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The .380

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Kleanbore, Jul 20, 2021.

  1. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    My first exposure to the .380 was probably close to 40 years ago when my brother bought one of those new Interarms Mauser HSc pistols that they were importing back then. I remember when he showed me the box of ammo for it and how tiny I thought the cartridge looked, compared to my Charter Arms Undercover in .38 Special. The gun itself was beautifully made with a nice blued finish (I think they also offered it nickel plated too), and finely finished walnut grips. As nice as it was to look at it was something of a problem child when it was used. Mostly FTF with some FTE issues constantly occurred. Took it to a gunsmith who polished the feed ramp but that didn't seem to help much. It was shame that such a well made gun should be so unreliable and troublesome.
     
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  2. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    I bought one of those P10 Grendels when a company representative showed up at my department to show them, and several of us bought in on an agency PO. It has always worked reliably (with ball ammo; never tried anything else) for at least the first full magazine, which is all you would have in a fight. After the second, it crudded up quickly (mine was very tightly-fit) and started malfunctioning.

    Most people, we cops included, didn't get the full point behind its design, and we frequently mocked it ("so, when it's empty, we throw it at 'em?") What people failed to see is that the gun was marketed to those who would normally be carrying a 5-shot .38 snub, especially the many of those who rarely carried a reload for it. Kelgren was trying to offer, particularly to cops who sported a 5S38S on an ankle as a BUG, an option that was lighter, thinner, shot just as simply, and had no external controls (magazine release, safety lever) that could be inadvertently actuated during the rigors of carry. On top of that, his product offered more than double the capacity of the 5S38S. It really wasn't any ruder in hand than the snub revolvers of that day, either.

    Limited company size (with limited marketing and production ability), questionable quality, and a lack of enthusiasm for a misunderstood placement all contributed to the gun's failure.

    That was my first .380, and I did routinely carry it off duty for almost a year, in a pocket without a holster (pocket holsters really weren't much of a thing back then, and the Grendel fit nothing.) I never put it on an ankle because I never found a rig that it fit well. It would have ridden nicely down there.

    My next .380 was an Interarms-Walther PPK/S. Very nice weapon, which was on the "approved roster" for the second agency for which I worked. That one did BU/OD carry for a year until I left the job. I sold it not long after that. I really liked it.

    In 2008, I got back into firearms and picked up a Bersa Thunder 380 to kind of replace that old Walther. I can't say enough about the reliability of the BT; it's rock-solid and not that rude in hand as I remember the PPK/S being. I carried it for two years until I came across a Kel-Tec PF9 (then in high demand) and switched to that. I still have the BT380.

    In 2016, I picked up a last-generation Taurus TCP (before they discontinued the model for the Spectrum.) It's handsome and has yet to malfunction, and is as rough in hand as the PF9. I was already carrying a P32 as a BUG, and had no intention to quit that, so I really don't know why I bought the TCP. The price was really good, though.

    Now, I have the LCP MAX.... (OOB impression and range review posted in separate threads.)
     
  3. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    If I carried 380 I'd load with Sig V Crown (12.8''/.51) or Hornady FTX Critical Defense (13.2''/.52)
    Those two loads meet desirable criteria of at least 12'' penetration and consistent expansion:
    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/
    HP that did not expand went 23'' :( performance of FMJ (non-expanding HP) lacking compared to better options.
     
  4. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    That's what she's for.
     
  5. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    It is very small, and light, and therefore it is easily carried. It is chambered for a rather marginal cartridge, and the lower recoil makes if reasonably manageable.

    Its size and weight make it less shootable than, say, a Glock 19, and most of us would prefer a more powerful cartridge.

    I would not want to carry two Glock 19s.

    For primary carry, it would do in a pinch, but I would prefer something else.
     
  6. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks. I've placed the order.
     
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  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Have you tried a P-365?

    Technically, I think it is big for a pocket gun, small for primary carry, but lots of people carry “in between” (in our minds) pistols, and have done so myself. I think we do it because we like the pistol we chose and it’s simply “easier”, and we compromise.

    Since I don’t carry a bug, whatever I walk out with is my primary, even if it doesn’t really meet the best definition.

    We simply get lazy, at least I do.

    I’m still interested in the Max, even if it is a “tweener”. May not buy one, but interested.
     
  8. beagler

    beagler Member

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    I really like my LCP. I tend to carry it over my other guns.
     

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  9. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    No.

    I have handled pistols of similar size.

    Too small for good shooting, too light for 9MM.

    The LCP Max was a rather extreme compromise for me.
     
