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.38 Special vs .380

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by hurrakane212, Jan 31, 2006.

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  1. hurrakane212

    hurrakane212 Member

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    Yeah I know, revolver round vs autoloader round = apples and oranges. However, how do they compare as a self defense round for a pocket gun?~Nathan
     
  2. 1 old 0311

    1 old 0311 member

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    Actually they are real close. I keep a .38+P in the nightstand, and my CCW is a .380 Guardian.

    Kevin
     
  3. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    In just a round vs. round comparison, the .38 typically out-penetrates the .380 by a wide margin. However, the increased capacity of .380's gives them a different advantage. Its a trade-off: capacity vs. power.
     
  4. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    I hope they're good, especially the .380 because a Browning BDA is my CCW.

    If it's any help, Firearms Tactical has "Jello tests" of one .38 Spl and a couple of .380s on this page:

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs.htm

    There are a couple of more .38's near the botton of this page:

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/wound.htm

    Now, if only someone will chime in as to how we're supposed to interpret this data.
    :)
     
  5. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Don't forget concealability. That's the reason I often carry a .380 over my .38 J frame. The .380 fits a jeans pocket, the J frame, no way. My .380 is 100 percent reliable, not quite as accurate as my .38, but plenty for combat, and holds 12 rounds on tap in a pocket. That's a pretty desirable combination in my mind. Still, I usually have my 9 or .38 on my hip when I'm not forced to pocket carry.

    The better .38 +Ps do marginally better in the M/S stats, but it's not that big a deal. Both are in the 70s IIRC. All that means to me is both will do the job acceptably with proper placement.
     
  6. JERRY

    JERRY Member

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    Mr. Camp, a contributor here, has a great web site in which one of his observations deal with just such a question...........

    id recommend a quick browse on his site.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2006
  7. mbt2001

    mbt2001 Member

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    .38 special or .380....

    Well the .38 special gets a hands down better review than the .380 from me, but I respect both cartridges and think that people are too dependent on meaningless ballistics charts.

    As Sheriff Jim Wilson said, fast accurate shooting wins gun fights, not the newest toy...

    I think I got that quote right, but the point is there.
     
  8. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Member

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    WARNING! BEFORE reading farther, please read the disclaimer at the end of the post.

    Typical autopistol to revolver comparison.

    Roughly similar performance with light bullets, the edge goes to the revolver with heavy bullets. Concealability, shootability, and capacity tend to favor the auto.
     
  9. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    MCgunner,
    what pocket .380 are you carrying that holds 12 rounds? I'm about to replace my AirLite J-frame, but I may hold off for something like you are describing.
    Thanks,

    David
     
  10. gunfan

    gunfan Member

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    David;

    If you can find an older, "butter-chubby", Browning BDA .380, you will get that 12-round, double-stack magazine. (BTW, you'll also have that DA/SA trigger that you'll find to be of definite advantage)! :cool:

    Scott
     
  11. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    Browning BDA

    While I find the Browning BDA to be a pretty good pistol, I have to say it's too big for a 380 to justify itself. By the time you have a pistol that big it might as well be a 9 mm.
     
  12. P. Plainsman

    P. Plainsman Member

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  13. bowfin

    bowfin Member

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    I am going to narrow the context up as to a single round from any gun vs. a single round from any gun.

    In that case, I think the .38 Special is a winner in accuracy, power, penetration, whatever yardstick you want to use for a cartridge vs. a cartridge.
     
  14. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    I pretty much agree with that assessment, but I still like the pistol a lot. Among .380s, I think of the Browning (Beretta) BDA as a "Cadillac."
     
  15. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Member

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    I find the SIG p230/p232 to be the "Rolls Royce". My p230 shoots like a dream.
    -David
     
  16. BloodyRAzorBlades

    BloodyRAzorBlades member

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    i choose 38 special snubby all the way! compact as a 380 but wont have to worry about it jamming up and the rounds dont kick as bad as 380 does. or thats how it feels to me anyway:D
     
  17. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    Oh, yeah! That's what our county's Chief Investigator uses as his primary carry, believe it or not. And that jogs my memory about something I mentioned in another post a few weeks ago...

