.380 For self defense?

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Joe Chartreuse

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May 1, 2022
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A well thrown rock as well as a pointed stick can can impair and even kill. I am not suggesting that we should carry rocks or sticks for self-defense. I am asserting that any caliber ammunition can be lethal, and therefore can incapacitate a person.

Lethality of any caliber is limited by the skill set of the shooter not just by ballistics. That skill set includes speed, accuracy, and understanding human physiology.

Speed — Their is little time to react if attacked by a near adversary. You have to be able to deter or impair the attack very quickly, maybe in a second or two. This is why self- defense preparation should begin with learning basic unarmed combat skills. For example, if an adversary is coming at you from two feet away with a knife you have to be able a to react in a second or two. If you go for your EDC, you are likely to be stabbed because you are extremely unlikely to draw and get off a shot in a second or even two. You need to parry the attack to gain time to effectively use your gun. Even when the adversary is far enough away that you do not need to parry speed is critical. If an adversary is twenty feet away and pulls a gun, he has an advantage. His gun is usable and yours is holstered. If you cannot draw your gun and have it on target in a couple seconds, you chances of going unscathed decrease. The longer it takes the less chance you have. But if you are fast on the draw you are likely to slow down the adversary by the psychological impact of an unexpected gun pointing at him. If you shoot and hit him, even if a superficial wound, it will slow him down further.

Accuracy — Famed Marine General Chesty Puller remarked to his men: "You can't hurt 'em if you don't hit 'em. Getting shots off quickly and missing is a good way to end up injured or dead. A hail of bullets can distract the adversary without hitting him, but it won't win a gunfight. Only hitting the target is going to lead to victory, and the more accurate your fire the more likely that you will win. That is regardless of caliber. Simple fact is that a 22LR in the face is going to impair or incapacitate your adversary. A 9mm bullet in the arm might not do that.

Human physiology — The lower the caliber the more important a knowledge of human physiology becomes. Knowing the location of critical organs and nerve centers is important to knowing where to aim. Center mass is a very large area of the body. There are some place better to aim for than others. For example, I would aim for the bottom area of the sternum. A hard fist punch to the sternum can incapacitate and even kill a person. If my bullet hits high of the sternum it hits the neck. If it hits center, it can deflate the lungs. If t hits low, it can impair heart function. If the bullet hits right of the adversary's sternum it hits a lung. If it hits farther right, there are major veins. If it hits left, the heart and aorta are exposed. If you shoot high and hit the neck the bullet can reach the spinal column. If you hit below the sternum you hit the solar plexus nerve center of the torso and the liver. The area of the sternum is a rich incapacitation zone.

I consider clothing as an adjunct to physiology. A tee shirt will not slow down a lighter caliber. A tee shits, regular shirt, fleece vest, and winter coat can slow down a bullet, and in lighter calibers that can meaningfully impair the ballistic performance. So clothing can be a factor in selecting point of aim. Anything that will affect penetration must be taken into consideration regardless of caliber. If I saw an adversary was wearing body armor, I would aim my 9mm for the neck or face, but not the forehead.

To the OP's point, I believe that 22LR or 380 ACP can be adequate self-defense rounds provided that you absorb the importance of the above information. When the day comes that I cannot handle 9mm, I will bypass 380 and go to 22LR, because I know that I am and will be more accurate with 22 than 380.

Note: Oddly this thread related to the first post of my blog that will go public on October 10. I decided to publish this as a harbinger of more to come.
Excellent information and completely factual. Your preferred target is the same as mine has been in most cases. Thanks for that post.
 
Joined
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Snake, I don't disagree with your post about practicing running away... the problem with that is the best some of us can do is walk away... running is not really an option... there was a time when I could probably out run the majority of bad guys... now it just ain't gonna happen... and I agree that we all want to be Jason Bournes... but the reality is that is all fantasy anyway.... the best I can brag at is having over 200 hours of formal firearms instruction and that has made me I feel 'adequate' with a firearm. Some of that instruction was 'force on force' and it does bring home that when 'it' hits the fan all bets are off....
 

Paul B

Buckeye
Joined
Dec 4, 1999
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Tucson, AZ
"The last thing I want to do is get in a "gunfight" with anyone. I practice daily my best technique. It's called "running away"!! I'm getting very good at it!"

I used to think that way. Now, at 84 years old, with two bad knees and use a walker, running is no longer an option. If the Vigaro decides to hit the Mixmaster, it'll be a case of last man standing. I plan that to be me.
Paul B.
 

kmoore

Buckeye
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Mar 29, 2017
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Idaho
I beleive we all write words that mean the same but are actually read differently. Maybe instead of saying run away. I don't run any longer either. "Get out of the situation as fast as you can by creating distance".
If an CCW holder is carrying and wants to get into a gun fight they will find one. But all CCW holders should become more aware of their surroundings and do all it takes to avoid pulling or shooting your gun. Cops see danger and are paid to go to it. CCW holders are not. Get out of the danger zone ASAP. When safe deicide to call 911 or your lawyer.
 

pyth0n

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
815
Location
Florida
I carry the .380, either Kahr P380 or LCP MAX. More often it's the max, when I need to deep conceal. (A concealed gun that prints is not concealed IMO.) For my size & the Florida weather (previously AZ weather) concealing without wearing extra clothing is an issue (does this gun make my butt look big?). I can pocket carry a 9mm or .40 most often (G26/27, Kahr P9/40, PM9/40).
But I don't think of carrying the .380 because I don't consider the crime rate of an area or what I think is the threat level I might encounter. I carry a gun regardless of the threat level, concealment is more the concern.
 
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Dave Schwaab

Bearcat
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Nov 2, 2014
Messages
43
I mentioned earlier in this thread that I shoot mainly .22 LR and .45 Colt, but had just purchased a Browning 1911-380 to be used for concealed carry. I stated that many people consider the .380 to be "snappy", because of the guns it is chambered in.

I believe the GUN is one of the biggest limitations in using the .380 ACP for self-defense. That was a main reason for me figuring that I would chose my SR22 for the role, until I learned that it would not be acceptable to New Jersey's Retired Police Officer standard of qualification for CCW. Most of the .380 pistols out there are small, light and have short barrels. These characteristics may make them easy to conceal and carry, but can make them very difficult to shoot ACCURATELY.

The small size can make getting a good grip on the gun difficult, with many people only able to get 2 fingers on most grips. The light weight does little to absorb recoil. Both of these features contribute to the gun's "snappy" reputation. Add to that the short barrel that could result in the ammunition not producing sufficient velocity to produce reliable expansion in hollow-point bullets. It was for all of these reasons that I preferred the SR22, and why I chose the Browning 1911-380 as its replacement.

New Jersey has a further problem to self-defense carry in the choice of ammunition they will allow. Hollow-point bullets are not permitted because of their "explosive" expansion. Solid copper bullets, like Lehigh's Extreme Defense, are considered to be ARMOR-PIERCING because they have a "solid-metal core". FMJ has too much potential for over-penetration, so Hornady's Critical Defense is the best choice, as it is NOT considered to be a "hollow-point" because it has that flexible tip.
 

Dave Schwaab

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 2, 2014
Messages
43
Another restriction in New Jersey's CCW laws is that your permit is good ONLY for the gun that you qualified with. You do not have the option of choosing different guns for different situations.

You can have multiple permits, to cover your other gun choices, but each must be qualified for separately!
 

Joe Chartreuse

Single-Sixer
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May 1, 2022
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New Jersey
The best handgun in the world is the one you have with you. The one at home is useless.

Most 380's are straight blowback and have more felt recoil than a locked breech 9mm.

Regardless of the handgun you choose, use it too take a defensive handgun course of fire. Most folks think they are Wyatt Earp because they can hit a piece of paper at 10ft. Nothing can be further from the truth.

The smaller the pistol, the more difficult it is to use under stress. Drawing from awkward positions, reloading, malfunctions, weak hand shooting, darkness, etc, are all more difficult with subcompact pistols.
In regard to drawing a small pistol: It's all about position. I am a left handed cross-draw, and I have a custom 45 degree / horizontal belt holster . Easiest grab I've ever had.
 

Mauser9

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May 20, 2022
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Ma.
Likin that Ruger LCP Max I always see in Guns&Ammo advertised. Not even sure if Ma. Compliant in this dump. Glad I grabbed that CS-9 back in 99. Small 3 inch barrel and conceals nice. Sucker for the smaller stuff usually.
 

gunpoorboy

Bearcat
Joined
Aug 7, 2008
Messages
94
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
If you .380 lovers have not tried it yet, check out the Sig P365-.380. I have this gun and the P365 in 9mm. The .380 is my carry gun because the the recoil is quite a bit less and, in practice, I can put two rounds in a target before I can sight the 9mm in for the second shot. It just makes me feel better to know I can get back on target faster, just in case.
 

jbenedetto2

Bearcat
Joined
Mar 31, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Arizona
If you .380 lovers have not tried it yet, check out the Sig P365-.380. I have this gun and the P365 in 9mm. The .380 is my carry gun because the the recoil is quite a bit less and, in practice, I can put two rounds in a target before I can sight the 9mm in for the second shot. It just makes me feel better to know I can get back on target faster, just in case.
I just picked up the 365-380. It does have a lot less recoil than my 365-9mm. Still breaking it in before carrying. At this time I am at about 600 rounds. 100 JHP's. Any recommendations on carry ammo? I need to watch more gel test videos on 380 ammo. Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defense looks promising, if I can find any. Need to shoot 50-100 rounds before carrying it.
 

43north

Bearcat
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
71
Location
New Hampster
The caliber with the most attributed deaths? .32 ACP known as the 7.65 Browning in Europe.
The Nazis and Soviets assassinated millions of people with them. Few were active combatants.
From personal experience, the .32 can kill people definitely dead. Again, not armed adversaries.
Against armed adversaries, my .32 Seecamp was on near-permanent loan to undercover officers, one of whom lived to tell the tale due to that Seecamp.
In .380, I've seen two 1-shot stops. Boom > dead. Factually, these are not "gunfight" calibers. .22, .32, 380 aren't guns you grab when faced with a Red Dawn situation.
We're not trading rounds, we are looking for a 1 shot assassination of someone who earned that bullet. A head or neck shot has proven instantly fatal in my observations.
Adjust your training accordingly.
 
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