Which has more stopping power, 9mm or .38 spl?


June 23, 2004, 07:28 PM
Which has better stopping power, a 9mm or .38 spl?

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June 23, 2004, 07:58 PM
A good bullet from either one in a full-sized weapon will be equally effective in real-world terms. In more precise, lab and math-world terms, the 9mm usually fires its projectiles a little faster for a given weight.

E.g., a typical 9mm 124 grain JHP might go 1150 or 1200 fps, whereas a typical 125 gr JHP in .38 special might go 975 fps ('typical' numbers pulled from Remington's website; both hotter and slower varieties of both might be found, and different bullet weights are available and sometimes favored in each of these calibers).

Again, though, a good .38 will do virtually anything in the real world a 9mm will; these numbers are just that: numbers. Why d'ya ask?

PS--in case you're not aware, there's not enough difference in the actual diameter of these two calibers to matter--just 2 thousandths of an inch.

June 23, 2004, 08:33 PM
9mm has the edge in terms of velocity as pointed out.

It's also worth noting that most 9mms will hold at least 11 rounds while a .38 will only hold 6 to 8.

4v50 Gary
June 23, 2004, 08:48 PM
Shot placement is everything.

June 23, 2004, 09:05 PM
I'm not a big believer in the "magic bullet" theory of stopping power. That is, that there is one "perfect" cartridge in every caliber and that it's performance will be predicted via some quasi-scientific "one shot stop" research.

As far as .38 vs. 9mm, I'd say it depends on the specific load and the platform from which it is fired. There are weak loads and there are hot loads in both calibers, and I really can't say if a hot .38 might be better then a weak 9mm or vice versa.

Personally, assuming good shot placement in both cases, I'd tend to think that 9mm and .38 would come out about equal if both were using "optimum" loads for that caliber and were fired out of barrels long enough to allow expansion.

Jim March
June 23, 2004, 10:02 PM
You have to talk about specific loads.

OVERALL, the 38 is down on energy but has advantages of it's own: lacking "feed ramps" and magazines, it can run huge hollowpoint cavities of exotic shapes that would choke most 9mm guns.

Then there's a few exceptional critters. Bufallo Bore is about to ship a 158grain lead hollowpoint moving at 1,000fps from a 2" barrel. Folks, if that sucker lives up to it's billing, that's about 350ft/lbs energy on tap, WELL into 9mm ballistic territory even when discussing a 9mm with a 3" or 4" barrel.

I want to see test data on that puppy but to say it has "potential" is a gross understatement. In the stronger guns at least...the 1970's-era Charter Undercover I own, I wouldn't load those.

Then again, the Gold Dot 135 38+P should pull around 1,000fps from a 4" tube - and that'll put a serious hurt on too. Even at 875ish from a 2" barrel, it'll get a good deal of work done (and based on the prelim data, expand very reliably). I *would* consider these in that particular sweet old Charter of mine, soon as I can find some :scrutiny:.

In a good late-production steel 38 though, those BufBores look goooooood! And I have a strong suspicion they'll perform at least as well as ANY 9mm fodder made today.

June 23, 2004, 10:20 PM
I know on paper they should be pretty similar assuming identical bullet design and shot placement but in general, '9mm' sounds more menacing to my ears probably because when I envision a carry 38 Special, I think of a 2" snub nose revolver with 5 shots... When I think of a 9mm, I think of a fullish cap pistol that holds about 15 shots such as the CZ PCR or the Glock 19. Discounting the new 135 Gr Gold Dot load, I believe most 38 loads expand very poorly out of a 2" barrel if at all while the 9mms tend to expand pretty regularly.

The good news is that many of those poorly expanding 38 loads offer very respectable penetration. And never forget how many bad guys have fallen via a 4" service 38 and even 2" backup guns or detective guns... As others have said, if the bullet hits something important, it just might slow the guy down. ;)

June 23, 2004, 10:39 PM
It looks like the 9mm is more powerful so I guess the short answer would be that the 9mm has more stopping power.

