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380 ACP v. 38 Special For SD?

N320AWN320AW Senior MemberPosts: 648 Senior Member
I love my 38 Special revolvers. They are maintenance free and dependable. In the past I have owned a couple of Walther PPK/s in 380. Nice little pistols, but I had both of them stove-pipe jam on occasion. Actually, I think it was caused because of my limp wristing these pistols. Maybe not. I don't know.

Anyway, what is your take on a Colt or S&W revolver in 38 Special as opposed to a 380 ACP semi-auto?

Let me clarify: I KNOW the revolver is more certain than the semi-auto as far as reliability is concerned. Obviously, in a SD situation, nothing less than 100% reliability will do. My question is, weighing the relative complicated mechanism of a semi-auto versus a revolver, which would you rather carry?

Thanks

Replies

  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,146 Senior Member
    I just did a review comparing ballistics data and it seems that .38 spl has a slight edge with the ammo I posses, note I do not use +P.

    However, I don't think I would worry about the difference.

    I very seldom use the .380 because I am a revolver guy and revolvers are easier for me to carry.
  • JeeperJeeper Senior Member Posts: 2,954 Senior Member
    .38 spl all the way. No comparison IMO. The .38 gives you a host of ammo options unavailable with the .380.

    Luis
    Wielding the Hammer of Thor first requires you to lift and carry the Hammer of Thor. - Bigslug
  • N320AWN320AW Senior Member Posts: 648 Senior Member
    NN wrote: »
    I just did a review comparing ballistics data and it seems that .38 spl has a slight edge with the ammo I posses, note I do not use +P.

    However, I don't think I would worry about the difference.

    I very seldom use the .380 because I am a revolver guy and revolvers are easier for me to carry.

    Thanks. I agree. I hand load all my rifle/pistol ammo and have found the 158 grain 38 semi-wad cutters work very well in my revolvers. I have also just starting to load 148 grain wad cutters for target practice and find them very accurate too.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,146 Senior Member
    I have had good luck shooting .38 spl 148 gr semi wadcutter HP,s back in the day when Blazer sold that load.
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    N320AW wrote: »
    Thanks. I agree. I hand load all my rifle/pistol ammo and have found the 158 grain 38 semi-wad cutters work very well in my revolvers. I have also just starting to load 148 grain wad cutters for target practice and find them very accurate too.

    If there is such a thing as an inherently accurate cartridge then a 38spl wadcutter is it's poster child, At least in my experience
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
  • Fat BillyFat Billy Senior Member Posts: 1,813 Senior Member
    Stick with the 38 special and a small wheel gun carries well. The 380 is a 38 short. 9mm is the smallest auto I'd carry. The 150 ish grain wadcutter will leave a mark when used. IMHO:guns: Later,
    Fat Billy

    Recoil is how you know primer ignition is complete.
  • zeke4351zeke4351 Member Posts: 31 Member
    If I was going to carry a revolver it would be a .357 magnum with a short barrel. If you want something small and easier to conceal than a revolver get a quality .380 such as a Sig P238 loaded with +p Buffalo Barnes ammo.


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  • BufordBuford Senior Member Posts: 6,721 Senior Member
    Fat Billy wrote: »
    The 380 is a 38 short. 9mm is the smallest auto I'd carry. Later,

    I do believe it's a 9 mm short. 9 mm Corto comes to mind.

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    Just look at the flowers Lizzie, just look at the flowers.
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,591 Senior Member
    I'd definitely go .38spl. I could be wrong, but I think there's more ammo choices there as well.
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,382 Senior Member
    Have you heard about the .380 Auto round that can launch a 200 grain bullet at 900FPS?

    Neither have I.

    I read the package on the "revolvers are more reliable than autos" Kool Aid and have many reasons for not drinking the stuff, but as we're comparing rounds, there really isn't a comparison. The .380 has a place in the anything-heavier-would-pull-my-running-shorts-down category. Outside of that, carry something more socially significant.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 25,146 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    I do believe it's a 9 mm short. 9 mm Corto comes to mind.

    Sent from my Desire HD using Tapatalk 2
    That's right, though only one of several names for the rnd.
  • RazorbackerRazorbacker Senior Member Posts: 4,646 Senior Member
    Wambli Ska wrote: »
    When given a limited choice like this one the pistol always wins for me. If forced to carry a substandard round I want a BUTTLOAD of them and easy reloads available to me.

    To each his own and all that byt I do not consider proper SD loads in 38 spl as substandard. In my view the currently available 38 spl SD stuff has come as far as the 9mm stuff. I wouldn't feel naked with either one but I'd still go with the 38. My latest NRA mag has an excellent article on the S&W model 38 44, meant to penetrate car doors and such like.
    So a better question might be, "with what ammo".
    Teach your children to love guns, they'll never be able to afford drugs
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,554 Senior Member
    I am not find of either cartridge and therefore will not willingly carry either of them. No thanks. I have better options.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • NomadacNomadac Senior Member Posts: 902 Senior Member
    I have a Colt Det. Spl. .38 spl that I carry with Federal Nyclad +P 158 gr. HP and sometimes carry my Colt 1903 Pocket Pistol .380 acp with Federal HydroShok 90 gr. HP. The advantage to my .380 is it is thinner and easier to carry a spare 7 rd. mag. than a speedloader for the .38 spl. I feel comfortable with either pistol.

    I carry either of these when I want something small and concealable. If I feel the need then I have other choices.
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 12,615 Senior Member
    The .38 Special is a lot more versatile. You can't get a .380 in a 148 gr. bullet or even a 120 gr. bullet that compares to the .38 Special. I'm a .380 owner, and carried a .38 Special for years on the job. Adequate for the .38, marginal for the .380, in spite of all the advantages of carry for a .380. The advantage of a small carry gun is certainly there, however when I carried a .380, it was a relatively large pistol compared to the micro-pistols of today.
    Concealed carry is for protection, open carry is for attention.
  • horselipshorselips Senior Member Posts: 3,628 Senior Member
    .38 Special +P is just fine. But so is .380 ACP. No matter what you settle on, the really important thing is you NEVER, EVER, NOT EVEN ONCE, for any reason whatsoever, leave home without it. Rule No. 1 - Have a gun. And truth be told, any gun will do.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    NN wrote: »
    I just did a review comparing ballistics data and it seems that .38 spl has a slight edge with the ammo I posses, note I do not use +P.

    However, I don't think I would worry about the difference.

    I very seldom use the .380 because I am a revolver guy and revolvers are easier for me to carry.

    Although I tend to favor semiautos over wheelguns, I do agree with your assessments. My longtime always fave is the .45acp (when you care enough to send the very best) but we've talked the variations of different self defense calibers to death, and the results tend to show this: any reasonably large caliber is just fine, so long as you've hit the target where it needs to be hit (center mass).

    I however don't have reliability problems with my semis, and if I did, I would not have the gun.

    Although yes, throughout "history" the revolver is more reliable, any modern and well engineered auto will be just as reliable as the revolver. I've carried a KelTec .380 for a number of years, have fired it often, and it's never failed to work just fine.

    I do take a bit of pride that my guns are meticulously cared for, spotlessly clean and scrubbed, lubed properly with the best quality lubes, and I only use premium factory ammo. Add to that, of course, that the model of gun I have is nicely reliable to start with.

    That being said, I've carried a snubby .357 too, and feel just fine about it, same as I do with my KelTec .380, and although the 357 is of course more powerful, the .380 will also work fine in a defense situation.
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    Summing up my previous post, either type of gun is fine. Sure, semis have "more working parts" but if the pistol is of good design, it will work, period. I don't think a good quality semi is going to fail you, so it's just personal preference.
  • rbsivleyrbsivley Senior Member Posts: 1,259 Senior Member
    Buford wrote: »
    I do believe it's a 9 mm short. 9 mm Corto comes to mind.

    yep
    Randy

    Rank does not concur privileges. It imposes responsibility. Author unknow
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    Both of these guns are emergency tools. In an emergency I want simple and reliable and I would go with the revolver.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • samzheresamzhere Banned Posts: 10,923 Senior Member
    BigDanS wrote: »
    Both of these guns are emergency tools. In an emergency I want simple and reliable and I would go with the revolver.

    D

    I understand what you're saying, just disagree. My XD Tactical .45 has never, never had a single misfeed or misfunction. Not one.

    It's my first reach weapon and I can deliver 13 rounds of +P .45 and for me, that's okay. I just don't think of my autos as prone to failure, period.
  • BigDanSBigDanS Senior Member Posts: 6,992 Senior Member
    Sam, in the hands of the proficient, a semi auto is a superior option to a revolver in most situations.

    Given the choice between a .380 and a .38 I would take a .38.

    D
    "A patriot is mocked, scorned and hated; yet when his cause succeeds, all men will join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." Mark Twain
    Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.... now who's bringing the hot wings? :jester:
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Dunno, a brace of revolvers in .38 special is an option, you have a fast re-load, another gun, as well as a BUG.

    I have yet to see a more accurate handgun round equal to the old out of print .38 special Musgrave wadcutter.

    Remember how many people were killed in the C&B black powder daze by anemic .36 caliber round lead balls, sub par compared to the most anemic .380 acp rounds.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    Krauts call it a 9mm Kurz.

    I prefer the .38 Spl

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.380_ACP

    "Other names for .380 ACP include .380 Auto, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short, 9×17mm and 9 mm Browning Court (which is the C.I.P. designation). It is not to be confused with .38 ACP, 9mm Ultra, 9mm Makarov or 9mm Luger (9mm Parabellum)."
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
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  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Oddly enough, I saw enough blokes get waxed by N.Y.C.P.D. LEOs with modified HB S&W M-10 4 inch barrels loaded with Musgrave wadcutters, low power yes, low low recoil, yes, deadly accurate, yes, stone cold dead perps, yes.......

    However, these were grizzled veterans and were going for head shots mostly eye sockets at relatively close ranges, old-timers like Jim Cirillo and Gunner Erickson for instance.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • KSDeputyKSDeputy Member Posts: 55 Member
    Sometimes I carry my PPK as a backup, or primary in the summer. I have no worries about it functioning properly. My main carry pistol is a CS45.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    N320AW wrote: »
    I love my 38 Special revolvers. They are maintenance free and dependable. In the past I have owned a couple of Walther PPK/s in 380. Nice little pistols, but I had both of them stove-pipe jam on occasion. Actually, I think it was caused because of my limp wristing these pistols. Maybe not. I don't know.

    Anyway, what is your take on a Colt or S&W revolver in 38 Special as opposed to a 380 ACP semi-auto?

    Let me clarify: I KNOW the revolver is more certain than the semi-auto as far as reliability is concerned. Obviously, in a SD situation, nothing less than 100% reliability will do. My question is, weighing the relative complicated mechanism of a semi-auto versus a revolver, which would you rather carry?

    Thanks

    Nothing is maintenance free, cleaning & oiling and maintenance is essential part of firearms use.
    Revolvers granted may have fewer issues and a higher parts count, but they can fail.

    A 1911 has. Fewer parts count, but depending on the version and condition and ammo used may cause conditions. Not conducive to proper function.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,813 Senior Member
    I never carry a .380 unless I just can't carry anything larger for some reason. I like the .38 Special revolver, but I can carry the XDs .45 anywhere I can carry a revolver, even the S&W 642, so I carry the .45.
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Even though there are better carry firearms, I want a SS Charter Arms Undercoverette revolver in .38 special, just because.
    It is such a cute lil bit.
    A pocket holster.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
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