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.380 Ballistics Data

18949 Views 13 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Kraigster414
There is already a lot of .380 ballistic data done on popular brands of factory ammo. We welcome your test data (wet pack, ballistic gel, animal flesh, etc.), scientific or not-so scientific, links to independent test results, etc. As we all know, there are many variables that come into play and it's impossible to predict how a certain round will perform every time, but these tests make for an interesting read, and may in fact help you in selecting your carry or HD round. Bottom line, the .380 is a .380 but advances have been made of late that help bridge the gap between what has historically been a marginal defense round and an effective stopper. And to use an old phrase, a .380 in the pocket is better than the .45 you left at home.






http://www.ktog.org/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1202857757 (Thank you Wheelguy)






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Add to your wealth of references the work of DocGKR (Dr. Gary Roberts).

Dr. Roberts is currently on staff at Stanford University Medical Center; this is a large teaching hospital and Level I Trauma center were he performs hospital dentistry and surgery. After completing his residency at Navy Hospital Oakland in 1989 while on active military duty, he studied at the Army Wound Ballistic Research Laboratory at the Letterman Army Institute of Research and became one of the first members of the International Wound Ballistic Association. Since then, he has been tasked with performing military, law enforcement, and privately funded independent wound ballistic testing and analysis. He remains a Navy Reserve officer and has recently served on the Joint Service Wound Ballistic IPT, as well as being a consultant to the Joint FBI-USMC munitions testing program and the TSWG MURG program. He is frequently asked to provide wound ballistic technical assistance to numerous U.S. and allied SOF units and organizations. In addition, he is a technical advisor to the Association of Firearms and Toolmark Examiners, as well as to a variety of Federal, State, and municipal law enforcement agencies. He has been a sworn Reserve Police Officer in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he now he serves in an LE training role.
He currently hangs out on the M4Carbine list and has a lot of stickies worth reading especially the one on the 380.

thanks much, Howard, for posting that link to Doc Roberts 'stickies'. Lost that link but now can find it easily.
Well, no doubt DGR is considered an "expert" by his peers since he's done lots more work on ballistics than most of us. However, I'm not a big fan of his due to his limited tolerance for anyone with a different view than his.
Reading his thread on the .380 v.s. 38special, I noted he didn't include a single picture or data list on the .380. He only badmouthed the .380 for it's "limitations" in his view. And empasized the 38 over and over again.
Well, I tend to agree that the 38 might be a little better, but I totally disagree that the .380 is inadequate for personal defense. With modern ammo available today, the .380 with good JHP ammo is just as good (with good placement, of course) as something else. I base that on lots of ballistic tests to date as shown in the fine list of links that kraigster posted (thanks for that list!!). And also some of the street reports in my old nemisis Evan Marshall's third book. (Even though he banned me from his site years ago for suggesting wetpacks might be valid, I still highly respect his work. Many hate him, I don't.)
Evan's third book is a classic and worth reading.
So all that said, I'm not giving up on the .380. IMO it's equal to 38special. And I'm proud to be a member of this site with folks like kraigster, Howard, and the rest.

Finally, I just want to add another fine link to the list....


og....always full of opinions ;D
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Granpa, note the specs on the Buffalo Bore:


Very impressive specs and approaching .38 Special Plus P energy out of a dimunitive Kahr 380, LCP, etc. High recoil as you expect but IMHO, the beefy Kahr P380 can take a steady doseof BB and keep on tickin.' I've been loading my mags with four rounds of Double Tap JHP's on top of two rounds of BB FMJ flat nose for maximum penetration.
+1 kraigster. Anybody that thinks that pistols with good .380 ammo is a wimp hasn't really tried it. I'll include some DoubleTap when I get my Kahr for testing. DoubleTap seemed a little too much for the LCP, recoil was severe and the smileys were worst.
og....patiently waiting!! :p
OG, the P380 can easily handle Double Tap, ditto for the LCP. Buffalo Bore is even more robust than DT but a fine defense round bridging the gap between what was once a marginal caliber for defense (.380) and an acceptable stopper, albeit no .45 ACP. My take is that if you want to squeeze the max out of a .380, BB is the way to go. Your mileage may differ.
OK, I guess I'll have to order some "BB". Midway is out of stock on it so I'll try to order direct from the link you gave. Believe you mean the 90gr Speer GoldDot JHP round which I can compare with Double Tap that I already have.
I didn't like the DT in the LCP, recoil just seemed too much for a light weight pistol. But I'll give it a try when I finally get the P380.
Thanks much for your help.
I am considering buying a P380 and selling my LCP. I say considering since the wrinkles at least in my LCP seem to now be gone. The main issue I still have is stronger recoil sprins for the LCP. I have been told the LCP springs are rated at 9 pounds. I know Jocko says go with the 13 pounders for the Keltec 32, but will they fit, and will they last? Wolff folks say they will not work well in the LCP. Any ideas on the rating for the P380 recoil springs since that seems to be the biggest issue on firing BB in the LCP's? I agree the P380 is prettier than the LCP, but really is it that much better a gun than the LCP's currently coming out in 2009?
"Is it that much better of a gun...."

