One of the more popular self-defense rounds of the past 100 years has been the 380 ACP. It is sometimes referred to as 9mm Short, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Cort, 9mm Browning, 9mm Browning Cort, 380 Auto or 9X17mm. It is most often recommended as the minimum semi-auto pistol cartridge with regard to size.
380 ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol as Colt was the first company to release a pistol in this cartridge in the Model 1908. That pistol and the cartridge were designed by John Moses Browning. An interesting note is that the cartridge dimensions of the 380 ACP and its power factor, for that matter, lie exactly between the dimensions of two of Browning’s earlier cartridges: the 25 ACP and the 45 ACP.
380 ACP is most often chambered in small, easily concealable, blowback operated pistols. There is one company, Hi Point Firearms, that manufactures a carbine for it, and there were a handful of submachineguns chambered in it over the years. It was probably most famously used by James Bond in his Walther PPK over the years.
Other notable firearms chambered in 380 ACP include the Beretta Series 80 pistols, Glock 42, Colt Mustang, SIG Sauer P230/232/238 and a variety of European pistols. The reason for this is that many countries around the world restrict firearms chambered in military cartridges such as 9mm or 45 ACP and rounds like 380 ACP fill this role.
This is without a doubt, the number one reason why most shooters choose 380 ACP. It can be chambered in smaller pistols than most and that is a huge benefit for concealed carry. Modern ballistics have allowed the relatively small case to use better powder and projectiles that increase expansion and penetration for basic self-defense.
In the US, you don’t typically see a pistol chambered in 380 ACP with a lot of police departments as a duty sidearm. Perhaps for undercover work or as an approved backup handgun, but not on the hips of uniformed officers. However, it has been very popular as a police caliber in countries outside of the United States since the end of World War II.
Although not popular with many officially regulated target shooting sports, 380 is very popular with target shooters who like to plink with their self-defense or concealed carry pistol, or at least one in the same caliber.
Between the 1920s and 1940s, 380 ACP was a fairly common pistol for officers, both officially and unofficially, in various armies. This had to do with its small size and light weight. However, the limitations of the diminutive round and its non-expanding projectile quickly put an end to this practice.
As previously mentioned, 380 ACP is often recommended as the smallest sized round for responsible concealed carry. What it may lack with regard to muzzle energy it can make up for with regard to faster follow up shots.
The small size of the 380 ACP cartridge and its lightweight bullet of 80 to 100 grains for the most part make it desirable for concealed carry. Most 380 ACP pistols can be carried in a pocket holster as opposed to being worn on the belt.
Because of its small size, 380 ACP has a short and relatively soft recoil impulse. In larger firearms, like the Hi-Point pistols or Beretta Model 84 series, it can feel much like shooting a 22 LR due to the heavier weight of these pistols. Smaller and lighter 380 pistols will generate more of a felt recoil impulse.
Most 380 ACP rounds generate between 200 and 350 foot pounds of energy. This is consistent with the relatively light weight of the bullet and the muzzle velocity of around 1000 fps.
SBR Ammunition offers a great variety of 380 ACP ammunition, from full metal jacket and cold tracer for target shooting and plinking to jacketed hollow points for self-defense. Our 68-grain Xtreme Defense ammunition may be one of the best defensive rounds on the market for this caliber.