Best .380 Auto defensive round?


August 20, 2007, 07:58 AM
Just curious as to what people think is the best defensive round for the .380 Auto.

If you enjoyed reading about "Best .380 Auto defensive round?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
August 20, 2007, 08:47 AM
Corbon 90gr. JHP or 70gr. Powerball.
Checker and alternate within your magazines by lacing them with 95gr. Winclean Flattop FMJ, (every other round, one corbon, one winclean), this way you get the best of both worlds, penetration and expansion.

August 20, 2007, 12:46 PM
in .380 or below, I'd only use FMJ. Penetration is the most important thing for "mousegun" calibers, IMO.

In .38 special and 9mm you have a ton more options because both cartridges can fire vastly heavier slugs at similar if not higher velocities.

August 20, 2007, 12:59 PM
corbon DPX

August 20, 2007, 01:28 PM
FMJ definitely. Magic bullets don't even enter the equation.

You've got more margin for error with more power calibers (i.e. Glaser Silver or JHPs will work in 10mm) but for a marginal caliber, you can't fool around with that hypothetical stuff. You've got to put the bullets where you want them to go and penetrate reliably.

August 20, 2007, 01:47 PM
Some interesting info in this article:

.380 ACP (9mm Short, 9x17mm, 9mm Kurz)

Now we're getting into some decent stopping power. The three or four best .380 JHP rounds have better stopping power than ANY bullet fired out of 2" barrel .38 Special snub-nose. All of the Big Five make good hollowpoints for this caliber. The Remington 88 grain JHP is the most reliably-feeding hollowpoint but slightly less effective than the Hydra-shok or Cor-Bon. Reliability is crucial, and thus you must test the rounds before carrying.

I recommend the following two cartridges above all others:

-Federal 90 gr. Hydra-shok (P380HS1 H) - the best standard-pressure .380 JHP load, period.
-Cor-Bon 90 gr. JHP - the most powerful .380 hollowpoint, bar none.

These are the two best .380 loads, and I recommend them for these guns:
SIG/Sauer P230, Beretta 84/85, Browning BDA, CZ-83, H&K P7K3, Walther PPK and PPK/s. The Russian, East German, Chinese and Bulgarian Makarov pistols are apparently perfectly reliable with the hot Cor-Bon, and the strong all-steel construction of these guns should stand up to an infinite amount of these potent rounds. I have heard that the Colt does also well with the hot Cor-Bon JHP, which you should definitely look into if you own a Colt .380. You have better stopping power than any .38 snub-nose revolver (the long-time favorite concealment sidearm) when you load your .380 with these two rounds.

Other good .380 ACP jacketed hollowpoints:

- Remington 102 gr. Golden Saber BJHP (GS380M) - Another excellent .380 load (the BJHP stands for "Brass Jacketed Hollow Point"), the heaviest one available. I prefer the Cor-Bon and Hydra-shok, but many (including Sanow) like this new Remington round for its deeper penetration. I'll stick with the Cor-Bon and Hydra-shok, but the choice is yours.
- CCI-Speer 90 gr. Gold Dot JHP A good all-around hollowpoint.
- Remington 88 gr. JHP (R380AI): A good high-velocity hollowpoint that feeds well in: Colt Government Model .380, H&K HK4, Taurus PT-58, older PP and PPK, Bersa .380, Beretta 70s, Makarov and Hungarian FEG. These are all good guns that might choke on other hollowpoints but they will probably feed the Remington fine. This hollowpoint was redesigned in 1993 and gives excellent performance while retaining its rounded shape for positive feeding. If your .380 chokes on other JHP loads, try fifty rounds of the Remington 88 gr. through your gun and see if it improves.

.380 ACP hollowpoints to avoid:

-Winchester 85 gr Silvertip (X380ASHP) I really cannot recommend this weak and jam-prone round. It works reliably in a few modern European guns (e.g. SIG 230, Beretta 84F), but every load named above offers better performance. The Silvertip will likely jam in any American-made .380 automatic. Russian .380 Makarovs and PPK series guns may jam with the Silvertip, as well. The .380 Silvertip was once state-of-the-art, but has since been superceded by superior designs. It is also quite expensive. Look elsewhere.
- PMC-Eldorado Starfire 95 gr. JHP This round is similarly weak and jam-prone.
- Federal 90 gr. JHP (380BP) (see below)
- Hornady 90 gr. XTP-HP (9010) Both the Federal 380BP and the Hornady XTP-HP never expand and may jam many guns due to their truncated-cone bullet nose profiles. Pass by these two.

