Quantcast

Let's Talk .380

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Hokkmike, Apr 14, 2018.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,264
    Location:
    Sullivan County PA
    I am very happy to read all of your responses. The High Road has largely supplanted reading gun-magazines for me. I'd appreciate your answers to one or all of the questions. I honestly don't want to get mired in a .380 vs. 9mm argument.

    Do you have a favorite defensive ammo brand and bullet type? - Currently I use over the counter SIG SAUER Elite performance FMJ ammo. Somebody once told me he preferred ball in the winter and expanding tips in the spring, summer, and fall. Seems to resonate.

    What do you consider to be maximum effective range for accurate grouping? I have always practiced at closer ranges - say 3, 5, 10 yards and such. Friends have suggested 20 - 30 yards as a maximum. What is your experience?

    What is your favorite mode of carry for a .380? I have always used a pocket holster. I have one made by Alabama and I love it. I do not think it is tactically the most efficient. I would especially enjoy hearing from those who have try different carry methods to see what you liked the best.

    Do you have an opinion on a best and worst .380 to shoot? I realize this is very subjective. Of guns I have personally owned and used the Bersa Thunder was my least favorite and the Glock 42 top choice. I have also used the S&W Bodyguard and the SIG P-238. I like them both very much.
    (I think the Bersa is fine too - it just my last choice of those listed)

    Anything I didn't ask about the .380 but should have? Please feel free to comment.

    Thank you all!

     
    Armored farmer and Growlers like this.
  2. Ks5shooter
    • Contributing Member

    Ks5shooter Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2013
    Messages:
    2,327
    Location:
    Communist state of nj
    1217749_1.jpg I carry my Sig 230 with Hornady critical defense ammo. It groups well at 25 yds,although I never shot it any farther than that. With current modern bullet choices the .380 shines well as a defensive round with great concealability.:thumbup::thumbup:
     
  3. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,264
    Location:
    Sullivan County PA
    I saw a 230 at Gander just before they closed. I was enthralled. I went back to buy it after a day or two of research (I had a thread here about it) and it had been SOLD!
     
  4. Sovblocgunfan

    Sovblocgunfan Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2014
    Messages:
    1,281
    No experience with .380 but following this thread closely, as I am looking to get into the caliber for warm weather carry.

    Currently eyeing a kahr product.

    I can’t imagine why SD practice distances “for .380” would be different from anything else, so im guessing 10 yds or less on that.
     
  5. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    8,465
    Location:
    South Eastern Illinois
    I carry a .380 every day, but im no expert.
    As far as ammo goes, i like big holes when im shooting something. I generally carry 95gr hollow points. Right now they are cheap Monarchs from Academy. I have had poor performance from Hornady Critical Defense.
    20170905_202757.jpg
    I do most of my practice from 15yds because thats where my gongs are set.
    I have a target stand at 50 yds. That is too far imho.

    My favorite mode of carry is not an option for most people. I carry my lcp on a techni clip iwb.[not up for discussion]. The little .380s really shine as pocket guns though.

    Here is my lcp in my overalls pocket :
    20180311_104637.jpg
    I have carried it sll day in my boot many times. Inside my vest pocket. Tge possibilities are endless for a gun of this size.
    I have shot two different glock 42s. Both were excellent, but a bit larger than my lcp. 20180308_080239.jpg
    I shot my lcp head to head with a kimber micro. The lcp held its own in accuracy despite the better sights on the kimber.
    If i were in the .380 market, i would take a close look at the LCPII
    good luck.
     
    bannockburn, Mike .45 and WYO like this.
  6. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Messages:
    2,935
    I'm a fan of the .380. Not only is it my caliber of choice when I can't carry even a slim 9mm, but on long hikes in areas not populated by bigger critters it's my go-to. A slim .380 stuffed in my hiking vest sporting 6+1 is a lightweight insurance policy.

