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Old 03-15-2017, 01:35 PM
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FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos? FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos? FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos? FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos? FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos?  
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Default FMJ or HP in small caliber semi-autos?

I finally got around to getting a Ruger LCP (.380) to replace my old Kel-Tec .32 that I've carried in my back pocket 'til the finish is gone.
I know I'll take heat for the maker and caliber of that .32 but in the meantime a question.

I have Gold Dot & Hornady 380 ammo for my PPK so I'm going to run those through the Ruger.
Do you think it's just as well to shoot FMJ through a small caliber semi-auto?

I wonder how a small HP would expand and if it's even a factor in .380 and below.
Maybe you want the small round to go deep instead of more shallow but bigger around?

What do you think?

GF
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Old 03-15-2017, 01:40 PM
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Most of the tests I've seen point to xtp being the favored for 380 as it doesn't expand as well and is able to achieve adequate penetration. Hst and gold dot do not reach adequate penetration in a small 380 like the LCP.

Mine is only a backup but I carry fmj when I carry it
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:01 PM
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I have a Mauser HSc (380) that was purchased for CCW. In the warmer months, my plan is to carry either Hornady Critical Defense ammo or HPs. However, in the colder months when normal people are wearing extra layers of clothing, I will carry FMJ to ensure penetration.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:12 PM
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There is a bunch of data behind this wrap up, if you go back to his web site and poke around. I'm satisfied carrying my little .380 SIG P238 with either the of the top performing loads, Fiocchi Extrema or the Federal.

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Old 03-15-2017, 02:17 PM
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I prefer HPs in my mouse guns but if they don't feed well I use FMJs. However, Hornady makes one round, I forget which, it could be Critical Defense, that has a polymer insert in the HP - I like that concept.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:47 PM
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If 12" penetration is the priority, then I'm in agreement with Brasky that the 90 gr XTP is the only real option.

The Hornady XTP is pretty much the only hollow point that will meet the FBI penetration standards in the .380 ACP.

Don't get too hung up on one load over the other, as there are about a half dozen commercial loads that use the 90 gr XTP for .380 ACP self defense loads and while you'll see testing differences between brand X and brand Y on youtube, those are usually a 1 to 4 shot sample which isn't enough to show any significant differences.

The bullet is the same and it will work fine at a velocity around 1000-1050 fps, where it will expand reliably in both bare gelatin and heavy denim tests. That however takes a 3.5" to 3.9" barrel to achieve with most of those loads.

Barrel length matters however and a shorter 2.75" barrel will have velocities down around 870-900 fps with those loads and you'll start to see some failures to expand in heavy denim. But the good news is that they will penetrate to around 15" absent any significant expansion, so it's no worse than an FMJ, and there's no downside to using the XTP.

The XTP works by expanding in a more moderate and controlled fashion - more of a mushroom than the spider legged form some other take. That makes the most of what limited velocity and energy is available in the .380 ACP.

What you want to avoid, if you prioritize 12" minimum penetration, are the .380 ACP hollow points that potentially over expand and thus come up short in the 8" to 10" range.



-----

Now...that said, there's another point of view that holds that 12" of penetration in not the major criteria in effectiveness. It basically holds that that 12" won't do any more than 9" or 10" in an armed citizen shoot where the target aspect is normally face to face and where there are no intervening barriers.

The data on real world shoots indicates that the Federal Hydra Shok, and JHPs from CorBon, Federal, Remington and Winchester all seem to do well in real world shoots, despite only 9-10" of penetration in 10% ordinance gelatin.

The Hornady FTX, the one with the plastic plug in the hollow point, and sold as their "Critical Defense" brand expands very well but only penetrates to about 8"-9". That's a bit too shallow penetrating for my tastes and I haven't see enough real world data on it to be convinced whether it's as effective as other hollow points or not.

The actual results in real world shoots are all about the same for the hollow points that demonstrate 9" to 10" of penetration, and all of them appear to be significantly more effective in the real world than an FMJ - about 70% effective versus 55% effective.

That point of view, and it's supporting data, argues that you're still better off with any hollow point that you are with an FMJ.

