The .380 pistol; a double edged sword?

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by molonlabexx, May 7, 2014.

  1. molonlabexx

    molonlabexx New Member

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    I have been doing A TON of research (looking at schematics and such) of .380 concealable pistols. My research looked at the S&W bodyguard (which I was able to look at in person as my father owns one) as well at the keltec .380 line. Both of these pistols have a track record of failure (keltec in general and the bodyguard failed my father and I at our last range trip). Of course there are other .380 pistols out there that can be known to fail..

    I just think the .380 and their pistols are simply built in a crap way. The .380 is a rough cartridge on such small, plastic guns, that it just wears and breaks the gun down (such as our S&W bodyguard). Now I have indeed kept in mind the fact that the guns are not meant as range guns, but even after 250+ rounds, the bodyguard failed and countless stories of the keltec brand failing. These pistols are just too small and not built tough.

    Polymer? Well Polymer is fine. Look at Glock for example, outstanding pistols with very little failure points (Gen 4 can be debatable, as far as I know there are a few bugs in the latest gen that I have fixed for friends and family). So why is polymer bad on the smaller firearms? Well in what I have studied, it just seems to be there is not enough surface area on the guns. You have such a small package firing the round (.380 is very similar in case size to a 9mm) and it just can't handle it. I think the true potential of a .380 handgun lies in the barbaric fact that it is purely a last ditch defensive firearm (as oppose to a main handgun or battle rifle).

    My experiences with all the .380 pistols I have fired and handled is just poor. The pistols are just too small to handle the .380, or at least that is my experience with them.

    I have very large expectations for the glock 42, and am curious to see how the gun handles. I plan to pick one up very soon and will keep you guys updated with that.

    No here's the thing: the .380 round is a fantastic option for those wishing to carry a little less bulk, but the guns just can't handle the cartridge. They need more bulk and stability, but that also adds weight. And the whole point of a .380 defensive firearm is for compact, easy to carry defense. For now, I will stick with 9mm.

    Carry a .380? Well good for you. I am not trying to say that the .380 sucks, I am simply trying to show that the round is a double edged sword.

    Still can't wait for that Glock 42!

    Problems with the KelTec: [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEHhNksGryA[/ame]

    My own problems with the .380: http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f179/smith-wesson-bodyguard-380-piece-crap-105397/
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  2. Tackleberry1

    Tackleberry1 New Member

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    Your missing the biggest factor in .380 reliability... Or lack there of. .380's are blow back guns. They are not "locked breech" like larger caliber pistols. The lack of a locking breech means the recoil springs must be excessively stiff.

    Sub compact pistols also lack the "mass" in the slide to strip and chamber the next cartridge using "inertia" as heavier guns do... Which means the recoil spring must also handle this task.

    Blow back guns by their very nature wear out their recoil springs MUCH faster than locked breech pistols which is why your pop's S&W starting failing at 250 rounds.

    Long story short, any blowback WILL need more TLC than their locked breech counterparts... Even the G42.

    Tell your pop to replace his recoil spring and his .380 should be fine.

    On a side note... With full power 9's on the market like the S&W shield and the Kahr CM 9 hitting near .380 price points and being minimally larger... Why would anyone settle for a "noisy cricket?"

    Tack
     

  3. rjd3282

    rjd3282 New Member

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    The smaller the gun the less reliable. Small guns are difficult to handle and shoot. If your goal for carrying a defensive weapon is to hide it away, you are carrying for the wrong reason. Defense is the reason for carrying, you should be carrying the largest gun you can handle not the smallest gun you can fit in your shoe.
     
  4. SSGN_Doc

    SSGN_Doc Well-Known Member

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    The Keltec and Ruger LCP are locked breach designs. Guns like the PPK, Bersa, Davis, HiPoint, and similar are blowback.

    Miniaturizing these guns may expose some weaknesses. I do think the larger blowback guns may be overbuilt for the .380. But it does make guns like the Bersa, the Beretta, Makarov, etc. .380 pistols very shootable.
     