There. Thats settled. I am a fan of simplicity.:D

Since we are talking about basically the same diameter bullet, velocity and weight become the only other factors we need to consider. Also, since we are talking about the same cal, it is resonable to assume that we can compare same weight bullets to each other. I know we have to factor in bullet shape, type and what type of gun will be shooting the different cals but yada, yada, yada.

June 24, 2004, 12:01 AM
Energy never stopped anything so forget those numbers , but the 38 and 9 are in the same ballpark. If you want more stopping power go to a 40 or 357.

June 24, 2004, 12:09 AM
Ok, somewhere along the way we went from comparing .38 & 9mm to comparing 38+P to 9mm.

If we're going to compare using 38 +P, it seems only fair to compare the .38 +P to 9mm +P.

There are a lot of variables when you compare different bullet weights in different calibers. That's not what we're doing here.

The bottom line here is that apples to apples, a 9mm can propel a virtually identical caliber bullet of identical weight faster than a .38 can.

Wanna talk +P? Ok, a 9mm +P can propel a virtually identical caliber bullet of identical weight much faster than a .38 +P can.

It's true that bullet design might allow for better expansion in the .38, but to offset that possible advantage, even a AWB neutered 9mm holds just about double the capacity of the typical .38.

WHATEVER your definition of stopping power, when you take two guns of virtually identical caliber shooting the same weight bullets and give one a velocity advantage of a couple hundred feet per second, you give that one a stopping power advantage.

If that WEREN'T true then why is does anyone make or buy .38 +P, 45 +P, 45 Super, 9mm +P, 9mm +P+???

June 24, 2004, 10:59 AM
Stopping Power?

Just about the most stopping power than can be hand held by one person comes from a high pressure fire hose. :D

June 24, 2004, 11:12 AM
Against 2 legged critters I would say the 9MM has a slight advantage but against 4 legged critters I'd rather have a 38 as you can get heavier bullets for it. All in all I consider them about equal.

Both are easier to shoot than a full power 357 so it's easier to get repeat hits faster. I believe every round has certain advantages and disadvantages.

June 24, 2004, 11:14 AM
As mentioned above, there are quite a few variables other than just caliber that may influence stopping power. So it is impossible to give a clean answer to the ".38 special vs. 9mm" question without specifying some of these variables:
1. What is "stopping power"? How is it defined?

2. Bullet design and weight- which .38 special and 9mm bullets are you using?

3. Barrel length - has an effect on velocity. What barrel lengths are you assuming?

4. Powder charge and chamber pressure - quite a variation is possible with both calibers. Are we talking +P+ ammo or standard?

5. Shot placement - where does the bullet hit, and at what angle?

6. Characteristics of the target - what are the size, build and motivation of the person we are trying to stop? What clothing is he wearing?

So it is a complicated question without a simple answer.

June 24, 2004, 12:30 PM
I'd say it depends on the specific loads and the specific barrel lengths they're being shot out of. Winchester white box 115 grain 9mm ball ammo out of a Kahr PM9 will perform differently than Winchester Ranger 127 grain +P+ out of a full-size 9mm. Similarly, the military 130 grain jacketed .38 Special slug out of a 2" J-frame will likely give very different results than a 158 grain +P SWCHP out of a 6" K38.

And handloads would change the equation further - I believe few 9mm loads would compare to a .38 148 grain HBWC seated backwards atop a hefty powder charge.

Bottom line - IMHO if you're using the best loads for each, you'd be hard pressed to see a difference.

June 24, 2004, 02:03 PM

June 24, 2004, 02:54 PM
Arguing the merits of 9mm vs .40 vs .45 has it's merits. They are all proven to be effective and each on offers something that the other lacks.

The 9mm stomps the 38 Special in every catagory. It has more energy and momentum. It has a vastly better record in shootings (.38 Special starts to look more like a .380), and it has better penetration. It shoots flatter and probably tastes better.