    I don't have a preferred brand on ammo, but I generally run ball through mine. I see the .380 as a weapon of last resort, so I try to feed little guns the most dead-up reliable ammo and leave the high performance stuff to pistols large enough to maximize it. Oddly, the only ammo short of the bottom of the barrel Russian stuff that has given me any issues in the SIG ball ammo with the truncated flat nose. Ironically, that same ammo in 9mm is the only ammo that has ever caused my preferred full-size gun to choke...a SIG P320:rofl:

    I have found that pocket carry in my back left pocket to be the best mode for me regardless of pocket pistol make. It's not the fastest, but it's comfortable and convenient as I don't have to take a holster on and off. The little gun just rides in a cheap Uncle Mike's or I sometimes make my own. I actually don't mind a clip draw on these little guns. Very handy. However, on my current carry .380, the trigger is a tad too light with no manual safety for me to go that route of carry.

    I have had a first gen LCP, a BG .380, a Pico, and an LCP II. When it comes to comfort and shootability, the LCP II has displaced all the others. The trigger makes the gun behave like a full size gun where I don't have to feel like I have to white-knuckle the gun to go off. The only modification I did to it was a stainless guide rod. I have dabbled with the springs in all of my .380s, but I tend to get better reliability if I stay stock.
     
    bannockburn, WYO and Armored farmer like this.
  7. RovinOn

    RovinOn Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    122
    Location:
    PA.
    Nothing wrong with .380. I carry an LCP every day!
    Fits well in the pocket. Easy to carry and don’t pull your pants down!
     
    midland man and Armored farmer like this.
  8. WYO

    WYO Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    936
    There is a guy who did a number of “Ammo Quest” videos on YouTube chronicling his gel tests with .380 ammo out of a short barreled pocket pistol. Ultimately, he concluded that the ammo loaded with Hornady XTP bullets, the Federal Low Recoil Hydra Shoks, and one type of Lehigh Defense monolithic had the best combination of performance. Ball ammo overpenetrated almost all of the time. His channel is “Shooting The Bull.” You should be able to find those with a quick search. Note that I am not sure that the sub-optimal results with some rounds would be entirely valid as to guns with longer barrels and higher muzzle velocities.

    With a .380 with good sights, I go to at least 50 feet, and try 25 yards and beyond when possible. Because the .380 is at the low end of the power spectrum, I also try for rapid follow-up shots.
     
  9. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Messages:
    26,709
    Location:
    Southern Virginia
    Bersa Thunder CC has done sunday or dressup duty here for 12 years. Prefer a 1911 the rest of the week.
    IWB carry at 4 o clock.
    Ball ammo for penetration and always carry a spare mag.
     
  10. WYO

    WYO Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    936
    While I would not recommend it for general carry, you may want to check out Buffalo Bore standard pressure hard cast for those hikes, if your gun can handle them. They won't expand, but they can punch a straight line hole. (I will be testing them through harder barriers when the weather gets better.)

     
    bsms and Fiv3r like this.
  11. Hasaf

    Hasaf Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2017
    Messages:
    843
    Location:
    Kansas
    I am also a .380 fan. My normal carry pistol is a Glock 42. I have been working on my accuracy with it because I need to qualify with it this summer. I want to do better than good. As a teacher, I sometimes tell my students, "I don't want to see your best. I want to see it done right." I have to hold myself to that standard too.

    A short listing of my .380 pistols from another thread.
    Sorry, I hit submit before I was done. If you see this, I am still working on the post.

    I reload my .380acp. That allows me to be able to afford more practice, it also allows me a great reason to go out shooting. . . I need to "check" the new load.

    As to prefered ammo, I like the Polycase ARX here is a video review. The trouble is that it is getting hard to find, one of the problems with "boutique" ammunition. As such I have been using the Hornady XTP. This data shows it being a very good performer. One thing I like about the XTP is that the bullets are available for reloading; so I can practice with the same bullets that are in my carry ammunition. With careful loading I can closely approximate the factory ammunition that I carry.

