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Old February 13, 2012, 08:39 PM   #1
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.380 ACP recoil

How much less recoil would a .380 ACP pistol have than a 9mm pistol if fired from similar pistols? My gf likes going to the range with me but is still scared to shoot my guns even though I'm right there with her. She says my instruction helps her but halfway into a magazine her hands are shaking because she's nervous. She's fired my 3" 1911 a few times but would do much better with a pistol that has less recoil. She doesn't have the strength to pull the trigger on my S&W 442. Even my Ruger LC9 makes her nervous. I was looking at the website of a local gun shop/range I like to frequent and noticed he has a new Taurus 738TCP .380 auto for $199. I realize it's the same case except 1mm shorter. 100 grain bullet instead of 115-147 grain. Probably a little over 3 grains powder instead of close to 5 grains when reloading. I'd imagine the recoil difference would be quite a bit, but the pistol is lighter than my LC9. What do you guys think? I'd like a low recoil pistol to take to the range for her to shoot. Aside from this pistol I've been thinking about a .22LR revolver for her to shoot. $199 for this Taurus is hard to beat, though.
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Old February 13, 2012, 08:53 PM   #2
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My 11 year old girl (small hands that cannot pull the trigger in DA, and has to use the overhand method to rack the slide) likes shooting the CZ83. It's heavy for caliber, and the single action pull is only 4# or so with my gun.

Recoil is negligible

Here is my review.

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Old February 13, 2012, 08:59 PM   #3
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On a blowback 380 PPK/S Bersa type The recoil still pretty snappy. I have 3 daugthers all shot the Bersa 380 fine as do many women . My Colt Mustang has very little recoil. As for Taurus I can't say I never had a Taurus that worked very well.
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:08 PM   #4
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I once did a comparison test with three 380s all the same weight ,24 oz. There was a noticeable difference between blowback [highest recoil] locked breech and delayed blowback [Rem M51 the mildest recoil].
So weight, recoil mechanism and fit of grips all make a difference.
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:48 PM   #5
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My Colt Mustang hardly had recoil, I wish I had followed Cheapshooter's rules of gun ownership.

Isn't there a limit to how large of a slide a 380 can move? Im wondering if a 380 can reliably cycle the slide on a full-sized 9mm like a CZ 75B or Browning High-Power ?
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:57 PM   #6
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only one answer

I am always surprised by how stiff the recoil is in my .380 Sig. Rather than a .380 on a 9mm platform, how 'bout getting your girl a real beginners pistol, a .22!!!!!!!!!!! A Rugr MkII is neat. Or a single six

Hey. Valentines Day tomorrow! Nothing kicks less, you can shoot cheap, and maybe she'll gift you likewise down the road.
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Old February 13, 2012, 09:57 PM   #7
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I think people have always considered the Beretta 86 to be fairly light recoiling. If it doesn't have the longest barrel for a 380 pistol - it's up there in the top 3. I think the light perceived recoil on the pistol might be because of the amount of mass forward of the trigger.

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Old February 13, 2012, 10:28 PM   #8
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Sig P238 is light (low 20 oz. loaded), reliable, very accurate, and has light recoil - fun to shoot.
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Old February 13, 2012, 11:42 PM   #9
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If she is nervous about recoil do NOT get her the Taurus TCP. I have one and love it as a pocket carry, but it has significant muzzle flip. I can almost gaurantee you that she will not enjoy it.

If you are thinking about a .22 I just bought a S&W 22A that I love, and it was only $250. My wife shot it and was surprised by how little recoil there really is. But, the downside with the 22A is that the grip is really big. I imagine most women would find it too big for their hands.

I would suggest taking a look at the Walther P22. It seems to be quite a bit smaller but still good sized.

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Old February 14, 2012, 05:11 AM   #10
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I would imagine the .380 would have noticeable less recoil (I have not tested this, more just common sense).
Don't be so sure about that, it really depends on the pistol's design. My Bersa .380 has some snap to it, mainly due to the fixed-barrel, blowback design. It is quite manageable for most people, however. It is somewhat comparable to a small 9mm like my Kahr CW9
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Old February 14, 2012, 09:06 AM   #11
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Try out the new Ruger or Bersa 22?
Much cheaper to shoot than a .380 and the recoil is almost nil.
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Old February 14, 2012, 09:26 AM   #12
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Ruger mark 2.
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:00 AM   #13
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Berretta Neos is one awsome .22. Plus you can add "goodies" like a red dot to the slide.
Sig. P232 in .380 is very snappy!
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:05 AM   #14
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How much less recoil would a .380 ACP pistol have than a 9mm pistol if fired from similar pistols?
Very few .380ACP pistols have a truly equivalent 9mm counterpart. The primary factor is that most .380s have a fixed barrel and utilize a blowback or unlocked-breech mechanism in which the barrel remains stationary and only the slide moves. Most 9mm pistols use a short-recoil or locked-breech mechanism in which the barrel and slide recoil together for a short distance, then the barrel stops, the barrel and slide unlock from one another, and the slide continues rearward.