Go look at Ammolab's web site. The .38 Specials (+P included) did one of two things: failed to penetrate more than 13.6 inches or failed to expand. None of them expanded to more than .46 inches.

Then look at the 9mm's. The number of 9's that outperformed the .38 Specials is staggering. One of them expanded to 0.77 inches!

June 24, 2004, 03:39 PM
Gotta read closer than that, Mikul; those Ammolab test results are for a 1.875" barrel--which is why I specified in my initial response:

in a full-sized weapon

Precision is the key to good cooking--and good ballistic comparisons ;) As noted, the 9mm has something of a ballistic advantage in typical loads (and a uber-9 probably has something of an advantage over an uber-38, though the Buffalobore load makes me wonder); but to attempt to quantify that as 'Stomps' is a plain exaggeration, IMHO. I'd suspect the ballistic advantage of the 9 might even be offset by the less limited bullet design (sans feed issues) of the 38.

As far as the 'record in shootings' you cite, I'd be happy to have access to such data, but am not aware that it has been collected in a useful form anywhere.

June 24, 2004, 03:40 PM
If it were my decision, one thing I'd consider is a 9mm semi-auto will leave brass on the ground, with a 38 it is easier to take with you.

Personally, I know I don't want any brass laying around. Quirky? Sure but thats me. :D

Jim March
June 24, 2004, 04:27 PM
Mikul: not only is your proposed comparo totally apples'n'oranges on barrel length, but several new 38+P loads have shipped that may well turn the tide. Besides the two Bufallo Bore loads and Speer's new 135, Cor-Bon has the Pow'R'Ball out in 38+P...at only 100grains it's a bit suspect, but if it's hot enough...?

June 24, 2004, 08:20 PM
I personally believe that the "FBI" 158gr LSWCHP +P load from a normal 4 inch barrel is, for the most part, equal to many of the best 9mm loads. I don't care for any of the lite wieght or jacketed 38 rounds.

I've compared penitration/expansion in phone books with the FBI load from my 2" barrel snub VS. a friends 4" 38 and there is a big difference with the extra barrel length. Very comparable to many of the 9mm rounds I've "tested". Not scientific, just thought I'd add my my 2c:)

June 25, 2004, 06:54 AM

Generally it's cheaper to shoot,,,cheaper = more trigger time = better able to place the shot.

June 25, 2004, 09:06 AM
Better? Beats me. I like them both, my taditional carry load is a 642 with winchester sxt 130+p in front weakside pocket, and a full size 9mm in a iwb with either winchester 15 jhp or speer 124+p. Im fairly sure 9mm in it s +p loadings has the edge, and I do prefer the full size autos to revolvers, but I feel comfortable being armed with either one. I consider both to be calibers that one must be extremely careful choosing a load for self defense, unlike .45 which you can grab almost any load of ball of hollow point off the shelf.

June 25, 2004, 11:44 AM
Right now, with current generation bullets, I'd probably give a very, very slight edge to the 9x19. It's kind of foolish to talk about "power" with these two calibres (or any service calibre, for that matter). It's all about the bullet and how it performs--not power. If you want "power," you need to be looking at a rifle.

The .38 Special just has not benefitted from bullet development over the last several years near as much as the 9x19--not because of any fault of the .38 Special but because the demand has not been there to justifify the R&D.

FWIW, it behooves us all to remember that when the 9x19 started making in-roads into the LE market in the United States the 9x19 suffered greatly in comparison to the .38 Special. It just did not match the effectiveness of the old .38 Special 158-grain +P LSWCHP (the FBI, Metro, Chicago load or whatever you choose to call it) they had been carrying. Frankly, I don't think you're any better armed with any 9x19 than you are with a three or four inch K-frame stuffed with the 158-grain +P LSWCHP--but I wouldn't give a meaninful edge to either (based on ammunition alone).

June 25, 2004, 12:32 PM
Tossup. Can get some nice .38's that weigh nothing and are fairly cheap. And you can shoot heavier bullets too. But the recoil on a combo like that can be tough.

Personally, I'd pick a 9mm, because I hate most DA revolver triggers.

