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380 for Self Defense?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Catpop, Dec 19, 2019.

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  1. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    I know this self defense issue has been beat to death, but my question has a little different twist.
    Question: Would my LCP 380 acp 90-95 grain FMJ be enough to penetrate the skull of an Eastern Black Bear at 20 yards if I hit him face on between the eyes?
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
  2. Targa

    Targa Member

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    I would be impressed if you could hit the skull at 20 yards with an LCP...:D
     
  3. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    There is no guarantee that any bullet will do anything. There are only degrees of likelihood. I would put this likelihood very low.

    Keep in mind, when we use defense ammo against humans, we are looking for good expansion and weight retention. We want the bullet to swell up, but stay in one piece. When we carry a gun to protect against dangerous animals, most of us want to use bullets that are more likely to stay intact, so we use hard cast. .380 bullets are pretty much (that I know of) really wishful hollow-points or practice FMJ. If I was to use hard-cast bullets, I would probably have to make my own. And they would still only be 90 grains. Not likely to penetrate very far.

    Rick Perry shot a coyote with a .380 while jogging. There's much less to a coyote than ANY bear.
     
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  4. MosinT53Hunter

    MosinT53Hunter Member

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    This reminds me of a Beretta Bobcat pistol dealer at a gunshow many years ago...

    I was helping a friend look for a good home defense pistol (they settled on a Luger P08, what could I do). Anyways, as I was looking around, this guy at the table next to my friend waves at me, in that secretive way, and says "If you want something for good defense, come over here." I was curious, so I went over, and he has a very nice display of Beretta Bobcat Tip-up pistols. He holds one up, and tells me "Did you know you can take out a bear with one of these?" I honestly said I did not know that. He then goes into a long, excited explanation that if a bear attacked you in the woods, a shot up under the jaw of the bear would go bouncing around in the head of the bear and he would be dead. Now, in my mind, three scenarios were going on:

    1. If the bear was that close, I would be out of ammo and throwing the empty gun at it while trying to run away.
    2. By the time the bear is that close, chances are its going to be eating me while I try to get under the jaw line to shoot it.
    3. If by some chance I am able to shoot the bear where the guy says I should, the bear is going to fall on top of me dead, and I would be joining him soon.

    I thanked the guy, saying I would give it some serious thought before I left the gun show, and after my friend bought the Luger, I left. Now, the 22.LR. round is pretty awesome, but I wouldn't want to chance it against a charging, angry, hungry bear. 380 acp is a bit better, but still, better to get something like a 357 Magnum or the like. Your choice.
     
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  5. bdickens

    bdickens Member

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    In all likelihood, no.
     
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  6. toivo

    toivo Member

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    In the words of Willy Shakespeare, "Ay, there's the rub!"

    I'll bet he was less than 20 yards away. Probably much less.
     
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  7. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    That's a good question. I am relying on an lcp for sd.
    I feel 20yds is outer limits of useful range for an lcp.
    I think yes, you would probably could penetrate the skull with a 90gr fmj IF.....you had a good perpendicular hit, not a glancing blow.
    Getting a solid hit on a bear skull at 60 ft would be.......a feat.
     
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  8. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Seriously..? A .380-for-defense thread and a bear thread at once? o_O
     
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  9. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    You could try mimicking a heighten state of adrenaline flowing through your body by getting your heart rate elevated by jumping, running or doing pushups and than immediately engage a target roughly the same size of a bear's head at the distance you mention, and see how well you perform under those conditions, and how many actual hits were on target. Of course it does not even come close to the a real encounter, as there will more than likely be a required change of underwear and you still won't have the answer to the question you asked about skull penetration.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
  10. Antihero

    Antihero Member

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    A shot from just about anything between a bears eyes will probably glance off so...that's a no

    And a 380 is marginal against people, let alone bear. It won't penetrate enough to do anything, and is even more anemic with the shorter barrel
     
  11. MikeInOr

    MikeInOr Member

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    I killed a deer instantly with a single .380 shot to the side of the head. The deer was twitching on the side of the road with 4 broken legs next to my friends totaled Accord. For the record the .380 bullet came from a LCP.

    Shooting a bear with a .380 is just going to piss it off! Shooting into the air or ground with a .380 might scare a bear off. The couple of bears I have run into in the wild were taking off in the opposite direction before I got within 100 yards of them.

    For self defense my first choice would probably be my 50ae Desert Eagle or 44mag Dan Wesson... but practicality dictates that I will most likely have my LCP or DB9 on me when needed and I won't have my DE or 44 revolver within a reaching distance.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2019
  12. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    In theory, yes, but I would be far more comfortable with a truncated cone profile than an FMJ RN to reduce the possibility of glancing off hard bone surface. As a teen I used to put down hogs for slaughter. I started using a .22 lr with solid round nose. If you are not square on you will not forget the first time a bullet glances off the skull of a live animal. I moved to .22 lr hollow point but they lacked the penetration power on the large, thick skull hogs to be reliable. I finally moved to a .22 WMR JHP and that never failed.
     
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  13. 94045

    94045 Member

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    Short Barrel (Low Velocity) FMJ RN has a tendency to tumble which reduces penetration.

    The Winchester FMJ Flat Nose seems to have the best penetration I've seen. Through 4 Layers of IWBA Denim it usually penetrates 32" of Gel Blocks and exits (Most test only have two blocks). My guess is it would be your best bet. I suspect many would be surprised how effective it would be for a heart shot.

    A black bear skull isn't as thick as many would think. Only about 1/4" at it's thickest point. It's likely not much harder to penetrate than a human skull. The brain is a very small target. You need to study bear anatomy if you plan to take that shot. Also the curvature of the bear skull makes a ricochet very possible. Thankfully black bears are easily dissuaded. A little pain and he will usually disengage.
     