August 20, 2007, 01:50 PM
""Hornady 90 gr. XTP-HP (9010) Both the Federal 380BP and the Hornady XTP-HP never expand and may jam many guns due to their truncated-cone bullet nose profiles. Pass by these two""

I would like to see some data backup the above quote, especially with respect to the Hornady 90gr XTP-HP.

August 20, 2007, 01:57 PM
40SW, yeah what I didn't include from that article is that it's just one man's opinion. That said, it struck a chord with me because when I first bought my Walther PPK I bought a bunch of Winchester SHP for it, and it jammed near constantly. I thought the gun was junk. Then I tried different ammo and had no problems. The author of this particular article found the same result, so I then tended to heed his other warnings. I now use Remington 88 grain JHP and have no problems.

August 20, 2007, 02:01 PM
I use Remington 88gr JHPs often as well, in fact, Walmart sells them by the 100 pack, but I also use the Hornady 90 grnrs, with no problem whatsover. Its interesting, because I have never heard a Horandy JHP or HP of any kind be accused of non expansion. Typically, Any Hornady product is A+++ for its intended purpose.

August 20, 2007, 02:16 PM
Speer 90 gr. Gold Dots alternated with Federal SD rounds.

August 20, 2007, 06:56 PM
Depends on the pistol ...or the barrel length involved.
Just 1/2 of an inch difference will affect muzzle velocity,
and then all the ballistic and terminal performance stats
provided by manufacturers have to be adjusted.

P. Plainsman
August 20, 2007, 08:36 PM
I'd take a gander at the new Cor-Bon DPX rounds.

Point taken above about "magic bullets," but that design really seems to be making a splash. I've never seen a test where one failed to expand, and penetration tends to be good.

August 21, 2007, 12:16 AM
Well, Chuck Hawks notwithstanding (never heard of him), I use the 90gr Winchester Silvertip in my KT...In fact, I use silvertips in every centerfire pistol I own. I've been shooting them for 30+ years without E-V-E-R having a failure of any kind. Thousands of rounds. These so-called 'experts' who wish to pontificate to us unwashed peasants about our choices on the strength of a few rounds through a gun I have no opportunity to examine mean less than nothing. You don't want to take advise from them or me about something as important as defense ammo. The only smart thing to do is buy several different types and see which functions well, performs adequately and is accurate and controllable for you.

August 21, 2007, 12:36 AM
FMJ, better yet, FMJ-FP.
Handloaded of course ;)

August 21, 2007, 12:56 AM
My PPK loves the Rem 88gr, never had a malfunction and shoots about the best of any ammo I've tried. Can't comment on its ballistic efficency though.

August 21, 2007, 11:00 AM
70gr. Powerball.
70 gr?
Seems rather light. I'd wonder about penetration...

August 21, 2007, 11:32 AM
I like the 102 gr Golden Saber. It feeds well in my guns, and I like having a little extra weight with such a light round.

August 21, 2007, 01:29 PM
Well, Chuck Hawks notwithstanding (never heard of him), I use the 90gr Winchester Silvertip in my KT

so-called 'experts' who wish to pontificate to us unwashed peasants

Well, like I said, silvertips in my Walther don't feed worth a damn. Also, that article isn't by Chuck Hawks, it's just on his site. It also recommends Winchester Silvertips for other calibers. Agree with it or not, it's an interesting read. No need to bash on Chuck Hawks. He even states in the prologue to the article that he doesn't agree with all it himself.

August 21, 2007, 05:08 PM
This is from Double Tap's website, regarding their loading of the 90 gr. Speer Gold Dot:

<<"This loading makes the 380ACP really perform like it should!
There is virtually no muzzle flash.
For those of you who carry a 380ACP, this is an excellent defensive load.
Standard pressure loading.

Velocity: 1000fps / Kel-Tec P3AT
3.5" bbl Bersa Thunder - 1100fps
Bullet: Speer Gold Dot JHP

Muzzle Energy: 200 ft. lbs. Kel-Tec
242 ft. lbs. 3.5" bbl Bersa Thunder">>


August 21, 2007, 06:07 PM
Originally posted by Clipper
The only smart thing to do is buy several different types and see which functions well, performs adequately and is accurate and controllable for you.

Smart, yes.
Not the "only" smart thing, though.

Checking a cartridge brand/design for reliability is a must, surely.
So is verifying how well you shoot with it.

However, and particularly for expanding or fragmenting bullet designs,
it is important to know how ammo performs terminally, when it hits the target.
This is something no amount of range time vs. cardboard will determine.
In this we are largely dependent on manuifacturers' specs or paid ads.

