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  #1  
Old 01-22-2010, 11:18 PM
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Default .380 vs 9mm

I am looking for a concealed weapon for my wife.
What do you recommend the .380 or 9mm?
Which models have a small frame, and are reliable?
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:25 PM
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Hi doglips. hahahaha. I like saying that. Anyhoo, your wife would prolly like a small frame 9mm over the 380. The 9 has a bigger bullet and you can get guns that have magazine capacities between 9-12 rounds, depending on the specific weapon. I happen to love the .380 round and shoot the lights out with my crappy FEG PMK and my new-to-me Interarms Walther PPK. I feel because of the inherent barrel stability of a blow-back weapon, the 380 is the more accurate round compared to a 9. The problem is the .380 doesn't deliver the same amount energy into a target as a 9. Hope this helps.
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:52 PM
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I am a 9mm fan and carry 9mm when I carry IWB. I also sold away my pocket .380 because I prefer the .38 for a self-defense round (pocket j-frame). If you are comfortable with .380 as a defense round (many are and I don't argue with them) there are many nice choices available. I went to the range with a buddy last Saturday and shot his Walther PPK. REALLY nice gun and I was surprised with how accurately we were both shooting it. It's probably the only .380 I would own right now due to "cool-factor" alone. If your wife has small hands it would be a nice choice.

If you're looking at something bigger in size and weight, like a Sig P230/232, Beretta Cheetah or similar, then I think it makes sense to at least consider a 9mm because of the availability of 9mm guns in a similar size and weight. Consider how she will carry and how much she will be shooting it. The reason I carry the 9mm's that I now carry is because I shoot them all the time when I go to the range, vs. not really shooting my carry .45 that much. A POCKET size/weight .380 like the new Taurus or the Kel-Tec, Ruger or other "mini"guns, is sometimes not much fun to shoot. Sometimes its a lot of recoil for small or weak hands. Some of the more carry-able 9mm's are not that much bigger/heavier to carry, but are much more enjoyable at the range, and that's a good thing.

If she can carry something as big as a S+W 39series, "full-size" Kahr, Sig 225/P6, CZ compact or something of similar size and weight, I think that's the best compromise because they are, at the same time, big and heavy enough to enjoy shooting at the range while being small/light enough for comfortable carry.

Good luck and have fun shopping with her!
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:54 PM
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I was surprised the difference in energy. According to the Federal catalog (380 auto/9mm Luger):

Muzzle - 203/364
25 yd - 185/316
50 yd - 170/303

That said, 380 is a sweet shooting round. I was asking myself the same question a while ago and decided 380 PPK was what I wanted (ended up not getting one).

I have heard 380 is IMPOSSIBLE to find lately. 9mm seems to be everywhere.
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Old 01-23-2010, 12:13 AM
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The 9x19 fires the same diameter bullet, usually heavier and faster. All 9mm guns except for the HiPoint use a locked breech to contain the higher pressures. The .380 with its lower pressures usually have a heavier slide and spring to contain the pressures. For weak hands the 9mm is usually easier to retract and has softer recoil (Beretta model 86 has a tilt up barrel). The blowback of the .380 is usually snappier.
There are a few locked breech .380 on the market now the SIG copy of the Mustang and the small Kahr. As far as determining a good weapon for your wife, how experienced is she with firearms? I feel the smaller guns require more gun knowledge experience. Same as like shooting skeet or hunting with a .410 compared to a 20 ga. I would suggest that she looks at the smaller 9s on the market first.

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Old 01-23-2010, 12:23 AM
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I recommend the 9 mm if she finds a gun that fits her hands and can conceal and control. All smaller guns will need a firm hold to function properly. Try your local gun shop or (better still) a range that rents guns to look for candidates.

I may be forgetting the 9 mm S & W pistol that fits this niche, but two non-Smiths that would work include the Kahr P9 (reasonably priced) and the Springfield EMP (expensive). Interested to see what others think.
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Old 01-23-2010, 12:50 AM
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As mentioned before, .380 is darn near impossible to find and relatively expensive when you can find it. Might not always be like this but is has for the past year at least. The only way I have been able to find any is online.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:07 AM
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D/L,
You may be very interested in the link provided by TPD in post #34 at the link below. You may also be interested in the "P.S." he included?

