View Full Version : .380 vs .45 -

April 6, 2008, 12:44 AM
I have a Kel-tec P3AT .380 7+1 and I have questions about shot placement and stopping power vs a big gun.

If a BG with a .45 is within range, say 20 feet, but not facing me (yet)
and I decide to engage him with my .380, where should I place my shots?

April 6, 2008, 12:48 AM
Regardless of the caliber used by your or your attacker, most experts would advise that you aim for center of mass.

April 6, 2008, 12:55 AM
center of chest.

or if you are a really good shot, no pun or offense intended. aim for the head.

T. O'Heir
April 6, 2008, 03:51 AM
Facing away from you, there's no threat to you. Despite the fact that he has a firearm, if you shoot him in the back, you're fornicated. The 'Code of the West' is still alive, well and just as stupid.

April 6, 2008, 06:27 AM
This reads like those scenarios I thought we were warned not to engage in. You could always run away.

April 6, 2008, 11:07 AM
So maybe the BG is about to shoot a family member. There could be plenty of reasons to not run away and that would justify shooting with his back turned.

April 6, 2008, 12:08 PM
Facing away from you, there's no threat to you. Despite the fact that he has a firearm, if you shoot him in the back, you're fornicated. The 'Code of the West' is still alive, well and just as stupid.In some states, TX is one I know of for certain, you can use deadly force on behalf of another under the same sorts of circumstances that they could use deadly force on their own behalf.

There is nothing in the deadly force statutes in TX that would indicate that shooting someone in the back would invalidate an otherwise valid claim of legal self-defense.

Scattergun Bob
April 6, 2008, 01:04 PM
I don't mind reading about what people envision in their nightmares of personal defense. AFTER ALL, you can gain defensive experience by getting into a lot of fights or by reading and thinking through what others invision as catastrophic events. I guarantee you that if you practice the former you will pick-up many physical (ohwee's), mental ones hurt a lot less.

However, it's hard to practice mental gymnastics with only half a story, Kinda like half a training exercise, it really doesn't get you anywhere!

In this one caliber isn't and tactics are important.

Good Luck, Be Safe

April 6, 2008, 01:24 PM
Thanks. I did not intend to pose a wild hypothetical. I didn't phrase my question right.

If a BG has a large caliber, and you have a .380 and the element of surprise, is it likely you that you can disable him before he shoots you?

Or is more likely that he will NOT be incapacitated and will instead return deadly fire?

It seems this general situation could cover a wide variety of encounters: attempted carjacking, street robbery, etc. where the armed BG is not expecting you to be armed.

I apologize if my question is still inappropriate for this forum. Still learning the ropes here.

April 6, 2008, 01:27 PM
Scattergun, just read your post. Thanks.
You may have answered my concern when you said caliber is not important. That would greatly simplify things.

Scattergun Bob
April 6, 2008, 04:23 PM

I deliberately keep my previous answer short, waiting for more info. NOW here is the rest of the story. I think what you are asking is "DOES OVERWELMING FIREPOWER WIN SIMPLY BY IT'S POTENTIAL." Short answer NO.

I said "caliber is not important" because you have chose in your nightmare to confront the boogie man with a .380. That is, what it is. Hopefully NOT ONE OF US would by choice go into harms way with a handgun of any caliber, we would choose something more substantial "like a 105mm beehive round", or a good battle rifle or a scattergun.

The problem is that living out side of a combat zone, in a world in condition white, it requires us to live with other precedences besides immediate survival. These other things (jobs, public perception, kids, distractions, in some manner even our own comfort) get in the way of our personal protection goals. AND THEN THE WORLD CHANGES FROM CONDITION WHITE AT PEACE, AND BECOMES CONDITION RED, (in the SHI_!). And there we are with a .380, and a predator with "a big old gun" 20 feet away.
Is that an adequate SITREP?

If so here is my answer,

Rule #1 In a gunfight, have a gun, any gun will due. .380 is a minimum defensive caliber, but we talked about that above.

Rule#2 In a gunfight never stop, never quiet, never surrender. The mere presence of superior firepower does not guarantee you will lose.

Rule#3 If it is time to fight, strike him first with as much firepower as you have.

