Ever since Ruger started selling LCPs by the truckload back around ’08, a question many thought was a settled matter was thrust back into the spotlight; Is .380 ACP just another underpowered “mousegun” round on par with the likes of the diminuitive .25 ACP, or is it a serious caliber for self-defense, worthy of trusting your life to? We could ask this question of any number of “marginal” self-defense calibers. But each caliber has special issues to consider, so rather than trying to establish the One True be-all, end-all, one-size-fits-all “minimum” caliber, we’ll tackle each one individually and present the pros and cons of each.

A Preface to Caliber Debates

Before we venture too far into the dangerous territory of caliber debates, let’s remember a couple of things right up front. First, handguns are pretty crappy at stopping bad guys when compared to rifles and shotguns. Comparing the raw effectiveness of .380 ACP, .45 ACP, and 5.56 NATO is like comparing a cheeseburger from a high school cafeteria, a Big Mac, and a perfectly cooked medium rare Angus Filet. Sure, there’s a big difference between those two burgers, but they are just not in the same league as that steak, even though it’s all beef (in theory, at least).

The “one shot stop” handgun is a myth. In the real world, they do happen on occasion, but no handgun caliber can deliver that kind of power consistently and predictably enough that we should depend on it. Handguns have plenty of other advantages, but it’s always a trade-off of size and accessibility for effectiveness. To stop a determined attacker with any handgun, assume that multiple hits to a vital area will be required. As the cliché goes, “shot placement is king.” The number on the slide of your pistol is not nearly as important as possessing the skill to fire accurately under pressure, and the ability to exercise good judgement on when to pull the trigger.

Now Let’s Hear From You

But this is not a blog about self-defense technique. We’re here to talk about guns and shooting, and that means this is the right place to split hairs over tenths of inches and feet per second. So grab a bag of popcorn and dive head first into the caliber debates with me, starting with the popular, but much maligned .380 ACP cartridge. Check out today’s video and cast your vote in the poll below. And don’t forget to leave a condescending note about how you’ll “keep your 1911, thank you very much” in the comments section below!

 

Would you recommend a .380 ACP handgun to someone for concealed carry?


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  • Brian Cavanaugh

    It was good enough for James Bond.

    • Brian K. Rowley

      James Bond’s PPK is a 32 caliber.

    • Brian Cavanaugh

      Even more so.

    • LG Chris

      And in the novels, James Bond started with a .25 ACP. I wouldn’t exactly look to 007 as a mentor for wisdom in caliber selection.

    • Mark Robinson

      LG Chris especially since he is fictional.

    • Mike Kreiger

      LG Chris You go stand in the corner and think about what you just said.

  • Brian Cavanaugh

    And it can’t be “somewhere between” 22LR and 9mm because the .380 ACP cartridge is a 9mm round.

    • LG Chris

      I’m pretty sure most people will assume that 9mm=9×19, which is what I meant to imply. But thanks for pointing that out.

    • Danny Cuthbert

      LG Chris Stop being a bully ….

  • Chuck Ford

    It works for me, I would recommend it.

  • Jesse Lambert

    The biggest problem with .380s is that most of them are straight blowback, which tends to give them more recoil than a gun of similar size and weight with a locked breech. So you can have a 9mm that handles about the same as a .380, but packs enough power to push it into what I consider a more acceptable defensive cartridge.

    • LG Chris

      Very good point, though I would emphasize the “most” part of your observation. The Sig P238, for example, tends to be pretty easy to handle for its size (though I think it has other drawbacks that make it a less than ideal option). That said, one should not assume anything about what the felt recoil of a .380 will be until they get a chance to shoot it… the recoil mechanism does make a big difference.

  • Karl Spencer

    I have a .380 in my mix and it’ll do the job. Especially with someone who can place their rounds where they aim. I can do that so caliber is not a problem with me.

  • Owain How

    .380= 9.65mm, bigger than a 9mm but less powder. There is your question, know your sizes before commenting.

