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Thread: .380 ACP vs .38+p (2" barrel)

  1. #1
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    .380 ACP vs .38+p (2" barrel)

    I have read recently from a number of sites that "The three or four best .380 JHP rounds have better stopping power than ANY bullet fired out of 2" barrel .38 Special snub-nose." (Source)

    Since what I mostly carry is a S&W 640, I am debating picking up a .380 pistol -- looking mostly at the Bersa Thunder. If the statements about the relative effectiveness of .380 vs .38 out of a 2" barrel are widely held to be accurate (better if i can find experimental data supporting the claim), it may actually be a better carry choice. 7+1 rounds in the pistol as opposed to 5, thin spare magazine vs bulky speadloader, flatter gun so as to print less in my pocket -- if the .380 truly is comparable to or better than the .38 in a 2" barrel.

    The ammunition I see recommended most is Cor-Bon 90 gr. JHP.

    Any thoughts, comments, counterpoints?
    Too many people {trade} rights {for} morality. I am certain that everyone here wants to live in a moral society. But, if you are going to live in a free society, you have to be willing to let people corrupt themselves. -- paraphrased from Sheik Yerbouti

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    I'd rather see proof of this than one guy's unsubstantiated statement.

    He offers no references for this claim. Don't know if it's true or not, but I've never heard it before.

    I'd wonder about reliability too. There's been an uprising of .380 pistols, and there was a recent article that showed almost every single one had some reliability issues.
    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

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    Very old article. Recommending GECO BAT!

    Two points: A 2-in .38 can throw 158 grains of lead about 850 fps. And the Corbon 110 DPX load apparently does 1100 out of a snubbie.

    Show me the better .380 loads--heck, show me the ones that match that! If I was facing a snarling dog, I think I'd feel better with a .38 than a .380--but that's me.

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    I agree with the first two replies.

    I do not care what a ballistic table or a barrel length is listed as. If you count the chamber on them 2" barrel revolvers they just got alot longer, take the chamber off the barrel length on a auto loader and the barrel just got alot shorter.

    At onetime I had a GP100 I had for bedside duty. I had winchester 147 grain subsonics in it. These loads were not wimpy by any means and got a solid 950-990fps from 4" revolvers. Thats 9x19mm performance. With todays new ammo and prorellants that keep pressure down with higher velocities the 38 +P loads will do more than hold their own, they give the 9mm a run for the money. I do believe we will all agree, the 380 nowhere comes close to 9x19mm performance.

    My brother has a P3AT that is awesome for what it is, but neither of us would ever claim it is in the same class as a 38...

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    Factory 125 JHP "+P" (what a laugh) clocks around 890 FPS from my 2" guns. My own carry load with the same bullet runs 1,100 FPS. The factory load is slightly more powerful than the top 380 loads while handloading and maybe the specialty makers can clearly outperform the auto pistols. Only advantage to the 380 is increased capacity and faster reloading.
    You going to believe me or your lying eyes?

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    The three or four best .380 JHP rounds have better stopping power than ANY bullet fired out of 2" barrel .38 Special snub-nose."

    This seems to be this guy's subjective opinion and nothing there to back it up. There is no exotic round that is going to make the 380 or 38 or any other caliber a rhino roller. He seems to like Glasers. If Glasers in 380 are great then in 45 ACP they should be awesome.

    Too many think exotic ammo will make up for lack of marksmanship and they are fooling themselves.
    Last edited by GRIZ22; May 6th, 2010 at 10:27 PM. Reason: sp

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    What Do You Expect the Round To Do?

    Many will disagree with me but I like the option of placing the first shot in the lateral pelvis (where that big bundle of vein, artery and nerve run, behind which is a section of bone known as the "weight-bearing triangle.")

    A .380 ACP round has got about 190 fpe at the muzzle, compared to somewhere approaching 250 fpe for a +P .38. More to the point, in addition to more momentum, which becomes significant on impact with pelvic bone, the sectional density of a 95 gr. .380 bullet is .102, as compared to 0.123 for a 110 gr. .38 bullet, .140 for a 125 gr. .38 bullet and 0.177 for a 158 gr. .38 bullet. Assuming similar expansion, a higher sectional density is associated with greater penetration, which is desirable if you're trying to damage heavy bone on the far side of the pelvis.

