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Best Self Defense Ammo:
9MM vs. 380 ACP
By Dan S. Defense

9mm ammo is very popular and so is 380 ACP ammo. While 380 ACP pocket handguns are beating sales records every day, 9mm handguns have been popular for many years. With both 380 ACP handguns and 9mm handguns being so popular, it's clear that both 380 ACP ammo sales and 9mm ammo sales are doing exceedingly well.

From a self defense perspective, 9mm ammo is considered major caliber ammo (albeit the low end of it), while 380 ACP ammo is considered minor ammo. An interesting fact is that 380 ACP ammo is also known as 9mm Kurtz or 9mm kurz which means short in German. The ACP in 380 ACP stands for Automatic Colt Pistol because it was developed for Colt by John Browning.

While 9mm ammo and 9mm Kurtz /380 ACP ammo appear to be similar in name, they are quite different in reality. In this article we'll take a close look at 9mm ammo and 380 ACP ammo and see which is better for your self defense. Keep in mind that the power factor of a self defense cartridge is important, being able to hit the target you are shooting is critical. Thus, the title of best self defense ammo, between the 9mm ammo and 380 ACP ammo, is not as obvious as you may suspect.

In this article we'll look at both 9mm ammo and 380 ACP in three main areas: stopping power, recoil and accuracy. We'll first look at 9mm ammo and then look at 380 ACP.

The 9mm, which is also known as 9mm Parabellum is a popular self defense bullet. From Glocks to SIG SAUERs to 1911 handgun, the 9mm abounds. Self defense 9mm ammo ranges in weight from 115gr. (about 7.5 grams) to 147gr. (about 9.5 grams). And muzzle velocity for standard pressure can range from about 1300 fps for the lighter 9mm ammo, to 980 fps for the heaver bullet.

Keep in mind that these are examples and that velocity will vary depending on vendor and ammo type. Heavier bullets and higher velocity will translate to more recoil. As far as accuracy, again this will vary by ammo type and vendor, but you can expect a typical drop of about an 1" to 1.5" at 25 yards. With good self defense bullets, you can easy get excellent groups and accuracy will be excellent as well.

The 380 ACP, which is also known as 9mm Kurtz, is getting more popular by the day. Just try to find some 380 ACP ammo for self defense at your favorite ammo store. Since demand is high and supply isn't catching up, the price of good 380 ACP self defense ammo is high too. From a weight perspective, 380 ACP ammo ranges from 80gr. (about 5 grams) to 95gr. (just over 6 grams). Muzzle velocity for a 90gr. self defense bullet will be somewhere around 1000 fps. This will translate to lower recoil but lower stopping power.

It's this power factor that labels 380 ACP ammo as minor. As for bullet drop, you can expect a drop of about 1.5" at 25 yards. With good self defense bullets, you can easy get excellent groups and accuracy will be excellent as well.

Comparing 9mm to 380 ACP Ammo in Our Three Main Areas:

Stopping power: When you combine the weight and velocity, the stopping power of 9mm ammo, in similar configuration (i.e. light vs. heavy and standard pressure ammo), is greater than the one offered by 380 ACP ammo. Thus the 9mm wins in the stopping power department.

Recoil: Lighter bullets and lower velocity translates to lower recoil in 380 ACP ammo. While you can get +P ammo and heavier ammo, making the same choice in 9mm ammo, will maintain this ratio. Thus the 380 ACP wins in the recoil department.

Accuracy: Most self defense shootings happen at short ranges. Shorter than 25 yards and in fact a popular number is 7 yards (a topic for a future article). Regardless, for self defense distance, I think it's fair to say that in accuracy, the 9mm ammo and 380 ACP are tied. I'm disregarding the weapon because again, matching quality, both ought to do well.

So who wins? Which ammo is best for self defense? Because self defense is all about stopping a threat that's trying to kill or seriously harm you, two factors come into play-stopping power and hitting the target. Because of this, I think that the winner will depend on the user.

A more experienced shooter, or someone who's willing to put in the range time and practice, will find the 9mm superior. A shooter that is very sensitive to recoil, or a shooter that must have a smaller weapon for concealment will most likely benefit from the 380 ACP. Ideally, the shooter will have a primary handgun in 9mm and a backup handgun in 380 ACP. In that way, the law abiding person will have the best of both worlds. I hope this article was interesting and helpful in getting you to look at both. Feedback is always welcome.

Until next time, stay safe by staying alert!

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