380 VS 9mm: Ammo Comparison, Guide, And Review

380 VS 9mm: Ammo Comparisons

Gun enthusiasts are constantly comparing popular ammunition to find the best bang for their buck. Some ammo types rank higher than others for many reasons. However, there are a few calibers that are equally popular and suitable for their individual purpose. For example, the 380 vs 9mm.

The long-brewing comparison between the 380 and the 9mm falls in the above category. Consumers buy either for self-defense. There are slight differences to pay attention to that make one better over the other, and sometimes these differences depend on the firearm used. These differences present themselves in regards to ballistics performance, recoil, price, and many more aspects.

We have presented a comprehensive comparison between the .380 ACP and the 9mm calibers in this page. Before we begin, take a look at a quick overview of both self-defense cartridges.

.380 ACP: Overview

380 ACP

John Browning designed the .380 ACP that Colt in the U.S. introduced in 1908. The nickname “9mm Browning” salutes its creator. Built for self-defense purposes, it has a rimless and straight-walled case.

The .380 ACP features 9.5mm base and rim diameter, a case length of 17.3mm, and overall length of 25mm. The .380 has a shooting velocity of about 1050 feet per second. Primarily used as a self-defense cartridge, police officials use it as a backup pistol. This caliber is preferable by beginner shooters due to its low recoil and secure handling.

9mm: Overview

9mm

The 9mm, or the 9×19 Parabellum, features German engineering designed by Georg Luger. It was then launched in 1902 by the firearms brand DWM for their Luger semi-automatic pistol. Over time, though, it went through various iterations. Since then, several different variants have been launched.

Primarily designed for military use, the standard cartridge is used by NATO forces and by other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and other countries use this standard cartridge because of its initial design for primarily military consumption. The 9mm is also highly prevalent in the self-defense domain.

The 9mm features a rimless but tapered case with a bullet diameter of 9mm. The overall length of the cartridge is considerably longer than the .380, at 29.69mm and a case length of 19.15mm. Depending on the ammo used, it performs a shooting velocity between 950 to 14,500 feet per second.

380 VS 9mm: Comparison

While the .380 ACP is often considered interchangeable with the 9mm due to the same diameter, they are not the same at all. The two are distinguishable from each other due to different shell length and structure.

Let’s take a look at their distinct features and how they compare against each other.

Performance

The 9x19mm Parabellum wins when it comes to performance. The 9mm has a heavier cartridge with a longer shell length and can produce more energy. The Parabellum creates a maximum velocity of 1,400 feet per second as opposed to the maximum 1000 feet per second produced by the .380. The longer shell length equips the cartridge with more powder capacity, therefore providing higher velocity and more power.

Consequently, the bullet fire by 9mm does more damage than one fired by the 380. The stopping power of 9mm rounds is higher, and it packs a lot more pressure. This pressure enables the bullet to expand more than the 380 can.

Recoil

recoil

The better the performance, the higher the recoil. More force and higher velocity produce a more significant recoil. A recoil of this magnitude can be uncomfortable to inexperienced shooters and a possible hindrance in the case of an emergency.

The .380 ACP produces less energy and does less major damage. It has lower recoil than the 9mm because of the limitation on power. Therefore, it is easy for beginners to use during self-defense situations. Smaller amounts of gunpowder are used, and the force produced is not as intense. The recoil has less impact, making it easy to reacquire the target after firing.

Target Penetration

Target

The scope of damage to a target depends upon the projectile’s extent of penetration. The 9mm has considerably more penetration power than the .380 ACP.

9mm rounds have a sleeker shell which builds more firepower and force behind an ejecting bullet. Therefore, all factors combined, the cartridge can penetrate over 13 inches, causing substantial damage. The .380, on the other hand, packs lower velocity shooting power which limits its penetration to 9 inches.

The 9mm has the edge over the .380 ACP in the sense that a bullet fired through the 9mm has a better chance and scope of tearing down the target by traveling entirely through it.

Shooting Accuracy

When it comes to self-defense, accuracy is one of the most important factors to prevent you from harm.