    Anyway, about the "Cadillac" statement I was thinking more along the lines of the size of the BDA instead of the quality. It still has quality, but how can you have a successful Cadillac unless it's first-of-all oversized? ;)
     
  18. Pilot

    Pilot Member

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    I often carry a Beretta 85FS in .380. In researching the ballistics its pretty similar to a .38 Spl, especially out of a snubby, where the Beretta has close to a 4 inch barrel.
     
  19. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    That entirely depends on the particular .380. ;)
     
  20. 355sigfan

    355sigfan member

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    The 38 special has far more momentium and more energy from similar sized guns. The 380 is a bit too marginal for my tastes.
    pat
     
  21. gunfan

    gunfan Member

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    Just wait until Mike McNett @ Double Tap comes out with his .380 loads!

    They will weigh between 95 and 102 (the Golden Saber bullet) grains and will be the fastest .380 ACP on the market! My Bersa can't wait! :evil:

    Scott
     
  22. Alan Fud

    Alan Fud Member

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    Based on your references, the .38 does appear to be significantly superior to the .380ACP
     
  23. Alan Fud

    Alan Fud Member

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    This brings up an interesting point ...

    [​IMG]

    ... While the 9mm parabellum is significantly superior to the .380ACP, when facing three badies, would you be better serves by being able to fire 2-3 rounds of 9mm at each one of 4-5 rounds of .380ACP at each one? Factoring in the "miss" factor ... is 1-2 hits with a 9mm as effective as 2-3 hits with a .380ACP?

    I honestly don't know. Anybody?
     
  24. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    Commonsense tells us that the .38 Spl has the advantage over the .380 ACP. No argument here.

    But, in these ballistic gelatin tests, my question is: How do we evaluate them in terms of terminal performance?

    Do we give equal weight to the maximum expansion and the depth of penetration? (In other words, the wound area.) Or do we want to know the volume of the wound itself? (Or the average diameter squared times the penetration?)
     
  25. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I don't lose sleep over any marginal performance advantage the .38 has over the .380. If I did, I would never carry the .38 because if I can carry the .38 I can as easily carry my 9mm! My 9mm shades my .38 by 150 ft lbs!

    I carry what is necessary for concealment that day and just figure with ANY of 'em, I'm going to have to put 'em center mass. I don't worry about what would happen if I shot jello with 'em.:rolleyes: If I lived up north where people wear 6 layers of winter coats I might be a little more worried about penetration, but it was 92 degrees in Corpus Christi a couple of days ago and 88 degrees here! Ain't nobody on the street wearin' a coat in 92 degree weather!

    If I cannot carry my .38 or 9 IWB, I do have a .380 I can carry. I could go unarmed, reckon that's an option. If you have your choice of .380 or nothing, you gonna choose nothing? Not me. It's still putting up near 200 ft lbs out of my little pocket gun and I can use it and I'm packin' 12 rounds in the little fart so if I miss once or twice I still have some firepower left. I also carry an 11 round reload in my pocket.

    Comparing the two, for me, is pointless. I cannot carry my .38 in a jeans pocket. I can carry my little .380. So, the carry mode makes the choice for me. I can't work carrying IWB, not an option. On trips where I may need to disarm and I'm on my motorcycle, I carry the .380 because I can take it out of my pocket in its wallet style holster and no one can discern it from a wallet. I can lock it under the seat of my SV650S or in the trunk of my GoldWing and be happy. If I'm taking my Mitch Rosen IWB rig off my belt in a parking lot, I might give some old lady a heart attack and besides, according to Texas law, I'm not supposed to flash a firearm in public. There have been times, going to sporting events, motorcycle shows, etc, where I need to disarm because guns are not allowed inside the event. When I'm on the bike and am going to have to disarm, the .380 is my only option.

    Everyone has their own individual carry problems/things they must work out for themselves. There's a place for a .380 pocket gun in my arsenal and my .380 gets a LOT of carry for these reasons. When I can, I carry IWB and carry something more powerful, but sometimes I just can't. I ain't buyin' no $1000 Roarbucks pocket nine, but if Kel Tec were to come out with a more compact single stack pocketable 9, I might retire the .380. However, I don't think so 'cause I kinda like the gun. :D

    Anyway, that's my reason for relying on a .380 sometimes. I do carry a 9 or a .38 IWB when I can, but sometimes I just can't. I'd rather carry a rather capable .380 than rely on my NAA mini revolver in .22lr for primary or carry nothing.
     
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