Concealing a pistol in a purse

Jan 28, 2020 8:30:00 AM

Can a 380 stop an attacker? It’s important to know, because you want to feel confident. You want to know that your firearm can protect you and your loved ones.

If you’re new to the gun world, and you’re looking for a gun that you can conceal and carry easily, you’ve probably heard that 380 pistols work well for concealed carry, because they’re usually more compact.

While firearms chambered in 380 ACP are typically easy to conceal, people often question how effective they are.

If you aim properly, shoot accurately, and don’t buy low quality ammo, is a 380 powerful enough for self-defense? Or is it inherently incapable of properly protecting you?

Let’s look at the facts and unveil some myths about 380 ammunition. In the end, it’s all about feeling empowered to protect yourself everywhere you go.

Is A .380 Enough For Self-Defense

While some people own guns strictly for hunting, most people who carry a gun have personal defense in mind. If you’ve decided that you always want to have a method of protection on you, and you’re comfortable concealing a firearm, this topic is worth investigating.

If a bad guy is in front of you, you’re relying on your ammunition to protect you.

So, is a 380 powerful enough for self-defense?

When it comes to using 380 ammo for self-defense, there are two conflicting beliefs:

  •  A gun or bullet has to be a minimum size to be effective, usually at least a .40 caliber. (caliber simply refers to the diameter of the bullet, and is usually measured in either inches or mm.)
  • Any gun you have on you works if you know how to use it.

Essentially, a tiny gun you have on you is better than a big gun that you leave at home.

So, can a 380 stop an attacker? Is your ability to conceal and handle your gun more important than the ammunition itself?

.380 Ammo: Cons

.380 is smaller than the traditional self-defense calibers. However, every type of ammunition has its own strengths and weaknesses. To get the “acceptable” power level, you have to get such a big gun that concealed carry becomes impossible and defeats the purpose. This is especially true if you’re a woman, because concealing even compact firearms can be a challenge in women’s clothing! If you’re curious about women’s clothing that was made specifically for concealed carry, check out our dynamic collection of women’s concealed carry clothing.

.380 is smaller than a 9mm round but about as strong as a .38 special. So, it’s underpowered compared to 9mm or .357 Magnum. But despite its size, can a .380 stop an attacker?

.380 Ammo Stopping Power

Stopping power is essentially the bullet’s ability to incapacitate your opponent enough to stop them. In reality, no ammunition has guaranteed stopping power. Some people believe that .380 ammo doesn’t have enough stopping power because of the relatively weak ballistics. However, the force of impact doesn’t actually stop your attacker. It’s a psychological shock or damage to vital areas that stops your attacker. Even a .44 magnum doesn’t guarantee stopping power. (.44 magnum is one of the most powerful handgun cartridges.)

So, is a .380 powerful enough for self-defense? That depends on shot placement and bullet selection. Certain areas of the body can’t suffer insult from a bullet, but any caliber that’s accurately placed can stop an attacker. You always want to aim for vital organs, which includes the head and the chest.

Shooting A .380:Accuracy

Woman practicing at firing range

Let’s look at another common misconception: .380 ammunition is inaccurate. A bullet can never be inherently inaccurate; neither can a gun. It’s the person shooting the gun who introduces error.

However, in the shooter’s defense, firearms chambered in .380 are typically smaller guns, and therefore they have a short barrel. Any gun with a 3-inch barrel or shorter will make accuracy more difficult due to the shorter sight radius.

.380 firearms are also believed to be less accurate because of the associated recoil. Generally, the smaller the gun, the more felt recoil. However, recoil isn’t only affected by the size of the gun. How you hold the gun is hugely important. The higher up you can get your hand on the grip, the more you can manage your recoil.

That’s why it’s so important to keep up on your practice. Even if you’re shooting with a .380 firearm, you can improve your aim and be competent in your ability to shoot on target. The more you practice, the better chance you’ll have of shooting your attacker in center mass.

You can do it…you can protect yourself!

.380 Bullet Selection

Your ammo selection does make a difference. Not all ammo is created equal, and you want ammo that expands effectively. Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain .380 ACP is very reputable, as well as Remington 88 Grain HTP.

.380 Ammo: Pros

Gun inside corset holster

So, not only can a .380 stop an attacker if you have your shot placement and bullet selection on point, but another advantage is that .380 firearms are easier to conceal and carry. So, the drawbacks of a .380 firearm may be worth it when you consider the fact that you’re more likely to actually conceal and carry a firearm on a daily basis if it’s convenient and comfortable.

.380 For Women?

It’s a common misconception that simply because .380 bullets fit smaller guns, they’re better for women. Even though women typically have smaller hands, and therefore may not be able to properly grip or pull the heavy trigger of a larger gun, that simply means that .380 firearms are good for people with smaller hands, not for women specifically.

Additionally, if you’re new to shooting, it’s not recommended that you start shooting with a smaller gun, simply because the recoil will make it more difficult to practice your aim. It’s better to learn the basics with a bigger handgun that has a low to moderate recoil so you can become competent in the fundamentals before you take on a gun that’s more difficult to master in terms of aiming properly.

If you’re new to the concealed carry world there’s a lot to learn about firearms, caliber, holsters, shooting…it can feel overwhelming. We recommend that you take a shooting class or head out to the range with an instructor and shoot as many different types of guns as you can. In the end it’s more important for you to be comfortable with your gun and be competent in your accuracy. Also, you want to find a gun that you can conceal carry comfortably because a firearm that you conceal and carry will always be better than a firearm that you leave at home or in the car.

Paisley Saris Tactica Gun Blogger

About the Author

Born in Arizona, Paisley Saris graduated in 2019 from North Idaho College, and will continue her education at Gonzaga University in the fall. She lives in North Idaho with her Husband and two step kids. She’s a passionate advocate for the 2nd amendment, and on her off days she enjoys the outdoors and spending time at the range.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin


No spam, notifications only about new products, blog updates.
Scroll to Top