Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    I currently carry a S&W airweight in my front pants pocket ( I have carbon XP hollowpoints in it ). It is really hard to beat for concealment. I realize it isn't a cannon. But I can wear a pair of shorts and no shirt. And nobody I run with realizes that I have a pistol with me.

    I was wondering if I may be better suited to carry a small 380 like the Bersa Thunder. It would give me more shots on target.

    Which caliber is better suited for self defense? What is the cost of ammo for both? What are the pros and cons of these two choices.

    When dress allows, I will wear a bigger pistol. But I don't want to have to dress to hide my pistol. I want to dress so I'm comfortable. If it is shorts and a pair of Tevas to cruise around in. That is how I want to dress. And that is why I lean towards the small pocket pistol for most of my carries.
    Last edited by Mtbkski; February 28th, 2007 at 02:32 AM. Reason: Change what I misspelled and double talked myself.
    The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control....
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    both are fairly poor performers in the terminal ballistics area, the snub 38 slightly better. The 38 does have the disadvantage of fewer shots. I'd put them on equal footing. Have you by any chance considered a compact 9? They do make them as small or smaller than the bersa.
    Last edited by MarcS; February 28th, 2007 at 03:15 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    I would jump up to a nine in a heatbeat, if I could find one that would ride in my front pants pocket. I still want that convience of throwing on my shorts, no shirt, and no one knowing I'm packing.

    Do they make 9 mm that fit this bill? If so, what make and modles should I be looking for? What do you guys recommend?
    The American Revolution would never have happened with gun control....
    The day they want my guns, they'll have to bring theirs!!!
    Proud to be One of the 3%

  4. #4
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    Well, I'm an avid Glock guy, but I'll be the first to admit that even the 26 is a bit chunky for pocket carry.

    You're looking for something like a Khar PM9 to fit the bill for pocket carry. You won't believe how tiny they are. they're a good deal smaller than the bersa and thinner than your smith. The only drawback is you'll have to pay for quality.
    Last edited by MarcS; February 28th, 2007 at 04:19 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    As a small female with concealment issues, I find that for regular concealed carry, I like the Kel-Tec P3AT. It is a .380, and so far it is the easiest thing that I've found for concealed carry. I got mine in the hard chrome finish, because I carry IWB, and the hard chrome is more rust-resistant than the blued or parkerized finishes. I also have a Kahr PM9, but don't carry it as much, because while only marginally longer than the Kel-Tec, it is thicker (due to the larger round) and so presents more of a concealment issue for me. It may not be an issue for you though, because men's clothing has a MUCH losser fit than women's clothing, AND you pockets are larger (women's pockets tend to be more decorative than functional), so you should be able to hide it better.

    On another note, though, if you are carrying while running, the Kel-Tec is MUCH lighter to carry than the Kahr, especially when you've got a full magazine. Even fully loaded, I barely notice the weight of the Kel-Tec, whereas I DEFINITELY notice the Kahr!

    Hope this helps.
    Guns are like shoes...a woman should have one in every caliber.

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    Ahh the world of pocket carry, I don't carry in the front pocket, but if I did I would go with one on the following.

    Colt Pony in 9mm, Kahr PM9, Rohrbaugh R9 9mm

    My previoius "pocket" guns have been a Colt Mustang .380 +II, but my wife stole it, so now I have a Smith 642 that I use as in my coat pocket, or hip pocket.

    Here's the Rohrbaugh



    Here's my Mustang .380


    A note on the Bersa .380 while it's a great gun for the price, as far as size for pocket carry is concearned, it's not that small, and you'd almost be better off with a 3" 1911 or Glock 26. See pice below.

    Bersa .380 over Kimber Ultra Carry



    Colt Mustang +II same capacity as Bersa .380 over the Bersa


    all 3



    Over all the most bang for your buck is going to be the Kahr PM9.
    The Rohrbaugh R9s are in the $900 range, the Colt Ponys and Mustangs are out of production and getting hard to find, mine was a steal at $500

    **Also if going .380 the Walther PPKS is a pretty good gun to fit the bill and readily available.

    My summer wardrobe is pretty the same as my winter wardrobe, so while I may be sweating lick a stuck pig, I still have fullsize firepower on hand, I may switch to just the 642 if it's over 90 degrees or I'll probably be picking up another Kahr to replace the PM40 that I traded away, Kahr is coming out with a PM45, but I think that will be too much punch in too small a package.
    Last edited by jdlv4_0; February 28th, 2007 at 09:02 AM. Reason: Added content
    "We shoot to stop. ... Unfortunately, death can be a byproduct."

  7. #7
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    If you decide to go with a "pocket" automatic, devote a great deal of time to ensuring it is reliable, before you carry it. I don't want to brand bash or anything like that -- good and bad guns come from all makers, cheapest to most expensive. It's just that as a matter of physics, the smaller an automatic is, the less tolerant it is going to be of anything but a perfect grip, crud in the rails, and less than new recoil springs.