    As far as a preferred holster, I go outside the norm and use a belt pouch holster.
    belt_pouch_holster.jpg
    IMG_20180414_085827407.jpg
    IMG_20180414_085838962.jpg
    IMG_20180414_085900546.jpg

    Sometimes I carry the Glock on my belt with a Blackhawk Separa. I have an OWB holster from Alien Gear for the PK380 and a couple of leather OWB holsters from Bianchi and Safariland for the Kimber and Colt.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
    Gordon likes this.
  12. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Messages:
    3,260
    Location:
    Confederate Country and proud of it!
    No matter where I go, even if CCW a 9mm, the Pico will always be with me. And I shoot it each week. Totally reliable and such a mild shooter. Designed for total Concealment. My favorite ammo is PrecisionOne Plus P. It will however eat any ammo. Actually own two of them. I also own a Kahr CW and a LCP.

    Fully loaded-no holster needed

    2FRDoGh.jpg
     
    Gordon likes this.
  13. Pilot

    Pilot Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    6,691
    Location:
    USA
    I sometimes carry at Beretta 85FS, depending on what I dress, as I can carry it easily IWB. It is fairly slim, although bigger than the newer sub compact, polymer .380's on the market. However, I shoot it well, and trust it completely. I also use Hornady Critical Defense, or FMJ for carry.
     
  14. huntsman

    huntsman Member

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2003
    Messages:
    4,549
    Location:
    ohio's northcoast
    An LCP is my constant companion, I usually carry fmj in the colder months either Remington express or WWB. Summer carry is jhp I have cor-bon, PDX1 and a few others.

    Accurate range, LCP is best out to 7 yards, BDA 15. In the BDA I usually carry BB either HC or FMJ +p.

    Next up for me is a G42, had a Sig 232 but it was a bit too much for pocket carry. I really would like a Browning black label if only because I like to try .380 in a 1911 platform.
     
  15. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2017
    Messages:
    3,644
    Location:
    McKinney, TX
    I carried a .380 for many years... first a DAO AMT .380 and then a Colt's Gov't .380. I went from the original HydraShok to the Speer Gold Dot after hearing stories about the Hydra's plugging up... much like Armored's pic of the Hornady above. I carried both pistols loaded, with one in the pipe... but I didn't like the weak safety detent on the Colt, so I actually carried it hammer down on a loaded chamber (it's a Series 80.) Realizing how dumb that was... doing drills drawing, cocking, firing... I realized that was not the hot setup and set about looking for a new pistol. Because modern day 9mm pistols are as small as the .380's I had been carrying, I left the .380 behind and now carry a 9mm.

    I do think that 15yds is probably a reasonable maximum range for any defensive pistol... legally speaking, unless someone is engaging you with a rifle, anything beyond 15yds (probably more like 25yds, really...) gets to the point where you wouldn't really try to engage someone. Every instance is different, of course, and that's just my general philosophy. I should be able to put all rounds in the pistol into a 7-8" paper plate at 15yds or less, shooting aimed fire; MOBC (Minute of Body Cavity) in draw and fire drills at the same ranges.

    I hated my AMT DAO .380. It was small, but heavy stainless steel, and had not only no sights, but low magazine capacity and an abysmal trigger, too. To make matters worse, the slide cracked just under the ejection port. Once I got it back from AMT, it went to the next gun show looking for a new owner. I love my Colt .380... but it is a 'full-sized' .380 (if there is such a thing...) not a pocket pistol. Granted, that's one of the things I liked about it... it was an 80% 1911, much like the .22LR 1911 clones all the rage today. It's locked breech as well. My brother has a Walther PPK/s... the darling of the armchair secret agents... but it pounds your hand under blowback recoil, is heavy, and I don't like DA/SA autos. I'd take the Colt (or any locked-breech Gov't or Mustang clone, etc) every day and twicet on Sunday.

    Last gun show I almost bought one of the new Kahr .380's... it was less than $300 and was kind of cute! It would make an ideal pocket gun... and would help me get rid of the 2000rds of .380 I have setting at the back of the ammo shelf. But I didn't. *sigh*
     
    GooseGestapo likes this.
  16. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2013
    Messages:
    6,065
    Location:
    Southern CA
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  17. Hokkmike

    Hokkmike Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,264
    Location:
    Sullivan County PA
    Thanks all.. Good reading so far. Much appreciated!
     
  18. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,580
    Location:
    Ca.
    I went from an LCP to the LCP 2 because the trigger is worlds better on the 2.

    The ammo is Win PDX, which has been reliable and accurate in the gun. ( I have never had to use it defensively, and God willing I never will.)

    I shoot my .380s from 1 to 10 yards when doing the combat/defense drill stuff.
     
  19. gc70

    gc70 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2004
    Messages:
    3,253
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Do you have a favorite defensive ammo brand and bullet type?
    I favor the Inceptor ARX or Lehigh fluted bullets. The bullets are solids, so they have good penetration and do not rely on expansion for their effectiveness. The flutes in the bullets push matter to the side of the bullet's path, creating an expanded temporary wound cavity without needing expansion like hollow points.

    What do you consider to be maximum effective range for accurate grouping?
    I practice out to 25 yards because that is the most available range distance I normally use. Much more practice is devoted to 10 yards or less.

    What is your favorite mode of carry for a .380?
    More than half of my .380 carry would be in pocket holsters, with infrequent carry in the watch pocket of jeans, and the balance in an OWB holster for larger .380s.

    Do you have an opinion on a best and worst .380 to shoot?
    The worst are the tiniest blowback guns; they have defensive utility, but discourage practice. The best I have shot is a SIG P250 Compact; it is a solid, mid-sized, locked-breach pistol that holds 15 rounds and has absolutely minimal felt recoil.
     
  20. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2017
    Messages:
    3,260
    Location:
    Confederate Country and proud of it!
    I only practice to a distance of 10 yrds, with most being 7yds. These are not target guns. I do not shoot them like a target. It is all fast action, fast draw and point and shoot with goal to hit mass center in 3 seconds or under. They are a tool, and this tool is for close action shooting at short distances. I see no reason to shoot a small 380 out to 25 yds. Get another tool. The best 380 will be the one you carry every single day, every where you go. Even if something as simple as walking the dog. It is like your wallet or keys. What will be the best is the best for you. For me, the Pico is my choice. It is the mildest shooter, the most accurate (for myself) and so dang easy to carry.
    What is the worst? The one you will not carry.

    Which gun do I practice with the most? I shoot the Pico every single week. Actually it has become a "fun gun". There is no unpleasant recoil which discourages shooting. Even shooting PlusP or Hot ammo is mild.It is built for a lot of ammo down range. There have been occasion's when I have ran 200 rds through the gun in one session, with no problem. That is my personal choice, but like buying a pair of shoes, get the one that will be custom designed so to speak, for YOUR EVERYDAY CARRY.

    Do not focus on ammo. There are plenty good 380 out there. Try a number of them and then YOU decide which is best for both your gun and yourself.


    Remember any pocket gun requires due diligent,frequent practice. For the most part they are hard to shoot and require on going training. And I do not mean going to the range and target shooting the gun once a month.Lol Get that target shooting crap out of your mind now.

