.380 ACP Ammo Quest

.380 ACP Ammo Quest

This is a discussion on .380 ACP Ammo Quest within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello all, and happy holidays. I found the following to be quite an interesting read. While we all know .380 < .38 < 9mm, most ...

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    New Member Array UCBearcat's Avatar
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    .380 ACP Ammo Quest

    Hello all, and happy holidays.


    I found the following to be quite an interesting read. While we all know .380 < .38 < 9mm, most of us are information lovers as well. The more info we have, the better. Some hate .380, some hate JHP in this caliber, and many will use this information to choose which JHP to carry.

    At the end of the day, we get to talk about guns and ammunition types. How lucky are we?


    I personally was impressed with the XTP JHP results, and find it quite interesting that the critical defense, supposedly based off the XTP, once again comes off looking weak in a test. Some places it sure does look great, to me there are too many tests it does not.

    The link:

    Final Results of the .380 ACP Ammo Quest | Shooting The Bull


    In the comments this gentleman states he is working on the same project for a short barreled 9mm. I look forward to the results.


    Credit where credit is due, my original source:

    The most comprehensive testing of .380 ammo to date.


    Happy Sunday!


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    Now if we could just make sure we only hit flesh and no bones then this test would be very valid. Throw in a bone or two and you can toss his results, both in penetration and expansion. Poke around your own chest in the vital zone.......don't find many flesh only spots do you?

    But with that observation out of the way, he gave it a go.

    Seems like Gold Dots were the only reliable expanders.

    With this caliber, in particular, the Thacker phrase "Over penetration is dangerous, under penetration is a killer" is very important and needs to be kept in mind. I am going to error on the side of "dangerous" when I carry this caliber (and its cousin, the 9X18 Mak) as the "sweet spot" has been almost impossible to find with all current loadings. Hence, I have moved away from HP rounds to the Buffalo Bore Hard Cast flat nose +p loadings.

    The following is on the Buffalo Bore website: I know he is selling ammo, I know that it is just his opinion, I know that there is some hyperbole in the article. But he makes some valid and interesting points:

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...duct_list&c=60

    And yes, I do carry a 9x18 Mak (CZ -82) and a .380 ACP (LCP)



    21 years and 21 days, United States Marine Corps.

    The line of hard men willing to rain violence on our enemies so you can sleep warmly and safely in your bed at night continues. That's what we do. Semper fi.

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    Distinguished Member Array sonnycrocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chorizo View Post
    Now if we could just make sure we only hit flesh and no bones then this test would be very valid. Throw in a bone or two and you can toss his results, both in penetration and expansion. Poke around your own chest in the vital zone.......don't find many flesh only spots do you?

    But with that observation out of the way, he gave it a go.

    Seems like Gold Dots were the only reliable expanders.

    With this caliber, in particular, the Thacker phrase "Over penetration is dangerous, under penetration is a killer" is very important and needs to be kept in mind. I am going to error on the side of "dangerous" when I carry this caliber (and its cousin, the 9X18 Mak) as the "sweet spot" has been almost impossible to find with all current loadings.

    The following is on the Buffalo Bore website: I know he is selling ammo, I know that it is just his opinion, I know that there is some hyperbole in the article. But he makes some valid and interesting points:

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...duct_list&c=60

    Funny,I keep 3 buffalo bore and 4 gold dots in my BG380

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    I use the Win Ranger, BB and GD's, all three seemed to do as well or better than most of those tested. BB in the tube, GD or Ranger following.
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonnycrocket View Post
    Funny,I keep 3 buffalo bore and 4 gold dots in my BG380
    Staggered loading?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wishoot View Post
    Staggered loading?
    I load the BB in the tube for first shot, HP's after that. Spare mag, full load of BBore. I don't load different rounds into the same mag.
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Senior Member Array Chuck808's Avatar
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    Ive been thinking about making the switch to FMJ bullets for my LCP. All the reading Ive done just shows that JHPs would likely have ample penetration, but there is a chance it could not be ample.

    Been thinking about what FMJs to switch to. Are flat nose FMJ bullets better for defense in this caliber? Or any round nose FMJ? Whats a quality FMJ? I dont really see FMJs except for target shooting. Is the Buffalo Bore the way to go?

    Sorry, sort of a thread jack, but definitely on topic.

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    Senior Member Array Happypuppy's Avatar
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    In the old days the flat nosed wad cutter was supposed to be the beat Solid bullet . In the LCP what ever feeds.

    Buffalo bore uses the Montana gold hollow point that is terrible. They used to use gold dots that are superb. If that was the only choice I had I would use the FMJ as they won't expand

    The teats prove that some bullets will expand in .380 ; the Hornady XTP and the Hydra Shok.
    IMO using FMJ is not a good idea. They will over penetrate. Sure it's better than under penetration by risk it when the ones listed will expand and if they don't will still meet at least 12" and less than 18"?

