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Old June 5, 2009, 02:32 PM   #1
Amurr
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What is a more potent stopping power round: 38 Special or .380 ACP

I have no idea.

Thanks,
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Old June 5, 2009, 02:37 PM   #2
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probably the .38 special since its going to have more power behind it.
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Old June 5, 2009, 02:39 PM   #3
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check this link out my buddy sent me. It's another forum with a category dedicated to terminal ballistics. Read the "sticky" posts at the top. There are about 15 to 20 of them at the top of the page regarding all kinds of ammo from rifle to handgun

http://www.m4carbine.net/forumdisplay.php?f=91
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Old June 5, 2009, 02:50 PM   #4
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"Stopping power" of a particular cartridge is based on many factors but, because of generally heavier bullets and greater powder capacity, the .38 special is considered a more powerful round.
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Old June 5, 2009, 02:53 PM   #5
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And in that link I posted they actually have a thread dedicated to .38 vs. .380 in regards to terminal ballistics.

http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19914
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Old June 5, 2009, 03:00 PM   #6
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38spl is a more potent round than 380acp
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Old June 5, 2009, 03:06 PM   #7
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The .38 is going to have more energy while throwing more weight at your target. I think a .38 is a "better" option than the .380.
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Old June 5, 2009, 03:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
The .38 is going to have more energy while throwing more weight at your target.
+1, and to be more specific, .38Spl loads can use up to 158gr bullets, while the small case size of the .380ACP limits it to a practical maximum of 115gr, and most commercial SD loads are in the ~90gr range.

The muzzle energy of the top commercial SD .380ACP loadings closely approaches common commercial SD .38Spl loadings, but in general, when 2 handgun rounds with similar muzzle energy are compared in the real world, the one using the heavier bullet is usually more effective.
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Old June 5, 2009, 04:15 PM   #9
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They say a picture is worth 1000 words!

I don't have any .380 ammo, so I put a 9mm (which is 2mm longer than a .380 ACP) on the left next to a 38 Special on the right. That should pretty much answer your question!


Scott

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Old June 5, 2009, 05:08 PM   #10
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Pretty much all of the above are true.

The .38 Special throws a slightly larger (.002") slug of greater weight (90g vs. 125g or 158g) that penetrates as well or better than the .380. When you use .38 +P ammo, the .38 becomes far superior in terminal performance.

With the .380's light bullet, I always used FMJ for defensive ammo, preferring penetration rather than risk a too-shallow wound from a JHP round.
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Old June 5, 2009, 05:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
They say a picture is worth 1000 words!

I don't have any .380 ammo, so I put a 9mm (which is 2mm longer than a .380 ACP) on the left next to a 38 Special on the right. That should pretty much answer your question!
Side-by-side "size" comparisons like that mean nothing. The 9mm will penetrate just as well, if not better, than a .38 special.
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Old June 5, 2009, 05:27 PM   #12
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all depends on what kind of bullet you use.
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Old June 5, 2009, 05:27 PM   #13
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Which is more powerful?

.38 Special, period.
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Old June 5, 2009, 05:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Side-by-side "size" comparisons like that mean nothing.
Obviously the physical size alone does not equate to "stopping power", but since the OP had "no idea", I just wanted to post a graphic example of the difference between the two rounds to help him see the difference which is sometimes hard to visualize from raw ballistic data.

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Old June 5, 2009, 05:44 PM   #15
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.38 special, no contest.
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Old June 5, 2009, 05:53 PM   #16
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It depends on the ammunition and gun. If +P ammo and a full size service revolver like a S&W M10 or Colt Official Police are part of the equation or if the .380 is a very small gun like a Seecamp, NAA Guardian, Keltec, or Ruger LCP, then the the .38 Special is definately the more powerful of the two. However, if you were to compare a snub revolver like an older Colt Cobra, Colt Agent, or S&W M37 limited to standard pressure .38 ammo to a larger .380 with a longer barrel like a Walther PP, Bersa Thunder, Sig P230, or Beretta Cheetah, then you'll find that the terminal ballistics are much closer.
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Old June 5, 2009, 06:00 PM   #17
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It IS the 38Spl, for three reasons:

More power (usually!)