  5. therukh

    therukh New Member

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    G42

    Never thought much of the .380 since it is just a 9mm short. I figured that anything the .380 could do, the 9mm could do better. Well, then Glock comes out with the 42 and I thought I better have one and see what all the fuss is about. Just like my first Glock, I'm beginning to begrudgingly give my respect to this little pistol. I've shot at least five different types of ammo through it so far and it eats it up and wants more. It works all the time and I've yet to clean it or lube it. It is as it was when I took it out of the box new. It feels good in my hand without any grip enhancements & shoots nice groups. I hope you like your 42 when you get it. I'm liking mine more & more.
     
  6. molonlabexx

    molonlabexx New Member

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    Good point there. I didn't factor that in.
     
  7. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    My issue with the .380 has never been if it runs or not, but if the Shot stops the Threat! 380's and 32's can be a decent back up weapon, but it has to be behind a more Powerful gun as a main.


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  8. BillDeShivs

    BillDeShivs Member

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    While the smaller guns tend to be less reliable than larger ones in general (mini 9mms, too) it doesn't mean they are doomed to failure. There is a lot of wrong information in this thread. Keltecs are as reliable as any other small .380. The Keltec frame is aluminum-the grip is polymer.
    Keltec, Ruger, Colt and SIG .380s are locked breech guns.
    Recoil springs actually seldom wear out.
    The only "shure stop" with ANY pistol is a CNS shot. A CNS shot with a .380 will be as effective as a CNS shot with a .45
     
  9. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    All depends on the Gun. My LC9, after the first 100 rds. Down the pipe, has had less then 5FTF's/FTE's in the next 1300 plus( own it two years, and a few weeks now-pushing 1500 total rds.).Then again it Only failed 3 times in the First 100. To me, the usual issues with compact 9's and .380's are between the Mag., the chamber where it meets the Mag. And/or an extractor issue. The extractors on the Ruger LC9/LC380, and I'll even put the LCP in there too, are very well made for a small gun. The LC9's only issue are with the Two 9Rd. Ext. Mags. The finish on one corner of the Mag is Scratched and finish worn from the very top of the Mag feed lips to the middle of the mag, which means a burr somewhere that I'm not seeing with the Naked eye and a penlight. Otherwise the ammo seats, loads, and fires just fine. Even though I'm learning this stuff and have some classes under my belt already, when I'm confronted with this, I take it to one of two Guys I know who are already licensed to do this kind of work, and who will explain to me what it was and how they corrected it.

    Recently I "Fell" into my first Kel-Tec, a P3AT. I received the Gun from a friend, in pieces, for. $50 up front, and two more $50 payments over the next two months. It took me several hrs. across about 10 days, but it's working, finally, after some light file and slide work and I now have a 380 for the first time in about 15 years. It's still a "Project" for me. Not sure if it's a Suit/Vest pocket gun for Dressy situations, or a hideout gun for the Truck yet,..if at all...or now that it's fixed and has some new internals, do I just sell it to get some cash on it. Let's see how well it runs the next 150 rounds first before I decide. If I feel it's working reliably enough, I might sell it and turn a small profit, But, I'm not going to sell something to anyone if it's not running reliably. It's not any of my old PP's/PPK/s ', I will say that the 32 Stainless PP I have is a Tank, so I guess the Kel-Tec is an APV of some sort...right now the one caliber ammo that is as expensive or More so then 32ACP is 380ACP. I actually have 500+ 32 rounds, incl. 150+ SD rounds. In 380, I was lucky to find 2 boxes of FMJ, and one Box of SD Rounds, but I did have someone(store) order me 150 more.








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    Last edited: May 8, 2014
  10. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    I really don't see the point of the Glock 42. It is the same size as my Kel Tec P11 or the Ruger LC9. If the 380 is the same size as my double stack 9mm I am going to carry the 9mm. The P11 was a mess when I first got it. Now the P11 is just as reliable as my G19. It has broken an ejector since I got it running right. The P11 ejector is similar to the G19 ejector, if it breaks the gun will still run until you field strip it.