Since the .380 has lower recoil, it fires with more accuracy. When you have less power against you, the pistol fires with greater accuracy because it is easier to maintain target sight. Higher recoil can throw off the accuracy of your sightings between each round. However, the .380 ACP is mainly for very short ranges due to the low velocity and pressure. It cannot be expected to hit a long-range target with equal accuracy as the 9mm.

In the end, though, the accuracy highly depends on the experience and the skill of the shooter.

Size

The .380 has the same bullet diameter as that of the original 9x19mm Parabellum, more commonly known as the 9mm. However, 9mm rounds are bigger and require a larger pistol. The .380 ACP rounds are shorter in size and do better with small pistols.

The .380 rounds are shorter and fire with less force. Pistols of subcompact size easily carry concealed with this type of ammunition. The .380’s lightweight design remains discreetly hidden and draws quickly and with ease. For this, It is commonly used as a backup firearm.

Pricing

The increasing popularity of the 9mm cartridges has made them widely available and lowers their rates. Currently, you can buy them at a more affordable price than the .380. Most buyers save .380 rounds for a specific purpose and do not use them often. Therefore, the economics of supply and demand come into play. The 9mm has a more extensive supply because of higher demand. The market for .380 directly ties to backup carry guns.

Logically, rounds for the .380 ACP cost more compared to the 9mm.

Practical Use
The ballistic performance of the .380 does not hit the mark when compared to the 9mm. The .380 ACP works better as a secondary weapon rather than the primary. The smaller size makes it easy to carry and conceal, though.

The 9mm is the standard ammunition NATO armies and other non-NATO militia, along with major law enforcement agencies, use to arm themselves. It is available in compact pistols with more magazine round capacity. The 9mm is ideal for experienced shooters as self-defense or military use.

Ammo Options

There are many options available for both 9mm as well as .380 ACP. The suitability for self-defense and military operations differ. The 9mm dominates the military end of the market, while the .380 ACP commonly sticks to the self-defense arena.

The top options of ammunition for the .380 include Liberty Civil Defense 50 grain SCHP, Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 grain, Remington 88 grain HTP, and SIG Sauer 90 grain 380 V-Crown JHP. All these bullets are ideal for self-defense and have short rounds suitable for pocket pistols. For a pocket pistol using .380 ACP, a 90-grain projectile will be the most effective for defense because of its penetration capability and higher velocity.

The 9mm’s best options for ammunition include Federal HST 9mm 124 grain, Federal HST 9mm 147 grain, American Eagle 9mm 115 grain, and Blazer Brass 9mm. Notice that the 9mm bullets weigh more than the ones used for .380 ACP,  due to the higher caliber and case length of 19.5mm. The penetration of these bullets ranges between 12 to 18 inches.

.380 VS 9mm: Are they Interchangeable?

While the 380 ACP and the 9x19mm Parabellum are often thought to be interchangeable because of the similarity in bullet diameter, they are too inherently different to use in place of one another.

Yes, the diameter for both the cartridges is 9mm. However, the 9mm has a considerably longer shell than the .380. The lengthy shell means more powder capacity and power. The .380 has smaller size and length which make it unsuitable for magazines specific to the 9mm.

When you use more powerful ammo in a firearm not suited for that power, it can backfire and cause damage. Using a shorter .380 round in the magazine built for a longer 9mm case is a hazardous mistake to make.

Choosing the Right Cartridge

9mm wins over the .380 in terms of performance and power. The German-engineered cartridge packs more punch with a longer shell length, more caliber, and higher shooting velocity. It uses heavier bullets with better expansion to hold better penetration.

The .380 is better in terms of ease of use, though. A smaller amount of force exerted results in less recoil impact. Subcompact pocket pistols often call for .380 ammunition. Subcompact pistols are not a haggle to carry and have excellent concealability. Also, even though the .380 packs less force, it is a reliable cartridge for self-defense in short-range situations.

Military and law enforcement agencies have adopted the 9mm because of its reliability in the case of an emergency, self-defense, or attack circumstance. Close-range self-defense shooting suits the .380 best.

A lot goes into 380 vs 9mm comparison, and odds are you won’t get a definitive answer. Take your pick according to your purpose and means. You will not go wrong with either.

Rimfire VS Centerfire: Ammo Comparisons – Max Blagg

Rimfire vs Centerfire

There isn’t a lot of difference on how guns work. The major difference lies in the type of primer ignition system used in the gun which leaves beginners in a fix as they constantly wonder about the better primer ignition option between rimfire vs. centerfire.