Sass (welcome by the way), only you can answer that question. No secret that I own both. IMHO the LCP remains the best in breed in the $300 plus or minus pocket gun category. The early bugs are now out with the latest upgrades starting with s/n prefix 371 guns - metal mag catch, upgraded extractor, stronger recoil springs, redesigned barrel to accept virtually any factory ammo, etc. I'd trust my life with my LCP as it is currently configured. 1000 plus rounds have been fired out of the little sucker.

What the Kahr P380 has to offer, and this is just me talking, take it for what it's worth, is a beefier platform that I feel can handle a steady dose of stiffer loads, better accuracy largely due to the gun having conventional "real sights", a slide that locks open after the last fired round, superb ergonomics, and a bit more heft to help calm the recoil (a little, not a lot) AND a VERY smooth, comfortable double action trigger. Are these attributes worth double the price? Your call but if you are a lover of .380 pocket guns, have the change, the P380 is, IMHO worthwhile investment. And the Kahr folks, like Ruger are very good to work with. Keep in mind too, improved .380 ballistics, e.g, Buffalo Bore, Double Tap etc. have garnered new respect to the .380 as a viable defense caliber.

I will see if I can get a rating on the P380 recoil spring.
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Kraigster I couldn't agree with you more. The LCP fills an important niche and is very affordable. The P380 I feel takes things to another level. The P380 is a hair under 10 ounces but definately beefier. I have large hands so it is more comfortable shooting the P380, yet it still easily slips into a pocket. The sights are a huge improvement over the LCP and it is amazingly accurate for such a tiny pistol. The new and upgraded LCP does everything it was designed to do, but given the choice between the two it's no contest, the P380 is more to my liking.
kraigster414 said:
Granpa, note the specs on the Buffalo Bore:


Very impressive specs and approaching .38 Special Plus P energy out of a dimunitive Kahr 380, LCP, etc. High recoil as you expect but IMHO, the beefy Kahr P380 can take a steady doseof BB and keep on tickin.' I've been loading my mags with four rounds of Double Tap JHP's on top of two rounds of BB FMJ flat nose for maximum penetration.
100 grain BB 380 1150 ft per second 294# of energy

100 grain 9mm (normally not as powerful as 38spl) 100 grain powerball 1450 ft per second 467# of enenry.

9mm 90 grain corbon hp 1500 FPS, 450# of energy

apples and oranges
The BB .380+P 100 gr hard cast puts out 294 pounds of energy according to BB's online specs. Yes, barrel length plays a role.

The BB .38 Special +P 125 gr. put out 306 pounds of energy. That's pretty darn close at least from an energy standpoint. Factor in the P380's greater capacity, lighter weight, and flatter platform versus a typical .38 Special wheel gun, and that ain't bad. Keep in mind too that Kahr will be introducing a 7 round mag with finger extension next year.

Now we could argue ballistics until the cows come home. All I am saying is that a P380 loaded with top notch ammo is an impressive little package. Not a .45 but a leap over what we've learned to expect from a typical .380 years ago.
your right from an energy only standpoint, but one has to take into account the bullet weight. the 38 is 25% heavier round.

I guess we can pick out of sentences certaina words we like and don't like..

How about using the ol underpowered 9mm for some references, semi auto vs semi auto sorta.

apples and oranges... to me.
I'll give you the last word Jocko. I'm worn out. If I was a boxer, I'd say, "no mas." :)
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