    • Jesse Lambert

      .380 ACP uses .355″ bullets, same as 9mm Parabellum/Luger/x19 NATO.

      The name doesn’t reflect reality. It’s a vestige of the days when guns were switching from heel based bullets to inside lubricated.

      Originally a “.38″ caliber cartridge used a bullet that had the same diameter as the cartridge case and a smaller diameter “heel” that fit inside it. That made it easy to build cartridge conversion for cap and ball guns – the charge holes in the cylinder could be bored straight through.

      Unfortunately, the lube used on those lead bullets was messy and came off, so they began making bullets that were the diameter of the *inside* of the case with the lube grooves protected by the case mouth. For a while they used hollow based bullets that were supposed to expand in the bore to make a good seal, but that didn’t work very well. The switch was made to using a barrel that had a bore that matched the smaller bullets. The cartridges that were originally .38s became in reality 0.355-0.357s. The nomenclature carried on even into cartridges that were named well after the black powder ere – including the .380 ACP, .38 ACP (and .38 Super), .44 Special and Magnum (which are really 0.429″), etc.

      Now you know.

    • Jesse Lambert

      Mark Loly
      The .357 Magnum is significantly more powerful than .38 Special. Roughly 3X.

      That power comes at the price of increased recoil, noise, and flash. That can make it significantly harder to shoot, especially in the sort of small and lightweight guns people choose for concealed carry.

    • Jesse Lambert

      Mark Loly
      For defensive shooting a quality jacketed hollow point is almost universally preferred over full metal jacket. An expanding bullet maximizes the wound channel and reduces over penetration. That means a faster stop of the threat and reduced danger to bystanders.

      The only time I’d choose a full metal jacketed bullet for defensive shooting would be if I were carrying a gun in a caliber that I didn’t think would achieve adequate penetration to reach an attacker’s vital with an expanding bullet, such as .22 long rifle, .25 ACP, or .32 ACP.

    • Jesse Lambert

      Mark Loly
      No problem. If you have more questions, come sign up at WeTheArmed.com – I’m one of the moderators over there and we have lots of knowledgeable folks who are happy to answer questions.

  • Stan Barnett

    Yes, with laser to aid shot placement.

  • Geoff Jania

    Perfect for summer carry.

  • Kevin Inmon

    My Sig has almost no recoil and is very accurate!!

  • Greg Zimmerman

    I have the Walter PK-380 , very accurate, and if you use Buffalo load very effective.

  • Lee Holley

    I think the fact that the .380 is available at a pretty low cost in a descent gun while still being small and light make’s the chance of a person actually having it when they need it a neat little caliber. I don’t carry one just because I feel a little under gunned working in a rare coin shop but that’s just me. Hey, the best gun I could ever have is the one I have when I need it! I do carry a little North American Arms .22 WMR in my pocket also and often forget it is in there. I always say any gun is better than a rock and faster than a prayer! That’s just me though, not science. My .45 is usually left at home because of it’s weight, I wear a 9mm because even high capacity it is light, P99 and pretty accurate. Not the most powerful but probably the one I will have do I like it and practice with it.

    • Hollie Brogan

      Love mine

    • Lee Holley

      Hollie Brogan what you doing in here lol, your gun is not really what is considered a low cost gun 😉

    • Jim Hamer

      i have the same one, billfold holster. that girl will spit some fire at night.

  • Mark Thieme

    Shot placement is more important than caliber. Much smaller calibers have plenty of fatalities under their belts.

    • Jesse Lambert

      Lethality is *almost* completely irrelevant to self defense. What matters is *stopping the attack*.

      Botulism has killed plenty of people, but I’m not going to save myself by trying to feed an attacker a bulged can of tomatoes.

    • Mark Thieme

      To me they are one in the same – as a goal. If an attacker forces my hand to that extent, he’s going down.

    • Jesse Lambert

      I don’t care if an attacker lives or dies, but I want them stopped NOW.