The functioning mechanism of guns is designed on the same concept. A powder charge is filled in a pipe that is sealed from one end. Ignition in the powder charge stimulates an explosion where a projectile is launched from the sealed end of the pipe.

The question of choosing one ignition mechanism over the other depends on the purpose for which a gun is going to be used. These activities include using a gun for hunting or simply learning to shoot at a shooting class.

Modern bullets use one of the two primer ignition systems - rimfire or centerfire where each mechanism has its own purpose and uses. The major difference between these two ignition mechanisms is their design and method of operation.

We will be exploring the details of rimfire vs centerfire in this article and help you understand the niches in which they operate along with their working mechanisms and differences.

Parts of a Cartridge: Both Rimfire and Centerfire

Every cartridge, or "round" in other words, has four parts to it: 

  • Bullet (not the entire cartridge, just the projectile)
  • Propellant
  • Primer
  • Case
  • It doesn't matter if the cartridge is centerfire ammunition or rimfire ammunition, these four components exist in every single cartridge. Generally, all bullets work the same way. The firing pin hits the primer, and that creates a very small explosion.

    The small explosion that it creates will set off the gunpowder, and that forces the bullet to shoot forward, out of the gun through the barrel.

    So, where exactly is the difference between centerfire vs rimfire ammunition? That lies within where the primer is located.

    What Is Rimfire?

    Rimfire

    A rimfire cartridge was first used in the year 1845 and was made by evenly distributing the primer inside the rim pipe. It worked wonders as the cartridge was one-piece and did not require any assembly before firing. The single piece structure also helped to prevent the entry of dirt, dust and moisture inside the cartridge and made it very convenient to use.

    Rimfire design faced two major challenges during the initial period. The first was to distribute the primer evenly at the base of the cartridge. Then, the second was the need to utilize a soft metal for the construction of the rim.

    The rim was needed to be created out of a highly malleable metal so that it could be dented easily by the firing pin. Copper was the most preferred choice but it came with a disadvantage - it was not possible to load a highly powered load because of the risk of blowback.

    Rimfire technology was used during the Civil War in the Spencer repeating rifle which fired a .52 caliber rimfire bullet. Even though the bullet speed was low, it was capable of inflicting major damage wherever it hit. It also displayed a capacity of firing 20 to 30 shots per minute. This was far superious when compared to other guns used during that time.

    Common Types of Rimfire Ammunition

  • .22 Long Rifle -- this is the most common type
  • .22 Short
  • .17 Hornady Mach 2
  • .17 Hornady Magnum Rifle
  • .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire
  • Pros of Rimfire:

  • Low recoil: this makes rimfire ammo perfect for beginners
  • Cheap: rimfire ammo is easy to manufacture, so it's able to sell for a lower price
  • Cons of Rimfire:

  • Reliability issues: Sometimes the primer compound doesn't make full contact with the           entire rim, so it may fail to fire at times. 
  • Not reloadable: this is because the primer is inside the bottom of the case
  • Small calibers: this is because of its design
  • What Is Centerfire?

    Centerfire

    First off, to keep things simple, centerfire rounds look exactly how they sound. If you can see a circular primer in the middle, at the base of the casing, then it is a centerfire round. Centerfire ammunition always has the primer in the center, hence the name of it. If it doesn't have this, then it is most likely rimfire. 

    Now, for more of a backstory and details on centerfire ammunition.

    Centerfire cartridges were invented close to 1812, much before rimfire cartridges were discovered. However, they were not quite reliable to use and continuous changes were made to its design until it was finally perfected during the year 1855.

    It started gaining a lot of popularity and was used as a standard ignition mechanism for both rifles and handguns by the year 1860. This comprised of a primer cap that was placed at the center of a cartridge. The primer cap was made out of brass or copper.

    It was possible to construct the cartridge and the primer cap using different materials as the primer cap was an external component and could be fit into the cartridge separately. This enabled the makers to construct a stronger cartridge. That could be dispelled with greater velocity and could be used on bullets of all sizes.

    Where Could This Go Wrong?

