Quantcast

38 special or .380?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by shooter1059, Jun 27, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. browningguy

    browningguy Member

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2004
    Messages:
    4,725
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I have both but usually carry the semiauto, it's thinner and I can actually comfortably carry it in a pocket. Mine are S&W Bodyguard .380 and S&W 642.
     
  2. loose noose

    loose noose Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    3,325
    Location:
    Southern Nevada
    I have a Colt Detective Special, that I carried as a Police Detective, back in the late 80's, but since that time, I've got a Taurus .380 that fits in a pocket holster, in my cargo shorts, is very reliable, and accurate out to 10-12yards, and I automatically put it in my pocket when ever I leave the house here in the summer. However when it gets in the winter months I usually carry my Kel-Tec 9mm which fits in a small belt holster and is easily concealable. I also have an older small .45 compact Star Firestar, that I carry in the winter when I'm going away from home for awhile. That is in the starvel finsish and is extremely accurate using Hornady's Critical Defense Ammo. Those are basically my personal defense guns through out the year, when carrying CCW.
     
  3. Nick Burkhardt

    Nick Burkhardt Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2013
    Messages:
    160
    Location:
    Rural Oregon
    I carry a .380 for summer because it is flat and fits in my pocket. My wife carries a Ruger LCR 38sp because it fits her curves in the crossdraw position and is practically foolproof.
     
  4. Green Lantern

    Green Lantern Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,665
    Huh, how have I never heard of that before? Not that I want one, I just think it's interesting. Maybe another option for people really sensitive to recoil?
     
  5. short barrel

    short barrel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    Messages:
    367
    I did a long post regarding this topic but it didn't get posted! Here's the basis of what I said. I hope it's not too late for the .380 fans to see it and learn.

    I've done a lot of testing with the .380. Non-scientific testing. Like water jugs, denim covered water jugs, soaked phone books, layers of plywood, bags of dirt, etc. I did the test to compare with other small guns because at that time I really did want to carry the little .380. Flat and sexy and easy to hide.

    However, in every test I conducted, the .380 failed. I finally concluded that a person's best bet with the .380 is a non-expanding bullet, which will at least give some penetration. But not much. Not much at all.

    We really can't compare a .380 to a .38 Special. They have no performance similarities other than diameter. The nearest thing to the best .380 round is a cap and ball .36 blackpowder revolver, in terms of effectiveness. That said, lots of good and bad guys succumbed to the old .36 round ball, but that's a long way from a .38Spl.

    For those who might disagree, please go out and do some testing of your own. Don't rely on articles or YouTube. If you already have a .380 and a little time, you will quickly see what I mean.
     
  6. David E

    David E Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,455
    Post #105 is next to useless, as it omits comparative results.

    Last week, I compared the .38 Gold Dot Short Barrel to a .380 Gold Dot on water jugs. Both were stopped in jug #3.

    The first jug exploded more with the .38, but all else seemed pretty close.
     
  7. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    6,201
    Location:
    The Peoples Republic of IL

    That post could be considered useless too as we generally aren't attacked by marauding water jugs.
     
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    Messages:
    26,062
    Location:
    Northeast PA, USA
    You seem to have dismissed that explosive power demonstrated by the .38 Special. What it did to the first jug is very important, not a side note. Because of that explosive hit they can not be pretty close.
     
  9. Hunter2011

    Hunter2011 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2011
    Messages:
    532
    Location:
    South Africa
    My 1C
    The .38 Special will have more penetration than the 380 auto. But does this mean the 380 auto is underpowered? I dont think so.
    If I had to choose between a .38 Special with a 5-shot cylinder, and a 13-shot pistol in 380 auto, like a Beretta model 84 for example. It will be the 380 auto everytime. And I am sure shot placement will be better with the pistol as well.
     
  10. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,685
    Location:
    Illinois
    I would have to say my test of hand loaded .38 and .380 does not draw the same conclusions as #105. With similar bullet shapes/construction and similar velocities my .380's perform pretty much like a .38. In comparison testing we'd have to be careful to compare apples to apples with similar bullet weights and shapes, similar velocities, etc.

    I can make a .380 look like a joke compared to a .38 simply by shooting a .38 Special +P 158 gr. hollow point out of a 4" barreled S&W M19 and comparing it in milk jug test to a 95 gr. round nose jacketed bullet fired from a Ruger LCP with a 2.75" barrel. There would be no comparison - the .380 would look like a toy in this comparison.

    I have done a lot of comparison testing of various mouse gun calibers including .32 and .380 and stuff like the .38 Special and 9mm.....the .38 Special has more potential firing a heavier bullet from a longer case and being able to push that heavier bullet faster due to the case capacity for powder. All things being equal the .38 has the potential to generate more power/more FPE at the muzzle.