  10. 12Bravo20

    12Bravo20 Member

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    For those that knock the 380 for being barely capable for self defense use, all I can say is a 380 in the pocket beats the 45 left at home. And in reality most of us don't want to have to use our carry guns at all if we can help it.
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    It might surprise you, it shoots softer than its weigh/size, and I shoot it awfully well, even with the shorter 10 round mag. I thought I would shoot it better with the extended 12 round mag, but I don’t. I simply love mine.

    There is talk of one in .380, we’ll see.
     
  12. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    That's putting it more strongly than I do.

    Certainly.

    A former senior LEO whom I know strongly resisted carrying after he retired--for a while.

    Like some other former officers I know, he is a dyed in the wool revolver man.

    He changed his mind about carrying, and he bought a Kel-Tec .380 for pants pocket carry.

    He then concluded that his inability to draw it rapidly and from some positions made that a poor decision. He replaced it with a Beretta Model 92 in a holster.

    As a civilian, he does not carry a backup.

    I've been carrying the new LCP Max around in a cargo pocket in shorts. I can draw from a seated position. I once tried carrying a steel snub revolver that way, but it abused my leg. The .380 is barely noticeable.

    I may don a sports jacket later in the year and try jacket pocket carry--for backup or primary carry, depending upon the occasion.
     
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  13. Plan2Live

    Plan2Live Member

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    I view .380 as a Get Off Me gun, something to be used at very short distances and definitely not a plinker or target gun. Based on that, I would prefer hammer fired DAO with a reasonably stiffer trigger pull and restrike capability over a clean, crisp trigger or whatever the magic phrase is these days.
     
  14. FAS1

    FAS1 Member

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    My first exposure to the .380 was also about 30 years ago and with the Grendel P12. I had a G17 and wanted a smaller (carry) version and it was before the G26 came out. It's the only gun I have ever sold and sold it when the G26 came out.

    Initially the gun would jam trying to chamber a round. The round would be forced into a sharp angle by the long lip on the plastic magazine. I removed a small amount of that length and then I had no more issues with it chambering a round. I just never trusted it like I should so I sold it.

    I have pocket carried a P3AT for about the last 25 years with no problems and now considering a LCP-MAX.
     
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  15. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I wonder if the Max will be offered on the original hammer-fired LCP platform too.
     
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  16. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    There are a number of comparative videos testing the SD 9x17 (at least on of those is in a recent-sish thread here at THR. Which of those round performs the best for you is a separate question. (My Colt .380 Gov't realy, really likes Hydra-Shok for holding tiny, tiny groups.) With the latest video showing a near dead heat I may retest the Winchester 9x17 SD--but only after they get back under a dollar apiece. (I have plenty of Federal HST on hand.)

    .380 Gov't atop a 365:
    Govt on Sig.jpg
    The Max will be a few millimeters smaller than that.

    It's a handful, but not like trying to dunk a cat in a toilet handful. 147gr 9x19 will give a lot of feedback versus 115gr 9x19.
     
  17. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    I've got a 365 which I intend to replace the Kahr PM9 in my weak hand front pocket once I ensure reliability with the 365
    Kahr PM9 with +P was more tolerable to shoot one hand weak hand than an original LCP 380 when I compared them.
    I've shot the 365 one hand weak hand with HST +P and it was fine, easier than the PM9, which is what I hoped for when I bought the 365.
     
  18. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The Max is hammer fired.

    I would not expect them to resurrect the original trigger.
     
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  19. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    And, to be fair, mine is a 365X so a couple round longer in the grip (and I'm not hating the Romeo Zero)
    IMGP0844.JPG
    The "feel" of the rigger is good too--it's not quite that straight-back slide of a bow trigger like the Colt has, but it's not as hinky as some of the hinged triggers I've operated.
     
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  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    People vary in expectations, standards, and wants.

    I've never carried a full size service pistol. I prefer one size-class down from those.

    The P365, and some of the other small 9s, are generally about an inch shorter, and several ounces lighter, than what I prefer.

    To cite an example, I found the Springfield XDS 9 4.0 to be markedly better than the shorter version with the 3.3 inch barrel. The extra length and weight and the location of the cg. allow me to shoot it more rapidly with combat accuracy. I do not car about tiny groups.

    Small, light 9s are not for me.

    When I set out to find a small gun for back-up, I decided to trade terminal performance for shootability--thus, the choice of the .380.
     
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  21. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    Aren't they all really
     
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  22. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    "Several inches" is a fair assessment:
    SIG on 1911.jpg
    And, this just reinforces the notion that "one size does not fit all" (or even "most").
    We each have to find our own comfort level.
     
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  23. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Of what?
     
  24. Zendude

    Zendude Member

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    The 365 XL feels much better in the hand, to me, than the standard 365 for the reasons you mentioned above. A 380 version of the XL would be a nice combination.
     
  25. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    Of difference in dimension.
     
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