Warning - Pet Peeve Rant - Small 380's

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by ADulay, September 29, 2013.

  1. All,

    One of the things I've tried to mention to new shooters who are looking for a "carry gun" is that having the smallest or lightest sidearm may not be in your best interest.

    Of course, to a person, they all pretty much ignore my advice and wind up buying some super light 380, 9mm or even a 357 (S&W Airlite), but most wind up with a slick, small, light 380ACP semi-automatic.

    Of course NOBODY, but NOBODY actually shoots one before making the purchase, they just buy it on the salesman's recommendation (it's good for a lady, it fits in your pocket) and things like that. They also buy it because it's small and easy to conceal. OK, I'll give it that.

    Then the day of reckoning shows up. They take it to the range to do some sort of practice so that they're all checked out and ready to carry it in their pocket or wherever it fits. A holster would have cost too much evidently.

    Well, you ask them how it went at the range and they kind of say that it went good. The gun shoots OK, they hit the target, things like that.

    However, with that said, they never actually go back to the range for some kind of recurrent shooting practice. And the reason for that would be . . . . . . . .

    The gun is no fun to shoot. In fact it hurts to shoot.

    If you're not having fun with your gun, you won't shoot it. So much for that super light weight 380.

    Fast forward to today. I've just come into possession of a little old lady's Ruger TCP380. Its real designation is a Ruger PT738. A nicely built, 7 shot semi-auto in 380ACP. Empty weight is something like 10 oz!!!!

    Now, this lady is 91 years old and one of her "sons" got it for her a few years ago for some reason. She used to shoot many years ago and had a gun in her store all the time. The problem is she can't actually rack the slide on it so it's always just loaded and ready to shoot. Oh yeah, she can't actually pull the DAO trigger either, but evidently nobody thinks of those things when buying "women's guns" for their mothers.

    So, as her other son is getting out of prison and she can't have a gun in the house, I get to take care of it until she can legally have it back in the house.

    I took it to the range today and shot it. I QUIT AFTER THE FIRST MAGAZINE.

    The gun is painful to shoot. It actually hurts my thumb and web with each shot! I've got two 45ACP guns here that don't make me wince like that when they get shot.

    Now think of all the gun guys out there who have purchased small, light weight DAO semi-autos for their significant others and they don't understand why the partner won't go shooting with them.

    Here's a hint. The gun is no fun and it hurts to shoot.

    Oh well. Maybe somebody out there reading this will take a second look at the small, light 380's. That's a lot of firepower in a 10 ounce gun.

    I've also got a fellow shooter with the previously mentioned .357 Airlite and once he shot it a few times, it's up for sale and he's picking up something a bit more useable.

    Guys, don't make the same mistake. Beg, borrow or rent the small gun you may be thinking about before buying the wrong gun.

    I've offered up this Ruger for any of my buddies to test fire so we'll see what the rest of them say about it. Me? It's going back in the box and up on the shelf until the 'little old lady" wants it back or her son does.

  2. Quite possibly the best rant I've read yet. Your words of wisdom are spot on as usual AD. :clap:
  3. MikeH121


    The Ruger 380 auto my Bro-in-law has is a nasty little biter. He had a 357 revolver. At the range the 380 is small, he carries it as a BU, in his back pocket. The trigger guard feels like it is slicing my finger with each round. The 357 wheelie was no problem.

    There is a sacrifice to small it is design. A small 45 will work if it is designed well, it is not the dreaded recoil but does it work with the hand, fire 50+ rounds at a range and your hand will throb the next day, hammer nails all day and you will get the same result. Drill holes in concrete, same.

    If it is not something you do on a regular basis, it will affect the muscles and nerves in your hand.

    Before the ammo shortage, my XD40 is sweet to shoot, and I would normally do 150 or more rounds when I got to the range. You taste cordite the next day, your hand throbs, your wrists are sore, but my Springfield never bothered me while on the range shooting. But that little Ruger LCP 380 SUCKED. I shot 5 rds and that was it.

