how lethal is the .380 acp round?
Why does everyone down it so much is it really that bad?
Whether a round is lethal is irrelevant to the analysis of choosing a defensive handgun cartridge and handgun from which to shoot it.
All cartridges are lethal.
The issue is incapacitation
, not lethality.
Some handgun cartridges are better at incapacitation than others.
The main mechanism of incapacitation is loss of blood pressure due to crushed tissue which causes hemorrhaging. Generally, the more crushed vascular tissue the faster the blood loss. Incapacitation takes time.
Hypothetically, I submit that the best .380 ACP is not as good as the best 10mm auto or .45 ACP in incapacitating a deadly human threat by means of crushing vascular tissue. Assuming the same bullet placement and path, the latter two rounds would likely expand more, penetrate deeper, and crush more tissue leading to faster incapacitation than the .380 ACP.
I submit that all "defensive" handgun cartridges are under-powered. That is why we are trained to shoot at least twice, assess, and proceed as necessary.
What is a "defensive" handgun cartridge is a moving target. It differs which each individual's analysis. I have settled upon handgun cartridges starting at the level of the 9mm parabellum and .38 Special up to something less powerful than full .44 magnum loads. This is a personal preference.
Some people will say they feel safe carrying a .25 ACP. I would not. But I have seen the lethal results of a unarmed large young male being shot by a shooter who hit him 6 or 7 times with a .25 ACP. According to witnesses, the victim tried to run away, was able to run until the shooter ran out of bullets, walked around for a bit then laid down. He eventually expired . . . . eventually.
In choosing a handgun for self-defense, I submit that choosing the most powerful, largest caliber handgun cartridge that you can competently shoot is the best chance for incapacitating a deadly threat in the quickest manner. Do not expect it to stop a determined attacker in less than 5 seconds (maybe a lot longer) even if your shot placement is perfect. Be prepared to move, find cover and fight for your life.