Anyone load .380 ACP?


Matt Dillon
May 16, 2006, 09:29 PM
Folks, a friend of mine may be purchasing a CZ83 in .380ACP in the near future, and wondered what components should be used for working up some target loads.
I reload for him, and in pistol calibers, I load .32ACP, .38 special, .357 magnum, and .40 S&W. I like using Lee dies, and does anyone know whether or not a Lee factory crimp die is available in this caliber?
What are your favorite components and dies for this caliber?
I thought about using National Bullet company's 95 grain .355 lead round nose bullet, but what are your favorite powders, dies, etc. for those of you who have actually loaded for this caliber? Thanks so much in advance, Richard

If you enjoyed reading about "Anyone load .380 ACP?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
May 16, 2006, 11:15 PM
Yes, the Lee FCD is available, but you have to buy it separately.

May 17, 2006, 12:01 AM
Matt: Will your friend really shoot enough to justify the price of dies and brass? Some of that white box generic ammo is really cheap in those mail order catalogs i keep receiving.

May 17, 2006, 12:20 AM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

A) I have an old 1903 Colt type blow back pistol in 380 that I load hotter than 357 magnum.

B) I have a new Kel-Tec P3AT locked breech .380 that I cannot hot rod up to the level of 9mm, because of:
1) low slide mass
2) poor case support
3) thin chamber walls

But becuase the Kel-Tec is 10 ounces loaded, it is what I am carrying right now.

Dave R
May 17, 2006, 12:45 AM
I load my .380acp to 'normal' levels. I use Oregon Trails' Laser Cast 95gr. bullets, over 4 grains of Unique, lit by a CCI small pistol primer.

Works fine in my P-3AT.

May 17, 2006, 07:58 AM
I reload .380 by the thousands... in fact that's what's set up on my Dillon right now. I don't shoot cast bullets in this caliber... I most always go 95grn FMJ.

My load is 3.2 of Bullseye, and it chronies 900ish out of my PPK/S.

It's easy to reload... the only annoying thing is that 9mm brass sometimes gets mixed in and is tough to spot. No biggie.


May 17, 2006, 08:10 AM
My load is 3.2 of Bullseye, and it chronies 900ish out of my PPK/S.

How cleanly does the Bullseye burn? Does it meter well? I'm about to load about 1000 rounds of .380 for my PPK/S (as soon as the shell plate I ordered shows up). I've never used Bullseye, but my local shop has plenty of it and they're all out of W231.

Matt Dillon
May 17, 2006, 08:13 AM
Thanks so much, folks, for all your great replies. Anyone care to share your favorite dies, or any other tips for loading for this caliber? Thanks again, Richard

May 17, 2006, 08:48 AM
How cleanly does the Bullseye burn? Does it meter well?

It seems to burn pretty clean for me... cleaner than Unique (which I dearly love). Meters well, too. It's been a standard for many many years. You surely won't go wrong with it. :)

May 17, 2006, 08:52 AM
Thanks so much, folks, for all your great replies. Anyone care to share your favorite dies, or any other tips for loading for this caliber? Thanks again, Richard

I use RCBS dies in this caliber. But I'm sure that any of the Major Players can supply a very decent .380 set.

Just make sure you have a dedicated crimp die (taper of course) and don't attempt to crimp in the seating die. That's about it. :)


Matt Dillon
May 17, 2006, 10:34 AM
I lean toward Lee dies, as I use them for most calibers, and really like the factory crimp die for .40 S&W. I have several pounds of Unique, and will try a load, up to 4.2 grains, underneath one of those National Bullet lead pills. Thanks again for all your help. I figure of I can load .32ACP (the most problematic of my handgun loads) I should be able to load .380 without too much difficulty. The problems I have with .32ACP are due to the tight chamber of the CZ70, and the profile of the National bullet company's round bullet. The CZ70 feeds and eats S&B .32 ACP best, but I have to crimp my loads just right and just the right length in order for them to feed well in a CZ70. I do have the right formula down, and have made several thousand rounds, but it took awhile to get it to feed just right in that gun. Thanks again so much!

