver.

Carry small but carry always.

Flash

Fastcast
February 22, 2010, 11:55 PM
As for me, I'll take 14 rounds of .380 in a Beretta 84 or 13 in a CZ83/82 anyday over 5 - .38s from a snubby.

You better hope there's only one perp. If not, don't miss and if you do hit they better be very good ones.

TIME OUT PLEASE......I need to reload. :uhoh: lol

AK103K
February 23, 2010, 12:09 AM
The .38/.357 may be more potent than the .380's, the problem with them, and especially in the smaller, lighter guns, is the platform itself. Those little snubbies can be a bear to shoot well with using full power loads, especially when you try to draw and shoot quickly, and as the distance opens up. An equivalent sized .380 is usually a lot easier to shoot well with.

If you choose the snubbies, you really need to shoot them on a regular basis to stay on top of them, and thats with ammo that you intend to carry in them, or an equivalent powered reload. Practice usually isnt very pleasant, and your results generally degrade quickly the longer you shoot. About 50 rounds at an outing is all I want to put up with these days, and thats hot .38's out of my 642's. I dont even bother with the .357's out of my 60 anymore, its just a waste of time and money. With full power .380's out of my P230's, I can shoot a lot longer, and not see any drop off in performance.

SaxonPig
February 23, 2010, 12:49 AM
Atomd- A 357 far outclasses a 38 regardless of barrel length. The +P clocks less than 900 FPS from my 2" guns. My short M19 shoots factory Magnums with the same bullet weight at nearly 1,200.

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