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Best .380 self defense round? (specifically Walther PPK)

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Whistling Moon, Sep 22, 2009.

  1. Whistling Moon

    Whistling Moon New Member

    May 27, 2009
    I'm working on getting a nice stainless Walther PPK in .380. I much prefer the low recoil then the higher calibers, but there are many people who say its woefully underpowered. I'm not as concerned about it being underpowered but it would make sense to get the ammo that has the most stopping power for it.

    If it has little penetrating power, should I carry FMJ in this gun to get the best penetration? And more Walther-specific, which bullet has the highest muzzle velocity through this gun?
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2009
  2. Steve C

    Steve C Senior Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    I load Federal Hydrashoks in my Walther PPK/s as they're accurate and feed reliably. I wouldn't have any problem using Winchester SXT's, Remington Golden Sabers, Corbon JHP's or DPX, or Speer Gold Dots. While the JHP's have a penetration from 9 to 12 inches in ballistic gelatin FMJ's run 11 to 16 inches regardless if they're RN or FP bullets so even at the .380's modest velocity theirs a good chance they'll be a through and through shot. IMO JHP's are still a better choice than any soldid bullet for defense though sometimes you give up a bit of penetration for compact size when compared to the 9x19mm.

    Check out Brass Fetchers old website and the .380 Golden Saber on his new web pages along with some of the Marshal/Sanow .380 data and make up you own mind.
  3. Erik M

    Erik M Participating Member

    Jun 14, 2009
    Southeast Kentucky
    I prefer the hard cast Buffalo Bore rounds. I pack them in my Bersa Thunder.
  4. lechiffre

    lechiffre Member

    Dec 4, 2007
    have you fired a walther ppk ? i have yet to shoot a 9mm that recoils more than a ppk.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  5. Guns and more

    Guns and more member

    May 6, 2008
    Right now, any .380 is the best, if you can find it.
    I bought 4 boxes of Cor-Bon JHP's before I got my Sig P-238.
    Now I'm looking for some FMJ for the range. No luck. (at a reasonable price).
    I have 500 rounds on backorder hoping they actually come in someday.
  6. mustang_steve

    mustang_steve Participating Member

    Jul 14, 2009
    Tampa Bay area, Florida
    Honestly go rent and try out a PPK before you get all gung-ho on buying one.

    I would have bought a Glock26 a while ago until I rented one and realized I really don't like the Glock trigger. You may be better off in the long haul ranting a few guns instead of buying and trading them off in search of the ideal one.
  7. TRguy

    TRguy Member

    Apr 23, 2008
    I had a PPK hunk of steal, cut my hand every time I fired it, stove piped often, sold it and got a aluminum frame Bersa thunder 380 and was completely happy. (Supposedly with S&W cutting the frames with back strap tang covering the web of the shooters hand to prevent hammer bite and slide cuts.)

    however i carry a S&W M&P 9c and a Kel-Tec P3AT

    as far as ammo Corbon PoweRBall if you insist on a defense load.

    I usually just load in ball ammo in the Kel-Tec with a +1 golden sabre in the pipe.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2009
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    I agree that the blow-back .380's spank your hand harder then a locked-breach 9mm.

    A PPK/s with hot loads is almost painful, while giving less performance then almost any 9mm load in a locked-breach pistol.

    I bought the best of both worlds.
    A locked-breach .380. (Kel-Tec P3AT)

    Although it weighs less then half as much as my PPK/s, it doesn't hurt my hand as much.

  9. Steve C

    Steve C Senior Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    The idea that the .380 or even the 9x18 mak in blow back pistols have much recoil seems a bit silly to me. I have a PPK/s and a Makarov and while I don't find their recoil remarkable at all. Certainly no more than any 9mm. I'd say my Glock 19 has a little more jump than the Walther PPK for sure though neither is difficult to control.

    There is some difference between actual physical recoil and percieved recoil. The snappiest 9mm I ever shot was a Star fire 9mm. It was a rather heavy pistol but the extra percieved recoil was noticeable.

    Maybe I've just shot enough that relatively light recoiling pistols do not bother me. The only recoil I can remember being bothersome is shooting a 500 S&W magnum and it has left me with no desire to ever shoot one again.