May 17, 2006, 10:52 AM
I recently purchased a Bersa Thunder 380. The pistol is exceedingly accurate with commercial ammo (in this case, the Winchester 95 gr. 100-round "value pak" stuff), but my first attempts at reloading for it were... less than successful (as chronicled here (

Since then, I loaded up a new batch (same recipe as indicated in the link, except I upped the Unique powder charge to 3.8 gr.) and shot it last night. According to the chrono (which was placed far enough away to not be affected by any unburned powder spewing out the barrel), the projectiles were averaging about 880 fps, with accuracy equalling the commercial Winchester ammo. The problem, however, was the recoil, which was pretty snappy and painful.

I would also be interested in learning about some 380ACP recipes that are clean-burning and accurate.

May 18, 2006, 02:01 PM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

I've used Bullseye for most of my pistol reloading and it meters great. I've used anywhere from 2.5-3.8 grs of Bullseye with 100 gr Berrys bullets, mixed brass and Win primers.

I've also used up to 2.8 of Clays with the same bullet. Just cooked up that one on my own.

I've settled on 3.3 grs of Bullseye which is max in one book, but over max in 2 others. I use it in my Kel Tec, and with it being an under 8 oz pistol with a thin grip, can be snappy. But everything is in that gun.

Once my 3000 rounds I have loaded up are shot up, I will buy factory .380 because:
1) the Kel Tec dings up the brass so much it makes the brass only last a few reloads, thus cutting my savings
2) I normally recover less than 1/2 my brass
3) for the cost of factory .380, to me it's worth it just to buy it

May 18, 2006, 10:58 PM
I had good luck with Clays, tite group, AA#5, and Winchester 231....I shoot 88 gr Remington HP's and 102 gr. Golden Saber's....That's the nice thing about reloading, you can shoot premium bullets at a non-premium price.... One word of warming, do not use Speer's maxium loads....they are way too hot in some cases....I always have two sources when I reload a new load, and compare the max loads, to see if they are close..... Have fun and work up the load from starting load, with pistol's that's .2 grains at a time, and don't load too many, I try to keep it at 5 per powder weight...

Matt Dillon
May 26, 2006, 08:36 PM
Well, folks, my trip to the range today to test my new .380 ACP load was just boring!:D I mean, the new CZ83 just shot a hole in the middle of the target, no failures to feed eject, or any other problems with the new pistol and 4 mags.:D
My dies came in last night, along with Meister cast 92 grain lead bullets,and brass purchased off of eBay, so I loaded up a box of .380ACP this morning and wanted to test it out. Shot well, and I'm a happy camper!
I ended up using 3.9 grains of Unique, Winchester small pistol primers, S&B brass, and a COAL of .970".

Warning! Use this load data at your own risk. I am not responsible for anyone else's load; always check load data from 2 or more reliable load sources (e.g. Speer and Sierra).

This is the first new load that I have worked up in several years, and I really enjoyed it.

May 26, 2006, 11:15 PM
I load 3.1 gr of HP-38 under a Berry 100 gr CPRN, AOL 0.975. Shoots great and pretty clean.

May 27, 2006, 09:10 AM
Been using 3.2 gr of HP-38 under the Remington 88 gr HP and 95 gr Rainier plated bullets and using the Lee FCD. Accurate and relatively clean in my Bersa.

I think you will find that the blow back pistols will get a little dirtier than the locked breech designs.

Matt Dillon
May 27, 2006, 09:34 AM
Folks, one thing that I don't like about starting to load for a new caliber is that it takes so long to prepare my initial brass. I trim and chamfer it, clean out the primer pocket flare and prime each case, of course, before starting to load. At this point I only have a single stage press, and I really kind of like loading on it. I do all the brass prep in the living room (so that I can stay in the air conditioning), but whenever I start loading a new caliber I like to stock up ~2000 rounds for it. So that entails processing a lot of brass.

