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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read Mr. Camp's story on the .38 snub and .380. It was very informative. I'm a fan of both of these.

I use standard pressure .38 HP's in my snubs. I find the little revolvers a little more difficult to shoot than the .380 Walther PPK/s. These help a bit, especially for my wife.

I understood that the .38+P in the snubbie has an edge over the .380.
Does this edge diminish when using a .38 standard pressure round?

I also read that a .380's penetration can be increased when using truncated bullets. What do you think?

Thank you for your insight.
 

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Hello adguy,

oldgrandpa on this forum is considered by many, me included, to be an expert on ammo. Dial his number under the Ammo section of this forum.

Bert
 

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While I cannot think of any real reason not to carry +P ammo for defense, I would still rather have 5 rounds of .38 (presumeably a nice JHP or at least SWC rather than 158 LRN) than 10 or 12 .380s.

But it is probably not like night and day differences...both have their limitations.

Jim H.
 

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adguy,
Kellar is very kind but I'm just an ordinary member here like everybody. I'll try to give you a few opinions. I agree with what Jim just posted, and Stephen's articles are the best.
Most opinions that you can find will give the edge to the .38snub over a .380. Both are fine as civilian, last resort self defense handguns but many that travel in risky areas will only carry them as backup. You have to practice with any caliber to have confidence. A .45 is no good if you can't hit the side of a barn with it. "Placement", accuracy, is what counts, not the best ammo in the world if you can't hit the target or it hangs up in your gun.

About the only ammo I've found with a "truncated cone" for the 380 is cheap Win WhiteBox Value Pak, 95gr, at WalMart, and it's considered just an ordinary FMJ round, no better penetration than standard round nose FMJ. And it won't mushroom like standard hollow point ammo.
I wouldn't carry FMJ in a 380 due to possible overpenetration and hurt an innocent bystander. OK for target practice, but I don't carry it for self defense.

If you choose the 38snub, it's best to stick with something like Speer 135gr+P JHP or one of the rounds you read about in Stephen's articles.

For the 380, your Walther I assume you have, there are a number of excellent JHP rounds on the market now. You have to try whatever you can get and like the looks of, shoot a box, to be sure it will function without any FTF or FTE. Then stick with that ammo for carry. Good choices that we have tested to choose from include Remington GoldenSabr 102gr, Hornady XTP 90gr, Winchester SXT 95gr, and the new CorBon DPX 80gr copper bullet JHP. Some like the Speer GoldDot 90gr too. I leave the final choice up to you after you fire it in your pistol to prove it functions 100%. Try several brands if you can.

I tested the above rounds in a Sig P232, very close to the same barrel length as the Walther. You can check out the results here....for most brands....
http://www.handgunsandammo.proboards36.com/index.cgi?board=terminal&action=display&thread=1142649407
and here....for the CorBon DPX....
http://www.handgunsandammo.proboards36.com/index.cgi?board=terminal&action=display&thread=1147997440

For 38special tests, Stephen's articles are still the best.

Good luck,
og

Oh, BTW, one advantage of the 38 revolver is most ammo functions fine without problems that a semi-auto might have.
My wife's home handgun is a S&W model 37-3 with CrimsonTrace laser grips, loaded with 38special Rem GS 125+p and Speer 135+p JHPs.

(Edited to correct 38 special loadings.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you so much. Your testing was very informative and I appreciate your insight.
I like the ergonomics of the PPK/s, but the weight of the S&W442 is appealing as well.
Is the Remington RS 102gr. you mentioned a +P round?
 

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adguy,
I corected my mistake in the 38special carry ammo. I had Goldensabr on my mind and just put the 380 round in the 38special incorrectly. Correct ammo for my wife's 38special is the Remington Goldensabr 125gr+p and Speer 135gr+p. Both are +p loads and work fine.
Cheers,
og

(there are no "official" "SAMMI" +p loads specified for the .380acp. Check this for SAMMI specs... http://www.leverguns.com/articles/saami_pressures.htm
Some odd brands of ammo are loaded hot and may seem like +p, I would avoid those in a 380 pistol.)
 

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I have seen many people shot with a 380fmj. In about half the cases the bullets stayed inside the torso, including on many small framed people....100 lbs or so. In the other half the bullets were found inside their clothing or fell to the floor when they were moved. I wouldnt worry about overpenetration with 380fmj and a torso.
 

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Hello. Exactly so...at least in the few that I saw as well. The most lucky fellow I know is a friend of mine (police officer) who was shot with a .380 using ball, but penetration was extreme. He was shot by a burglar using a 380 and was hit through the bicep of one arm (no bone hit) and the bullet then entered his torso near the front of his chest (between the ribs; no bone hit) and traversed along the inside of his musculature (no lungs or anything else hit), exited the opposite side of his torso (between the ribs; no bone hit) and then through his other arm and again (you guessed it), no bone hit. We did not recover the bullet. Normally a sideshot that is through and through like that and at about heart level would be most serious. He spent three days in the hospital and that was mainly for the doctors to make sure no infection set in!

It would appear that the 380 "overpenetrated", but in fact, it struck very little. A few inches of muscle in each arm and a tiny bit of tissue between the ribs twice and just grazing along the inside of the man's musculature. Every gunshot wound can be unique and have unexpected results.

Best.

PS: I have never seen such a stream of gals visiting a single man before in my life...or since and the man who shot the officer was caught that very day and is currently doing life.
 

