Best .380 Personal Protection Ammo ???


July 1, 2006, 11:10 PM
I have always been partial to Speer Gold Dot's but I am not familiar with this caliber. I recently acquired a CZ 83 and was wondering about the best ammo for this caliber for personal protection. I know there will be some out there that say this is not an effective caliber for personal protection. I understand those arguements but I want to focus on the fact that I already own this gun and just want it to be as effective as possible. In particular I would like to hear from anyone who has this model and perhaps has put a few hundreds rounds through it of a particular brand of ammo. Ultimately any .380 acp ballistics info is appreciated. Thanks.

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July 1, 2006, 11:14 PM
Do a search for posts by user JE223. He's done extensive testing on "mose gun" calibers.

July 1, 2006, 11:35 PM
His website;

July 2, 2006, 01:48 AM
All my 380's are loaded with Corbon 90gr HP. Will be changing to the DPX as I can afford to.

July 2, 2006, 01:00 PM
Of all the ammo tested, handloads included, in my 4 .380's, the Winchester 95 gr. SXT's gave the best combination of performance and reliability. Some of my handloads were faster, but were unreliable in the Kel-Tec.

Gold dots also performed quite well.

My personal experience with Cor-Bon has been that it suffers the same fate as many other loads using truncated cone type bullets; some guns just don't feed them well.

July 3, 2006, 01:04 AM
I suspect that FMJ with a blunt semiwaddcutter shape might be the best.

Winchester whitebox FMJ value pack sold at Wally World has blunt FMJ semiwaddcutter bullets.

It is hard to find, but sometimes at gun shows you can find some Santa Barbara truncated cone, lead tip, non-expanding ammo. This is the highest velocity 380 ammo I have measured with my chrono. Some people think this is the best 380 defense ammo you can get.

I think hollow points will drag down the penetration too much. There is just not enough energy to spare with the 380. Go with penetration first.

If you want to go with hollow points then consider the heavy weight Remington GS at 102 grains.

July 3, 2006, 10:23 PM
My personal experience with Cor-Bon has been that it suffers the same fate as many other loads using truncated cone type bullets; some guns just don't feed them well.

I don't know what Corbon you shooting but my 90gr HP aren't truncated cone type bullets. Looks like any other HP to me.
I use in my PPK/S ,Bersa, and Colt Mustang. In 32auto in a Walthers PP and KelTec. The 45 DPX has worked in everything from my 1941 USGI to my Commanders. Guess I am just lucky.

1 old 0311
July 4, 2006, 07:27 AM
I use mixed mags with S&B FMJ, and Federal Hydra-Shok. The smaller calibers can use all the help they can get.

July 4, 2006, 04:00 PM
Hydra-Shoks in a larger gun like yours are not recommended.

6.7" of penetration in bare gelatin. That's absolutely unacceptable, no matter how you look at it.

The 88 gr CCI Blazers didn't do too bad, but many guns don't like Blazer ammo.

I'd recommend Hornady XTPs. 10.9" is still marginal, but it's better than nothing.

I'd say your best bet is probably to make the first two or three rounds Hornady XTPs, and load FMJ for the rest.

July 5, 2006, 08:46 AM
In a larger 380 like the bersa's or PPK's i would
use the Hornady XTP or the Remington GS.In a
smaller pistol like the Kel-tecs i'am thinking of
a quality FMJ that's accurate and reliable.

July 5, 2006, 09:06 AM
Personal opinion...

For calibers that can do 12" of gel penetration AND expand...JHPs.
For calibers that can do 12" of gel penetration OR expand...FMJs.

Factor in that small autos can sometimes be alittle more picky when it comes to feeding as compared to service sized autos.

For me, that means FMJs for .380acp.
Specifically, I have found S&B FMJs to be accurate, reliable, and low flash in several .380 pistols.

July 6, 2006, 11:07 AM
Take a ruler and measure 6 inches into your body, or head and let me know what organ may be hit. A trauma surgeon buddy of my boss says that the most damage he has seen from the many gunshot wounds he has treated was from Remington Golden Sabre..........Good enough for me. I also use Corbon 135 hp in my 40 S&W because I have shot several pigs with that round and know what it will do.........The name of the game is bullet placement anyway......chris3

July 6, 2006, 12:36 PM
With this round I agree with the penetration crowd. FMJ is probably best for that and reliability....+1 on shot placement.;)

July 6, 2006, 12:50 PM
ball3006...having worked for a major city PD in TN and spending much of that time in the projects, I've seen a few shootings.

In self defense shootings, many times the round travels through arms and various other obstacles before hitting center of mass (which can also vary in thickness). Do ANY amount of simunitions training and you'll see that. Don't make the mistake thinking you'll get a clear, frontal COM shot when you need it.

