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  1. #1
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    stopping power of a .380

    sorta spin off from one of my other treads I want to know if a .380 has a enough power to really stop someone in a life or death situation. I like the conceal ability of a 380 auto and some people say with the new ammo out there its effective. Ive heard stories of the 9mm not even making people flinch when hit in high stress situation.
    Otherwise i'll step up to the 38/357

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    No gun expert here. I carry a KEL-TEC .380 semi auto for off duty. I use hollow points and I have full confidence that I could DEFEND myself with it if I needed to. Mind you I would not go out of my way to engage in an all out gun battle, but I feel in close range if someone was say, trying to jack me I could put a few well placed shots in them.
    As far as stopping power. Trooper Coates of the South Carolina State Police shot that turd that attacked him with a .357 scoring 5 hits at close range. The guy still managed to get of a shot with a .22 and unfortunately kill the Trooper.
    I have been on many Homicide scenes where the weapon used was a .380. I think you would be just fine with it. Though like I said I am not a gun guru.
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    All handguns have limited "stopping power" even with the best available ammunition. Even so, I've investigated quite a few shootings involving .380 ACP caliber pistols and (with proper placement) they seem to be as effective as any .38 Special or 9mm round at close range. Although my personal preference is .40 S&W or .45 ACP caliber pistols, there are some concealment situations that demand smaller options and I feel the .380 ACP fits the bill.
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    Well, statistically, I believe that the most deadly round in the US is the .22 long rifle. Does that mean that it's got the same "stopping power" as a .50 bmg? Obviously not. But, it does go to show that even a very small round can kill.

    As with any round, especially handgun rounds, it's more about shot placement than bullet size. If you hit vitals, then a bullet of any size can do the job. If you're just punching holes and not hitting anything that's either a vital organ or a part of the support/skeletal system, then you're gonna need a howitzer to cause enough damage to stop a threat on a determined opponent.
    "He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
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    I am a big fan of the Makarov 9x18, and it's my daily carry piece. Slightly more powerful than the .380, and as long as you stick with models made in Bulgaria, East Germany, or Soviet Union, you will have a firearm that does not know the meaning of "failure to feed". You pull the trigger and it goes bang, every time, simple as that.

    I've had my Bulgy Mak for many years and to date have had zero failures. Probably hard to believe but research it and you'll see that it's not a unique experience. Maks are the AK-47's of handguns, IMO, simple and reliable.

    When I can, I carry my Kimber Polymer High Capacity but I can't always conceal it effectively in Miami's 90+ degree weather. So my Mak goes almost wherever I go. So I would suggest you consider a Mak.

    Just stay away from Chinese or other European models like those made in Romania, Hungary, Poland, etc. These do shoot the 9x18 caliber but the pistols themselves are a different design than the original PM (Pistolet Makarova) pistol.

    More on the Mak:

    http://www.cruffler.com/historic-january00.html

    Mak 1.jpg

    markings.jpg

    Mak.jpg

    Last edited by PS100; 08-28-2009 at 04:33 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh View Post
    Well, statistically, I believe that the most deadly round in the US is the .22 long rifle. Does that mean that it's got the same "stopping power" as a .50 bmg? Obviously not. But, it does go to show that even a very small round can kill.

    As with any round, especially handgun rounds, it's more about shot placement than bullet size. If you hit vitals, then a bullet of any size can do the job. If you're just punching holes and not hitting anything that's either a vital organ or a part of the support/skeletal system, then you're gonna need a howitzer to cause enough damage to stop a threat on a determined opponent.
    +1....hit a perp with a .22 LR in one or both eyes and he will be a tad more than momentarily "distracted"....!! Also a well placed shot in the sternum, preferably upward trajectory, can put a target down fast as well.
    Last edited by PS100; 08-28-2009 at 04:34 PM.
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    two words : Shot Placement.

    If you are using any kind of "self defense" ammo as long as you hit what you need to hit you will be fine.
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    The ballistics on some of the .380 rounds seem similar to a low-powered .38 special. I think that some 9mm pistols are almost as compact. If you are more concerned about weight, the scandium and titanium S&W 2" .38 (or even .357) revolvers are probably lighter than a .380.
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    Really no such thing as stopping power, unless you are talking .50 caliber and above.

    It is all shot placement and hitting the vital organs, central nervous system, and major blood vessels. The bullet has to hit something that causes the body to shut down, and the best way to do that is to leave big holes and hope you hit something important inside.