9mm 115 Gr. vs 124 Gr. vs 147 Gr.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:45 AM
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Depends on more than caliber, but in terms of caliber 9mm all the way.
Most .380s are blowback operated and actually have a rather unpleasant snappy recoil. Most 9mms are of the Browning tilt barrel design and are simply more pleasant to shoot. That matters a lot when dealing with a new shooter.
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Old 01-23-2010, 02:57 AM
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9 mm would get my vote for ballistic reasons.
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:38 AM
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"I am looking for a concealed weapon for my wife.
What do you recommend the .380 or 9mm?
Which models have a small frame, and are reliable?"

There is a good article on .380 pistols in this month's issue of the American Rifleman. It addresses some of your questions as well as speaking to the issue of reliability.

By its very nature a ccw is something you expect to use in a very up close situation to deal with a criminal assailant. While some advocate the equivalent of a handcannon, reality is that one must use what one can best handle and what one will actually carry. Recoil in a .380 blowback type pistol (Walther PPK, etc.) can be disconcerting. There are a number of 9mm pistols that are light in weight, very shootable and highly reliable (Glock compact/sub-compact). Loaded with the hottest self-defense loads available, a small framed 9mm can be a handful. With milder loads, it will greatly outclass a .380 in ballistic effectiveness while being much easier to shoot effectively. A good quality .380 loaded with the hottest self-defense load available will never equal even a standard 9mm load. In the pistols typically chambered for the .380, recoil will take some getting used to. If you wife is an experienced shooter, this may not be a great concern. If she is new to shooting or if it is not likely that she will be able/willing to spend the time needed to develop skill in shooting, she would be better served with a small framed 9mm loaded with a milder loading. I would look at one of the Glock compact or sub-compact pistols. They offer outstanding reliability and light weight. Sincerely. brucev.
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Old 01-23-2010, 12:59 PM
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This goes back to whether your wife is experienced with a handgun. Do not rule out a small frame revolver. My wife prefers her little 5 shot .38 over any of the automatics. Her second choice is a Browning BDA in .380. She says there is less thinking on what is needed to be done with the revolver.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:19 PM
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My brother is going through this exact situation. He got his wife a 38 special. S&W 442 I think but she didn't really like the long trigger pull. So he traded it for a ruger lcp and even though its much easier she still doesn't like the trigger pull. She loves shooting his ruger sr9. So hes about to trade in the lcp and get her the new sr9 compact that just came out.
Go with a compact 9 thats a little bit heavier. The new kel tec compact 9 has horrible recoil and she would never be able to get fast follow up shots on target with a small 9 like that.

Last edited by kdean; 01-23-2010 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:32 PM
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I know quite a few ladies that love their M&P 9c. Worth looking at.
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:38 PM
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She might also find this site of use
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Old 01-23-2010, 01:58 PM
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"What gun should I buy my wife?" This question is repeated over and over and will continue to be repeated forever.

The answer is simple: Your wife should get whatever gun she is most comfortable with. Do you own either or both? Let her try them out. If you don't own .380 or 9, or can't find one for her to try, let her read up on the differences to try to make a decision.

Very often I'll be in a gun shop and see and man and woman together and hear the guy say "You don't want that, you want....". That's not the way to do it.

FWIW, my girlfriend doesn't like 9mm or .380, but can handle .380 a lot better than 9.
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:48 PM
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I guess that somewhat depends on your wife? Is she willing/wanting to spend regular time at the range to be proficient with the gun?
Is she recoil shy?
Mechanically inclined?
Will she carry in a holster or purse?

All that said, I'd offer:

-Most small 380's produce a considerable amount of recoil and muzzle flash. Enough where it can be uncomfortable /intimidating for the new/occasional shooter. ( Also noted in the American Riflemen Article BTW)

-Small Semi's can be ammo sensitive/ jam-o-matics under varying conditions. Especially if a shooter "limp wrists" the gun.
-Semi's generally have a squarish one size fits all grip that usually doesn't

I'd vote that a J frame is still the best personal protection piece for most people. Doesn't have a long learning curve, doesn't jam, is reasonably recoil friendly (especially if you get her good fitting grips!).
It will also allow you to train her with lighter ammo and work up into +P.
Point it, pull the trigger and it goes "Bang" . Every time.