All else being equal- which it's usually not, but we're discussing theory here- a blowback pistol will be less expensive to manufacture but will have more felt recoil and will require a stiffer recoil spring. The .380ACP round is low-powered enough that it works in a blowback pistol without requiring an excessively stiff recoil spring and/or an excessively heavy slide, and consequently, most .380s are blowback to keep their prices down. (Same goes for .22LR and .32ACP.)

AFAIK the only commonplace blowback 9mm on the American market is the Hi-Point C-9. Now you know why it's so big.

FWIW just about the lightest-recoiling new .380ACP pistol on the market is the Walther PK380, which uses short-recoil operation and is larger and heavier than most other .380s, reducing felt recoil even further. I'm not crazy about this pistol otherwise- a quick forum search will show you why - but its extremely low recoil is probably its #1 selling point.
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:13 AM   #15
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The softest .380 I have ever shot is the PK380. My personal experience has been great with it. Zero malfunctions.

I have not shot the Sig P238 or the Beretta offering.

The other's were very snappy (Bersa Thunder, LCP, Taurus). Lighter weight and smaller frames do not tame recoil.

She would be better off with a .22lr or a compact 9mm (note here that an LC9 is more a pocket 9mm).
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Old February 14, 2012, 12:19 PM   #16
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Another thing to consider with something like a PPK is the strength needed to pull back the slide. I would say that the larger .380s would be a good choice, but many of them are on the pricy side. The CZ is a little bit larger, and you can find those at a good price though.

I would try to find a place that she could rent a few, and go from there. If that isn't an option, than I would go with something that has a little weight. Small, polymer .380s are not for everyone... Even if they try to market them towards the masses.
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Old February 14, 2012, 12:25 PM   #17
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"She says my instruction helps her but halfway into a magazine her hands are shaking because she's nervous."

I've taught a lot, and to me, this does not seem like recoil sensitivity, it sounds like old fashioned "anxious about shooting". Her hands are not shaking because of recoil, her hands are shaking because she is in sensory overload from a lot of different stressors. She's showing classic adrenaline shake.

A .380 is not gonna help that, only exposure and exerience will help that. Lots of low stress exposure is the key.

Find a nice .22 and let her shoot it until she is no longer anxious about *shooting*, and then after she is comfortable adapting her to larger calibers will be easy. I usually find that a .22 revolver works best as there is zero stress figuring out the machine, as opposed to slide stops, magazine releases, and chambering. Reduce the variables and she'll likely thrive. Then a .22 autoloader to teach her all of that, and then a low recoil center fire after that.

Hate to say it, but the range environment is not always a help either. Other guns going off, the entire formality of it, all of it can lead to stress. Help her chill out. Informal "shoot the cans on the dump" plinking is another tactic to reduce stress, if you can find a place to do so.

As far as that .380 Taurus: Are you buying it for HER or are you buying for YOU? It's not the thing that she needs: She's not going to like it... so in either event it's gonna be yours... so YOU best like it...



Last edited by Willie Sutton; February 14, 2012 at 12:32 PM.
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Old February 14, 2012, 12:47 PM   #18
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380 acp recoil


The 380 is one of best center fire ctgs to teach pistol shooting. Almost no recoil in a locked breach pistol. I would buy your GF a 7 shot magazine length 380. This is long enough to get all 3 fingers on the grip.

Good advice about 22 rimfire Ruger also. You can eventually scope that and make 50 yd head shots.

I am not familiar with the Tarus so cant comment on that.

You can buy bulk 250 round remington fmj for less than $80. Cheap entertainment.
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Old February 14, 2012, 04:37 PM   #19
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I was in a similar situation with my girlfriend only not quite as severe. She will shoot anything you hand her for a mag or two but really didn't enjoy anything besides .22.
I took her to a gunshow and we checked out all the .380's I could find.

You don't want that little tcp if you go with a taurus, you want to get the pt138. Its a medium sized gun, very comparable in size to the 9mm gun in that same millenium pro line.

