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.32ACP or .380

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by tech30528, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. tech30528

    tech30528 Well-Known Member

    OK, I'm sure this has been addressed before so I'll narrow it down a bit.

    Looking for a pocket carry. I have a model 33 Glock. It's small, but not pocket small. Looking at the KelTec or Ruger snagless (recessed hammer) style pistols. I've looked at ballistics, obviously the .380 has a slight edge there. I have a Walther P22 and love it. I know they make a .380 is very similiar to it, but again, not pocket small, and in that size I would just get another 9mm. I want TINY and light.

    Capacity on the .32 is +1, and from what I have been told the itty bitty frame is prone to muzzle flip in .380 and so .32 is easier to put more rounds on target. What I'm looking for here is EXPERIENCED responses, not "I wouldn't carry smaller than a Howitzer" or "My cousin's girlfriend's brother's best friend once killed an elephant with a Cricket rifle". I'm looking for people who have shot both. Since neither has a marked advantage in ballistics I'm looking at ease of use and follow up shots. Ammo availability is not an issue either, whichever I choose will get a big friggin box to go with it.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I have a Kel-Tec P3AT (.380).

    Yes, it kicks.
    But it is not as hard to shoot fast as an airweight .38 Spl revolver.

    The locked-breach action soaks up a lot of recoil snap you get with a revolver or blow-back semi-auto weighing twice as much.

    My P3AT is actually more comfortable to shoot then the all steel Walther PPK/s I used to have.

    I believe the .380 does offer a marked advantage in that JHP ammo for the caliber is now available for it that offers "enough" penetration, Plus good expansion.

    The .32 ACP, not so much.

  3. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Comparing the P32 to the P3AT, I find that the P32 is easier for me to shoot, as it's lighter round in a REALLY damn small gun

    it comes to trade off's, you get good performance with FMJ ammo out of a .32, BUT run into rimlock issues with short COAL JHP, and not reliable expansion.

    But trade that for a slightly larger gun that is more difficult to shoot.
    Really in pocket mouses, it's something you need to go out and shoot and see how you do with the different guns.

    A pocket mouse is a different gun, it's the gun you got, not the one you bring to the OK corral
    it's for 'social' distance, and that's what it is good for. How you use it is different than say a service pistol with twice the barrel and more powerful round.
  4. firesky101

    firesky101 Well-Known Member

    The only reason to go .32 is for the thinness of the p-32 or a pistol of a similar width. Otherwise go .380.
  5. Kahr33556

    Kahr33556 Well-Known Member

    :) :) :) :)
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012
  6. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    I'd go with the P3AT.

    It's small and thin (0.77") and ought to serve well as a pocket gun.

    The Kahr P380 is also of similar size and might be an option, too.
  7. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    No, there are a number of reasons
    it's smaller and lighter than my wallet
    it's faster and easier to shoot, and I am MORE accurate with it (close is OK in horseshoes and handgrenades....)

    It's a trade off, you have to decide if it's enough to get the job done, and I carry FMJ's and accept it's limitations. Why I said go shoot them and decide for yourself.
  8. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Well-Known Member

    Got both. Carry pretty much only the P-32. The extra 1 round makes a difference for me. Quicker follow-up shots, too. In my mind, it's kind of like the Glock 17 -vs- Glock 22 comparison. While I don't plan on spraying and praying, I rather have 2 extra rounds, especially when a 9mm can do just as good of a job if I do my part.
  9. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Well-Known Member

    It's not exactly what you're looking for, but I do one both calibers. I own a Ruger LCP and Beretta Tomcat. The Tomcat is a safe queen and hardly gets carried. The recoil on both seems similar, but the .380 is more powerful and easier to find and reload.
  10. Kymasabe

    Kymasabe Well-Known Member

    I had a Kel-Tec P3AT years ago and shooting it was like trying to hang onto an exploding credit card. Not the gun for me. Didn't help that I bought it during a time when there were some quality issues and the fluff-n-buff was the standard thing to do to make the gun work. 2 trips back to Kel-Tec and I gave up. But, a year or so later I bought the P32. MUCH better gun to shoot, less recoil, can get back on target easier, you get one extra round and bolt-hold-open on last round. I've had that P32 now for over 5 years, have had hundreds of rounds thru it and never had a single problem with it.
    If I were looking for a .380, I'd be looking at Kahr instead.
    EDIT: wanted to ad this...I'm more accurate with the P32 than I was with the P3AT. I carry it everyday with Winchester FMJ. I'd rather know I have one extra round and can get on target.
  11. Water-Man

    Water-Man Well-Known Member

    .380 using Hard Cast or Flat Point FMJ ammo.
  12. tech30528

    tech30528 Well-Known Member

    That's the kind of advice I'm looking for. Getting follow up shots on target is important to me, but these things are not always intuitive. Recently had a pistol shoot out at my place with a bunch of my wife's friends who are all medical professionals. I was surprised when I fired a .45 Glock for the first time. My 33 had the 9mm barrel in it at the time, we were shooting the standard 115 grains with it. I would have thought the .45 would be harder to get back on target, but it wasn't. The 9mm SNAPS while the .45 THUDS and follow us shots were surprisingly easy. So I thought I'd ask. Keep 'em coming guys, lot's of good info here.
  13. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Go look up mouseguns.com
    they have TONNES of stuff on this
    Oh, and the Tomcat is NOT a locked design, so it's comparing apples to oranges
    a locked design has a drastically different recoil than a blowback, go shoot a glock .40 then shoot a Hi Point JSP .40.....
  14. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    That's an awfully good (and funny) description of firing a diminuitive auto-pistol in .380. I am always surprised by how much recoil a .380 can dish out- even though I've worked out the physics of it for myself many times- using a .380 95 gr FMJ @ 900fps their "snappiness" is attributable to a free recoil velocity of ~21 fps..
  15. IdahoSkies

    IdahoSkies Well-Known Member

    I went through the same weighing a while back, and it really depends on the size and weight of the pistol. If you are looking at 12 oz or less, lock breached designs, (LCP, TCP, P3AT), .380 can be a real serious handful, and aimed rapid fire action is pretty tough.

    In a slightly heavier pistol, like the sig p238, the .380 is a dream. (the sig weighs in at about 16 oz.s if I recall correctly).

    I ended up with a .32 p32, after trying out the Beretta in tomcat in .32 (which is a great gun, but a bad design, google cracked frame, I didn't believe it until it happened to me). with the p32 I get an extra round more than the .380, and the recoil is more manageable.

    With a .32 you have to decide do you want expansion or penetration, you can't have both. You have to be comfortable to have one instead of the other. If you are not comfortable with a .32 I encourage you to pick up something a bit bigger than a 10 oz .380 pocket wonder. It makes for a bit more of a pocketful, but its easier to put lead down range with it.

    Hope this helps and is simply not more of the same.
  16. firesky101

    firesky101 Well-Known Member

    To be fair Shadow, I wasn't particularly responding to you. Your post was not there when I started viewing the thread. Still you are correct, If you can shoot the .32 better then that is a good reason. I don't notice a whole lot of difference between recoil in the LCP and the P32 (don't have a p3at to compare), but some might.
  17. groundhog34

    groundhog34 Well-Known Member

    Get off some green and get a Rohrbraugh 9mm. It is as small as any 380 or 32.
  18. PRM

    PRM Well-Known Member

    I personally carry a Walther PP in 32. ACP. Never felt disadvantaged a bit - and that's after carry and shooting one for over 35 years.

    Lot of folks bash the .32, but its had a following since 1899 (112 years and counting). Guess you have to decide what works for you and what your comfortable with.
  19. heeler

    heeler Well-Known Member

    I own both the LCP (two actually) as well as a KT P32 and I can honestly state that I can keep the P32 on target much easier than my LCP.
    All that being said I do not think the recoil is excessive at all in the LCP and I carry it more than my P32.
    You want excessive recoil in a small compact handgun then try a snub .38 Special Airweight.
    You will see the difference for sure.
    No more for me.
  20. commygun

    commygun Well-Known Member

    After many different pocket guns I carry and really like the LCP. I don't find the recoil particularly abusive either. If you don't mind the weight and size I think the Walther PP in .32 is a great gun too. It's just one of those pistols that seems like a lot more gun than it's caliber suggests. That doesn't make sense even to me.

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