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380 ACP vs. 9×18 Makarov | Detailed Comparison

The 380 ACP and 9X18 Makarov ammo are almost identical in size, recoil, stopping power, and uses. However, the 380 ACP has a slightly smaller cartridge caliber and straight cartridge walls as opposed to the tapered walls of the 9×18. The 9×18 Makarov also has marginally more power than the 380 ACP. 

In this article, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of both ammo types, when to use them, and which guns they’re made for. I’ll also compare the features, pricing, and availability of the 380 ACP and the 9X18 Makarov ammo.

Man Test Firing a Glock 19 at a Range

380 ACP vs. 9×18: Basic Similarities 

Both the 380 ACP and 9×18 have similar sizes, are used in similar situations, and are equally effective at short to medium ranges. However, these similarities don’t mean you can use them interchangeably. 

It’s often difficult to choose between ammo that looks so similar. However, it’s crucial for your safety. Let’s look at some of these similarities in detail: 

Both Are Used in Handguns

To the untrained eye, both ammo types are identical. There are only slight differences in the cartridge caliber and cartridge walls. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the 9×18 ammo is slightly larger than the 380 ACP ammo. 

However, both are used in handguns designed for self-defense or hunting small game. Always check whether your handgun can accommodate each ammo since using incompatible ammo can be fatal. So, while the ammo size is similar in both ammo types, it’s also the most significant difference. 

Both Are Ideal for Self Defense and Small Game Hunting

Another similarity between the 380 ACP and the 9×18 is their uses. Both are used in small handguns and are popular ammo for small varmint hunting and self-defense. In places where concealed carry is necessary, smaller guns are preferred. Thus, these ammo types are ideal for self-defense firearms. 

Both Have Stopping Power Over a Similar Range

The 380 ACP and 9×18 Makarov have decent stopping power in distances under 55 yards. If used correctly, they can be pretty effective in putting down aggressors, which is why many gun experts recommend them for self-defense. 

The 9×18 Makarov has a slightly better range, but this won’t matter in short-distance assaults. So, if you’re looking for the best ammo for urban self-defense, both the 9×18 and 380 ACP are viable options. 

Related The 12 Cheapest Types of Ammo.

380 ACP Pros and Cons

The 380 ACP is one of the most common handgun ammo used worldwide. With decent firepower, a reliable short to mid-range capability, and compatibility with many popular firearms, it’s some of the best ammo you can have. 

Inexperienced dealers claim that it’s too small. Still, when you consider shot placement and gun size, these claims have proven to be false. There have been multiple cases of expert hunters bringing down big game with these bullets. 

So, if you’re looking for a reliable self-defense firearm but don’t want to carry a large shotgun around, choose a firearm that supports the 380 ACP. 


  • Can be used in smaller handguns. Smaller handguns are more popular amongst experienced carriers. They’re easier to master (though it takes time) and can be used for precise shot placement. You can perfect your hunting skills by using smaller guns to hunt varmints for practice. Some experienced hunters with upwards of 10 years of shooting experience have even taken out big game with this ammo in exceptional cases! 
  • Readily available. Since it’s the primary ammo for most common handguns, the 380 ACP is more widely available. It’s improbable that your local ammo store will ever run out of this ammo, which is why many people prefer it in the first place. You can go for more exotic weapons, but finding ammo will always be an issue. If you prefer reliability and accessibility, the 380 ACP is the ideal choice. 
  • Has decent stopping power. Although smaller than many other ammo types, the 380 ACP is powerful at short ranges. For firearm enthusiasts, this could be anywhere under 50 yards. Don’t fall into the myth that the 380 ACP is ineffective since many demonstrations have proved that it isn’t. 


  • Better for experienced users: If you’re new to handguns, you’ll struggle with accuracy when using 380 ACP. Many people falsely believe that smaller guns are for less experienced carriers, but the opposite is true. 
  • More expensive: The 380 ACP is slightly more expensive since it’s manufactured in Western Countries. However, the availability and reliability make up for the extra cost. 

9×18 Pros and Cons 

Initially designed for World War 2 guns, the 9×18 became popular around the 1950s. This ammo has a .365″ caliber, which differs from most smaller handguns. It was purposely designed to be incompatible with guns that shoot .355″ caliber bullets. 


  • Powerful stopping power: The 9×18 is quite effective in short ranges and has decent stopping power. It was designed as a self-defense gun but can be used in small-game hunting. 
  • Ideal for short-range targets: With an effective range of 55 yards, the 9×18 can give decent stopping power over short to medium ranges. This makes it the perfect ammo for defensive handguns. 
  • Slightly cheaper: This ammo is mainly used in Eastern European countries and has been mass-produced for several decades. You may find it much cheaper than similar ammo, but it’s less widely available. 


  • Not widely available: Since Russia produces most of the 9×18 ammo, you may have trouble finding it in the USA. So, if you use a lot of ammo, this may be an issue. 
  • Limited use: Most of the handguns used in the West will support 355″ caliber ammo. So, unless you have a special gun compatible with 9×18, it doesn’t make sense to use it. 

Which Is More Powerful? 

9×18 Makarov ammo is slightly more powerful than the 380 ACP. However, this is a negligible difference in practical scenarios. Most gun experts recommend practicing for accuracy instead of relying on power. 

And since the power difference is around 10%, placement becomes even more crucial. 

Attributes 9X18 380 ACP
Ballistic Power 162 MPa 148 MPa
Caliber 364”355”
Case Length 18.03 mm17.3 mm
Case Type Tapered Straight 

Which Guns Can You Use With the 380 ACP and 9×18 Makarov?

You can use smaller handguns with the 380 ACP and 9×18 Makarov, such as the Glock 42 and the Kel-Tec P3AT. The 380 ACP supports. It’s often used in many of the smallest handguns designed for concealed carry. The 9×18 Makarov is used in firearms such as the Makarov PM and P-64 pistol. 

Guns that support the 9×18 are much cheaper, which is why they’re preferred worldwide. However, some of the best quality guns, such as the Glock 42, support 380 ACP cartridges. Some firearms may support both, although it’s best to use the recommended ammo for safety. 

Final Verdict

380 ACP and 9×18 Makarov are two of the most popular ammo for the smallest handguns. Both have amazing firepower and are effective in self-defense and varmint hunting. 

However, you can’t use them in the same guns due to crucial size differences. Both are effective at short range, yet the 9×18 is slightly more powerful, less expensive, and easier to find online. Whereas the 380 ACP is more widely available in the US and can be used in slightly more reliable firearms. 

If you use lots of ammo, 9×18 may be the better choice. If you only use it occasionally, go for the 380 ACP.

For more, check out How Much Does Ammo Cost? | Detailed Price Analysis.