Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl

Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl

This is a discussion on Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I picked up a box of Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38 spl FTX for my wife a few months back. I have heard very mixed ...

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Thread: Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl

  1. #1
    Member Array AZRooster's Avatar
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    Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl

    I picked up a box of Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38 spl FTX for my wife a few months back. I have heard very mixed reviews on them so I wanted to perform a little test to get an idea of the results. I understand this is a very simple test. It is not to the standards of the FBI, like I said I just wanted to get an idea of how they would perform so Im not saying this test really proves anything. I just want to share it to get some feedback and maybe provide a little bit of insight for anyone else considering this round.

    I used a Taurus 85 snub nose revolver and shot simply at 5 water jugs

    The round is super accurate as my wife can literally put it on the X from 15 yards. The recoil from them is super easy on the hand, my wife loves shooting them.

    The round penetrated 3 full water jugs. The jacket did separate and was left in the second but the bullet penetrated and rested at the bottom of the 3rd. The expansion for this 90 grain bullet was impressive as it appeared to be very good as you can see in the picture below. I did not weigh it but the retention looked to be good as well.

    After this test I was impressed with this little bullet. Hornady advertises it as a low recoil .38 that still performs to their standards. I feel that is exactly what I got. To add a little comparison we also shot Hornady 115gr critical defense 9mm, and a Federal 124gr Hydra Shock 9mm. The results were the same for all three rounds. They all penetrated 3 jugs and had good expansion. If you are interested I can start another thread and post those pictures as well. So this 38 seemed to keep up with those two 9mm rounds

    So in conclusion I was impressed what this little bullet did as I feel it performed exactly as advertised. Now again I know this is a crude little test but none the less I was impressed. I planned to go back and cover the first jugs with a T-shirt and then denim to see how it holds up against that. I would love to hear what everyone thinks of this round.

    Ammo test Hornady Critical Defense Lite .38spl-img_2655.jpg

    Sorry about the small picture but if you click on it you get a pretty good view.
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    .38 as in .38 Special? Boy, that really is light.
    At 90grs I'd like to see how it compares to a .380.

    Thanks for the test.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Array Compa49's Avatar
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    Nice expansion. You don't normally see complete separation on a simple jug or gel test. Normally you get separation through barrier testing. Not sure how it will perform in other tests. Not interested in light loads since I have no need. I will stick with HST and Gold Dot.
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  4. #4
    Member Array AZRooster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAcanis View Post
    .38 as in .38 Special? Boy, that really is light.
    At 90grs I'd like to see how it compares to a .380.

    Thanks for the test.
    Sorry yes it was .38 spl I made the clarification above

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array PAcanis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZRooster View Post
    Sorry yes it was .38 spl I made the clarification above
    Yeah, I Googled it before I replied. At first I thought you must have meant 380. Then I saw the product.
    Like I said, I'd really like to compare it to a .380. That seems like a direct competitor. the 38 Lite probably feels pretty tame in an Airweight compared to 158gr rounds. For someone looking for the reliability of a revolver and a light recoil it's probably pretty sweet.

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array LtBlue425's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry about the jacket part. Looks like a decent option for a snubbie .38 Spec. I still like the soft lead SWC-HP like the Nyclad for .38 snubbies.
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  7. #7
    Member Array AZRooster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAcanis View Post
    Yeah, I Googled it before I replied. At first I thought you must have meant 380. Then I saw the product.
    Like I said, I'd really like to compare it to a .380. That seems like a direct competitor. the 38 Lite probably feels pretty tame in an Airweight compared to 158gr rounds. For someone looking for the reliability of a revolver and a light recoil it's probably pretty sweet.
    I don't have a 380 but Im sure I can borrow one. Ill give it a shot and post it for you, just give me a little time.
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    Senior Member Array bubbatime's Avatar
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    I've shot 50-60 gel blocks. I have a bit of knowledge on ballistics. With that being said, I honestly can't think of a worse .38 Special round for defensive use. If I wanted low recoil, the 148 wadcutter would be superior to that 90 grain lite round.
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  9. #9
    Member Array AZRooster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bubbatime View Post
    I've shot 50-60 gel blocks. I have a bit of knowledge on ballistics. With that being said, I honestly can't think of a worse .38 Special round for defensive use. If I wanted low recoil, the 148 wadcutter would be superior to that 90 grain lite round.
    Can you elaborate on your findings?

  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array Buckeye63's Avatar
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    For my Taurus Non View 38 spl , I chose the Hornady 110 gr FTX stanard pressure .. I have shot it also in my 11 oz Charter 38spl .. Light recoil .. And from what I have read that performs well in jello ...

    As for the 148gr LWC .. It was the 38 spl ammo of choice for self defense for years .. It performs differently than the high pressure with high tech HP bullets ...

    #1 It has a light recoil , which means faster and more accurate follow up shots
    #2 It is well k own for accuracy and being right on target with the fixed sights on snubbies
    #3 Pentration .. Pentrates deep.
    #4 Tissue upset .. The LWC is blunt . Sharp edges .. Acts alot like a .357 dia hole puncher...

    Its not fancy .. But it works better than ... expected ..
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Array bubbatime's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZRooster View Post
    Can you elaborate on your findings?
    I've never shot THAT round, so I dont have any findings. What I can do, is look at others findings. That is a 90 grain .380 bullet, loaded to about .380 ballistics. Average penetration is looking to be 10 inches.

    The .38 special can be loaded with pretty effective bullets, and certainly has more power than a .380 when done so. Just about any of the 110, 115, 125, and 158 grain JHP loads on the market will offer better performance and penetration for not much more recoil.

    As to the 148 wadcutter, its not a premium defensive round. 16-20 inches of penetration is better than 10 inches in my book, and I would absolutely load a 148 wadcutter, or even a 158 lead semi-wadcutter instead of that 90 grain lite round, if I was trying to load a very low recoil round.

    Junk those 90 grainers, and buy AT LEAST the 110 grain non-plus P round from Hornady if you like that brand.

    And if you are not worried about recoil, and want a premium snub nose round, I can soundly recommend the following: Remington 158 +P LSWCHP, Gold Dot in 125+P or 135+P, , Corbon DPX 110+P, and my favorite, Remington Golden Saber 125+P which hit like the hammer of Thor in .38 Special. Golden Sabers have been known to suck in other calibers, but in my testing they are fantastic and offer best in class performance in snub nose revolvers. Remington Ultimate Defense and Remington Short barrel use the same/similar bullets and might be easier to find.
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    Member Array jstert's Avatar
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    as a rule i carry only what i am happy to practice with. im no fan of snappy recoil. even "cowboy loads" were too much for me in my s&w airweight 38sp, which i gave up carrying. then i was pointed to 38cbc shorts by magtech and also found a box of magtech 38 wadcutters. at 12' the shorts give me palm sized groups and the wadcutters hand sized. works well for me and my subbie is back to my edc roster.


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    VIP Member Array michael t's Avatar
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    Looks like some one found a way to make a 38 spl into a 380 . And make more money for the company .By calling a 38spl lite . What's next a 9mm lite I have a 90 gr 9mm made by Corbon Suppose to be 1500FPS So won't call that lite
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    Member Array BigMoneyGrip's Avatar
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    I wouldn't really worry about it shucking the jacket. The way I look at it, it's just something else for the trauma surgeon to dig out. Therefor, causing more trauma.

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array rammerjammer's Avatar
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    This is subjective to my recoil sensitivity, but when I shot some of those Hornady Lite 38spl along with some Winchester PDX1 38spl+p I could tell that the Hornady Lite had a little less recoil. But the difference was minimal and not worth the tradeoff in what is likely a less effective round.

    My LCR is loaded with Remington Golden Sabre +p.
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