At 20 ft with a small handgun and your hands trembling and epinephrine coursing thru your body, hits are going to be hard to get, my best advise is pick the biggest piece of meat and shoot the hell out of it, if that does not work reload and pick another spot and shoot the hell out of it.

Trust me, it is VERY hard to instantly ratchet up our souls to be savage and aggressive while living in the normal peaceful world, your survival will depend on how quickly you accomplish that, more than the power factor of the handgun in your holster. Be nice to have a couple of extra mags with this one, sometimes FerFAL is right.

Hope this helps

Good Luck, Be Safe!

April 6, 2008, 04:52 PM
----^ Couldn't of said it better.

April 6, 2008, 05:35 PM
Facing away from you, there's no threat to you. Despite the fact that he has a firearm, if you shoot him in the back, you're fornicated. The 'Code of the West' is still alive, well and just as stupid.


So if the bad guy will, as soon as he turns around, shoot me, I have to wait until he does so, to defend myself?

April 6, 2008, 06:34 PM
If he has a gun and you have a _________ but does not know your their, but you HAVE to stop him for someone else's protection. You should take ______ (fork, knife, letter opener, bat, improvised club, brick, paper weight etc) and visit upon him (in the softest spot closest to the spine) strikes with such force and repetition that they drop said gun allowing you & other victum time to grab his gun and run away with you.
I have always thought of the "protect my self and others" as every lawful citizens responsibility against villains and criminals but I am sure someone can justify the run away and eventual call the cops look at things too.

Scattergun Bob
April 6, 2008, 06:54 PM

Years and years ago one of my firearms mentors forced me to write rules for concealed carry, a lesson I wish others would be forced to do. Over the years I have refined them, borrowing when I found better. I would like to give credit, just can't remember what I pinched form whom!

As a LEO there is a code for concealed carry it differs as a civilian.

Please have a go at rule #3

My Five Rules for CONCEALED Carry

1. My concealed handgun is for protection of life only.

Draw it only in preparation to protect myself or my family from the willful and wanton life-threatening actions of another.

2. Know exactly when I can use my gun.

A predator must have or reasonably appear to have:

the ability to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon me. (He is armed)

the opportunity to inflict serious bodily harm. (distance, body type, position)

his intent indicates that he means to inflict serious bodily harm or death upon me. (mere words are not enough) When all 3 of these element are in place simultaneously, THIS IS A THREAT STIMULUS!
The response to threat stimulus ; zero muzzle, flash sight picture, exercise trigger control, deliver a minimum response.

3 If I can move away safely - THEN RUN
If I force a confrontation I risk the possibility of myself or a family member being killed, criminal liability, arrest. I will flee if I cansafely, fight only as a last resort.
The BEST gunfight that ever was, was the one that never happened!

4 Display my gun, go to jail.

I should expect to be arrested by the police at gunpoint, and be charged with a crime anytime I expose my concealed handgun to another citizen in public! I must continue to perfect a carry method that keeps my pistol reliably hidden from the general public view. Before I deliberately expose my pistol in public, I must ask myself "is this issue worth going to Jail".

5. Don't let my emotions get the best of me.

THIS IS A PROBLEM FOR YOU. If, despite my efforts, I do get into some kind of heated dispute with another while I am armed, never mention, imply, or exhibit my pistol to intimidate. (SEE EVAN'S STUFF, AND READ AGAIN & AGAIN)

To all of those I have browed from, take pity on me, for your words were far better than mine.

Good Luck & Be Safe

David Armstrong
April 7, 2008, 09:51 AM
If a BG has a large caliber, and you have a .380 and the element of surprise, is it likely you that you can disable him before he shoots you?

In a hostile situation, the caliber of the weapon(s) is one of the least important parts of the equation.

April 7, 2008, 10:49 AM
to answer what looks like the intent of the question, I think 8 rounds of .380 would drop your BG with a 45. however, if you had cover available, i would recommend using it in case he can turn and get a round or two out. a mag of 380 should be enough to kill the attacker, but we are talking about stopping power right? you want him to go down and drop the gun. even if you have the 45 and him the 380 there could be a chance of him turning on you and shooting back. shot placement is #1. I have a p3at myself and know from experience 20 feet is a long distance to that little gun, also you need to shoot it often with the ammo you intend to carry. i had a lot of extractor problems with mine for a while. there is a kel-tec owners group (google KTOG) and most problems on those little guns are easy to fix. if not there is always the warranty. Missing shot 1 and standing there with a jammed gun would certainly not be the answer. Hope I was helpful.

