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When Does a .380 Beat a 9mm? Good article

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by george burns, Dec 9, 2014.

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  1. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Might we try to get back on topic, or wind it down?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Nom de Forum

    Nom de Forum Member

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    It is indeed in some parts of the state, but in other parts you could think you were in Georgia or even Alaska. Near Yuma you could think you were in the sea of sand dunes in the Sahara Desert.

    What was the thread topic again? Oh yeah, when is a .380 better than a 9mm. Here is another answer to that question. When you have more confidence in your little .380, for whatever reason, than your 9mm. Confidence in your equipment is more important than merely knowing you have somewhat technically superior equipment.
     
  3. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    The 147gr Winchester Ranger "T" Series out of a 3" barrel:

    15.50" to 17.00" penetration, 16.10" average penetration. Average expansion of .504"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UP7p3fxgzE

    Compared to the Precision One, 90gr Hornady XTP, (one of the best performing 380 AUTO rounds) out of a 3.25" barrel:

    12.75" to 13.50" penetration, 13.15" average penetration. Average expansion of .431"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WMMr5ANHlw

    The 9mm, even under sub-optimal conditions, outperforms the best of the 380 AUTO cartridges where the 380 is fired under more favorable conditions, (longer barrel). I can't wait to see ballistics tests from the Browning 380. 380 ACP terminal ballistics out of a 4.25" barrel. But I think the 147gr 9mm hollow points out of a 3" barrel are still going to outperform the 90gr 380 AUTO hollow points out of a 4.25" barrel.
     
  4. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    BTW, the Winchester Black Talon makes a cameo appearance in Breaking Bad, agent Hank Schrader uses a dropped Black Talon to reload, and kills the bad guy with his last round during a firefight.

    And the Black Talon is the predecessor to the ?

    You guessed it - the Ranger "T" Series.
     
  5. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    If .380 were a more adopted cartridge, even as a backup, among law enforcement; I would be willing to guess there would be more cartridge development like what the 9mm went through. With departments dumping larger calibers in favor of 9mm, cartridge wars took on a whole new meaning when 9mm needed to perform better for law enforcement. With the civilian market benefiting as well. Not too long ago you would carry a 380 when you couldn't fit a 9mm, but single pocket 9mms exploded on the market. Unless gun manufacturers can find a way to make .380 guns smaller or otherwise better, some of the mouse guns might get dropped from production.
     
  6. RetiredUSNChief

    RetiredUSNChief Member

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    I seriously doubt it would have gone through much of a development phase, even if it had been a more adopted cartridge.

    The .380 is the same diameter as the 9mm, but with a significantly smaller bullet mass and cartridge volume. This means that a rather more meaningful direct comparison of the two can be made, and the 9mm wins hands down.

    The advantage in the .380 lies in a significantly smaller handgun than possible with a 9mm. But trying to get 9mm performance out of a significantly smaller handgun creates its own problems.

    Possibly there would be some moderate increase in the available .380 cartridges, but I still rather suspect not, given the already available types of cartridges and performance characteristics.
     
  7. JRH6856

    JRH6856 Member

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    Last edited: Dec 16, 2014
  8. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    This is just my opinion on this but I'll put it out there.

    In the late 80s and early 90s the FBI was driving bullet design and development for the 9mm and 40 S&W, and we saw tremendous improvements in bullet designs and terminal performance. IMO though, the ammo manufacturers didn't put nearly as much research or development effort in the 380 ACP. They did however, slap their name brands on the 380 cartridges, which gave the impression that 380 rounds like PDX and Golden Saber were going to perform as well as their big caliber cousins. What we saw though is that many of these name-brand cartridges don't do any better than any of the other 380 loadings out there, and don't do that well in general.

    Now we've seen a boom in the 380 ACP pocket pistol market with many owners who are intelligent shooters with good knowledge of terminal ballistics now looking for 380 cartridges that perform well out of the 3" barrels.

    I think that is creating a market for someone to create bullet designs and loadings that penetrate 4 layers of denim and penetrate to around 13" of gel with some (controlled) expansion, out of 3" barrels.

    I think we will see improved 380 ACP performance in the future. We're already seeing interesting designs like the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator.

    But when I bought my R9, all of the tests that I could turn up showed 380 JHPs only penetrating from 9 to 11 inches or 380 FMJs zipping through 18 inch blocks of gelatin.

    I think there is room to improve 380 bullet designs.
     
  9. huntsman

    huntsman Member

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    I don't get out much so what 9mm on the market is the same size and weight as the LCP?
     
