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.380 Effectiveness

Or rather not so much.

Hmmm. Maybe I should re-think this Kel-Tec thing.

31 Responses to “.380 Effectiveness”

  1. chrisb Says:

    Interesting. I have been considering a P3-AT for everyday use as well. I will carry my XD-45 some, but for quick trips to the gas station in sweatpants and a t-shirt it is unrealistic. The little .380 with a pocket holster seemed ideal. How about the PF-9?

  2. Breda Says:

    This sort of thing has been reported to have happened with all sorts of calibers. But, that said, shot placement is very important with a .380, to be sure. That’s why practice and actual understanding of the effects of what you are shooting (pistol, as well as caliber) matter so much.

  3. Gregory Morris Says:

    Meh. I know I’ll carry my .380, whereas I may choose to carry a bigger gun less often. Living in FL, its too hard to conceal a big gun given that most of the year we wear shorts/tshirts. Heck, for quick runs to the grocery store, I just pocket my kel-tec p32.

  4. Ninth Stage Says:

    Sounds like the perfect pistol for the wife 😉

  5. TD Says:

    A similar thing happened to a former neighbor of mine. He was shot almost on the point of the chin with a .22, which rode along his jawbone and exited just under his ear. IIRC he only needed a couple of stitches.

  6. Paul Simer Says:

    Most folks WILL voluntarily fall down or disengage upon learning that they’ve been shot with *anything*. It’s the 5% (wild guess on my part, give or take) of assailants that are too insane or baked to have any self-preservation drive that one must worry about.

    Which means that in the rare event you do have to shoot someone, they will want no more to do with you and a .380 will do just fine. I carry a full-size service-caliber pistol every day, but there was a time when discovery of a handgun would have gotten me in big trouble, so I left the Glock at home and carried a P3AT in my pocket.

    Better a .380 than nothing, but the trick is not to become complacent and carry an inferior weapon solely for convenience.

  7. Weer'd Beard Says:

    I read a similar story of a prisoner being executed at the edge of a mass grave by the Soviets. The man was shot in the back of the head with a Markarov and the bullet did the same thing according to the report.

    Make mine a PM45!

  8. Jay G. Says:


    IIRC, there was a story of an American soldier in Iraq shot point-blank in the face with a 9mm.

    The bullet lodged in his jaw and caused no more damage than a couple of missing teeth.

    *I* still don’t want to be shot with one.

  9. Molon Labe Says:

    I carry a Bulgarian Makarov in 9×18 most of the time (pretty close to the .380 caliber). The fact that it goes bang every single time i pull the trigger outweighs my concerns about its stopping power.

  10. Ahab Says:

    I don’t really worry about it too much – I hear a lot more stories about people dropping dead from being hit with a .22 than I do about .380s lodging in the skull. I mean, I recognize that it does happen, but it doesn’t exactly happen often.

  11. ParatrooperJJ Says:

    Any weapon is better than none.

  12. Hypnagogue Says:

    Anecdotal evidence is only useful to understand the mode of failure, not the likelihood of failure. It sounds like the problem was bullet selection (FMJ ball?) and shot placement. Repeat experiment with DPX at center-mass.

  13. guy Says:

    Well, that settles it.

    From now on I carry only Angry Words and Stern Looks. Those are 100% effective.

  14. Sulaco Says:

    Talked recently with a guy who is still carrying a .380 slug in his back, docs said it was more trouble to remove then leave in place. Said it didnt even slow him down at the time, thought he had been punched. Biggest problems now is getting through airport security!! LOL

    I have seen people DRT with.22 LR out of a 2 inch hand gun and a kid hit dead center by a .240 gr .44 mag live to walk out of the hospital.

    All handgun rounds are a crap shot with your life as the bet.

  15. Sebastian Says:

    I wouldn’t want to get shot with a .380. This is one reason headshots are a bad idea, though. The skull is pretty good at deflecting bullets, especially rounded ones.

  16. Paul Boughton Says:

    I’m reminded of a fellow that took every big game animal in North America with a .22.

    It all comes down to shot placement. When the bullets start whizzing about will you remain calm, ensure site picture, and squeeze the trigger or would you empty your clip in a rain of fire? That answer has more to do with the effectiveness of the weapon you are using than the choice of weapon.

  17. JJR Says:

    When I bought my .380 Bersa Thunder, the gun dealer told me “be sure to shoot twice; you don’t want to shoot once and look with this gun”.

    I noted that if I was sufficiently in fear of my life I might well empty the magazine into the BG, center of body mass, then run like hell while dialing 911 on my cellphone.

    To another customer, he dissuaded them from buying a .32 cal. semiauto, relating a personal story of a friend from NJ who experienced the same kind of thing described in this blog story quoted above.

    My Bersa is my “anytime” gun, for little things like dropping off a letter at the outgoing mailbox next to the Post Office (not going inside).