      It doesn’t do me any good to shoot an attacker with a .22 and then have him die in the hospital from peritonitis a week after he finished clubbing me to death with a wrench.

      That’s why I don’t care that more people have been killed by .22s than any other round. It’s just not relevant to what I need to accomplish.

    • Pat Bush

      Jesse Lambert i tend to default to the whole “energy” of the round argument. IMO, .380 is very under-powered compared to 9mm, which many people tend to mock as a SD round anyway…. http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/calibers.html

  • Jim Hogan

    I have no problem with my .380 with kick or getting back on target for double tap. The only issue with the .380 and self defense loads they don’t have enough power for a self defense load with the expansion of the bullet, BUT if you use regular ball or round loads it is more than adequate.

  • Kathi Southworth

    I think with hollow points it’ll do the job, I carry one, yes, because it’s small. My preferred gun is my 45 sig but at 115 lbs I’m hard pressed to conceal it. I feel plenty safe:)

    • Jesse Lambert

      I think that with more marginal cartridges like .380, .32 acp, & .25 acp it’s better to go with FMJ. Hollow points may sacrifice too much penetration.

  • Jason Henson

    2 in the chest and 1 in the head and the bad guy will never know the difference between the 380 and a 45…

  • Jaime Yema

    I am confident with my .380 and it depends on the user to zero in with the target… If you are used to it, It’s a good handgun. I call mine mini .45…

  • Jeri Wilson

    As long as I can shoot it accurately, it will do what I need it to do.

  • Pete Frazier

    if you can’t aim, get a shotgun or a pistol that can take shotgun rounds. if you practice and know how to handle a pistol, a .380 round well placed will stop anyone. A poorly placed .45 or even 50 cal round will only wound and piss off your attacker. Even a .22 will make most attackers run away if you hit them center mass, or kill them if you aim and are close enough. You don’t need to blow off an arm or leg with a poorly placed round when you can make one small hole and stop their heart.

  • James R Hood

    I would have said no yeas ago, but with modern ammunition like Speer Gold Dot, COrbon DPX, and Hornady Critical defense, I would say yes, the 380 is a worthy caliber for self defense. Besides, any bullet to the head will end a fight quickly. The first round is usually to the chest area to stun the attacker, the second shot is crucial to your own survival. It can either be another chest shot or take the head shot while the attacker is stunned.

    • James R Hood

      if the attacker is wearing bulletproof armor, take that suckers legs out from under him. three rounds to each leg will make him wish for a head shot

    • Pat Bush

      i’ve seen people shot in the face, who were talking afterwards, and are still alive to this day… HP rounds can do goofy stuff. it’s more important to shoot a good caliber, than to count on “what it’s supposed to do.”

    • James R Hood

      Patrick Bush I have also heard of attackers getting shot more than 15 times with a 9mm and was still a violent threat. The 380 i a decent cartridge for concealed carry. It amounts to about the same power as a 38 special +P. Not quite, but almost. Personally I would prefer a 45 acp or 357 magnum.

    • Pat Bush

      James R Hood yeah, that’ s happened with pretty much every pistol caliber. however, if I recall correctly, complete failures in stopping the threat are pretty low with .40, 45 and 9mm (and especially .357), whereas the smaller calibers have a much higher tendency to not the stop the BG, at all. I will admit shot placement matters, but different calibers simply are unable to do things that slightly larger calibers are able to do. I tend to default to the actual energy of the round, and .380 simply is not comparable to 9mm….. http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/calibers.html

