The Underappreciated .380 ACP

The Underrated Colt .380

The .380 ACP has been popular since 1908 when it was introduced by the Colt Manufacturing Company. John Browning designed the cartridge for Colt’s Model 1908 pocket semi-automatic pistol. The innovative round is light but has less stopping power than its heavier counterparts. The ammo remained popular during World War II and beyond until the military shunned it in favor of the 9mm. It remained popular among European law enforcement agencies until the 1980s. Despite the waning popularity, the gun and ammo remain favorites with people seeking a compact gun for self-defense or concealed carry.

Legends and Myths

Shooters have criticized the .380 ACP almost since it appeared on the market. Naysayers spread myths about the gun and its ammo, saying things that simply aren’t true. The facts show that those spreading the myths haven’t used a .380 often enough, if at all. If you have doubts about the effectiveness of the ammo, check the ballistics stats.

.380 ACP Isn’t Inaccurate

Shooters unable to hit their targets with a compact gun automatically blame the gun, the ammo, or both. I won’t dispute that compact guns are harder to shoot, and micro-sized guns are even more difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that the ammo is inaccurate. The .380 ACP is made for close range targets, not taking down a bear at 200 yards. Gun owners should know the capabilities of the gun they are using and practice with those goals in mind.

No Stopping Power

Stopping power is directly related to shot placement. Some may claim that their .45 is defective because it didn’t take down their target. What they don’t say is that they shot him in the elbow. Most bullets will stop their targets if the shot is placed correctly, and the .380 is no exception. In fact, it works well in close range situations. If a shooter is unable to stop an attacker or intruder with a single shot, he should return to the range.

.380 ACP is Made For Women

Annie Oakley might take offense to that statement, claiming, “Them’s fightin’ words.” And Annie would be right. The gun is small but that doesn’t mean that it was made for someone with small hands. Shooting any gun, including a .380 ACP, takes skill. Shooters know that small guns are often harder to shoot, and anyone – man or woman – needs to practice shooting to learn to manage the recoil. You can’t pick it up for the first time and follow in Annie’s footsteps.

.380 ACP isn’t Good for Self-Defense

This comment relates to the myth about stopping power. A gun owner doesn’t need a .45 Mag as a self-defense weapon. It’s true that .380 ammo won’t cause hydrostatic shock, instantly debilitating its target. For most purposes, that would be overkill. However, it will stop an attacker provided the shooter knows how to aim and uses quality ammunition.

Conclusion

Ammunition manufacturers are specific about ballistics but knowing how ammo performs in a given situation is up to the shooter. Do your homework and use the right tool for the job.