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pocket pistol caliber war .32 vs .380

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by R.W.Dale, Jul 6, 2008.

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  1. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Later in the year I intend to buy myself a pocket carry suitable handgun as it's simply not practical to CCW a 10mm compact witness in the hot Arkansas summer.

    I'm OK with the compromise in horsepower you make in order to have a handgun with you at all times that's not the issue in this topic. What I would like to discuss is the pros and cons betwixt 7.65mm and 9mm Browning Corto

    Is there any valid reason to choose .32 over the somewhat more powerful :rolleyes: 380acp. Ammo cost isn't really an issue for me as I can load practice ammo for for pennies on the dollar. Recoil isn't a factor either I've shot blowback 380's just fine.


    Some of the handguns I'm looking at are the kel-Tec, Ruger LCP, Bersa/Firestorm similar models
    Right now I lean to the .32 simply because I haven't owned one yet.
     
  2. un_lucky

    un_lucky Member

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    3-a-t
     
  3. MrAnteater

    MrAnteater Member

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    It will come down to recoil control, IMO.

    The latest crop of micro .380's have recoil that is too much for some people. I bought my dad a Kel Tec P3AT and he had a very difficult time controlling the recoil and kept limp wristing. I then let him shoot my P32 and he did much better and shot it very accurately. It's almost the identical frame but the .380 was a bit too much for him. I gave him the P32 instead.

    There isn't much difference between the .32 and .380 in terms of stopping power out of short barrel guns. I use FMJ ammo in these smaller calibers if I am pocket carrying one for better penetration. I'll use hollow points with my .38+P & 9mm and larger rounds which have enough energy to properly expand the bullet.

    As the old saying goes, carry the biggest round you can accurately handle. If you're unsure or tend to be more recoil sensitive, go for the .32 cal. Don't just blindly buy into the "bigger is better" mentality for a SD handgun if you can't shoot multiple rounds accurately.
     
  4. PaulBk

    PaulBk Member

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    Mr. Anteater covered most of the considerations, but one additional one, for me, was the micro frame (Kel-Tec/Ruger) being better suited to the .32ACP cartridge.

    My 2 cents.

    -Paul
     
  5. makarovnik

    makarovnik Member

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    .32acp ammo is expensive.
     
  6. woad_yurt

    woad_yurt Member

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    I have a P3AT and the recoil isn't horrible. It's perfectly controllable. It's not comfortable to shoot but it's not painful, either. Ballistically, I'd much rather have the .380 over the .32.
     
  7. powwowell

    powwowell Member

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    P-32, P-32, P-32, P-32 and P-32!

    I like the Kel-Tec P-32. It is the perfect mouse gun. I carry it a lot and shoot it often. Probably more than most. Not many rounds at a time, only two mags worth. An eight rounder and a seven rounder. I do this every time I go shooting, which is 15, 16 times a year. I'm convinced that this pistol, with FMJs, will do the job. If my shooting picks up and I wear it out, I'll just get another one.

    If I was as comfortable shooting the 3AT compared to the P-32, then I would tote the 3AT. But, I ain't.

    My home defense choices range from several shot guns, a selection of full size 9mm autos and a 1911. They are all poor mouse guns.

    Larry
     
  8. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    interesting responses keep em coming.
     
  9. K5mitch

    K5mitch Member

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    I've got a FEG AP in .32 it was an impulse buy at $130, but I've since fallen in love with it.

    Similar in appearance to a PPK, Aluminun/Titanium frame makes it light enough for pocket carry, but heavy enough to make recoil a non-issue.

    It's made me really want to pick up a PA-63 and P-64.
     
  10. smirnoff a

    smirnoff a Member

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    I don't have much scientific data - simply personal observation.

    I agree with recoil issue. In tiny blowbacks (naa guardian, seecamp), the recoil difference is very noticible between 380 and 32.

    My 380 guns are: Kel-Tec P-3AT, NAA Guardian G380 and Sig P232. My only 32 caliber is Seecamp. Seecamp is more plesant to shoot than Guardian. Lary Seecamp himself carries 32 rather than 380.
     
