The .380 puts holes in things, plain and simple. Would I want to get shot with a .380? Hell no, not after what I saw a .380 hollow point do to a watermelon within 7 meters. This video review we did to preemptively cull any shenanigans from the peanut gallery. Now let’s address the real issue. Why carry a .380 in the first place with the wide availability of ultra conceal carry and higher caliber rounds?
There are a lot of conceal carry options on the market these days for those that want a slim, compact and easy to conceal personal defense or backup pistol. Furthermore, the largest rising demographic in the firearms world since 2012 has been the female market. In a man’s world, the .380 is a neutered 9mm and therefore lacks power (by comparison) which translates to, not “manly” enough. You may not agree, or even be ready to admit that, but it’s true. I said it, let’s move on.
Men have typically larger framed builds than women. Larger hands, bigger muscles and bones and many other physical characteristics that (scientifically) separates us from the fairer sex. Some of the single stack 9mm, .40 caliber and .45 caliber conceal options are amazing and we can get into that another time. This whole video and article started just to see if gender and size aside, is the .380 a wimpy round in our minds, or in reality?
The reality I have come to find is that, I don’t want to be shot with a .380. The .380 is literally a shortened 9mm. Same diameter and same or similar weight to a 9mm round both in hollow point and in full metal jacket. So what is missing? Velocity. Plain and simple. How does that translate to you, the shooter?
A shortened round simply means that the case and overall length are shorter than it’s “bigger brother.” With that you have less room for powder and air during the combustion process. Again, what does that mean? That means what you lose in velocity you also lose in felt recoil, muzzle flip, gain faster follow up shots on target. Well now that doesn't sound so terrible does it?
Well what’s the downside, and why aren't ALL rounds shorter? Well, what you lose is… velocity.
Distance becomes your enemy. Simply put, distance and velocity. There is hours upon days of ballistic data available online comparing calibers and there penetration depths. As our video puts simply, both the 9mm and the .380 penetrate a watermelon and your traditional “Self Defense” distances through multiple layers of denim (which in and of itself is a ridiculous metric). So how much do you WANT to OVER penetrate, because now THAT is a reasonable question? But wait, there is more to it too,. When it comes to hollow points, more speed on the round equals a significant increase in the hydrostatic shock. What that is simply put is the amount of internal damage is sustained from the massive shockwave bubble created inside a body when a projectile goes through it and destroys tissue and organs. Ah, now we get into it. Higher caliber, with a higher speed and make it a hollow point. NOW it’s “manly” enough for me to carry. But consider the platform. If you could play “does it blend” with internal organs better with one caliber and one specific brand of hollow point for everyone, there would not be variety, opinions and hours upon years of debate, forum threads, ballistic data etc. So consider the platform. Consider the tool for the job. Would I like to hammer every nail with an 8lb. sledgehammer, yes. Is it a reasonable desire? No. I can’t fix my kid’s antique step stool with an 8lb sledge. I don’t want to carry that as a hammer all day on a job site. But I can smash the hell out of some concrete or walls.
Would we all prefer to carry a full size service pistol?
I think we can all agree we would want all available power we can handle at our fingertips at a moments notice, yes. Is it always appropriate? We all make sacrifices, including James Bond in his tuxedo with a Walther, chambered in .380. So before trying to find the one pistol to rule them all, spoiler alert: there is not one for everyone. So again, consider the platform, the intended use. Remove the psychological blocks from your mind considering sex, size and fighting off an angry mob alone with just you and your 1911 and make a rational decision. Try rounds and calibers out, you may be suprised at what you can do and how much a smaller pistol, caliber, or bigger even, will change your outlook on carry options.
Today for instance, I will be on a range all day, so I am carrying outside the waistband (OWB) Glock 19 with a spare mag on my belt support side. If I was going out with the family later or to pick my kids up from school, I would conceal carry Inside the Waistband (IWB) my Shiled .40 because I don’t want other parents freaking out that I am carrying a gun, and because I can handle a .40 as good as a 9mm so I went with the larger round. Two very different tasks, two very different pistols, calibers and carry methods. There is not one to rule them all. Keep that in mind when scoffing at a caliber and ask yourself, do I have a purpose for this tool?