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    I have seen that statement before but the ballistics evidence does not support it.

    Good cartridges in snubbies tend to have around 220-240 foot lbs; .380s 180-195. The buffalo bore stuff is hotter but frankly I'd rather have a DPX or Gold Dot bullet than a really hot cartridge that will penetrate with poor expansion.

    On the other hand, a 642 weighs 15 ounces empty and holds 5 rounds; an LCP weighs 9 ounces and is 6+1. The six ounces is huge; I can easily keep an LCP in my pocket all day without thinking about it and I know some people do the same with the snubbies but I find it distracting and uncomfortable.

    I would not want to be shot with either one and both are much better than no gun at all.

    I'm very interested in .327 federal magnum, I just haven't seen it in a real snubbie though both Charter and S&W make one (rugers SP101 while nice is a little bigger than a typical J-Frame and it weighs 27 ounces). This cartridge delivers nearly the energy of a .357 with much less felt recoil and muzzle flash.

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    through the years i have carried first a s&w 49,then a HK P7,then a hi-cap Makarov,now,back to a s&w 340.

    never felt undergunned,but it is obvious if i only get one shot the 357 is most likely to stagger an opponent.

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    the 380 can be loaded to about the same energy level

    You can buy Buffalo Bore ammo that is loaded to to high pressures and is very close to the 38 snub nose. They have a couple of offerings, 1 of them is a HP Gold Dot bullet, 1 is a hard cast flat nose, and a jacketed flat nose:
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 90 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1200fps M.E. 288 ft. lbs.)
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 100 gr. Hardcast F.N. (1150fps/ M.E. 294 ft. lbs.)
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 95 gr. F.M.J. F.N. (1150 fps M.E. 279 ft. lbs.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by LoosedHorse
    Two points: A 2-in .38 can throw 158 grains of lead about 850 fps. And the Corbon 110 DPX load apparently does 1100 out of a snubbie.
    What's the current wisdom on light-and-fast ammo vs heavy-and-slow out of a 2" snubbie?

    I carry a S&W 640, so the recoil of a hot and heavy round like Buffalo Bore's 158-gr LSWCHP +P .38 doesn't bother me, but it does slow down an accurate follow-up shot.
    Too many people {trade} rights {for} morality. I am certain that everyone here wants to live in a moral society. But, if you are going to live in a free society, you have to be willing to let people corrupt themselves. -- paraphrased from Sheik Yerbouti

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin
    You can buy Buffalo Bore ammo that is loaded to to high pressures and is very close to the 38 snub nose. They have a couple of offerings, 1 of them is a HP Gold Dot bullet, 1 is a hard cast flat nose, and a jacketed flat nose:
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 90 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1200fps M.E. 288 ft. lbs.)
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 100 gr. Hardcast F.N. (1150fps/ M.E. 294 ft. lbs.)
    380 Auto +P Ammo - 95 gr. F.M.J. F.N. (1150 fps M.E. 279 ft. lbs.)
    How do the terminal ballistics of those rounds compare to .38 snubbies?
    Too many people {trade} rights {for} morality. I am certain that everyone here wants to live in a moral society. But, if you are going to live in a free society, you have to be willing to let people corrupt themselves. -- paraphrased from Sheik Yerbouti

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    AG those listed velocities and energies exceed what you get out of most any .38 spcl load in a 2" in barrel - but as I mentioned the bullet design is not as effective in my opinion. Also I believe those velocites are as fired from a 3" barrel not a 1.84 like an LCP (P3AT is roughly the same).

    Buffalo bore used to offer their JHP ammo with a Gold Dot tip but the JHP they use now does not perform nearly as well and they recommend their hardcast bullet - which will undoubetdly penetrate better than say the 135gr speer .38 spcl but it will not do more damage because it doesn't fragment, yaw or expand - just like it is designed. It *will* ensure you punch through bone without deflection and this is somewhere that other .380 cartridges fall down sometimes.