  11. don95sml

    don95sml Member

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    I carry a Sig P230 in .380, but of course that's a larger, heavier gun than you're considering. Based on your comments, I don't see any reason for not selecting the .380, even though it's not a LOT more powerful. I personally prefer the Federal "Personal Defense" Hydra-Shok JHP 90 gr. rounds for actual carry, but your handloaded ammo would be fine for practice.
     
  12. Eric F

    Eric F Member

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    Any reason you dont want a 9mm micro gun?
     
  13. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    Except for a few hyper $$$$ models none of the 9's are really small enough for true pocket duty
     
  14. EOD Guy in VA

    EOD Guy in VA Member

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    380 auto....... lesser of two evils.....
     
  15. Girodin

    Girodin Member

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    The PM9 is only about $350 more than a kel tec P3TA. A difference in intial investment but not a huge difference given the life of the gun and the stakes put on a carry gun.

    AS to the original question I would certainly (in fact did) go with the .380.
     
  16. EHL

    EHL Member

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    .380, anytime. Bigger hole, more leakage. I'd say a pocket nine is nice, but most "pocket 9's" are not the same as .380 or .32 pocket pistols. They are noticably larger. If I'm gonna sacrifice concealment, then I'd rather go with a .40 or a .45. If I want true concealment, for a BUG, .380 would be my bet.
     
  17. EricShelton

    EricShelton Member

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    I go with the .32 ACP every time, but that's not intended as a dig at the 9mm Kurtz. :) It began as an emotional attachment for me, as my Grandpa left me an old Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless when he passed away.

    From there, I simply wanted to keep common ammunition, rather than have a bunch of different stuff floating around. And that may or may not be a good enough reason for you to stick with the .380.

    Theoretically, the .380 should be a significantly more powerful round. There are those who claim the real world (Sanow) performance is about equal, or marginal at best. I have no problem with the the latter school of thought, because either way I don't plan on firing just one shot.

    These days, I keep with the .32 ACP because I can handle the recoil easily, and even though I never claim to be a great handgunner I can shoot ragged holes with the 1903. I've read claims that the .32 is inherently more accurate, and while I'm not claiming that to be the gospel truth, my experience has leant it credibility. Accuracy, and ease of recoil (I know, you said you're ok with that. lol) make for a faster follow up shot, which I said earlier I'd be making use of...

    I would say that the PISTOL you're planning on firing either of these calibers with may be more important. I had a LOT of reliability problems with my used, 1st generation Kel-Tec P32. Failures to extract with HydraShok, rimlock with various hollow points, etc. I don't hear those kind of complaints about .380 pistols. Also, the Kel-Tec owners are very familiar with the term "fluff and buff". I don't want to buy another gun that requires anything more than break-in.

    If you just want to experiment, and find a used Colt 1903, I'd highly recommend it. It's a treat to shoot, accurate, etc. But not really as pocketable as today's Seecamps, Guardians, etc.

    Even though I'm a .32 fan, your exact question was: "Is there any valid reason to choose .32 over the somewhat more powerful 380acp." Since you went on to say price and recoil weren't really a factor, I would have to say "No."

    But if you want one for the novelty, I'd never warn you off. ;)
     
  18. Ascot500

    Ascot500 Member

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    In order to work, a bullet has to penetrate.

    Other things being equal, the 32 will penetrate more............I think.
     
  19. Mortech

    Mortech Member

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    All I have to say is thank god for open carry , otherwise I usually carry my SW 3913 which 9MM but my wife's Bersa in 380 is a good choice . INteresting enough I have been thinking about the possiblity of using my Colt M1908 Hammerless in 32 ACP , its incredibily flat and easy to hide under minimal clothing .
     
