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.380 semi. vs .38 special+p

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by tonytuna, Mar 14, 2012.

?

revolver VS semi

Poll closed Mar 28, 2012.
  1. .38 special+p revolver

    112 vote(s)
    78.3%
  2. .380 semi-auto

    31 vote(s)
    21.7%
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  1. tonytuna

    tonytuna Member

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    Wondering, which is better as a ccw?
     
  2. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    I like a 380. if I think I need more its a 357 not a 38. 38 isn't bad though its in the eye of the beholder type of thing. 6 to one half dozen to another. That said I got some 38+p for a sp101 but usually its fed 357.
     
  3. RickMD

    RickMD Member

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    This has been rehashed a million times. They're both .35 caliber bullets and can kill someone. One is not significantly better than the other. Why beat a dead horse?
     
  4. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Member

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    Oh, is it a new month and so time for this question again?

    Just sticking to one ammo vendor, Buffalo Bore:
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 90 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1200fps M.E. 288 ft. lbs)
    Heavy .38 Special +P Ammo - 158 gr. L.S.W.C.H.P. --G.C. (1,000fps/M.E. 351 ft.lbs.)

    Not huge but still a noticeable advantage to .38 Special +P. I prefer any revolver over the vast majority of the autos chambered for .380 so I picked .38 Special +P.

    Pick your firearm.

    Learn to use it well.

    That will do more for you than worrying about .380 vs .38 Special +P.

    (For the record, I carry 9mm 127gr +P+ JHP over either of them)
     
  5. engineer88

    engineer88 Member

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    I like bigger bullets (diameter) and heavier bullets. The 38 has much heavier (more mass) than the 380. That said, there are some very nice little flat pocketable 380's out there and I would not feel too underprotected with one but I do prefer 5 of 38 to 7 of 380 in most cases.
     
  6. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

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    Purely looking at the rounds? .38 Special IMHO.

    But the problem is we're really talking about two different platforms. Small pocketable revolvers, or potentially much smaller/thinner and lighter pocket semi-automatics. If I were you I'd focus on the platform more and the caliber less.

    I've got both, for general purpose pocket carry I prefer my S&W J-frame, but when I need something really small and skinny I go for my Sig P238.
     
  7. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    I voted .38. Not because it's better. I just like it more. Both, will get the job done.
    The only thing I have against .380 is, I'd rather have a 9mm. Nowadays some 9's are barely bigger than the .380's.
    When I started carrying .32's (Seacamp in particular) and .380's (not as small or nice as todays) were the best out there. I tried them, didn't like them. Found snub revolvers worked FOR ME. Eventually figured out .357mag in a snub was alot of flash and bang. More effective yes, but, kind of wasteful. I figured I train and practice with .38, why not use .38? I still like .38special more, it suits me.

    However, the Sig P238 has me thinking. A gun for when I can't carry a gun?
     
  8. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Let's see...I have owned one .380 in my life and sold it less than 2 weeks after I bought it. I currently own no less than half a dozen snub .38's....The .38 must be better.LOL.
     
  9. fastbolt

    fastbolt Member

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    Better in which way, or ways?

    Manipulation?

    Design?

    Bullet weight?

    Capacity?

    Ergonomics?

    Shooter's ability to accurately, consistently & effectively shoot them?

    Felt recoil & controllability?

    Susceptibility to feeding/functioning issues caused by grip stability, technique or ammunition?

    Shooter familiarity?

    Ease of cleaning, lubrication, maintenance?

    Warranty, service & parts support?

    Carry method for individual user?



    Dunno. Depends.

    I once owned a .380 pistol (Beretta M84). I didn't keep it that long. I've handled and fired a LOT of assorted .380's over the years that I've been a LE firearms instructor. Never really found another one I felt like buying with my own money.

    However, I presently own seven 5-shot snub revolvers (all but one of which is DAO). I carry one or another of them quite often, and use them for range training/practice/quals more often than any other firearms instructor/armorer of my current acquaintance.