    I'm using the hydra shoks in mine now they test well.


    Lighten Up Francis.
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    I use the Buffalo Bore 100 gr hard cast FN in my LCP. Functions fine with them.

    There is a whole train of thought concerning meplat on handgun bullets.

    It does provide for a wound channel, but not like the HP round, but more so than a round nose. The bullet doesn't "slide" around bones and according to some studies, doesn't wander in the body like ball ammo does.

    I choose the rounds for penetration and the heavier bullets. If the meplat adds to it, so much the better.

    Terminal Ballistics

    Super Cavitating Bulleys - Cast Bullets For Beginner And Expert

    Remember all of these penetration test are against "flesh" like targets without making considerations for bone. While that may be fine for a heavier bullet, 90 grains doesn't retain its velocity well and even less so when it hits bone and deforms. Bullet weight is more important than velocity for maintaining inertia and penetrating.

    No hollowpoints on anything that weighs less than 124 grains for me in 9mm (380, 9x18mak, 9mm, 38 special, 357 mag)
    21 years and 21 days, United States Marine Corps.

    The line of hard men willing to rain violence on our enemies so you can sleep warmly and safely in your bed at night continues. That's what we do. Semper fi.

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    Member Array thechriskarel's Avatar
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    I have an LCP that I carry 24/7 so this is near and dear to my heart. I carry Hornady HP right now and apparently they are pretty terrible lol. I'll look to switch them out for a HP that performed better according to the tests.

    A few of u guys mentioned that the tester didn't factor in bones...are u implying that a FMJ round would do more damage to a bone than a HP round?

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    FMJ , supposedly, tend to slip around hard structures, like bone, if not hit squarely. The flat meplat does not.

    However, my point is that once a bone is hit by a hp, it deforms and loses velocity vital for penetration. Additionally, HP bullets are lighter in weight than hard cast bullets thus do not retain inertia to continue the forward penetration. Given that the 380 has a light bullet at marginal speeds, made even more so because of short barrels, you have a recipe poor penetration if you add bone contact and more than a denim shirt on the aggressor.

    Below are two links. The risk of over penetration is greatly overblown in comparison to the threat of injury to YOU from an attacker. See the second link below.

    Basic Wound Ballistic Terminal Performance Facts

    The Presumptive Hazards of Over-Penetration
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    21 years and 21 days, United States Marine Corps.

    The line of hard men willing to rain violence on our enemies so you can sleep warmly and safely in your bed at night continues. That's what we do. Semper fi.

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    follow up question....why does Hornady Critical Defense seem to perform very well in every other caliber except .380?

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    Because of the lower velocity and lighter weight (less inertia), not many HP perform well in the 380. Either they expand too much and don't penetrate the needed 10-12 inches or they fail to expand at all and act like ball ammo.

    In short, they are unreliable.

    Here is a link to other calibers:

    Service Caliber Handgun Duty and Self-Defense Ammo

    I find this comment at the end of the article enlightening:

    -- Bullet designs like the Silver Tip, Hydra-Shok, and Black Talon were state of the art 15 or 20 years ago. These older bullets tend to plug up and act like FMJ projectiles when shot through heavy clothing; they also often have significant degradation in terminal performance after first passing through intermediate barriers. Modern ammunition which has been designed for robust expansion against clothing and intermediate barriers is significantly superior to the older designs. The bullets in the Federal Classic and Hydrashok line are outperformed by other ATK products such as the Federal Tactical and HST, as well as the Speer Gold Dot; likewise Winchester Ranger Talons are far superior to the old Black Talons or civilian SXT's.

    This is also enlightening:

    http://pistol-forum.com/showthread.p...0-ACP-vs-38-Sp

    With all of that said, I carry a LCP in 380 +p with Buffalo Bore 100 grain Hard Cast Flat Nose as a back up to a Sig P290RS in 9mm with 124 gr Speer short barrel Gold Dot HP when I have to be "very" concealed.
    21 years and 21 days, United States Marine Corps.

    The line of hard men willing to rain violence on our enemies so you can sleep warmly and safely in your bed at night continues. That's what we do. Semper fi.

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    Member Array thechriskarel's Avatar
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    hmm, I suppose I should carry my Taurus .38 snub more often. but it's just too bulky for me to wear comfortably, while with an LCP I can put it in my pocket and it feels so comfortable.

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    In his tests the hydra shok had minimal expansion but still did expand. The round also did not over penetrate. While the bullet is older that loading may not be the same as before.

    I understand the logic of wanting a FMJ to ensure you get the minimum 12"; the most important factor. However I would caution that you are responsible for every round fired as well. If I can get the 12"-18" through denim I will call it good with an HP.

    A loading not tested but uses the FTX bullet that I have heard good things about is Wilson combat .380

    As far as bone etc., read the blogs references to the IWB etc. the 12" takes into account hitting bone. Perhaps it will help some decide what to use


    Go Seahawks!

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