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32acp or 380acp?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Tallball, Jun 11, 2018.

  1. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    I have a Kel-Tec P3AT in 380acp that I carry sometimes. It doesn't fit my giant hands very well, but I occasionally carry it when it's inconvenient to carry anything else. It's been reliable for me and I can (surprisingly) shoot it with pretty good accuracy at seven yards. I carry FMJ in it, figuring that penetration is probably more important than expansion in that particular caliber.

    I also have a Kel-Tec P32 in 32acp. IIRC, it's a tiny bit smaller than the P3AT, and holds one more round. The slide does hold open after the last round (unlike the P3AT), which is nice. Its recoil is more mild. Rather than the tiny sights of the P3AT, it barely has sights at all. I shoot the P3AT a little bit better as a result, but I can shoot the P32 with reasonable SD accuracy: emptying the magazine quickly into an area the size of a small paper plate at seven yards.

    I bought the P3AT brand-new something like five years ago with CC in mind. I bought the P32 a year or two ago on a whim. It was used and barely over $100. I've never considered the 32acp as a legitimate SD caliber, so the P32 has just been a range toy and plinker.

    Does anyone care to educate me on this? Is 380acp considerably more effective, or is there evidence that 32acp would be just as good? I can't seem to remember any exact figures on this. Any advice would be appreciated.

    And, of course, it's no fun without pictures:


     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  2. Skolnick

    Skolnick Member

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    The 32 ACP not a "man-stopper", but it has its place -- especially if you can hit your target more than one, two, or five times.

    Since a 32 ACP is not going expand reliably, or impart hydrostatic shock, I figure an FMJ round is going to cause the same damage as stabbing the attacker with an 8 inch phillips screwdriver. On another forum, one response noted that a field point crossbow bolt is a better comparison since a .32 hits with more energy than a screwdriver.

    A screwdriver to the thigh is not going to stop a determined thug, but I'd much prefer to run from one who has a hole in his leg, than run from one who is in perfect condition.

    Likewise, having to tangle with a thug who has three screwdrivers in his chest is a better proposition than having to engage one who is intact.

    Knowing its limitations, I feel very comfortable using a .32 ACP. Hitting with it is more important to me than raw horsepower (YMMV).
     
  3. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I most certainly would not want to be shot with a 32 acp. Especially 8 times.
     
  4. George P

    George P Member

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  5. chicharrones
    • Contributing Member

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I have two pocket .32 ACP pistols and a pocket .380 ACP pistol. The .32s were bought during the .380 ACP ammo drought many years ago.

    The only logical reasons I can think of to carry a pocket .32 ACP over a pocket .380 is recoil and shootability, depending on the gun owner's ability. In the case of the KelTecs, that extra cartridge in the magazine of the .32 is a nice bonus, too.

    Pistol size can come into play if you consider the Seecamps and NAA Guardians in .32 ACP. Those pistols are smaller than the normal .380 pocket pistol.

    Of course. :D

    the-order.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  6. SharpDog

    SharpDog Member

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    I have both as well as several other Keltecs. I have never been able to trust my life to them. Would I carry them if I had nothing else, sure but that's not the case. As far as .380 vs .32 ACP IMHO both are inadequate ... I've just started trusting 9mm in the last year or two so I may get there on .380 but I'm not there yet.

    929f1d69.jpg

    http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2012/04/32-acp-jhp-shoot-out.html
     
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  7. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Member

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    I used to own the P3AT and Ruger LCP. I now own a Kel Tec P-32. I wasn’t sold on the .32 ACP until I saw that Lehigh Defense made a bullet specifically designed for it. I bought ammo from Underwood ammo loaded with Lehigh’s extreme cavitator round. Look up the ammo test done by Military Arms Channel on that round in ballistic gel.
    As to the capacity I also enjoy the extra round. I also have two ten round magazines and carry with those in the summer using a Crossbreed Supertuck style holster.
    If you carry the .380, look up the ammo tests done by Ammo Quest on Youtube. He concludes that the Hornady XTP bullet seems to perform best in his testing out of super short barrels. Hope that helps you out a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  8. Wisco

    Wisco Member

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    I'm in the 32 camp, no question. I like the pistols more, shoot them better and usually get one more round above 380.

    I think 32 and 380 are both weak (comparatively), but the 380 isn't that much better than the 32 to give up a round. Where 380 IS better is hollowpoints - there are some that work well and get close to weaker 9mm loads. In 32, I'm just not seeing any HPs being better than solids. 60 grains is awfully light to get penetration and expansion, so I opt for penetration.

    That said, I carry hardcast mostly in my 32s (or hotter FMJ if the +P hardcast is too much for the gun).

    I have a bunch of 32s...my favorite has been the Tomcat Inox for some time now - just feels right for me and conceals/wears well.

    I can only speak to what I've shot and carried, but check out Buffalo Bore 75 grain +P hard-cast if you think your gun will take it. I shot just enough to prove function in my pistols. I don't doubt it would go into and out of an average person easily...7 or 8 rounds is potentially 14-16 holes...

    What I really want is an LCP in 32, or a G42 in 32...or something...
     
  9. chicharrones
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    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    My preference for .32 ACP ammo is FMJ S&B as seen here. http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/2012/11/clear-gel-terminal-testing-sellier.html

    But, only my Taurus has a strong enough hammer strike to light it off consistently. So, I usually use FMJ Fiocchi in the Guardian.

    Of course good penetration and good feeding are the usual expectations with FMJ. But there is rimlock to consider with the semi-rimmed .32 ACP as well.

    When it comes to JHP or flat nose .32 ACP, I worry about a shorter cartridge slipping backwards in the magazine over another cartridge and getting rimlock. My two .32 pistols have long front-to-back magazines, unlike the Seecamp. I've actually had rimlock in my Guardian one time when using flat nosed Winchester FMJ. That ammo is horrible in .32 ACP, IMO.

