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Old 06-21-2018, 08:48 PM
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Default .380 Self-Defense Ammo

Though not scientific by any means, I always find the "Meat Target" to be an interesting and enlightening "addition" to gel block testing. That .380 HST came away from the Meat Target looking awfully good.

.380 vs The Meat Target

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Old 06-21-2018, 09:37 PM
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I like to do my own tests. FWIW:

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Old 06-21-2018, 09:44 PM
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I like the way he constructs his meat target. Seems like a reasonable analog for testing.

I also liked the looks of the results he got with the HTX rounds.

I may have to pick up a box of those for when I need to pocket carry one of my little 380 autos.
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Old 06-23-2018, 01:03 PM
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There is one round approved by LAPD for the .380, IIRC. My memory of what is fails, but I am sure the google will help you. Failing that, ball is the recommendation from Dr. Roberts, who is by far the leading authority on the issue. I bought some ball to test the G42 that I am giving my wife, and will use it and some Black Hills Honey Badger (about which I did inquire of Gary) to work forward. I have been pretty busy lately, and haven't talked to Gary in a while other than about a friend's medical issue.
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Old 06-23-2018, 01:44 PM
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Just to pile on more data, here's a summary of ShootingTheBull's famous .380 self-defense ammo tests:

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Old 06-23-2018, 01:50 PM
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Folks trying to make the 380 something itís not makes great reading and debate fodder.

Unfortunately, it misses the point: reliability and penetration are the most important features in 380, 32 or 22 sd ammo.

Ball ammo is the preferred ammo.
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Old 06-23-2018, 05:43 PM
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I sometimes carry an LCP and it’s loaded w/Federal HST 90 grain HP. It looks like about the best you can hope for given the shortcomings of this pistol and caliber.
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Old 06-23-2018, 06:25 PM
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Personally, I carry a Smith & Wesson manufactured Walther PPK/S loaded with Hornady American Gunner XTPs.

Based on what I've seen, the XTP bullet design is the best all around performer when it comes to JHPs in .380 ACP due to its ability to consistently expand while penetrating 12" in Ballistics Gel. Say what you will about Ballistics Gel tests, but the fact that XTPs can reach 12" with uniform expansion while other bullets will either expand but only reach around 8" or fail to expand and overpenetrate still says something in regards to its overall performance.

I know that some folks insist that FMJ is the only way to go when it comes to .380 ACP, but I cannot in good conscience use bullets which are all but guaranteed to cause collateral damage of some kind due to overpenetration. Sure, maybe the .380 ACP will dump enough energy into the target that the bullet will deal minimal damage to anyone/anything behind it, but that's not a chance that I'm willing to take.

Personally, I feel that the .380 ACP is underrated/underestimated as a self-defense cartridge. It's roughly equivalent to standard pressure .38 Special, (which many folks carry) yet for some reason it is rated much lower.
Furthermore, many folks are practically in love with the 9mm Luger cartridge, often touting it as the ideal self-defense cartridge, yet if you compare two similar pistols chambered in .380 ACP and 9mm Luger side-by-side like the SIG P238 and P938, the actual amount of damage (penetration depth, wound channel, etc) dealt to just about everything from Ballistics Gel to animals is extremely similar, in spite of what the large differences in numerical figures like velocity, foot-pounds, and pressure may suggest, ergo while the 9mm Luger is undoubtedly more powerful than .380 ACP, out of short barrels it seems to only beget a marginal improvement, yet folks still ask, "Why carry a .380 when you can carry a nine?"

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Old 06-23-2018, 06:49 PM
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For what it's worth, my former agency issued the Remington 102 grain Golden Sabre's for .380's. They seemed to work well although Have no personal experience with them.
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Old 06-23-2018, 07:00 PM
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My wife, and I train for head shots, in 380 that means a bullet that will smash threw the skull, and not just follow the skin around the skull. Powder coated flat points is what is in our 380's.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:45 PM
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Last time I looked around every handgun made for the .380 was a semi-auto. The absolute gold standard is ammo that will reliably feed, fire, extract, eject, etc, 100% of the time in your pistol. Everything else is wishful thinking.