    • Pat Bush
    • James R Hood

      Patrick Bush You are correct. The 40 S&W and 45 acp are much better threat stoppers, but they are often bulky and heavy, and hard to conceal if they are of any size. The 380 and 9mm are good for concealed carry and yes you do run the risk of not having an entiely efficient man stopper in 380 and sometimes 9mm. Shot placement is not always available either. If an attack happens suddenly you may only get a shot where you can most of the time hitting the attacker in the arm, leg or stomach. Still, f the attacker has any brains at all, he will try to seek medical attention at some point. A 380 is small, but a 380 hollow point that properly expanded in the gut or even the leg can still be fatal if not treated. 9 times out of 10 when shooting begins, the attacker will flee, but that other time when the attacker if messed up in the head, a 380 may not do much to help you unless you get lucky and nail him through the heart or get a head shot. Let’s put it this way, how woudl you feel about being shot with a 380 carryng speer gol dot hollow points? Chances are if hit in the chest cavity 6 times, you will die very soon from loss of blood. Human lungs cannot tolerate this much trauma for long.

    • Pat Bush

      James R Hood, I wanna say this out front- I think you and I agree for the most part, and are debating minor things. But I personally don’t see much advantage of .380 over 9mm. Magazine capacity is the same, but the energy of the .380 is about half of that of 9mm. And, 9mm is not really hard to shoot, by any stretch of the imagination….. If I’m carrying a gun for self-defense, then I want something that will improve my chances of survival as much as possible. Mag capacity, ease of shooting and penetration/energy are the 3 primary things I’m looking at in a bullet. .380 doesn’t beat 9mm in any of these, really. And .380 is a trade off with .40 and .45…..

    • James R Hood

      Patrick Bush I understand. The 9mm is more powerful by about 100 foot lbs of energy. Many firearms in 9mm are almost as small as their 380 counterparts, so 9mm does make better sense. There is no advantage at all of the 380 over the 9mm. no advantage whatsover. For the most part it is personal preference. The 380 is generally what I consider what someone would start out with. a beginner gun to be used as practice and if need be self defense, but you and I agree, it would not be my primary choice, but would be ok for potential backup.

      • Kenneth Wayne Noble

        If it’s 380ACP vs 9x19mm at ranges less than 20′, I prefer 1851 Navy in .44 or home-made 10 GA percussion pistol, but would take the 380 over 9mm any day. 9mm was made for longer ranges and can go through 2 people easily at short ranges. 380 is about getting the job done efficiently at close ranges.. Over-penetration is not only unsafe for bystanders, it’s not any more effective at stopping an attacker unless the attacker’s behind cover or wearing body armor, which isn’t usually the case on the sidewalk or from across the room if someone just busted through your door or window.

    • Pat Bush

      James R Hood, I agree 100% about it’s usefulness as a backup gun. Or, like you said, personal preference… some folks don’t have very large hands.

  • Tom Galloway

    if you it .380 is perfect.goog article

  • Eric R Lewis

    I have a Bersa Thunder .380 that I used to carry concealed. I am as accurate with it at the range, one or two handed as I am with my S&W 9mm Shield which I carry now. As many have already said, shot placement counts for so much more than caliber. Two center mass and one to the head with anything is better than one in the arm, and two over the top of the target in large caliber. Carry what is comfortable, what you can carry safely, and practice with it often.

    • Richard John

      I have been trying to explain that to the “I carry the biggest gun I can buy” crowd for years. I call it caliber envy.

  • Susan Donahue Bowman

    i carry a Bersa 380 Thunder CC and love it. small enough to conceal if i want, big enough to open carry if i want.

  • Jeff Vandorn

    Only if it wasn’t loaded with the ammo I make in my basement lol

  • Randy Hawk Kenney

    AMT Backup……solid well made gun with good ammo it gives you a nice shot. Have carried mine for years.

  • Marybeth Wilburn Crawford

    You have to take into consideration the size of the carry gun and it’s ability to contain recoil. The ability to get back on target quickly will make a big difference. Miss your second or third shot with a .40 or hit your target with more rounds in the same amount of time with a .380. Also the shooters ability (skills) to get back on target quickly when they can control the firearm vs it jumping all over the place. I have shot .45 with less recoil than some of my 9mm. But it’s not a gun that I can carry.

