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Looking for first CCW handgun. .380 vs. .40.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by mgh-pa, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. mgh-pa

    mgh-pa Member

    Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm not new to firearms, just to handguns, and after getting my CCW permit this summer, I've put off purchasing a handgun for longer than I would like. I've fired a variety of .45s and 9mms, and one .38, so I have a pretty good feel for the size gun I would like. I'm not able to carry daily since I'm a school teacher, but I would like to have a gun I can keep with me (on or not) in my vehicle when not on the job, as well as carry on me when outside of school.

    A lot of people I know really like their .380 Bersa's, and I know one person who just bough a Sig P238 in a .380 and loves it (although he thinks it's a bit on the heavy side compared to other polymer pistols).

    I've been eyeing up the XDs in .40 since it's so slim (that's a big one, since I think I want to carry using an IWB), but it is pricey, albeit no more pricey than the aforementioned Sig.

    Is there any general recommendations on the .40 vs. .380 from a carry aspect? Thanks in advance.
  2. Skribs

    Skribs Well-Known Member

    The XDs is offered in .45, not .45.

    .40 vs. .380 isn't a debate I see very often, they are too widely different calibers. It seems to me that you want a single stack pistol for carry. There are a lot of these on the market nowadays; personally I'd recommend a 9 or a .380 over a .40 in that size. Considering how my .380 LCP beats up my hand, I wouldn't want a small, light .40.

    I'd recommend 9 over .380, although there are a few really small options that don't have a comparable 9, if deep concealment is an issue. Something like the S&W M&P Shield, Sig P938, Beretta Nano, or something similar would be my recommendation.
  3. jrdolall

    jrdolall Well-Known Member

    Lots of difference between a 380 and a 40. I like to carry the biggest gun I can comfortably carry so I often pocket carry a .380 but prefer to ankle carry a .45. I am not really comfortable with IWB or OWB. Bersa Thunder is on the large size for a .380 but is a good gun. For pocket carry, in the sub $500 range, Ruger and KelTec as well as several others, have nice .380s. If I were going to carry OWB or IWB then I would generally not mind the gun size as much and, assuming you are proficient with the larger caliber, I would go with a .40.
  4. jwrowland77

    jwrowland77 Well-Known Member

    Go .40 as main CCW and have a .380 as a BUG.
  5. Mp7

    Mp7 Well-Known Member

    before every1 else jumps in on this:

    Do u know a place, where u can rent handguns and shoot them?

    From the simplicist 38detective to a Glock, CZ, XD ... whatever make
    ... it all comes down to:

    Does it fit MY hand,
    does it point for ME"
    ... do i feel comfortable walking around with it EDC?

    might be an LCP, LCR ... or a fullsize whatever.

    100 options. Forum-reading wont solve it.

    Just try out the 5-10 most likely,
    that are favoured by the web-community.

    For some its a LCP, S&W shield, for some a 10mm Glock or a 1911. (..)

    Rule1: bring it.
    Rule2: know how to use it.
  6. md2lgyk

    md2lgyk Well-Known Member

    Reasonable advice. However, I've lived in about 25 locations in the past 40 years, and have yet to actually see someplace that rents guns.
  7. momano

    momano Well-Known Member

    Looking at 9mm.s is really good advice. The ammo is much more affordable; more $ to spend on practice ammo. Look at the Glock 26, S&W M&P 9c, the Shield, the Kahrs, and the Nano. Good luck!
  8. jrdolall

    jrdolall Well-Known Member

    We have a local place called Shooters that rents and sells guns. Their prices for purchase are pretty high but they also sell their rentals on occasion. Lots of rounds through them but generally well maintained.
  9. golden

    golden Well-Known Member



    Those are such different choices, I think they are exclusive.

    In .380ACP, I would go with the SIG 232 with blue (aluminum) frame and night sights. It has terrific quality, good sights, excellent trigger and very good reliability. Like all these pocket pistols, clean them on a regular basis.

    The SIG is similar in size and trigger action to the BERSA, but is more expensive. I recommend it because I carry it.

    In a .40 S&W, I would go for a large gun. I use the BERETTA 96. The recoil is severe enough, that I would not use a smaller gun. I only use the 155 grain high velocity load in the .40 S&W for carry ammo.

    I am issued an H&K P-2000 in .40 S&W and can qualify with it, but I do not like it. If it was a 9m.m., I would be much happier.

    Again, these calibers are apples and oranges, with little in common.

  10. J2FLAN

    J2FLAN Well-Known Member

    golden; makes a goot point, the the sub-compact 40s can be very hard to control and shot placement is everything. I have carried a Sig 232 for 5+ years for that reason, along with others. For a first carry gun, maybe one that fits your hand, is known to be reliable and carries well, over caliber choice.

    BTW, my signature is said "tongue in cheek"
  11. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    .380 or .40?

