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32 acp for self defense?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by pat86323, Jul 25, 2006.

  1. pat86323

    pat86323 New Member

    I was wondering how the 32 acp stacks up with some of the other popular self defense rounds. I really am not looking for "throw out the 32 and get a 9 or 45" i am a fan of the 45 but there is a pretty good deal on a kel tec 32 that im thinking about. I personally think that a 32 should be a decent self defense round as any bullet will do enough damage to take down an attacker. Prove me right or wrong.
  2. bad LT

    bad LT New Member

    Better than throwing rocks (except for the really big rocks)

    My advise; load up with ball ammo to insure a reasonable amount of penetration.
  3. LightningJoe

    LightningJoe New Member

    I suspect it will be impossible to prove you right or wrong. I think the principal incapacitation mechanisms for handguns are fear and demoralization, so the psychology of gunfighting would be more important than the immediate mechanical effects of injuries. 32 probably works most of the time, but then so would blanks. Big loud blanks out of a big scary-looking gun might in fact be more effective than 32 ACP out of a little Kel-Tec. I used to carry a P32 but moved up to a bigger gun when I realized my main carry gun would work for self-defense only in situations in which a starter pistol would (which is most of the time).
  4. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member


    Despite the ill advised comments of one poster, the 32 ACP is just fine for self defense from the little Kel-Tec. Taken in the context of what it is, a deep concealment gun, it beats no gun. Let's not forget that the cartridge was designed by John M. Browning for small defensive pistols, and was used by police in many European countries for many years. It's not a 9x19, or a 45 ACP, or a (insert favorite service pistol round here), but you undrstand that. If you can find an equally good deal on a P3AT that would be better for self defense. However, if I needed something that size and a good deal on a P-32 was all I could afford I'd carry one. Though, if you can afford something with even a little more oomph like a little 380 or a S&W J-Frame in .38 Special I'd go that way.
  5. rustymaggot

    rustymaggot New Member

    +1 on roundnose bullets. your gonna need all the depth you can get with that small a round.
  6. pat86323

    pat86323 New Member

    more oomph.....380........i dunno anymore. My step mom has a 380 and i am completely convinced that the round is just no good. Not because of anything other then the fact that it only seems to have a 30 foot range before it really starts dropping like a rock. Im sure its actually further then that it just seems really underpowered. I think ill keep my eyes open and try to find something with more oomph. And if i have to wait long enough that i get even more cash piled up....its time for me to get a small 1911.
  7. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    Using the cartridge comparison tool, originally posted in another thread at, http://www.winchester.com/lawenforcement/testing/testing.aspx#, I found the following penetration/expansion data on Winchester Ranger "T" Series Loads in 380 95gr & 9mm 147gr - I used the 147gr since it was the only standard pressure "T" Series load listed.

    .380 9mm
    Bare Gelatin 7.65"/.65" 13.9"/.65"
    4 layer denim 7.95"/.64" 14.5"/.66"
    Heavy cloth 7.85/.64 14"/.66"
    Wallboard 15"/.36" 15"/.67"

    Other than shooting thru wallboard the 380 provides almost identical expansion to the 9mm with about half the penetration. Still at almost 8" of penetration with expansion to .64" it's a respectable round, IMO.
  8. mete

    mete New Member

    Julian Hatcher developed a stopping power formula many years ago .It is based on momentum and was a good formula before the days of fancy HPs. He also had been shot in the wrist with a 32 !! No discomfort, very little bleeding.He said if it had been a 45 it would have gone through the wrist and into his body ! The point is that while the 32 can kill it is far less effective than bigger rounds.We have about 100 years of experience that shows it !!
  9. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    I carry a Seecamp LWS-32 in an Uncle Mikes front pocket holster, only as a back-up to my regular CCW piece; a .45ACP:cool: :D
  10. cyanide

    cyanide New Member

    I carry one and every time I do I wish I did not have it.