I've also seen a 9mm FMJ completely stopped by a wallet only. Odd things happen.

Also, 12" of gel is not equal to 12" of human body. It is a medium used for testing. In my experience, many times "real world" penetration is less than gel test penetration.
Gel testing is useful as an indicator, but it is what it is, and it's not a human body.

We WANT expansion, we NEED penetration.
If I can't have both, I'll take penetration.

July 6, 2006, 01:42 PM
For pocket 380's like the P3AT I prefer name brand generic FMJ's from Win, Fed or Rem. They are cheap (so you can practice and check reliability) and feed well.

I seem to remember from one of Vincent Di Maio's books/papers on wound ballistics that skin is roughly equivalent to 4" of gelatin in some cases. The avg. depth of the human torso is about 8" so that's where the 12" gel penetration value comes from. Once thick clothing, intervening limbs or light cover is considered, I wonder why anyone would carry one of those "fancy" JHP's that gets 6"-8" pen. in bare gelatin.

July 6, 2006, 01:59 PM
Most people needing .380 advice are carrying P-3ATs, a few Bersas or Colt Pocketlites maybe, but lots of Kel-Tecs, myself included.

Out of such a short barrel, only FMJ makes sense, and the hotter the better, so personally I take something of a chance and exclusively carry the 1982 produced surplus Spanish Santa Barbara FMJ.

I know this load has been tested elsewhere and found to have very patchy quality control, but every round I have fired (and I've fired a lot) has been consistently accurate and totally reliable in ignition. As for power, it is extremely hot, some recommend not using it in pistols as they believe it to be sub gun ammo - but I feel very comfortable carrying it - and anything shot with it would definitely have a hole through it.

I never had that confidence in my previous load, the relatively weak loaded 102 grain Golden Sabre.

July 6, 2006, 10:48 PM
I prefer name brand generic

No doubt with the new, non-ballistic bullets, right!

Sorry, man. Just couldn't let that one go.;)

July 6, 2006, 11:10 PM
My best accuracy in .380 (Kel-Tec P3AT) has been in Hdyra-Shoks, but I believe the EENT distances are debatable. In that I mean Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat .............. I think the FMJ bullets are most effective.

I have found Sellier and Bellot hardball to be as hot as a firecracker and the recoil is nasty, but they are worth carrying for penetration.

What I do is alternate (mixed grill) S&B hardball and Federal Hydra-Shoks in both my carry mag and two back-up mags.

I guess we won't really know until we (G-d forbid) have to shoot a sh*t-bag.

Let's hope we don't have to do it.

July 7, 2006, 12:15 PM
Here are my velocity readings from my 3AT:

July 7, 2006, 03:50 PM
I can see your point when you are talking about something ultra small in size like a Kel-tec. The CZ 83 borders on a mid size gun (to me anyway). I am not sure I am comfortable with FMJ ball simply due to where it may end up when it exits. That being said and I know for some this may be the lesser of 2 evils, does anyone have info/ballistics about the Gold Dots in this caliber or is there just one HP that stands out above the rest in .380???

July 7, 2006, 03:55 PM
Take a ruler and measure 6 inches into your body, or head and let me know what organ may be hit.
While this seems logical initially, this is not a proper application of gelatin tests. I'd start reading here if you were interested in learning more

July 7, 2006, 03:56 PM
My P3AT chews on a steady diet of Speer Gold Dots. I do not know if they are most "effective" but the are 100% reliable.

July 7, 2006, 06:46 PM
Try PMC HP starfire ammo, nice and round, reliable!

July 7, 2006, 07:51 PM
The best is what you can reliably hit with.
We're talking about a fairly small hole, so it has to be where it counts.

PMC Starfire HP recoils sharper than most, and in low-light situations, the
erratic muzzle flash can be a problem, but it is VERY accurate for me, and
feeds reliably.

Remington Golden Saber HP has a nice, heavy bullet (102gr), very little
muzzle flash, and a slightly duller recoil. There have been rare complaints
of the HP lip gouging aluminum ramps, but I've never experienced it (Bersa
Thunder 380).

I tend to steer clear of XTP's because of chambering hesitation.

There's a lot going for FMJ, since people complain about insufficient
penetration with a .380 --actual brand choices shold be based on personal
trial at a range--see what hits and recoils right for you using double or triple
taps, one- and two-handed.... just as with JHP selection.

hth :)

.380 ACP Performance Chart (

.380 ACP Performance Chart (mirror) (


July 7, 2006, 08:44 PM
...I use Winchester Silvertip HP's in everything. .357Mag, .45ACP .44Mag, .380, and will use 'em in my PF9 when Kel-Tec ever gets around to shipping 'em. I have fired thousands of rounds of ST. It has always provided superior accuracy and I've never experienced a malfunction of any kind, and that's what counts.

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