    Handloads.com Recoil Calculator
  10. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    Best .380 self defense round

    There is no "best".
    When dealing with modern American premium defense ammunition, one brand or type is not noticeably better than another.
    While one test will have one brand on top, another test will have another. American defense ammo is about as as close to 99% effective as it can be until some new technology appears.

    What matters in a defense gun is reliability.
    Not accuracy, and not a futile search for the "most" effective.
    Test fire several brands of top quality defense ammo to find one that's most reliable in your specific Walther and buy that.
  11. David E

    David E Mentor

    Aug 3, 2008
    I taught a class and the wife of another student was using a PPK. The husband chose it for her for "less kick."

    After a couple strings of fire, I noticed her face; she was close to tears. I then saw her gunhand and it was bleeding from slide-bite.

    Long story short, we swapped out that PPK for a Glock 17 and not only did she complete the 2-day class, she won "Most Improved."

    The PPK has history, allure, sex appea and it's snazzy. But it kicks the hell out of you for little in return. Add to that a horrible, hard, long first shot and it's difficult to hit with.

    There are so many better guns available in the same size/weight class than the PPK.
  12. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Sullivan County PA
    The Bersa .380 by its design actually has less felt recoil. Many people don't realize it but these little guns can be thumb busters.

    I have a PPS in .40 S&W that has everything the PPK does except it adds the more potent round. Recoil is snappy but fun.
  13. James T Thomas

    James T Thomas Participating Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    best of the test

    Though the Walther is mechanically reliable, you may find some ammo to not be.

    Best would be that which is reliable with your pistol.

    If you find several that are reliable, then I would further test to see which may be more accurate among those.
  14. searcher451

    searcher451 Senior Member

    Jun 15, 2007
    I've carried a Walther PPK/S for years and have never had any issues with the gun. I use Cor-Bon ammo; it functions flawlessly in mine, but J. Thomas' caution is a good one: It's always a good idea to run a thorough test before you decide which ammo to use. It's often true that what works in one gun won't necessarily cycle in someone else's.
  15. woad_yurt

    woad_yurt Senior Member

    Aug 23, 2007
    36° 31' 47.1742" X -87° 21' 34.0301"
    I use FMJ in my P3AT. I don't think .380 has enough oomph to expand reliably or penetrate so I went for adequate penetration. I'd rather have a smaller deep hole than a larger shallow hole.
  16. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Participating Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    At one time, if you wanted a handy size semi-auto, the PPK was about the only game in town.

    Its as good as it ever was, just not as good as its current competition.

  17. m2steven

    m2steven Active Member

    May 15, 2009
    I am the new owner of a Walther ppk/s. I have posted a photo of my bloody hand on this site. However, the gun is great to shoot. It will rub the skin off the webbing of your hand if you shoot a few hundred rounds through it. But the recoil is minimal. Sounds like a contradiction? If you want to shoot a painful gun, shoot an LCP or a S&W 642. That's painful.

    The PPK/s is easy to shoot, super accurate and points better than any pistol I own. It may still be the best of the best of the current 380 crop. I love my PPK. I shot it just yesterday. My hand is now toughened up a bit and no rub this past few hundred rounds.

    You'll be glad you got your ppk. It's a beautiful gun, and after you shoot the bullseyes out of a few targets, you'll be glad you did. It points at a target the way a pistol should point at a target. And hits it.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009

    MICHAEL T Mentor

    Feb 3, 2004
    outback Kentucky
    My PPK/S has the same as my other 380's Corbon DPX or the Corbon 90gr HP depending on which I can find when I am buying in todays market.
  19. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Elder

    Aug 11, 2005
    Elbert County, CO
    I use handloaded 102 gr. Remington Golden Sabre's in my .380's. the clay block test pictured below was one such load out of my P3AT at 12 feet. It went completely through the 12" block (actually penetrated deeper than a 115 gr. JHP 9x19mm factory load, which stopped just shy of exiting)


    Interestingly, the bullet fired into bare clay did not expand, but when 2 layers of denim were placed over the front, they did (and still got over 10" of penetration. The block was much more deformed when wrapped in cloth, loosing nearly 2" in length. But you can see from the ruler that there was still good penetration. The bullets shed their jackets at about 7" and the lead core exited the block:


  20. berettashotgun

    berettashotgun Participating Member

    May 8, 2005
    Any BALL ammo is best from a .380 - with good aim.
    All other bullets suck when you miss.

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