My girlfriend liked the size and weight of the pt138 pretty well, and could easily rack the slide. She didn't like the rough texturing of the grip though.

She ended up liking the walther pk380 the best and I bought one of them to try out. She shoots it well, doesn't mind the recoil, and can easily rack the slide. Put about 100 rounds through it the first time out. My only complaint is the cost of .380 and that really isn't a big deal in the long run. She'll shoot a box a couple times a year and I will continue shooting my 9mm's. It did have some issues with fte the first time out but I'm sure that can be resolved pretty easily if it doesn't go away with some break in.
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Old February 14, 2012, 04:43 PM   #20
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I had a Bersa Thunder .380 for only a couple of months, selling it because the recoil actually hurt my hand. If you go with a .380 make sure it's recoil-operated and not a blowback. My old Colt 1908 is also a blowback and it is definitely snappy as well, but at least with the grip shape it doesn't hurt my hand. I used to have a Colt Mustang a long time ago, but I can't remember how the recoil felt with that.
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Old February 14, 2012, 04:51 PM   #21
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I do not consider a .380 to have much of any recoil. I teach retired people here in my retirement community mostly with the LCP and no one seems to have a problem with recoil, just shooting. However, a few sold off their .38 LCRs and S&W snub noses due to recoil problems.

If you want a real light shooting gun do what I did. Buy the S&W or Ruger revolver in .327 Federal Magnum and load it with .32 H&R magnums which is like shooting .22s from a heavy gun or for even less recoil load it with .32 longs.

Recoil will diminish as the weight of the gun increases. Simple physics. Some recoil is absorbed by polymer framed guns that flex under recoil but weight is still the key to reducing felt recoil. My example above will shoot about 5 different .32 rounds. Some of those same rounds were stout out of a Seecamp or Kel-Tec .32 but feel like nothing in my 23 ounce gun.
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:35 PM   #22
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I have a Beretta Cheetah, which is one of the largest 380's, and it has very snappy recoil. Not especially fun to shoot.

I have a Sig P238, which is one of the smallest 380's, and it has very mild recoil. Very fun to shoot.

My 25 yr old daughter recently went to the range with me for the first time. She tried several of my guns, of numerous calibers and sizes. The only gun that she actually "liked" to shoot was the P238. I felt lucky that she didn't steal it from me.
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Old February 14, 2012, 10:37 PM   #23
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Buy the 32. cal Cheetah, then pay for the stamp and have a suppressor made for it. She would be able to shoot it all day long with no problems and later you can ween her of the suppressor.

BTW, this was Al Pacino's gun in Scarface

Here is a link to a Model 82 on GB.

I saw others currently listed around $250

I also spotted .32 ACP Beretta 92s already silencer ready for under $400

Short of this, the P238, Mustang, etc is the best thing going in .380
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Last edited by lcpiper; February 14, 2012 at 10:56 PM.
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Old February 14, 2012, 11:16 PM   #24
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As others may have indicated, recoil is not just a result of caliber but also size and weight of the pistol, grip shape, and design of the recoil system.

Old-style blowback pistols like the Walther PPK, SIG P232, Beretta 84 all kick hard for their size. All the Kahr 9mm pistols, some of which are smaller, have less felt recoil than the old blowbacks. Kahr has a locked-breech design and also a double-nested recoil system, both of which cut felt recoil substantially.

The Taurus 738 is a very small and light .380 and would likely kick hard from what I have read, it would be in the neighborhood of the Ruger LCP and Kel-tec P3AT. NOT gentle recoil, designed to be carried.

Since it sounds like you are thinking of getting a pretty small gun for your friend, here are some smaller choices that I think don't hurt to shoot, especially for their size:

Kel-tec P32
Kahr CM9/PM9, and especially the CW9/P9, which are bigger
Glock 26
SIG P238/Colt Mustang Pocketlite, these are single action tho
Ruger SR9c is supposed to be mild, is a bit bigger
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Old February 15, 2012, 08:22 AM   #25
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Posts: 2,411 you have any experience with that Beretta 86? Son #2, a former Marine, carried the M9 while on duty, and the one I bought for him 15 yrs ago has been very good...5000+ rounds through it now and still down around 2" gps at 25 yds. That's our Beretta experience, just wondering about that 86, accuracy wise and reliability.

A friend here in KY with the Secret Service said that they carry .390 Sig's of the old school design while off duty. The one I shot here on our farm was a good gun, accurate and to the sights with manageable recoil in a small woman's hands.

What's your thoughts on the Beretta. TIA, Rod
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380acp , beretta 86

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