Thinking on .380 ammunition characteristics

This is a discussion on Thinking on .380 ammunition characteristics within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I usually carry a 9mm, so I am completely confident in my ammunition choice of Hornady Critical Duty. But when I go to work, its ...

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Thread: Thinking on .380 ammunition characteristics

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    Senior Member Array AdamSean's Avatar
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    Thinking on .380 ammunition characteristics

    I usually carry a 9mm, so I am completely confident in my ammunition choice of Hornady Critical Duty. But when I go to work, its difficult to carry anything bigger than a pocket .380 ACP. I currently have it loaded with Hornady Critical Defense. It is a good balance of penetration and expansion. But as I was looking around the internet on performance data, I started thinking about some characteristics of the bullet and what it would take to end an attack.

    Check out the data on the .380's used in this test. Then think about the following.

    GoldenLoki.com

    A bullet needs to penetrate deep enough to hit vital organs or a part of the nervous system to cause an attacker to drop, ie: spinal chord, brain stem. Expansion causes more tissue damage and increases the spread of the damage to possible organs and nervous system. The problem inherent in the .380 is poor expansion in HP ammunition. Some people carry FMJ to get the penetration needed. On another concern, FMJs can over penetrate and cause collateral damage. Most larger caliber FMJs can penetrate up to 21 inches. But if you look at the test above, the .380 is right around 16-17 inches. Not bad for a SD round. I like the Buffalo Bore Hard Cast flat nose 100 gr. Now look at some of the HP rounds. There are a couple that get mighty close to the 12 inch minimum for FBI requirements. Here is my outlook on this conundrum. I really like the Remington Golden Saber 102gr .380 ACP. If it expands, you will get good energy deposit and decent penetration. If it doesn't expand, it still penetrates deep enough to be effective as long as you are on target. So I say don't worry too much on ammunition choice as long as it is acceptable. Worry more on being on target.

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    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    Problem is that none of the GS rounds expanded in this test when fired from the stumpy barrel of the P3at. So you are paying premium self defense ammo costs for what is, in effect, a FMJ bullet. Might as well save some money and get a FMJ-FP. I carry plain old WWB 95 gr FMJ-FP in my LCPs.

    The Cor Bon 90gr JHP and the Speer Gold Dot JHP exceed the FBI 12" minimum and expand reliably, but I prefer something that makes the desired 15" - or more. Thus the FMJ...
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    MJK
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    Check out DocGKR's sticky over on M4Carbine.net/Forums - Terminal Ballistics Information - BUGS: .380 ACP vs. .38 Sp.
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    VIP Member Array Smitty901's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10thmtn View Post
    Problem is that none of the GS rounds expanded in this test when fired from the stumpy barrel of the P3at. So you are paying premium self defense ammo costs for what is, in effect, a FMJ bullet. Might as well save some money and get a FMJ-FP. I carry plain old WWB 95 gr FMJ-FP in my LCPs.

    The Cor Bon 90gr JHP and the Speer Gold Dot JHP exceed the FBI 12" minimum and expand reliably, but I prefer something that makes the desired 15" - or more. Thus the FMJ...
    From a 380 owner I agree fully 95gr flat nose is what is in our 380's

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    Member Array Brent2006's Avatar
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    I believe the .380 rounds today from Speer Gold Dot and Corbon DPX will work fine. I have read that the Critical Defense is also a good performer but I prefer to stick with Gold Dot because of their rep in the LE community and It is hard to get a Gold Dot to not expand. I have been happy with the Gold Dot in my .380's.

    Also the fact that the Gold Dot's penetrated to 12.6 inches is pretty good for a .380

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    Member Array DooSPX's Avatar
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    Watch this! Hog's Head Ballistics - Speer Gold Dot 90gr .380 ACP - YouTube
    This video is what made up my mind for Speer's Gold Dot JHP in my backup .380
    Always Carry, Never Tell. Stay Safe. EDC .40 S&W, BUG .380 ACP, HD .40 S&W , 5.56 and 12GA, Range Toys .357Mag , .22LR

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    Senior Member Array AdamSean's Avatar
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    I happen to like Gold Dots too. They perform excellently in bare gel. But when the denim is added, they tend to clog. So I am with a lot of you guys by going with the FMJ flat nose. I will be ordering the Buffalo Bore hard cast 100gr next payday.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Way too much thought on a non issue.

    When given a choice of expansion or penetration, always go for penetration.

    FMJ and forget about it.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamSean View Post
    I usually carry a 9mm, so I am completely confident in my ammunition choice of Hornady Critical Duty. But when I go to work, its difficult to carry anything bigger than a pocket .380 ACP. I currently have it loaded with Hornady Critical Defense. It is a good balance of penetration and expansion. But as I was looking around the internet on performance data, I started thinking about some characteristics of the bullet and what it would take to end an attack.

    Check out the data on the .380's used in this test. Then think about the following.

    GoldenLoki.com

    A bullet needs to penetrate deep enough to hit vital organs or a part of the nervous system to cause an attacker to drop, ie: spinal chord, brain stem. Expansion causes more tissue damage and increases the spread of the damage to possible organs and nervous system. The problem inherent in the .380 is poor expansion in HP ammunition. Some people carry FMJ to get the penetration needed. On another concern, FMJs can over penetrate and cause collateral damage. Most larger caliber FMJs can penetrate up to 21 inches. But if you look at the test above, the .380 is right around 16-17 inches. Not bad for a SD round. I like the Buffalo Bore Hard Cast flat nose 100 gr. Now look at some of the HP rounds. There are a couple that get mighty close to the 12 inch minimum for FBI requirements. Here is my outlook on this conundrum. I really like the Remington Golden Saber 102gr .380 ACP. If it expands, you will get good energy deposit and decent penetration. If it doesn't expand, it still penetrates deep enough to be effective as long as you are on target. So I say don't worry too much on ammunition choice as long as it is acceptable. Worry more on being on target.
    Since the FBI test protocols recommend a penetration depth between 12"-18" (some folks don't follow them, but I do due to my personal defensive needs), an FMJ (flat point or round nose) in .380 seems to be the way to go since a JHP, if it opens, will in most cases fail to reach a penetration depth of more that 10".

    The Schwartz bullet penetration model says that

    - a .380 95 gr FMJRN at 900 fps will penetrate to a depth of 18.7" in soft tissue

    - a .380 95 gr FMJFN at 900 fps will penetrate to a depth of 19.4" in soft tissue

    (all of this changes if bone is struck, obviously)

    so either of these options is right at the upper end of the desired range and will likely offer the best chance of hitting a vital organ or major blood vessel.

    Although I probably thought about it way too much for glockman10mm's taste , I'd take his advice of "FMJ and forget about it." as the best option.

    YMMV.
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