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home defence caliber questions

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by p5200, Feb 6, 2010.

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  1. p5200

    p5200 Member

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    I just helped the wife pick out a Walther PK380 to keep with her when I'm gone. The problem is, neither of us know much about hand guns but I do own several long guns. Well I have been reading the net about the .380 caliber and most, of what I have read doesn't speak too highly of this round for home defense. Did I have her waste her money on this firearm for the intended purpose? should I have her trade it in for something in a larger caliber? I hate for her to have to do that as I know I always take a great loss on trade ins myself, on rifles. I realize I should have done more research before, I helped her choose one since I myself know very little about hand guns. :eek: Thanks for all advice! :)
     
  2. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    I'm not familiar with the Walther, but the .380 might be a good idea because it's light recoil for female hands. With today advanced defense ammo I'd expect it to be near 9mm power wise.

    Load it with Reminton Goldensabre or Corbon Powerball for defense. And practice till she's accurate. Realisticly, in the right hands thats plenty of power for most normal problems.
     
  3. dispatch55126

    dispatch55126 Member

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    A .22lr that you are completely confident and competent with will be more effective than a 45acp that you cannot shoot straight or handle.

    If she likes the PK and shoots it well, then it is effective. Don't fill her head with doubt about the caliber. Just take her to the range and run a few mags through it.
     
  4. mnhntr

    mnhntr Member

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    I honestly would have steared her towards a 642 or 442 S&W or a ruger SP101 for several reasons.
    1) recoil is not much worse than the 380acp
    2) better stopping power from the 38spl
    3) easier to use for a new handgun shooter
    4) easier to find ammo
    5) when the 380 jams and she is in a high stress situation and cant clear the malfunction it becomes a rock to throw
     
  5. p5200

    p5200 Member

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    Thanks for the advice folks, and I will get her started practicing she has shot my .243 rifle pretty accurately so maybe, she can get accurate enough for the normal home defense distances. :)
     
  6. StorkPatrol

    StorkPatrol Member

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    Well, yeah, there are probably better choices for HD. However, as others have already pointed out, now is not the time to start second-guessing your equipment. It's time to start building your SKILL SET. Get to the range. Build her skill. Build her confidence.
    --Stork
     
  7. wrs840

    wrs840 Member

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    For pocket-carry, maybe. My wife will shoot my 442, but doesn't care for DA trigger-pull on pretty much any revolver other than my Smith M63. That said, she likes and is very comfortable with my BHP and her S&W 5904. I'm happy that she's a good shot and very comfortable with these 9mm autos. Whatever the lady "likes" is what you want to have handy for her.

    Les
     
  8. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    Personally, the .380 is lacking for home defense. It's mostly for concealed carry where the user must give up power in order to have a more concealable gun. The .22LRs put out so much lead in such a short space that I have a lot of respect for them, especially when coming out of a Ruger Mark II/III. Other than that, I prefer a good revolver, a .357 stoked with +P .38 ammo.
     
  9. GigaBuist

    GigaBuist Member

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    You're correct that the .380 isn't thought much of for self defense. Even the whiz-bang fancy factory loads don't get the 12" penetration that the FBI wants in their loads. Maybe somebody's done it, but I generally don't see it when I look at .380 gel tests.

    That said, it's better than a sharp stick.

    The general problem with the .380 and female shooters (or anybody, really, they're not all that different from us men folk) is that they usually come in small and light guns. Small and light guns translate into greater felt recoil. I'm not too familiar with the PK380 but it is a polymer frame and that's not going to help in the recoil department. Does look to be of substantial size though which helps with sight radius. Something that's really lacking when people suggest going with a snub-nose revolver like the 642 and 442 mentioned above. Honestly I can't see why anybody would suggest those to a novice shooter of any stature. Felt recoil is substantial because they're so light, triggers are heavy DA, sights are nothing to write home about, sight radius is absurdly low, and all that adds up for a difficult so shoot handgun. Hell, I've been doing this handgun shooting thing for 9 years and I find my 442 difficult to shoot when compared to something like my CZ-75B in 9mm.

    As for trading it in and taking a hit, that might work out well in your favor after you take into account ammo prices Right now .380 ammo is hard to come by. Even when it is in stock it's still more expensive than 9mm. Economies of scale and all that.