More available weight.

Better hollowpoint designs because with no "feed ramp", bullet shapes can feature radical noses that would jam up an auto.

That latter is one reason the best 38Spl+P rounds can do as much damage as even the better 9mm rounds, even though the 9mm has more energy on tap.

However! From a snubby (2" barrel), the 38Spl and even 38+P are somewhat marginal. You have to be picky about your ammo...there's a lot of absolute junk out there. Some of the best: Remington's 158+P, any of the (expensive!) Buffalo Bore, the Speer Gold Dot 135+P, Winchester's 130gr "Supreme" +P, the Hornady Critical Defense in both standard and +P, Cor-Bon's "DPX" 110gr. The Remmie 158+P is a bargain for the performance delivered; the only standard-pressure 38 (read: "not +P") I trust is either Buffalo Bore's 158 or 125 if I can afford 'em, or the Hornady Critical Defense if I'm on the cheap.

Buffalo Bore's 38+P 158gr slug is THE king of the hill in terms of 38Spl energy. From a 2" barrel it gives as much energy as most 9mm from a 4". It's shockingly good stuff for "when you care enough to send the very best".

As to:

Quote:
I don't have any .380 ammo, so I put a 9mm (which is 2mm longer than a .380 ACP) on the left next to a 38 Special on the right. That should pretty much answer your question!
Meaningless, because the 38Spl is a late-19th-century design originally meant for black powder, which is very bulky for it's power level. The 9mm and the .380 designed shortly after the 9mm) are early 20th century designs meant for modern smokeless power, and hence use much more compact shells.

Other "black powder ancestry" calibers that are as a result "oversize" are the 45LC, 44Spl/Magnum (as they're stretched from the .44Russian), 357Mag (stretched from the 38Spl), 38-40, 44-40, 45-70 and a surprising number of others.
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Old June 5, 2009, 06:10 PM   #18
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Old June 5, 2009, 06:19 PM   #19
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One more thing: looking over the data at...

http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=19914

I'm seeing things that aren't appearing in other tests, including failures to expand in 4-layer denim out of the Critical Defense 110, Remington 158+P and the Winchester 130+P.

It's possible the particular test gun involved isn't "shooting very fast". In other words, you can get a variance of 50fps or more between two different 2" barrel snubbies. Some of the factors that can slow a round down:

* Too much gap (esp. out past .005" or so).

* Shooting 38 (or 38+P) from a 357 costs you a little bit of pressure.

* "Slow barrel" - a vintage S&W won't shoot as fast as a modern S&W or a Ruger, for example.

(BUT, I just looked again: they're reporting 856fp/s out of the Gold Dot 135+P, which is right in line where it should be. So the gun wasn't THAT slow. Huh. <scratches head>. I'm now wondering what kind of denim they had and maybe "did they get the gel formula right"?



---

If you have a snubby 357, you might want to consider one of the lower-powered 357 slugs. A few are "barely warmed up 38+P" but they're more than hot enough to make up the pressure difference. Likely the mildest of these will be the Speer 135gr "357Mag short barrel specialty load". I've shot these side-by-side with their 38+P cousins and recoil isn't that much different. Even in one of the ultra-light 357s, these should be controllable for most folks and will expand very well.
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Old June 5, 2009, 06:23 PM   #20
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For an example of how critical velocity can be, see THIS data:

http://ammo.ar15.com/project/Self_De..._CorbonDPX.htm
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Old June 5, 2009, 07:37 PM   #21
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The bullets are the same diameter.
My ported S&W 442:
Winchester Silvertip 110 gr. 821 fps = 165# KE
Winchester PDX +P 130 gr. @ 848 fps = 207# KE

Ruger LCP:
Hydra Shok 90 gr. @ 878 fps = 154# KE

IMO: non +p 38 VS 380 the difference isn't much
If you load +p in the 38 the power gap is more
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Old June 5, 2009, 09:50 PM   #22
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I believe that in smaller guns, the .380 has the advantage. Put the Corbon 90 grn up against most factory .38 loads from a two inch .38 barrel and the .380 wins. With a 4" .38, no contest, the .38 wins. For me, I can get better, faster hits from the .380. The difference in either case is not enough to overcome poor placement or lose sleep over.

