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.380 Auto too small for main carry gun?

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  • kazanski612

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    Feb 21, 2009
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    Hey, everybody - first post here. Glad to be on board.

    I'm working on getting my CHL and I've been leaning toward a compact .40 S&W like the HK P2000SK, Sig P239, or waiting for the Beretta PX4 subcompact .40 (which should be available "late-summer, early-fall").

    I'm a sucker for traditional double action (SA/DA) and it occurred to me that if I expand my search to include .380 auto, I have more options. Plus a .380 may be easier to carry everyday.

    Here's my question: is a .380 auto too small as a main carry gun? Can an "average" shot hit the broad side of a barn from 20 feet with something with a 2" or 3" barrel? Is the drop in knock-down power between .40SW and .380Auto a legit concern (i.e. should I be worried about penetration through moderate-to-heavy clothing)?

    Thanks for your help!
     

    Texas42

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    Here is my opinion.

    I carry a 380 auto pocket pistol. I carry it because it is easy to conceal. I can carry it with any belted shorts or pants and a T-shirt.

    I'd rather carry my Glock 19, but that isn't always an option.

    I'd rather have a 380 on me than have nothing. With my kel tec P3AT, I can hit with in a 5 or 6 inch circle at 10 yards. My accuracy really goes down hill after that. ( I get about a foot and half high and have over a foot spread. )

    Yes, a .40 or a 9mm is going to have a lot better ballisics than a .380 auto. The velocity isn't going to be as great, especially out of the short barrels. This could really effect the efficacy of the HP expanding.

    This doesn't even talk about the fact that 380 auto is almost impossible to find at a reasonble price.

    In all, CC is probably where the 380 auto is best, but it doesn't mean it is the best CC round.
     

    navyguy

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    Welcome to the forum.

    HK P2000SK or P2000 and P239 are great carry guns. .40, .357 or 9mm all are good defense rounds. The P239 is larger and heavier than the P2000SK or P2000. (My edc is a p2000 .40) FWIW I have a P2000SK .40 as well, but find the P2000 just as easy to carry.

    As for the .380 as a primary carry round... it's better than nothing, but unless you're looking at something like KelTec or other "mouse gun", I can't think of a reason to carry a .380. You can find 9mm that are in the same size range, like a Kahr PM9, Beretta PX4 Storm, CZ Rami, Glock 26 and others. And the 9mm is quite a bit better as a defense round. Ammo is less expensive too. Hard to even find .380 right now. If you're looking for a smaller option, think toward a SW J Frame .38 like an Air Weight. Light, small and a .38 is acceptable defense round.

    As far as hitting anything with a short barreled gun and 20'... no problem. It's more the shooter than the gun.
     

    hoytinak

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    I say no, not at all. I feel perfectly content with just my little Seecamp .380 in my pocket any day of the week.

    Carry what you're comfortable with.
     

    Big country

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    Might I suggest a sub com pact 9mm. Better than a 380 as far as ballistics and not as harsh a recoil in a small gun compared to the 40. but I know plenty of cops that carry a 380's as a off duty/back up pistol.
     

    DrBart2

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    Welcome to the forum.

    If you're looking for a smaller option, think toward a SW J Frame .38 like an Air Weight. Light, small and a .38 is acceptable defense round.

    As far as hitting anything with a short barreled gun and 20'... no problem. It's more the shooter than the gun.

    I am a small man and can hide my snub nose .38 in my pants pocket without a problem. I normally carry my PM9, but that little gun is so darned expensive, I wouldn't really recommend it. You can get a nice, small .38 revolver that can handle +P ammo. The snubbies are a small package with decent power.
    As said by others it is better to carry a .380 than nothing at all. I have one but always grab something a bit stouter.
     

    hoytinak

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    As stated on another forum talking about mouse guns...I think this fits good here as well:

    Bill DeShivs on TFL said:
    After you have carried for many years, you will realize the meth crazed, 300 lb. zombie biker is really not after you at all-and that a small, comfortable gun is all that is necessary.
     

    Shorts

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    I carried a .380 for my primary for a couple years. I would say "it worked fine" but I never had to use it ;)

    Down here in TX the .380 will do. Often with the .380 it is a concern that the JHP round will not penetrate enough to create a good wound. The concern with the FMJ is over penetration/through and through (danger to bystanders). As I mentioned about being here in TX, the climate is warm which means people don't normally wear thick clothing, layers or a heavy overcoat. Those materials can clog up the JHP as it expands which can hinder penetration. That isn't as much of a factor in a warm/hot climate as it is in colder climates.


    Overall, carry what you can effectively shoot, conceal and afford. The gun is the last piece of the puzzle. You still need situational awareness and shot placement. Keeo your margin of error small.

    One thing to bear in mind now is ammo availability and cost. That may or may not influence your decision.
     

    TxEMTP69

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    I would say the .380 is a decent round, as I've been playing with carry options myself. My wife has a Bersa .380 with hornandy critical defense ammo.

    I carry a 9mm with Black talons, hydrashocks and hornandy critical defense. I have a Taurus pt99 and a Keltec p11. The keltec is a bit snappy on the recoil and the Taurus is not ideal for me for summer carry.

    As most have said, carry what your comfortable with. And remember if you take your CHL with a revolver you can only carry a revolver, so if you can borrow or rent a semiauto (so you can carry either)if you don't have one for the class.
     