June 26, 2004, 01:25 AM
Just go buy a good 25 auto thats all you need .There see how simple that was

June 30, 2004, 09:12 AM
Assuming your shot placements are adequate with either caliber, there is no way to know with certainty which caliber will be sufficient to stop a given BG; the only thing you do know is how many rounds you can throw rapid-fire at him; in this regard, 10 or more 9mm from a semi probably beats 6 .38 spl from a wheelgun.

June 30, 2004, 10:54 AM
I find it interesting that the bullet "de jour" for the 9mm is the 147 grainer(based primarily on clothed gelatin testing). Just a 9x19 copy of the old FBI .38+P load.

The only advantage that the 9 has over the .38 is mag capacity and just how important is that?

June 30, 2004, 02:01 PM
There are probably more 9x19 users who think that the data suggests that the 124 gr +P load is the sweet spot.

Ex-MA Hole
June 30, 2004, 02:43 PM
Ok- .380 and 9mm same-a-thing? Similar? How about ppk/s .380 vs. s&W 442/642?

Black Snowman
June 30, 2004, 03:46 PM
The one that's more effective is the one that has the platform that works best for the shooter. I personally prefer autoloaders and 9mm is a much better round in an auto-loader than the .38 Spl for defensive purposes.

Right now I'm loading Reinier 124 gr HP to roughly max for all my shooting in my CZ 75B. They've been good so far but the lead is so soft I'm worried about penetration if I ever have to use the gun defensively so I'll either switch to a more solidly constructed hollowpoint or (more likely) the Reinier solid noze 124 gr.

The plated soft lead should expand a bit and give adaquate penetration. I've got 16+1 rounds on tap before a reload so I've got lots of opportunities to get good shot placement.

To adress the hijacker the .380 doesn't have enough energy or a heavy enough bullet to give me the warm fuzzies in defensive shooting. 9mm is as low as I'd go unless I had no other choice.

March 6, 2006, 04:36 PM
I have both, and I reload, a flat nosed 200 gr 38 special is a thumper. You can't do that in a 9mm !:)

March 6, 2006, 04:53 PM
If your talking 9mm factory ammo vs. 38spl factory ammo I would have to say (I hate to admit) 9mm.
But if you have a heavy framed 38 that can shoot +P ammo and you reload some hot 38spl+P those would be nice to.
The 38 can shoot some fat bullets that the 9 can not.
I like the 380 it's a fun to shoot little gun, but it might be to little. If it's the only thing you can carry because real hot weather or you have to CC it all day and keep it real well hiden then it would be a good choise size limit wise.
It beats a 22,25 or 32.

March 6, 2006, 06:45 PM
Ok I hope I'm not hijacking his thread but what if you compare two almost identical guns.

Say 2 Ruger SP-101's with 2" barrels, one in 9mm & one in .38.

Both are steel snubbies so they can both handle +P+ loads but lets say factory loads only.

Because I don't handload and it seems some guys can handload a .22 so hot you could kill a grizzley on the moon with one shot in the tail :) !

I ask this becasue I have an opportunity to buy a used police backup S&W model 60 stainless, 2" barrel, with extra rubber grips and holster for $275 in very good condition (heck its stainless & I don't see any significant scratches - didn't use a jewlers loop tho).

But, I already have a S&W airweight - the old model not rated for +P.

So if I get this & load it with 158 grain +p's does this beat an SP-101 with 9mm +P's?

Help me out here - I live in LA & cannot CCW so I don't really need another snubbie but it seems like a great deal and I want it anyway.

March 6, 2006, 06:59 PM
Easy! If you do you part (placement), it won't make any difference whether you buy the .38 or the 9x19. If you don't do your part (placement), it still won't make any difference which calibre you use.