  14. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    20 yards was stated as the outside limit as to effectiveness of the 380, and not where I would discharge against a black bear. 5-10 yards would be much more likely!
    This is my 3 1/8” LC9 (sorry I mislabeled it LCP in a recent test), and not my 2 3/4” LCP as this thread stated. But is at 20 yards, even if from a rest. It does show the LC9 can deliver if I can direct!
    I’ll have to run a another test with both the LCP and the LC9 offhand at 20 yards to see if I can do my part! And yes I know the plate will not be charging, snapping teeth, or otherwise causing serious body function issues during the test!
    4260A912-33D6-43AF-B53F-0D97B2872BBF.jpeg
     
  15. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    That's my favorite load.
     

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  16. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    I’m in total agreement with opinion that a wide flat nose boolit (mecaft?) will do the most tissue damage. I use these in both my 357 and 44 mags. But here I’m thinking penetration of the skull vs tissue damage is more important since he will be coming at me head first not side to.
    But since I don’t reload 380, I think my only available option may be a RN FMJ.
     
  17. IdaD

    IdaD Member

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    My LCP didn't like the only box of flat nose FMJs I ever ran through it - I think I had three failures to feed out of the 50 rounds. Now that was just one box of cheap stuff (Magtech I think?) and it could be fine with another manufacturer, but I'd want to test it out. Underwood makes a hardcast flatnose 380 that might be your best bet if not the cheapest, and with the right hit I think it would penetrate a black bear's skull. Getting a good hit at 20 yards under stress with an LCP would be no easy task, though, and I say that as a guy who thinks the LCP is pretty underrated from an accuracy standpoint.
     
  18. BigBore45

    BigBore45 Member

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    highly unlikely. the deflection of a fmj round nose and the slow velocity of the 380 out of a short barrel would not be a good combination at all. if it is anything but perfectly square on impact it would likely defect and not penetrate. even the 44 mag has a hard time at less than perfect angles.
     
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  19. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Catpop

    Nothing personal but I think the odds of you surviving such an attack with your LCP are most likely...slim and none (with emphasis on the none)!

    I guess I just don't really believe anyone could pull something like that off with a small, pocket-size .380.
     
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  20. whughett

    whughett Member

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    Amen and if that bear is closer than that your in a heap of trouble regardless.
     
  21. Charlie Martinez

    Charlie Martinez Member

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    A guide in BC told me where & where not to aim at a bear and a frontal head shot was one he advised against because there was a chance the bullet could glance off & not penetrate. I was shooting a 7 mm Rem Mag rifle. I think that at 20 yards skull penetration with a 380 pistol would be possible with the right bullet & with a near to perfect perpendicular angle of entry. The odds are not very good in my opinion.
     
  22. bassjam

    bassjam Member

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    Buffalo Bore makes what they're calling a "+P" hard cast 100gr load for the .380. I wouldn't want to run a ton of these through an LCP, but if I had to rely on one for defense in bear country I'd seriously consider getting a few boxes.

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=127
     
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  23. armedwalleye

    armedwalleye Member

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    Given that black bears can run at 25-30 mph, and 25 mph equates to 36 feet per second, you've got less than two seconds for Mr Bear to cover the distance. Considering also that for winter clothing penetration, some folk consider .380 as a marginal round on people, I would have to vote an unqualified NO to your question. The only thing you've got would be into the eyes, ears, or mouth which would even be an iffy shot with a pocket .380 at distance on a static target. I'd seriously consider more gun.
     
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  24. WYO

    WYO Member

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    I suspect that it would against a small to medium black bear. But, the OP needs to go out and shoot stuff through his or her gun. I am confident that my Glock 42 would do it when loaded with Buffalo Bore 100 grain hard cast (NON +P version) or Lehigh Xtreme Penetrators. In addition to water jugs and water jugs with ribs and jean material in front, I shot have some pork ribs with jean material in front of gel. I also chronographed both loads using a Labradar and know that the Buffalo Bore only drops about 20 fps at 50 feet and the Lehigh only drops about 26 fps. I can't speak to velocity with an LCP, or what the minimum velocity necessary would be, but these loads in my gun have plenty extra when you consider that they don't have to penetrate very far into the brain to cause a traumatic brain injury. (BTW, for the OP, 20 yards is a fairly long distance to be taking a self-defense shot on a critter absent special circumstances.)

    Here are a couple of videos. (Turn the volume down if you don't like wind noise.)




    (Note: On this one, there actually is an incorrect statement in the narrative. At 28 seconds, you can see the bullet from the first shot actually bounce out toward the camera from in between the gel block and the rib pack. So it wasn't a total pass-through. It doesn't change my feelings about the round, but I did want to point that out.)

    I know it seems counterintuitive, but it seems to be correct. I have some more stuff to shoot, but it probably won't be until the spring.

    YMMV
     
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  25. Trey Veston

    Trey Veston Member

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    Exactly my thoughts!!

    Out here in Idaho, every black bear I've come across has been keen on getting as far away as possible from me and my dog post haste. And, the black bears out here are average under 200lbs. I would rather take one on mano-a-bearo with my Ontario Rat 5 fixed blade knife than a .380. But then again, I'm 6'2 and 290lbs and outweigh 90% of the bears around here anyways.

    If one is even considering using an LCP in .380 for bear defense, then one likely isn't really all that concerned about bears in the first place.

    Heck, I roamed the Idaho woods on horseback for years as a kid and teenager with nothing but a Ruger Single-Six .22 for protection and survival. 35+ years later I'm still here to tell the stories.

    Of course, now, there are those dang Canadian wolf hybrids they released a bit ago that are taking over. Had one case my campsite last year. Now I carry a 10mm Glock or an AR in .450 Bushmaster to feel better when out in the woods.
     
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