  • Frank F Mohrbutter

    If a 380 is all you can carry than by all means carry it. As for shot placement a 380 can very easily be put spot on to be leathel but if the bullet hits bone ie the sternum ect it may not carry in the direction it had been. This is just the law of physics a larger bullet will hit bone and continue on its trajectory. A bb gun could be leathel if you hit in the right spot but is that what you want to gamble on? shooting at the range is a lot different than in a life or death situation I’d rather have a round that if I’m not spot on will still inflect enough damage to hopefully take the perp out of the game.
    I have included a link that I think every one should read its not scientific but the observation of coroners who have dug bullets out of many dead bodies they have seen what works and what has not. There is no magic bullet but bigger is better IMHO.
    http://www.gunthorp.com/Terminal%20Ballistics%20as%20viewed%20in%20a%20morgue.htm

  • Keith Ledet

    The key comment was something like “a .380 on you is better than a larger caliber left at home.” I wholeheartedly agree. I sometime carry a .40 concealed when dressed properly and it’s comfortable I ALWAYS throw my little Ruger LCP with a LaserMax in my back pocket in a pocket holster. I’d rather have 7 somewhat underpowered rounds in there than lint to throw at a bad guy.

    • Mark Hatchett

      I also carry a 380 smith an Wesson w/ laser,,,very small an lite,,,,,however at the movies one nite I had it out to adjust it in my pocket, laser was on and all over the big screen,, lot of people got nervous..!!

  • George Dominy

    It’s not the caliber that is as important as roind placement. I’ve seen first hand a person killed by one shot from a .22 round and another person struck 5 times with a .357 magnum, but survived. Round placement is the most important part of self defense, so each person must chose which firearm and what caliber they can accurately place the rounds in a stressful aituation.

  • Pat Bush

    considering how many people hate 9mm, i’m surprised how many people think .380 (or 9mm short) is worth risking their life. 9mm is pretty darn easy to shoot, even in subcompact models…

  • James Kurth

    I was reviewing a chart showing first shot “stops” and surprisingly the .380 was right up at the top.

  • James Hilmers

    ruger lcp with hornady critical defense rounds great combo for a pocket gun

  • Michael Enright

    Caliber not nearly as important as shot placement. I ususally carry something larger but do not hesitate to carry a sig 238 when the mood strikes.

  • Roy Warden

    A gun fighting expert (trains cops how to shoot) told me the vast majority of gun fights happen when opponents are 8 to 12 feet from each other…

    • Pupito Az

      They shouldn’t be eating so close to each other! Sorry Roy, I just couldn’t help myself. 3:)

    • Roy Warden

      Pupito Az THE “R” IS NEXT TO THE “T!” How you doing, Hombre?

  • Steve Holder

    The 380acp is a “baby 9mm” – it is the same diameter bullet, just a little shorter and with a smaller cartridge to hold slightly less powder. With today’s new powders and bullets, the 380acp has become a respectable self defense round.

  • Joseph M Trunzo

    How long is your livingroom. A .380 will do well for self defense within that rande. That’s the distance to practice with small self defense weapons. We are protecting ourselves…not looking for a gunfight.

  • Albert L. McKee

    I THINK IF YOU GOING TO CARRY A C.W. CARRY A WEAPON THATS SMALL AS A 380 BUT WITH MORE STOPING POWER LIKEA SPRINGFIELD XDS45, I OWN ONE AND LOVE IT.

  • Albert L. McKee

    OR A KAHR PM40 I OWN ONE OF THOSE ALSO 40CAL.

  • Tom Larsen

    First off, I don’t think anyone will debate that shot placement is the single most important factor in successful personal defense. If you can’t hit what you are shooting at, caliber is of little consequence. Having said that, .380 just doesn’t make me feel like it’s enough. My ‘pocket’ carry is a .38 Smith and Wesson air weight, with .38+P’s in it. When I travel, my carry is a Glock 21. I may consider a single stack 9mm for carry, but I’m comfortable with my choices.