    Best example I can give to the stopping power myth is hunting; I have shot deer just about every where with 30-06 180 grain bullet that has over 2000lbs of energy. The deer rarely stopped immediately and in most cases ran off taking various times to die. Keep in mind the velocity and sure power of a rifle; now image you shooting a person with relatively similar weight and thickness with a weapon 1/20th the power.

    In regards to your question I personally would not use a 380 for self defense as the penetration is lacking and the expansion in minimal.

    Although many cops have been killed by the 380, guess it comes down to what you are comfortable with.
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    Just remember there's something to the pointing of it. No one was ever hurt by a fast noise.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pulicords View Post
    All handguns have limited "stopping power" even with the best available ammunition. Even so, I've investigated quite a few shootings involving .380 ACP caliber pistols and (with proper placement) they seem to be as effective as any .38 Special or 9mm round at close range. Although my personal preference is .40 S&W or .45 ACP caliber pistols, there are some concealment situations that demand smaller options and I feel the .380 ACP fits the bill.

    +1

    Bullet placement beats "stopping power."
    Politically Correct? No.

    Truthful? Yes!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bing_Oh View Post
    Well, statistically, I believe that the most deadly round in the US is the .22 long rifle. Does that mean that it's got the same "stopping power" as a .50 bmg? Obviously not. But, it does go to show that even a very small round can kill.

    As with any round, especially handgun rounds, it's more about shot placement than bullet size. If you hit vitals, then a bullet of any size can do the job. If you're just punching holes and not hitting anything that's either a vital organ or a part of the support/skeletal system, then you're gonna need a howitzer to cause enough damage to stop a threat on a determined opponent.

    +1 again.
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    Truthful? Yes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel Kinevel View Post
    two words : Shot Placement.

    If you are using any kind of "self defense" ammo as long as you hit what you need to hit you will be fine.

    +1+
    Politically Correct? No.

    Truthful? Yes!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Legend1bt View Post
    Really no such thing as stopping power, unless you are talking .50 caliber and above.

    It is all shot placement and hitting the vital organs, central nervous system, and major blood vessels. The bullet has to hit something that causes the body to shut down, and the best way to do that is to leave big holes and hope you hit something important inside.

    Best example I can give to the stopping power myth is hunting; I have shot deer just about every where with 30-06 180 grain bullet that has over 2000lbs of energy. The deer rarely stopped immediately and in most cases ran off taking various times to die. Keep in mind the velocity and sure power of a rifle; now image you shooting a person with relatively similar weight and thickness with a weapon 1/20th the power.

    In regards to your question I personally would not use a 380 for self defense as the penetration is lacking and the expansion in minimal.

    Although many cops have been killed by the 380, guess it comes down to what you are comfortable with.

    Agree with the shot placement sentence above. Respect your opinion on not using a .380 for yourself - it's a personal decision.

    A smaller caliber round, like the .380, does have a place in close-up self defense where concealability is absolutely necessary. I wouldn't use a .380 to do a drug raid, but would have no problem carrying one when going to the grocery store, running errands, or walking the dog after hours.
    Politically Correct? No.

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    A .380 will do it as far as I know. Personally, I would carry ball if I was carrying a .380 but that's just me. Initially, the .45 auto's fame came from ball out of a 1911, not HP's.

    You can look at your ammo selection like WW2 fighters did: AP to punch holes and incendiary to start fires - or ball to punch holes for blood loss and HP's for maximum energy transfer. Even so, shot placement will always be #1. Many will tell you that ball should never be used for defense given over penetration (Ayoob [sic] for one). I'm not 100% sold that ball doesn't have a place in defensive situations.

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    Reader's Digest version:

    1) "Stopping power" is accomplished either by psychological or physical means. Caliber is relatively unimportant in the first and moderately important in the second.

    2) A bigger round will destroy more tissue, increasing the chances of physical incapaciation due to necessary tissue being destroyed or by bleeding the target out.

    3) Deeper penetration will also accomplish the goal of more tissue destruction and more bleeding.

    Is there much difference between a round that penetrates an extra 1/2" and expands an additional .10"? It depends on if the round stops 1/2" in front of the aorta or misses the CNS by .10".

    So, not an actual answer to "is a .380" enough, but just something to consider when choosing a caliber.

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    with all due respect to your knowledge to this incident, according to all the training I have had in reference to Trooper Coates, his deparment had them carrying .357 magnums but they were loaded with .38 ammo at the time of the shooting. I sat through a class with Calibre Press (which is awesome!!) and this is also the information they passed along. Trooper Coates, may he rest in peace and his family have peace as well.