    My B-in-Law said the same, first time he fired it also. But said, well it is just my backup so.....

    Shot a buddy's 44 mag lever action carbine, after the day had a bruise on my shoulder. Shot 100 rds from the Mosin, had a deep shoulder bruise the next day, no butt pad, no padded shooting jacket.

    Train with what you are gonna use, try what you are gonna buy.

    I have met many Vets of WWII and Korea, my Dad (Korean Vet) that had the M1 Garand scar, between the thumb and finger, some guns bite back. After loading mags by hand on my XD I had cuts on my thumbs, SS mags, heavy springs, mag after mag and I just called them love bites :D finnaly picked up a mag loader though.

    There are LGS that also have ranges, there are indoor ranges that sell guns, try before you buy.
  4. BuckJM53


    I'm with you on this one AD. While my wife and I have several friends who have drank the small pistol/revolver koolaid along the way, and while we've had the opportunity to test several popular models, the smallest ones in our collection remain a CZ 2075 RAMI (9mm) and a M&P9c. The most painful (least enjoyable) small revolver that I've personally shot was a friend's Ruger LCR 357. While it was a decent little fellow with .38s, after running 30 rounds of .357 through it, my right hand and both wrists were complaining badly for several hours (don't care much for the Ruger LCP or the Sig P238 either) :(
    Last edited: September 30, 2013
  5. JustJack


    Never liked those pocket pistol/peashooters either. I don't care what some writer, gun shop, or ammo sales rep says, I will not believe that a .380ACP is useful for more than pissing off somebody. To me 9mm is the SMALLEST useful self-defense round. The great aspect of 9mm is that, while individually they're not as effective as a .40S&W or a .45ACP, there are usually a LOT more of them for me to share with someone who doesn't respect my right to life.
  6. It was always my understanding that to be proficient with a weapon you need to practice, i.e. take it to the range and actually fire live ammunition.
    It is also my opinion that people will shoot a weapon to become proficient more frequently when they have less problems with firing that weapon, i.e. they enjoy shooting the weapon and it is not painful to shoot having no detrimental physical affect on the body.
    That being said the physics of inertia caused by the discharge of cartridge is going to create recoil and unless there is sufficient weight involved to take up that recoil the body will have to cope with that felt recoil and overcome it in order to be proficient enough for second shot placement. This will only happen with practice and if you don't enjoy shooting you weapon you won't practice.
    The circle of life and you need to enjoy life at all costs.
  7. I have 2 'tiny' guns. A S&W Model 36 3" Chiefs Special (38special) and a S&W CS9 Chiefs Special (9mm). I enjoy shooting both and with what some would consider 'nuclear' loads. Back in my 44Mag days I learned to keep the wrist stiff and the elbow loose,let the arm muscles,not the wrist, absorb the recoil. After the shot,the forearm falls right back down on target.
    I do eventually want to get a 380ACP and load hot loads for it.
  8. daniellawecki


    There is a man at our gun club that does ccw's. The problem is they all shoot his 22 pistols which we told him it wasn't good practice for him to do that. He is a Nra member and I think some kind of rep. So like ADulay said there are people running around shooting and buying guns without good information or any real practice with the gun they bought. Some of these poeple in the firearm industry are in it for the money and nothing else. They may get the wrong person hurt or killed.
  9. Minimal Brat