    The chest thumping to try and prove the .38 is "Special" and the .380 is outclassed by it is unseemly and doesn't help anyone make good decisions about CCL carry calibers and their limitations/advantages. It has more available power (the .38 Special) but it's not than simple. It also has trade offs to use that power effectively which seem to be ignored by many proponents. Both calibers can be effective for SD from the right platforms and with the right loads/bullets.

    VooDoo
     
  11. Joe Demko

    Joe Demko Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    6,523
    Location:
    Just two minutes from sanity.
    I killed a couple deer with. 38 specials, because it was what I had at the time. It was a +P hollowpoint load from Federal. Don't remember any details on projectile weights and such as this was a while back. In any case, the. 38 dropped both of them where they stood. One with a neck shot that broke the spine and the other with a heart-lung shot. Range was pretty close, not more than 25 yards for either one.
    I just don't see myself doing the same with a .380, especially from the tiny pistols that are such a popular platform.
     
  12. David E

    David E Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,455

    My volunteer criminals backed out, so I had to switch target media.....:rolleyes:

    I do NOT dismiss the explosive effect on the first jug. I was surprised, tho, that both loads stopped in the 3rd jug. At least it's a comparative that conclusions can be drawn from, such as they are. It's better than "trust me, the ___ caliber didn't do as well as the ____ caliber..."

    The .38 was a 642 snub, the .380 was a Sig 238

    There ARE some good ballistic texting videos on YouTube. Type in "Ammo Quest" and you'll find a guy who shoots FIVE bullets into ballistic gel instead of the usual one. This shows consistency, or lack thereof, that's missing from the single shot "tests."
     
  13. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Messages:
    8,715
    Location:
    Central Arkansas
    Bottom line for me, I'd rather carry the .38 Special because I have more confidence in the round. However, I would probably be more apt to consistently carry a .380 because as a general rule they are smaller and easier to comfortably conceal. If I could carry OWB, I'd go with the wheel gun. But most of the time I can't.

    It don't matter what gun you choose for carry if you don't actually carry it.
     
  14. short barrel

    short barrel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    Messages:
    367
    I once tested a NAA .22Magum into water jugs. The load was a .40 grain full metal jacket. It stopped in jug #5. But I wouldn't carry one. Not me. Just too puny.
     
  15. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2008
    Messages:
    6,201
    Location:
    The Peoples Republic of IL



    I'll be honest with you Paul, in my experience I haven't found any method of carry that works with a small 380 that doesn't work with my j frame. Whether it's pocket carry, IWB, or OWB.

    In fact I just ordered a new Bianchi 57 OWB for my 637. I can't wait to get it on and start using it.
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    20,150
    Location:
    Deep in the Ozarks
    I always feel that accessibility is as important as concealability. A Detective Special in an OWB or IWB is more accessible than pocket carry in my experience, and just as concealable.
     
  17. ZVP

    ZVP Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    937
    I carry a Model 36 (No Dash) Chief,
    I figgure the heavier 158 gr slug packs a whollop, also the new. light bullet fast stuff makes good FPE.
    A .380 is a nice concealable, flat package and todays hi-Perf ammo helps it also.
    Either one will take most of the fight out of almost anyone, but I personally pefer Revolvers because of their reliability.
    EVERY semi- Auto (except a .45 LLama I had) has jammed one way or another on me! I had ONE revolver failure that was due to loose bullets in handloads. Just the math says carry a revolver.
    ZVP
     
  18. BLU

    BLU Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Messages:
    325
    I ditto what ZVP said. I carry a piece based upon what I am wearing that day. My PPK/S or Sig P238 hide nicely in cargo shorts, still, I'd rather carry a revolver and usually do. The difference between the two rounds is minimal and I'm pretty much a "neck or head" shot kinda guy anyway. If I KNEW I was going someplace I really needed to defend myself at, I'd #1. Stay home. or #2. Carry a rifle or shotgun, (or both!). Choice #1 is the easiest.:)
     
  19. wendellgj

    wendellgj Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2013
    Messages:
    63
    Location:
    Belle Fourche, SD
    I guess I'll throw my opinion into this extra interesting response, however, I'm not trying to be smart but finding that individual fit for self defense is so very painful (literally) for me as I age. The weight, fit, and function of firearms for conceal- ability, quick response time as well as ability to place them bullets accurately all keep changing for me personally. Ravages of time have left appendages well used and in some cases inoperable so one needs to make adjustments to apparatus as these degenerative conditions progress. Unfortunately not being independently wealthy or a writer/firearms tester for any prominent gun magazines I am not able to purchase or beat anyone out of the latest super slim-line light weight pocket self defense handguns. This leads me to my current problem of being stuck with bulky handguns that were once very manageable, concealable, and all of the above fast for me to handle until I got older with Arthritis plus worn joins needing to move into the new realm. I would be hard pressed to find the correct model without much practice and experimentation on many fronts. This would be very hard to do financially considering to price tag and the availability shooting opportunity.
     