  20. Billy Shears

    Billy Shears Member

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    I'd still step up slightly in pistol size. I have a Kahr MK40, which is their smallest model (and they make an MK9, which has the same length and height dimensions, but is slightly thicker in cross section, but hardly enough to notice). I conceal it just fine in Norfolk, Virginia's 95+ degree, 100% humidity summers. I wear it in an inside the waistband holster, under an untucked polo shirt or even t-shirt. As long as the shirt is loose enough around the waist, you can't see it.

    I have a pair of old .380s, one a Colt Model 1908, and the other a Remington Model 51, that I used to carry occasionally. I retired them both from that duty when I got the Kahr (they both feed Hydra Shoks, surprisingly enough, given when they were made). But though they're both flatter, especially the Remington, they're also longer and taller, and the cartridge they fire is nowhere near what the .40S&W is.
     
  21. jocko

    jocko Member

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    380 And For The Same Reason As Un-lucky
     
  22. GrandmasterB

    GrandmasterB Member

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    Get a nice locked breech .380 for more controllable recoil. This Colt Mustang Pocketlite has very manageable recoil, is quite accurate and the trigger is sweet!

    [​IMG]
     
  23. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    Colt Mustangs are way over priced and not worth that kind of money. Some parts are getting hard to find also. I have one also
    KelTec 32 or 380 wins in lite pocket pistol Ruger weights a little more.
     
  24. BReilley

    BReilley Member

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    If I may... what about 9mm Makarov? Makarov PMs and Radom P-64s fire this round, which is about equivalent to .380 and about as expensive. Seems like you're wanting an even smaller pistol, though...

    Between the two you mentioned, .380 simply for the better range of firearm and ammunition choices and supply.

    Just my thoughts :)
     
  25. rolltide

    rolltide Member

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    Well I will echo what some others have said, if you are going to buy a gun the size of a Bersa, get a small 9MM instead and really have a step up over the 32. If you are talking the size of a true pocket pistol like the Kel-TEC, NAA, or Seecamp, I find the advantage goes to the 32. I own a NAA 32 and I love it. The P32 is slimmer and lighter. Slimmer means easier to conceal, lighter means more recoil. I have never had a problem concealing a NAA 32 with any clothing I would wear in public, and I really appreciate the extra weight of the NAA when it comes to rapid accurate fire.

    I have never been convinced that the 380 has any significant power advantage over a 32 when it comes to actually stopping a threat, and real world shootings seem to indicate that the best 32 round is so close to the best 380 round as to make the difference minimal, with only a slight edge to the 380.

    Both calibers, 32 and 380 (and 38special from a 2" or shorter barrel for that matter), are marginal for self defense and will likely require mulitple well placed shots to end a threat. Personally I train with something of a zipper technique of shooting the first shot about abdomen level at close range and lifting the gun to eye level while continuing to fire. This will string 3 or 4 shots from the abdomen, up the chest with the final shot in the head area. I find this scenario much easier with a 32 POCKET GUN than a 380 POCKET GUN or 38SP POCKET GUN. I am a big man and not the least bit recoil averse, but tolerating recoil and shooting quickly and accurately are two different things.

    I shoot the 32 enough faster and more accurate to make it the BEST option between the 380 and a 32 in a truly pocket size gun. Biggers guns would be a different story, but if I were shooting something bigger, it would not be a 380, like I said to begin with. I can put my AMT Backup 40S&W in the pocket of most pants I wear, but I would not consider it a pocket gun. It is about the size of the Bersa and I would carry it 100 times over before I would carry any 380 if I were carrying a gun that size.

    I can carry 6 rounds of 32 in the gun in my front pocket and 4 10 round mags in my weakside back pocket. Try that with any 380 you care to name. Since it will probably take 3 or 4 rounds to end a threat, a lot of spares is not a bad idea and becomes a serious consideration with pocket pistols if multiple assailants are encountered. NAA offers 6 and 10 round mags.

    I usually just carry an extra 6 round and an extra 10 round, but I have carried 4 extra 10 round mags in a custom made mag wallet that fit entirely and unobtrusively in my back pocket, even in jeans.

    For my money and with my life, I find there are several reasons why a 32 is a better option in a true pocket size gun. Your milage may vary.
     
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