:confused: Question, which I'm sure to find differing opinions, is, how important is it to trim all of the once fired brass that I'm processing? I always trim, as I like a consistent crimp. I am using Lee dies and a Lee factory crimp die, and I have ALWAYS trimmed the thousands of rounds that I have loaded for other calibers, but is this necessary for .380? Thanks in advance, Richard

May 27, 2006, 11:59 AM
When I hear numbers like 2000 rounds of reloads, I think Pistol rather than Rifle.

Well, I don't trim pistol brass, ever. Try NOT trimming a batch. Then compare the way it shoots with trimmed brass reloads. I don't think there will be any difference.

And I *certainly* would not trim .380.

With taper crimp dies, exact length or the case is not important.

My experience. :)

May 27, 2006, 07:31 PM
The .380 has some slight problems when reloading. Cases are so small that the caseholder prevents a full resize and some oddball brands of cases may not cycle well in your particular gun . Watch case brands and chuck the odd stuff. Pretty much need to use a fast powder Bullseye is what I mostly used,231 and hp38 are used by some. Most 380 guns (excepting the colts) are blowback and power of the cartridge must be within a fairly narow range to work well. Very short cartridge so OAL is very critical to good operation. Case volumn is very small so changeing OAL will greatly change power of reload. Don't know about the lee factiory crimp die (I like them for some rifle loads) I would stick with the taper crimp.

The bottom line for me is much like the 9mm ,I don't bother reloading the .380 because the white box stuff is fairly reasonable and my time (never seem to have as much as I need!) is beter spent on my .44mag and 45/70. I own all the gear to do it (just because) but I don't bother much any more.

June 20, 2006, 10:22 PM
Can you use a 100gr .380 bullet to load 9mm? They are both .355 diameter but I know better than to assume. As an example, if you go to Midway they have .355 listed for BOTH 9mm and .380 but there seems to be some "crossover". I figure there has to be a reason why some .355 is labeled 9mm and some are .380 but...:confused: I imagine one could get a 95gr bullet up to some pretty impressive velocity in a 9mm if it's OK to try.

I have some .357 diameter bullets that can be used for .38spl or .357magnum; are we talking the same thing for .380 and 9mm in some cases?

BTW, I am HOOKED on this reloading thing and am taking it slow and easy. My neighbor has been reloading for 30 years but he's out of town right now.


June 21, 2006, 07:53 AM
Can you use a 100gr .380 bullet to load 9mm? Yes, I've done this with some pretty nice results. A light charge of Bullseye and a 100 gr bullet is a nice combo for recoil sensitive people.

June 21, 2006, 10:51 AM
Can you use a 100gr .380 bullet to load 9mm?
Yup! I had some leftover Berry's 380ACP 100 gr. RNHB projectiles and used them in some 9mm handloads (4.9 gr. Universal, OAL 1.095"). Ran them through my chrono and registered around 1250 fps. out of my CZ 75B. Very pleasant to shoot, with minimal recoil (almost like an airgun!) and great accuracy at 20 yards.

June 21, 2006, 05:33 PM

I'll load 'em up and head to the range next week!:)


June 21, 2006, 06:50 PM
I don't use reloads in my Bersa 380. I do use Corbon 90 gr HP's.

June 21, 2006, 10:45 PM
Just picked up a FEG .380 slightly used $160 out the door! I happen to like the P64 9X18 and thought a .380 version would be nice; this is as close as it gets and it's smaller than the P64. I'll do a range report later.


July 5, 2006, 04:57 PM

Shot about 100 rounds through it without a hiccup. Silver Bear OK. Even tried some PowRBall CorBon and smooth as silk.

I rolled some 100gr RN over 3.7gr of Unique and will shoot those within the week.

This gun is very light and, so far, 100% reliable. The Hungarians make a good product!


March 24, 2008, 01:00 PM
I have the Lee factory crimp die on my 550B & it works like a champ. I have been using Universal with a 95 gn FMJ bullet. I've been thinking about going a little heavier (perhaps even 115) but haven't seen much load data on that.

March 26, 2008, 02:24 AM
I like Power Pistol and 158 gr in my 1903 Colt 380 blow back.
I like Power Pistol and 90 Gr in my 2006 P3AT locked breech.
I shoot something in between in my Beretta 1934 blow back

I am trying to get as much power as I can.

Ala Dan
March 26, 2008, 09:51 AM
Nope, I only use factory ammo in all three of my .380's~! ;)

March 26, 2008, 12:00 PM
You bet, I'm too cheap for store-bought 380. Magnus makes some nice 95JSPs and 100 LFPs that shoot great. I only have one little 380 but I like always being able to have ammo for it w/o going to the store. A bonus is that hardly anyone else reloads 380, so if you see someone shooting it at the range, they almost always will be ok letting you have the brass!

March 27, 2008, 06:31 PM
I've been itching to load some 102gr Remington Golden Sabres in my sister's Bersa.


March 27, 2008, 08:42 PM
Clark, do you really use a 158 grain bullet in 380acp? How many grains of PP?

April 11, 2008, 01:00 AM
I've been itching to load some 102gr Remington Golden Sabres in my sister's Bersa.

i bought some golden sabres for my h&k usp45 only to realize the rifling in hk usp pistols is backwards from all my other 45s (1911s) and the way the golden sabres are directional kinda bummed me out on my hk usp.

by the way, go jackrabbits.

im from forney too.

David Wile
April 11, 2008, 03:55 AM
Hey folks,

The .380 headspaces on the case mouth, so case length should be uniform. The good thing about the .380 for me is that once I have trimmed my cases to the required length, they never seem to lengthen no matter how many times they are reloaded. Then again, I load on the lower end rather than hot. I also use both jacketed and cast bullets: about 95 grain jacketed, and cast bullets from 95 to 121 grains. The 121 grain cast bullets are my own.

For some years now, I have been loading the .380 and most other auto cartridges on my Hornady L&L. When I first started loading, I used to clean primer pockets of residue. I gave up on that practice many years ago and cannot say I can see any difference.

I never have any need to crimp any of my auto pistol loads, including the .380. I only bell the case slightly when using cast bullets, and I both seat the bullet and remove any case belling in one step in my regular bullet seating die.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

May 9, 2008, 12:52 PM
the golden sabres are directional

Source please? I heard this a couple years ago from a gun store commando.

Yes, the petals are folded in one direction but they open from hydraulic force, not peeling the petals back from a rotating bullet. I'm just trying to squash a myth.

I haven't seen Remington state that it needs a right twist and the 165gr. that I load into the 40 S&W P239 expand just fine and reliably too. They twist left.

May 9, 2008, 01:34 PM
I'm loading 380 with Hornady 115g XTP hollow point, Berry's 100g plated with the hollow base, and Xtreme 115g plated round nose. In each case, HP38/W231 are giving me the best accuracy and recoil performance in a Colt. You'll have to choose your own powder charge.

In the Colt, I only remove the bell with the seating die, lack of crimp has never set a bullet back in the mag or feed ramp (not much recoil in a 380, is there?). I never trim and it doesn't affect headspace in the chamber. I'm very careful to check chambering, but I find no problem with untrimmed brass.

The 380 case wall tapers toward the mouth, so they split rather easily compared to other pistol calibers. This also yields a 'bulge' when you seat the bullet, but 380 chambers are dimensioned to accomodate the bulge.

jak47: All .355 bullets work in 380 and 9mm Luger. 9x21 and 9x23 and 38ACP and 38 Super also. (They don't work in 9x18 makarov, but you didn't ask that.) For convenience, the light bullets are marketed for 380 because they are more popular for that caliber. If you're using a heavier bullet in 380 (which will be a long bullet) be careful of seating depth due to limited case volume. Use published loads only and follow their minimum overall length.

May 9, 2008, 01:42 PM

We found a very good and cheap load for a Taurus 380ACP:
Hard cast 88 grains RN bullet
3.1 grains of Unique
Wolf small primer

My friend shoot bulleye with that load.

Thank you

May 9, 2008, 01:44 PM
An added note about reloading for blowback pistols.