  • Jon Register

    I carry a LCP when I just want to go to the store or somewhere quick. At 3-10 yards it is very accurate for me. I suggest as with any CC firearm to PRACTICE! I believe shot placement is the biggest factor in a self defense situation. Most attackers will not want to continue once shot with ANY gun. Being attacked is unlikely.. being attacked by a crazed drugged up nut who takes multiple shots to take down is even more unlikely. So to sum up.. yes, .380 can be effective and I do feel comfortable when I carry it.

  • Wayne Brown

    I love my 380..matter of fact I have 3..my sig shoots straight and true…

  • Mike Scooter Mathis

    I love my .380, I went from carrying a SR40 to the LCP. I have the confidence in what I’m doing to make the switch. I could go on about why I did but it’s not important.

  • Ron Newkirk

    Shot placement is King, and always will be.

    • Jack Makinson

      I believe the .380 is an adequate caliber when using either Speer Gold Dot, Hornaday Critical Defense, or Federal Hydra Shok with maximum grain load. However, placement is king!

  • Harry A. Schork

    Excellent video – THANK YOU!
    I believe there are a few more important elements that could be added to this conversation. Of course as was eluded to, the most important rule of a gunfight is to have a gun! Secondly, in warmer weather, shorts and t-shirts, with my S&W Bodyguard and my wallet type holster, it is light, easy to conceal and very accessible. In the colder months, especially in the North East where I live, most of year it is very easy to conceal my Glock 19, or 7-shot .357 mag. But if I go out to place where I do not have much cover, I will stuff my .380 in my pocket.
    Another valid argument for the .380’s moderate penetration is, most people I know carry it during the summer when heavy clothing is not worn. I wouldn’t really want to use .380 HP’s if someone is wearing a winter coat. In those situations, I believe one would be better served with solids or something like Buffalo Bores 100 grain FP solids which would give excellent penetration through almost anything.
    Lastly, if you read much on CCW’s encounters, 90% of the confrontations end with the mere pulling of the weapon. Let’s face it, the body is not meant to punctured and people just don’t like to get shot. Sure if you happen to run into that legendary 300 lb meth addict, which is an oxymoron as meth addicts that eventually become desperate are usually emaciated and not beefy, you will have quite the challenge to stop him with a 380, 9mm or anything short of a .357 or .45 acp.
    Secondly, if you do become part of that 10% that must fire, statics show that almost half encounters are what is called a “psychological stop.” In other words, when many people get shot even in the foot, they just stop because it suddenly dawns of them, “Oh crap, I’ve just been shot!” and the battle often ends.
    I do not remember what book I read it in and would appreciate someone informing me, but there was man that worked in an auto shop in a gang type of city in the southern part of the country. He effectively won two gun fights against a .357, a .45 acp and a 12 gauge and another serious caliber which at the moment I do not recall with a cheap, “wimpy” Davis .380. Both times his opponents came in gun blazing. He saw it coming, remained calm and carefully aimed both times. The second battle he killed the two men with the .45 and 12ga. .
    I have a .380 but rarely carry it. One thing more important than anything is, whatever one carries is to know their gun. Shoot it as often as time and economics allow. I have read over 10 books on defensive encounters and marvel at how often and how effective the .22lr has been in defending and saving the life of the innocents.
    Is the .380 effective? Well, the answer to that question depends more on you than the gun itself.

  • David Scott Crew

    For a gunfight at the OK Corral, a 380 pistol is a poor choice.

    As a pocket pistol that is easily hidden (I can hide a Ruger 380 with my hand) and will be shoved in someone’s face when it’s used, it’s probably good.

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  • Tim Shogren

    Shot placement is the most important factor. The small .380 ACP in your waistband is orders of magnitude more powerful than a .45 ACP in the safe at home.

  • Scott Selby

    Here was a shocker for me. I just checked in that the Ruger LC9 is the same weight as my SR22. At 17 ounces, just how rough is the LC to shoot as compared to a LC380?