    An issue that cropped up with using separate metals was sealing. It was very difficult to seal two different metals together so that they could be extremely cohesive. This gave space for moisture and dirt to enter these cartridges and made them difficult to use.

    The solution to this problem was found in the form of lacquer, which was used to seal the different metals tightly and prevent the entry of foreign particles inside the cartridge, which could compromise the ammunition. The result was a highly developed and effective ignition mechanism that was safe to use and could fire at a long range.

    Pros of Centerfire Ammo:

  • Perfect for long range hunting
  • Highly reliable and accurate: makes centerfire ammo perfect for self-defense
  • Made in just about any caliber size: allows you to use it with just about any gun
  • Reloadable
  • Higher bullet power and speed
  • Cons of Centerfire Ammo:

  • Higher priced than rimfire
  • Higher recoil
  • Rimfire VS Centerfire - Difference Between The Two

    We have already taken a look at rimfire and centerfire cartridges and their mechanisms, along with their construction aspects and invention history. This has shed light on the fact that both of these cartridges are not the same and come with some differences, which are spotted in their design and operating mechanisms.

    A rimfire cartridge has a lower power, and thus can operate well at a closer range. Though modern technology has enabled the use of different metals and alloys in their construction to make way for a longer range, the cost factor shoots up and they are not as effective as centerfire cartridges.

    Centerfire cartridges can be reused multiple times by replacing the primer cap. This factor increases the cost of these cartridges, but one can avail the economies of scale in the long run. A rimfire cartridge, on the other hand, is inexpensive but cannot be reused, which makes it an expensive affair if you use it regularly.

    Rimfire cartridges are available in .22 caliber shots whereas centerfire cartridges are available in almost every caliber size. This has made it a favorite with the police forces and the military who use ammunition and are constantly in need of better weapons and equipment.

    Centerfire cartridges are also extremely safe to use. A shot with a higher caliber too is not as dangerous as it would be while using a rimfire cartridge. The primer pipes are completely sealed and are impervious to moisture and dust particles.

    The Working Mechanism

    The working mechanisms of rimfire and centerfire cartridges are different and it is essential to know them as they will help you pick the best cartridge which is suited to your needs.

    Centerfire cartridges have a separate primer cap which is attached to the center of the rim pipe. This enables an even ignition when compared to the rimfire cartridge in which only a part of the gunpowder is ignited despite it being evenly distributed throughout the rim pipe.

    The self-contained primer also makes centerfire cartridges more reliable and easier to shoot even while using high caliber models. Hence, these cartridges are more suitable for military use and for self-defense.

    A rimfire cartridge is more suited for hunting and practice purposes because the primer casing is built into the cartridge, which makes it more susceptible to manufacturing defects. At the same time, a shot fired using a rimfire cartridge is more accurate as it generates lesser recoil when compared to a centerfire cartridge.

    Comparison Table

    Product Name

    Image

    Details

    Rimfi​re

    Rimfire
    • Cartridge has a lower power
    • Can operate well at a closer range
    • Centerfire cartridges are also extremely safe to use

    Centerfire

    Centerfire
    • Cartridges can be reused multiple times
    • Rimfire cartridges are available in .22 caliber shots
    • Cartridges are available in almost every caliber size

    Which Is Better?

    The general firing mechanism of a gun is based on the ignition of the primer. The explosion caused by igniting the primer will propel a bullet forward and help it to reach its target. This happens every time a gun is fired regardless of whether it is a rimfire cartridge or a centerfire cartridge.

    When a centerfire cartridge is used, the explosion takes place at the center since that is where the primer is placed. This leads to a greater degree of efficiency and consistency and the bullet is fired with a greater velocity.

    While rimfire cartridges are best suited for hunting game and close range targets, it is difficult to lay your hands on one because of their limited availability. They are also prone to manufacturing problems which may lead to misfires and accidents. Thus, it is not advisable to use them for self-defense.

    A centerfire cartridge is widely available. While a rimfire cartridge is popular in the .22 caliber rifle, the centerfire cartridge is available in almost every other caliber size. It is very safe to use and is hence in great demand in police forces and military.

    Centerfire cartridges can also be used for a number of times, which raises the bar for other cartridges. Multiple uses of a single cartridge help to even out the expense of buying a centerfire cartridge. which makes it a profitable investment in addition to being highly safe and effective.

