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Old December 8, 2010, 09:12 PM   #1
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380 or 9mm

hey there! I know these questions appear lots on here but i am looking for an easily consealable handgun in a380 or 9mm. The price range im looking for is in the 300-400 dollar range. I already have a pt 92 so i realy like the idea of having another 9mm in the stable to keep from buying different callaber ammo in sufficiant quantities but thats not a priority. Id like to have something i can quickly grab and go without the hastles of concealing my full size gun. The more ive read other posts on here the more i have become confused. id like it to be accurate of sorts in the 7-10 yrd range.
Im considering the bersa thunder 380, ruger tcp, taurus tlp in the 380 and the kel tec p11 and the kel tec pf9 in the 9mm.
I know handling the gun is the true outcome of my selection but the nearest gun shop is over 50 miles away and would like to narrow down my search when i get there. lol Any and all responces will be greatly appreciated.
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Old December 8, 2010, 09:32 PM   #2
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Im considering the bersa thunder 380, ruger tcp, taurus tlp in the 380 and the kel tec p11 and the kel tec pf9 in the 9mm.
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Old December 8, 2010, 09:35 PM   #3
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There are quite a few handguns in that price range. Price is mostly dependent on where you live though.

Here are a few guns in your price range that can be bought NEW that I would consider easy to CCW. YMMV

Walther pk380 (.380acp)
Kel-Tech PF9 (9mm)
Kel-tech P11 (9mm)

As far as "which is better .380 or 9mm?" depends. In most cases .380acp will cost more / box than 9mm.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:13 PM   #4
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if you're willing to raise your limit to $500 you might be able to find a used Kahr PM9. Definitely findable at or below $400 is the Kahr CW9. I paid $350 for mine. Now, of those you listed, I've had the Bersa and the PF9. I'd go with the PF9, even though I didn't like shooting it. It's a handful, and I currently carry a CW45 that I'd MUCH prefer to shoot. The Bersa feels good in the hand and shoots well, but it's a .380.
Check out the Kahr route before doing anything, though. GunBroker is a decent site.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:21 PM   #5
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As far as "which is better .380 or 9mm?" depends. In most cases .380acp will cost more / box than 9mm.

Hmmmm .380 cost more gives less.

Lots of people say it "gives enough". I sure won't be first
in line to get shot by one! But... a 9mm will deliver more

The Kel's are all good, get the smallest one that you can
shoot accurately.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:45 PM   #6
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I would not consider carrying a 380 bug gun as a primary gun. The new 380's are a good choice for a back up gun. These bug guns are merely in case your primary gun fails. I carry a 357sig Glock. My TCP (380acp) is in my front pocket just in case the Glock has a bad day. This is the best use of the 380 pistols in my opinion. Sometimes 2 is one & one is none.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:48 PM   #7
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Kahr CW9 is close to your number and you will find the stopping power of 9mm is far superior to .380. Bigger bullet and higher velocity.
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Old December 8, 2010, 10:57 PM   #8
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For $250.00 the Bera Thunder is a fantastic value. The 9mm is not "bigger" it is heavier. The 9mm is "more gun" but the .380 is "enough gun." For me, as always, I want two holes, one in and one out so the 9mm would add nothing for me. I will get complete penetration with this standard pressure ammunition and the flat point will work real good.
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Old December 9, 2010, 12:40 AM   #9
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9mm, I think the Kahr PM9 is the best highly concealable one, but expensive as noted.

The Kahr CW9, as mentioned, is still very slim and would be easy to carry in a bellyband or IWB, is easy to shoot, 9mm, and @$430 in the Phoenix area.

The Bersa Thunder .380 almost drops in the front pocket, very slender, shoots well. I would prefer the regular Thunder over the CC model, better sights and more comfortable to shoot because it doesn't have the chopped rear-end/grip tang of the CC. And it's under $300 generally, around 280 even.

I have owned both Kel-tec 9mms and ultimately couldn't stand the recoil of either, or the trigger in the P11. They both beat the hand badly--much worse than the Kahrs--and follow-up shots are slow.

The Ruger LCP drops easily in the front pocket, is reliable and well made. Stiff recoil (I find the magazine grip extenders a must with mine), and long trigger limit my effective range to @ 7 yards. A bit over $300, maybe less.
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Old December 9, 2010, 02:52 AM   #10
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Bersa also makes a compact 9mm that fits in your price range. Its not much bigger than the Thunder .380 and can be found new for $360 or so. The downside is the Bersa 9mm is harder to find in a gun store than the .380.

As for reliability, here's a video of two testers firing a Bersa 9mm over 1400 times as fast as they can reload and fire. They even pour water on it three times and it keeps on firing.
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Old December 9, 2010, 03:44 AM   #11
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Of the ones you listed, I'd go for the Kel-Tec PF-9 followed by the P-11. I'm completely with ET on the proper use of a .380 back-up gun and on the role of the .380 round generally. The 9mm is a much better defensive round, and it's also much cheaper to shoot.