    • Adam Purner

      The LC9 kicks….a lot. It’s controllable but I didn’t find it enjoyable to shoot.

  • Danny Cuthbert

    I’d rather have a .380 in my hand than a .45 in my glove compartment……..

  • Calvin Thomas

    All this chit-chat, but I can guarantee not a single damn one of you would scoff at the muzzle of a .380 being trained on you. -the end-

  • Robert Jackson Sr

    Three shots, 2 chest,1 head properly placed at 3 yards will do the job, whatever you have. What to carry dependes on your body size and what you are wearing at the time.1911 in a Bikini just won”t work out 380 LCP might. LOL

  • John Lyes

    Anyone, be they a crazed drugged up lunatic, a 9foot tall hump loving goon or an in your face gang-banger is going to run like shit the moment you start shooting. It’s animal instinct to flee at the sound of gunfire, no one wants to get shot. Criminals are not trained, nor are they smart, in fact they are dumb. Yet there are the exceptions, those that have weapons such as pistols themselves. The best that you can do is empty your magazine into them, so shot placement is key here. When in jeopardy your heart rate goes up you might freeze, or get tunnel vision and once the adrenaline starts pumping, you are yourself in the grip of death coming at you.

    380 can be an adequate round, if you’re ready and know what you’re up against, but even a 9mm or 45 won;t do you any good if you don’t know the basics of self defensive shooting.

  • Yabadab

    Despite obviously not being the most powerful caliber, there are scenarios in which a .380 auto is a great choice for defense. Maybe you are a new shooter, or in general, someone who can’t handle much recoil. Maybe your budget forces you to select between a cheaply made 9mm Luger, or a nice .380.In any of those scenarios, I would much rather have a .380. You want something you can handle and that you can rely on; those should be major factors in your decision. Moreover, look at stopping power by caliber comparisons. They show that a .380 usually works, and although some calibers tend to work more often, no caliber can claim better than “usually works.” Two rounds on target from a .380 almost always works. Again, no other caliber can claim better. And those who theorize otherwise in denial of the stats should test their theory by standing in front of a .380. Those who theorize that a .380 wont work as well against a drugged up attacker, as if any other caliber can claim better, should drink a six-pack and stand in front of a .380.

  • Hank

    The .380 debate will continue until we are the one pulling it out of our “hidie” place and pull the trigger possibly to take another life. As soon as we pull that gun we have huge legal liabilities. I don’t necessarily want to kill anyone but I do want to stop the attack. And as previously stated, a gun in the hand (of whatever caliber) beats the one elsewhere. So maybe our focus should be stopping the attack rather than killing someone.

  • Billary Clinton 2016

    John says it best. No body likes getting shot at. As soon as the gun shows up, and/or the shooting starts. The bad guys run. As they should.

    Many years ago I read a story about a South American (I forget which country) Olympic shooter. He was forced to the side of the road by two men intent on kidnapping him for ransom. They apparently thought his family MUST have money.

    He reached into his bag. And pulled out his .22LR target pistol. Then promptly killed both assailants with head shots. While shooting from cover behind his car.

    It’s all about the shot placement. A .45 caliber shot to a fleshy area won’t do the same damage a .22 caliber shot to the brain will do.

    That said. remember this. When the shooting starts. Human instinct is to RUN. And that’s what the bad guys do.

    And more often than not. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO is show them you have a gun. The smart ones always run. As they should.

  • Fred

    Enveryone agrees that shot placement is the most important factor, an elefant killing round passing 3 feet away from the bad guy is good as any caliber. But, people say that like you can’t do a fist size grouping with a 45, and that is just not true. O have a G19, a snub 38 and a TCP. I just cannot carry my G19 everywhere, my TCP goes on my waistband when i’m running, on my ankle when I’m on a wedding …. And so on… Diferent sizes and wheigths gives you diferent carry options. I always have a gun within seconds of beeing fired, and to me that is the second most important factor after shot placement… 380 can drop a guy.