One of the biggest purposes of locked breech actions involves the rise and decay curve of chamber pressure. The locked breech allows the slide and barrel to travel backward for a short distance before separating. This is to keep the brass case fully enclosed in the chamber until the pressure in the chamber decays to a modest level (usually when the bullet has left the barrel). This is necessary so the pressure doesn't rupture the brass case while it's only half way out of the chamber, and blow hot gases back into the operator's face.

Blowback designs are for modest cartridges with peak chamber pressure below the point that it would rupture the case. So you can let the slide move rearward while the barrel stays still, pulling the case out of the chamber immediately while the bullet is still in the barrel. For that reason, the case is generally fairly weak because it really doesn't sustain elevated pressures. Cases for blowback pistols often have somewhat short lives and you can't load them very hot.

Marlin 45 carbine
May 9, 2008, 09:18 PM
yes I load for my Browning BDA (3rd .380 I've owned, added to a Walther PPK/S, and a CZ83 (wish I had kept that one)) useing Rem slugs including GS's which have best groups. I load 'em warm usually. I've got some cast slugs comeing - if Mike at mastercastbullets gets off his ass and send 'em!

May 9, 2008, 11:06 PM
My wife has a bersa 380 as a purse gun.

I have been very happy with a 95gr bullet and 3.0 grains of titegroup. It functions well and is fairly clean.

May 10, 2008, 08:30 AM
i have just started reloading in this caliber. i have loaded 2 boxes, but my kel-tec is in the factory for service, so i am not able to shoot them. i am using titegroup for powder, cci primers. but i wont disclose the load until i know it works, i am pretty much sticking to loadings in the hodgedon manual anyway, with the exception of a few "hot rod" loads i am trying to work up for p.d. . with this little case, i am simply upping the load at .1 grain increments. i can see where it would be very easy to damage the gun with these little loads. if my calculations are right, i will be able to load about 1400 round with a pound of powder. to bad the bullets were not cheaper. and yes, it is hard to recover the brass. this little gun throws them all over a 25' circle. amazing!

May 10, 2008, 08:51 AM
I load 3.1 gr of HP-38 under a Berry 100 gr CPRN

This is basically my load or often I use a 95 grain copper washed bullet over 2.8 grains of HP-38. Nice light plinking load that feels like a .22 LR in my Russian Commercial Makarov chambered from the factory in .380 ACP.

May 10, 2008, 09:23 AM
I just bought an LCP so I want to load .380's also, but based on this thread I have a question. I see that some people are loading cast bullets intended for 9mm at .356 diameter. All my load books specifically state that the .380 must load the 9mm at .355 bullets. If you load cast they must be sized down to .355.

Is anyone loading .355 cast bullets? Where can I get some?

May 10, 2008, 01:00 PM
Penn Bulletts has them. I bought 1000 100gr TC from him. also try Magnus bulletts.

January 9, 2009, 01:46 PM
What are you using as a loading block for the .380's.

January 9, 2009, 05:27 PM
Since the thread is 6 months old, some of these guys may not be on the Forum any more. Maybe some new guys who load 380 can add their 2 cents.

The 380 cartridge base is the same as 223 Remington rifle. If your 223 loading block isn't too deep you can use it. But mine is way too deep, so I use the 9mm side of the multi-caliber tray made by MTM if I'm loading with the single-stage press.

David Wile
January 9, 2009, 05:53 PM
Hey folks,

Lovesbeer - Off hand, I cannot remember what size bullets my .380 uses, but different .380s may have different bore sizes. I would suggest slugging the barrel of your .380 to see exactly what it is. If it is .355, you could easily use cast bullets sized to .356 or even .357.

Burr - I also do not remember what loading block I use for .380, but I kind of think I actually have a commercially made wood block made for .25 ACP and .380. I know I also have a couple of MTM blocks which will fit most calibers, but I rarely use them, and I still think you can get a wood block from Midway in the small pistol calibers.

I am spending the next four months in Florida, so I am unable to check my loading data.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

January 9, 2009, 05:54 PM
Loading block? I just dump the cases and bullets on a cookie sheet next to my press on the benchtop and pick 'em up one at a time as I'm running them through the press, finished rounds go right into the box.

January 9, 2009, 10:59 PM
Thanks for the feedback.I cut the top off of a 357mag 50 round case works for me.

January 10, 2009, 10:37 AM
Dave Wile - thanks for addressing my question.

I know that when we load cast we typically load up 1 size. Like my cast 38spl rounds are actually .358 (not .357 like my jacketed bullets).

But my books all address the .380 specifically. Like you said there are different size bores and the .380 case is too small to take any chances. Load it with the .355, not .356 unless you slug your bore and you know for sure.

I just don't want people to assume - Hey this is cast so I'll AUTOMATICALLY load 1 size up to .356.

February 22, 2009, 12:08 AM
I know this is an old thread, but here is my take:

I like reloading 380. It's the least exciting of any of the calibers. I thank Ruger for promoting the LCP to the point that there is .380 brass to be scrounged now.

My PPK likes 3.2 grains of Win231 under a 95 grain Rainier or real FMJ, either a Wolf or CCI SP primer. Clean, totally boring, reliable, and accurate. Hodgdon says it's the max for the bullet, and the Speer manual says it's ok to go to 4.0.

I also tried Titegroup, and HP-38 (what's that - the "fluffy" win231?). those worked, but the deal was to try to copy the felt recoil of a 90 gr Hydra-Shok round.

ETA: someone wondered/commented that diameter may not be the same as 9mm. It is - both are .355, and lee dies with the fcd are good to go. Compared to current ammo prices vs. component costs, 380 saves a lot more than reloading 9mmP.

February 22, 2009, 10:20 AM
Here's a loading tray sized for the .380 (#2s):

I like loading .356" cast bullets (thanks, Jessie!) in the .380 Auto at modest velocities (800 fps, very comfortable and accurate). I load Hornady's 100gr FMJ-Enc bullets at velocities designed to duplicate factory FMJ rounds. Hornady 90gr HP/XTPs and Speer 90gr Gold Dot HPs are reserved for more serious social work, at appropriate velocities.

February 22, 2009, 02:37 PM
Reloading tray?

I have one of those universal ones, which works great for everything I'd ever want to put into a reloading tray.

Pistol ammo, however, gets loaded progressively. Otherwise I'd spend all week loading to shoot a match, never mind what the wife burns up during the week.

February 26, 2009, 07:19 PM
Heh - fixin' to start reloading .380's myself. It's my pocket gun, the wife's carry gun, daughter's carry gun - and DIL's as well. Needless to say, it's easy to watch 200 rounds go by on a weekend, and having just spent the past 3 weeks scrounging up another 1000 rounds, I've decided to bite the bullet an' set my 650 with (yet another) set of dies......

Hey - the WIFE bought the arguement, at least! ;)

February 26, 2009, 07:41 PM
I have a 105/.358 Lee mold that I size for .38 special AND 9x19 and .380ACP. I don't load a lot of .380, but the bullet works very well in that gun, an old Grendel P12. Both of my 9x19s shoot it well and all my .38s and my .357 carbine love that bullet. Size it to .357 and it's shoot well in all of the above.

March 18, 2009, 12:52 PM
Can standard 9mm Luger (9x19mm)dies be used for reloading the 380 (9x17mm)?

March 18, 2009, 01:00 PM
awright... nope, unfortunately. They're different dimensions.

March 18, 2009, 01:04 PM
Well that was the cheap side of my brain talking before I checked the handbooks. Thanks.

March 18, 2009, 02:28 PM
I recently bought my wife a Sig P232 in 380 and she loves it. It fits her hand perfectly and the recoil is nice (she's only 4'9"). I load a 95 gr. Rainier plated rn bullet over 3.0 grs. of W231 and a CCI SP. She carries Speer Gold Dot 95gr. JHP's for self defense. 380's were just made for small people.:p

If you enjoyed reading about "Anyone load .380 ACP?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!