-----

Personally, I want at least 10" minimum penetration and while I now carry the 90 gr XTP in my back up .380 ACP (and the 125 gr XTP in my snub nose .38 Special) I never felt under bulleted with the 102 gr Golden Saber in the .380 ACP. It expands well, penetrates 10" and the results in the real world have been very good.
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:59 PM
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Penetration is most important in the "weaker" calibers. Not all shots are at a full frontal. Some are angled, or must penetrate bone (arm).
XTP bullet or Lehigh defense 90 gr. extreme penetrator show up well on tests. FMJ would be my much poorer next choice.
I am not laughing at the Kel-Tec .32. I have one in my car for back-up using the Lehigh bullet.
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Old 03-15-2017, 09:20 PM
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"Barrel length matters however and a shorter 2.75" barrel will have velocities down around 870-900 fps with those loads and you'll start to see some failures to expand in heavy denim. But the good news is that they will penetrate to around 15" absent any significant expansion, so it's no worse than an FMJ, and there's no downside to using the XTP. "

BB57


I see your point in using the TXP round.
Use a bullet designed to expand, if it doesn't it mimics an FMJ round in depth of penetration.
I will try those in my LCP.

On a side note, the only HP round I've ever had fail to feed was the Winchester brand.
The only other .380 platform I have is a Walther PPK and it never failed to chamber a round of whatever I fed it.
All except those Winchester hollow points.

Any observations on brands that have reliability problems?

GF
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:08 PM
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I carry Glaser Safety Slugs in my .380. I have never used them in anger, however, Mass Ayoobb(?) Has had good things to report about them RE: his police days.
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISCS Yoda View Post
I prefer HPs in my mouse guns but if they don't feed well I use FMJs. However, Hornady makes one round, I forget which, it could be Critical Defense, that has a polymer insert in the HP - I like that concept.
Differing opinions on this subject. IMO, I consider my little .25 a "get off me" gun. So what I want is unfailing reliability and keep it charged with FMJ. However, along your train of thought, I've been itching to buy a Seecamp or NA .32, which are designed for HPs; probably the best combination for a mouse/pocket gun
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Old 03-16-2017, 07:26 AM
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Have been carrying a Kahr P380 for a couple of years when I can not carry a larger gun. Started off carrying CorBon .380s with the 90 grain Sierra bullet as they were about 100 fps faster than the rest I had chronoed. Later I went to the CorBon PowR'Ball.

Last year started carrying the Underwood Xtreme Defender using the all copper Lehigh bullets. Now also using them in my primary gun also...


...or if you want something deeper penetrating...


Bob
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Old 03-16-2017, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ISCS Yoda View Post
I prefer HPs in my mouse guns but if they don't feed well I use FMJs. However, Hornady makes one round, I forget which, it could be Critical Defense, that has a polymer insert in the HP - I like that concept.
This says it all. For defensive use the first consideration must be proper functioning in the handgun. Nothing else is acceptable. Everything else is a secondary consideration.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:16 PM
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I load my KelTec 3AT with the Precision One XTP's mentioned in bigwheelzip's video post. I've had no problems with them at all.
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Old 03-16-2017, 12:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuperMan View Post
Have been carrying a Kahr P380 for a couple of years when I can not carry a larger gun. Started off carrying CorBon .380s with the 90 grain Sierra bullet as they were about 100 fps faster than the rest I had chronoed. Later I went to the CorBon PowR'Ball.

Last year started carrying the Underwood Xtreme Defender using the all copper Lehigh bullets. Now also using them in my primary gun also...

380ACP Gel Test (Underwood / Lehigh) - YouTube

...or if you want something deeper penetrating...
Lehigh Defense - The best .380 carry round? - YouTube
The gentleman doing the video at the top needs a quick brief on the effects of low angle sunlight on a chronograph. To avoid the spurious readings, he needs to place a continuous shade over both sensors and over hanging the front a bit. A piece of tag board or Coroplast works great.

In fact, I often just use a large piece of Coroplast over my whole unit, in low angle light, as well as if it is threatening to rain to keep the unit dry. Just poke the supports into the bottom of the Coroplast and you're GTG.
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:16 PM
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I suppose I'm in the minority here, but I load my Kel-Tec (nothing wrong with a reliable one of those, BTW!) with .380 flat-points. It runs fine with JHP, but I want the slug to get to where it needs to go, and that little tube looks short!
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Old 03-16-2017, 02:47 PM
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I've found the Gold Dot bullets to give the most reliable expansion in all calibers down to and including the 380.
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Old 03-16-2017, 04:09 PM
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FMJ for me in a .380 format for reliable penetration and reliable functioning.
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Old 03-16-2017, 04:54 PM
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General consensus seems to be that the 380 is not powerful enough to get both adequate penetration AND reliable expansion. That being the case I would opt for penetration first.

However, ordinary round nosed target ammo isn't the best choice IMO. the smooth slippery profile tends to push tissues aside as it penetrates making a small non-destructive wound channel.