Ala Dan
March 6, 2006, 07:29 PM
There are many myths too stopping power~! I have read many, many
articles on the subject and none can agree. Shot placement is most
important; cuz if you can't hit the POA there really is no sense in
shooting at the perp in the first place~!:uhoh: As someone once
said, "a direct hit to the central nervous system with a .22 is better than a
miss with a .45 ACP"; or any other caliber for that matter.:cool: Yes, I
carry a .45 ACP, but I'm plenty capeable of hitting my intended
target. Guess you could sum it up, that I'm a fan of big, ole, fat,
slow cartridges. Its been around a long time, and saved my bacon
more than once.:D

March 6, 2006, 07:34 PM
I'd say that 13+1 or 15+1 or 17+1 9mm have much more stopping power than 6 .38 Specials.


March 6, 2006, 07:52 PM
My money is on the 9mm, even when calibers other than .38sp are also considered. Only the most proficient and regular shooters can effectively, quickly, reliably, and consistently place heavier loads on target. An average shooter with 18 rounds in a full-size 9mm will outperform an identical shooter with any other common handgun platform and caliber. Why? Because 9mm is the best compromise among followup speed, capacity, and damage.

Disclaimer: I am not trying to start a caliber war, just giving my honest opinion.

James T Thomas
March 7, 2006, 12:03 PM
For the sake of conjecture; if your attacker had been shot -center of the heart by a quality expanding 9mm, and by a "time machine," the event relived, so that the second shooting occured with a good, expanding, 38 +P round -this time also in the same spot, the heart center.

I would then suppose, with some slightly more tissue damage and hemorrage due to the greater 9mm K.E., that the attacker would loose the capacity to bring death to you an estimated 15 seconds sooner than the 38 round would have done. I'm referring to loss of blood pressure and unconsciousness.
This time difference is only an unscientific estimate of mine.

Now, just how crucial to your survival would those few fleeting moments be for the outcome?

Could be everything, or may make no difference what so ever.

March 7, 2006, 06:04 PM
Either will do the job, though the 9 wins, especially with +P and +P+ stuff. The .38 will do the job, though, and it's available in some very good, small, accurate revolvers.

It really depends on whether you prefer a revolver or an auto, though there are some revolvers that shoot 9mm with moon clips. I've settled on a J frame size alloy framed +P rated Taurus M85UL and a Kel Tec P11 as my two primary IWB carry guns. I feel adequately armed with either. I do like the capacity of the 9, but don't feel I HAVE to have that many rounds with me. The revolver has been doing it for a long time. Average number of rounds fired in a typical altercation used to be under 2 rounds, though the availability of wonder nines in the 80s may have significantly upped that with ill trained officers and spray and pray tactics. But, the revolver will get the job done. I feel I can put ONE in the boiler room and if need be and at close range, the second to the head quick enough to stop a dispute.

P. Plainsman
March 7, 2006, 07:56 PM
They're basically the same caliber and the 9mm is generally a more energetic cartridge. Yeah, good .38+P can come close to standard 9mm in energy, but then there's the 9mm+P. So if there's any case for the .38 having greater stopping power, it would have to turn on either bullet weight or bullet design.

The .38 tops out at a 158 grain lead slug (at least among vaguely common factory ammo); the 9mm at 147 grain slugs. I have to say, that Buffalo Bore .38 158 gr lead SWCHP looks amazing -- 158 gr @ 1000 from a snubby.

On the bullet design front, for all the extensive load development in the 9mm over the past couple of decades, I'm unaware of any 9mm ammo that will match the extreme wide designs of some new-generation revolver hollowpoints -- especially the stuff from CCI/Speer. Perhaps I'm out of the loop. The Black Hills/Speer Gold Dot 124 gr 9mm JHP+P is a great load -- it's what I use in my CZ. But like other premium 9mm hollowpoints (Rem GS, Hydra-Shok), the 9mm Gold Dot is much more tapered than the gaping bullet on Speer's 135 gr .38 JHP+P. Perhaps it would tie up autoloading pistols (producing failures to feed) if you used a 9mm that duplicated the design of those revolver bullets. (Cor-Bon's "Pow-R-Ball" trick -- plug the hollowpoint with a smooth, soft polymer tip to aid feeding -- may hold the answer here.)

