Is a 380 a Good Gun?
Let’s face it, a 380 gun is small and easy to conceal. There are numerous great models out there to choose from and they are light and comfortable to carry. So what’s not to love? Who wouldn’t want to carry one?
Although the 380 handgun has been a very popular choice for many women (and men) for the above reasons there are some things to consider when trying to decide if a 380 pistol is the right choice for you. Let’s take a deep dive.
What is a 380 gun?
A 380 handgun is one that is chambered for .380 ammunition. There are many different makes and models of the 380 pistol out there. Some of the more popular models you may have heard of are the Sig P238, Glock 42, the Ruger LCP II or the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield EZ ( a bit larger, but extremely popular).
380 Gun Size
Most of the 380 gun models are quite small and lightweight. This is a boon for concealed carry as you can hide one just about anywhere! There is a hitch though. Its small size and short barrel make them less accurate than a larger gun. The longer the barrel size and the greater the distance between the sights, the more accurate you will be with the gun. Therefore, the 380’s small size, although great for concealment, is very difficult to shoot accurately. This is a critical factor in a self-defense situation. In addition, shorter barrels also mean lower bullet velocities. Some of this can be made up with high quality self-defense ammo but in general, the stopping power of a 380 is less than that of a larger caliber gun such as a 9mm.
There’s one more hitch. All of the energy produced in the firing of the bullet known as recoil has to go and be absorbed somewhere. The 380’s size and light weight doesn’t absorb very much energy from the gun so a majority is absorbed by you. The felt recoil can be substantial when shooting a 380 gun, especially when shooting a defensive round of ammunition. This can make it tougher to get your gun back on target to fire another round at an attacker.
These “issues” can be somewhat overcome with training and a lot of practice. With a commitment to doing so, a 380 pistol may be a good choice for you.
Is a 380 gun a good carry gun?
Nothing can beat the concealability of a smaller 380 gun. They literally can be carried just about anywhere. From your bra, in the waistband, in your boot or even in your pocket. There are concealed carry holsters galore for all these possible carry locations and more. There really aren’t any “negatives” when it comes to concealability.
Capacity: How Many Rounds Can It Hold?
Here’s the big hitch in my opinion with most 380 guns. Ammunition capacity. Because they are so small, they just can’t hold very many rounds of ammunition. How many rounds is enough? For me, the answer is “one more than the attackers have!”. There are some new exceptions with a few models that can carry higher capacities. This is great news for .380 carriers. Now, there are plenty of 9mm handguns out there that don’t carry any more rounds than a 380 does. However, there are also plenty that do, a lot of them in fact.
In my opinion, if you are going to carry a 380 handgun with a lower capacity, carry a loaded spare magazine too.
You can minimize some of the shortcomings of a 380 with the ammunition you choose. For concealed carry, buy high-quality self-defense ammo that can improve its effectiveness. It’s a bit more expensive but worth it. Use a less expensive standard round for range shooting and practice. Still confused about ammunition? Check out our ammunition demystifier.
I think as with any important decision, we each individually have to weigh and rank our own personal priorities. Mine might be different than yours. Think about and rank what features are the most important to you in a concealed carry gun, then match them up to the gun model options you are considering to help you make your choice. The truth is, carrying any gun, even a .22 is better than not carrying at all. So, make the right decision for YOU not what others tell you, you need to do.
I have spent a lot of time working on my accuracy with my 380 firearm so I carry a 380 with defensive ammo often. I also carry a spare magazine. There are just times when I can’t effectively conceal and carry my larger, heavier 9mm. I am very happy to see manufacturers finding ways to increase the capacity of 380 handguns. In my opinion, tt makes them a much better choice for a carry gun.
What are the best 380 guns for women? Read my article on the top 380 handguns for women