Don't under estimate the .380

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by Checker4Tix, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Checker4Tix

    Checker4Tix Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    I had an interesting phone conversation with the gunsmith at Colorado Gun Works. They are working on a Bersa Thunder 380CC for me. After nearly a half hour on the phone discussing a variety of interesting things he revealed that he was formerly a LEO in the Gary, Indiana, area for many years. He said he witnessed the results of many shootings, often fatal, involving .380's. He seemed to think that too many people underestimate the .380's potential at self-defense ranges and in situations where CCW'ers can lawfully use their weapons in self defense.

    At one point I asked him what his favorite SD load was for .380's. He said DPX was a good load, but that he would give the nod to Golden Saber's for overall best performance in real human tissue.

    I also asked him about his preferred FMJ round for 380's. He said he wouldn't carry them for fear of over penetration!! He then went on to tell me about someone he knew that had an ND with a .380 FMJ round. Apparently it went through his desk, a nearby wall, and lodged itself in the wall across the room. (I may not properly recall the details here, but you get the point.)

    It's always fun to stir the pot a little bit isn't it. I can just see a bunch of you guys unloading and swapping out your carry ammo right now. ;D
  2. TxCajun

    TxCajun Administrator Staff Member Supporter

    Sep 7, 2004
    I agree. Too much is made of the effectiveness, or lack therof, of the 380 and the 32 also, for that matter... mostly by people who have never been shot. ;D

  3. GMax

    GMax New Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    More people have probably been killed with .22's than anything else. Bullet placement is still the #1 determining factor.
  4. Gooseneck

    Gooseneck New Member

    Jan 22, 2008
    Exactly !! But do why do so many people have a hard time grasping that concept.
  5. GMax

    GMax New Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    That being said, more power does increase the margin of error.
  6. nicneufeld

    nicneufeld New Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    Not that I mean to place myself on the opposite side of the argument than the one on which I actually reside...but the claim that .22LR kills the most people ignores the somewhat sizable difference between killing someone and stopping someone immediately.

    But yes, all hail shot placement, and 9 times out of 10, its the old .380 Automatic Colt Pistol round that is protecting my life. Detractors of said cartridge are free to volunteer for penetration testing. ;D
  7. John_W

    John_W New Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    Really? In that case I may just have to reconsider my thoughts about switching from Golden Sabers to DPX.

    Especially as the Golden Sabers have another thing going for them: they are available and recommended locally. All things being equal (which is seldom the case), I'd prefer to carry something available and recommended locally than something I have to special-order, as in case of a defensive shooting it could take away potential ammunition (no pun intended) for an unscrupulous prosecutor (think Nifong) to bring forth accusations of having used a special "killer bullet."

    Yeah, I know. "Killer bullet" in .380.  ::) But juries don't know the difference, and might be persuaded by a slick-tongued weasel.

    I wonder whether he's ever seen a .380 FMJ overpenetrate in a real world, human-tissue shooting..? If he has, did he mention that? If he didn't mention such a thing, I'd suspect there's a reason.

    I'm not so concerned about "overpenetrating" a desk. That's gonna happen. And in fact, I'm not so concerned about overpenetration of a BG either -- for four reasons.

    1) In police shootings, the majority of bullets apparently miss the bad guy altogether!!! Yet there are few lawsuits for having accidentally hit a bystander. Overpenetration doesn't appear to be a huge issue. Keeping on target appears to me to be a much bigger deal. As well as remembering the rule of knowing your target and what's behind it.

    2) Any round that should overpenetrate a BG is going to have slowed considerably, which makes it unlikely to penetrate deeply into whatever is behind the BG.

    3) Based on what I've read, I've got serious doubts about a .380 FMJ round overpenetrating, especially with a torso shot. The .380 just isn't that powerful, and the back side skin is elastic and has a lot of "stopping power" of its own.

    4) As far as I know, nobody has ever gotten killed by a BG as a result of a round overpenetrating. There are quite a few good guys, though, who've gotten seriously injured or killed as a result of underpenetration.

    Underpenetration is the thing to worry more about. Especially in .380. And underpenetration is definitely something to be concerned about even in the best .380 JHP rounds.

    So... looks like I may just be sticking with my recipe of alternating Golden Sabers & American Eagle FMJ, along with a strong focus on proper shot placement.