So it seems the real "stopping power" question in the end is whether, at the level of terminal effect, the slightly heavier bullets and the dramatic hollowpoint designs available in the .38+P could outweigh the 9mm's power advantage.

I sort of doubt it, yet I don't know.

The rounds I prefer to use in .357 Magnum defense revolvers all seem to gravitate toward standard 9mm energy levels -- the new .38+P Gold Dot, the FBI load, the Rem Golden Saber 125 gr ".357 lite" load. Am also looking forward to trying the Speer 135 gr .357 Mag "Short Barrel" JHP -- c. 1000 fps in a 2" barrel, that's standard 9mm territory.

March 7, 2006, 08:48 PM
Take 100,000 goats, and shoot 50,000 of them with a 9mm, and shoot 50,000 of them with a .38 Special. I am assuming that we are using similar weight and configuration bullets. Have a panel of outside observers view the results in each and every case.

My bet is that they would not be able to determine which cartridge was used, based upon the reaction of the targets hit.

If this is true, then statistically, they are equal in stopping power.

March 7, 2006, 09:36 PM
I can get a lot more powder in the .38 case than in that little 9mm. That has to mean that it goes faster and hits harder.


March 7, 2006, 10:52 PM
I can get a lot more powder in the .38 case than in that little 9mm. That has to mean that it goes faster and hits harder.

If this is a serious opinion and you're not pulling my leg, you need a little more study. the SAAMI working pressure of the 9 is a LOT higher than the .38. That's what gives it more velocity. It is a more efficient case since it isn't so cavernous, too, for use with fast burning powders. The original .38 special design was for black powder and it retains the large case capacity of a black powder round. Much like the venerable .45 Colt, it works well with smokeless, but it was originally designed for a large charge of smoke pole propellant.

March 8, 2006, 06:37 AM
I don't think there's any doubt that the .38 Special can be loaded much hotter than the 9x19 (and with heavier bullets), but I'm not sure that's the issue in this thread.

March 8, 2006, 08:22 AM
Bluesbear said,
Stopping Power?

Just about the most stopping power than can be hand held by one person comes from a high pressure fire hose.

Good one! But if you're talking about a 2-1/2" line at 150psi and full flow, that one person better be pretty big.

March 8, 2006, 08:29 AM
I'm a little skeptical of the Buffalo Bore...or any uberMaxenBlastenBoomer round, simply based on engineering principles.

Once you leave the "normal" performance envelope of a thing..._any_ thing, you get into some edgy territory where unintended consequences start rearing their ugly head.

Still, I'll keep an open mind on the topic...

March 8, 2006, 09:16 AM
Energy never stopped anything so forget those numbers , but the 38 and 9 are in the same ballpark. If you want more stopping power go to a 40 or 357END QUOTE

Actually the 9mm is closer to the 357 mag and 40 than it is to the 38 special. In fact the 9mm is a better choice than the 40sw in many ways. IF you really want more performance skip the 40 short and weak and go to the 45 acp. The 40 expands to about .05 more than the 9mm if simular hollow points are compared. The 45 acp expands to .10 to .18 caliber larger than the 9mm. So the 40 is really not worth it. Because for that extra little .05 in expansion your paying a lot more in recoil, gun wear and tear, KB's, accuracy, capacity and ammo cost. The 357 mag is a fine choice if you prefer service revolvers to service autos.

March 8, 2006, 09:39 AM
Why stop at .45? Get a .50! .45 is puny! Get yourself a Desert Eagle .50AE and an IWB rig and be happy, in a Schwarzenegger sort of way. I mean bigger is better, right?

I'm a little skeptical of the Buffalo Bore...or any uberMaxenBlastenBoomer round, simply based on engineering principles.

Once you leave the "normal" performance envelope of a thing..._any_ thing, you get into some edgy territory where unintended consequences start rearing their ugly head.

Still, I'll keep an open mind on the topic...