    I chose 9mm
  12. jrdolall

    jrdolall Well-Known Member

    How many responses will suggest a caliber other than what the OP was asking about? I know we all have our favorites but why not just answer the actual quesion?
    I recommend a 12g pistol for CCW. If that is too bulky then you might want to go with a 44 mag as a pocket carry.
    380 and 40 are not manly enough.
  13. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    There seems to be a "missing link" when comparing .380 to .40

    Like Skribs said, that isn't really something to debate as they are too far apart.

    Or I'll say it this way: If you can get a decent .40 pistol in the size you are looking for, and the only other option is .380...go for the .40 every time. It's a service caliber, and the .380 isn't really
  14. miles1

    miles1 Well-Known Member

    I know its not a caliber you listed but I would go 9mm.

    If i had to chose between your 2 choices then .380 as Im not fond of the .40's snappy recoil.
  15. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Well-Known Member

    To answer your original question, I'll say that if choosing between .380 and .40, I'd opt for the .40 every time. These are two cartridges that are so widely spaced on the performance scale as to not really be in the same league. The .40 is a solid performer, while the .380 is the minimum I'd consider.

    Honestly, I'd think back over the pistols you've shot, held, ogled, whatever. I'd then choose the pistol first, based on what feels best in your hands. Then choose the caliber that meets your needs that is offered in that pistol model.

    The XD isn't really all that bad to conceal. While it IS a fullsize pistol, it isn't overly thick, especially for being a double stack magazine. Compared to most other doublestacks, it's downright svelte.

    Also consider Newtons Third Law. Touch one off in a tiny little pocket gun and you'll wish you had a larger pistol to soak up some of that recoil. Especially in .40 which isn't really hard recoiling, but is kind of "snappy" in the recoil impulse.

    Which brings up the whole .380 argument. Most .380's are blowback actions, which will have as much, sometimes more, felt recoil than the same size and weight pistol chambered in 9mm.
  16. Kahr33556

    Kahr33556 Well-Known Member

    Look at the LCP I pocket carry it in my back pocket in a pocket holster.
    Look at a single stack in 9 or 40 , I really like the new shield
  17. sean326

    sean326 Well-Known Member


    Hi everyone, long time lurker and this is my first post.
    I'm pretty lucky i've had a lifetime of shooting and almost 30 years of carrying.
    I've got over 100 guns, probably 50ish pistols and a home shooting range i use every few days. As i've grown up with guns i've gone through every phase of carry. '80's cocked and locked 1911, '90's high cap 9's. By the 200's as i got older and less gung ho i found that those guns were too big and bulky. I often left them at home or in my vehicle. I started carrying smaller guns, PPk's, Colt mustangs but honestly they were still steel and a little heavy. I started carrying a small 22lr berretta but i had confidence issues with its power. One day a couple years ago at my LGS i picked up a Ruger LCP, i started carrying that, shaved the mag release (it kept dumping the mag in my pocket) tweaked the front sight with some hi vis-luminous paint. Now that LCP is so small and light that i carry it everyday with no effort or inconvenience, its actually the size of my billfold and at 30' i can easily get all six shots in a dixie plate. I load it with a mixed mag alternating between hollow point and hardcast buffalo big bore ammo. Its got the most important feature of any carry gun.... you'll always carry it, its so small and light its not an issue in anything from summer shorts to daily jeans to a tux you barely know its there.
  18. sean326

    sean326 Well-Known Member


    whenever the subject of small carry guns comes up people always get worked up over the effectiveness of the round. Honestly i carry every day and emotionally support the whole idea of personal carry. However i think we can all intellectually admit that most likely we will never be in a firefight in our daily lives. If i am i know i will want my CAR-15, acog sight and 100 rd drum mag with my Glock 21 at my side. But are you going to carry that everyday? No of course not and i've discovered over the years i wont even bother carrying a 1911, sig226 or even PPK. The LCP on the other hand is in my pocket from when i get dressed first thing in the morning till I turn in at night. Additionally I know from first hand experience a .380 is powerful enough to take down a solid muscle 250lb llama with 2 shots (don't ask)
  19. Trad Archer

    Trad Archer Well-Known Member

    Have you looked into the snub revolvers?
  20. obx-shooter

    obx-shooter Member

    I have a number of carry-able handguns. The one that gets carried the most is a Kel-tec P32 because of it's small size. If the LCP had been out when I got the P32 I would have probably bought the LCP. Tiny increase in size/weight for a fairly significant increase in power.

    I have had a Sig P230 for many years and used to carry it regularly. It has been displace by a Kahr PM9. Smaller size than P230 and more power.

    If you decide on a .40 may I suggest the Kahr CW40. It is a bit larger than that companies PM40...but I would want a little more to hold onto if I'm shooting a .40 S&W.

    Finally if you are new to handguns can I suggest one of the Ruger auto .22s for practice. Cheap ammo anda very accurate pistol will go along way to making you a decent shot.

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