Beyond reliable functioning the next critical consideration is shot placement. Will your ammo reliably shoot to point of aim at reasonable combat ranges (and I'm talking about your high-dollar carry ammo, not what you burn up at the range now and then)? If not you need to re-think your choices.

Way down the list, at least in my book, is the issue of expanding bullets. Maybe they will, maybe they won't (and at .380 velocities that will always be a very big "if"). Relying upon wishful thinking won't win the fight; putting the first (and if needed, the second and third) shot where it needs to be has to be the first consideration.

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Old 06-24-2018, 12:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
Last time I looked around every handgun made for the .380 was a semi-auto.
Check out the Taurus M380 Ultra Light.
5 shot, 380ACP revolver.
Taurus M380IBULSS Revolver | .380 5 Rounds Matte Stainless Steel
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Old 06-24-2018, 06:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rpg View Post
Folks trying to make the 380 something itís not ...it misses the point: reliability and penetration are the most important features in 380, 32 or 22 sd ammo.
Ball ammo is the preferred ammo.
But which ball?
380 ACP 90 Grain Xtreme Penetrator – Underwood Ammo

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Old 06-24-2018, 10:09 AM
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Agree with Hornady American Gunner with XTP bullet. It's all I shoot in my BG--100% reliable and great ballistics


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Old 06-24-2018, 10:57 AM
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Shooting the Bull did a follow-up to the above wrap-up where he said he would choose the Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrator over the XTP rounds. I'm not a believer in "magic bullets" but this one looks pretty effective. A hard ball with the wound track of a hollow point.
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug M. View Post
There is one round approved by LAPD for the .380, IIRC. My memory of what is fails, but I am sure the google will help you. Failing that, ball is the recommendation from Dr. Roberts, who is by far the leading authority on the issue. I bought some ball to test the G42 that I am giving my wife, and will use it and some Black Hills Honey Badger (about which I did inquire of Gary) to work forward. I have been pretty busy lately, and haven't talked to Gary in a while other than about a friend's medical issue.
This site shows LAPDs equipment.

Search for 380 and it shows ammo.

Looks like Hornady Critical Defense.

LAPD Equipment - Los Angeles Police Department
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
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This site shows LAPDs equipment.

Search for 380 and it shows ammo.

Looks like Hornady Critical Defense.

LAPD Equipment - Los Angeles Police Department
This is what Lucky Gunners test revealed as being pretty effective for penetration & expansion when shot through denim.

https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/sel...-tests/#380ACP

I'm packing the Precision One load (XTP bullet) based on ShootingTheBull's testing.
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida J Frame View Post
Shooting the Bull did a follow-up to the above wrap-up where he said he would choose the Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrator over the XTP rounds. I'm not a believer in "magic bullets" but this one looks pretty effective. A hard ball with the wound track of a hollow point.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, while the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator, Polycase/Ruger ARX Inceptor, and other such bullets most certainly get impressive results in Ballistics Gel, I personally would hold off on using them until they become more commonplace.
If they are anywhere near as impressive as they appear to be, then it's only a matter of time before they're adopted by Military/Law Enforcement/Intelligence Agencies across the globe, the design is massively copied, JHP ammunition goes into decline, the prices become far more affordable, and any concern over their usage in self-defense becoming a liability in court due to their obscurity is gone.

I own a box of Polycase ARX Inceptors myself, and although I have been tempted to carry them due to their impressive results in Ballistics Gel tests and softer recoil, I have concerns about the possibility of having to shoot through barriers which may cause the bullets to break apart.
One of these days I'd like to take them out to the range along with some common types of barriers like an old wooden door, 2x4s, and if I couod get my hands on a car door or windshield that would be great too, just to see how they would perform.
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Old 06-24-2018, 03:35 PM
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Agree with the Hornady XTP shooters...great ammo. 100% reliable in my LCP. Most accurate by far of any I've tried in that gun. It expands well in water jugs (my only test media but with the .380 I'm not really worried with expansion anyway...)