    I've seen people on the net make magazine spacers for the KelTec P32 to allow running JHP ammo rimlock free, but I haven't tried that myself.
     
  10. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    When I was shopping for a pocket centerfire, I weighed these two guns. As others mentioned, the last-shot slidelock, easier shoot-ability, and the extra round sold me on the .32 vs the marginally-better .380ACP. I bought the P32 in 2011. It backs up my PF9 from in a pocket most of the time.

    A little over a year ago, I came into a Taurus TCP for a good price and picked it up. I found it to be fairly easy to shoot (perhaps I'm used to the PF9), but it is noticeably bigger in the pocket by a bit. I really don't carry it much, and it might just become a center-console gun (the TCP does have a last-shot slidelock.)

    I also have acquired one of Kel-Tec's ten-round magazines. In my looser pockets, it still conceals well, and gives me eleven of those Fiocchi FMJ pills to drill with. That makes the P32, for me at least, a serious option.
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have always liked .32s better. Either one requires excellent shot placement, and multiple good decisions before then.
     
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  12. Hertzer

    Hertzer Member

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    I have the .32 and had one of the the .380 Kel-Tec's, traded the .380 for one of the P-11 9m/m. I like the P-11's higher round capacity as well as having a little more trust in the micro-sized 9m/m than in .32 or the .380. Shot placement and repeat hits are still massively important. It rides in a pocket holster in my right front pocket behind a money clip quit comfortably. So when a larger pistol is out of the question the P-11 works for me.
     
  13. Don Dayacetah

    Don Dayacetah Member

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    I have a lot of 9mm pistols. I have always avoided .380, just to eliminate ammo mix-ups.
    Recently I had been shopping for a compact 9mm. The trade off is always larger/ crappy brand/dangerous to carry.

    So a while back I found a CZ70. A little heavy, but a solid, dependable performer, in a pocket size gun. Nice heavy DA pull.
    Recently found a FN1900. A fun piece of history, the first production with a slide, and Teddy Roosevelt's EDC. Has a
    funky steampunk look to it. A lot of fun, in a retro package.

    IMO, 32ACP is a viable caliber, and the hardware available is easy to carry in the pocket.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  14. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Ironically, I had a both a P-11 and a CZ70. My P-11 had a stiff trigger and was replaced by a G43. The CZ70 didn't fit my hand well and was replaced by an FEG. Apparently an FN1900 needs to be next on my list! :)

    Thank you to everyone for the helpful advice and info.
     
  15. Don Dayacetah

    Don Dayacetah Member

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    An FN1900 is old as dirt, 7-shot, and thin, but not small, just so you know. I wouldn't advocate it as an EDC, but I couldn't resist,
    when I saw it. It's a "spring -over", the barrel is on the bottom of the slide.
     
  16. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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  17. Kaybee

    Kaybee Member

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    That Lehigh’s extreme cavitator seems interesting. I wonder how it would do in a little seecamp?
     
  18. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    When I could not carry anything bigger due to work attire, a LCP / P3AT 380 had to suffice.
    I wasn't comfortable with "just" a 380 so going down to 32 acp .... nope, nope, nope.
    I'm retired, smallest I carry is "just" a 9mm and that is jogging or on a bicycle ride (road bike - spandex shorts) when a Kahr PM9 has to suffice.
    I think like this: Of the pistols I own is the pistol I'm carrying the one I'd prefer to defend my life with? If not why am I carrying it.
    Convenience is not one of my acceptable reasons.
     
  19. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I’ve watched enough James Bond movies to know that stopping power is not a problem with the 32 as long as the proper technique is observed. First you must crouch down with your left arm extended out from your side and the pistol at chest height. The pistol should be point shot from the chest while pushing the muzzle out toward the evil henchmen with the machine gun. This is essential to get the extra 5 FPS of velocity. When hit they will stand bolt apright, hunch up their shoulders and reach for the wound. Then they will slowly tip over and fall over the railing into the volcano. Watch for yourself if you don’t believe me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  20. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    Of the 2, the 380 is going to out-do the 32 on power alone, along with more effective projectiles. The only application I would consider the 32 for would be something to carry when jogging. Otherwise, I would consider getting rid of both and getting something like a Ruger LC9 (if you like DA) or a S&W shield 9 if you prefer a striker fired pistol. Again, more power and selection of SD rounds, and mag floorplates would help with your issue of huge hands.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  21. chicharrones
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    chicharrones needs more ammo

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  22. Don Dayacetah

    Don Dayacetah Member

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    I've yet to fine better, overall, than the S&W 6906, if I really find myself heading into doubtful territory. But if I'm
    looking to smaller, lighter, & more convenient, I can live with the CZ70.
     
  23. the duck of death

    the duck of death Member

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    I have a Seecamp 32 & 380. I carry the 380---cause its shoots a bigger bullet.

    My back gun is a G29 10mm.:what:
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018 at 6:01 PM
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  24. RPZ

    RPZ Member

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    While many see the .380 as marginal, I assign that threshold to the .32 (and below), with a possible exception given to the .327 Federal.

    And in .380 I would prefer something like the Lehigh/Underwood solids IF they feed and are acceptably accurate. Otherwise I would choose the deepest penetrating hollowpoints.

    Having said that, I would really like to get my hands on a Beretta tip-up barrel in .32, or even .22.
     
  25. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    If you do decide on the .32 & you like hollow points only load 2. One in the pipe & one on top of the mag. otherwise you will get a rim lock sooner or later. You can buy a spacer for your mag. that will eliminate rim lock. Cor Bon will expand every time, but make sure it works in your gun.
     
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