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Old December 12, 2010, 08:33 PM   #1
xMINORxTHREATx
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Small .380 semi-auto VS small .38 Special revolver

Hey ya'll

I'm getting a compact frame M&P in .357 SIG soon, going to be one of my main carry pistols.

I'm also heavily considering buying one of S&W's new Bodyguards. I just can't decide on which one.

Here is where I'm stuck. The intimidation factor. If I have to use my pistol in self defense, I can honestly say I hope I don't have to pull the trigger, and just the presence of the gun will get the BG to GTFO. That being said, if I were a stereotypical, un-educated, drugged out gang banger, and some one pulled out the .380 Bodyguard, or an LCP, or other small .380 pistol, I would think it was a dang BB gun or something. They just don't look like they would make someone think twice.

But a revolver on the other hand, even a small bore revolver, seems like it might be more intimidating.

Anyone else agree?

The other thing I'm stuck on is ammo and capacity.

The .380 Bodyguard holds 7 rounds, while the .38 holds 5.
I know that the .38, especially +P loads will do more damage, but you never know when those 2 extra rounds may be a life saver.

Both have great reviews, come with Insight laser sights, and are about the same price. I've shot the .38, and it isn't the most comfortable thing on earth, but then again, its a 14oz revolver shooting +P loads, its got some snap to it.


.380 Bodyguard
http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...layErrorView_Y

.38 Special Bodyguard
http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...7_757751_image


Any input is greatly ah-pur-shiated!
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:32 AM   #2
Mosin44az
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Some thoughts....

If someone is not going to be scared by ANY gun, you have to make sure you can shoot them quickly and accurately. So pick a gun you know you can shoot well. From the reviews I've read, the laser makes a big difference in longer shots, but maybe not up close.

Reliability is key in any defense gun. They are both new designs. I have read of teething issues on the .380, so be careful there.

5 shots is supposed to be enough unless you're a SWAT cop. I don't worry about it in Phoenix. Not sure if Cincinnati is a scarier place, maybe it is.

Given that pocket revolvers are likely to be more reliable than pocket pistols, and that 158-grain .38s hit pretty hard, I would go with the .38.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:47 AM   #3
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I would go with the one you're sure you'll carry. I've owned a S&W 640 and it was a good shooter but too heavy/bulky. I carried it at work most days but never off work.

I carried a S&W 340PD for 7 years and it was nice and light, kicked like a mule and was also bulky. Carried at work and rarely off work.

Now I carry a Kahr MK4O sometimes and either a Sig P238 or Kahr P380 most of the time. Sometimes both of the 380s. I carry one or two of those all the time.

Whatever you choose, whether you will be comfortable shooting it, and will carry it is the most important thing IMO. Sometimes people tend to leave them home if they are uncomfortable to pack with them.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:58 AM   #4
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Small .380 semi-auto VS small .38 Special revolver
I'm right where you are, brother. I'm leaning toward a revolver but it has nothing to do with the 'scare factor' of either. I'd suggest you disregard that and focus on poking a good-size hole through your man, right out through his spine.
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Old December 13, 2010, 02:05 AM   #5
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"intimidation factor" should be very low on a list of criteria for a firearm. it's true that some guns sometimes scare BGs off more than others but it can't really be counted on. the laser sight on the gun is probably more likely to scare than the gun itself.

a small pocket .380 is much smaller than a .38 snubby, does less damage, and is harder to shoot. also they are usually difficult to reload as the grip is very short so you can't just slap a mag in like a larger auto and many don't have slide locks so you then have to rack the small slide. I don't know about the smith .380 specifically but most are that way. safariland comp I or comp II (if they make comp II for the snub) make reloading a wheel gun quick and simple. the big advantage for the .380 is conceal-ability
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Old December 13, 2010, 07:08 AM   #6
Clay
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I have a Ruger LCP and ONLY carry it when I can't carry my Glock 33. I can pocket carry the LCP...not so much my 33. I do feel under gunned with it, and it's not nearly as accurate.
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Old December 13, 2010, 07:36 AM   #7
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To be very frank any handgun from .22 LR to .454 intimidates. The reason is reasonable--any bullet (even .22 LR) fired at me could be fatal.

We put (perhaps) too much emphasis in power on paper knowing what we know but when a gun is seen ("GUN!) it really doesn't matter what it is or what it is chambered for or what action it is.

Who around here would laugh if an SW 41 was pointed at them?


Have 41, Will Travel
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Old December 13, 2010, 07:56 AM   #8
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Any gun that you can use accurately is enough. I wouldn't worry about what gun looks scarier to an attacker if you can't shoot the damn thing.

If you get to the point that you actually need to pull your gun, you are at the point that you may have to use it. If you have to use it, you need to be accurate with it and it needs to be reliable. Nothing else needs to factor into that equation.
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Old December 13, 2010, 08:26 AM   #9
xMINORxTHREATx
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Ok, ruling out the intimidation factor, I'm leaning towards the .38.

