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Why Is 380 Ammo So Expensive [Honest Opinion]

Dakota Potts | Updated February 23, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of why is 380 ammo so expensive showing three 380 ammunitions on top of a box

The world of ammunition can be a puzzling one, especially when it comes to the cost of various calibers. In particular, why is 380 ammo so expensive, even more than its 9mm counterpart?

Find out why that is and whether it’s even worth the price.

And for specific recommendations of pistols that use .380 ammo see our write up on the best pocket carry guns of 2024.

Key Takeaways

  • The high cost of .380 ammo is partly due to its popularity in concealed-carry firearms.
  • .380 ammunition is not produced in quantities as large as 9mm, leading to higher production costs.
  • The demand and production factors contribute to the .380 ammo being more expensive than 9mm.

Why Are 380 Bullets So Expensive?

Simply put, the high cost of .380 ammo can be tied to demand. As more people carry concealed firearms, the demand for .380 bullets increases. These bullets, also known as .380 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol), are widely used in concealed carry guns.

That said, the demand for .380 ACP is not as high as 9mm. As manufacturers often produce ammo in larger runs, which leads to lower production costs, the 380’s smaller production runs lead to higher costs. 

What’s more, the availability of materials – such as brass, powder, lead, and primers – also affects pricing, even under regular market conditions.

Different brands of 380 ammunition on top of each box

The .380 ACP’s ballistics and stopping power contribute to its popularity in self-defense, even if it’s not the most potent caliber. That said, personal preference can sway caliber choice, with some favoring larger calibers.

Smaller handgun calibers, like the .380 ACP, often use more expensive primer and projectiles than larger 9mm ammunition. This difference can contribute to the steeper price tag for .380 ammo.

And another factor could be the competition between brands (such as Winchester, Remington, Hornady, and Federal Premium) that lead to variations in price and availability.

“I know what it feels like to be a gun lover.”

Dick Cavett

For those who choose to reload their own .380 ACP cartridges, the cost may still be high as reloading equipment and raw materials can be scarce.

To sum it up, while the .380 ACP is not the cheapest option, its popularity in self-defense and target shooting keeps demand, and therefore pricing, high.

Why Is 380 Difficult to Find?

The scarcity of 380 ammo comes down to its high demand among concealed carry owners, amplified by the rise in everyday carry enthusiasts favoring lightweight, easily concealable .380 ACP pistols.

Different brands of 380 ammunition on top of each box with a grassy background

The pandemic-induced self-defense trend has exacerbated the shortage. The .380’s balance of stopping power and manageable recoil makes it a preferred choice, adding pressure on manufacturers. As .380 ACP demand surges, so do the prices.

What’s more, production challenges – like securing materials and maintaining quality control – add to the issue.

Fun Fact

Nearly five percent of the U.S. population, about 12.5 million people, are active hunters. Whitetail deer remain the most popular big game species, with nearly 78 percent of all hunting activity targeting whitetails. The average hunter spends $1,638 every year on the sport. Source: suncommunitynews.com

Despite 9mm being the more common handgun caliber, the growing interest in .380 ACP for concealed carry has led to a shortage and increased demand. Add to that the problems of inflation, material availability, and manufacturing complexities, and it leads to pricier and harder-to-find 380 ammo.

Is 380 Ammo Cheaper Than 9mm?

You would expect it to be, but surprisingly, 380 ammo isn’t cheaper than 9mm ammo. In fact, it tends to be more expensive. 

People might think that because the 380 round is smaller, it would cost less to produce. However, as I mentioned, demand plays a huge role in the pricing of ammo.

Civil Defense 9mm ammunition and its box

The 9mm is a popular caliber and is widely used in various firearms, resulting in high demand and more production. Because manufacturers can produce large runs of 9mm ammo at lower costs, the price for consumers ends up being more affordable.

On the other hand, 380 ammo is commonly used in concealed-carry firearms. Although the demand for concealed carry weapons has risen in recent years, it still doesn’t match the overall demand for 9mm. 

