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.380 Acp

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Title: .380 Acp  
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Subject: List of pistols, Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, Beretta Cheetah, .38 ACP, John Browning
Collection: .380 Acp Firearms, Colt Cartridges, Pistol and Rifle Cartridges
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.380 Acp

.380 ACP
A .380 ACP pistol cartridge by Sellier & Bellot.
Type Pistol
Place of origin  United States
Production history
Designer John Browning
Manufacturer Colt's Manufacturing Company
Produced 1908
Case type Rimless, straight
Bullet diameter .355 in (9.0 mm)
Neck diameter .373 in (9.5 mm)
Base diameter .374 in (9.5 mm)
Rim diameter .374 in (9.5 mm)
Rim thickness .045 in (1.1 mm)
Case length .680 in (17.3 mm)
Overall length .984 in (25.0 mm)
Maximum pressure 21,500 psi (148 MPa)
Ballistic performance
Bullet weight/type Velocity Energy
90 gr (6 g) JHP 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 200 ft·lbf (270 J)
95 gr (6 g) FMJ 980 ft/s (300 m/s) 203 ft·lbf (275 J)
Test barrel length: 3.75 inches (9.5 cm)
Source(s): Federal Cartridge[1]

The .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) pistol cartridge is a rimless, straight-walled pistol cartridge developed by firearms designer John Moses Browning. The cartridge headspaces on the mouth of the case.[2] It was introduced in 1908 by Colt, and has been a popular self-defense cartridge ever since. Other names for .380 ACP include .380 Auto, 9mm Browning, 9mm Corto, 9mm Kurz, 9mm Short, 9×17mm and 9 mm Browning Court (which is the C.I.P. designation). It is not to be confused with .38 ACP, 9mm Ultra, 9mm Makarov or 9mm Parabellum.


  • Design 1
  • Users 2
  • Performance 3
  • Popular firearms in .380ACP 4
  • Synonyms 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


The .380 ACP cartridge was derived from Browning's earlier 9x20mm semi-rimmed design, which was only marginally more powerful. The .380 ACP was designed to be truly rimless, and headspace on the case mouth instead of the rim for better accuracy. These designs were intended for blowback pistols which lacked a barrel locking mechanism. The recoil spring and the mass of the slide are enough to absorb the recoil energy of the round, due to the round's relatively low bolt thrust. This simplifies manufacture of pistols chambered for this and similar rounds, thereby lowering manufacturing cost. It also permits the barrel to be permanently fixed to the frame, which promotes accuracy. There have also been a number of locked-breech pistols chambered in .380 ACP, such as the Remington Model 51 and Kel-Tec P3AT. There have also been some diminutive submachine guns, such as the Ingram MAC-11[3] and the Czech Vz 38.[4]


The .380 ACP has experienced widespread use in the years since its introduction (1908 USA, 1912 Europe), and was even used by Gavrillo Princip to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia, the event which is credited with starting the First World War. It was later adopted by the armies of at least five European nations as their standard pistol cartridge before WWII; Czechoslovakia (Vz.38), Hungary (FEMARU 37M), and Italy, all of whom used domestic designs, as well as The Netherlands and Yugoslavia, both of whom adopted the FN Model 1922. It was also used extensively by Germany, who captured or purchased hundreds of thousands of pistols in this caliber during World War II. Popular German built commercial models, such as the Walther PPK were very popular with German officers. The Italian Army used the Beretta M1934, but the Italian Air Force and Navy stuck with the 7.65mm/.32 ACP when they adopted the Beretta M1935.

While .380 ACP was considered to be a moderately powerful service pistol round before WWII when compared to the .32 ACP pistols it replaced, no nation retained it as a military service cartridge for very long after the war. It was widely used by police forces in Europe until at least the 1980's when more powerful 9x19mm handguns began to replace it. It did find use as a backup gun due to low recoil, and is popular on the civilian market as a personal defense round. The .380 ACP round is marginally suitable for self-defense situations as a choice for concealed carry pistols. It was the round used in Defense Distributed's "Wiki Weapon" project to successfully 3D print a firearm.


The .380 ACP compared to a 9mm Luger cartridge.

