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Old 10-21-2019, 09:48 AM   #1
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Mike Martin .22
And it makes me wonder...

I'm sure this has been discussed here before; but I wasn't here for it. I don't get the whole .380 thing. In actuality it's a .35 auto or a 9mm short. Did Browning steal the design from Luger? The 9mm was around for years before the ".380". Also in the 20's (I think) S&W developed a .35 auto and a corresponding pistol to fire it and sold it commercially....it was a disaster. Does this factor in?
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:35 AM   #2
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The 380 ACP was developed in 1908 for the Colt pocket/hammerless semiautomatic pistol. It was intended to provide more power than a .32 caliber which was a popular SD choice in its day. It is a 9mm with a shorter cartridge and reduces head spacing. the advantage it offered were that the reduced power compared to a 9mm allowed a blowback design which was less expensive to manufacture and made a smaller pistol possible.

Consider that the Colt 1908 hammerless pistol was intended as a semiautomatic pocket pistol. It was decades ahead of its time in that regard. I have never read anything that would make me believe Browning stole the design from Luger. Browning was perhaps the greatest gun designer of his time, and his designs are still be used today. He designed the 1903 32 caliber vest pocket Colt and used that design to make the larger 380 pistol.

Now if you consider the loading/ejection mechanisms of the Luger you see a unique toggle action, as opposed to the slide of the Colt semi auto pistols. The whole top end of the Luger and the barrel moves rearward a small amount to unlock the action. After extraction it begins moving forward with the bolt portion chambering the next round. Then the top end moves forward locking the action. That is more consistent with a locked breech design but not a blowback.

The reason the 380 became popular because it had more power than the 32 and allowed pocket carry which was desirable for EDC just as it is today.

So the 380 became popular because it was a decent (for its time) pocket carry pistol. That is true of the 380 today but there is better ammo for the 380. So 380 is here to stay.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:45 AM   #3
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Correction

I meant that the he got the idea for a 35.5 cal from Lugers 35.5 (9mm). Not the pistol design. Which actually went on to eclipse Lugers design.
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Old 10-21-2019, 01:06 PM   #4
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.380 auto

Mike,

You have come up on the question of cartridge naming. Browning developed the Colt Hammerless and a new cartridge for it. Look at the .38 special, it is sized .357, But called a .38. Also, the model would have never have sold in the U.S. if he had called it a 9 mm(anything). U.S.citizens didn't like metric cartridges until very recently.

President Jimmy Carter signed a bill back when he was in office converting the U.S. to the metric system. What is your car's rating in kilometers per liter? Browning build a new pistol and cartridge for the U.S. market, and named it accordingly. Cartridge naming is a consumer marketing technique, even way back then.

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Old 10-21-2019, 01:11 PM   #5
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The 380 ACP cartridge is a scaled-down 45 ACP. Unlike the 9mm, it is a straight-sided case. It is dimensionally proportional to the 45 ACP, both of which were designed by John Browning.

The round was originally designed in 1908 at Coltís behest to hot-rod the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol which had been around for five years, chambered in 32 ACP.

The 1908 Vest Pocket is a 25 ACP. It looks like the Pocket Hammerless scaled down, but is striker-fired (the Pocket Hammerless is actually a hammer-fired pistol whose hammer is fully enclosed by the slide).

I just bought a Pocket Hammerless and Vest Pocket Auto last week so am learning a lot about them both now.

I confess I have never fired a 32 ACP anything, but I find my 380 PPK and 1908 Pocket Hammerless both to be pleasant to shoot, and surprisingly accurate considering their fundamental nature.
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Old 10-21-2019, 03:59 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pantera Mike View Post
I just bought a Pocket Hammerless and Vest Pocket Auto last week so am learning a lot about them both now.
Be careful of those Vest Pockets. They breed like rabbits. It wasn't that long ago that they were perfectly acceptable as self defense guns. I carry one regularly and grab them up when I find them under $200 which isn't that easy anymore.

The 1903 in .32 is fantastic pistol and you really need to have in your collection. (I need a .380)
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Old 10-21-2019, 05:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Mike Martin View Post
I meant that the he got the idea for a 35.5 cal from Lugers 35.5 (9mm). Not the pistol design. Which actually went on to eclipse Lugers design. <img src="https://www.waltherforums.com/forum/images/smilies/smile.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Smile" class="inlineimg" />
I think the straightforward answer is no. The 9mm Luger was formally introduced in 1902. However the .380 is a shortened, weakened derivative of Browning’s own earlier .38 Auto design, which he developed around 1900 and which was a power equivalent of the 9mm Largo and other 9mm calibers around 9x23.
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Old 10-21-2019, 05:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jimbo80 View Post
Be careful of those Vest Pockets. They breed like rabbits. It wasn't that long ago that they were perfectly acceptable as self defense guns. I carry one regularly and grab them up when I find them under $200 which isn't that easy anymore.

The 1903 in .32 is fantastic pistol and you really need to have in your collection. (I need a .380)
I have 3, a blued one from the 20's, a nickel one from the same era, and one of the new issue ones. (I've also acquired over the years a HSc, Femaru, 1907 Savage) So I love .32's. I would have bought either a .32 or .380 German made Walther PPK NIB- the .380 came along first. No regrets.
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Old 10-21-2019, 09:50 PM   #9
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Despite being called the 9mm korto, the only thing the 9mm Luger and the .380 share is bullet diameter. The 9mm is casing is tapered; the .380 is essentially cylinder section. One did not grow from the other. As PPs have noted, the desire for a round for Browing's pocket auto produced this cartridge.
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:30 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Duncanppk View Post
Look at the .38 special, it is sized .357, But called a .38.
Yeah, but there's an actual, historical reason for that. The .38 was originally a "heeled" bullet, sometimes called a "stepped" bullet. A heeled bullet has two diameters... the part that sits outside the shell casing is the same diameter as the outside of the shell casing, and the part that sits inside the shell casing has a reduced diameter so that it can fit inside. An example of a heeled bullet that we're all familiar with is the 22LR cartridge. If you take a pair of pliers and pull the bullet out of a 22LR case (or search the interweb for pictures of that), you'll see what I mean.

For the heeled 38, the larger diameter (outside the shell casing) was .38, and the smaller diameter (inside the shell casing) was .357. Calibers are typically named for the diameter of the bore, so it was (appropriately) called a .38.

The advantage of a heeled bullet is that the chamber and bore are the same diameter, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture the barrel (or so I've read). The disadvantage of a heeled bullet is that you have to lube the part of the bullet that sits outside the shell casing, which can subsequently rot, harden, wash off, rub off, etc (problems we see with 22LR today). But with a bullet that is sized to the inside of the shell casing, you can put the lube inside the case, eliminating those issues, and the lube still gets between the bullet and the bore.

At some point (possibly when converting from black powder to smokeless powder?), the 38 was converted from a heeled design to a single-diameter bullet. It was reduced from .38 to .357 by simply reducing the diameter of the part above the case mouth until it matched the smaller diameter, allowing the same casing to be used. For reasons I do not understand (maybe because the cases were already stamped "38"?), they continued to use the .38 name, rather than calling it .357, even though it was really a .357 at that point (because it needed a .357 bore). And that 38 name continues to be used today for the .38 Special caliber.

I guess the folks who developed the .357 Magnum cartridge decided they didn't want to truck with that historical mis-naming nonsense, so they used the correct .357 size in their caliber name.

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