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Thread: .380 vs .22 Magnum?

  1. #1
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    .380 vs .22 Magnum?

    I hate to beat a dead horse here, but I need a small <1lb pocket pistol. I'm a revolver guy, and I've always thought of .380 to be rather weak...but the fact is, I'm not going to find a 12oz 44 magnum like I want.

    So, I'm thinking about the Ruger LCP, but I'm still not so fond of the .380. I was just looking up the specs in Wikipedia, they list roughly 200ft lbs @ 1000 FPS. Comparing that to the even smaller .22 Magnum, we're talking 300+ ft lbs and 1500+ FPS.

    I know there's more to it than just those numbers. I've always considered any .22 to be laughable for self defense, but hell, it seems to have 50% more power than .380! (and it's cheaper, too)

    I don't want to start a caliber war, but am I wrong to compare these two so closely? Is there a situation where the .380 would be a better man stopper than a .22WMR? The other thing with .22 is that I can fit a whole lot more rounds in a small gun...
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    I know it's an unpopular opinion, but I think a .22 magnum or even a LR is a legitimate SD choice, especially if the alternative is nothing. I wouldn't put much store in ammo capacity, though. If you need more than 5 or 6 rounds, you are probably in such deep doo doo that neither a .22 or a .380 is likely to be enough.

    However, if you love revolvers and need a lightweight gun, it seems like a J-frame clone .38 special is the way to go.
    Last edited by LibShooter; May 14th, 2010 at 12:00 AM. Reason: Typos
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    22 WMR is more destructive than most people give it credit for. Out of a rifle. Out of a pocket pistol you're looking at about 1,000 fps.

    The .380 will give that some 1000 fps with 120% more bullet.

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    Here we go again on apples and oranges. Yes .22's can take a person out, but it does a better job on Squirrels. The .380 is the minium for self defense and that's only at a card table distant.
    Best Regards,Baldy.

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    I wouldn't put much store in ammo capacity, though. If you need more than 5 or 6 rounds, you are probably in such deep doo doo that neither a .22 or a .380 is likely to be enough.
    I agree completely - BUT - that's only IF you hit your target! I will freely admit I'm not the best shot, even in the best circumstances...but if I actually have to use my gun for SD, then I probably won't have my glasses on, it will probably be dark, I'll probably be shaking, and otherwise unnerved.

    I'm going to have to draw the line at six rounds. When I buy a gun not only do I want it for SD, but I want to have fun with it when I'm out practicing too. (hate reloading!) Kinda interested in a .327 Magnum, but, I think I'd rather buy a cheap "beater" gun more like a $299 LCP.

    Then again, maybe a Smith 617(?) .22 might make just as much sense as an LCP. (and would be more fun when I'm practicing)

    I'm just really having a hard time deciding here...I'm usually so against little plastic pee shooters...but sometimes, that's the best tool for the job....
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    Here we go again on apples and oranges. Yes .22's can take a person out, but it does a better job on Squirrels. The .380 is the minium for self defense and that's only at a card table distant.
    Well, if you want to compare apples to apples, how about the .380 vs standard .38 special? They're both roughly 200ft lbs. For some reason I'd feel perfectly safe in most circumstances with a good .38 revolver, but .380 doesn't make me feel so safe. All in my head?

    Right now I'm carrying a GP100 with some Hornaday +p .38s, I feel safe running after 'trouble' with that. Kinda heavy though...
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    Cant find a 44 you want to carry..... try this

    I bought a Bond Arms Derringer in 44 special. Nice, compact, and packs a wallop. I use speer gold dot 200gr HP.
    I got a new 1911 for my wife... I think it was a pretty good trade.

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    I believe you are much more likely to have dud rounds with rimfires than with centerfires. That has always been the argument over .22's vs .25 acp's.
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    I feel safe running after 'trouble' with that
    I'd feel safer running AWAY from 'trouble'.

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    I believe you are much more likely to have dud rounds with rimfires than with centerfires. That has always been the argument over .22's vs .25 acp's.
    Hmmm...that is a very good point.

    I might just go for a generic small 9mm, but, I really liked the feel and price of the LCP. Why don't they make that in nine?
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    Maybe I'm just lucky, but I have never had a .22 Magnum misfire, or a misfire with any .22LR round made by CCI. All this in thousands upon thousands of rounds.
    In centerfire, I may have had a handful of duds over the years, but again, in thousands of rounds.

    Nothing wrong with a .22LR. I sometimes carry a P22 with Stingers in it when I need something light and small. .22Mag is a respectable round, but too loud from a handgun. The flash/bang alone would make the .380 a better choice. As you said,
    I will freely admit I'm not the best shot, even in the best circumstances...but if I actually have to use my gun for SD, then I probably won't have my glasses on, it will probably be dark, I'll probably be shaking, and otherwise unnerved.
    Well, a .22Mag in the dark will disorient you much more than a .380 or even a 9mm (just my humble experience shooting after dusk).

    A J-frame .38spl would be a good choice. Heck, the LCR isn't bad if you want the polymer route. I'd rather trust the LCR vs the LCP, since you said you were a revolver guy.