    Probably any number of folks who could express an opinion and experience contrary to mine, though. Hardly surprising.

    I remember the last time I helped audit the number of off-duty weapons chambered in both .380 & .38 Spl (for ammunition inventory purpose). The number of folks using both calibers was pretty similar, and I've continued to see new examples of both 5-shot .38's and .380's come through the quals.

    I guess there's folks who like each of them.

    Sales of both seem to be continuing to grow, too.

    So, which do you think is a better choice for a CCW role, for your anticipated needs?

    Which best suits your skillset & abilities, as you deem them to exist?

    Once you decide which type of equipment is something upon which you're willing to stake your life and the lives of loved ones, etc), then let's talk about knowledge, training, practice, skillset & mindset. ;)

    Equipment is just .... well, equipment.

    Now, the equipment user ... there's something to give some serious thought to developing, improving & maintaining.

    Do I tend to prefer the .38 S&W Spl cartridge over the .380 ACP? Yep. I do.

    That's just me, though.

    How about you? :D
     
  10. stealth

    stealth Member

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    Show me a .380 that opens to .60" and penetrates to 12" in short barrel lengths.

    I wouldn't shoot anything but FMJ in the .380. IF they expand -which is woefully hit or miss- they do not penetrate deep enough.

    I huff when I hear these two compared, a better comparison is 9mm to .38spl+p.

    I'm sure enough .380+p out of the tiny guns would not only hurt, cause more flip but also wear out the slide, frame, spring or all of the above. The .38spl airweight revolver doesn't mind from cowboy loads up to hot BB +p.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  11. wep45

    wep45 Member

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    i like wheel guns
     
  12. tonytuna

    tonytuna Member

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    To be honest, .380 isn't really high on my list.
    I would rather the 9mm over it. But what I should've asked was stated above, 9mm vs .38. But I found a nice .38+p today for 300 and will be getting that mainly cause its in my price range and a small 9mm isn't. The lc9 is a maybe but the grips are so thin and uncomfortable for me.
     
  13. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    as 38+p may do the same out of a plastic revolver. Its all in the shooter. try both see what you like. Having both in the arsenal doesnt hurt. A 380 fits in a pocket pretty darn easy, with an extra mag.
     
  14. stealth

    stealth Member

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    Well if you just can't do the thin grips then the small 380's wouldn't work out either. Another thin 9 is the Keltec PF9 for less than $300.

    Maybe try out the compact versions of larger guns like the G26, XDsc and M&Pc. They sure have thicker grips. You'd gain some rounds too.

    Personally I'm very happy with the S&W 442, its my "always gun". I think they run something like $360, good value IMO.
     
  15. Nushif

    Nushif Member

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    I guess the question "which is better?" is kinda inadequate to really look at this, because you're really asking a pretty darned big question.

    Let's look at specifically what you're getting with each cartridge.

    The .380 Auto is a round that fires a what .... 95 grain projectile at 800 to 1000 fps from an LCP.
    Now, realistically this will probably make a bad guy's day pretty darned bad. How bad? Well, that depends on where you hit him and what mood he's in that day. Is he in a fightin' mood?
    But look at what the LCP style weapon actually gives you. It gives you six rounds in a package that is small enough to fit in the pocket of a bathrobe, some fairly tight jeans, or even a wallet style holster. But let's be clear here. The average five shot snubbie while very, very concealable is not nearly that small. the .380 launched from a true pocket pistol is decent enough to get the job done and pretty much invisible.

    Let's look at the .38 Special. From an LCR you can launch a 129 to 158n grain projectile at speed ranging from 850 to 1.1k fps.
    This is arguable better ballistic performance, but look at the platform. You get a gun that is larger, wider, heavier and usually has less capacity. Don't get me wrong. A snubbie conceals just fine for most applications, but it is less concealable than for instance an LCP. I know people will chime in how they conceal snubbies just fine and I'm not contesting that. What I am saying a .380 pocket auto is even *easier* to conceal.