  • Fred

    Enveryone agrees that shot placement is the most important factor, an elefant killing round passing 3 feet away from the bad guy is good as any caliber. But, people say that like you can’t do a fist size grouping with a 45, and that is just not true. O have a G19, a snub 38 and a TCP. I just cannot carry my G19 everywhere, my TCP goes on my waistband when i’m running, on my ankle when I’m on a wedding …. And so on… Diferent sizes and wheigths gives you diferent carry options. I always have a gun within seconds of beeing fired, and to me that is the second most important factor after shot placement… 380 can drop a guy.

  • OldGoat

    Just stopped by for a read and find it interesting that this site is a lot more objective than most.

    Just a caveat before I start. I’ve been shooting and hunting with handguns since I was 14 (that would be 1957, I’m 72 as I type). So, I’ve had a bit of experience with “live” targets. About a year ago I got intrigued by the .380 debate, so went out and bought a S&W Bodyguard to try on feral hogs. For those of you unfamiliar with a feral hog, they are a very tough animal. They have a thick layer of hair that is usuall caked in mud and other crud they’ve been wallowing in. Under that a thick, tough hide (think bacon rind because that’s pretty much what it is). The only ammo I could find at the time was Hornady Critical Defense, so that’s what I went with. I usually hunt them with a bow, so all my stands are set up for either a 20 or 30 yd shot. Pigs are built with their vitals directly behind the shoulder, so unless they are quartering away your best shot is through the front shoulder. This requires the round to shatter the shoulder and continue on (live bone is a whole different medium than dead bone). I started on a couple of 40 pound piglets because I wasn’t sure of the round. The little .380 perfromed perfectly, even when penetrating the shoulder bone. The largest hog I shot went 200 t0 250 lbs(I’m guessing, I had to gut him and cut his head off before I could get him in the jeep). I’ve since gone back to the bow, but the .380 handled the hogs with no problem and am pretty sure it would work just as well on man. I have a new respect for it to say the least. I still carrry my .40, but the .380 is in my pocket as a backup. Probably will never need either, but just in case.

    • oso

      Thanks for sharing. I have more confidence with .380 ACP after reading your story.

    • Lock’n Load

      Thanks for sharing. I have read so much on the ‘mythical stopping power’ of handguns that it now annoys me. I too also shot a few hogs ranging from 100 – 175 lbs. A fmj when clean thru on a side shot on 2 separate hogs. A shoulder shot with fmj stopped just short of exiting on a shoulder shot. I placed a shot just behind the shoulder on about 150 lb hog with a fiocchi xtp hollow point and he dropped like a rock after running about 25 yards. It penetrated to the other should but stopped there without breaking that shoulder. I shot a 2nd smaller hog maybe 100/lbs with a Winchester hollow point. I missed my target area slightly but still managed to get a decent shoulder shot. It broke his shoulder but did not penetrate much further but the damage was very good. I had to finish him off but he was definitely badly hurt. Don’t my word for it though, go try it yourself. Don’t shoot gel and tell me how a bullet will impact an animal or person. I carry an LCP 380 during the summer or when I can’t conceal my XDS 45. My spouse and my mother both have an LCP also. I alternate fmj and hollow points. I am 100 % that I can defend myself well with either.

      For my last thought on the mythical stopping power of handgun’s, there are NONE that can do it in every situation. Shot placement is what really matters. That’s it.
      People just like talking about it like an old fairytale.

  • rob

    I don’t want the bullet to pass thru the target possibly hitting an innocent , If needed let the doctor dig it out .

  • Coldblood

    .380 was a military and police round used through all of Europe for decades, like the video says, we have better ammo now, while it is not “the” best round for defense, in my opinion it is good enough for any likely scenario an average citizen is likely to encounter, at least togged you out of it. Arguing on the contrary is like those who argue that 9mm is not enough and you should carry a .45, better yet, a .357, no, wait, a magnum 44, are we there yet? no wait, better carry your AR15 with two 30 rounds magazines… you got my point…