The J frame platform is better, in my opinion, if you just want to drop something in your pocket and roll.

I like both, I'm better with the .380 and sometimes carry the .38. Go figure.
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Old June 5, 2009, 10:42 PM   #23
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If you do the math----

Velocity squared divided by 450400 times the mass equals energy at muzzle you should arrive at the stronger and better stopping round BUT!

In 1991 a study was completed on actual shooting's and the criteria was to enter the data on particular/specific round the information base was:

1. It had to be a documented shooting
2. You had to have a coroners report or doctors report
3. The round had to be identified/recovered.

Based on the information the 380 was in the lower 10% stopping power.
The 38 special was lower 50% and incidentally the 9MM was with the 38Special.


The number one man stopper was a 125GRN .357 Mag hollow point. I plan to scan the article and let other see it although I need to check the legality of scanning and or duplications infringements? THis means that better than 91% of the time the .357 125 grn HP stoped a person with one shot!

I would like to see the new information since there are new more advanced rounds these days!

Hope this helped!

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Old June 5, 2009, 11:08 PM   #24
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You're talking about the Marshal and Sanow data. Which has come under some criticism for statistical reliability.

Even with that aside, there's so many brand new really high-tech designs out there without the same track record as the slugs in the M&S records that the data is dated regardless.

For example: the top-rated 357mag per M&S is the Remington 125gr semi-jacketed full-house. This is a fairly primitive JHP that still happens to work well when driven up past 1,400fps and under 1,550/1,600ish, which it does in most 3" barrel through 6" barrel guns.

It's a good round, don't get me wrong. I have some myself I picked up cheap and I often carry some in speed strips as reloads.

But "first at bat" in my gun are some nice Gold Dot 125gr 357 full house as loaded by Doubletap. I'm quite certain for a number of reasons (raw power, more modern JHP construction) that these are better slugs. They don't have as much track record as the old-school Remmies is all.

Also newer than most M&S data: all of the Barnes-X/DPX slugs, all of the new Hornady rubber-tip (Critical Defense, LeverRevolution), the Cor-Bon Pow'R'Ball, lots of Speer Gold Dot variants including the 135gr 38+P/mild357, the Gold Dot 250gr 45LC which I suspect is the most deadly subsonic bullet on the planet short of something packing poison in a hollowpoint cavity(!), Buffalo Bore's breakthrough 158gr 38+P that stomps everything else on raw power in 38+P, lots more.

Upshot: I pay more attention to well-executed (and documented) gel data than I do M&S.
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Old June 6, 2009, 12:00 AM   #25
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Jim,

The information is appreciate and you bring up some very valid points. My thought are if the documentation is from an actual shooting and accompanies a report then it gives one a basis, no more no less. Openions are welcome.

My personal views are I really like my model 60S&W 357 snubby but more than that I also like the 40S&W(Sig P229 Equinox). Before retiring from the Military I carried a SOCOM HK in .45ACP which is also a good round and I am very accuraty/comfortable with but the .45 is designed for knock down power and not necessarily for one shot kill. Although I can't think of anyone that would want to get up if they thought they would get hit again with a .45!

Lets face it, most folks cannot shoot accuraty with the .45 without some practice!

Being a power hungry person and since I cannot test with ballistic gel, math is my next best thing!

My personal feelings are I would not carry a .380. I would go for the .38 +P or the .357 MAG, If I were limited to one or two calibers.

Ralph Williams
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