    Edit: Correction, the buffalo bore quoted numbers are from a 3.75 barrel. Honestly I have no idea why anyone would carry a .380 that large; get a PM9 and call it a day.

    From the Buffalo Bore description:
    It is traveling over 1,150 fps out of my 3.75 inch BDA (Browning Double Action)

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    Another note - if you really buy the buffalo bore hype you should check out their .38 special ammo. They advertise 379 ft/lbs from a 158gr load fired from a 2" S&W. That puts it in the same class as a compact 9MM and is actually more than chronos I've seen of 125gr .357 rounds fired from a 340pd.

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    I Know Not...

    What's the current wisdom on light-and-fast ammo vs heavy-and-slow out of a 2" snubbie?
    ...what course others may take, but, as for me... if the user is comfortable with +P loads in the gun, these are my choices, in order:

    1. CorBon 110 gr. DPX: DPX bullets seem to perform better than they have any right to perform and seem to blend the advantages of light and heavy conventional bullets; this is a low-recoil load for a +P.
    2. Speer 135 gr. Gold Dot: this load seems to live up to its engineering for optimal performance from a two-inch barrel and NYPD also issues it to the remaining officers who still carry longer-barreled revolvers on duty; recoil is snappy.
    3. 158 gr. SWCHP "FBI load" or equivalent: this load generally performs better out of three-inch or longer barrels but is still respectable from two-inch barrels; the ones from the major manufacturers are less snappy in recoil than the 135 gr. Gold Dot but I imagine that the souped up Buffalo Bore versions are sharper in recoil.

    To those considering the "enhanced performance" .380 loads, it couldn't hurt you to take another look at my earlier comparison of the .38 Special and the .380, if you have not ruled out the revolver platform.

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    Hickok's favorite guns were a pair of cap-and-ball Colt 1851 .36 Navy Model pistols, which he wore until his death.

    The .36 caliber (.375-.380-inch) round lead ball weighs 86 grains and, at a velocity of 1,000 feet per second, is comparable to the modern .380 pistol cartridge in power.

    If you put your shot in the right place the 380 will deliver. It's not as powerfull as the 38 but it's got enough power to put somebody to rest.
    I think the 380 is probably just as good of a fight stopper as is the 38 under most situations.

  18. #18
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    Carry-defense rounds in .38spl +P or +P+, .380acp in JHP...

    As for me, I'd feel way more secure using a 5/6 rd snub .38spl with a 110/125/158gr +P or +P+ than a JHP or fragmented(Magsafe/Glaser/PowRball) .380acp. When I had my 4" Ruger GPNY(a GP100 designed for the NYPD), I used Buffalo Bore 158gr lead SWC-HP +P, Remington 125gr +P or Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P. All of the loads would be far better in either a 2" or 4" than a .380acp. Speer engineered the 135gr JHP .38spl round to work(expand) out of 2/3" J frame snub revolvers. It's design is highly rated and sold by many major retail catalogs/stores.
    The .380acp has a few merits but the low power, the feeding/cycle problems and other factors make it less desirable than a J frame snub revolver.

    Rusty
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    This article is full of mistakes and misconceptions:

    Never use hand-loaded or re-loaded ammunition for self-defense! You may encounter some joker who says he can hand-load ammunition so powerful it will knock anything on two legs down for the count, but don't buy it. This junk will either misfire or ruin your gun.
    I've fired literally hundreds of thousands of handloaded rounds -- and never had a misfire or ruined a gun.
    All fixed-sight .38s are regulated at the factory to shoot accurately with standard velocity 158 grain bullets
    They may be regulated to shoot to point of aim with standard velocity 158 grain bullets, but that's not the same thing as accuracy.

    Or these statements:
    A perfect example of this are the silly 1989-90 FBI tests which resulted in the FBI choosing the mediocre 10mm S&W Model 1076 and the 180 grain JHP round.
    Followed by:
    .40 Smith & Wesson
    This caliber has established an excellent track record on the street.
    Hmmm . . . 10mm with long case loaded to short case velocity is "mediocre," but 10mm short case loaded to short case velocity " has established an excellent track record on the street."

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