    I have had horrible experiences with pocket autos in terms of reliability. Bad enough, quite frankly, that I almost never carry them anymore. I don't know if it's just bad luck, or simply that I shoot all of my carry guns enough that whatever flaws exist are revealed. I know a lot of folks who say they've never had a FTF, FTE, or misfire with their chosen pocket auto -- only to find out that they've put less rounds down it during their ownership of the gun than I tend to fire in one range session.

    I've had particularly bad luck with the Kahr PM9, P40 and the Kel-Tec P32. I've owned and sold all of them. And the problems I had persisted with each after several trips back to the factory for work. I had a number of folks shoot them, too -- and they all had problems, so it wasn't my shooting style.

    The only pocket auto I haven't had a problem with is my Colt Mustang Pocketlite. It's been flawless since I bought it a couple of years ago. Go figure, a Colt pistol that works from the factory without any work. I rarely carry it -- simply because I don't practice enough with single action autos to be confident that I'll remember the dump the safety on the draw. I think the last time I carried it was when I had to wear a tuxedo and needed something light and flat.

    To be completely honest, looking back on it, I don't know why I bothered even trying to carry pocket autos. I shoot my j-frame centennials just as well (or better) than I do any pocket size auto, and they're absolutely, positively 100% reliable. AND I can shoot them through a pocket without fear of malfunction on the next shot.

    Personally, if I were in your situation, I'd stick with the airweight, practice my butt off, and load up with Corbon DPX +p (110gr at 1200 fps is as good as all but the hottest 9mm) or 158gr +p LSWCHP from Winchester or Remington. Both loads shoot equally well out of my 340PD, 642, and 640.
    Last edited by Rule10b5; February 28th, 2007 at 09:37 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    The pocket environment is bad for most guns: a lot of lint over time = poor reliability. In this arena, the snubby fares much better than any semi-auto. However I have to say those little Kel-tecs disappear commendably.

    Here's another option for the Kel-tec. Go to:

    http://www.comp-tac.com/

    ...then look at the "Centerline" holster.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    To be completely honest, looking back on it, I don't know why I bothered even trying to carry pocket autos. I shoot my j-frame centennials just as well (or better) than I do any pocket size auto, and they're absolutely, positively 100% reliable. AND I can shoot them through a pocket without fear of malfunction on the next shot.
    The pocket environment is bad for most guns: a lot of lint over time = poor reliability. In this arena, the snubby fares much better than any semi-auto. However I have to say those little Kel-tecs disappear commendably.
    These two statements are 100% true and are what led me to the 642 when I am forced to carry in the pocket.(well that anc the fact that my wife took up ownership of the Mustang )

    I for one had no mechanical problems with my Kahr PM40, but the bad ones are out there.

    A good pocket holster will lessen the lint factor, not eliminate.

    Rule10B5 brings up a good point on the Mustang, gotta practice with what your going to carry, mainly most of my carry guns are 1911s so the thumb safety was not an issue, but pocket carrying a single action gun has a lint problem that a holster won't solve, the hammer to the rear makes a great lint trap that "could" bind the hammer and cause a weak primer strike casusing the round not to ignite.

    The odds of the cylinder on my 642 binding up are not that great...

    I don't think that pocket carry should ever be the PRIMARY method of carry due to the lint factor, but if you carry in the poceket every now and then, making sure to clean the gun EVERY night, and keep teh lint out of your pockets, you should be ok.
    Last edited by jdlv4_0; February 28th, 2007 at 10:18 AM.
    "We shoot to stop. ... Unfortunately, death can be a byproduct."

  10. #10
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    Default Re: 38 Snubbie or a 380 Auto

    Mtbkski,

    Sure can get confusing when you ask for advice from us gun nuts!

    I would prefer the .38 over the .380 for the same reason others have stated. (power/reliability)
    However, every person must choose what works best for them regarding carry method/gun.

    Myself, I couldn't carry a revolver in my shorts pocket. In the summer, I carry both my guns in an IWB holster with an un-tucked T-shirt.

    My Colt Pony .380 is wonderful, but I wouldn't carry it in MY pocket due to weight. I use an inside the waistband holster. I do the same with my Kel-Tec P32, but THAT one could EASILY be carried in a pocket due to the EXTREMELY light weight. (The P3AT is only a hair larger and on my "list")

    Here are my two carry guns for comparison.


    jdlv4_0's comparison pics give a pretty good idea of the general sizes (nice job) and you also need to consider weight if it's going to be "flopping around" loose in a pocket. You will NOT find a .380 that is smaller/lighter than the Kel-Tec P3AT.

    I was wondering if I may be better suited to carry a small 380 like the Bersa Thunder. It would give me more shots on target.
    True, but depending on the gun, not THAT many more.

    Kel-Tec has a new 9mm out (PF-9) that's billed as "the lightest and flattest 9 mm ever made."
    http://www.kel-tec.com/pf9.html
    However, as much as I like my P32, I hesitate to jump on this new 9mm until I hear favorable reports on it. (If that thing works out, I'm skipping the P3AT and going straight for the 9mm!)

    I hope this post made some sense, I'm kinda' jumping back and forth and adding thoughts as they come to me!
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