It's important to know what test-barrel length was used in obtaining the
advertised results, because a shorter barrel produces less bullet velocity,
and this affects how much, or even if, a bullet will penetrate, expand or fragment.

Take the Brazilian MagTech JHP's...
They perform acceptably when 4" or longer barrels are used.
Once you drop down under 3.5" barrel length, the bullets too often fail
to expand as they are supposed to. Other cartridges behave similarly.

If a JHP isn't likely going to expand out of your particular pistol,
then you might as well get its FMJ equivalent: a wee bit more mass
to help with penetration, since the hollow is replaced with solid lead...
or find another JHP that is reliable, accurate, shootable
AND likely performs (terminally) as advertised, out of your particular gun.


August 21, 2007, 06:53 PM
I carry only FMJ in my Kel-tec P3AT

August 21, 2007, 07:02 PM
Speer GD in mine!

Mad Magyar
August 22, 2007, 08:50 AM
-Winchester 85 gr Silvertip (X380ASHP) I really cannot recommend this weak and jam-prone round.

Besides FMJ, I use the above in my PPK which the author seems to think might jam a PPK. I've alternated many rds and never had a problem...Just goes to show you how subjective these reports are...:rolleyes:

August 22, 2007, 09:36 AM
Hydra Shoks in mine. I use 'em in all of my carry guns except in my Taurus 450 (45LC) and that's only because they aren't made in that caliber.


Marlin 45 carbine
August 22, 2007, 10:03 AM
I don't know about that 'chuckhawks' link. I differ with some of his opines. I keep a hot loaded golden saber (load my own) in the chamber and fmj in the mag.

August 23, 2007, 08:49 PM

August 24, 2007, 12:39 PM
I've never had a problem with 90 grain Hornady XTP feeding in my .380, a Grendel P12. I'm looking to get a P3AT soon and will play with ammo choices in it. I'm not sure whether a hollowpoint is all that good in the caliber considering marginal penetration, but I want a flat nose profile, not a FMJ ball. Those Winchester flat nose "green" loads don't feed well in my Grendel, but I might consider 'em in the P3AT if it feeds well with 'em. They hang on the feed ramp occasionally in the Grendel. I handload a SWC 105 grainer that feeds fine. That one is accurate, heavy, and I have a load that pushes 220 ft lbs with it that doesn't have excessive pressure. That's about all I can get out of a .380 and that might be the load I go with in the future.

As far as that Hawes site stating ANY .380 load can top a good .38 special, well, he's pretty full of it, me thinks. I'll trust a +P 158 grain hollow point out of my 2" at 290 ft lbs any day over any .380 load for both penetration and expansion. It will expand and still deliver the goods. I feel much better about totin' .38 than .380, but the allure of a tiny little pocket gun is strong, I'll admit, for deep concealment.

August 24, 2007, 06:29 PM
I like Corbon DPX in my P3AT. I'm a simple man...I load Corbon DPX in every weapon I own...M1 Garand being the only exception.

August 25, 2007, 10:14 AM
I guess we have been doing everything wrong. My wife carries her Mustang with the silvertips, and practises with 88Gr. Remingtons over 4 grains of Unique. Both are very accurate for her. With my fat hands, I have a hard time shooting the thing! It was her first pistol and she alternates it with her Model 10 that her father left her. Only problem is that now she has discovered how much fun 45acps can be to shoot, and I may have to get her a 1911 of her own.

Tim Burke
August 25, 2007, 12:16 PM
I use FMJ in 380s.

August 25, 2007, 02:07 PM
I agree it is critical to test various ammo to see which works best in your particular gun. I was working in a gun store in the 70's and sold a couple of guys Walther PPK/s (German made). A week later they came back complaining the guns continued to jam. If I recall correctly, they were shooting S&W 88 gr. hollow points. I suggested they try a 90 gr. or heaver bullet as I had read the Walther needed a heavier bullet to function properly. They switched to a 90 gr bullet and that solved their problem.

August 26, 2007, 11:34 AM
If I recall correctly, they were shooting S&W 88 gr. hollow points.

Fortunately they don't make this ammo anymore. It had a blunt, almost flat profile that didn't feed easily in anything. I don't think bullet weight is a problem in PPKs as the 85 gr Silvertip feeds fine in all I've seen. I don't think 2 or 5 grs make a difference?

August 26, 2007, 08:31 PM
FMJ- flat points if they work in your pistol. Reliabilty/Penetration.

If you enjoyed reading about "Best .380 Auto defensive round?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!