380 auto myths

Stop With These Myths About .380 Auto And The Pistols That Shoot It

There are a whole bunch of myths about .380 ACP and the guns that shoot it. While this seemingly small round is thought of as the bare minimum caliber of defensive pistols, the reality is that it actually has a lot to offer and has gotten a bad rap over the years from the caliber junkies.

Time and again, it's been proven that accuracy matters more than caliber, but apparently you just can't tell some people that.

The caliber myth among others are behind some myths about .380 ACP, and we're here today to set the record straight.

.380 Auto Doesn't Have Stopping Power

Thing about stopping power is that there's mostly no such thing, whether it's a .380 Auto or a .44 Magnum. Thing about bullets is the physics behind them is rather basic. The force of the impact is roughly equal to the force of the recoil. So unless you're going to start carrying an elephant gun as your EDC, then you might as well just forget it.

The force of the impact doesn't stop an attacker; shock - meaning psychological shock - or a hit to the brainstem does. Blood loss takes too much time to take effect and the immediate trauma of a gunshot wound doesn't really do it either, unless a person gets shot in the pelvis or kneecap and the skeletal structure is compromised.

Even a .44 Magnum isn't a guaranteed man-stopper, so the .380 Auto is fine as a defensive round. Like any handgun round, what matters is placement and bullet selection. With a quality hollow point and accurate fire, it will save your skin.

.380 ACP Is Inaccurate

380 acp is inaccurate

No bullet is inherently inaccurate; if anyone says that .380 ACP is inaccurate what they actually mean is that they don't, can't or haven't ever shot it well. Granted, it's not exactly most people's fault if they aren't shooting cloverleafs at 25 yards.

Most pistols chambered in .380 ACP are small, subcompact to micro size. Granted, there are some bigger guns that either are or have been made in this caliber (the CZ 83 is/was a good example; it's a compact service pistol) and are capable of doing everything a 9mm pistol of the same size is doing in terms of accuracy. However, a barrel length of less than 3 inches doesn't lend itself to easy accuracy.

Small guns are also much more difficult to shoot for extended periods. Anyone that's ever gotten themselves a pocket gun has probably been slide-bit pretty bad a time or two. Getting your hand carved will make you not want to practice with your gun, which means you won't do it that much, which means your shot groups trend toward "minute of the broadside of a barn."

Smaller guns, less pleasant to shoot...it's not the .380 ACP round that's inaccurate. It's the shooter, but it isn't entirely their fault.

.380 Guns Are More Appropriate For Women

380 guns for women

Ever see a clerk at a gun store recommend a snubbie revolver or one of several pocket .380 guns for a female customer, specifically one that doesn't seem to know a whole lot? It's happened a whole bunch of times and it's just plain wrong. Small gun, small hands seems to make sense but the reality is that a tiny pistol is not for unpracticed hands.

A Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum is actually relatively easy to shoot despite the size of the gun and the power of the round; the weight of the frame soaks up a good amount of the recoil. A tiny gun, with little mass to absorb the recoil? Not as easy, and a beginner will not be well-served with such a gun.

That isn't to say a female shooter can't get proficient; they definitely can. However, insisting that any one type of pistol is better for them due to...whatever...is just plain wrong.

A .380 Auto Can't Stop An Attacker

380 acp is ineffective

Never mind "stopping power;" some people believe that sufficient trauma can't be done by a .380 auto to stop an attacker. Hogwash.

Do a bit of research, and you'll find all sorts of things (people, animals) killed by small bullets. WDM Bell killed 800 elephants with a 7x57mm Mauser; a small, medium velocity centerfire rifle round. Bella Twin, a Canadian woman, killed a (then) world-record grizzly bear with a .22 Short, which is slightly less powerful than a .22 LR.

Plenty of people have been downed with a .22 LR as well; the deuce-deuce is good for more than just plinking.

Two things stop an attacker: physical trauma or psychological shock. (Blood loss usually takes too long to be a factor.) The former can be done with any round; it just needs to be placed correctly. WDM Bell and Bella Twin accomplished their feats with expertly-placed shots to the brain, despite a small round being used to dispatch some of the largest and most dangerous animals on earth. The latter is up to the person you put the round into, and that's something that has nothing to do with the gun or the bullet.

The .380 Auto is perfectly fine for self-defense, so long as you've selected a quality bullet and can put it where it needs to go.

Sam Hoober 

About The Author


Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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