I favor either something like a hard jacketed HP with no exposed lead at the nose (so it doesn't actually expand) or something like a Truncated Cone (TC) profile with a flat nose and a sharp edge (a.k.a. a meplat).

Just like a wadcutter or semi-wadcutter will punch larger circular holes in paper than the round nose profiled bullets, a flat meplat with sharp edges will do more tissue damage - while still getting the necessary penetration to reach the vitals. Therefore it will be more likely to quickly incapacitate an attacker than a round nose target profile bullet would.

That's my 2cents but YMMV.
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Old 03-16-2017, 04:58 PM
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I don't know if they expand, but they feed just fine. I carry 95 gr. hollow points in my Ruger Custom LCP. Speer or Federal, both are good.
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:00 PM
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I've been carryng the HPR 90 grain HP in my LCP. It cycles fine, seems accurate and is reported to penetrate deep enough to pass the FBI protocol. It's as close to the Federal Hydra Shock as we can find around here.
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Old 03-16-2017, 06:21 PM
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I have a LCP custom and the only thing I would carry in it is round nose.

My wife has a bodyguard and the only thing I will let her put in it is round nose.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:07 AM
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I have always wondered about using cast bullets in autos for this exact reason. Think about it- the "gold standard" load for the .38 special is the FBI load, a soft lead hollowpoint. Why not use the same for automatics? Yes, most autos will feed cast bullets just fine.

My way of thinking is, especially in sub-caliber guns, like the .380 and .32 ACP, soft cast bullets will expand at low velocities. Second, if you have two bullets of identical weight, with the same charge, the lead will always be faster than jacketed (less friction). So, the lead HP solves the expansion issue and the added velocity could solve the penetration issue.

Has anyone loaded some and tested them? Here are some examples I found:
32 caliber 100 grain hollow point round nose lead bullets [32-100-hp-313] - $10.19 : GT Bullets!, Fine Hand Cast Lead Bullets
88gr Hollow Point Cast Lead Bullets .356 [380-88-hp-356] - $9.71 : GT Bullets!, Fine Hand Cast Lead Bullets

Opinions?

Last edited by franzas; 03-18-2017 at 01:08 AM.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:38 AM
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After doing several test's with my FEG PPK 380, I only use FMJ 90 gr loads.
Up close, any round will do stopping damage I believe.
I can't CC my 500 Magnum! LOL!
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Old 03-18-2017, 03:42 AM
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Even if the HP only expands 30% of the time, it still expands 100% more often than a FMJ.
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Old 03-18-2017, 08:32 AM
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I carry what I shoot at the range. Freedom Munitions: .380 100 gr. RNFP
(X-Treme: Fully Jacketed Round Nose Flat Point.) I believe it will afford good penetration and cut through most clothing or light barriers.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GF View Post
Do you think it's just as well to shoot FMJ through a small caliber semi-auto?

I wonder how a small HP would expand and if it's even a factor in .380 and below.
Maybe you want the small round to go deep instead of more shallow but bigger around?

What do you think?
It sounds like you have an open mind. Many people don't when this topic comes up.

It seems that bullet expansion has become the holy grail regardless of its effectiveness or lack thereof. Many people don't consider the power level of the cartridge. Expansion is everything to them, even if effectiveness actually suffers.

I've looked at this subject from all sides especially in regards to the power level of the service calibers. In .380ACP, which is just below the power levels of the common service calibers, I choose penetration over expansion. FMJ gives you the maximum possible penetration along with the bonus of the maximum functional reliability possible from the chosen firearm.

I can't tell if an expanded bullet stops an opponent any better than a FMJ and I don't think anyone else can; unless they rely on unreliable anecdotes. There is no science that has ended this 100 year plus debate either.

I do know that a bullet that plows through has more chances of hitting something important, that will disable an attacker, than one that stops short. The 86 FBI Miami shootout comes to mind.
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Old 03-18-2017, 01:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hostler View Post
Even if the HP only expands 30% of the time, it still expands 100% more often than a FMJ.
It sure does. But is expansion always desirable - or even 30% of the time?

What if that 30% expansion rate also means that 30% of the time the bullet stops short before penetrating deep enough to hit anything that will stop the assailant?
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:00 PM
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What if that 30% expansion rate also means that 30% of the time the bullet stops short before penetrating deep enough to hit anything that will stop the assailant?

That question is especially relevant when discussing which bullets to depend on when relying on the .380 cartridge to defend your life with and you don't have the option of choosing your assailant's attire.
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