    So really, you seem to ground your choice of concealment based on a cartridge. Instead of the platform you launch the thing from. A 155mm shell hits harder than a 105 shell. but can you airlift a 155mm Howitzer on a UH-60?

    Instead of asking about the cartridge, ask yourself what you wanna do. Do you wanna be invisible in your carrying habits or borderline invisible?
    Are you proportioned better to hide a fatter gun or does your bodyshape really not work well with a fatter gun?

    Does this make sense?

    [edit]

    An easy trap to fall into is for instance the idea that because someone has a bunch of whatever it must be great.

    For the longest time people had single shot flintlock pistols and were doing just fine. So someone can say "Well, I have tons of them, so they have to be great." But the fact is that if we truly stuck to this line of thinking we'd never even have made it to rifling.
    I for instance have a lot of Beretta 92 knockoffs. but that doesn't make a Beretta 92 knockoff the best weapon for everyone.

    So whenever someone says "Well, people have been doing this for XYZ, so it must be working" that's kind of a moot point. People in theory have been scavenging nuts off the ground for millenia. That doesn't make it the best way to feed a civilization.

    You gotta ask the right question. And judging a CCW weapon on cartridge is asking the wrong question. You need the gun you will have on you the largest amount of the time. Not the latest and greatest .500 S&W Magnum pocket reapater with an ammo belt.

    So, ballistically speaking, the .38 special is the wider choice as it allows a lot of different loadings that work well. But you find me a five shot snubbie as skinny as a .380 autopistol.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  16. mortablunt

    mortablunt Member

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    The 38 SPC +P just has more raw power. The bullets are both quicker and heavier.
     
  17. tubeshooter

    tubeshooter Member

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    Well said.


    That ought to take care of the debate for a few days...
     
  18. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    If limited to factory ammo it's a near toss up. My 2" J frames are almost exactly the same dimensions as my compact 380. The 90 grain 380 JHP at 950 FPS is so close to the 125@925 for the 38 +P that I don't see much difference. Big advantage to the 380 is seven rounds vs. five for the revolver.

    Even so, I prefer the 38 revolver (with my 125@1100 load).
     
  19. hariph creek

    hariph creek Member

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    Nushif, well said.
     
  20. toivo

    toivo Member

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    To make sure it's really dead.

    [​IMG]
     
  21. chieftain

    chieftain Member

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    This is about the two rounds out of small & short barreled guns, a class known as Back Up Guns (BUG)

    Dr Gary Roberts, the leading Ballistic Researcher in the United States today:

    My BUG is a 'J' frame S&W. I have been carrying one shortly after I put on a gun for business in 1966. I have used my handguns in firefights several times, 11 IIRC. 4 times with a 4" Victory model S&W 38spl (WWII model 10 skinny 4" Barrel). The other times with a 1911 45acp. I was never wounded while fighting with my handguns, only my rifles.

    Even though I had a BUG in each of the above cases, I never needed to go there.

    I choose the 38spl over the 380 every time. Of course your combat experience may be different. Please let us hear your story.

    Thank you.

    Fred
     
  22. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Member

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    It comes down to platform. If you like a revolver, then it's .38SPL. If you prefer a semi-auto, then it's .380ACP.
     
  23. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Member

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    The smaller the semi auto = more likely to have issues like feeding problems and sensitivity to different ammo. J-frame revolver is more likely to launch its 5 cartridges under adverse conditions!
     
  24. brnmuenchow

    brnmuenchow Member

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    I am inclined to agree. I don't care really what anyone say's or what proof they think they have that a .380 vs. .38 Spl. or .9X19mm vs. .9X18mm I am willing to bet no "SANE" person would be willing to bet their life on any of those not killing them if they were shot by one just to test that theory!:banghead:
    (I voted .38 Spl. "only" because I happen to carry a .38 "snubbie" for my CHL, the .380 would also do just fine.)
     
  25. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Member

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    Scratch that. Mods feel free to delete. I apparently have a reading problem!
     
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