Tactical

.380 for Self-Defense?

The easy concealability and compact nature of handguns chambered for .380 ACP has made such guns popular in the realm of self-defense. But the .380 ACP is also one of the more contested cartridges out there. Some folks simply feel that the round doesn’t have enough stopping power to get the job done in a life-threatening, self-defense situation.


Designed by John Moses Browning in 1908, the .380 ACP was constructed to be rimless with all its headspace on the case mouth as opposed to on the rim. This was done in order to achieve greater accuracy for the round. The bullet was adopted by European nations such as Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany, as a standard issue load for their sidearms before WWII. Considered a moderately powerful round, the .380 ACP became popular in the civilian market for self-defense and concealed carry. This is particularly the case now as the market has begun to trend toward smaller pistols and loads, more suitable for women’s self-defense scenarios.


While the small size and controllable recoil of the .380 does make it ideal as a concealed-carry load for belly guns. Guns chambered in .380 ACP can be easily slipped into the beltline, purse, or pocket. However, the .380 ACP lacks in stopping power and is a particularly short-range cartridge, we’re talking 3-yards or so. Less powerful than a .38 Special, with a diameter that is identical to the 9mm, the heaviest bullet that can be placed on a .380 ACP is 115grains. Generating approximately 220-foot pounds of force as opposed to the 115-grain, 9mm, which puts out 399 foot-pounds, the concern amongst fighting men and self-defense experts has always been the “man-stopping” performance of the .380 round. Simply put, when it comes to one of the worst moments of your life, trusting your life to a pistol chambered in .380 ACP may not be the wisest of decisions.

In the most basic of terms, a larger hole will stop the impending force of an assailent faster, as it facilitates a more severe loss of bodily fluids. While there are huge developments in the bullet-manufacturing world nowadays, they do not make up for the cardinal rule of gun-fighting: Make sure to bring enough gun to the fight.

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