    Minimal Brat

    My pet peeve is men thinking they can buy the right gun for their wife. The first gun I owned was my snub .38. I loved this gun and can shoot it well. This gun was given to me by my step daughter. She loved it and had me try it. See, a woman gave it to another woman and had the woman shoot it to see if she liked it. The first gun my husband bought for me was a Taurus 709. Now, I have to say this is a nice gun. Shoots well and I do shoot accurately with it BUT the gun is no fun to shoot. The recoil is so bad I hate to shoot the thing and my hand gets sore real fast. I have very small hands, as some of the fellows here know, the gun does fit my hand well but fitting my hand isn't enough. I bought myself the Ruger sr9c. I really like this gun. I shoot it very well, it is a bit big for my hand but not so big I can't keep a good grip on it. Oh why don't they make a Glock with just a bit thinner grip lol. I love the 357 we have but I love most wheel guns as long as they have some size and weight to them, once again, lol, some of the guys here know this from our great get together. I have to say, so far, my favorite gun I own is my Beretta m9. Fits my hand pretty well, has some nice weight and size to it and I could shoot that thing all day long. Many men think small handed woman need small guns. While a gun fitting in your hand is important; I say weight and size do matter when it comes to shooting a gun accurately and comfortably. If a gun is biting a woman or the recoil is so bad it is no fun to shoot woman aren't going to shoot as much as they should. I suppose this goes for men too :)
  10. All,

    Just a small anecdote with regards to this "380" thread.

    Here's a photo I took to show one of my friends what ammunition I was using for the "test".

    Then I noticed the price on the box.

    Times change, eh?

    AD (I don't even want to hazard a guess as to when I actually purchased that one!)

  11. dalefan88


    The only 380 I like shooting is my wife's bersa thunder 380. It is fun to shoot and it will fit in most of my pockets. She carries it in a flash bang holster.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk - now Free
  12. All,

    Well, to add fairness to this 380ACP discussion, one of my good shooting buddies (we claw at each other's throats on the Monday night shoot for weekly supremacy), well we both showed up at the range late this afternoon and his wife brought her Sig Sauer P238 Sport.

    Yes, another woman with a pocket 380. Arrrrgh.

    Well at least she carries it, so I'll give her that. She definitly needs some more practice with it and that IWB appendix carry holster gives me the shakes, but other than that, she's moving right along.

    And, as usual, I had to shoot it to at least see if it holds up to my theory on 380's.

    I will say that it shot MUCH nicer than the recently mentioned Ruger in this thread.

    Felt recoil was much less. There was no slide or frame bite. I could shoot more than one magazine with it, but just barely.

    It was very accurate both double action and single action after the trigger reset. And with most small 380ACP's it was easy to force it to stovepipe by "limp wristing" it.

    Now for the Lesson of the Day. . . . .

    His wife didn't really want to shoot with us in the same bay so she went over by herself just to practice. When I was ready to leave, we had her come over and try a simple IDPA stage, just to show her the difference between standing there blasting away, and doing something "constructive".

    Three targets at 7 yards. 6 rounds loaded per magazine.

    First six shots were two to each target. So far so good. Do an emergency reload. It was "slow" but safe.

    Next six shots were 2,2,2 to the same three targets only using your strong hand only.

    Hmm, shoot once, jam. Reseat magazine, shot once, jam.

    Why is the magazine coming out after each shot????

    Well, she had never actually practiced "strong hand only" and when she gripped it like that, her thumb was smack dab on top of the mag release!

    She was embarassed. We both told her that's why we practice this stuff OUT HERE and not when we actually might need it.

    Once she figured out what the problem was, she finished the strong hand only portion nicely.

    She elected not to shoot the weak hand section as she had never tried that before and like most women (and most shooters) they would rather not have anyone see them practice something new with other people watching.

    The bottom line is that it was a good practice AND training event for her and I got to shoot another 380ACP semi-auto that didn't suck as much as the last one.

    AD (practice those odd weak and strong hand shots every now and then)
  13. Those of us that can shoot .380's don't think they "suck". Maybe you could use a less insulting word. A armed society is a polite society. Thank you.

    Sent from my iPhone 5 using Tapatalk, Carry on
  14. Nomad,

    Perhaps you're correct. My terminology should be cleaned up. I apologize.

    I still honestly believe that most, if not all pocket 380's are much more difficult to shoot and keep current with. As I've previously stated, if a person won't practice with their sidearm, after a few months, it's like it's a brand new gun all over again, ESPECIALLY if it needs to be called into action "right now".