A J frame may not be sexy but it's likely the best tool in the box for most non LEO in most situations.
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:00 PM
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Have her take a look at the new Taurus 738. Made in USA (Taurus' Florida Plant) and easy to conceal. It even comes with its own "cell phone" pouch. Very nice pistol. I wouldn't worry too much about the .380 calibre. Plenty of people through the years have been neutralized with a .380. Placement, placement, placement! I almost bought one of these when I was in the market. The only thing is in my neck o'the woods here .380 ammo is very high and often non-existent.
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Old 01-23-2010, 08:02 PM
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Depends on which particular gun/caliber she is most comfortable shooting. The wrong choice will not be carried much, if at all. The correct choice will always be carried.
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:02 PM
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Kahr MK9, size of a .380, but 9mm.

What more could you ask for.

Personally, I ussually carry a 940 (9mm J-frame), got a PPK 380 for my girl...
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:14 PM
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Carry as much gun as possible and she is comfortable with. The gun is no good if it's too big and doesn't get carried or used.
I'd go with 9mm but my own choice is a S&W J frame. I've also used a Sig 239, Sig 232 and a 1911. Most of the time it's a 340PD or a 342.
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Sobieski View Post

My wife used to carry a .380 PPK/S because it was small, flat and easy to conceal. However, the gun was never particularly reliable or enjoyable to shoot and the double action pull was terrible.
IMO, the PPK is an unpleasant shooting gun that beats up the shooters hand. As a result, casual shooters don't want to practice - and I don't blame them.
Try to find a range that rents guns. Let your wife rent some different guns and she'll tell you what she wants. If she likes it, she will be far more likely to practice with it.
Just my $.02
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:41 PM
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What everyone else says The only real way is for her to check some out and find what feels right to her, and then shoot comparable guns if not the exact one and see how she hangles it.

I'd look long and hard at the M&P9c or 442 if they fit the above criteria. 380 is at its best in the ultra-compacts like Kel-Tec P3AT or Ruger LCP, much bigger than that and it really pays to go 9MM.

Also, good advice for everyone, don't always assume you need to stick with the small calibers when shopping for a woman. I'm hitting the range tomorrow with a friend whose very partial to a Glock 30 .45! I'm trying to get her to come back from the dark side and get an M&P45c. Just had to add my $.02
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Old 01-23-2010, 11:22 PM
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With all the comments on recoil on the .380 Walthers might be another reason why most countries adopted them in .32!

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Old 01-24-2010, 12:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Combat_Diver View Post
With all the comments on recoil on the .380 Walthers might be another reason why most countries adopted them in .32!

CD
Funny...
IMO, .32 only pisses a big guy off JK

(not tryin to start a caliber war)

Quote:
Originally Posted by AITG View Post
IMO, the PPK is an unpleasant shooting gun that beats up the shooters hand. As a result, casual shooters don't want to practice - and I don't blame them.
This is where hand loading is an amazing advantage, I load LIGHTER full power loads for my girl to practice, and show her waht box to carry from(after I made sure they function reliably).

In the heat of things you don't notice the noise let alone the recoil.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Combat_Diver View Post
With all the comments on recoil on the .380 Walthers might be another reason why most countries adopted them in .32!

CD
Doesn't mean they don't have a purpose, just that they aren't as friendly to shoot as a lot of people might think. I think a lot of people who don't think it through are attracted to the small size and slim grip, not knowing that blowback guns flat out kick harder than recoil operated ones. If a 9mm were blowback you'd hear the same complaints.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:58 AM
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Take her to a range and let her shoot some rental guns. Then let her decide.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:44 AM
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Don't overlook the Walther PPS, which is 9mm and very ergonomic and controllable to shoot and the magazine is big enough to easily get the ammunition in. Also, there are no safeties and decocker levers to fumble with. It's easy to take down to clean and reassemble.