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    Well, a .22Mag in the dark will disorient you much more than a .380 or even a 9mm (just my humble experience shooting after dusk).
    I disagree. I've fired my .357 that had 12 grains of 2400 behind a 158 grain HJSWC and it lit up the area both from around the cylinder and the barrel and out the end of the barrel itself. Had little to no effect on my night vision.

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    Which .22 Mag where you thinking of? There's not many, and I'm not sure any stack up well against the LCP.

    There's the Kel-Tec PMR-30. Lots of rounds, but for a pistol that big, you could do a better SD caliber (fine for camping, though).

    NAA Mini-Mag? You're kidding, right? An unreloadable, hard to cock, shoot or aim jumbo-shrimp revolver for SD? Maybe as a last-ditch (3rd gun) back-up...

    Ditto .22 Mag derringers.

    Smith 351. Now I'm warming up. Not put out of commision by a misfire; 7 shots--but still bigger and way more expensive than the LCP.

    So, I could see the Smith. But unless you can't handle the recoil of a .380 (or can't operate the slide)--why go .22 Mag at all for SD?
    Last edited by Loosedhorse; May 14th, 2010 at 04:46 PM. Reason: typo

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    I disagree. I've fired my .357 that had 12 grains of 2400 behind a 158 grain HJSWC and it lit up the area both from around the cylinder and the barrel and out the end of the barrel itself. Had little to no effect on my night vision.
    I didn't say incapacitate, just disorient more. The 357 is a whole different animal vs the 22mag and the .380

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    Okay, but would you expand on just what you meant by disorient? Thanks.

    FWIW, I dn't own a .22 Mag but have shot the .380 in low/no light.

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    ...but, I really liked the feel and price of the LCP.Why don't they make that in nine?
    They do, it's the PF9
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    .22Mag has quite the muzzle blast, much like the .357 or .44 (yes, many will probably disagree with me. The .22Mag is best as a long barrel round, anything short and you have way too much flame coming out of the barrel.
    Disoriented. Well, lets say the OP mentioned needing glasses. (unless I assumed wrong and he meant shooting glasses). Middle of the night, you are awoken by the sound of an intruder. Half asleep you search for you SD piece, find it, and use it. Assuming that you are still half asleep, can see semi-well, and there is a huge flash and sound report, then I would be disoriented. And I don't need glasses, am relatively fast awaking, and shoot a lot. The .380 would have less noise and flash, thus being less disorienting. Again, just my humble, (not real-life proven) opinion. But, for the SD/HD piece, I prefer the lowest sound/flash combo I can find. Mine is a 357Mag revolver loaded with .38spl 110gr Hydrashock. Low report, low flash, low recoil. Does not need to be racked, does not suffer from having to be cleared in case of misfire, can be operated with one hand, has no safety....
    I guess we all react differently to sound/light. But to me, the .22Mag seems "flashier" than the .380 or even 9mm.

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    Oh, okay. My experience with night fire with the .357 and .380 didn't involve trying to get oriented from being asleep. That quit possibly make it big difference even with the .22 mag.

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    Ymmv

    I disagree. I've fired my .357 that had 12 grains of 2400 behind a 158 grain HJSWC and it lit up the area both from around the cylinder and the barrel and out the end of the barrel itself. Had little to no effect on my night vision.
    The temporary effects of muzzle flash vary from individual to individual. It has been claimed that they are greater if you have light-color irides (that's plural for "iris," the part of the eye that gives it its color, along with adjusting the size of the pupil). I'm not entirely convinced.

    For many years I carried 110 gr. .357 Magnum loads in my S&W 640-1's and I noticed about that it took one second to recover my vision when shooting in the dark.

    Personally, I would rather depend on a .380 than a .22 Magnum out of a handgun. I feel that the .22 Magnum gives an unfavorable ratio of blast to power out of a short barrel but there are folks who believe that there's a tactical advantage to making a louder noise (!).

    In either case, the primary point I wish to make is that you really need to test for yourself how much your night vision will be impaired from firing the .22 Magnum in low light because that's a factor that varies greatly from person to person.

  20. #20
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    Thanks for all the thoughts everyone. I'd consider myself relatively "immune" to the sound/muzzle flash issues that some have, my short barrel .44 Mag is one of my favorites to shoot. Not that it won't disorient me in SD circumstances...


    I assume the LCP can handle +P ammo? I looked at some of the buffalo bore stuff last night and their heavy .380 seems as good as any .38 special. (and is flash supressed)

    I looked at the LCR, but, even as a Ruger lover, and a revolver lover, I just don't understand it. $200 more for 1 less round and some extra weight. I also consider plastic on a revolver to be a sin.
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    I also consider plastic on a revolver to be a sin.
    We go to the same church.
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  22. #22
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    .22Mag is a respectable round, but too loud from a handgun. The flash/bang alone would make the .380 a better choice
    ^^^^+1

    here's the flash of a 22 Mag CCI:

    Attachment 89974



    Just something to consider
    Last edited by mesinge2; October 8th, 2011 at 03:14 PM.
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    I've never seen a flame-thrower that tiny before...
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    That should give one pause from firing a handgun that's still in their coat pocket.

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    Lots of disadvantages to shooting from a pocket. If one was ever in a situation where that looked like a good or necessary maneuver, I think that smoldering, torn pocket cloth would be the least of your worries.

    For any who are routinely soaked in gasoline, I'd rethink my comment above.

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