As a result, production runs for 380 ammo tend to be smaller, leading to higher production costs and, ultimately, higher prices for consumers.

“A lot of people in my state of Vermont are gun owners.”

Patrick Leahy

So, although the raw materials for 380 ACP ammo might be cheaper, the smaller scale of production and lower demand compared to 9mm ammo contribute to its higher price.

Is 380 a Good Self-Defense Caliber?

When it comes to self-defense purposes, the .380 ACP caliber is a popular choice. Many people prefer this caliber for its compact size and concealability

The .380 ACP does offer acceptable stopping power for some, but it may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Personal preference plays a huge role here. Some people may find the .380 ACP sufficient, while others may prefer a larger caliber with more stopping power.

It’s crucial to take into account the type of ammunition used, as well. There are various types of .380 ACP ammo specifically designed for self-defense that improve its effectiveness in those situations.

Is Buying Expensive 380 Ammo Worth It?

Despite its high cost, some gun owners may find that purchasing this ammo is worth it. The reasoning behind this often boils down to personal preferences and specific needs.

The 380 ammo’s compact size and lightweight nature make it a popular choice for those who prefer smaller firearms for concealed carry purposes. Versatile and easy to handle, it offers a reliable option for self-defense situations.

Three 380 bullets on a wooden platform

However, the price of the ammo can drive people off to want to find other options.

In fact, there are some gun owners who explore alternative calibers to offset the expense of .380 ammo. By comparing pricing and performance, they find a more budget-friendly option to suit their needs. Others may choose to limit their usage of expensive .380 ammo for critical situations or occasional practice.

In any case, the decision to purchase expensive .380 ammunition ultimately depends on your individual priorities and requirements.

What Are the Top Brands That Made 380 Ammo?

When it comes to the top brands that make .380 ammo, there are several that produce high-quality ammunition. 

Federal is a popular choice, offering a range of options, from affordable target practice rounds to reliable self-defense cartridges. They’re known for consistent performance and quality.

Federal .380 bullets and its box

Colt, the very company that introduced the .380 ACP caliber in 1908, also produces excellent rounds for this cartridge. Their reputation for quality firearms extends to their ammunition as well.

Winchester is another renowned brand in the ammo world, and their .380 offerings live up to their name. They provide a variety of options for both self-defense and target practice, ensuring customers get what they need.

A box of Winchester .380 bullets with a gun in the background

Remington is also a significant player in the market, creating ammo that is both reliable and consistent. Many shooters trust Remington products for their .380 ACP needs because of their proven track record.

Remington .380 bullets inside a box

Hornady rounds out the list with their premium .380 ammunition options. They focus on innovative bullet designs that produce top-notch performance in self-defense situations. Let’s just say their reputation for quality is well-deserved.

Hornady .380 bullets and its box


Is there a shortage of 380 ammo?

There has been a shortage of 380 ammo now and then because of the significant increase in the demand for .380 ammo due to its popularity in concealed carry firearms. It’s led to an imbalance between supply and demand, contributing to the high cost and occasional shortage.

What is the most powerful 380 ammo?

The most powerful 380 ammo is the .380 hollow point ammunition, as it provides more stopping power compared to other rounds. These rounds are designed to expand upon impact, leading to better energy transfer and potential stopping power.

Is a 380 more powerful than a 45?

No, the .45 ACP is generally considered more powerful than the .380 ACP round. The .45 ACP has a higher muzzle energy and a larger caliber than the .380, making it capable of delivering more damage on target.

Is a 380 more powerful than a 22lr?

Yes, the .380 ACP is typically more powerful than a .22lr round. While .22lr is widely used in recreational shooting and small game hunting, .380 ACP is designed for self-defense and offers better stopping power in most situations.

Is a 380 a bad gun?

A .380 pistol isn’t considered a bad gun when it comes to self-defense. In fact, it’s an excellent choice, particularly for those who value a compact size and lower recoil. However, it may not be the best option for certain scenarios or suit personal preferences, just like any other firearm.

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