April 7, 2008, 12:15 PM
Center of mass...point where you would with a big gun. Head shots are a joke in high stress situations IMO.

April 7, 2008, 08:00 PM
Well said, Scattergun Bob!

DCJS Instructor
April 7, 2008, 09:53 PM
Scattergun Bob,

Nice post on YOUR 5 Rules of concealed carry..........:confused:


Tom Perroni

Scattergun Bob
April 8, 2008, 01:32 AM

And So?

Ohio Rusty
April 9, 2008, 06:49 PM
At first I thought this was an April fools question ... Then I saw it was serious. First off .... I also carry a Keltec .380 everyday, everywhere, 24/7.
Concealed means just that ... conceal it and carry the danged thing.
If I had my choice of a .45 over a .380, I'd carry the .45 everytime. It is a much better caliber for stopping an attacker. Big holes let out lots of body fluids and cause extreme trauma .... which is why we all shoot hollowpoints. After it gets in and expands, lots of bad things start to happen to the one who took the round. I carry a keltec over a .45 for concealability. I carried a charter arms .44 bulldog last year and it was nice until warm weather came. I like to run around in shorts, T-shirt or Wife Beater shirt (muscle shirt) and sandals. I have almost no clothes on to conceal a revolver the size of a bulldog or a large to meduim framed auto. I don't have the body mass to make big guns disappear esily. Consequently, the KelTec .380 gives me 7 rounds that are 9mm sized (It is a 9MM short!), and it is small enough to conceal with anything I wear. I considered the Rohrbaugh, but I couldn't justify the expense.
So to answer .380 vs .45 ... .45 has all the advantages over the .380 in caliber, no one yet has figured out how to make a .45 as small as a P3AT, which is where the Keltec's carry ability wins hands down. The .45 is a big round and needs a big gun to contain it.
Ohio Rusty ><>

Deaf Smith
April 9, 2008, 09:43 PM

First off you are talking about a P3AT. That weapon has very poor sights, poor trigger, poor grip, and low power. It is not a precision weapon.

That means precision shots at almost 7 yards is pretty iffy. And with the low power you do need precision shots if at all possible.

The ones suggesting COM are right for the simple reason the P3AT just does not offer much in the way of precision shot placement for CNS (central nerve system) targets. And the 8 shot capacity of the P3AT does not offer a huge firepower abilty to compensate for it's low power.

The bottom line is, go for COM hits. The downside is the attacker may very well pay you back. But who knows, you might luck out.

April 10, 2008, 03:18 PM
Thanks for all the replies...
Remember that line in "Blazing Saddles" when the locals warn the good guy about taking on the huge oaf? "Don't shoot him. You'll just make him mad!" That's the part I would not want to have happen. Or when they fire the old M-1s at Godzilla, who is unscathed, but is now quite interested in the shooters.

I guess it boils down to:
Since I have already decided to engage BG2 (Bad Guy, Big Gun), I must assume that I stand some chance of success. And if I don't think my P3AT can disable a bad guy, then I should reconsider carrying. I think Recon came closest to getting the gist of my poorly-phrased scenario.

Thanks, ScattergunBob, and Tom, for your CCW rules. I took a CCW class 2 days ago. it would have been much more useful if the instructor had presented them. Class was optional, since I have a DD214, but I had hoped to learn something. My Army days are looonnnng gone, and I was a chopper pilot anyway, not a shooter (except for few runs at VC with a minigun - which malfunctioned BIGTIME and convinced me I did NOT want to fly gunships - thank God no friendlies were hit!) Also reconned several areas after Tet where beehive rounds were employed. Ugly.)

As for practice, I am certainly more accurate at 7 yds with my 9mm than with my little Kel-tec, but now have the confidence that at 7 yds I could hit the BG, FWIW.

Plus, I got this way cool Armalaser on it so I can see EXACTLY how scared I am. :)

Covert Mission
April 14, 2008, 06:25 PM
There's the story of the Texas Ranger who, when asked why he carried a .45 said, "Because they don't make a .46!"