    Pick the right tool for what you Believe will be the attack you may get. Personally while I love shooting 380 then are not the best round out there. I also carry on most occasions a small 9mm. If you go up to big 380's IMO, might as well go 9mm.

    w17xrTB.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  21. usp9

    usp9 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2005
    Messages:
    3,908
    Location:
    Bowling Green, Va
    I've carried three guns in .380 over the years. An Astra Constable in the '70s, then later a Beretta 84. I carried these OWB. Both outstanding pistols of good quality and reliability. Went to a 9mm around 2000 but now have come back to a Beretta Pico about a year and a half ago. The Pico is an excellent pocket gun due to it's size, mainly it's thin profile, the DAO hammer fired design and overall quality. Hard to go wrong with a Beretta. Every now and again, when back problems flared up, I also carried a Sig P232 in a shoulder holster. A very light and accurate pistol.

    My carry ammo revolved around the precious metal brands; Gold Dot, Golden Sabre and Silver Tip. Today the Pico is always loaded with Winchester SXZ because I shoot it well. It's available in 50 round boxes too. There are many brands available of top quality ammo and most should suffice.

    Some of my favorite guns are .380. Among my favorites are the Beretta 84, the Astra and Sig that I carried, as well as the Sphinx AT-380 and Daewoo DH380. There are so many other great guns to choose from these days too. Tough choice.
     
    davevabch likes this.
  22. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Colorado
    I own and shoot three 380s: A Colt Mustang Pocketlite, a Bersa Thunder and a Browning Black Label 1911-380.

    Do you have a favorite defensive ammo brand and bullet type?
    I carry Hornady XTP 90gr hollowpoint handloads in all my 380s and shoot 95gr Missouri coated LRNs for practice. I would load Gold Dots if I could find them.

    What do you consider to be maximum effective range for accurate grouping?
    I target shoot at between 15 and 25yds at bullseye targets and don’t do much as far as defensive drills. The target black is about 5” dia. The Browning and the Bersa will hold the black at 25 yds but the Bersa shoots 4-5” high at that distance. The Colt barely holds on an 8.5x11” sheet of paper at that distance.

    What is your favorite mode of carry for a .380?
    Mostly IWB although I do have a SmartCarry that fits the Colt. My Don Hume fits all three guns equally well after I modded it so it wouldn’t press the mag release on the Browning and Colt. I have a DeSantis that carries these two as well.

    Do you have an opinion on a best and worst .380 to shoot?
    The Colt is the least accurate but I’ve had it since 1992 or so and have the most experience with it. The Browning is the most pleasant to shoot and most accurate of the three. The Bersa is DA/SA but blowback operated and not as comfortable to shoot as the locked breech guns and really doesn’t fit me as well as the others; I don't like the way the backstrap is shaped. With slight modification of the Browning magazine catch slot, the magazine now fits both and increases the Colt capacity from 6 to 8 rounds.
    Years ago I had a blowback OMC Backup; I think the 1st pistol I ever owned and what I learned to reload on. It was as compact as the Colt Mustang but being all SST weighed about 10 oz more. It had a hidden hammer and a weak safety detent so I didn’t have any confidence in carrying it with a chambered round.
     
  23. doubleh

    doubleh Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,345
    Location:
    NM-south of I-40
    I'm not much help. I only own two pistols in .380 and they are range toy popguns. I shoot paper targets and steel swinger with lead handloads.

    For a little usable infromation I have a Walther PPK/s and a RIA Baby Rock. The Baby Rock is the most user friendly of the two but the Walther is more accurate..
     
  24. PapaG

    PapaG Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Messages:
    4,233
    Location:
    Il
    ARX in either a LCP II or Kimber Micro. Waiting to find a dead deer on my farm to try one in flesh.
     
  25. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    6,282
    Location:
    Fl panhandle
    I am personally not a fan of 380, but Mrs. FL-NC carries a LCP because she won't carry a larger gun. She fires it in various scenario-driven drills from 1-15 meters. It rides in a jacket pocket in jacket weather, or in a small pocket of her purse in warm weather (not the best choice, but try to convince a chick to re-invent her wardrobe and fashion concept based on CCW). Her LCP is loaded w/ powerball- which have been tested and found reliable.
     
    Mike .45 likes this.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice