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 .32 vs .380 vs .38 vs 9mm
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yrusik
Starting Member

5 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  3:46:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Dear Sirs,

While I am a physician and make every effort to stay from harms way, I also live in a world of some level of random crime.

I agree your position that the shooter is 90% and the hardware 10%.

Still, really truly really, how much actual difference is there in the real world performance between the above listed calibers given high performance ammo in each?

I would assume that the .38 Special and the 9mm are equal but how do the little rounds measure up?

Thank you in advance





Chuck
Advanced Member

USA
3251 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  4:24:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I strongly feel that the rounds listed are almost a stair step up the scale, with the .38 and 9mm being very close together, assuming the best loads in each.

The .32 is better than a .22 or .25, that's the best I can say. the .380 is clearly better than the .32, but well below the .38 or 9mm in what I refer to as being able to inflict a reliable wound.

I know of no .32 or .380 ammo that will both expand and penetrate into the 12-15" range. Both of the smaller guns are commonly defeated by large bones.
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Evan
Administrator

32197 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  4:38:56 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
9MM is better than the .38

I only carry a .380 as a 4th handgun-it backs up a .45ACP, .40 S&W, and a 9MM.

"The greatest thing a Father can do for his children is to love their Mother."

Harold B. Lee

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Jerry Morris
Junior Member

USA
158 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  5:19:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
yrusik;

You got good answers already. Now there is room for clarification and questions. What are YOUR needs in carry mode? Does it need to be a small discrete handgun?

My own personal view is the main handgun should be a service sized handgun of not less than .38 Special/9mm. The bigger the bore the better. You want enough barrel to give decent velocity, 3 inches is my lower end, preferring 4 inches.

I do not have the walking arsenal mindset, the most I can see carrying is two handguns. If it requires more than that, I want a shotgun, or rifle to make up the difference. This is only me and not a derogatory on any of the others on this site. Then again, some of my circle consider me to be overly well armed.

Bottom line, find a decent caliber in a size that suits your needs and learn it well. Being a doctor, you have an advantage over many. You know where the switches are located and should know every angle to those switches. Pay attention to any gunshot wounds you may treat, the knowledge will serve you well.

I hope you are not located in one of those regions that restricts your access to decent calibers. A .32 caliber will work, but requires absolute precision and it is so border line.

Jerry
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Evan
Administrator

32197 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  5:29:47 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I carry a: Glock .45, a Kahr .40, a Taurus 5 shot 9MM revolver, and a Kel Tec .380-dress around the guns and relax.

"The greatest thing a Father can do for his children is to love their Mother."

Harold B. Lee

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Terry
Moderator

USA
5481 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  5:57:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by yrusik

Still, really truly really, how much actual difference is there in the real world performance between the above listed calibers given high performance ammo in each?


It's nigh impossible to objectively quantify the differences outside of what is written in books like Evan's.

Suffice to say that, when there is a choice, we tend to shun calibers below 38 Special for a main gun and I would consider the 9mm superior to the 38 Special (assuming a wide choice of loads).

"Simplicity is the last step of art, and the beginning of nature" Bruce Lee
von hier an blind

Edited by - Terry on January 29 2007 5:57:25 PM
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Dr. G
Junior Member

USA
160 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  6:38:49 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If my memory serves me correctly ( which is questionable) I believe that there was not a lot of difference between the.38 spl. out of a two inch barrel and the best .380's. For my Kel-Tec .380 I keep a Glazer blue in the pipe backed by 6 DPX rds. I would take a Kel-Tec 9mm over any .38 spl. either 2 or 4 inch. The Kel-Tec's are very small and handy for their respective calibers and they ar very consealable. The kel-Tec would not be my first overall choice in 9mm but it is the most consealable in my humble opnion. Just my .02.

Nobody ever wished they had a smaller gun, with fewer bullets, in a gunfight...author unknown
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Biggfoot44
Advanced Member

2140 Posts

Posted - January 29 2007 :  8:16:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As everyone above relates the top question is your personal requirements in both carry methods, and any special requires in your shooting skills, (ie hand/ finger strength, extreme sensitivity to recoil). The question between .38 and 9mm is primarily weather a revolver or auto is prefered, or serves your needs beter. In my somewhat minority opinion, I reverse some of Dr.G's ideas. In extremely compact guns I feel .32 is much closer to a .380 in same size gun, while at same time being larger, and harder to control for small gain. I feel if you are going to move up from a .32 you should skip straight to one of the very compact, sub 16oz 9mms.
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TxSkyCop
Advanced Member

USA
1657 Posts

Posted - February 01 2007 :  10:54:15 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A .380 is my third gun (PPK), after a 1911 (.45) and a J-Frame (.357).

If chosing among the calibers you listed, I would go with the 9mm, then the .38, then the .380, and would depend on a .32 only if there were no other choice.

In my view, a .380 is about the smallest I would be willing to go.

"No man is above the law and no man is below it, nor do we ask any man's permission when we require him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right, not asked as a favor." Theodore Roosevelt, Dec 7, 1903
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Jim Higginbotham
Moderator

USA
7779 Posts

Posted - February 01 2007 :  10:59:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If we boil this down to just the physical effects I have never run into anyone personally who succesfully used any of the pocket rockets to actually stop someone quickly. But that is a limited amount of cases so I hasten to point out that I am sure they have worked for someone.

Heck, I find enough problems with .357 mag. .40 S&W. 10mm and .45 (though to be honest that round has worked for everyone I personally know - again, that only ammounts to a bit over 30 people and I see from Evans work that it sure does not pan out over a broad spectrum).

While I do not find any handgun round (with the caveat that I have zero feedback with the .480 and 500 "hand cannons") "impressive" they seem to be adequate if shot well. I cannot say that the .25s, .32s and .380s are adequate when shot well - but one might get lucky. Any gun is better than no gun (except I like Jeff Coopers mantra about not loading .25s).

Jim H.

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dawg23
Junior Member

116 Posts

Posted - February 20 2007 :  2:10:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Higginbotham

Any gun is better than no gun (except I like Jeff Coopers mantra about not loading .25s).

Jim H.



What did Col. Cooper say about not loading .25's ?

You can fool all of the people some of the time - and that should be sufficient.
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Jim Higginbotham
Moderator

USA
7779 Posts

Posted - February 20 2007 :  2:22:55 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am paraphrasing here, but I think you will find the quote in the Outdoor Life book of Rifles, Shotguns and Handguns (circa about 1962).

"It might be OK to have such a miniscule pistol but dont load it; if you load it you might be tempted to shoot it, and if you shoot it you might actually hit someone, and if you hit someone they might actually notice, and if they notice they might hurt you!"

For some reason I always recalled that, though perhaps not verbatim.

Jim H.


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mecheng
Average Member

USA
437 Posts

Posted - February 20 2007 :  3:13:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
From what I read, Col. Cooper didn't think anything less than a .45 was sufficient. I do believe though that his opinions were formed when nothing other than ball ammunition was reliable. I do recall reading that he felt that if a smnall caliber was used it might as well be .22 to allow accurate placement to the CNS.
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Ten Driver
Advanced Member

1065 Posts

Posted - February 20 2007 :  11:04:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I believe the late Col Cooper also said he would rather be armed with a sharp hatchet than a .25 ACP!

V/R
Mike
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Jim Higginbotham
Moderator

USA
7779 Posts

Posted - February 21 2007 :  09:28:39 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mecheng

From what I read, Col. Cooper didn't think anything less than a .45 was sufficient. I do believe though that his opinions were formed when nothing other than ball ammunition was reliable. I do recall reading that he felt that if a smnall caliber was used it might as well be .22 to allow accurate placement to the CNS.



Actually, though some forget, he was early on a supporter of the "centimeter bore", a Whit Collins design, and wrote the first article, I think, on the Browning in .40 Caliber G&A (almost identical to the .40 S&W). Later, the .40 G&A was changed to a belted case and someone else wrote that article. When he concevied of the 10mm and putting it into a package based on the CZ-75 he sort of poo-pooed the .40 as "Short & Weak" though.

Also he was the impetus behind the "Super 9mm", which some editor dubbed the "Super Cooper". It was essentially the 9X23 excdept that his load pushed a 125gr JSP to 1750 fps (a bit hot - and it did rupture even .223 cases from time to time - I asked him what happened to the nice walnut stocks on the gun and he explained he got tired of picking splinters out of his hand - BTW, as far as I know the Col. did not have time to reload, others did it for him)

If one wants to wade through his comments in the two volumes of "Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip" you will probably find repeated references to all pistols being somewhat anemic and "it is the man not the gun". Sentiments found in abundance here on the forum.

Press on!

Jim H.

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philg
Average Member

301 Posts

Posted - February 24 2007 :  10:27:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I'll have to check that out. I've always considered Jeff Cooper as the Elmer Kieth of autopistols. However, I've always considered his advise on practical shooting to be timeless.
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Maximum1
Starting Member

USA
11 Posts

Posted - February 25 2007 :  8:25:52 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Always a differcult discussion..

I simply look at it this way, if you can carry a .45 then I'd go with it but if you end up leaving it at home because it's too heavy then go with a .40 or 9MM. If you find those too heavy carry a .380 and so on... My point, WHATEVER gun gets you to carry 95%+ of the time then that's the best caliber for you.


Interesting stat from the FBI: the .22 caliber kills more indivduals than any other round...
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mecheng
Average Member

USA
437 Posts

Posted - February 25 2007 :  9:43:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Maximum1,
As far as .22 goes, people can die 6 days later from infection. The fact that .22 kills more people is simply a matter of sheer volume since the guns and ammunition are cheap. .22s are definetly a poor choice when needing to stop someone right now (Unless you hit the CNS). The truth is that handguns are generally poor stoppers.

It seems like the caliber debate has been going on as long as there have been different calibers. When it comes to service calibers (9mm, .40. 357 sig, and .45 ACP) the differences in terminal performance has shrunk considerably. However, as we move to larger diameter heavier projectiles we do see slight increases in wound channel diameters given the same peneration depth. The differences are very small but may provide a miniscule advantage in a life or death situation. (chose whichever one of these you shoot best in the most reliable weapon you can get.

BUG calibers (.380, 32 ACP, .38 spcl, etc) are in a different category all together. These calibers do not have the same wounding potential of the more powerful sevice calibers (.38 Special is close to 9mm with some loads). Furhermore most of these calibers do not have adequate wounding potential after penetrating barriers.

As a general rule pick the largest service caliber you can shoot well. As far as BUGs go .38 Special is a great choice although some 9mms are getting that small. I would advise saving the .380 and below for third guns or not at all unless you have no other option.

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BobK
Advanced Member

USA
1980 Posts

Posted - February 26 2007 :  12:50:12 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
"This" VS "That" threads are getting old. Carry what works for you.

The caliber of the man counts more than the caliber of his gun.
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HEMI
Senior Member

Canada
878 Posts

Posted - February 26 2007 :  01:13:56 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There is so much info on this site an informed choice can be made. Take some time and use the search feature. The 38,9mm,357s,40 and 45 are alot closer now than they used to be with the advancement in ammo. Pick one and learn to hit with it. Welcome.

kev
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jle3030
Advanced Member

USA
3905 Posts

Posted - February 26 2007 :  06:26:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have one basic "go - no go" question that I apply to potential carry guns.

How would I expect to fare with this gun against a very angry 300 pound opponent or multiple adversaries.?

We are betting our lives on this handiness vs. effectiveness choice. Dave Spaulding has referred to having "a fast handful of gun to fight with".

For just a few seconds Saturday I was temped by a couple really tiny KT32's in the gunshop's used case. Until I asked myself "the question". I didn't buy.

Also of note, they had a Colt Mustang .380 for $650!!! I think I paid $280 for my Pocketlite back in the '90's. FWIW that's my rarely carried rock bottom minimum pocket gun.

Jeff


jle3030
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