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Thread: .380 curiousity

  1. #1
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    I'm sure there's perfectly good reason for this but why does there not seem to be a manufacturer who makes a higher (than normal) capacity .380 in a 4+" barrel?

    Am I overlooking something?

    Is there a ballistics/physics reason for this or is it just no perceived market?



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    There has been a few.

    Off the top of my head the Beretta Model84 series and 87 Target model's were longer than 4" barrels. Some of these models were known as Cheetah's.

    Also the Glock 25 - but it's not sold in the US.

    But now the .380 has a following in the compact side. Any larger frame/barrel and most will move onto a 9mm or higher.

    Seeing the cost of .380 ammo and the scarcity doesn't help.



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    I thought the 84/85 models were all3.8" andModel 87's were only in .22.

    It seems .380 ammo availability has eased somewhat in the last month or two. Cabela's is runningHerter's in this weeks ad and I've noticed WWB at 4 different Walmarts in the last two months when I have been by their gun counter. I've sotcked a few hundred rounds for my Bersa and Sig but it still is a bit pricey.

    No physical reason that you know of then? Just no perceived demand huh?

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    I agree with the previous comment...

    .380 is typically a compact design. Manufacturers maintain those for the niche market of sub-compact firearms. Any bigger in frame and the .380 looses market value to the 9mm and .40



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    Beretta 84: 13+1.

    Ballistic reason? Yeah. It's weak sauce compared to 9mm. Physics? Well... why shoehorn a short round into a large handgun, when you can use a slightly larger, higher pressure (9mm Luger) case to deliver about double the power?

    The only reason some of these manufacturers made high cap .380s at all is because of the markets where "military" cartridges are banned... And even then, these markets usually have access to .38 ACP or 38 Super.

    The other reason, in the case of the Beretta 84: it got a start because of the Euro police agencies which were foolish enough to stick with .380 in the 60's and 70's

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    So, this is all boiling down to market perception is what I am hearing, not physics.

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    ... as it does with any business...

    Manufacturers don't make guns based on science... they are designed using science... but manufactured and sold based on bottom line profit.



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    So, no one (or very few)has even tried to build/market them?

    For instance, most would agree the 1911 is the definitive platform for the .45 yet we see (or have seen)it in .40, 9, .357/.38 Special and .22 from different manufacturers. Then there are the designs "influenced by..." groupings.

    We even see some new models which try to position the .22 Mag as a possible SD weapon.

    The closest I could think of for .380 in a medium to full frame is the Browning BDA's which you see around the stores and occasionally at gun shows. Cabela's is running it this week in an ad which piqued my interest on the subject.

    I find it interesting that the .25, .32 and .380 seem to get grouped together on at least visually common platforms (like the Walther design) and wondered whether there was anything that limited the platforms by virtue of the cartridge mechanics or physics. Obviously they put the .22 on some of the 1911 platforms as a cost-saving option for practice, just seems odd that with all the criticism of the .380's as an SD caliber that no one has lengthened the barrel or fit it onto another frame in an effort to increase performance/capacityand shut up some critics. Bersa has that double-stack .380 (the Plus) which holds 15but was still using the short barrel and same frame as the original.Since they haven't I was just curious why.

    Especially so since .380's seem to be selling pretty well this last year or two.


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    But there is no need to improve on the .380 that's the point.

    You would see some ballistic improvement but you would also see a gun that is both more expensive and less powerful than what is already on the market.

    The .380 found a home in small frame autos but nowhere else because those markets are already flooded.

    If you were to do it now... create the baddest .380 the world had ever seen... you would have to charge an arm and a leg for it because the market just isn't there. What possible motivation would people have for choosing your expensive .380 over a less expensive 9mm or .40 ?

    Yeah, it would be cool... but it doesn't make good business sense.

    Until some wealthy philanthropist decides to make handguns for the sake of making handguns... we'll have to be content with the designs they feel they can market most effectively.

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    You mention that retooling would result in more expensive, less powerful models butisn't this thesame argument presented by those who are (as someone else mentioned in the last day or so) ".4x snobs" when considering the 9mm platform? Is the performance gained from firing the .380 from a 4.5" barrel so negligible from a ballistics viewpoint?

    You thinking Kel-Tec is barking up the wrong tree trying to make the .22 Mag into a SD option? Or have they somehow managed to make the platform different enough to have a shot at it?

    In this last couple of years we have also seen some new powerload .32's come out in the revolver marketplace.

    Onemore thought on the .380's is that Bersa Plus model (15 rd DS cap.) seems to be in short supply much of the time. Of course that could be Bersa's production scheduling.