As for how easy it is to conceal a revolver, you have to hold this revolver to see just how small and light it is. Its barely and inch longer than the .380, and just over one and a half ounces heavier.

I know I can shoot good groups with the .38, I've put about 50 rounds through a friends of mine.

The .380 has a slide lock, but I'm sure small mags like that are a pain to fumble with. A five shot speedloader might be easier.

If anybody in the Cincy area has a .380 Bodyguard and would let me shoot it, that would help a lot!


As for comparing Cincy and Phoenix, I used to live in Southside Phoenix, off of Baseline and 15th Ave, right next to the Phoenix PD shooting range. I would say parts of Cincy are a lot worse than Phoenix, but there are more bad areas in Phoenix.
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Old December 13, 2010, 09:56 AM   #10
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When it comes to the size of a round, bigger is always better. I think that probably works for the intimidation factor, as well. But let's face it, there are some folks out there who are simply too stupid to be intimidated by anything short of a swat team.
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Old December 13, 2010, 10:17 AM   #11
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The .380 is a "get off me" gun....

Find yourself a nice 3rd generation Colt Detective Special.... 6 rounds of .38 and the gun will hold its value for a long time.
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Old December 13, 2010, 10:17 AM   #12
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Quote:
Who around here would laugh if an SW 41 was pointed at them?
I might not laugh, but if it was still wearing the holster like that it would be at least mildly humorous
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Old December 13, 2010, 10:41 AM   #13
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I think you're leaning the right way. The .38 special snub is a much better option. A .380 is about as low as I'd go and still feel like I could handle a FOF FTF. If I had a .38 special, which I do have, I'd feel almost well-armed. As far as the intimidation factor of these weapons (which is becoming obsolete in this discussion) remember that a man that looks/sounds like he calmly knows what he's doing behind the weapon is infinitely more intimidating than what kind of weapon he's carrying (within reason).

Who are you more afraid of?
This guy?


Or This guy?


Think about it.

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Old December 13, 2010, 10:50 AM   #14
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Great point LT.

And since the second guy is half transparent like a ghost, I'm GTFO.
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Old December 13, 2010, 12:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
But a revolver on the other hand, even a small bore revolver, seems like it might be more intimidating.

Anyone else agree?
They're not quite in the same class of gun. In my humble opinion, your mileage may vary, insert disclaimer of choice here. Deep, deep concealment micro gun, vs. classic snub.

I think I'd be going with the revolver.
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Old December 13, 2010, 01:51 PM   #16
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Well, I think the .380 looks more badass... but "scare factor" to each their own. Some people like I just read are dumb enough to not fear a swat team. BUT...Since you want opinions on those 2 only, I'd say go with the .38. If I had to pick one of those 2 and I didn't have what I have now. It would be the revolver with corbon dpx-1 hollows
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Old December 13, 2010, 02:35 PM   #17
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The .380 has a slide lock, but I'm sure small mags like that are a pain to fumble with. A five shot speedloader might be easier.
With equal training and practice, a revolver being reloaded with a "speedloader" will never be as fast or as easy to do as inserting a magazine (even one as small as some .380 mags are) into a semi-auto with the slide locked back is.

And forget the so-called intimidation factor. If you have cause to point a firearm at another human being, it's only because your life and/or limb or that of another innocent person's is at risk. And if yours or another's life is on the line, you want a defensive handgun to put your adversary down; not count on it to make him run away (if he does flee at the mere sight of your pistol, that would be the best possible outcome and a welcome response-but I would never select a firearm to be employed for self-defense on the basis of any supposed "fear factor").

As to choosing between a small revolver chambered in .38 Special or an equally small semi-auto chambered in .380 ACP, it pretty much comes down to the higher capacity and easier reload of the auto vs the simplicity and unsurpassed reliability of the revolver. Maybe the most important difference between the two (as others have noted), many, if not most, would agree that in terms of "stopping" power, the best .38 Special load is likely superior to the best .380 load. Your choice may simply come down to which of the two under consideration you can shoot best and which one conceals better and is quicker to hand when your state of usual attire is reviewed.

If you simply need a small handgun to augment your regular carry piece(es) to accomodate climate (mode of dress) and/or social circumstances, I don't think you could go very wrong with either of the two.
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Old December 13, 2010, 02:38 PM   #18
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hammerless revolver. Can be used inside a pocket, mashed between bodies grappling on the ground, a 'contact distance' gun.
A .380 is what you carry when you can't carry a gun.

And if a bad guy gets a chance to be intimidated by my gun, I am doing it wrong.
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Old December 13, 2010, 04:36 PM   #19
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I own a lot of S&Ws but don't like either gun. Looks and beauty are in the eye of the beholder but to me both guns look ugly.