    If I’m going to be spending lots of quality time out and about, I strap on my Springfield XD compact in .45 acp in a CTAC IWB holster.
    Also keep a .38 snubby in my car’s glove box always.

  18. JayF Says:

    When Uncle first asked for reccomendations, I suggested this: S&W Model 642 Revolver – Crimson Trace Lasergrip

    It’s been my carry gun for about 15 years, and I still think that it’s has just about the best power/concealment balance.

    That may also go for this: Kahr PM40

    …which I would consider if I was first shopping for a concealment handgun.

  19. Dr. Strangegun Says:

    As long as you don’t shoot the criminals on the curve of the skull with ball ammo, you’ll be fine.

  20. Lyle Says:

    Gregory; I carry a .45 in the pocket of my shorts. No one has ever known I was armed without my telling them.

    Jay; “Point Blank” has a very specific meaning, which has no resemblance to the usage found in TV and movies or by journaltards One thing it does NOT mean is “really super close”. It is that distance where the bullet has fallen below the point of aim by the same amount it rose above it earlier in the trajectory. The point blank range of my son’s 280 Remington, for example, is 235 yards, with a point blank target size of 4.6 inches (meaning it rose 2.3 above and then fell 2.3 below line of sight). If we want to say “really super close” we’ll say that, or “at arms length” or “across the table”, etc..

    I carried a 32 Auto for a while. A great piece of engineering, but after seeing a 2 inch fir board stop a ball round easily, I now I pack a .45.

  21. ZerCool Says:

    A P3-AT was the next gun on my shopping list.

    It still is.

    Dragging around a .45 or .357 in my normal street clothes is generally not practical. Something I can slip into a pocket and know is there when I need it? That’s the way to go for me.

  22. DAD Says:

    I know this sounds like a war story but here it is anyway. In Viet Nam a man had a 60 MM mortor round come down and lodge in his neck just under the skin and the doctors took it out and I never thought the 60 MM was not effective.

  23. dad Says:

    If I had said “MORTAR” I guess you would know what I was talking about. Sorry about that.

  24. Jim W Says:

    P3AT is small enough to carry and big and loud enough to put the fear of god into whoever you hit with it.

    It isn’t a gun for winning a serious gunfight, it’s a gun that gives you a huge help in terms of running away to call the cops and/or find a real gun.

    Someone who gets 5 or 6 shots with 380 ACP may not die, but they will probably be at least winded from the experience. They will have a harder time catching you, planting a beatdown on you or generally making your life difficult.

  25. Letalis Maximus, Esq. Says:

    Any .380 usually beats harsh language. That being said, it is still pretty a last ditch defensive weapon. But then so is most any handgun in the hands of anyone who isn’t a real expert.

    But most any handgun still beats harsh language and dialing 911 to wait for the cops.

  26. Speakertweaker Says:

    Judging from the comments of the linked post, I said that it looks like my only option is to carry an AR now (ixnay on the .223 jokes?).

    I really don’t dig on Syd’s post, or the comments that followed. One who isn’t “in the know” could read that and infer that there are no reliable handguns, since all handgun calibers will bounce off bones and leave a Bad Guy to do with you as he will. Which ultimately will lead to some of our favorite PSH; the kind where your gun will not stop a Bad Guy, but he can take it away from you and kill you with it.

    Apparently, by that rationale, handgun caliber is only effective on Good Guy bodies;)

    Furthermore, just like with anything else, I guarantee I can counter ever story of “.380/9mm/.38/.50BMG just bounced right off his rib and bruised him!!!!1!!” with one of an old man sticking an attacker with a .22LR and dropping him on the spot.

    I am vehemently opposed to the idea that this sort of event is the rule with .380, and not the exception. Dass bad juju.


  27. CarlS Says:

    Interesting comments, all. One question: Is there anyone out there who is willing to take a shot from a .380 from, say, 6 to 10 feet, less body armor? If so, perhaps then I’ll believe that you truly believe we all need personal cannons.

  28. F-Stop Says:

    I have a CZ83, and I may try using magsafe ammo. I’ll betcha that stuff works.

  29. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    I too was thinking about a kel-tec but my new problem is .380 (and .32) costs so much more than 9mm. You could buy a really nice 9mm and almost make up the cost in a case of ammo.

    I’m still sitting on a case and a half of CCI Blazer that is loaded with 124g Gold-Dots that I got for $6/50. Yeah Baby!

  30. Mad Saint Jack Says:

    Your blog thinks I’m spamming you. I’m going to bed. Goodnight.

  31. straightarrow Says:

    I have owned two Browning .380’s, gone now, but SuperVels worked pretty well in them. Of course, you can’t get SuperVels now, but there are even better rounds available now.

    It isn’t the gun a .45 is, nor even a .38Special, but it beats the hell out nothing. and you could wear it under a white t-shirt and nobody could tell you had it. Great hot weather gun. So much easier to carry than any I now own. Though, I don’t carry anymore. Of course, I don’t go anywhere either.

    Old fogeynes has got me.