    Personally I think the easiest handgun to get newbies on, aside from a .22LR, is something like a full-sized 9mm with a steel frame and SA trigger. The BHP and CZ-75B come to mind. The heavy gun soaks up some recoil, the SA trigger makes it an easy reach and pull for folks with small hands like myself and most women.
     
  10. shockwave

    shockwave Member

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    Shot placement is critical. A bullet through the eye is going to stop somebody. Through the mouth? Sternum? Groin? Anybody want to shoot a .380 into their groin? A practiced marksman with a .380 should be able to ruin somebody's day.
     
  11. Dolph92

    Dolph92 Member

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    I dont feel under gunned with a 380 auto however I am probably going to be a little better shot than a new shooter as I have many many rounds out of my guns. The best advice I can give you has nothing to do with the caliber or the gun. It has to do with practical practice and being ready for what I hope and pray you or your wife will never have to be ready for... To many time I have seen someone go out and get a gun to keep for home defense then it sits in the dresser or in a safe and never gets used. The person who purchased it doesnt shoot it often enough to be comfortable with it at a range let alone in a defense situation.

    Reguardless of the caliber of the gun it won't help if you cant pick it up, load it up, and shoot it with decent enough accuracy to stop an attacking intruder. Handguns are a lot different than rifles. They are harder to aim and easier to miss with.

    Go to the range or take a defensive shooting course at the local gun club, use the 380 cus its what you have. If you find its hard to shoot, not comfortable, or not accurate for you or your wife by all means trade it up down or sideways but dont make the mistake to make the decision on what gun to use based only on caliber.
     
  12. clem

    clem Member

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    I've seen .22 LRs out of handguns kill people.
    It was all "shot placement".
    The .380 will be just fine for her if she can shoot it well.
     
  13. The Reverend

    The Reverend Member

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    Of all the pistols one could choose, short barreled .38spls. are among the most difficult to master due to the handling characteristics. The jamming argument is a red herring... not even worth responding to.
     
  14. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    A PK380 will have very sharp recoil compared to a full size handgun. Most .380 Auto pistols will have sharp recoil due to their diminutive mass. This is not to say the intended user can't handle said recoil, but I know I've fired my fair share of .380 pistols, and none of them were pleasant to shoot for me.
     
  15. dmazur

    dmazur Member

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    We have "been there, done that" with the small .380 thing.

    My wife started with an AMT Backup. Not only did she carry it, she qualified with it! While she certainly didn't need to shoot it frequently, she did comment on how hard it was to hang onto when fighting recoil. The magazine "extension" helped as her hands were small enough to get all three fingers below the trigger guard.

    When I got her a Colt Officer's Model, she switched to that and never looked back. Sure, it's a little bit heavier than the diminutive .380 (which was one of the smallest .380's made, at the time), but it is easy to shoot. And for her, that made practice something she wanted to do rather than try to avoid. I thought the little Officer's Model was kind of "snappy" in the recoil department, but she said she preferred it to that AMT!

    She's small-statured, and marvels at the "get a small gun" tendencies that are encountered today, especially at gun stores. Small guns are most definitely not easier to shoot.
     
  16. butters

    butters Member

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    I would not use a 380 for HD. A 9mm or 45 would be my choices or even a short barreled shotgun. That said I do carry a Ruger LCP in 380 and while I'd prefer a bigger caliber I am willing to compromise for the concealability. (I also carry a 9mm but not as often since the LCP is so easy to carry)

    I think that if she gets familiar with the pistol and is confident and comfortable with it then it should be fine. That is the most important thing anyway.

    As for recoil, it shouldn't matter as long as she practices and becomes comfortable with the gun. While my LCP does have a bit of snap to it, you do get used to it. I think that practice makes perfect and that will be more important than the caliber you choose.I would not use a 380 for HD. A 9mm or 45 would be my choices or even a short barreled shotgun. That said I do carry a Ruger LCP in 380 and while I'd prefer a bigger caliber I am willing to compromise for the concealability. (I also carry a 9mm but not as often since the LCP is so easy to carry)

    I think that if she gets familiar with the pistol and is confident and comfortable with it then it should be fine. That is the most important thing anyway.

    As for recoil, it shouldn't matter as long as she practices and becomes comfortable with the gun. While my LCP does have a bit of snap to it, you do get used to it. I think that practice makes perfect and that will be more important than the caliber you choose.
     
  17. harmon rabb

    harmon rabb Member

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    please put down the crack pipe. the p380 is a large 380. as such, felt recoil will be very low. meanwhile, the j-frames have pretty heavy recoil, even with plain 38spl.
     