PS - This month's American Rifleman has a section on .380 guns popular for concealed carry that you might want to look at.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:34 AM
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Barb!!! You went over to the dark side??!!??!!
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:12 PM
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of my 5 sisters one is an anti CCW but doesn't mind hunting (maybe because of the meat my dad and I brought in and my mom tastefully prepared) she refuses to consider getting a gun - lives inside a gated community.
another is a middle of the roader, owns a 20ga but doesn't feel the need for a pistol.
other 3 are fine with pistols after I got them hooked on plinking with my .22 revolver. 2 have .380's, one has a .32 S&W revolver. the .380's are Bersas that I thoroughly checked over and function fired. good pistols. none of them liked my 9mm S&W, Makarov 9mm or GP .357.
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:17 PM
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Barb!!! You went over to the dark side??!!??!!
I wear my shame deeply concealed.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:56 PM
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Recently received the latest American Rifleman with a special article on 380 ACP pistols. Of the eight they reviewed, only two were blowback. We recently purchased a Sig P238 and love it. It is basically a minature 1911 and is really sweet to shoot. My wife has had some stovepipes but I have not. My wifes hands are really small and she needs some work on her wrist. We have heard from others who have the same model that it takes 2 or 300 rounds to break it in. We only have about 75 rounds through the gun. The gun and recoil are well behaved. All-in-all, I really like the gun and have carried it a few times. From the article, energies range from 119 to 217 ft-lbs (probably muzzle) with groupings from 5 to 6 inches at 25 yards. If you are considering buying one my advice is to rent as many as you can to see how they shoot. They will all shoot differently, have different recoils and characters. They do not have the same stopping power as a 9mm but it was good enought for Bond.
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:58 PM
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The Bersa Thunder Pro UC 9mm is a very underrated gun. I fired one not too long ago and was impressed. Plus you can google it and see what the reviews are. trust me it will be difficult to find anyone with anything bad to say about it. And with a NIB price of around $350.00 you cant beat it.

Good Luck
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Old 01-25-2010, 04:33 PM
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I'm a newby here and a proud Sigma 9mm owner. I wanted to pipe in on this one, because I went through the same process. I did a ton of research and decided the 380 just wasn't for me. It may be a competent round in the right hands, but it has so many drawbacks that don't have anything to do with competency. Around here, 380 defensive rounds, provided you can find any, run around $50 a box. Range loads run around $35 and are just as difficult to find. That turned me off about the 380 altogether, since my money is rather special to me.

I researched a CCW pocket pistol for a while and finally decided the Kahr PM9 would fit my needs well and, since I already owned a 9mm, ammo wasn't a negative factor, either. Then, I hit upon an article talking about the KelTek PF9 and discovered it was a competent firearm at about half the price of the Kahr. Took me a while to find one, which also re-enforced the fact that's it's a pretty decent firearm. When I finally did find one for purchase, I couldn't be happier.

I know this is a S&W board and I certainly wouldn't advertise anything else, because I've always enjoyed and respected S&W products, but they don't have any models to compete with this gun. I consider my Sigma to be every bit the product I've come to expect from S&W, but I'm afraid I've fallen in love with my little PF9. Plenty of firepower, IMHO, and fits like a glove in a pocket holster in my Levis. Is it a S&W? Well, no, but it's a well made firearm that does a great job of performing my personal protection needs. If S&W made one, I'm sure I'd own it, but until they do, I'm extremely pleased with the alternative I found.

The gun will fit anywhere and weighs around 18oz loaded with 7 rounds. As I said, it fits my jeans with no print whatsoever and would fit a ladies purse nicely. Before buying another mouse gun, you really should take a look at this one. Research it a bit, because, like the Sigma, it has a little bit of a negative history, but, like the Sigma, most of the bugs have been worked out. Mine has been about as fail safe as my Sigma and that's saying a lot. Both guns have performed flawlessly for me. Sure hope I didn't ruffle any feathers posting this. If S&W had a viable alternative, I'm sure I would be touting it instead.
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:16 PM
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rmcky,

Smith does

SKU: 103887
Model: CS9
Caliber: 9mm
Capacity: 7+1 Rounds
Barrel Length: 3"
Front Sight: Dot Front Sight
Rear Sight: Novak Lo Mount Carry
Grip: Rubber Grips
External Safety: N/A
Frame: Small
Finish: Matte
Overall Length: 6 1/4"
Material: Alloy
Weight Empty: 20 oz