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thank you, xcop and Stephen, for first hand info on 380 shootings with FMJ. I wonder, though, if the results would have been different if a JHP that expanded would have been used.
What's your opinion on the best ammo to perhaps hit a vital spot and maybe stop the villian?
Are you saying that FMJ is adequate or even better for carry in a 380, or other handguns for that matter?
I've always felt FMJ was for practice, JHP for carry. Perhaps the overpenetration thing is a myth. What do you think?
og
 

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Hello. I flat do not know which is better. In the .380 it seems that we can get expansion but less than ideal penetration or penetration but no expansion. Were I going to carry a .380 for self defense, it would probably be loaded with Corbon DPX. I am told that the current bullet has been tweaked from the early batch I tried and penetrates a bit more. My second choice would probably be Hornady XTP in guns that would feed it or Federal Classic JHP in those that are more picky or if I couldn't find the DPX or XTP so I guess that puts me in the expansion camp. With unobstructed frontal shots, I THINK we'd get adequate penetration and expansion.

Best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks Mr. Camp and oldgranpa.
I have been trying to find premium bullets in standard pressure .38. There are a few available.
I found the Federal 110gr. Hydra-Shok, the 110gr. Win. Silvertip and the Win. 158gr. semi-wadcutter.
Would these standard velocity hollowpoints have enough velocity to expand from a two-inch revolver?
Has anyone tested these standard velocity rounds fired from two-inch revolvers?

While I find the PPK/s so ergonomic, the Kahr PM9 is smaller than the Walther and 9mm, but the trigger is so long. A local gun shop has three used Kahrs, a PM9, a K9 and KP9 for the same price as a new Walther PPK/s. That may be a pretty good choice.
 

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Just about everyone who studies this field seriously, including myself, will tell you that placement is critical. However note in the case that Steve mentioned, placement was about as good as most of us can count on. What the bullet hit inside was not due to how well it was directed but a lack of straight line penetration...at least it seems so from a limiited vantage point.

In all of the cases where I was able to personally talk to people involved in a shooting where the .380 was used the placement was also a good as one could expect (2 were contact wounds to the center of the chest)...yet all of them were failures to stop. Some involved FMJ and some involved JHP ammo.

This is not a slam on the .380 at all, a handful of cases is not enough to condemn a cartridge, but it is a wake up call. Nothing works as often as we would like it to. I know of a case in Houston where two contact wounds from a .38+P 125gr JHP failed miserably also - the "shootee" beat the shooter to death after being shot in the heart (he too died later).

Some just fail more often than others :-[

Jim H.
 

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well, adguy, hope there was enough info to help you with your decisions. Looks like none of "brand name" std. velocity JHP 38s, except maybe the silvertip, showed any expansion in the snub revolver, and even then, low penetration. I'd stick with the +p JHPs in the 38. However, if you or the wife can't handle the recoil, maybe the std. velocity FMJ rounds are not such a bad choice since overpenetration doesn't seem to be such a big deal after all. I'd just try practicing more to try and learn to handle the recoil of the better +p ammo.

And based on shooting results presented, I sure wouldn't depend on any of the choices in either caliber presented to give the mythical "one-shot-stop" that we've read about. Maybe a lucky shot to the CNS might do it, but even regardless of good "placement" that we're taught, you can't depend on a handgun to stop an agressor every time.

My conclusions, just my opinion, for us civilians are...(LEO's have more options, like carrying a better, bigger caliber.)....
1. try to get away from a conflict, if at all possible. or if you can't...
2. try to get behind some cover if available....and then, for a last resort...
3. besides "placement", keep shooting until the BG goes down or stops the aggression.
for this, I'd sure want to have an extra magazine or speed loader handy. Be sure to practice with whatever choice you make.
Just, "IMHO" is all. Thanks to all for making this a very interesting discussion.
og.......all opinions welcome on this difficult subject.

Edit..shucks, I forgot to add, if you've got your cell phone, call 911.
 

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Hello, sir.

This pretty much sums up my feelings toward the handgun as a "stopper" of "determined men" whose sole mission is to kill or maim you for shooting them. Probably any decent hit will "stop" a person with some degree of working common sense at the time; they'll be worried about themselves and break off the attack...if they can, but there are some out there who simply will not quit unless physically unable to carry on.

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Have%20No%20Faith.htm

Best.
 
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Chuck Taylor has an article on personal defense ammo in .38 Special in the current issue of Combat Handguns magazine.

Marshall and Sanow's latest tabulations of one-shot-stops from actual gunfights lists 71% for the .380 ACP with the best loads vs. 67% for the .38 Special with the best loads out of a 2" barrel.
 
G

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That particular statistic is the one that caused me not to place a lot of faith in that particular school of thinking. No .380 ACP round can match a .38 Special +P with a much heavier bullet, with a more-aggressively shaped bullet, travelling much faster. They are both nominally .38 calibers so it just doesn't make sense. I've always thought that stat reflected less than ideal bullet placement due to the increased skill it takes to master a J-frame snubbie.
 

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thank you, pointblank, for your observation. But we're not here to argue which is better, since all opinions are just that, opinions. All this thread is for is to compare what ammo is available for adguy in both calibers that might be considered adequate for him to carry. Also, since Marshall&Sanow are not here to defend or discuss their so called ratings, we will not debate that issue either. Therefore, anymore reference to M&S ratings is inappropriate.
Thank you for understanding.
og....humble moderator
 
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