  10. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Posted by herrwalther:

    The entire point of the article linked in the OP is that some pocket .380s are better than the smallest 9MM pistols in a couple of very important ways.
     
  11. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Member

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    Even walmart Remington 115gr jhp bulk ammo out of a 3inch barrel easily outperforms the best 380jhp ammo. I own a s&w bodyguard that I carry for backup and deep concealment duty. But for primary carry it's too easy for me to carry a 9mm. Either a walther pps or ruger lc9.
     
  12. TarDevil

    TarDevil Member

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    When your company owner is a 2A advocate, has his conceal carry permit, hosts CC classes in his offices and is still surprised when you tell him you've been carrying for quite some time... I'd say I went "undetected."

    However, I could be wrong.
     
  13. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    The LCP and LC9 are very similar in size and weight. Caliber wars have always been about tradeoff. To some, the extra size and weight of a 9mm is better than carrying a 380 because of advancements in bullet design lately. I still carry a 380 sometimes for the weight and size savings. But each new pocket 9mm out tempts me more because the added bulk of the 9mm is getting smaller.

    Yes. Happy about it or not, Law enforcement demand drives civilian R&D. If tomorrow, every police agency mandated that every officer carry a backup in .380 that they had to buy and provide ammo for, there would be some large improvements to the cartridge. But few departments require a backup gun and others don't even allow backup firearms.
     
  14. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Posted by herrwalther:

    Yes, and don't forget the advantages of a larger grip and a longer sight radius.

    And sometimes they are indeed worthwhile.

    Not for me, thank you, and I refer to the link in the OP for the reasons.
     
  15. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    By the Way

    I do not have a .380.

    Decades ago, I thought I wanted a Browning (the old model, the 1910 FN) because it was very flat, but we could not carry here. I never got one.

    A friend had a PPK. I liked it. Same deal.

    After we could carry here, the LCP came out. I did not like it, and by that time I had become concerned about the power of the cartridge anyway.

    I think my favorite .380 is either the Colt Model 1908 or the Beretta 1934, but I do not like the safety on either one for CC. My wife's grandfather had a Savage. I've seen one. NICE!

    For CCW, "a gun is a tool, Marian", and I can easily carry a tool that is sufficiently larger....

    One other thing--if my tendonitis and arthritis really start to impair my ability, I may end up with a .380. That new little Browning certainly does look nice. As a kid, I loved those little Llamas. And if the Glock only had a grip safety...

    For right now, for back-up, I prefer a .38 revolver.

    I would not attempt to persuade anyone t make the same choices.
     
  16. C0untZer0

    C0untZer0 Member

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    You can get a .380 Revolver, now you have the best of both worlds. PROBLEM SOLVED !
     
  17. herrwalther

    herrwalther Member

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    All my 380 guns (all sold off now) served the same niche and role. Backup gun/running gun. Small and lightweight, and not all that fun to shoot. Because the distance I expected to use a 380, lasers were added to make up for the lack of sights or sight radius if available. On at least 2 380 pistols I owned, I modified the floorplates to add a slightly longer grip for my pinky finger. The most "fun" one was adding an extended finger rest on a S&W Bodyguard using parts from a third party AMT Backup magazine.

    In any case the Walther PPS is calling to me but the new LC9s Pro is calling to my wallet.
     
  18. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

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    Some of us either didn't read the article or don't get it....my question then: If they made a 9mm pistol the size of the palm of your hand it would be preferable to a .380 with a 2.7" - 3" barrel say the size of an LCP or Beretta Pico if I'm reading some of this correctly. Right?

    I'm pretty sure (positive in fact) that I cannot control the recoil of the palm sized 9mm enough to get accurate, rapid follow ups like I know I can with my Pico in .380 - there is no point in my carrying the 9mm as I won't hit anything with it and practicing will likely have me developing a flinch not to mention limiting my practice to maybe 20 arthritis aggravating rounds.

    I'm better off with a .380 that I know gets 15" of penetration and that I can triple tap accurately at 21' then to carry a tiny/similar sized pistol in 9mm that *SterIlIzEs!* me with recoil and prevents those more effective 9mm rounds from reaching the target. Some folks might be able to do that but we reach a point where more power in a smaller package destroys accuracy and follow ups. That's the point or partially the point of the article.

    VooDoo
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2014
  19. batmann

    batmann Member

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    A lot of replies with various points and all good. My opinion, I have a Kahr in .380 ACP that I carry daily because it is small, light and extremely easy to carry in my Remora inside the pants holster. It is the best round? I have not shot anyone with it so I'm not sure, but Is the 9MM a better round even with the advances in SD ammo, most likely. I have a 'carry' 9MM ( Walther PPS), but the size difference alone dictates the Kahr.
    The old saying about a girly pistol you have on you is a whole lot better than the big, bad manly pistol you left home because it is to big to carry comes into play here. I guess my point is, with GOOD ammo, a small .380 pistol is a viable option.
     
