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All other factors excluded, is .380 ACP the best pocket semi auto caliber?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by TTv2, May 25, 2020.

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  1. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    giphy.gif
     
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  2. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    I really like TCM and have had four guns in the original version. I don’t think there will ever be a true pocket version, but if someone introduced the equivalent of a pf9 in 5.56x24 in a very small light package (along with factory ammo) I’d buy it (assuming the implementation was good in the ways that count). Very unlikely to ever happen.

    I’m still a bit miffed that the CCO versions they have released over the years are all 9R.
     
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  3. lonniemike

    lonniemike Member

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    380, using newer designed non-hollow point bullets, as ARX(56gr), Lehigh ED(65), and a new company that-I can't recall the name-calls it's bullet an ExternatHollowPoint or an EHP. I've been using Lehigh in 65gr for several years now.
     
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  4. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Having arbitrarily cut the field off just below the commonly accepted minimum optimal defensive cartridge, obviously the least underpowered cartridge still in consideration is the least underpowered.
     
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  5. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    It wasn't arbitrary, it was because there are no 9mm's as small as a micro .380 or .32 or .25 out there. I ask the question because when there's a situation where carrying a larger 9mm is impractical over a smaller pistol, what caliber .380 and under is the better option when not factoring in gun and ammo price/availability?

    So far no one has given me one argument that makes me believe that .380 ACP is superior to .32 NAA ballistics or even .32 ACP for practicality. The answers I'm continuing to get are either "a small 9mm is best" or ".380 is best because of price/availability" which are criteria I wanted to exclude from the topic.
     
  6. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    Ballistics aren’t the most important factor in this type of gun.

    That said, .32 NAA comes close to matching .380 energy until you get into .380 +p loads...as one would expect from their relationship. The question of whether it is better to deliver energy in a small fast bullet or a larger heavier bullet seems like it should be simple but it isn’t. That debate has been ongoing for hundreds of years and there are trade offs in both directions.

    As such, it’s perfectly reasonable to look beyond the cartridge and consider other factors. Gun, availability, etc. all become tiebreakers, and they all heavily favor .380 over .32 NAA.

    .32 ACP stays relevant in this discussion because even though it doesn’t deliver as much energy, it delivers enough to stop someone from attacking. Perhaps not as effectively as a .380, but it’s more effective than whistling...and it is easier to conceal in some cases. It can be concealed when other guns may not be.

    Likewise, .25ACP falls off the list nowadays not because it’s ineffective per se. It falls off because the .25acp guns you can buy today aren’t enough smaller in most cases to justify the reduced effectiveness. However, go back 30 years or so and if you want something in the weight range of the modern .380 your choices are guns like the Baby Browning...10 ounces, 4” long, 3” tall, and .25acp.
     
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  7. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I think you have your answer. You answered it yourself. You posted raw data comparing the two and mathematically your data shows an advantage. The disconnect is that the .32 naa can be a better pocket caliber from a ballistic point of view, but if one does not find a 20 oz gun to be a viable to be a good carry piece, it's a moot point. I love NAA. I have 4 of their revolvers. My Blackwidow is the only gun I keep on my person 98% of the time because I can carry it in any kind of attire. I love the fit and finish of the Guardian. Very old school and I would like to own one one day.

    However, for my needs, a pocket gun needs to be under 16oz and super flat to fit in my pocket. An empty Guardian weighs more than my .38 +P revolver loaded with ARX ammo.

    So, I think you have your mathematical answer. However, as I have wondered, why are there not more guns chambered in it? Im willing to wager someone has looked at it. Even the Pico was supposed to have a .32 acp version at some point that was ultimately scrapped. I would think a .32 naa would be ideal out of a well put together stainless slide pistol if the gun could handle it. Im not sure about what kind of pressure it puts out.

    I'm honestly curious about the recoil, pressures, etc. The .32 naa can beat the pants off .380, but i don't want to carry the vessel that fires it in my pocket. I'd be all for a harder hitting cartridge in the sub 16oz range of pocket guns if it didn't recoil like a 9mm.
     
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  8. Ernie Bass

    Ernie Bass Member

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    [
    Good answer. And weight matters Imo every single ounce matters. One of the beauties in a small Pocket gun like a 380. Yes, they never came out with a 32. for the Pico. And as a Pico fan, I am just as happy. Would not buy a Pico if they did come out with the 32. Why? The gun is already such a mild shooter. And as I said, the P32 is ideal for the 32 cal. at the very light weight at 6 oz, 10oz fully loaded with 8 rds of Underwood defender plus P.
     
