When discussing the suitability of the 380 as a self defense caliber it gets almost as competitive as comparing the 45 ACP to the 9mm. Everyone has an opinion and some get downright heated when trying to convince the other side.
First let me say that the 380 is not only the lowest power round that is commonly carried for self defense but it is also one of the most popular. The reason for its popularity being that the smaller size low power ammunition lends itself to smaller more easily concealed handguns. The 380 caliber pistols are the only reasonably powered true pocket pistols.
A study of 380 ballistics shows that the 380 ACP JHP suffers from a lack of penetration. The JHP typically penetrates into calibrated ballistics gel only about 8 to 9 inches. And that result would be even less if the bullet had to penetrate thick winter clothing or struck bone.
Penetration can be improved by using 380 FMJ ball ammunition but then there is the probability that it will over penetrate. Test shots into ballistics gel achieved penetration in excess of 20 inches.
Some proponents of the 380 as a self defense caliber often claim that shot placement is all important which is true as it is with any self defense caliber. However, that implication requires shooting skill and self control under stress to place shots precisely. Other than Clint Eastwoods portrayal of William Money in the movie Unforgiven or a Navy SEAL team executing a mission, most of us will be doing good just to place shots in center mass of a moving target that may well be shooting back.
Deciding to use the 380 for self defense is decision that can be rationalized. I prefer the idea that the 380 you carry is much better that the 9mm in your safe. But whatever your reasoning it is important to use a powerful high quality premium grade self defense ammunition such as Hornady Critical Defense 380, Winchester PDX1, Remington Golden Saber 102 gr JHP, and there are others suitable for self defense.
Check out these YouTube videos of 380 ACP penetration tests in calibrated ballistics gel. The YouTube channel tnoutdoor9 is a valuable resource of ballistics gel tests. Subscribe to tnoutdoors9 when you watch his videos.
380 Full Metal Jacket in Ballistic Gel
More Videos – Click on the link to watch each video
Hornady Critical Defense .380 ACP 90 gr Ammo Test
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