Reliability and accuracy are a must. XTP offers both. If ball ammo shot better groups POA than the XTPs I'd consider them....haven't found any that does.
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:13 PM
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Default Military won't adopt Lehigh Defense Xtreme

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Harry Callahan View Post
I've said it before and I'll say it again, while the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator, Polycase/Ruger ARX Inceptor, and other such bullets most certainly get impressive results in Ballistics Gel, I personally would hold off on using them until they become more commonplace.
If they are anywhere near as impressive as they appear to be, then it's only a matter of time before they're adopted by Military/Law Enforcement/Intelligence Agencies across the globe, the design is massively copied, JHP ammunition goes into decline, the prices become far more affordable, and any concern over their usage in self-defense becoming a liability in court due to their obscurity is gone.

I own a box of Polycase ARX Inceptors myself, and although I have been tempted to carry them due to their impressive results in Ballistics Gel tests and softer recoil, I have concerns about the possibility of having to shoot through barriers which may cause the bullets to break apart.
One of these days I'd like to take them out to the range along with some common types of barriers like an old wooden door, 2x4s, and if I couod get my hands on a car door or windshield that would be great too, just to see how they would perform.
I have no idea what law enforcement requires but the Geneva convention doesn't allow for anything but ball ammo IIRC.
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Old 06-24-2018, 04:30 PM
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The Geneva Protocal is part of the Hague Convention.
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:30 PM
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And we are not a signatory to that portion, which IIRC refers to ammunition that causes "undue suffering", not a specific type.
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Old 06-24-2018, 08:39 PM
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A couple years ago, I bought an Israeli surplus Beretta 84F. I got it for a plinker, because I had wanted one since I was young, and the price was low.
I never considered it as a serious use pistol.
Then, when I shot it, I found it fit my hand extremely well, so it pointed like a finger. I also found it to be completely reliable, and very accurate.
So, I started researching self defense 380 loads.
Since my pistol has a longer barrel to burn more powder, I went to the Underwood +P XTP load. I feel pretty well armed with 14 of those in this pistol.
As far as FMJ ammo, I would be fine with it, but most of the FMJ I’ve tried is made to price point, and doesn’t even perform to what the 380 is capable of. None of it is as good as the GECO FMJ I bought when I was young...Made in Germany, it had cupronickel jackets with lacquer sealant on the primer and case mouth, and seemed much more powerful than anything made in USA. I found 20rds from back then in my ammo stash, and my memory of how good this ammo performed was confirmed.
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Old 06-25-2018, 01:25 AM
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Too many people worship at the altar of bullet expansion without taking into account the power level of the cartridge. Ideally, any expanded bullet should have enough power to travel through a torso from any angle and be found in the clothing of the attacker. Bullet expansion should be tailored to the power of the cartridge. Lack of penetration indicates too much expansion. At the power level of the .380, expansion should be almost zero; perhaps some nose deformation that turns the bullet into a wadcutter profile but no more.
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Old 06-27-2018, 07:36 PM
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I personally carry an american gunner xtp in the chamber and a mag full of FMJ in my lcp . My bersa thunder and TCP gets all FMJ. My Taurus 380 revolver has hydra shoks in it
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Old 06-27-2018, 07:54 PM
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For over 5 years I have been carrying an LCP with ball ammo.
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Old 06-27-2018, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Harry Callahan View Post
I've said it before and I'll say it again, while the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator, Polycase/Ruger ARX Inceptor, and other such bullets most certainly get impressive results in Ballistics Gel, I personally would hold off on using them until they become more commonplace.
If they are anywhere near as impressive as they appear to be, then it's only a matter of time before they're adopted by Military/Law Enforcement/Intelligence Agencies across the globe, the design is massively copied, JHP ammunition goes into decline, the prices become far more affordable, and any concern over their usage in self-defense becoming a liability in court due to their obscurity is gone.

I own a box of Polycase ARX Inceptors myself, and although I have been tempted to carry them due to their impressive results in Ballistics Gel tests and softer recoil, I have concerns about the possibility of having to shoot through barriers which may cause the bullets to break apart.
One of these days I'd like to take them out to the range along with some common types of barriers like an old wooden door, 2x4s, and if I could get my hands on a car door or windshield that would be great too, just to see how they would perform.
FWIW, here is a page with a (admittedly amateur) video where they shoot the 380 ARX into gel through plywood and through a 2x4.

