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Looking for first CCW handgun. .380 vs. .40.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by mgh-pa, Dec 26, 2012.

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  1. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

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    Going "up" from 9mm to .40 or .45 sounds nice on paper, but as many here have noted there is a recoil penalty associated with going up in caliber, especially when we're talking about really small guns. Sometimes in these tiny guns, especially with a novice shooter, .40S&W can be a handful. 9mm is easier to control, and no matter what anyone tells you, it's still a very effective self defense round.

    There's also the cost factor, 9mm is about as cheap as centerfire pistol rounds get, although to be fair .40S&W isn't that expensive.

    If you're thinking IWB, then I don't think you need to look at .380s, most anyone can easily conceal a slim 9mm or .40S&W handgun IWB. When I think .380, I think ankle or pocket carry.

    So if I were you I'd focus my search on slim 9mms (of which there is a long list), though there's nothing wrong with going with a .40 either.
     
  2. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    md2lgyk, most of the indoor ranges I've seen have range rentals, and from most other posts it seems to be pretty common.

    jrdolall, the reason we're suggesting another caliber is because it is between the .380 and the .40. It would be like someone asking about rifles ".22 LR or .30-06 for HD?" Okay maybe not that big of a dichotomy, but the majority of caliber war threads that I see involving the .380 or the .40 are ".380 vs 9" or "9 vs. 40", not the comparison here.

    I agree with 2wheels: .380 shines in pocket pistols, as IWB/OWB you can go up a bit to get a 9 or .40. Although there are some 9s that would be decent for pocket carry. There are many guns that come in the form of slim 9s that the OP can get that will be a good balance between the other two options mentioned.

    Just to clarify - were you looking at a XDs single stack, or was that a pluralization of XD? Two completely different guns, and I wish they would have chosen a different letter. Maybe XDt for Thin or something.
     
  3. Warp

    Warp Member

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    The 9x19 is an excellent defensive handgun cartridge
     
  4. Robert101

    Robert101 Member

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    I guess I'm the only other one that thinks the 380 to 40 comparison is valid. I don't have a 9MM and don't plan on buying one. So, on those days when light is right I carry the 380. It is my minimal caliber for CCW. Now, on most days, I suggest the Glock 27 (.40 cal) and find it much more appropriate for CCW. I don't believe it is too snappy or difficult to shoot. Just shoot and practice with it and you will see the advantages over the 380.
     
  5. AFDavis11

    AFDavis11 Member

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    The gun, your proficiency, your preferences, and your experience are priorities before you get to caliber. Blindly, the .40 is better, unless the .380 gun is more likely to get carried, be handled safely, or be more accurate; then all bets are off.

    I think it's best to start with a small gun, that you have lots of experience with, and then move up to bigger, badder guns.

    Initially, carrying a gun can make you nervous, concerned about its size, make you feel self conscious, worry about printing, stress about accidentally discharging a round through your car seat, and generally be nerve-racking.

    Review your experience, purchase, practice carrying (unloaded) and then work your way to an answer.

    Then after a year or so, check and take note of the caliber of the gun. Consider whatever your choice as the only rational caliber for self-defense for the sane man and belittle anyone who disagrees. Unless you chose a .22, then don't tell anyone!
     
  6. breakingcontact

    breakingcontact Member

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    Normally I'd say 9mm for the win, but with it being wiped off of the shelves. Suppose if you don't want to wait...I'd say 40 cal.
     
  7. mgh-pa

    mgh-pa Member

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    Alright, went around and held a few and talked to a really knowledgeable guy at the one local shop. LCP is out. Too small, and I hate the relatively smooth slide and low lying sights. The guy at the shop (also went to Gander, but didn't talk tech to the guys there since I like the smaller shop atmosphere) doesn't like the heavy pull of the trigger on the LCP, and I sort of agreed. I also handled a Kel Tec P3AT, which was basically the same. Heavier trigger, but that certainly could be advantageous in a carry situation.

    The PF9 was a bit better. Again, the guy there said he's not a fan of their trigger pull.

    Held a Bersa Thunder, and LOVED the feel. Perfect weight (heavier than the Kel Tec and Ruger, but for obvious reasons). The frame size still looks to be ok for IWB or OWB carry without printing. The price at the local shop is VERY competitive. So much that I considered buying right then, but I hate "impulse" buying.

    I also handled a Taurus PT140, which was nice, but doesn't get glowing reviews online.

    The stores were pretty well picked over on some other models (wanted to handle the XDs), so that's all that fit the bill for now.

    Still not sure.
     
  8. golden

    golden Member

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    Warning on lcp

    MGH

    My brother bought an LC9 and I found recoil very severe. I have the same problem with the NAA Guardian which fires the weak recoiling .32ACP. I also got rid of a KAHR CW9 for the same reason.

    The SIG 232 with the aluminum frame works very well for me because the overall grip area is large enough to distribute the recoil over a fair size area of my hand.

    The micro pistols like the LCP will put out the same amount of recoil over a small area, which will feel like a lot of recoil, even though it will be far less than a .40 caliber.

    I strongly urge you to try one before you buy one. If the kick is no problem, then good. You have your gun. If the kick makes you want to put it away after 25 rounds and not shoot it again, how much practice will you get.

    I have shot a number of compact .380ACP pistols and find they are controllable and capable of good accuracy as long as they do not get too small or light.
    I have not shot the BERSA Thunder, but its size and weight should make it a comfortable and accurate gun. It is about the same size as my SIG 232, but alot heavier, at 23 ounces versus 17 ounces for the SIG.

    Remember a small, slow bullet hitting the target beats a .50 caliber going over the shoulder anytime.

    Jim
     
  9. nathan

    nathan Member

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    lll take any of them any day. Practice makes for improved skills to hit your targets . No matter what caliber, know its pluses and minuses.
     
  10. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

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    mgh, welcome to THR.

    Good on ya for doing the research and asking questions, getting a feel, etc.

    If you're going to CCW you're going to need to practice until you are proficient with weapon and ammunition of choice. For that reason a 9mm makes more sense than either the .380 (aka 9mmKurz or 9mmBrowning, 9x17) or a .40 S&W due to ammo prices. :scrutiny:

    Just an FYI.

    Most .380s will be a blowback design as opposed to locked breech or recoil operating systems and as such a bit more felt recoil will be transmitted through your hands. Not a deal killer, just another FYI thing and something to read up on.

    I think the Colt .380 and maybe the new Sig copy 238 are recoil locked breech and should have less felt recoil than the Sig 232 or others. Few .380s are of this type however. Blowbacks typically use heavy springs and slide mass to deal with the "action" ala most .22's. Can be kinda "snappy" for the size of the round in question.

    A world of difference in the 2 choice power levels as I'm sure you are aware. If not, some more research there might be in order.

    If those two rounds are your choices, plenty of handguns available to fit the bill. .40 S&W's are also kind of "snappy" with quick impulse back into your mitts, so smaller handgun is not always good unless you are a pretty experienced shooter as more mass and barrel length can help dampen energy. (but thats just an IMO sorta thing mind you)

    Having said all that, Rugers new LC9, SR9C and SR40 might be worth looking up. Their LCP is in .380 and as the sights are vestigal at best maybe a laser might be useful, or else a heck of a lot of practice. http://www.ruger.com/index.html

    Good luck on your quest. Hunting one down is half the fun. Maybe 1/3 of the fun. Still have ammo to buy and carry gear to get. Don't overlook a good belt and holster. Don't scrimp on your gun or your ammo for serious use. For plinking and practice you can buy cheap ammo, but for protection of self and family buy the best you can afford and practice with it. Get a GOOD belt! A gun belt.

    May I also suggest a training class or two from a good trainer or two as well, just because it is the wise thing to do once you do decide on a platform and round? ;)

    Oh... at the risk of repeating myself... typically 9mm ammo will be cheaper than .380 or .40, but in todays "oh my goodness the sky is falling" environment, I don't think there is such a thing as cheap ammo anymore. :banghead:
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  11. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    I perfer a Colt Defender in 45 over the snap recoil of a 40. But I find a KelTec PF-9 on my side more and more . I have several 380's but again size and weight says KelTec P3AT in pocket.
     
  12. breakingcontact

    breakingcontact Member

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    Could get a 40cal then a 9mm barrel for those guns where its an option.
     
  13. mgh-pa

    mgh-pa Member

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    Another friend suggested I actually go handle the P238 (saw a Rosewood at GM yesterday). I just don't think I like the idea of a SA in my pocket, and the price...wow!

    Is this price justifiable in comparison to what you get with the lower price point guns (Kel Tec, Ruger Bersa, etc,.)?
     
  14. 2wheels

    2wheels Member

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    The P238 will easily shoot circles around other pocket .380s like the Ruger, KelTec, S&W Bodyguard. It has less felt recoil, better sights, and a decent trigger. I don't care how cheap the competition is, I wouldn't go back and change my decision to buy a P238.

    I've never thought twice about carrying a SAO gun in my pocket. The safety is not likely to disengage accidentally, and even if it does, that's why God made holsters to protect the trigger!

    I haven't shot the Bersa, so I can't compare it to my P238. But it is a larger and heavier handgun, so I'm assuming that it's at least an OK shooter. The Sig can easily fit in most pockets, the Bersa I'm not so sure.
     
  15. Soldiernurse

    Soldiernurse Member

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    LOL, guess you ain't lived in God's country... God Bless Texas. Plenty of Shooting Ranges that rent.

    My handguns; barrel lengths 3-4" & calibers 9mm / .40S&W...
    Surprised your choice is between .380 & .40. A drastic difference in weight between the two. I bought & later sold S&W .380 Bodyguard. Fine little handgun but the heavy trigger, etc. was not my preference. My easy to conceal is Bersa BP9cc. This particular Bersa is not as easy to find at most LGS compared to the Thunder, etc. BP9cc is very thin & light trigger pull. BTW, last time fired my PF-9 I had all kind of malfunctions, which is why my BP9cc is Summer CCW or BUG.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2012
  16. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    XDs in .45. Way more gun than a .380 and small too.
     
  17. Glockedout17

    Glockedout17 Member

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    The .40 is a bit snappy because of the pressure curve. I would say stick to 9mm and .45 for your primary ccw and a nice .38 S&W airweight or Ruger LCR for BUG.
     
  18. Hunter125

    Hunter125 Member

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    I find my XDsc .40 very controllable. The only handgun I shoot more accurately than it is my GP100.
     
  19. Sauer Grapes

    Sauer Grapes Member

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    I carry a single action 9mm all the time. Albeit more expensive, the 238 stands above the lower priced competitors IMHO.
    Concealed carry isn't suppose to be comfortable, it's objective is to save your bacon in an emergency situation. Find a gun that suits your style of carry and dress and then worry about what caliber it comes in.
     
  20. momano

    momano Member

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    Ruger has built a great reputation for guns that are affordable and guaranteed for life with a service department that will take care of you. If you can; rent and handle the Ruger LC9, the SR9c, and the LCP in .380- remember the 9 ammo is much more affordable. Good luck!
     
  21. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Member

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    Due to not being able to carry at work i would suggest a pocket sized. 380. Once you are not at work you can slip a. 380 into your pocket and you are ready to go. A larger handgun that you would want to carry owb or iwb can be a pain to attach to your belt in a car where you cant stand up...just my experience. I have both a g26 and an lcp and the lcp sees alot more time being carried. Think how you will want to carry before you buy...size DOES matter :D
     
  22. ku4hx

    ku4hx Member

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    The comparison is noteworthy, certainly not invalid, it's just that generally when cartridges are compared they're all in the same "class". "Class" is pretty hard to define, but for this old scrounger the .380 ACP is simply far outclassed by the .40 Cal. in a number of areas. And in some areas, the .380 ACP may be the better choice. But each fills a specific niche.

    I watch BBC America's "Top Gear" ever so often and ever so often they stage a race between some ultra low end beater and a super high end sports car. But they do it for comedic value, not for any real world comparative results.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with either the .380 ACP or the 40 cal. I just don't think comparing them will yield any meaningful comparative "quantitative" results. Qualitative results such as "I like so-and-so better" maybe so.
     
  23. dw2169

    dw2169 Member

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    I carry a Glock 27 in a fanny pak holster which works really well. No one suspects the fanny pak and I carry my cell phone and wallet in it also. I am in a wheelchair and sometimes the fanny pak is not practical and I was looking at a Taurus TCP 380. It has an easy trigger pul and the slide locks back after the last shot is fired. It is also totally made in the USA. It worries me a little when I see no mention of it here at all. Why??
     
  24. HKGuns

    HKGuns Member

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    Nice to see a teacher who is interested in personal protection.

    There is a world of difference between those two rounds. I would pick the one you can afford and control with practice. Being new to pistols I would say start with the .380 and a Sig would be a fine choice in a .380.....I am not of the mind to recommend the Bersa however.
     
  25. mgh-pa

    mgh-pa Member

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    Can I ask why? Again, that's me truly wanting to know why, not trying to come off condescending .

    I went to GM the other day to handle some more that weren't available at the local shop. I held a PM9 (liked that a lot) and P238. The P238 is very light, and felt good in the hands. Still very undecided. :cuss:

    Thanks for all of the helpful input, everyone. It's been very beneficial.
     
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