    Thanks for the info!
  8. GMax

    GMax New Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Sheepdog....lots of good logic in your post. One more thing...Situational awareness! Probably THE most important self defense tactic. See and avoid.
  9. BuccaneersFan

    BuccaneersFan New Member

    Jul 16, 2007
    It seems like the people that have told me the .32, .380, and 9mm rounds are not enough are usually ex-military and they always say, "with a ** caliber they'll still be coming, but a .45 will push them back." The fact is your not going to have someone charging you with a AK-47 trying to stab you with a bayonet, at least most of the time. ;D I'd rather have "any" gun than go up against a knife wielding maniac bare handed, that's for sure! ;)
  10. Checker4Tix

    Checker4Tix Well-Known Member

    Aug 6, 2007

    That's my plan too, and what I'm carrying right now, for pretty much all the same reasons you pointed out.
  11. John_W

    John_W New Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    I absolutely agree. And not just situational awareness, but the messages you put out as well.

    In fact, the only way to REALLY "WIN" a gunfight is to avoid it in the first place!

    So the preferred method is to win.

    By avoiding.

    But if for some reason you can't win, then at least do your best not to lose.

    In summary: Watch your surroundings, try to avoid places where trouble is likely, and if someone suspicious is approaching, let 'em know clearly that you're not the weak victim they may be looking for. Since most criminal attacks happen in low light, have a small tactical-type flashlight as part of your defensive gear, and use it pre-emptively. If it's dark and you need some light or to signal your preparedness to someone who may be lurking, then use it. Be careful not to shine it in somebody's eyes (as that can actually get you into a conflict), but do use it when helpful and appropriate.

    And if all of the above fails and you find yourself in a situation where your life is at risk -- then shoot early, shoot accurately, and shoot often!
  12. Syndil

    Syndil New Member

    May 8, 2007
    Sheepdog, I just have to say that it was refreshing to read your posts. You have certainly thought about every aspect of carrying, and I agree with everything you have said, especially this:

    Truer words have never been spoken in the FMJ vs JHP debate.
  13. GMax

    GMax New Member

    Feb 16, 2006
    Just the muzzle flash and muzzle blast from a P3-AT would send me running. Being on the wrong end of an AT would convince you it's a bigger caliber, don't ya think?
  14. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Jun 14, 2007
    With all due respect, if you haven't shot the .380 fmj into several different mediums (which I have done) you would be very surprised at the penetrating power you're dealing with. All the stated theory above sounds logical but doesn't hold up in practice. .380 can fully penetrate a human body and still be dangerous. You should check out the "Box o truth" and Old Grampa's sites to see testing of penetration. I use Golden Sabre 102 gr and have tested them also. They do expand consistently and it's very reliable. I agree completely with your awareness discussion and avoiding trouble as being the best defense.
  15. Syndil

    Syndil New Member

    May 8, 2007
    Several different mediums makes no difference, and Box of Truth should be called box of water. Ballistics gel is the only medium specifically designed to mimic human flesh.

    Here is an account of a woman who was shot at very close range with a P3-AT loaded with JHP from the side. The round went through her arm and stopped. Did not reach her torso. The round had to be cut away from the exit wound in her arm. Luckily this incident was just a negligent discharge and was not a situation where adequate penetration was actually desired, because obviously this was not adequate:

    Overpenetration certainly was not an issue here. If the round had been FMJ instead of JHP, then perhaps she would have been in actual danger.
  16. John_W

    John_W New Member

    Oct 2, 2007
    Very interesting.

    The "Box O Truth" can't hold a candle to the "Arm O Truth."

    My point has been made, and with extreme eloquence.

    Note too here (and this is a point that apparently nobody has yet made) that this wasn't even her upper arm, which contains the biggest bone. It was her forearm.

    Of course, it may have hit both bones in the forearm, but if it did, that probably wouldn't have been terribly different from hitting the one big bone in the upper arm.

    You may very well have to shoot through an upper arm (or even a forearm) to get to a bad guy.

    The JHP round in this case did not even penetrate the person's torso -- AT ALL!!!

    While that was extremely fortunate in this instance, in a violent encounter it could be utterly disastrous.

    So if JHP won't reliably do the job, what will? Only FMJ.

    And I stand by my earlier statement: You are far more likely to get in trouble in a violent encounter through underpenetration than you are through overpenetration.
  17. c0wboi38

    c0wboi38 New Member

    Sep 19, 2006
    Where's that dead horse smiley....

  18. Syndil

    Syndil New Member

    May 8, 2007
    I would have hoped that real world evidence would have settled the debate once and for all. But yet the horse continues to endure its neverending beating.
  19. adamsesq

    adamsesq New Member

    Dec 25, 2006
    Did somebody ring?


  20. Alex

    Alex New Member

    Jun 14, 2007
    Pay attention, I said that a .380 FULL METAL JACKET round would penetrate better than we might think. The reply was then sent referring to an unusual single case where a JHP hit a bone and failed to penetrate. Not a relevant reply (apples and oranges). I'm not saying that a .380 is a cannon but the FMJ will in most cases penetrate very well. Box o truth did some tests using sheet rock walls and solid core doors as the targets (I did too). You don't sound like you have read them. Flame away