.32 ACP VS .380 ACP: Head To Head Comparison

The .32 ACP and .380 ACP are small-caliber handgun cartridges typically used for self-defense. The .32 ACP is considered to be a relatively weak round, while the .380 ACP is considered to be somewhat more powerful. Both cartridges have been in use for more than a century and are popular choices for concealed-carry weapons. My content will compare the two cartridges, and discuss their respective merits and drawbacks to make your choosing decision easier.


Basic Factors About .32 ACP And .380 ACP

  • The .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning) is designed by John Browning in 1899 for use in early blowback pistols. It is a straight-walled rimless cartridge that is relatively low in power and often used as a self-defense round.
  • The .380 ACP (9mm Kurz) is designed by Georg Luger in 1908 for use in semi-automatic pistols. It is a rimless, straight-walled cartridge that is slightly more powerful than the .32 ACP. It is commonly used as a self-defense round as well.


Advantages & Disadvantages Of The .32 And .380 ACP


.32 ACP:

  1. Low recoil and muzzle flip, making it easier to shoot accurately.
  2. Low cost of ammunition, making it more affordable for shooting practice.
  3. Good penetration ability.

.380 ACP:

  1. Higher muzzle velocity than the .32 ACP, allowing for better accuracy at longer distances.
  2. Larger bullet diameter, resulting in better stopping power.
  3. A wide variety of ammunition is available, allowing for more options in terms of weight and bullet type.


.32 ACP:

  1. Lower muzzle velocity than the .380, resulting in less accuracy at longer distances.
  2. Lower bullet diameter, resulting in less stopping power.
  3. Limited variety of ammunition available.

.380 ACP:

  1. Higher recoil and muzzle flip, making it more difficult to shoot accurately.
  2. Higher cost of ammunition, making it more expensive for shooting practice.
  3. Lower penetration ability than the .32 ACP.


.32 ACP VS .380 ACP: Head To Head Comparison

The .32 ACP and .380 ACP are both small caliber semi-automatic pistol cartridges.

  • The .32 ACP is slightly less powerful than the .380 ACP, with a typical muzzle velocity of 950-1000 feet per second compared to the .380 ACP’s 1000-1150 feet per second.
  • The .32 ACP is also slightly more accurate at close range, due to its lighter bullet weight.
  • However, the .380 ACP is much more powerful and has greater stopping power due to its larger bullet size and greater muzzle velocity.

.32 ACP Compared to the .380 In Terms Of Power

The .32 ACP is a smaller round than the .380 and is less powerful.

  • The .380 ACP is a larger round than the .32 and it is more powerful.
  • The .32 ACP typically produces muzzle energy of around 140 ft-lbs, while the .380 ACP produces muzzle energy of around 200 ft-lbs.

Common Uses for the .32 ACP and .380

The .32 ACP and the .380 ACP are both popular handgun cartridges used for self-defense.

.32 ACP:

  • Concealed carry
  • Backup weapon
  • Law enforcement

.380 ACP:

  • Concealed carry
  • Law enforcement
  • Target shooting
  • Plinking

.32 ACP Compared To The .380 In Terms of Recoil

The .32 ACP has less recoil than the .380.

The .32 ACP is a much lighter round. And the smaller round size allows the gun to absorb more of the force of the recoil, resulting in less felt recoil.

On the other hand, the .380 has more recoil because it is a heavier round, and the larger round size results in more of the force of the recoil being felt by the shooter.

Advantages of the .32 ACP for Self-Defense

  1. Small Size:  The .32 ACP is a small-caliber cartridge, making it ideal for smaller handguns that are easier to conceal.
  2. Low Recoil:  The .32 ACP produces less recoil than many other self-defense cartridges, making it easier to control.
  3. Low Noise:  The .32 ACP produces less noise than larger cartridges when fired, making it ideal for situations where a low-noise approach is necessary.
  4. Low Cost:  The .32 ACP is a relatively inexpensive cartridge, making it a good choice for those on a budget.
  5. High Capacity:  Many .32 ACP handguns have higher capacity magazines than larger caliber handguns, making it easier to carry more rounds for self-defense.

Advantages of the .380 for Self-Defense

  1. Lightweight:  The .380 is lightweight and compact round, making it ideal for concealed carry.
  2. Low recoil:  The recoil of the .380 is much less than more powerful cartridges, making it ideal for shooters who lack the arm strength to handle more powerful cartridges.
  3. Cost-effective:  The .380 is an affordable round, making it an ideal choice for those on a budget.
  4. Availability:  The .380 is a popular round and is widely available.
  5. Stopping Power:  Despite its small size, the .380 has been proven to be an effective round for self-defense.


Short Chart: 32 ACP VS 380 ACP


.32 ACP

.380 ACP

Bullet Diameter .312 inches .355 inches
Case Length .68 inches .68 inches
Velocity ~950 fps ~950 fps
Energy ~80 ft/lbs ~190 ft/lbs
Capacity 6-7 rounds 6-7 rounds


How Do the .32 ACP and .380 Affect Your Shooting Accuracy?

The .32 ACP and .380 are both relatively small-caliber rounds. So, they can be harder to shoot accurately than a full-sized pistol round.

But the smaller bullet size and lighter weight make it more difficult to control the recoil and sight alignment. Additionally, the smaller round may have less stopping power than a larger round, which can make it more difficult to hit a target accurately.


Common Ammunition Types for the .32 ACP and .380

.32 ACP:

  1. FMJ (Full Metal Jacket)
  2. JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
  3. SWC (Semi-Wadcutter)
  4. LFP (Lead Flat Point)

.380 ACP:

  1. FMJ (Full Metal Jacket)
  2. JHP (Jacketed Hollow Point)
  3. JSP (Jacketed Soft Point)
  4. SWC (Semi-Wadcutter)
  5. LHP (Lead Hollow Point)
  6. FMJ-TC (Full Metal Jacket-Truncated Cone)


Legal Restrictions On The .32 ACP And .380 ACP

The .32 ACP and .380 ACP are restricted in various ways depending on the jurisdiction.

In the United States, the .32 ACP and .380 ACP are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

  • As of 2021, the ATF does not regulate the possession or transfer of these calibers but does regulate any firearms chambered for them.
  • Federal law prohibits the possession of a firearm by anyone prohibited from possessing firearms, such as convicted felons, persons under indictment, persons adjudicated as mentally defective, and persons who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.

In some states, the .32 ACP and .380 ACP may be regulated as handguns, which may require licensing or registration. Other states may not regulate them at all.

And some states, including California, Massachusetts, and New York, certain models of handguns chambered for these calibers may be prohibited.

Moreover, local jurisdictions may have their own restrictions. It is important to be aware of your state and local laws regarding these calibers.



The .32 ACP and .380 ACP are two popular handgun cartridges that are often compared. While both cartridges offer similar levels of stopping power, the .380 ACP is the more powerful of the two.

  • The .32 ACP is best suited for self-defense situations where shooting ability and concealability are important.
  • On the contrary, the .380 ACP is better suited for situations where power and accuracy are of greater importance.

That’s all for today, my friend.