Yeah, me too, but I still wanna get some of those .357 loads to test in my carbine. I have a chronograph and it don't lie. 30 years ago ammo companies to advertise about anything, but they can't get away with that anymore.

March 8, 2006, 09:47 AM
I still don't follow the theory of "larger round is better"

Handgun bullets incapacitate by crushing tissue in the relatively narrow channel through which they pass. The most effective handgun round will crush the widest and longest (and ideally straightest, not deflected by bone or other hard tissues) channel possible in the target. A bigger bullet is more likely--depending on variables like bullet shape, design, and velocity, as well as target density and covering--to make a bigger, deeper channel than a smaller bullet.

Not that big vs. small is at issue here; this is a conversation about two rounds that are practically equal in size, and boils down to the difference between a--typically--heavier, slower bullet (with more latitude for projectile design--the .38) and a--typically--lighter, faster bullet (with less latitude for projectile design, because of feed issues, and more emphasis on speed to compensate for the faux-fmj profile autoloaders require). People who believe in bullets will generally choose the .38; people who believe in 'energy' (apart from issues like capacity) will choose the 9mm.

I believe in bullets, and would choose the .38 if I had to (I have and shoot and trust both; but the thread is about which is better). Kinetic Energy is nothing but a formula. It has little or no relevance to handgun bullets. Numerous theories have been proposed to explain why KE should matter, but they do not stand up (i.e., make sense) under scrutiny. Bullets patently do matter. I choose bullets over 'energy'.

March 8, 2006, 10:32 AM
Interesting question, as most gun writers compare the .38 Special out of a snub to a standard .380 ACP (virtually the same energies and bullet diameter). And some of them even like the .380 ACP pistols better because of higher capacity.

But a longer barrel .38 Special shooting a 158gr LSWC at 1000 fps has energy equal to a 9mm Luger.

My vote is for shot placement...

March 8, 2006, 12:41 PM
The 380 can't match the penetration and expansion of the 38 snub. SOme 380 loads will expand those that do will not go 12 inches. There are 38 special loads that will expand and penetrate.

March 12, 2006, 06:51 PM
I prefer the .38 S&W Special AND shot placement! If I MUST shoot an autoloader, (for duty use) the .38 Super would be my power "floor". The .380 is a "lightweight" concealment piece, right along with the .32 Auto and my .32 S&W Long revolvers. I prefer either the .45 ACP or the 10mm Auto when I carry a "self shucker" for duty.

Good shootin'


March 12, 2006, 08:01 PM
This question is impossible to answer, unless we deal with specific loads.
I consider the 158gr .38 +p LSWCHP (AKA the "FBI load") to be the best .38 load.
What I consider to be the best 9mm load, a 147gr bullet bullet at a slighter higher velocity, virtually duplicates the FBI load's performance.
Either is a great man-stopper at a low level of recoil.

March 13, 2006, 07:27 PM
I find it interesting that the bullet "de jour" for the 9mm is the 147 grainer(based primarily on clothed gelatin testing). Just a 9x19 copy of the old FBI .38+P load.

The only advantage that the 9 has over the .38 is mag capacity and just how important is that?

Very.. when there are 9 Zombies heading my way Ill take the 9mm, most like it will have at least 10 shots, so after my 9 head shots Ill have one left...:evil:

March 13, 2006, 11:17 PM
FWIW, another ballistics junkie buddy and I had the chronograph set up late yesterday checking some long gun loads and I decided to burn the present 6+1 "carry loads" in the Kahr PM-9. The 7-shot string of 124 grain (standard pressure 9mm) Speer Gold Dots averaged 1041 fps.

Not bad from the short little short tube! This looked especially good after I went back and checked prior notes with .38 125 grain Gold Dots thru the Smith 340. They managed only 785 fps out of the 1 7/8" pipe.

March 14, 2006, 02:27 AM
Speer has a new Gold Dot 9mm Short Barrel out now, apparently optimized for the "wundernines" like the Kahr and Rohrbach.

No idea as to what the ballistics look like for those.

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