  18. ol' scratch

    ol' scratch Member

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    Shot placement, shot placement, shot placement. If she is comfortable with the 380 and can shoot it well, it is better than a larger caliber handgun she can't control. What is the point in having a 9mm, .40 or .45 if when she needs it she misses?:eek:
     
  19. DancesWithSquirrels

    DancesWithSquirrels Member

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    Manufacturers tend to put smaller calibers into smaller, lighter framed guns. What you wind up with is similarly snappy recoil to a larger caliber in a slightly larger gun. In my opinion the smaller framed guns create a problem with gripping and controlling them making what recoil they produce more of a problem.

    If she is able to shoot the gun accurately under stressful conditions then the gun should serve the purpose. But getting to the point where she can shoot it accurately is going to take practice. Putting 100 rounds through a snappy, small framed pistol may not be much fun. In which case she will be less likely to do it regularly.

    I am in the "shot placement is more important than caliber" camp of self defense.

    DWS
     
  20. Al LaVodka

    Al LaVodka member

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    Lotta Rambos in the world.

    The .32 is generally held to be the smallest caliber useful for defense. The .380 ACP is bigger and better. Did you know it used to be the most popular calliber in the country? Not the best maybe, depending on a particular circumstance, but, and not just for a woman, in a semi-auto, not at all terrible with the right ammo and, as stated, it is time to move on. My nightstand AND carry guns are 9x18 which is just a shade more powerful than the average .380 ACP. There's actually no reason for buyer's remorse -- sounds like you woulda ended up right back where you actually are to me. Fine gun, decent cartridge, now get used to the combination, shooting, and the other important aspects!

    Knowledge, skill, and attitude are always the most important parts. The gun is just a tool...

    On a final note, the ammo at home and a little tested at the range, should be a reliable feeding +P. Corbon might be a good choice indeed.

    Al
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2010
  21. bds

    bds Member

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    Over the years, I have helped a lot of female shooters at the range/work pick out their gun.

    What we normally do is not to fill their heads with caliber/ballistics information, but allow them to shoot different gun types and let them make the decision based on whichever they feel comfortable shooting and most accurate with.

    I believe 380/9mm compacts with smaller frame kicks more and are better suited for carry/back up purposes. I found many female shooters ultimately choose the full size 9mm over the 380/9mm compacts. They state the felt recoil is much less with the full size frames. Surprisingly, some prefer the 40/45 over the 9mm (Have you felt the hand/arm strength of ladies who milk their cows/goats?).

    One exception this past year has been a coworker lady who runs marathons. She often runs early in the morning in the dark and chose the Glock 26 with Fobus paddle holster. She said after 30 seconds, she can't even notice the gun/holster being at her waist.

    BTW, FWIW, we have some ladies bring their ex-boyfriend/husband's picture to range day. We blow up the picture on the copy machine and OMG, they don't miss! And their concern over grip/trigger/stance, etc. becomes non-issue. :D
     
  22. SideArmed

    SideArmed Member

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    No reason a female or small person could not shoot a fullsize 9mm, hardly any recoil.

    Check out a Glock 34 or Fullsize M&P / H&K / 5" XD...etc

    For a home defense gun you could go as big as possible. Heavier weapon, longer barrel is going to recoil less and generally easier to operate.

    try even a full size 45, you maybe surprised how you can get used to the recoil
     
  23. KevinR

    KevinR Member

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    I have read that 50% of all Americans are programed (by the movie industry) to fall down when shot (no matter what caliber) I have also read that more people have been killed with a .22 than all other calibers combined.

    However what I did was start my wifes training with a .22 then up to a .380 and now she she shoots a 9 with confidense.

    When she started with the .22 she was a nervous wreck and could not hit anything.
     
  24. bds

    bds Member

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    FWIW, G22/G27 stay with my wife and G30/Taurus PT145 Pro with me. As to HD, our drill is I reach for the shotgun as she reaches for the rifle with our pistols as backup (tactical vests with extra mags/flash light/knives/cell phone pre-loaded).

    Our dogs sleep with us and they would be sent out first while we reach for the firearms.

    If the bad guys make past the dogs, it will be like the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
     
  25. mnhntr

    mnhntr Member

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    They do? I guess if your a sissy! My better half has no problem with standard38s or +p ammo. Maybe you should work on your limp wrist
     
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