.380-What You Use to Fight Your Way to a Handgun

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posted on August 25, 2011
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In our offices, we often discuss issues that matter—at least to us—such as carry guns. One American Rifleman staffer carries a Ruger LCP in .380 ACP with Winchester PDX1 on a daily basis. While this staffer was visiting the office of American Hunter Managing Editor Jeff Johnston (we don’t have the budget for a water cooler), the host came up with a line that is not entirely original, yet completely relevant. “You carry a .380? That’s what you use to fight your way to your pistol.” This is, of course, is a play on firearms trainer Clint Smith’s axiom: “The only purpose for a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should have never laid down.”

I have written previously on the fact that men that I rely on for solid advice on personal protection don’t think a lot of the .380 ACP as a fightstopper. To them it is marginal, at the bottom end of the minimum. Mike Parker once said on “American Rifleman Television”—again not entirely original—“While a 9 millimeter may expand, a .45 won’t shrink.” While a .45 ACP has more power than a 9 mm Luger, and a 9 mm (Johnston’s preferred sub-caliber device) has more power than a .380 ACP, size and weight make a big difference as to whether or not a gun is carried daily. It is better to have a .380 in your pocket holster than a .44 Mag. in your safe. And a six-shot .380 is better than an aluminum baseball bat that won’t ship for three weeks.

It used to be that 9 mm Luger was considered marginal for personal protection, but now that9 mm pistols are designed to be similar in size and weight to the in-vogue .380s, we are seeing a surge in interest in micro-compact, single-stack, recoil-operated 9 mms by consumers who lawfully exercise their Right-to-Carry. Kel-Tec and Kahr Arms led the way on micro 9 mm Luger pistols, with Taurus not far behind. Now we have guns such as the Kimber Solo (look for it on the cover of the September issue of your Rifleman), the Ruger LC9, SIG Sauer P290, Diamondback DB9 and others. We have also seen a report of Beretta's entry to this class, the Nano, but so far we have not had a chance to examine it, so I can offer no opinion.

My bottom line on the .380? The gun you are willing to carry, especially when inconvenient, is the right gun for you. I have a couple of the new generation .380 ACP recoil-operated guns, including a Ruger LCP and a Diamondback—as well as my trusty S&W 442 and a well-worn SIG Sauer P232. Any of these, while not a Springfield SOCOM II, are preferable to nothing at all.

One of the most disturbing images I have viewed was the security camera still (Orwell would be so proud) of a Londoner ignominiously handing his pants to a hooded looter during the riots earlier this month. With one of the natural rights of Englishmen—the right of self-defense of yourself and others—stripped away, property, possessions, collective safety and dignity sure didn’t take long to follow. The principal means of self-defense available to subjects in that land were back-ordered baseball bats from Amazon.co.uk. I assure you, the only way a pipe-wielding hooded thug threatening my life is getting my pants is after the second magazine is empty and the slide locked back. And he’ll likely have to crawl over a pile of hot brass headstamped “FC 380 Auto.”

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