  20. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Posted by: Vodoun da Vinci

    There are those who seem to think so.

    Who really can?

    That's the way I see it.

    Yes, it is.

    I choose to prioritize practicing at a closer distance, however.

    I would be interested in hearing the opinions of the micro .380 advocates after they have tried using one in some realistic defensive pistol training. My single-column KDS 9 4.0 conceals quite well and shoots well. But I generally wear retirement garb, and I am shaped something like Wilfred Brimley.
     
  21. Nom de Forum

    Nom de Forum Member

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    I can fire my G42 .380 faster than my PF-9 9mm. At the range I expect to open fire at time will be limited before physical contact may occur. If I can fire three rounds of .380 in the same time I can only fire two rounds of 9mm and both calibers penetrate 8”-12” (very easy with the correct .380 load) that makes the .380 pocket pistol the better choice for my self-defense at conversational range. For all you average and larger sized guys that think the G42 is too big to be a pocket pistol all I can say is stop wearing tight pants with little pockets.
     
  22. RussellC

    RussellC Member

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    Well if you cant keep a 9mm on target, then you likely need the 380. A 9mm is so easy to keep on target it is ridiculous. At least for someone who shoots a lot.

    Russellc
     
  23. Propforce

    Propforce Member

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    ^^^ THIS ^^^

    Same reason why i have no incentive nor motivation to carry/shoot a S&W 340PD in .357 mag.
     
  24. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

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    Russell, my main carry is 9mm and I control it perfectly fine in rapid fire. But that's a G26 or a Beretta Px4 SC. I also have a Beretta Pico that handles just fine in rapid fire and is about as accurate at 15' - 21' as the Px4SC.

    Make the 9mm the same size as the Pico? I'd never handle 9mm recoil in that size of a pistol with any kind of follow up potential and sometimes I really need to have a pistol in my pocket and know it wont print...I'd love to always dress for my Px4 SC but sometimes I get caught where that just cant' happen and the Pico is the biggest gun I can carry without printing.

    That's my point. If I could get a 9mm that size it would do me no good...I couldn't hit squat with it. I'll take the .380 Pico and still have 100 gr. .356 bullets running at about 1000 fps and getting me enough punch to get the job done instead of insisting on 9mm.

    VooDoo
     
  25. fastbolt

    fastbolt Member

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    Not an uncommon question that makes the rounds among folks pretty frequently.

    The article rehashes and discusses some common thoughts, comments and observations.

    I generally don't shill particular calibers to folks when they ask about LE off-duty/retirement or private citizen lawful carry.

    I do, however, suggest anyone asking such a question gives careful consideration to their skillset and abilities, and then the anticipated conditions and circumstances in which they plan to carry the weapon.

    Now, me?

    If I'm not going to be carrying a belt-holstered retirement weapon, I much prefer the venerable .38 S&W Special in one of the several 5-shot J-frames I own, use & carry. I like the potential of the caliber, especially with some of the newer ammunition being offered. Then again, I'm a long time revolver shooter.

    Now, a couple years ago I bought a Ruger LCP .380 ACP. It's the first .380 I've owned and carried for at least 25 years (briefly owned a Beretta M84 back then).

    Why did I buy it? Not for the ballistic advantages of the .380 over the .38 Spl.

    I bought it because I'd seen some cop owners experience good results for feeding & functioning, and the little pistol would easily fit in many tight & shorter pants pockets (pocket holstered) that wouldn't hold and conceal any of my 5-shot snubs. It made for a handy retirement weapon for those days or nights when I didn't want (or felt I needed) to carry a larger 5-shot snub or belt gun.

    It naturally helped that it demonstrated itself to be a decently reliable and surprising accurate little pistol when I ran it through a typical qual course-of-fire and some fast-paced drills. It fed & fired an assortment of hollowpoints I typically use as issued or approved loads.

    I certainly don't consider it to be 'on a par', caliber-wise, with my 5-shot snubs, let alone my larger 9's, .40's & .45's ... but if I can have it in my pocket when I desperately need it, it's a better option than thinking about the 9's, .40's, .45's, .38's or .357's I left at home. (Or the .22LR NAA revolver ... or the .25 ACP in the bottom of my safe, which I've not shot or carried for close to 30 years. ;) )
     
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