    Dr Football if you get a chance to sell the kel tec dump it. By the time you run 250 rounds through it you will be fixing it again. You will have to run 250 rounds through the little thing to become proficient with the P3AT.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  11. DrFootball

    DrFootball disappointed & disgusted, But DETERMINED... Lifetime Supporter

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    I prob. Will, but I won't shove a gun off on someone when it doesn't run right, or at all. So far it's had 30 rounds with no issues since the new parts were put In and it was reassembled. 120 more( but that has to include the 50 SD rounds) and I'll pronounce it running and sell it.


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  12. rjd3282

    rjd3282 New Member

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    While that may be true, it is a lot more difficult to get that perfect shot with a miniature gun. My problem isn't with the caliber it's the size of the weapon. Poor grip, short sight radius doesn't bode well for a cns shot.
     
  13. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    Don't be surprised if it will not run WWB or HP ammo. All I can get mine to run is round nose FMJ ammo. I have seen the same thing with the LCP and other P3AT pistols.
     
  14. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    I disagree. The first criteria of a defensive gun is that it work, and work well. In defensive shoot the goal is not to kill the attacker in his tracks as the only thing that's hand held that will come remotely close to that at defensive range is a 12ga with 00buck... the purpose of a defensive pistol is provide a working tool to stop an attack.

    When met with offensive force attackers run or in the case of mass shooters plug themselves. Stopping an attacker with one shot instantly is just a bonus. This brings us to the next point below.

    The second qualification of a defensive handgun is use appropriate ammunition. In a 380 you should be using high quality full metal jacket. Hollow point "defensive" ammunition all to a round lack the ability to reliably get to the innards. So a 380 that doesn't run hp ammo isn't an issue since it shouldn't be in the gun in the first place.

    While I disagreed with drfootball above I ALSO agree with him. If you can carry a bigger gun than a 380 you would be insane not to. A 380 is barely adequate. The purpose of a 380 is to give someone the ability to carry very discretely and never violate the first tenant of self defense. "Have a gun, ANY gun." 380 has its place but its the least desirable adequate round.
     
  15. JTJ

    JTJ Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sig P238, all metal 1911 type action. XTP's are the only 380 hollow point I have found that shows proper penetration. The others appear to expand too quickly and too much.
     
  16. indy36

    indy36 New Member

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    I second the Sig P238. I carry one every day, loaded with standard FMJ rounds. It's the best .380 out there.


    Sent from my iPhone using Firearms Talk
     
  17. therewolf

    therewolf New Member

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    My two issues with .380 are thus.

    First, the size of the cartridge makes

    it VERY easy to accidentally, and disastrously,

    switch with 9mm Luger rounds.

    Second, and more important, IMO, is the caliber has

    invited a lot of light, sleek, thin, small designs for CC.

    The drawback here is, combined with short barrel

    physics, the stress of shooting these little wonders

    of the modern age has a detrimental effect on the

    less sturdily built ones.

    I have an old S&W 61, in 22LR. It is the same size as

    a lot of .380s I've seen.

    ---Inexpensive

    ---Small

    ---Well-made

    pick any two...
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  18. Mercator

    Mercator Active Member

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    Paraphrasing old Detroit

    You want three things about your pocket pistol - small, powerful, and good. You can only have two.

    Edit. OMG. Someone already said it.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2014
  19. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    9mm will not fit into a 380 magazine. If you choose to drop one into a 380 chamber it won't fit. You might be able to take a ball peen hammer to the slide and pound it shut but if your that stupid your going to deserve the kaboom your going to get... yes both use .357 diameter bullets but the cases are vastly different as are the length of the bullet ogive. Its the same as confusing a 10mm with a 40sw just not going to happen


    22lr is not an adequate defensive round. Out of a rifle the 22lr has sufficient speed for penetration out of any handgun it is so lacking in power even thin weak bones are sufficient to deflect this round with a high probability from anything further than contact distance. That doesn't even get into ignition reliability which is suspect at best even with high quality ammo.
     
  20. bbertram

    bbertram New Member

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    I agree with the XTP's in both 380 and 9x18 Makarov. Add Federal Hydrashok's to the list , though. Limited expansion and good penetration.