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  9. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    I've said this multiple times, if you could get a .32 NAA chambered gun, not an NAA Guardian in .32 NAA, in any current .380 pistol, which would you rather have in that pistol: .380 or .32 NAA?

    That's why I keep saying, and apparently nobody seems to understand, excluding gun AND ammo price/availability/variety. Basically if you could get a Ruger, S&W, Colt pocket whatever, Bersa Thunder, etc. etc. in .32 NAA and .380 ACP and had as many ammo options in .32 NAA, which would you choose?

    BTW, the same applies to .32 ACP and all the other calibers smaller than .380.

    The pressure is higher than .380, I think it's something around 26k PSI while .380 is 21,500 PSI. So, about a 20% increase in max pressure.

    IDK how much impact that has on being able to shoot them from polymer frame micro .380's or gun life. One thing I can tell you is, neither do any manufacturer's outside of Diamondback, who once made .32 NAA for their .380 pistol.
     
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  10. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    The OP is clearly jonesing for a .32NAA, and wants us to tell him that it’s ballistically without par in the realm of really small guns. This thread isn’t about .380, it’s about .32NAA. The problem is, the one gun that shoots it ....isn’t really small.

    That said, .32NAA would be awesome, and I’d probably buy one, if Ruger and/or KelTec would chamber their tiny polymer wonderpistols in it. I can get behind a 10oz gun in my pants pocket (barely.) I can’t get behind the 14oz Kahr, still less the 20oz NAA. I once thought in my younger and more foolish days, that I’d like to pocket carry a stainless PPK. After all, if Uncle Mikes made a holster for it..... Doing that for one day was enough to convince me of the folly of my ways. Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it’s a great idea.
     
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  11. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Well, I said in my first post that I would rather have a .32 NAA over a .380, but I wanted to hear from others to see what their thoughts were under the criteria I set. If they still felt .380 was better than .32 NAA and why or if they felt .32 ACP was better because of the lower recoil or maybe something else that's slipping my mind.

    The reason I didn't title this ".32 NAA: Best pocket caliber?" is because it's generally regarded that .380 is the best, but factoring everything else out except ballistics and general shooting characteristics, was that still the case?

    Apparently you are agreeing with me that .32 NAA is probably better than .380.
     
  12. Dibbs

    Dibbs Member

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    Just opinion, but 380 and Makarov are not as powerful as 9mm, and let's take a close look at that, for a second. The wider(.010 Mak) Makarov, and the less powerful
    380 are going to dump more terminal energy, because with less power, it's far less likely they will over-penetrate, or shoot through.
    One thing to carefully consider, 380 is a substantially larger hole than 32 caliber.
    If you can find a 32 NAA pistol you deem acceptable for concealed carry, OP don't let us stop you, but the way I see it, 380 offers you the whole package, a reasonably sized round which isn't overpriced, or hard to find, with a large choice of pocket worthy and easily concealed pistols, from which to choose.
     
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  13. Ed Ames

    Ed Ames Member

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    If I didn’t have to choose an actual gun that exists I’d get a 5.56x24 in designed somewhat like a mini p38 (barrel extending past the end of the slide) with a 3” and 5” barrel but a shorter grip, dimensions of maybe 5.5-7.5” length (depending on barrel) and 3” or so height, slim as it can be, weight around 9oz empty , set up so the grip frame is only front and back (no sides) to allow single or double stack magazines ranging from 5rd for the minimum flush mag to 20rds for a full size mag. And there would be 3+ companies making factory ammo.
    That single gun could go from pocket carry to holster carry to range gun with just different parts. Oh, and it would cost $250 for the gun, and $100 for additional barrels. I’m not greedy.

    But this is not that world, so instead when I’m buying I choose the best available platform for my needs, and the best cartridge available for the platform. And right now the non-rim fire choices for good pocket carry are .380 and .32 acp.
     
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  14. Ernie Bass

    Ernie Bass Member

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    NAA 32 cartridge vs 380 ,32 acp,

    Well the OP did one thing, made me revisit the 32 Naa cartridge. Opens the door to a lot of questions and study. A lot of why's and why not.
    Here is a older but informative video on comparisons with ballistic charts. Interesting to see the Sig 238 barrel conversion.