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    If you had a 1gal jug of water, and your life depending on how fast you could punch holes in the jug and drain the water, would you put small holes in it or large holes?

    I prefer large holes, but small holes are better than a hard stare.

    There have been a few times I would have carried a .380 based on how I was dressed, it would have been more convenient than a G30. But I am not allowed to carry anything smaller than a 38spl. I have considered getting a Ruger LCR to have something very lightweight to use.

    Another option is to look at the new .327 Federal Magnum cartridge in a revolver.
    100 gr (6.5 g) JHP 1,400 ft/s (430 m/s) 435 ft·lbf (590 J)

    vs. the .380ACP
    95 gr (6.2 g) FMJ 980 ft/s (300 m/s) 203 ft·lbf (275 J)

  19. #19
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    Not sure if it's been brought up, but did anyone mention shot placement?

    From the bit that I've read about, .380 seems to be effective when properly used. Our last homicide involving a gun, was a .380 that the suspect unloaded into his brother in law. It works. Close range with good shot placement will get 'er done.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by bto35 View Post
    sorta spin off from one of my other treads I want to know if a .380 has a enough power to really stop someone in a life or death situation. I like the conceal ability of a 380 auto and some people say with the new ammo out there its effective. Ive heard stories of the 9mm not even making people flinch when hit in high stress situation.
    Otherwise i'll step up to the 38/357
    Considering the fact that all handgun calibers in standard duty loads (9mm-.45ACP) are generally poor man stoppers, and considering how small and well made some guns in 9mm are, I wouldn't opt for a .380. Better then nothing to be sure, but the terminal performance of the .380 is notoriously poor. If you read the research by people like Dr Roberts et al., who does ballistics testing for various 'gubment' agencies and such, you realize you don't wanna have to defend your life with a .380.

    Although dated (but I am told by Dr Roberts the info is still accurate) the must read doc on this topic is Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness which was produced by the DOJ and FBI. See:

    http://www.firearmstactical.com/hwfe.htm

    I will re read this doc on occasion as it's such a good read. Maybe I'm just weird...
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    That document is a very strong advocate for .45acp ball. I just might switch.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Legend1bt View Post
    Really no such thing as stopping power, unless you are talking .50 caliber and above.

    It is all shot placement and hitting the vital organs, central nervous system, and major blood vessels.

    Best example I can give to the stopping power myth is hunting; I have shot deer just about every where with 30-06 180 grain bullet that has over 2000lbs of energy. The deer rarely stopped immediately and in most cases ran off taking various times to die.
    ++1
    "Stopping power", i.e. the power to drop someone in their tracks with a single hit, is not something you're often going to see from a handgun. Legend is correct: a .50 BMG round WILL stop a man, because it will crush his bone structure, overload his nervous system with shock, and explode internal organs near the impact point into a gel-like red substance; however, few other rounds have that type of massive impact.

    I have dropped deer in their tracks with a .243, and seen others run half a mile after a hit from a .300; it is all about where the bullet hits. I am comfortable with my .380 concealed carry, but for someone not confident in his/her ability to place shots into vital areas, I can understand that they might want to use a larger caliber handgun.

    The problem with that is that thought you may get more bleeding and damage from a .40 or .45 to a limb or to the abdomen, it is still going to take some time before your bad guy goes down for good. He could still be able to return fire. Shot placement is far more important than caliber in personal defense situations.

    In regards to the FMJ/Ball ammo vs. JHP/HP: there used to be some serious issues with JHP ammunition failing to reliably expand AND penetrate. Today we have advanced ammunition which, though it may sometimes fail to expand, rarely fails to penetrate at least 14-16". With FMJ/Ball ammunition, you see better penetration data, but any energy carried beyond the target is wasted. When readily available JHP provides through-and-through penetration, why would I choose FMJ with poorer permanent wound cavity traits? With JHP, at worst I achieve the same result as with FMJ.
    Caveat: I don't try to shoot through walls and windows often; if I were, I might choose differently. However, shooting at a target you do not have a clear line-of-sight to is frequently dangerous to others, irresponsible and/or outside of policy.

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    Everything has been said already, but with current ammo I feel fine carrying my LCP around off duty and as a backup. If you can carry a larger caliber as easy, then it makes sense to, but I found I was carrying my already small 9mm Kahr infrequently due to the weight. The LCP I take everywhere because there's no reason not to.