  20. short barrel

    short barrel Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2013
    Messages:
    367
    My post was deleted because I ignorantly made a political remark. No, wait. I think that was on another thread. Anyway, it's my non-political opinion that a .380 is not a defensive weapon. It certainly is not an offensive weapon. It is popular because of it's size. There is a couple of bold statements to make - but I can back that up and I think I did and I think you can read it if it wasn't deleted. I said before I very much wanted to carry a .380. After much testing over more than a year, I settled on the Buffalo Bore 100 grain hard cast ammo, but even that proved to be very much inferior to even the Critical Defense .22Magnum ammo. For your own sake, think again about carrying a .380. It has no purpose. The many makers sell to those who don't know. It's okay to say that, is it not? It is in the class of "better than no gun at all." You carry for only one reason - you might need to shoot at someone. I pray that time never comes for any of us, but if it does, you will be oh so sorry you chose the .380.
     
  21. dickydalton

    dickydalton Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2012
    Messages:
    1,564
    Location:
    New Mexico
    So, everyone should leave home without their 380, even if that means unarmed?
     
  22. BLU

    BLU Member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2012
    Messages:
    325
    From posts around the Internet, (I tried to quote them so you could do a search and read them too):

    "Fun facts the Great Britain police are unarmed. They even do house raids and warrant searches unarmed. Norweigan police keep their Guns in locked boxes inside their patrol cars. Swedish police use hollow points to reduce collateral damage and boy guess what anger that stirred up when they switched from FMJ."

    "All handguns have limited "stopping power" even with the best available ammunition. Even so, I've investigated quite a few shootings involving .380 ACP caliber pistols and (with proper placement) they seem to be as effective as any .38 Special or 9mm round at close range."

    "For a very long time in Europe,the 32 caliber and then the 380 caliber semi auto rounds were the defacto law enforcement rounds.... for a very long time!"

    "Well, statistically, I believe that the most deadly round in the US is the .22 long rifle."
    - - - - - - -

    The USA seems to have developed a "that round isn't large enough and powerful enough to stop the attacker dead in his tracks" attitude. That might be true! But I'm not allowed to carry any nor do I have access to hand grenades. But at only 10 ft. lbs. less than a .38 Special round on my ballistics table, (a cartridge OUR police carried for decades on end), a .380 is good enough for me. I'll carry a revolver in .38 Spec. when I can. When I can't, I'll carry the .380. Besides... the thread here is: If you only had a choice to carry a .38 special or a 380 auto....

    NOT how do they compare to larger more powerful rounds.
     
  23. kBob

    kBob Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2006
    Messages:
    6,079
    Location:
    North Central Florida
    to the OP:

    The choice is a fashion statement. For me the answer would be "either"

    I do not care about numbers on paper, busted milk jugs, or opinions about police and military history from the inter net.

    I care about what I can shoot and how I can conceal it. This means there are times I would pick up a .38 Special and times I would pick up a .380ACP.

    If you said I only get to have one gun ever again....it would depend on its use.

    While the .38 Special would seem to have the edgefor home defense, or just plinking , I do like .380s for CCW

    -kBob
     
  24. bullseyebob47

    bullseyebob47 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2013
    Messages:
    249
    Location:
    Louisiana
    i been trying to decide between a ruger lcr .38spl vs. lcp. i know i will always be able to reload a mag in an auto faster than a speed loader in a revolver but wouldn't you seek cover to do either?

    im leaning towards the lcr. does it speed load fast compared to others?

    sometimes i feel like carrying light and its the lcr in .22lr with hotter than average rounds. winchester .22lr with 1350 fps i think. it bust 2x4 pretty well. should be good for head shots.
     
  25. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,685
    Location:
    Illinois
    In my tests the Ruger LCP was rejected by my Wife (and myself) while we already owned a Ruger LCR in .38....my Wife (and I) liked the LCR but it kicks like a mule with full house .38 SD loads. So I hand loaded 110 gr. wad cutters and we tamed the LCR.

    The LCP kicks like a mule as well and was rejected - the Glock 42 (which we did not want) handles *HOT* .380 hand loads with a fraction of the recoil of the LCP or LCR. I mean hot .380 like 100 gr. flat noses running almost 1100 fps now. When comparing .38 to .380 the platform can make a big difference.

    We both still carry and train with the LCR but for my Wife her Glock 42 with my hand loads is her Soul Mate. She can triple tap with that while moving in a manner she will never equal with her LCR no matter how I load it for her. IMO - comparing the LCR and the LCP with hopes of making a fair comparison of .38 to .380 is not making a fair comparison.

    IMO - YMMV.

    VooDoo
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice