.38+P vs .380acp [Archive] - Glock Talk


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06-25-2011, 10:55
Hi Mas,

It's great to be reading your insight this morning; I read through much of your posts and haven't found this covered by you. I understand your position on .380 is that it is underpowered to be a reliable self-defense weapon. I prefer 9mm, but do occasionally carry .380 due to size (and my LCP has always been reliable). I also have a .357 2", and have occasionally carried .38+P (Speer 135gn short barreled). This post turned out a bit longer than expected so my questions are italicized

I recently read an article titled "Ammunition for the Seff-Defense firearm" (http://www.chuckhawks.com/ammo_by_anonymous.htm). I agree with many of their points, and they seem meticulous in ammo differentiation; for example, even going as far as recommending Silvertip rounds as acceptable in some calibers, and recommending against it in others.

My question lies with their bold claim:

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

They were referencing Marshall&Sanow OSS numbers, which I don't have a strong opinion on other than it is interesting. I did some research into the energy and velocity of each, and I think their claim has some backing, with numbers at least.

Since the energy is about the same (.38 being slower, but heavier) out of a 2" snub, is there a reason you recommend .38+P but not .380? My first thought of the comparison and why you may think this way, is the reliability and simplicity of a revolver; especially for inexperienced/new shooters. However, your main argument agaisnt .380 seems to be, that .380 is underpowered.

Do you also feel .38+P in a 2" snub is also underpowered, or does the heavier round have some advantage?

Personally, I am keeping an open mind and am not arguing against your statements and am not stating it is a contradiction, as energy isn't the only way to measure effectiveness; I only want to learn more. The real-life shooting data (http://www.handloads.com/misc/stoppingpower.asp) (if accurate, another topic entirely) and other factors mentioned do persuade me, however, in the direction to agree with their statement.

I can imagine, for example for a woman new to shooting and wanting to carry something small but reliable, having a dilemma (or to the husband buying it for her, if 9mm or larger isn't considered). Especially with the new double-stack Bersa Thunder with a high capacity and reliable LCP , and the classic reliability of the snubnose with new lightweight models, the choice is indeed a close and difficult one.

Thank you for your time and insight.


Mas Ayoob
06-25-2011, 11:11
.38 Special +P in the snub has worked out well, particularly in loads like the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot and the Remington 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point.

No argument,Ray; it's just that I'm aware that some feel .380 in its best loads equals or exceeds .38 Special in ITS best loads, but I respectfully disagree. All any of us can speak to is our own gathered research and collected experiences, and mine apparently differ from those of some others.

If it comes down to .380 auto, subcompact 9mm auto, or small .38 Special 2" revolver, I'm inclined toward the latter two.


06-26-2011, 02:39
Perhaps a .38+P advantage over .380 is the penetration, due to more mass. .380 tends to get 10 inches at best; If I recall correctly, .38+P gets 12+.

Mas Ayoob
06-26-2011, 07:38
that's a fair analysis.:supergrin: