A Critical Choice
Hornady's newest has the right mix of power and penetration.
By Patrick Sweeney
"In bare gelatin, the Hornady Critical Defense .380 load showed excellent penetration for its power level and perfect expansion."
We don't all carry big guns. If you spend any time at all packing after getting your carry permit, you quickly learn that packing a big gun can be a literal pain in the back.
If you've followed the progress of bullet design to any extent, you'll have some recollection of the FBI tests. Beginning in the mid-late 1980s, the FBI turned itself into the bullet-testing arm of law enforcement. Basically, the FBI added barrier penetration-- light and heavy clothing, sheet metal, auto glass and marine plywood--to the International Wound Ballistics Association bullet-testing ballistic gelatin protocol.
The FBI also insisted on deep penetration; anything less than a foot was deemed insufficient--for law enforcement needs, that is. For the rest of us, the need to shoot through auto glass, sheet metal and plywood are probably not as great. However, there is one aspect of the FBI test that is of importance: performance through clothing. An attacker in the winter might well be wearing multiple layers of clothing, layers that can clog a hollowpoint and decrease or prevent its expansion.
...Hornady considered what most of us really carry and designed a line of ammunition for those guns often on our belts and the performance we'll most likely need: reliability, accuracy, relatively low recoil and full expansion in gelatin after clothing.
Hornady specifically designed the Critical Defense line for .380, 9mm, .38 Special and .357 Magnum, the calibers we're more likely to be carrying. The bullet is intended to perform well in gelatin--clothing or no--but auto glass, metal and plywood performance are not as good. That's the price you pay for an easy-to-shoot load that works well in the non-law enforcement world.
I fired .380 and 9mm Critical Defense through combined heavy clothing and down vest material, into gelatin and found that it performed pretty well.
The .380 load fell short of the FBI minimum, which is 12 inches of gelatin with full expansion. The Critical Defense out of a Ruger LCP managed "only" nine to 10 inches of penetration. But again, this is designed for civilian needs, not law enforcement, and compared to other .380 loads, this is darned good.
Other current hollowpoints out of .380s often fail to reliably expand, or the hollowpoints clog with cloth and act as full-metal-jacket bullets. And it's only recently that the idea of a .380 bullet expanding reliably would even be considered as hollowpoint .380 ammo from even a decade ago won't expand at all in bare gelatin, let alone in the heavy clothing test. Short barrels make expansion even less likely...
Source - http://www.handgunsmag.com/ammunitio...choice_200903/