    Rimfire vs Centerfire: Our Final Thoughts

    While comparing both types of ammunition, it is quite easy to say that centerfire cartridges are safer and more reliable when compared to rimfire cartridges. They are designed superiorly and are widely available today due to their use in almost every rifle and handgun available to us.

    As we compare the differences, it is imperative to note that rimfire cartridges are on a decline whereas centerfire cartridges are the future. The use of a primer cap instead of a compound make centerfire cartridges more reliable and safe to use and the boxer design makes it very easy to extract a used primer and replace it with a new one.

    While the reloading feature is available in rimfire cartridges too, it can be done only by using a specialized kit designed for this purpose. At the same time, the procedure is complex and needs delicate handling which makes it time-consuming and not worth all the effort.


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    9mm VS 45: What Is The Difference Between The Two?

    9mm vs 45 Ammo Comparisons


    Choosing your gun is amongst one of the most crucial decisions you make in your life. Usually, depending upon the intended purpose of the weapon, common considerations that guide a gun buying decision include its size, shooting range, ease of firing, sound produced on firing, weight and the cost. For instance, if you need the gun for your safety and protection at home, then you might be okay with a big gun like a shotgun or a rifle as long as it comfortable to fire. If you intend to carry the firearm on your person then you would want it to be compact and easy to conceal.

    However, another important factor that can influence your decision is the kind of cartridge the gun uses and what will you need. There are many different kinds of ammo. So many that a first-time buyer can get thoroughly confused. For the sake of dialing down the confusion, we are only going to pitt a 9mm vs 45 in this article.

    What Is A Cartridge?

    Commonly confused with a bullet, a cartridge or ammo actually has these components:

  • A bullet which is the actual part of the cartridge that impacts the target.
  • A casing which holds the primer and powder and makes the shell of the cartridge.
  • A primer which helps ignite the powder.
  • A powder that explodes.
  • At the bottom of the cartridge is the primer. It is a chemical compound which is struck by the firing pin at the base of the cartridge when the gun’s trigger is pulled. This creates a spark and ignites the powder. The powder catches fire and explodes. This explosion creates a large amount of pressure that throws the bullet out of the cartridge and ultimately out of the barrel of the gun resulting in the weapon firing.

    The empty cartridge needs to be removed from the weapon to make room for the next cartridge to be fired. Some weapons do this automatically while some need to be emptied manually.

    How Does Ammo Differ?

    gun ammo


    If it is your first experience with owning a gun, the sea of options in ammo can make it very difficult to choose the right ammo for you. But there are two broad differences that can help you out.

    The first is whether you want a rimfire or a centerfire ammo. In the centerfire cartridges, you’ll be able to see the primer in the center of the base of the bullet. If the base of the cartridges is flat with no primer in the center, it is a rimfire ammo.

    It just means that firing pin will hit the center in the case of centerfire ammo and it will hit the rim in case of the rimfire ammo. Though, the rimfire bullets are much cheaper, you will usually find them only small caliber.

    This brings us to the second big difference - the size of the ammo. There are many different sizes of cartridges - 9mm, .40 S&W, 45 ACP, 12 Ga, .50 BMG and the list goes on.


    Why Size Matters

    Ammo contributes significantly to the choice of gun you make because of its size. Guns that use larger cartridges have more stopping power - that means a greater impact on the target. At the same time, they are slow to fire continuously because of the higher recoil. Their size may also decrease the magazine capacity, which we will talk about later, and their follow up shots are also limited.

    Guns with smaller cartridges offer the advantage of fast follow up shots and more room for multiple shots. Also, their stopping power is less, which is safer for first time users.

    As promised, let us understand and compare the 9mm and 45 to help you understand which one is the cartridge for you so you can choose the right gun for yourself.


    History

    Both, the 9mm and 45 go back to the beginning of the 20th century.

    Actually named the 9x19 Parabellum, the 9mm was designed by George Luger way back in 1901 and went into production a year later. It was adopted by the German Navy and German Army in the years 1904 and 1906, respectively. It was also used by the German forces in World War 1.

    In the year 1904, John Browning developed the .45, commonly called the 45. Many countries including the United States used it during the World War 1.