I hate the new S&W revolvers because of the lock but I there are some S&Ws that were only made with the lock. If you buy the revolver disable the lock. I prefer the .38 special to the .380 caliber so even though I hate the S&Ws with locks I would go for the revolver.

I would personally go for something that is .40 or larger and I know the Colt New Agent is about double the price I would rather but the colt or a S&W 3 inch .45 ACP.

This is one of the three guns I carry most often

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Old December 13, 2010, 04:48 PM   #20
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If you're looking for a .380, then consider the Bersa Thunder. Not the smallest by a long way, but it is the smallest that I can actually fit my hand to comfortably. It holds 7 + 1 rounds, weighs 22 ounces fully loaded, and actually has a safety. They also sell a double stack model that holds 15 + 1.

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Old December 13, 2010, 06:25 PM   #21
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I've been considering the BG380 as well for an EDC, specifically for warmer weather. The Colt New Agent and the Bersa Thunder are also great guns to consider but they aren't quite in the same class. The BG380 is a pocket gun, around 5-1/4 inches while the Bersa and the Colt are closer to a subcompact- sized at around 6-3/4 inches. It would be closer to compare them to something like a S&W M&P 9c than the BG380. All of them have their pros and cons for each purpose and situation.

Also, I have heard about many FtF problems with the BG380 with the early SN's. The later numbers seem to have been addressed. S&W will do the warranty work for the early numbers to get them back up and running.
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Old December 13, 2010, 06:39 PM   #22
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With equal training and practice, a revolver being reloaded with a "speedloader" will never be as fast or as easy to do as inserting a magazine (even one as small as some .380 mags are) into a semi-auto with the slide locked back is.
I think this guy will disagree with you 12 shots accurate shot all hitting the target from a 6 shot revolver in under 3 seconds

Quote:
And forget the so-called intimidation factor. If you have cause to point a firearm at another human being, it's only because your life and/or limb or that of another innocent person's is at risk. And if yours or another's life is on the line, you want a defensive handgun to put your adversary down; not count on it to make him run away (if he does flee at the mere sight of your pistol, that would be the best possible outcome and a welcome response-but I would never select a firearm to be employed for self-defense on the basis of any supposed "fear factor").
I agree with you 100%, pulling a gun out to scare or intimidate is against the law in most if not all states, it's called brandishing.
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Old December 13, 2010, 09:23 PM   #23
xMINORxTHREATx
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Brandishing, even if its a self defense situation?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid to have to pull the trigger, but its a tough economy, and good SD rounds aren't cheap.

I'm leaning more and more to the .38 Bodyguard, loaded with either PowrBall or Hornady Crit. Def., both in +P.


Just to reiterate, I'm only looking for a new carry pistol for summer time, when I'm likely just wearing a T shirt and shorts. In which case I'm going to get an IWB holster, but the M&P 357sig compact is just a tad too big to be concealed in this attire.

I'm open to other suggestions, I'm a S&W guy and these were the first weapons that came to mind.

Thanks for all the input guys. Keep it coming!!!


PS, another weapon I've looked at is the Sig P238, either the Equinox or Laser model.
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Old December 13, 2010, 09:48 PM   #24
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Brandishing, even if its a self defense situation?
You are walking a fine line between self defense and being arrested and charged with brandishing.

I your life was in danger why did you take out your gun and not shoot?

If you admit to taking out your gun to scare someone there is a good chance that you will be charged with brandishing.

I happen to own a lot of S&Ws but my first though when I saw these two guns was ugly. These are the three guns that are my regular carry guns A S&W 1911 a S&W model 327 eight shot .357 and the Colt 1911.

I prefer a revolver with an exposed hammer but having a shrouded hammer can prevent the gun from snagging on clothing when drawing the gun.

If I were looking to spend somewhere around $400 I would look for a nice used pre-lock S&W. S&W makes some of the smoothest double action revolvers. Look around for a nice used .38 S&W snubbie and forget about the .380. The .38 special is just a better choice for self protection than the .380.

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Old December 13, 2010, 10:56 PM   #25
xMINORxTHREATx
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Whats the big beef with the lock? I read that they are phasing it out already, and the BG .38 doesn't come with one.

I really like concept of polymer, ultra-light revolvers, and I've looked at the Ruger LCR, but to get the laser sights, you pay an extra 200 bucks, where as with the SW, they come factory, minus the 200 bucks.

The Taurus Polymer Protector is brand new, heavier, and bigger in the grip area. No laser sight option, and only about 70 dollars cheaper.

Heck, I even entertained the thought of the polymer Judge for ohhhh about .2 seconds.

So I think I ruled out the BG 380, and I'm going with the .38

Silvercorvette - That Model 327 looks pretty sweet! Kinda big on the grip end. Assuming its built off the N frame?
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