.38 or .380

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by deinonychus75, Jul 4, 2007.


What's your preference - .38 or .380?

  1. .38 Special (+P or not)

  2. .380 ACP (+P or not)

  3. No preference between these two cartridges.

  1. deinonychus75

    deinonychus75 New Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Just curious, mostly. I did a few searches in this forum and went back a ways. There's some discussion on either cartridge, but, unless I missed it somewhere, few direct comparisons between these two cartridges. Of course, each may have their own advantage, particularly the more likely concealability of something in .380 since most autos are somewhat slimmer than your average .38 revolver. Personally, I like them both.
  2. a1huntingsupply

    a1huntingsupply New Member

    May 10, 2007
    Deer Park, Texas
    I would have to go with the .38 Special +P. A small frame revolver with some 100gr Corbon PowrBall ammo :D

    I'm not a big .380 fan but if that was my only choice I could adjust.
  3. southernshooter

    southernshooter New Member

    Mar 5, 2006
    Deep South Mississippi
    For a deep concealable carry the 9mm short(380) often enough fits the bill. Both the bullets themselve are the same size or dang close to it

    AL MOUNT Active Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Cleaning my Thompson in The Foothills of the Ozark
    I have 2 .380's, NAA & Colt Pony

    Have never owned a .38 and never desire to....

    remember the reason why the 1911 was invented ??.....:eek:

    My .380's are for CCW only......SHTF senarios.

    I wear a pair of "Ranger Joe's" desert tan jungle type boots 24/7

    The wittle .380 fits in the boot top without the need for a holster.

    Preferably, the .380 is a BUG....but not always.

    I cannot stand to wear a shirt not tucked in & gig line straight.....it's an old paratrooper thang....:rolleyes:

    So in the warm months my CCW is limited to a small unit.
  5. Marlin

    Marlin *TFF Admin Staff Chief Counselor*

    Mar 27, 2003
    At SouthernMoss' side forever!
    I carry a Model 60 in my oxygen bag loaded with .38 calibre +P rounds, HP, along with a pair of ready to use speed loaders !

    That has been my CCW weapon for some time now. :)
  6. polishshooter

    polishshooter Active Member

    Mar 25, 2001
    Of the two if I had to make a choice I would go with the .38 Special +P in a quality revolver...a 2'" snub is pretty foolproof in an emergency, and the power is a little better, and ammo availability is probably better too...plus it isn't that hard to conceal....A buddy of mine has a Charter Undercover that he has had since they came out 15 or 20 or so years ago, and swears by it for CCW....but then he is a "confirmed" revolver guy, his Main "sqeeze' is a S&W 686 in .357 6" he bought about the same time....

    I've never been a big fan of the .380, it was just the round you were stuck with when you bought some otherwise decent, reliable, well-made and concealable small autos. And some other decent ones that WEREN'T so concealable...that I never figured out why they just didn't use a "real" 9mm instead of the "short."

    In fact, that is why I prefer the .32ACP to the .380, the .32 autos are even smaller and THINNER and easier to conceal...so you will probably HAVE it when needed, and at belly-button range the power difference between the two would proabably be inconsequential...

    Now having said that my main CCW is a Makarov in 9x18...about midway between a .380 and a "real" 9mm in power....but again, I'm not sure it's better than the 5 .38+Ps from a snub, just a lot more accurate and I have 8 rounds.....and I believe I am going to buy a snub soon, for my wife, who has trouble with slides and safeties if she doesn't have time to THINK about it....

    And Al? The .45 ACP was developed when the old .38 Army, which is closer to the .38 S&W, not the later ".38 Special" round, failed to stop the "Moros" in the Phillipines...

    Now while I know all the .38 Special horror stories in Police Work in the 50s, 60s and 70s which led to the .357 taking over "Police Work" for a while, they were mostly with the standard 158grRNL, and not the "+Ps.."

    The .38 Special +P especially is still a viable defense round, IMHO, and anybody who has shot PPC or Action Pistol can attest to it's inherent accuracy, although not in a "concealable' weapon....and .357s are a little hard to handle in a 2" and I don't think offer much velocity advantage then either...
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2007
  7. The weapon I carry for CCW, more often than not, is a Smith 637 1.8 inch snubbie loaded with 135 grain Speer Gold Dots, along with a speedloader. It's light, easily concealable, effective at self-defense ranges, and quite accurate with a bit of practice. I will also sometimes carry a Sig P-230 in 9x17 (.380), though I don't find it as easy to conceal as the snubbie. Still, it's not a bad weapon when loaded with high-quality hollow point ammo like Federal Hydra Shoks, and I like its accuracy and handling qualities. My daughter absolutely loves this little gun and keeps trying to talk me out of it. :D
  8. deinonychus75

    deinonychus75 New Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    I'm thinking about a Taurus 85 Ultra Lite for my next purchase. Already have a P3AT for .380.
  9. patrol

    patrol New Member

    May 19, 2007
    They both work out good for concealed convienant carry. Ballistically the 380 with winchester 95grain silvertips or regular ball ammo is just as good as most 38spl loads and the capacity is double. Personally, I carry a Jframe stainless airweight with hot ammo. Nothing for pocket carry. Cant beat reliability of a revolver also. Better to have five that will fire than twelve or ten that might not.
  10. AngelDeville

    AngelDeville New Member

    Aug 28, 2007
    those are the 2 calibers I have for CC.

    My 3" barreled Detective special is my first choice, but sometimes the Colt Pony is a little easier to conceal.
  11. durk

    durk New Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Christmas is right around the corner Pistol! Just get her one!:)
  12. She just might find one from Santy Claus under the tree this Xmas. Santy Claus is a gun nut you know. ;)
  13. obxned

    obxned New Member

    Mar 4, 2007
    I could get by if all I had was a .38 snubbie, but I carry a P3AT. It's smaller, lighter, and much more easily concealed due to being thinner.

    Since neither .380 nor .38 are powerhouses, you may very well have to put several rounds on target to get the same result as with a larger caliber pistol. With that in mind, 13 rounds (fullly loaded pistol plus spare mag) beats the heck out of 5.
  14. cohoskip

    cohoskip New Member

    Oct 14, 2007
    Summer: Chimacum, WA; Winter: Casa Grande, AZ
    My CCW is a Stainless Walther PPKS in .380
  15. USMC-03

    USMC-03 New Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    Peoples Republic of the Pacific Northwest
    I'm with you, cohoskip.
    For CCW I usually pack a stainless PPK .380 and two spare mags loaded with 95 gr. JHP. Doesn't have the poop of a .38 but it's much more comfortable to carry.
    My .38 Special M15 Smith sits in a quick access lock box next to the bed loaded with 158 gr. lead HP.

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