The .380 ACP is compact and light, but has a relatively short range and less stopping power than other modern pistol cartridges.[5] According to gun author Massad Ayoob, "Some experts will say it's barely adequate, and others will say it's barely inadequate."[6] Even so, it remains a popular self-defense cartridge for shooters who want a lightweight pistol with manageable recoil and/or smaller pistol. It is slightly less powerful than a standard-pressure .38 Special and uses 9 mm (.355 in) diameter bullets. The heaviest bullet that can be safely loaded into the .380 ACP is 115 grains (7.5 g), though the standard has long been 85, 90 or 95 grains (5.5, 5.8 or 6.2 g).

The wounding potential of bullets is often characterized in terms of a bullet's expanded diameter, penetration depth, and energy. Bullet energy for .380 ACP loads varies from roughly 190 to 220 foot-pounds force (260 to 300 J). The table below shows common performance parameters for several .380 ACP loads. Bullet weights ranging from 85 to 95 grains (5.5 to 6.2 g) are common. Penetration depths from 6.5 to 17 inches (16.5 to 43.2 cm) are available for various applications and risk assessments.

Manufacturer Load Mass Velocity Energy Expansion (inches)[7] Penetration[7] PC[7] TSC[7]
ATOMIC Ammo Bonded JHP 90 gr (5.8 g) 1,100 ft/s (340 m/s) 241 foot-pounds force (327 J) 0.64 inches (16.3 mm) 12.0 inches (304.8 mm) NA NA
Cor-Bon JHP 90 gr (5.8 g) 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) 220 foot-pounds force (300 J) 0.58 inches (14.7 mm) 9.0 inches (228.6 mm) 2.38 cubic inches (39.0 cm3) 15.7 cubic inches (257 cm3)
Federal HydraShok JHP 90 gr (5.8 g) 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 200 foot-pounds force (270 J) 0.58 inches (14.7 mm) 10.5 inches (266.7 mm) 2.77 cubic inches (45.4 cm3) 21.0 cubic inches (344 cm3)
Winchester Silvertip JHP 85 gr (5.5 g) 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 189 foot-pounds force (256 J) 0.63 inches (16.0 mm) 6.5 inches (165.1 mm) 2.03 cubic inches (33.3 cm3) 10.6 cubic inches (174 cm3)
CCI/Speer JHP 88 gr (5.7 g) 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 196 foot-pounds force (266 J) 0.36 inches (9.1 mm) 17.0 inches (431.8 mm) 1.73 cubic inches (28.3 cm3) 9.1 cubic inches (149 cm3)
Hornady XTP 90 gr (5.8 g) 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 200 foot-pounds force (270 J) 0.44 inches (11.2 mm) 11.8 inches (299.7 mm) 1.73 cubic inches (28.3 cm3) 9.1 cubic inches (149 cm3)
Federal FMJ 95 gr (6.2 g) 955 ft/s (291 m/s) 193 foot-pounds force (262 J) 0.36 inches (9.1 mm) 17 inches (431.8 mm) 1.73 cubic inches (28.3 cm3) 8.7 cubic inches (143 cm3)


  • Expansion – expanded bullet diameter (ballistic gelatin).
  • Penetration – penetration depth (ballistic gelatin).
  • PC – permanent cavity volume (ballistic gelatin, FBI method).
  • TSC – temporary stretch cavity volume (ballistic gelatin).

Popular firearms in .380ACP

The .380 has had something of a recent upsurge in popularity in the United States with the spread of legal concealed carry, as have the compact and inexpensive pistols that make use of it. Popular pistols chambered in .380 ACP include:


See also


  1. ^ "Federal Cartridge Ballistics". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  2. ^ Wilson, R. K. Textbook of Automatic Pistols, p.241. Plantersville, SC: Small Arms Technical Publishing Company, 1943.
  3. ^ "Ingram MAC Model 10 / M10 and Model 11 / M11 submachine guns (USA)". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  4. ^ Jones, Richard (2009). Jane's Infantry Weapons 2009-2010. Jane's Information Group. p. 107.  
  5. ^ ".380ACP Terminal Ballistics". Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  6. ^ Ayoob, Massad. (2007)The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery. Krause Publications. Page 97. ISBN 0-89689-525-4.
  7. ^ a b c d Marshall and Sanow, Street Stoppers, Appendix A, Paladin 2006 ISBN 978-0-87364-872-1

External links

  • Colt Automatic Pistols Website
  • American RiflemanArticle on Defensive Use of .380 ACP from
  • StoppingPower.Info .380 ACP vs various target videos
  • Ballistics By The Inch .380 ACP Results.
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