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    The CZ83 is 12+1 but the barrel is 3". Because the .380 was designed for compact pocket pistols, the cartridges tend to be loaded with powders that burn maximally in a short tube, so adding more barrel probably wouldn't get you much. However, the primary reason is still market economics; most people who buy a .380 do it specifically because it's small. If they are willing to carry a bigger pistol, they get a more potent caliber.

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    ecocks wrote:
    I find it interesting that the .25, .32 and .380 seem to get grouped together on at least visually common platforms (like the Walther design) and wondered whether there was anything that limited the platforms by virtue of the cartridge mechanics or physics.
    Actually, there is. They are all "straight blowback" cartridges, meaning that the pistol is cycled directly by the recoil of the explosion. If you make the pistol too big, the recoil won't move the mass of the slide. Conversely, if you use a cartridge too powerful (generally 9x19mm or larger), the mass of the slide won't contain the force and you'll get it planted in your forehead. That's why the platforms for the blowback cartridges look similar; it's a matter of form following function.

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    ecocks wrote:
    So, this is all boiling down to market perception is what I am hearing, not physics.
    Is the performance gained from firing the .380 from a 4.5" barrel so negligible from a ballistics viewpoint?
    There is just so much you can do with a small volume case. There's even less you can do with a case and firearm system designed with a maximum pressure of 16,000PSI. If that's not a physical limitation, I don't know what is!

    Honestly, I bet if you built a Thompson contender barrel around .380, and made it so you could cut the barrel down a quarter inch, shoot & measure velocity then cut again, you would reach a major threshold right around three inches where there is just a little (like 5-10 fps per half inch) improvement up to 5 inches, and then virtually nothing.

    I just checked my load books. Here's the facts: 9mm Luger can use about 30-40% more powder (for a given powder) for a HEAVIER bullet (100 gr 380 vs 124 gr 9mm), at a pressure of *DOUBLE* that of 380. We're talking 100 grains at 880 fps vs 124 grains at 1100 fps... Basically double the muzzle energy for a case that's a whopping 3/16" longer, and a little wider. If you count 147 grain or +P defensive loads, that makes it well over 100% more bang.

    To answer your question, yes, the performance "gained" is guaranteed to be negligible, due to gas volume alone... 9mm from a 3" barrel is still going to be worlds more powerful than .380 from a 5" barrel.

    And you can't make ammo that delivers more pressure, due to fact that people will ignore all warnings, use it and subsequently spontaneously disassemble their more antiquated pistols.

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    FTW 32 rounds of .380ACP


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    The CZ82 is a 12+1 380acp pistol with a 3 3/4 inch barrel.
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    CO-Joe wrote:
    ecocks wrote:
    So, this is all boiling down to market perception is what I am hearing, not physics.
    Is the performance gained from firing the .380 from a 4.5" barrel so negligible from a ballistics viewpoint?
    There is just so much you can do with a small volume case. There's even less you can do with a case and firearm system designed with a maximum pressure of 16,000PSI. If that's not a physical limitation, I don't know what is!

    Honestly, I bet if you built a Thompson contender barrel around .380, and made it so you could cut the barrel down a quarter inch, shoot & measure velocity then cut again, you would reach a major threshold right around three inches where there is just a little (like 5-10 fps per half inch) improvement up to 5 inches, and then virtually nothing.

    I just checked my load books. Here's the facts: 9mm Luger can use about 30-40% more powder (for a given powder) for a HEAVIER bullet (100 gr 380 vs 124 gr 9mm), at a pressure of *DOUBLE* that of 380. We're talking 100 grains at 880 fps vs 124 grains at 1100 fps... Basically double the muzzle energy for a case that's a whopping 3/16" longer, and a little wider. If you count 147 grain or +P defensive loads, that makes it well over 100% more bang.

    To answer your question, yes, the performance "gained" is guaranteed to be negligible, due to gas volume alone... 9mm from a 3" barrel is still going to be worlds more powerful than .380 from a 5" barrel.

    And you can't make ammo that delivers more pressure, due to fact that people will ignore all warnings, use it and subsequently spontaneously disassemble their more antiquated pistols.
    Thanks guys, particularly Cav and Joe, for some reference information. I suspected slide mass/movement and the cartridge design had some limitation on it, that explains it pretty effectively. Then again, we see .22lr's in long barrel, target configurations which would seem to be a proportionately weak round but still able to have the slife/spring problem solvable.

    Now another line of questioning thought(s).

    Again, possibly stupid but I'm justcurious.

    Why are there no .17 handguns?

    Yes it's a rifle cartridge but we see pistol/rifle configurations for .22lr, .223, .22 mag and such, so why not .17?