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Old 01-25-2010, 11:33 PM
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I would shy away from semi-autos unless the little wifey is an experienced gunman. Too many problems can pop up in a life threatening situation. The .38 special hammerless wheel gun is my all time favorite for the new shooter. If it doesn't go bang when you pull the trigger, simply pull the trigger again. With +P and +P+ ammo, along with the franagibles available, the .38 special is a formable close quarter self defense weapon for any man or woman.
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:23 AM
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Default .380 vs 9mm

For a 9mm have her shoot a Ruger SR9c -- my sister has one and luvs it.

Bersa Thunder .380 is nice and easy to conceal.

For a smaller pocket/purse type gun look at the Kel-Tec P-32
It has less recoil than a .380 and at close range will do the job.
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:49 AM
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My wife is becoming an experienced shooter. During controlled range shooting she does very well indeed with large caliber weapons including the .357 magnum, .44 S&W Special and .45ACP in guns with barrels of at least four inches. She also shoots .380 and 9MM pistols to a decent level of proficiency, however, no mater how much she practices she is terrible with a snub nose revolver!

Her carry guns are now either a Taurus TCP .380 ACP, a Kel Tec PF-9 9MM or when weight isn't as much of a concern, her 3 inch all steel Lady Smith Model 60 .38 SPL. If she could carry a full sized auto, she is right wicked with my CZ-75 9MM.

The key is to find a CCW gun you can actually hit something with all the time. Never assume a certain type of firearm will be ideal for someone else, unless you have observed them actually shooting one. If I went by my wife's ability with a full sized 4 inch plus revolver, I would have assumed a snub .38 would suit her as a CCW. Wrong.
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Old 09-09-2012, 11:03 AM
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Had a Ruger LCP, gun is way too light. Recoil was evil. Take down pin fell out the first time I shot it. Not a comfortable gun to shoot. Gave it way can't count on it. Got a S&W 380 Bodyguard. Just larger and heavier that the LCP to make a difference. the 380 is my back up gun and the M&P 9c and the Shield are my main carry guns. Also got a gun for my Wife. Best trade I ever made!
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Old 09-09-2012, 11:07 AM
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You guys realize the original post is about 2.5 years old, right? I am guessing he isn't still trying to make a decision, and it appears he hasn't posted anything in over 2 years.
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  #41  
Old 09-09-2012, 11:12 AM
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No real point the 380 is just a short 9mm. Today you can get 9mms just as small as the 380s
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Old 09-09-2012, 11:34 PM
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Originally Posted by 10ring View Post
You guys realize the original post is about 2.5 years old, right? I am guessing he isn't still trying to make a decision, and it appears he hasn't posted anything in over 2 years.
Sometimes the newer members bring up posts from years ago and respond to them like they are current....
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by sniper47 View Post
Hi doglips. hahahaha. I like saying that. Anyhoo, your wife would prolly like a small frame 9mm over the 380. The 9 has a bigger bullet and you can get guns that have magazine capacities between 9-12 rounds, depending on the specific weapon. I happen to love the .380 round and shoot the lights out with my crappy FEG PMK and my new-to-me Interarms Walther PPK. I feel because of the inherent barrel stability of a blow-back weapon, the 380 is the more accurate round compared to a 9. The problem is the .380 doesn't deliver the same amount energy into a target as a 9. Hope this helps.
The energy of a 9mm is compared to dropping 10 lb weight on your chest at less than 1 inch.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:38 PM
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Default .380 vs 9mm

I have a Bersa Thunder .380 and loaded with Hornady Critical Defense ammo it is one nice shooter. I carry it IWB. Great gun!

Having said that I also at times carry a Ruger SR9c loaded with the same ammo and it is an excellent shooting gun.

Both will protect you.
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Smith & Wesson Semi-Auto Pistols Thread, .380 vs 9mm in Smith & Wesson Semi-Automatic Pistols; I am looking for a concealed weapon for my wife. What do you recommend the .380 or 9mm? Which models ...
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