.380 for Self Defense?

Discussion in 'Self Defense Tactics & Weapons' started by Contenderizer, Nov 13, 2008.

Is the .380 a practical self-defense round?

Poll closed Jan 12, 2009.
  1. No Way ... unless you are attacked by a squirrel.

  2. OK as a back-up gun - but nothing else.

  3. Fine for self-defense if you understand its short-comings.

  4. I'm OK with it - it is/could be my primary self-defense round.

  1. If you haven't noticed, the little .380 (a/k/a 9mm Short) has seen a sudden surge in popularity as a carry gun. Kel-Tec , it seems, started the whole thing with it's popular P3AT pocket pistol. Kel-Tec's sales numbers didn't go unnoticed; and Ruger's newly introduced LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol) seems to be a huge success with 87,000 guns ordered the first week after introduction. Other manufacturers are ready to follow suit.

    But is the .380 really a practical self-defense round? It goes without saying that the reason for the renewed interest in the .380 has more to do with these guns than the round. The Kel-Tec and Ruger guns are small, light-weight, dependable, simple to use and reasonably priced. But are they really up to the job if your life is on the line?

    What say you.
  2. I've used a Walther PPK in .380 as a concealed carry handgun for right about 20 years and have always been very happy it. I have no problem using the .380 for defense when there is no more than the usual day-to-day expectation of trouble but I'm certainly not of the opinion it's a service round and prefer the .45 ACP as a rule. Just keep in mind, if there is no other choice, bullet placement, bullet placement and more bullet placement.

  3. Terry_P

    Terry_P New Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    I said it was OK with shortcomings but I'd get a 9MM is I was inclined to get a small auto for carry. I carry an SP101 and I'm happy with it for carry and performance.
  4. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

    Apr 7, 2006
  5. noslolo

    noslolo New Member

    Oct 15, 2004
    Johnstown PA
    I would rather have a .380 that I could carry every day over something that was so heavy that I didn't carry it. I only post this because I have found myself not wanting to carry my .40 due to wieght issues. I now know that I have to set aside some real cash to get a proper carry gun!
  6. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    IMHO the .380 is a viable choice as a SD weapon, but at the low end of acceptable power for SD. I do carry one myself right now, but only because my regular carry weapon is at the shop. Due to this caliber and the lack of power associatied with it, I believe that if you carry this this gun as a SD weapon, you should stoke it with some really good ammo, no hollow points. Penetration is key with this round, give yourself the best of this world by shooting solids only. They won't open up and slow down inside, they just punch a little deeper.
  7. I have always felt the .380 is a viable self-defense weapon, though it is not generally an optimal choice. In other words, it definitely has its place under certain conditions, particularly when the ability to conceal the weapon must take precedence over pure stopping power. The key with a .380, I think, is to load it with good ammo. I normally use Federal Hydra Shok when I carry my Sig P-230.
  8. HowardCohodas

    HowardCohodas New Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Canton, OH
    This might color our attitudes about the effectiveness of the 380 and the pocket guns that shoot them.

    Hornady site: http://www.hornady.com/story.php?s=786

    Product Spec Sheet: http://www.hornady.com/images/sell_sheets/09-critical_defense.pdf

    The first listing for distribution in the retail channel that I've found is MidwayUSA. You can't order it, but you can sign up for email notification.

    Price: $18.49 for 25
    Date Expected In-Stock: 11/27/2008


    Guns & Ammo article: http://gunsandammomag.com/cs/Satellite/IMO_GA/Story_C/Critical+Defense?packedargs=pagenum=2
  9. Very interesting and useful links, Howard. Thanks for posting. I may just get myself a few rounds of that new Hornady stuff.
  10. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I've used Hornady XTP at my reloading beanch for years, this new bullet will definitly be on my purchase list. Did anyone notice the fpe for the the little .380?
  11. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

    Feb 17, 2005
    South Carolina
    Yeah, 200... Corbon .380 loads are rated at 220 ft. lb. but those are PAINFUL to shoot out of a P3AT (fine out of a Bersa Thunder .380). The recoil on 'em causes the trigger guard to flip up and bend my index finger upward in an unnatural joint position. :eek:

    I wonder about these Hornadys because the P3AT has such a short barrel. I've read reviews where nothing but the very soft-tipped Winchester Silvertip gains enough velocity to expand from its short barrel. It would be interesting to see some info on this ammo in very short barreled .380s as they are all the rage now.
  12. ponycar17

    ponycar17 Active Member

    Feb 17, 2005
    South Carolina
    OK, I got my question answered. In the G&A article, the reviewer says that the bullet expands adequately from a Ruger LCP. That's impressive. Gotta get a couple of boxes now...

    Let me apologize for not answering the original question directly. The P3AT I carry pretty much everywhere I can legally carry is there because it's more powerful than a .22 Magnum mini-revolver and less cumbersome than a larger mid-frame semi-auto. As the old saying goes, a .22 in the pocket is better than a .357 back in the truck... Well, I choose a .380 in the pocket. If you don't carry it, it's not going to help you...
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  13. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    Thanks for reminding me about presures! I might just stick with the Winchester FN Solids that I now use for .380. I used to shoot the Silver Tips almost exclusively till one day I was shooting at an old fiberglass boat. I shot better than a box of ammo, then went over to have a closer look. The Winchester Silver Tip is almost a frangible bullet. There was silver particles all over the inside of the boat, but nothing that looked like a bullet. They just came apart! No holes on the off side at all. To my thinking, if it's going to come apart, then maybe I don't want it as a SD rd., unless I am shooting it in a more powerfull platform.
  14. TranterUK

    TranterUK Guest

    I knew a serious professional who carried a .380. He varied the rounds in the magazine between ball (FMJ) and hollow points to enhance the effects, gaining both penetration and trauma effect.

    It was an idea I took from him and used a great deal over the last thirty odd years.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2008
  15. HowardCohodas

    HowardCohodas New Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Canton, OH
    The pistol in the spec sheet is an LCP. That will get me to give it a try. :)
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