    I do own a nice 380ACP pistol and it gets put to work every now and then under special circumstances but I really don't look forward to putting a magazine through it from time to time to keep up on its different handling characteristics.

    I don't really hate the things, I just don't believe that a super light 380 semi-auto is the best gun for most new shooters to be brought into the "shooting fraternity" as it were.

    Where you and I can handle the differences between guns, most NEW shooters don't have the experience (obviously) or a good friend to help them along with their choice.

    You're still talking with a guy who's daily carry for many years was a 380 semi-auto, so I have some idea of what I speak. I just don't tend to recommend them to brand new shooters for most of the reasons listed earlier in this thread.

  15. diesel


    AD, I agree with you whole heartedly. A few weeks ago, a buddy asked me if he could bring his new .380 Ruger over to my place to fire it as I have a short pistol range. It was a first experience for him(and me for that matter)shooting the little thing.
    First of all, the pistol shot about a ft. left at no more than 25ft. unless both of were pulling. I could not hit with it but it sure hit me. And my buddy. He took the slide over the web of his thumb for a nasty little gash.
    He said he would practice with it, which I doubt as hes not a "shooter" per se.
    And me, my hands are far to large for the gun.

    You can have it, i'll stick with my Mod. 60 Smith.
    I'll take a "wheely" over an auto any time.:flag:
  16. daniellawecki


    Male or female what ever gun you carry it should get shot once a week. But I would say the more practice the better and by practice I mean good shooting and not just throwing lead down range.
  17. MikeH121


    Check out these tests in super slow mo of different calibers.

    Brass Fetcher - YouTube

    The 30-06 is awesome. All around best rifle cartridge.

    The 380 does not have penetrating power does have a wound cavity. Though I would not carry one. Smallest 9 family I would go is the 9x18 Mak or the .38 Spl. Something about the 380 just irks me.
  18. MarkTC01


    I have shot close to 500 rounds out of my LCP380. I hit where I want it to go at defensive distances, and the recoil never seemed to really bother me. I feel that the LCP is an excellent choice for a CCW, just as any other gun you can use proficiently is.

    I think it's a matter of personal choice. Heck I prefer all steel guns to polymer all day long, but I would never tell someone they were wrong for owning a Glock.
  19. I've had a couple Bersa 380s' in the past,hope to acquire another one soon. I don't consider the 380 weak and when I get one,I'll be reloading for it. Us reloaders can always make things better. In the ammo and component realm of the 380,everything is very scarce(and expensive).Seems like during the 'frenzy',380 guns were popular to get due to the scarcity of 9s' back then. FFF is selling a lot of 380 die sets.
  20. All,

    Just for clarification, I do NOT hate the .380ACP! Really, I don't.

    A CCW carrier who is reasonably proficient with their chosen 380 Auto will do just fine up against most every bad guy scenario they may come into contact with.

    With that said, I would NOT recommend a lightweight 380 to a NEW SHOOTER just because it's small, light, etc.

    Last night (Monday) we had two new shooters (experienced, but new to IDPA) show up and wanted to shoot their carry guns which both just happened to be 380's. I was one of the range officers and I OK'ed it and said we'd call an audible when a steel target was engaged and not knocked down, as long as they hit it. (They did well on the steel, no problems).

    Anyway, after the night's shooting they BOTH mentioned that they kind of felt "undergunned" for some reason even though they had done very nice on the stages. They said they had never actually shot those guns under the kinds of things we were doing. (Moving, hiding, windows, barricades, etc). All of their shooting had been at static ranges only.

    They did say they would re-evaluate their daily carry needs and see if there might be a better choice out there.

    These were not women or small guys. The one guy was bigger than me but just thought that the 380 in a pocket was a good idea. They did say they would be back for sure next week, so I think they had a good time anyway.

    Oh well, that's why we have choices on this stuff, eh?


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