    For I fear the situation may occur that I would have to use it , and lets face it even a crap 38 spec is way better than a .32 auto

    38 spec

    is as low as I go anymore, I don't care how many books / stats / say it works ok...... it isn't for me.
  11. Roadkill

    Roadkill New Member

    I handload 90g fmj over a whopping 2.1g of reddot, shoots great in my PP and Browning 1922. But I carry a S&W Airweight loaded with 158g wadcutters over 4.9g of reddot. What does that tell you?

  12. LightningJoe

    LightningJoe New Member


    .32 ACP works the majority of the time. It works because the handgun has a reputation as a weapon capable of inflicting mortal injuries. 32 works most of the time when you hit the target. It works most of the time when you miss the target. Injuries inflicted by good COM hits from 32 ACP may cause death after a while, but they will not cause mechanical incapacitation quickly. Only serendipitous CNS hits will do that. Of course, that's true of any handgun, maybe of any gun. But when BGs are "incapactiated" by handguns, they're incapacitated either by fear or by demoralization. 45 ACP may be little better than 32 ACP at causing mechanical incapacitation, but injuries inflicted by 45 ACP may be considerably more demoralizing and consequently more effective.
  13. HankB

    HankB Active Member

    A .32 is better than no gun at all - and at point-blank range, getting shot in the face with even a .32 ought to dissuade even a meth-crazed hophead.

    I tried a friend's Kel Tec - it was completely reliable for the 100 rounds or so I put through it, but I found the weird sights to be worthless. I was getting basketball-sized groups at 25 yards :barf: but they were about 2 feet low and a foot and a half to the left . . . and judging by the holes in the paper some of the slugs may have been tumbling. :eek:
  14. usp9

    usp9 Active Member

    .32 acp has a 68% one shot stop rating. Two should be enough. I carry a .32 pocket gun. I'm just a "Joe Doe". Only carry for that once in a life time event. I have faith in it's ability to put holes and the fear of God in a bad guy.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2006
  15. lesjones

    lesjones New Member

    If you just have to carry a gun that small I'd at least get a .380. Not because the .380 is that much better ballistically, but because .32 ACP can rimlock. And here's a THR thread on rimlock.
  16. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Here we are questioning whether or not .32 caliber firearms are adequate
    for defense.:uhoh: Just remember, it hasn't been that long ago that the
    .32 S&W Long and the .32 Colt New Police were considered quality law
    enforcement rounds~!:scrutiny: :D
  17. Hypnogator

    Hypnogator Active Member

    My Kel-Tec P-32 is my "always" gun. True, .380s don't rimlock, but neither do .32s with full-length FMJ loads or when the magazines have been modified to accommodate the shorter JHP rounds. The P-3AT, from what I've read, is too prone to jam or malfunction, and I'd rather have the extra round from a reliable albeit slightly less powerful pistol.

    Mind you, if I'm going somewhere where I feel a real need to be armed, my Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro resides firmly on my hip, and my P-32 assumes the role of backup.
  18. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    To answer some questions about what I've posted. I am not advocating any pistol in 32 ACP for primary carry, I'm advocating it as a back up, or for times when one is unable to carry anything larger. In those situations I would carry my P3AT, which has been flawless right out of the box with about 500 rounds thru it thus far. If I needed a good BUG/deep concealment pistol and someone was offering a P-32 at a god price I'd take it over going unarmed. Given, I could sell my BHP, my new (to me) 1911, and one of my S&W revolvers and get a Rohrbaugh so I could always have a 9mm with me; but I'm comfortable with my P3AT and keeping other pistols I like. So, get a good service pistol and carry it when you can, but get a 32 or 380, or Rohrbaugh R9, and carry that when you otherwise couldn't be armed.
  19. Brass Fetcher

    Brass Fetcher New Member

    I've heard that someone has tested some of these rounds in gelatin before

    The .32ACP can penetrate to 12" of gelatin and expand to around 40 caliber. The .380ACP is more 'robust' in this sense (barrel length being the same as the .32ACP, etc) in that the same or better performance can be had from a wider variety of bullets. In the case of the .380, you can buy this factory loaded. In the case of the .32, you will have to modify Hornady XTPs and handload to get it all to work.

  20. Srigs

    Srigs New Member

    My bug is a Kel-tec P32 that has FMJ loaded in it. :)

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