    SIG_Fiend

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    There is no such thing as "knock down power". There are really only 3 ways to stop a person:

    -Blood loss/Vital organ damage (usually much too slow, sometimes won't occur for several seconds or minutes)
    -Central Nervous System shot (IE - in the brain, the only shot that has a ~99.9% instantaneous stopping ability)
    -Psychological (the human body can withstand extreme trauma, many people just simply give up well before their physical limits)

    Personally, for a primary carry gun I would try to stay at least .38 special and larger in revolvers or 9mm and larger in semi autos. A .380 is better than nothing, however the smaller you go, the more and more you are relying on the most unpredictable and less reliable of the 3 stopping factors.....namely the psychological one. Many people will just stop, fall down sometimes, run off, etc if shot or shot at by even a .380 or puny .22lr. All it takes is that one in a million chance that you get attacked by a guy hopped up on PCP that can't feel the bullet that just struck his heart and will prove to be fatal in 10-20 seconds roughly. A determined attacker can do a LOT of damage in 10-20 seconds. Do you think you can get a headshot off in such a situation where one or more shots has failed to stop? Can you do it with a really small pocket gun with horrible sights, on a rapidly moving target?
     

    laurafan

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    It does not specify ammo types ( FMJ, HP ), but here is a news story about a shooting where one person had a 380 and one had a 9mm.

    Miami police released the names of those involved in the Burger King shootout Tuesday that ended with a dead armed robber and the seriously-wounded customer who shot him.
    John Landers, 45, was the customer who walked up to the gun-wielding masked robber, 18-year-old Johnny Jean-Baptiste, when the restaurant's clerk was being robbed at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
    According to police, Jean-Baptiste wore a ski mask when he walked into the Burger King at Northeast 54th Street and Biscayne Boulevard armed with a gun. It was a time, employees said, when it is usually crowded with schoolchildren and people getting out of work early. Jean-Baptiste then approached the counter, pointed his tiny semiautomatic Bryco .380 towards the restaurant's employees and demanded money.
    That's when Landers, armed with a concealed weapons permit and his 9mm Glock 19, asked Jean-Baptiste to put the gun down, according to the police report.
    Jean-Baptiste refused and began firing his gun and Landers shot back, police reported.
    Within seconds, Landers had been shot in his chest, shoulder and arm -- and Jean-Baptiste lay dead on the restaurant floor, according to police.
    According to police, Jean-Baptiste entered wearing a ski mask. He approached a clerk, showed his gun and demanded money. Within seconds, Landers eyed him and the two started arguing.
    Jean-Baptiste fell to the floor and was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Landers, who was shot several times, was in serious but stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center.
    After the shootings, police divided witnesses into several groups outside the restaurant to gather information about the incident. Employees waiting to start their shift called friends and family members on their cellphones to pass the time because they were not allowed through the police tape.
    ''I just hope all my people are OK inside,'' Cynthia Thomas, who has worked at the Burger King for five years, said at the time. ``It is scary.''
    The area is a prime destination for residents in the Upper East Side neighborhood -- featuring Soyka's restaurant, Sushi Siam and Andiamo Pizza.
    The gun used by the robber was on the list of top 10 guns used in crimes in the U.S. in 2000, according TIME magazine, which published a study by U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
    Miami Herald staff writer Robert Samuels contributed to this story
     

    cuate

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    .380 is one of my carry guns

    I have carried a .357 revolver, and generally carry a Springfield Ultra Compact .45 Auto, but neither conceal as easily as the little .380 auto I can carry in my trousers or jeans pocket without "printing". The big boys are for carrying in the DFW area and other like areas where the zombies
    may roam.....Out here in a rural area and small towns a .380 is just fine.
     

    M. Sage

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    I wouldn't feel undergunned with a .380 carry gun. I'd call it a bare minimum caliber for carry, but it'll do the job if you do yours.

    Personally I've fallen in love with the J-frame; it's small enough for a pocket, if it prints you have trouble telling what it is, and the sights are usually a little better than you find on pocket-size semi autos, especially in .380.

    I wouldn't carry either as my main fighting gun, though.. that's why they invented rifles.

    and a bit more info on 380 vs 38 spl.
    http://www.m4carbine.net/http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19914

    .380 vs .38 spl is kind of a one-sided contest. .38 spl is better matched to 9mm.
     

    TexasRedneck

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    I carry a Colt Mustang in my pocket whereever I go during the summer months. On the bike, I'll toss one in each vest pocket. If I'm able to wear a longer jacket/windbreaker without looking out of place, then my High Standard Crusader (or one of my other 8 45's) is usually on my hip, although I'll sometimes carry one of my 40's.
    The wife used to razz me about havin' so many guns.....until I asked her how many shoes she owns. The arguement ended there - because I outran her! :D
     

    Skip

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    I carry a Colt Mustang in my pocket whereever I go during the summer months. On the bike, I'll toss one in each vest pocket. If I'm able to wear a longer jacket/windbreaker without looking out of place, then my High Standard Crusader (or one of my other 8 45's) is usually on my hip, although I'll sometimes carry one of my 40's.
    The wife used to razz me about havin' so many guns.....until I asked her how many shoes she owns. The arguement ended there - because I outran her! :D



    Your lucky you didn't end up with 3 inches of heel stuck in your backside...
     
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