    LCP barrel conversion



    ***Not a good way to good with the added pressure. The gun is not even made for 380 plus P.
     

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    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  15. FFGColorado

    FFGColorado Member

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    G9..

    https://botach.com/g9-380-acp-ehp-70gr-ammunition-20rd/
     
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  16. Ernie Bass

    Ernie Bass Member

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    I think in that quote about pressure is the reason why you do not see any small guns like the LCP etc. made in that caliber unless there is a lot of added added weight. Obviously Diamondback saw the error and stopped using that round. And the small guns are around 19 oz in weight. Some small guns like the LCP cannot shoot Plus P or higher pressure rounds. I know that for a fact.
    The 380 now has a proven track record as a serious and viable defense round. Not only on ballistics gel, FBI protocol but also the fact that even Ballistics Gel as Lucky Gunner pointed out. is that ballistic gel is used only for testing and ammunition's and tend to do even better in real life.

    I was surprised at the good results that the 32.ACP actually did in performance with Lucky Gunner test. The 380 is here to stay it is not going anywhere, and like it or not, the Ballistics just get better and better. Bravo to the 380! And watch out for even more improvement in the 32 ACP. We live in some great times in the shooting world as it is today.
     
  17. lonniemike

    lonniemike Member

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    yes G9 is the other. Thanks,FFG I don't see my post from yesterrday now!!!
     
  18. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    I wish some of the ammo companies would really develop good short barrel defensive loads for the .32acp. It’s definitely possible to improve. As it is, you can have pretty good penetration or shallow expansion but it seems that to have both together is elusive.

    The .380 is very hard to argue with. There are loads that meet the FBI penetration, and reliably expand. They aren’t cheap but they exist. So what does “better” ballistics give you in the real world except more recoil? (I’m not saying I wouldn’t like a greater margin of safety, just that it’s not a high priority, given the number of loads and number and variety of different guns available for .380).
     
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  19. lonniemike

    lonniemike Member

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    Mosin, check out Lehigh's 32 in X cavitator and X D rounds. They also sell componets BestAll
     
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  20. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    The turning point for me was not the guns available in 380 but the ammo. Before ShootingTheBull 410 did his 380 ammo tests, all of the testing that was available to me showed 380 bullets either expanding and stopping at 10 inches or less when run against the IWBA protocol, or zipping right out the back of 16 inch blocks of gelatin.

    Neither one was unacceptable to me.

    I know you don't want to talk about 9mm, but I settled on the Rohrbaugh R9 because 380 was unacceptable and 9mm was being fit into a smaller package than any other "major" caliber.



    After ShootingTheBull410 published his videos, I purchased two RM380s.

    I purchased the RM380 because they were almost identical to the Rohrbaugh R9 which I had had ready purchased.
     
  21. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    If we are excluding all other factors like what makes better guns and cartridges better or excluding everything besides what fits in a narrow scope then yes you will find the answer your looking for which seems to be 32 NAA but Im thinking in the end it will more realistically have to be 380.

    That’s kind of like me saying I have the best carry gun if you exclude all others.

    I’m personally not in agreement with 32 revolvers being superior either though the points made are solid ones. I would start with the 327 Mag and not consider any of the other ones though.

    I carry a J Frame in my pocket. I buy my pants specifically with pocket carry of small (not micro) firearms. A Glock 43 will fit in there as well. Quite easily in fact. I don’t know why Lucky Gunner chose to exclude 9mm autos as “pocket guns” when they can and are often carried as such.

    But answer the leading question of the OP, I do think 380 is the best choice with the aforementioned parameters in place. Since those parameters are theoretical, and I can choose what I want, I would not choose 380 or any of the other choices.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
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  22. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    In what way?
     
  23. Mosin77

    Mosin77 Member

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    As I understood it, the main argument of LuckyGunner in favor of .32 revolvers was that you can chamber 4 different cartridges (.32 S&W/short, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Mag, and .327 Federal Mag + even .32acp in a pinch) in the available .327 snubbies.

    This is true, on paper. In practice it means you have a revolver that shoots 4 different obscure/obsolete rounds. You do, however, also get an extra round compared to .38/.357 snubnose revolvers.

    I reckon I’d rather have the .32 snub than the .38 snub, but I’m not too sure I want any of them.
     
  24. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a Kimber K6s that will shoot .39 Long Colt. .38 Special, or .357 Magnum. It holds six rounds. I prefer the .38 Special.
     
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  25. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    It will also shoot 38 Short Colt. That makes 4 different rounds. And in a pinch, it might shoot 38 Super, a semi-auto round, just like the 32 revolvers that might shoot the 32 Auto.
     
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