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    ecocks wrote:
    Why are there no .17 handguns?
    You're just not looking hard enough. Ruger makes a Single Six of all things in .17 HMR, Taurus makes a DA revolver, and I'm pretty sure S&W also made one... Dunno if that has been discontinued, however.

    Some outfit of a name I can't remember once made what was basically a 10/22 with a pistol grip in .17 HMR as well.

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    Why go with a somewhat underpowered round if your frame size will acomodate a little larger round. Once you escape the compact size, 9MM give a number of advantages.
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    With regard to the .22 LR in a semiauto, those typically have a bolt/breechblock that reciprocates on the same principle as the blowback pistol. For example, I have a .22 LR conversion kit for my M1911; the barrel and slide don't move, just a bolt at the rear of the assembly. You could certainly build a pistol or carbine on the same principle chambered in .380, but there's no real incentive to do so for the general market. The MAC 11 compact submachine gun pictured above works on that principle, but it's marketed to very narrow spectrum of people with very special needs. The .22 is really a special case because its inherent accuracy, low cost, and ease of use make it "the one" that everyone wants to shoot in a variety of rifles and handguns.

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    One other aspect that I have not seen mentioned yet regarding the .380 round is that many of the larger guns that are chambered for it operate on a blowback recoil cycle. Thus, they use the mass of the slide andresistance from the recoil spring to hold the action closed during the firing sequence. Guns with like operating systems tend to have a rather stiff recoil spring as compared to those with some kind of locking mechanism (Browning, modified Browning-type, etc...), so racking the slide can be a chore.

    The other way that this effects the operation of the gun is that the recoil on a blowback action can be rather stout, and I've heard that (in the instance of the Glocks, the .380's being blowback and all others having a locking mechanism) that the .380 Glocks recoil MORE than the same sized guns in 9mm, even though the 9mm is more powerful-ballistically.

    Keltecs, LCP's and others have a recoil-operated action mechanism, whereas Hi-Points, PPK's, etc operate on a blowback system. Having fired the KT P3AT and the PPK side-by-side, I actually prefered the feel of the recoil on the tiny P3AT over that of the larger, steel framed Walther.

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    I certainly agree that the perceived recoil ofthe .380's I have firedis "snappier" than the 9's and .40's.

    It's like thatstrange tendency of everyone to assume all women should start with a .380.My wife felt the .40 was solid and the recoil was more front-to-back horizontal than vertical. Different strokes though.

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    380 usually means a small light pistol. That is where much of the snappiness comes from. My wife loves her LCP but shoots her 40 when looking for point scores.
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    jeeper1 wrote:
    The CZ82 is a 12+1 380acp pistol with a 3 3/4 inch barrel.
    correction.

    The CZ82 is chambered for the Makarov 9mm (9x18)

    .380 acp is 9x17 (also referred to as the 9mm short)

    Ruger/Parabellum 9 mm is 9x 19

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    Task Force 16 wrote:
    jeeper1 wrote:
    The CZ82 is a 12+1 380acp pistol with a 3 3/4 inch barrel.
    correction.

    The CZ82 is chambered for the Makarov 9mm (9x18)
    You're right, I meant to say CZ83. I have a couple of CZ82's.
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    Yes, the CZ82 is 9 mm Makarov (9x18 mm) whilst the CZ83 is the same pistol chambered in .380 (9x17 mm aka 9 mm short). The 9x18 is sort of interesting in that the Soviets set out to engineer the the most powerful cartridge that could practically be chambered in a compact pistol of the straight blowback design. What they came up with is the 9x18 or 9 mm Makarov, which is a little more powerful than the .380 but still quite a bit short of the 9x19 mm or 9 mm NATO cartridge. The Czechs didn't like the Makarov design so they built their own pistol around the Makarov cartridge. The CZ82/83 is IMO a marvel of ergonomics and really pleasant to shoot. It's a bit large compared to other compact pistols (which is partly why it's so easy to shoot) but you have to bear in mind that it was designed as the primary handgun of the military and thus was typically carried in a belt holster. A .380 or 9 mm Makarov pistol is a lot better than a sharp stick, but I generally favor something with more power for self defense.

    Aside -- There is also a 9x23 mm or 9 mm Largo of Spanish design and a 9x21mm cartridge of Israeli design which is actually virtually identical in dimensions and performance to the 9x19 but can be sold in countries like Mexico where "military calibers" are prohibited. There's also the .38 Super (9x23mmSR), also popular in Mexico, which in +P loadings is comparable to the .357 Sig. It's found mostly in M1911 type pistols.

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