Informal Tests: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo

This is a discussion on Informal Tests: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello. I recently bought a small quantity of Hornady's new "Critical Defense" line of ammuntion in both .380 ACP and .38 Special. Neither is +P-rated. ...

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Thread: Informal tests: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo

  1. #1
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    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Informal tests: Hornady Critical Defense Ammo

    Hello. I recently bought a small quantity of Hornady's new "Critical Defense" line of ammuntion in both .380 ACP and .38 Special. Neither is +P-rated.

    Hornady's XTP line of ammunition uses a bullet that usually expands to about 1.5 times its original diameter (left). The new Critical Defense ammunition uses Hornady's FTX bullet (right). It is a jacketed lead bullet but one that has its hollow cavity filled with a very maleable plastic material that prevents its being clogged and almost guarantees expansion. Based on my admittedly limited and statistically-invalid layman's "tests", I believe it to be so.

    I chronographed each load and found an average velocity of 911 ft/sec when the .380 ACP 90-gr. Critical Defense load was fired from a 3.5" bbl Bersa Thunder. This does not meet the published velocity of 1000 ft/sec from the company.

    The .38 Special load was fired from a well-used S&W Model 042 with the usual 1 7/8" bbl. Its average velocity measured 856 ft/sec, far short of the nominal listed velocity of 1175 ft/sec. These figures are based on 10 shots fired 10 feet from the chronograph screens.

    In my opinion, these are probably the best performing loads for a 38-caliber revolver. All but the Hornady 110-gr. Critical Defense (far right) are +P. L to R: Remington 158-gr. LHP +P, Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P, Speer 135-gr. Gold Dot +P, and Hornady 110-gr. Critical Defense.

    It becomes pretty obvious that either longer barrels or pressure barrels were used when Hornady got their data.

    In super-saturated newsprint, average penetration (also based on ten shots with 5 of each caliber fired through 4 layers of an old cotton/polyester towel) was 6.75" for the .380, which probably translates to just over 10" penetration in calibrated 10% ballistic gelatin. This is as good as I've seen for an expanding bullet in this caliber. Most do about 7.5 to 8" in gelatin, it seems.

    The .38's were fired following the same protocol and achieved an average velocity of 856 ft/sec with penetration in the soaked newsprint averaging 7.6" or probably about 11.4" in ballistic gelatin.

    I was amazed at the extreme consistency not only the expansion's reliability but the small differences in speed, shot to shot for each caliber. I could not differentiate between the expanded bullets fired through the towel and those that were not.

    Both the .380 ACP and .38 Special Critical Defense loads proved exceptionally consistent. Average expanded diameter for the .380 was approximately 47-caliber and 48-caliber for the .38 Special load.

    In my admittedly limited experience with this new ammunition, it appears to work and work very well.

    For those interested in a more detailed report, it can be found here:

    hi-powers--handguns: Informal tests: Hornady Critical Defense .380 & .38 Special


  2. #2
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    This is great. Thank You for Your time, to test and put this together. I was thinking about the Hornady 380 ammo for my Kel-Tec. I will pick some up and give it a try.

  3. #3
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    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello. You are most welcome. I am glad that the post was of interest.


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    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Very nice write-up and a load of good info. Thank you sir for taking the time to do this.

    Take care and stay safe.


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    Thanks for the post. As always, well done.

    That .380 looks good. for a .380.
    The .38 Special looks good too.
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  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    Hornady has always been my goto ammo for .45 or .380(and everything in between). Your write-up confirms why.
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    VIP Member Array NCHornet's Avatar
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    If you want some impressive 380 ammo try the BB Gold Dots, you will be very happy. Sure like the pretty flowers those CD's made, reminds me of the HST's!!
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    Member Array Marvin Knox's Avatar
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    Thanks, Stephen!

    We are in your debt!

  9. #9
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    Very nice work. Excellent information. Thanks for taking the time and $$ to share this.

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    cool thanks

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    Distinguished Member Array Wasabi's Avatar
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    Has anyone had a chance to try the new 115g HCD 9mm? It looks like it's only available in 115g and pricey ($17ish per 25 @ Natchez). I usually carry 147g HST. Since HST is becoming hard/impossible to find, I may need another option. I already picked up some .380 HCD for my Seecamp (due soon) but early reports are saying it may be finicky in the Seecamps (mainly due to the size/shape). I wonder if this will hold true with other HCD calibers. My EDC is a PM9.

  12. #12
    Member Array Darth AkSarBen's Avatar
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    Thanks Stephen! I contacted Hornady, and they do have other handgun calibers in the works, but perhaps at some future date.
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    VIP Member Array cvhoss's Avatar
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    Thanks for your efforts. I had put some of this on my "need to order" list for my next order with ATG. Now I'm sure this is going to find it's way into my LCP.

    Thanks again.
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    Member Array Sarge7882's Avatar
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    I have used the HCD in both my LCP and M&P 9mm with very good results. The cost will keep me from using it much at the range, but it IS my daily carry choice.
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    Member Array JamesW51's Avatar
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    Very informative....Thanks for taking the time and effort to show the rest of us

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