Why Is 380 Ammo So Expensive?

In recent years, the price of .380 ammo has risen significantly, leading many shooters to wonder if this type of ammo is worth it at all. There are many rounds shooters can choose from in today’s market. Each have their own unique set of pros and cons. In this article, we’ll do our best to answer the a basic question, why is 380 ammo so expensive?

The Truth: Why Is 380 Ammo So Expensive?

picture of a gun with 380 ammo

380 ammo is more expensive than comparable rounds, like the 9mm, because of manufacturing costs. But the answer is not as straightforward as it may seem.

For one, the materials needed to make 380 rounds are actually cheaper than the materials for a 9mm round. However, 9mm is more popular so manufacturers can utilize much larger production runs that lower the ammo price. This is also the reason why the 350 Legend and the 357 Magnum are more expensive than the 380 as well!

Takeaway: The costs of 380 ammo is expensive because manufacturers do not produce it at scale. This is mostly due to lower demand from the market.

380 Ammo Popularity

Do I think the 380 is the best ammo out there? No. Rounds like the 44-40 vs 30-30 are more my style as a hunter. But there is no denying that many shooters around the world use this ammo daily.

  • Self Defense – Shooters use this for self defense handguns
  • Military – Many soldiers use the 380 ammo in their backup handguns for emergency situations.

However, the 9mm is significantly more popular than 380 rounds and have been for several decades. In fact, it is also more expensive than the 300 Blackout and 6.5 Grendel rounds. There is no best round for everyone. But the data speaks for itself. And most shooters choose the 9mm.

9mm vs 380 Ammo Comparison

Here are a list of some of the main factors that make 9mm more popular than 380. I used many of these same factors when I compared the 45-70 vs 308 rounds in the past.

  • Case Length: The 9mm is longer than the .380 ACP ammo. The 9mm is 0.380 in and the 380 is 0.373 in.
  • Diameter: Both rounds have the exact same diameter at .355 in.
  • Price: As we have already covered, the 9mm is the cheaper round. There is simply a lower supply and demand for the 380 round in todays market.
  • Bullet Velocity: The 9mm has a higher bullet velocity at 1400 FPS. The 380 ammo on average is at 1050 FPS.
  • Stopping Power: One of the biggest factors than makes shooters lean towards the 9mm is the stopping power. The 9mm is a more powerful round.

Best Uses Case for 380 Ammo

The best use cases for .380 ammo are for self-defense and concealed carry. The 380 is a popular caliber for compact and subcompact handguns

  • The small size and lower recoil, .380 ammo is generally easier to shoot accurately and control than larger calibers.
  • The 380 is also frequently used for beginner target shooting. However, I do think the 450 Bushmaster and the 350 Legend are better for range sessions. The lower power and shorter range of .380 ammo make it less suitable for hunting or long-range shooting, but it can still be used for a range session.

In my opinion, this is certainly not a great hunting round. It does not have the large rifle primers because its a small round! Not that many shooters are looking to hunt with a handgun. But the low stopping power makes it a poor choice for hunters.

What Causes Ammo Shortages?

Any shooter that has been around for a few decades knows that ammo shortages are a very real thing. They can be caused by a variety of factors.

  • Unexpected increase in demand for a particular type of ammo.
  • Natural disasters or other crisis can cause people to stock up on ammo & other supplies.
  • Change in government policies can be one of the biggest factors. In fact, this is one of the main answers to the question, why is 35 Remington ammo hard to find? If the government makes a law limiting ammo, people will rush to purchase their rounds and cause a shortage.
  • Supply chain shortages can have major impacts. We have all seen what the impacts of COVID have caused to ammo and other gun related products industry wide.

However, rounds as popular as the 17 WSM and 223 Remington will likely never have a real shortage! The market always finds a way to meet the demand of the consumers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are .380 more expensive than 9mm?

Generally speaking, the 9mm is a cheaper round than the .380 because of manufacturing scale. Law enforcement agencies, armed forces, and self defense shooters often use the 9mm for their weapons. Manufacturers make so many 9mm rounds that the cost naturally comes down as a result.

Is 380 ammo still hard to get?

380 ammo is still hard to to find. This ammo is simply not in high demand so manufacturers do not produce large quantities. The smaller manufacturing scale also results in higher ammo prices.

Is it worth buying a 380?

In most cases, I would say that the 380 ammo is not the best choice. Although they have the same diameter, the 9mm generally has more stopping power and has a lower cost per round.

Is .380 a lethal round?

Yes, a .380 round can be lethal. In fact, any round from a pistol or handgun can be lethal if it hits someone in the right spot. Smaller rounds like the .380 are less powerful than larger rounds. I would certainly not recommend using the 380 for hunting or self defense as it has lower stopping power than other rounds.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, simple supply and demand determines the price for just about everything on the open market. This holds true for housing prices as well as ammo prices! The 380 ammo is more expensive than the 9mm because there is far less demand and less supply.

Ammo manufacturers, just like any other business, needs to make money. If more demand builds for the 380 ammo and manufactures produce more at scale, the price will come down.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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