38 Special or 380?

I wonder what others think about .38 special revolver vs. 380 caliber in a revolver, as an EDC. I have never tried a 380. Is the .38 special louder? For the detergent/loud factor, in case of such an emergency. I leaned toward the .38 spcl when considering that some .357 magnum weapons can accommodate .38 spcl ammo. Thanks.

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This should probably be moved to its own topic. In the mean time, I don’t see that much value in .380 in a revolver vs. .38 Special. The .38 Special has better ballistics, and allows for a very broad range of ammunition choices. Many small .38 Special revolvers will handle +P ammunition as well, and as you point out you could even buy a .357 Magnum revolver but carry .38 Special for most scenarios. In a small revolver you aren’t going to be able to carry any more rounds of .380 ACP vs .38 Special. So the real advantage of .380 ACP, more rounds in a thinner gun, requires going to a semi-auto.

As for your sound-level question, the .38 Special is slightly quieter than the .380 ACP according to http://keepandbeararms.com/information/XcIBViewItem.asp?ID=2052

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Thanks Harold26.

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Semi automatics were designed for .380 while revolvers were designed for .38 Specs.
I see little reason for a .380 revolver other than if you already have a .380 semi-auto and you want a revolver that shares the same ammunition to simplify ammo purchases.

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Dang if I don’t learn something new every day - well I’m done learning for today :grin:

Seriously, I was thinking this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but I googled to be sure, I had no idea Taurus made revolvers in 380ACP.

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Bear in mind that .380 is also typically higher $ than .38;Special. Frankly I’d see no advantage at all to using .380 ACP in a wheel gun…38 Special has a far greater variety of bullets weights and loads from target to SD, also typically you’d need moonclips to shoot auto ammo in a revolver (don’t know about the Taurus.

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The only ways I see the noise factor coming into play is if you missed your target, or the sound might deter accomplices. In the first example you are responsible for whatever damage the missed bullet might cause. In the second, it is impossible to predict whether the noise is going to scare an accomplice away or motivate them to attack you, possibly from a flank position that you never saw coming.

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I’ve only fired two .380’s, both about 20 years ago. One was a Colt Mustang (smaller version), and the other was a Sig 232. The Mustang was a lot of fun to shoot, and easy recoiling. The Sig, not so much (even though it was bigger and heavier). YMMV

I’ve only shot two snub nose revolvers in 38 spl (5-shot). One was an all steel Taurus firing inexpensive range ammo, again, about 20 years ago (standard pressure). The other was a newer, stock, S&W Airweight firing 38 spl +P. The Taurus steel snub with standard pressure ammo was a pleasure to shoot, the stock Airweight with 38 spl +P was not fun for me at all (although I wouldn’t mind trying again with aftermarket grips).

IMO, it would benefit you to try to find whatever you are thinking about at a local range for rent, and give it a try with w/e ammo you are planning to use. Whichever you prefer should be fine. I ended up getting a subcompact, single stack 9mm instead of either, and haven’t regretted it… although I more often carry a subcompact, single stack .45.

Here’s an interesting video by Paul Harrell that goes over some pros and cons of each:

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Noise factor could make a difference if it was dramatically lower, for your own hearing ability, both during and after an event. For example if there were rounds that were under 140db (maximum OSHA noise limit) unsuppressed then it would be an interesting discussion. But since all centerfire handgun rounds are in the mid to upper 150s (with the magnums in the 160s) it really isn’t much of a consideration (i.e., they are all 50-150 TIMES louder than safe maximum). Well, we don’t think of it as important but the seemingly minor differences are actually pretty dramatic. The .380 ACP is about twice as loud as the .38 Special. The .357 Magnum is about 5 times louder than .38 Special. Even in the limited exposure you’d receive in a gunfight, the difference in temporary (and potentially permanent) hearing loss could be a factor. But in the end I would put noise level in the category of “all else being equal, go for the quieter round” category. And since all else is just about never equal, it isn’t really a consideration.

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It was certainly interesting, though I could also label it “a demo of poor firearms handling safety”.

The tradeoff here is what is best when you want/need to carry a pocket gun. Like you I mostly carry a compact .45 or subcompact 9mm. But my S&W 442 is used when I find pocket carry more appropriate. Others might prefer something like the LCP II in this role. So that’s really where I see the .38 Special vs .380 ACP discussion coming in. That, or if for some other reason you couldn’t use a bigger gun or caliber.

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@Harold26.
Very informative and interesting link you provided, sir.

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Thanks. There is also https://earinc.com/gunfire-noise-level-reference-chart/

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@Harold26
That is a good link as well. I emailed Dr. Musani about the first one and was pleased by his reply. Very interesting article with accurate data. Some folks just don’t realize hearing is a perishable sense that should be vigorously protected.

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Does anyone know of any testing that details where the SPL is measured? I don’t know how much difference measuring at the muzzle, vs. 2 feet behind the muzzle, vs. 2 feet beside the muzzle makes? If you are in front of the muzzle you have greater concerns than SPL :rofl:

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LOL. I wondered if I was confused as well, as I first saw a .380 in semi auto, then later found the Taurus in a .380, in a revolver as well. Too funny.

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Thanks for the tips. Fan of Mr. Harrell’s style. You all were not kidding about how this topic of 38 special vs. .380 calibers had such good stories on their own. Much obliged all.

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