380 Ballistics Tables From All The Major Ammunition Manufacturers

Written by Sam Jacobs Subject: Gun Rights

The .380 ACP, often favored for its compact size and manageable recoil, is a popular choice among both new and experienced shooters who prioritize concealability and ease of use. This guide will take you through an in-depth exploration of the ballistics of .380 ACP ammo, providing key insights into its performance metrics and ideal usage scenarios.

Despite its smaller size, the .380 ACP has earned its place in personal defense and target shooting for its efficiency and reliability. In this guide, you will discover detailed trajectory data, stopping power analysis, and practical tips to optimize your shooting skills with this versatile cartridge. Whether you carry a .380 ACP for self-defense or enjoy it at the range, understanding its ballistics will help you make the most of its capabilities.

How Do 380 Ballistics Compare to Other Handguns?

The 380 ACP, also known as the 380 Auto, 9mm Short, 9mm Browning, and 9x17mm is a good option for some shooters. Many prefer a firearm chambered for 9mm, 40 S&W, 45 ACP, 357 Sig or 357 Magnum for its superior power.

380 Velocity

A bullet's velocity is measured in feet per second (fps). The muzzle velocity is the rate at which the bullet exits the handgun barrel. Generally, a longer barrel produces a higher muzzle velocity, as it gives propellant gasses more time to exert their energy against the bullet. For example, firing a semi-automatic Glock 42 with a 3.25" barrel will produce a higher velocity than firing the same 380 ACP round through a Kel-Tec P3AT with a 2.7" barrel.

Bullet weight and design also factor into a bullet's velocity. Heavier bullets tend to have lower velocities than lighter ones. Bullets with more streamlined profiles, such as a full metal jacket or ballistic-tipped hollow point, tend to conserve more velocity downrange.

When fired from a pocket pistol like the Walther PPK or Ruger LCP, most factory-loaded 380 Automatic Colt Pistol cartridges will have a muzzle velocity ranging from 850 to 1,100 fps.

Dedicated shooters can increase their ammo's velocities by handloading and reloading. We always recommend following the directions in your reloading manual.

380 Muzzle Energy

A bullet's kinetic energy is measured in foot-pounds (ft-lbs). Muzzle energy reflects the amount of force with which the bullet exits the pistol's barrel. Striking energy is the amount of energy the projectile possesses when it collides with its target, such as ballistics gelatin. Only two variables determine a bullet's energy: its weight, and its velocity at any given instant.

The 380 Auto's minimal recoil reflects its low muzzle energy. A self-defense round like Blazer Brass 380 ACP 95 grain FMJ only has 188 ft-lbs of muzzle energy. In contrast, Federal American Eagle Indoor Range 45 ACP 137 grain Lead-Free IRT has over twice as much muzzle energy at 438 ft-lbs. The 357 Magnum has even more stopping power with 575 ft-lbs of muzzle energy, and it typically conserves at least 333 ft-lbs of energy out to 100 yards when striking ballistics gel and other targets.

Shot placement is always critical to quickly eliminating a threat during a self-defense situation – especially with the relatively anemic 380 ACP. Ballistics testing shows that it doesn't perform as well as similar rounds like the 9mm Luger. Still, many shooters love it because of the reduced recoil and ability to effectively use small pistols for concealed carry.

Despite the low energy of the 380 ACP round, many law enforcement officers carry backup pistols chambered for it.

380 Effective Range

The 380 ACP's relatively low muzzle velocity and lightweight bullets give it a short effective range. (The fact that most 380 ACP pistols have short barrels doesn't help.) For most shooters, 50 yards will be the maximum distance they should fire across with a 380.

For a complete look at all the 380 ACP ballistics from the top manufacturers, check out the full 380 ballistics guide.

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