Rob Leatham, USPSA superstar, carries a .380 I've read, but then he can shoot the eyes out of a gnat in record time, on demand.

I carry, and compete USPSA with, a 9mm. Ammo's less expensive, and the premium defense rounds will do the job if I do mine, I believe. I do carry a .45 sometimes for the same reason the Ranger did...big hole. FWIW.

Hoss 48
April 16, 2008, 04:15 PM
First, a 380 in my meager opinion is only a backup gun. But if its all you have and your life is in danger I agree with the others, go for center mass first, a shot to the spine will neutralize him even if it doesn't go through. The head is a good choice but it's hard to hit and the head shot is not as successful as it is on TV. Human skull is much harder than people realize. Many people have survived from a head shot. Unless you hit a vital organ or spine the 380 will probbably not immediately stop him anyway. Although I have seen people killed with a 22 calibre to the chest. It was a direct hit to the heart though.

April 16, 2008, 04:24 PM
First off you are talking about a P3AT. That weapon has very poor sights, poor trigger, poor grip, and low power. It is not a precision weapon.

That means precision shots at almost 7 yards is pretty iffy. And with the low power you do need precision shots if at all possible.

Actually the P-3AT is surprisingly accurate. Keeping 3-4" groups at 10 yards is not much of a challenge. With the Armalaser that shrinks to 2-3"

Deaf Smith
April 17, 2008, 07:22 PM
Maybe slowfire Wuchak, but slowfire is not the mission of a defensive pistol.

April 17, 2008, 07:46 PM
with the recent shooting in a Nebraska mall(he was armed with SKS) I asked myself this very question.ran through the various sceneros and came to this conclusion.first you would have to quickly survey situation and if I decide I need to shoot.take as much cover avaliable take aim right between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck and pour as many as I can there.Win or die trying.:mad:

April 17, 2008, 07:53 PM
The short version is if you're forced to engage with a .380 you engage.
The .380 out of a 2.75" barrel (as wimpy as it is) will still make the FBI minimums with the correct ammo. If you can put the bullets where they need to go they will drop the attacker as well as anything else.


Also a +1 on the surprising accuracy of the P3AT. I've shot groups well enough to pass the qualification for concealed carry in my county (79 cumulative 10 rds on an NRA B8 at 25 yds).

Now having said that, if you don't trust the thing to get the job done then don't carry it. One sure way to die is to pull out a pistol and hesitate to pull the trigger because you're not confident in it.

I'm gonna test that hypothesis out this summer. I'll be running BUG class IDPA with a P3AT. It seems to doubletap pretty well in practice.

Deaf Smith
April 17, 2008, 09:26 PM

That's the way to find out just what you can do with what you have. I shoot IDPA to. Real good for a test bed of both your carry gun and your gear.

I've got a P3AT, as a backup/ankle gun. If I do a real good squeeze, I can hit fairly well out to 20 yards, but precision shooting is mighty hard with that weird set of sights they put on it.

Now my Colt 'Government Model' .380, well that's another matter. Buffalo Bore makes a .380 load that gets 1200 fps and the locked breach Colt can take it. Pity it's now a collectors item.

April 17, 2008, 09:36 PM
Not That I endorse having a go just because you have a BG's back. Because anything you do will have to be examined by someone spineless and wearing a expensive suit.
If you HAVE to stop said BG to save someone else life I believe you should (with or without) a gun.

Why would I say/do that
I am AD AF and have been for 10 years. I served as SF for the first 3 years of enlistment. I am more then a little familiar with the use of force model, and know if you can stop a imminent life or death situation of yourself or someone else you are justified to use minimum force needed to stop life or death situation.

I never said grab the heater and send a clip down range.

The run and call the cops is a given but if you can bring the victim and the BG's gun with you that would be better then leaving them to die.
However I am a SABC/CPR instructor so if the victim became a victim due to my lack of action or the BG was injured by the smash over the head with a __pick something hard_ I would administer necessary care to keep them alive until the EMT came with the police.

I do thoroughly plan on studying your rules and holding on to them for when I get back from round 3 at the war I will be buying a auto and going to class for CCW.