    Both cartridges have been popular amongst the worlds’ armed forces since then.

    This is pretty much where the similarities between the two cartridges end. Both are so popular with patrons rooting for them equally that besides a few common factors it is always the 9mm vs 45.

     

    9mm vs 45 man firing a gun

    9mm VS 45: What’s The Difference?

    Let’s get to the why these cartridges are so different.

    Origin

    The 45 was made in the United States of America while the 9mm was made in Germany.

    Diameters

    • Bullet Diameter: The bullet diameter, also known as the caliber, determines the whole it makes in the target. The 9mm as the name suggests has a diameter of 9.01 mm whereas the .45 has a diameter of .452 inches or 11.01 mm. You will often find guns being named in a caliber. That is because of the diameter of the gun’s barrel and hence, of the cartridge.
    • Base Diameter: The 9mm has a base diameter of 9.93 mm, while the 45 has one of 12.1 mm.
    • Neck Diameter: The 9mm has a base diameter of 9.96 mm, while the 45 has one of 12.2 mm.

    Case Type

    There have been no significant findings to prove the effect of casing design on a bullet’s velocity or ballistics. Yet, some manufactures claim that their design makes a difference. In case of the 9mm, you’ll find the casing to be tapered while the 45 has a straight one.

    Case Length

    The case length can affect how far inside a bullet is seated in the cartridge.

    You will find a case length of .898 inches in a 45 and of .754 inches in a 9mm cartridge.

    Expansion

    The 9mm expands .36” to .72” while the 45 expands .45” to .79”.

    Length Of The Cartridge

    A cartridge length should be able to accomodate the following:

    • The neck should be long enough to give the cartridge a comfortable seating and enough hold.
    • The cartridge should not be too big for the gun’s magazine.

    The 9mm ammo is 19.15mm long while the 45 is 32.4mm long.

    Pressure

    The pressure is one of the contributors to how far and how fast the bullet is projected from the cartridge and gun. The 9mm has a maximum pressure of 34,084 psi, while the 45 has maximum pressure of  21,000 psi.

    Velocity

    A high speed cartridge is always better. Hence, with a velocity range of 95-1400 FPS, the 9mm beats the 45 which travels in a range of 700-1150 FPS.

    Energy

    The 9mm carries an energy of 115 grains: 323 foot-pounds which is much lower than the 185 grains: 411 foot pounds of the 45.

    Momentum

    Ballistic experts have maintained that the momentum is a good measure of the bullet’s performance. In that case the 9mm falls short of momentum by a large gap against the 45.

    Primer

    The 45 uses the same primer as large rifles while the 9mm uses the Berdan or Boxer primer for small pistols. The Berdan primer is mostly used by militaries though it is reusable, it is a difficult process as the primer cup is attached to the casing itself. While the boxer primer is most popular is the United States due to its ease of replacement.

    Penetration

    The deeper a bullet penetrates, the more damage it causes to the target. The 45 gives a bullet penetration of 11.3” to 14.3” as compared to the 9mm’s 8” to 15.9” penetration.

    Capacity Of The Magazine

    The 9mm cartridges are smaller than the 45. Hence, magazines can hold more of the 9mm. However, the capacity may vary depending upon which gun is being used. Usually, a magazine shipped from the factory can carry 6-14 cartridges in case of 45s and 6-20 cartridges in case of the 9mms.

    Recoil

    man pointing a gun

    Recoil refers to the force with which a firearm recoils when it is fired without support from behind. It impacts the user and can even cause serious injury. The 9mm cartridge has a lower recoil than the 45 ammo. The latter is known to push the firearm user’s hands backward on firing.

    Cost

    A 9mm cartridge is much cheaper than the 45.

    Happy Choosing

    There you are! Now you know pretty much everything you need to know to choose the right cartridge for you. The 9mm trumps the 45 in aspects such as cost, easy to replace primer, more magazine capacity and lower recoil, the 45 seems to be made to get the job done with its higher penetration, momentum and energy.

    You can now weigh the pros and cons of both the cartridges to decide what works best for you.

     

    Sources:

    Diffen

    Pew Pew Tactical

    Gun Digest

    Hunter Ed

    Mass Reloading