I'd suggest taking a look at the Ruger SR9c (not the SR9) as well. It's a little larger than the guns you've listed, but it's still very concealable. It's also of higher quality than any of the guns you've listed, and in some cases substantially so. Bud's Gun Shop (online) has them for $398 including shipping.
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Old December 9, 2010, 05:41 AM   #12
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Check into a Stoeger Arms Cougar in 9mm. They're well made and priced right.
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Old December 9, 2010, 06:02 AM   #13
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The Stoeger Cougar is a huge gun.

In the $300-$400 price range: Kel-Tec PF-9, Kahr CW9, Ruger LCP .380, Kel-Tec P3AT(.380)

For a little more you could get a Ruger SR9c, a little more than that a Glock 26 or S&W M&P9c.(these are a little bigger though, all three of these are about the same size)

In the expensive price range: Walther PPS, Kahr PM9/MK9, Kahr P380, Rorbaugh R9($1000 minimum), the Sig P238(.380) and soon to be released Sig P290(9mm).
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Old December 9, 2010, 07:41 AM   #14
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I own a Bersa Thunder 380 and a Bersa Thunder 380 CC. They have been sitting in the safe since I got my Kahr CW9. It is a great gun (no malfunctions in over 700 rounds) and very affordable at about $400.
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Old December 9, 2010, 09:02 AM   #15
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Either of the 2 Kel Tec 9mm would be fine. +
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Old December 9, 2010, 09:51 AM   #16
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this may just be me, but i wouldnt use a .380 for daily personal defense. a subcompact 9mm isnt much bigger than a .380, but has more uses and in my opinion more reliable at longer distances.
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Old December 9, 2010, 09:59 AM   #17
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I carry a LCP, mostly as a BUG but sometimes I just throw it in my pocket when I am running out in shorts. It is very light and has performed flawlessly after 300 rounds. It can be had for >$300. Trigger pull if stiff but for its purpose it is very managable. I don't think recoil is that bad and groups real well for me at 7 yards.

As a daily primary I would probably look for a 9mm as stated above.
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Old December 9, 2010, 10:40 AM   #18
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I have nothing against the 380, but at todays prices I just can't see it.

I'd vote for the 9mm, maybe an SR9 compact for carry.
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Old December 9, 2010, 11:19 AM   #19
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I've had several of each and I'd feel well armed with each under most circumstances, but I'd say the same thing about a .32. However, I'd pick a 9mm for a different reason and it isn't the cost or effectiveness of the ammunition.

Most (but not all) 9mm automatics are locked breech, while most (but not all) .380 automatics are straight blowback. That means most 9mm automatics are a little softer shooting than .380s, which sounds totally illogical but shoot a few and see for yourself. It makes a bigger difference in the smaller models, which is why most people pick .380s in the first place. Larger .380 pistols like the Berettas are easy to shoot because they have a large, comfortable grip. The Browning .380 was especially nice. Small .380s like the PPK can be a handful for some people and this is from someone who thinks a Colt lightweight Commander .45 auto is a perfect pistol that is pleasant to shoot.
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Old December 9, 2010, 03:51 PM   #20
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Just got my KelTec PF9 and it seems like a nice small, light gun. There is something to be said for sticking to 1 round for both your guns. I reload, so that's not a problem. Especially since I can use the same bullets in both the 380acp and the 9mm. I carry a Naa Guardian 380 (summer time) and will probably soon carry this KelTec Pf9 (winter time).

Keltec is the smallest, thinnest, lightest 9mm on the market. Good rep for reliability. I got mine new for under $300.

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Old December 9, 2010, 03:55 PM   #21
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I have nothing against the 380, but at todays prices I just can't see it.
Just FYI, if you have a source of brass, the .380 is cheaper to reload than the 9mm. Smaller bullets, less powder. I haven't found a 9mm that I can pocket carry like my LCP.
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Old December 9, 2010, 04:49 PM   #22
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I'd suggest a S&W SD9 for you. They sell for about $385.00, come in a real service caliber 9mm (or .40 S&W) and are a less expensive version of the M&P series.

The lifetime warranty combined with S&W's great customer service is good piece of mind too.

I'd strongly advise that you go with a real self defense round -- 9mm or above.

Good luck.

Here's a link for you.

If you want something smaller, I'd suggest a gently used Walther PPS.
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Old December 9, 2010, 04:54 PM   #23
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Kahr CW9. Definitely.
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Old December 9, 2010, 05:11 PM   #24
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As much as I like my PPK in a .380, if all things being equal in the qualities you want in a pistol; I'd go with the 9mm anytime...
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Old December 9, 2010, 06:28 PM   #25
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I had the money to buy a much more expensive gun when I bought my PF-9. I am very happy with my purchase. Very reliable and accurate for its intended use. I cant think of a better CCW because of the size, weight and caliber.
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