.380 ACP

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The .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) pistol cartridge is a rimless, straight-walled pistol cartridge developed by firearms designer John Browning. The cartridge headspaces on the mouth of the case.[1] It was introduced in 1908 by Colt, and has been a popular self-defense cartridge ever since. Other names for .380 ACP include .380 Auto, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short, 22 Fat, 9×17mm and 9 mm Browning Court (which is the Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives - C.I.P. designation). It is not to be confused with .38 ACP, 9×18mm Ultra, 9mm Makarov or 9mm Luger (9mm Parabellum).

The .380 ACP is a compact .38 caliber/9 mm round that is used primarily for concealed carry self-defense in pocket pistols such as the Ruger LCP, Walther PPK, and the Glock 42.

Appeal to Survivalists

The .380 ACP has experienced widespread use in the years since its introduction. It was famously used by many German officers during World War II in the Walther PPK, as well as by Italian forces in the Beretta M1934. However, as a service pistol round, its power did not provide suitable penetration for combat. It did find use as a backup gun due to low recoil, and is popular in the civilian market as a personal defense round. The .380 ACP round is considered suitable for self-defense situations, and as a result, it has been a viable choice for concealed carry pistols. The combination of decent penetration in close range defense situations with light recoil has made it a viable round for those who wish to carry a small, lightweight handgun that can still provide adequate defense. It was the round used in Defense Distributed's "Wiki Weapon" project to successfully 3D print a firearm.

Ballistic Characteristics

Ballistic performance Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy 90 gr (6 g) JHP 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 200 ft·lbf (270 J) 95 gr (6 g) FMJ 980 ft/s (300 m/s) 203 ft·lbf (275 J)

Test barrel length: 3.75 inches (9.5 cm) Source(s): Federal Cartridge[2]


File:380 Auto vs 9mm Luger.jpg
The .380 ACP compared to a 9mm Luger cartridge.

The .380 ACP is compact and light, but has a relatively short range and less stopping power than other modern pistol cartridges.[3] According to gun author Massad Ayoob, "Some experts will say it's barely adequate, and others will say it's barely inadequate."[4] Even so, it remains a popular self-defense cartridge for shooters who want a lightweight pistol with manageable recoil. It is slightly less powerful than a standard-pressure .38 Special and uses 9 mm (.355 in) diameter bullets. The heaviest bullet that can be safely loaded into the .380 ACP is 115 g, though the standard has long been 85 gr, 90 gr or 95 gr (5.5, 5.8 or 6.2 g).

The wounding potential of bullets is often characterized in terms of a bullet's expanded diameter, penetration depth, and energy. Bullet energy for .380 ACP loads varies from roughly 190 to 220 foot pounds. The table below shows common performance parameters for several .380 ACP loads. Bullet weights ranging from 85 to 95 gr are common. Penetration depths from 6.5 to 17 cm are available for various applications and risk assessments.

Manufacturer Load Mass Velocity Energy Expansion (inches)[5] Penetration [5] PC[5] TSC[5]
ATOMIC Ammo Bonded JHP 90 gr 1100 ft/s 241 ft/lb 0.64 inches 12.0 inches NA NA
Cor-Bon JHP +P 90 gr 1050 ft/s 220 ft/lbs 0.58 inch 9.0 inch 2.38 cubic inches 15.7 cubic inches
Federal Cartridges HydraShok JHP 90 gr 1000 ft/s 200 ft/lbs 0.58 inch 10.5 inch 2.77 cubic inches 21.0 cubic inches
Winchester Silvertip JHP 85 gr 1000 ft/s 189 ft/lbs 0.63 inch 6.5 inch 2.03 cubic inches 10.6 cubic inches
CCI/Speer JHP 88 gr 1000 ft/s 196 ft/lbs 0.36 inch 17.0 inch 1.73 cubic inches 9.1 cubic inches
Hornady XTP 90 gr 1000 ft/s 200 ft/lbs 0.44 inch 11.8 inch 1.73 cubic inches 9.1 cubic inches
Federal FMJ 95 gr 955 ft/s 193 ft/lbs 0.36 inch 17 inch 1.73 cubic inches 8.7 cubic inches


  • Expansion – expanded bullet diameter (ballistic gelatin).
  • Penetration – penetration depth (ballistic gelatin).
  • PC – permanent cavity volume (ballistic gelatin, FBI method).
  • TSC – temporary stretch cavity volume (ballistic gelatin).

Associated Firearms

See Also


External Links

Christian Gun Owner fundamentals of reloading with a turret press

Christian Gun Owner fundamentals of reloading with a Dillon press.
  1. Wilson, R. K. Textbook of Automatic Pistols, p.241. Plantersville, SC: Small Arms Technical Publishing Company, 1943.
  2. http://www.federalcartridge.com/ballistics, Federal Cartridge Ballistics, http://web.archive.org/web/20070927040132/http://www.federalcartridge.com/ballistics
  3. http://www.stevespages.com/page8f380acp.html, .380ACP Terminal Ballistics, http://web.archive.org/web/20071016225924/http://stevespages.com/page8f380acp.html
  4. Ayoob, Massad. (2007)The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery. Krause Publications. Page 97. ISBN 0-89689-525-4.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Marshall and Sanow, Street Stoppers, Appendix A, Paladin 2006 ISBN 978-0-87364-872-1