    The Buffalo Bore .380 "+p" is shooting around 1100FPS. Other rounds like Hornady CD and Gold Dots are showing good penetration and expansion. Whatever the case, you put a few in someone and they are gonna react. We are also talking about close distance situations for the most part, including drilling the little peashooter right into their chest or eye socket.

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    Prior to retiring, I'd investigated quite a few shootings where the weapon used was a .380 ACP. Considering the size (diameter) of the bullet(s), their weight and velocity at the distances used, the results really weren't much different from those involving short barreled .38 Special revolvers or 9mm pistols. We are after all talking about .355 or .357 caliber projectiles moving at only moderate velocities. If a .38 Special bullet (from a 2" revolver) moving at 700-800 fps works alright at close range, then why wouldn't a .380 ACP bullet moving at 900-1000 fps cause similar damage?

    For defensive purposes, I prefer .40 S&W and .45 ACP caliber pistols, but I'd certainly never volunteer to be shot with a 9mm. There are times when carrying a compact or full sized handgun simply isn't practical and a "snubbie" revolver or subcompact pistol is the way to go. While I certainly wouldn't want to carry something smaller than .380 ACP, I don't feel it gives up a thing to a comparably sized .38 Special or 9mm.

    BTW: The ammo I carry in my Seecamp .380 is the factory recommended Federal "Hydra Shoks" or Winchester "Silvertips."
    Last edited by pulicords; 01-11-2010 at 05:42 PM.
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    As mentioned, Dr Roberts does much of the ballistics testing for various agencies. Here is his advice on the .380:

    Many small, easily concealed semi-automatic pistols which are recommended for law enforcement backup or concealed carry use fire .380 ACP or smaller bullets. While these small caliber handgun bullets can produce fatal wounds,they are less likely to produce the rapid incapacitation necessary in law enforcement or self-defense situations.

    Handguns chambered in .380 ACP are small, compact, and generally easy to carry. Unfortunately, testing has shown that they offer inadequate performance for self-defense and for law enforcement use whether on duty as a back-up weapon or for off duty carry. The terminal performance of .380 ACP JHP's is often erratic, with inadequate penetration and inconsistent expansion being common problems, while .380 ACP FMJ's offer adequate penetration, but no expansion. All of the .380 ACP JHP loads we have tested, including CorBon, Hornady, Federal, Remington, Speer, and Winchester exhibited inconsistent, unacceptable terminal performance for law enforcement back-up and off duty self-defense use due to inadequate penetration or inadequate expansion. Stick with FMJ for .380 ACP or better yet, don't use it at all. The use of .380 ACP and smaller caliber weapons is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them.

    While both the .380 ACP and .38 sp can obviously be lethal; the .38 sp is more likely to incapacitate an attacker when used in a BUG role.

    BUG--Infrequently used, but when needed, it must be 100% reliable because of the extreme emergency situation the user is dealing with. Generally secreted in pockets, ankle holsters, body armor holsters, etc... Often covered in lint, grime, and gunk. By their very nature, usually applied to the opponent in an up close and personal encounter, many times involving contact shots. A small .38 sp revolver is more reliable in these situations than a small .380 ACP pistol, especially with contact shots or if fired from a pocket.

    The Speer Gold Dot 135 gr +P JHP and Corbon 110 gr DPX JHP offer the most reliable expansion we have seen from a .38 sp 2” BUG.

    .38 Sp Speer 135 gr +P JHP Gold Dot (53921), ave vel=856f/s
    BG: pen=13.1”, RD=0.56”, RW=134.5gr
    4 layer denim: pen=13.6”, RD=0.53”, RW=134.1gr
    auto windshield: pen=9.4”, RD=0.51”, RW=129.6gr

    http://i459.photobucket.com/albums/q...135GDRecov.jpg

    Downside to the 135 gr +P Gold Dot is the appreciable recoil and relatively poor intermediate barrier performance.

    .38 Sp Corbon 110 gr JHP DPX (using Barnes XPB all copper bullets), ave vel=1021fps
    BG: pen=13.0"; RD=0.52", RL=0.52", RW=109.5gr
    4 layer denim: pen=12.4"; RD=0.52", RL=0.51", RW=109.7gr

    http://i459.photobucket.com/albums/q...g?t=1234159334

    135 GD and 110 gr DPX--notice the failure of the Hornady .38 Sp 110 gr FTX "Critical Defense" load to expand after 4 layers of denim...

    Cont:

    http://www.m4carbine.net/archive/index.php/t-19914.html
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