Ruger .380 Auto ARX Ammunition – Clark Armory

Seemed to work really well. This ammo is light and FAST. 56 grains moving at over 1300fps. Very intriguing.

Last edited by BC38; 06-27-2018 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 06-28-2018, 07:05 AM
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If you're going hollow point, I think the old Hydro-shoks are the best you can do. For whatever reason, the old tech works well in .380. It's what I have in my LCP. Outside of that, I would go with some sort of FMJ ball round.

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Old 06-28-2018, 08:09 AM
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Ball fmj is all thats needed for carry ammo in the 380.
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Old 06-28-2018, 08:16 AM
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Lately I've been practicing quite a bit with a pair of Beretta 84 and 85 pistols, these being the double and single stack .380s that look like small-scale GI service pistols. Caliber aside, I don't have anything else that I am as confident of functioning and accuracy and they fit my hand perfectly.

If the rank of criteria is first dependability, then accuracy, then caliber, then I'm good with these little Berettas. Add to this modern rounds like the Lehigh loading and I think you have a great combination that is (for me) exceedingly comfortable to carry, safe, dependable and accurate.

Sure, I'd rather have a 1911 at all times, but due to age and stage this just isn't practical.

I should add it has been a long, weary road getting to this point and much money has been spent and wasted on other pistols in figuring this out. Call it "research and development." Sounds a lot smarter than the process actually was.

Note the size comparisons below with a J frame and a Beretta 92 9mm:



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Old 06-28-2018, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
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There is one round approved by LAPD for the .380, IIRC. My memory of what is fails,
Hornady Critical Defense
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Old 06-28-2018, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bamabred View Post
If you're going hollow point, I think the old Hydro-shoks are the best you can do. For whatever reason, the old tech works well in .380. It's what I have in my LCP.
I'm fond of that load myself. I carry them in my TCP.

I shot one into wet sand on the beach once, just to see what the bullet would look like.

The bullet mushroomed beautifully out to nearly 3/4" diameter with nice sharp petals of jacket material all the way around and it appeared to have 100% weight retention. Looked like it would do some SERIOUS damage if it did the same thing in tissue.

It also penetrated about 5 inches. That much penetration despite the expansion really surprised me. When you consider the way that wet sand "packs", it is a far more resistive media than water or tissue or wet newspaper. If the round penetrated that far with that much expansion in such a "hard" media, it seems to me like it would just about have to penetrate two to three times that far in tissue, even with the nice expansion.

I figure in the worst case where it doesn't expand at all it is still going to penetrate like hardball - but with the added bonus of what amounts to a very sharp-edged flat meplat.

Pretty hard to imagine doing much better than that in a mouse gun round.
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  #33  
Old 07-05-2018, 10:14 PM
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Imissedagain Imissedagain is offline
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Shot my sons Sig238 with some Penn 100gr TTBB .355” forget which powder .... then I thru my always carried, laser removed, 2gen, LCP in the Ocean.... tough to hate a reliable gun but I have a 238HD-CA on the way.
I call the old hardly used P238 Equinox his gun because a few scratches appeared while being used for grip templates etc etc and I gave him a BT99 to soothe his pain.

The 380 is a great round for South Florida.
Loader friendly and three fit in a 460 case.
Never shot an XTP that didn’t go where aimed.
115s in 380 and those Penns will battle it out as Sig238HD vs S&Walther PPKs go for the X count.... strong hand weak hand
25/50/100 yds..... Markham Park this summer.
Steel is Real Day!!!

Last edited by Imissedagain; 07-05-2018 at 10:29 PM.
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  #34  
Old 07-14-2018, 08:30 PM
Capn Capn is offline
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Originally Posted by Lostaro View Post
Agree with the Hornady XTP shooters...great ammo. 100% reliable in my LCP. Most accurate by far of any I've tried in that gun. It expands well in water jugs (my only test media but with the .380 I'm not really worried with expansion anyway...)

Reliability and accuracy are a must. XTP offers both. If ball ammo shot better groups POA than the XTPs I'd consider them....haven't found any that does.
Same here. The XTP in .380 is all I will carry in my Kahrs. Functions 100% in both guns for about 50 rounds, which is when both my Kahrs start to choke no matter what ammo I use. Very accurate too.
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