380 Self Defense Ammo???


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jimk66
October 7, 2008, 06:22 PM
Hi, I ask at the gunshop I frequent if they had any "Self Defense Ammo" for the 380 ammo and they said no and didn't know of any.
I've been carrying my LCP now for several months and have been very satisfied with it. Shot probably more than 500 rounds and have yet to experience any FTF's, FTE's or FTF of any kind. It's a great little pocket gun and pretty accurate out to 20'.
However, I would really like to find a good defensive round for for it. Have any of you fellows run across any the LCP handles well and that you would recommend? Any info would be appreciated.
Thanks,
JimK

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JJE
October 7, 2008, 06:29 PM
You need a new gunshop! I don't have an LCP, but since it's a concealed carry/self-defense gun, it should work with Federal's Personal Defense Low Recoil ammo and Speer's Gold Dots (both 90 grain hollow-points). I load my own with Gold Dots.

printcraft
October 7, 2008, 06:32 PM
solid copper corbon
Cor-Bon DPX Ammunition 380 ACP 80 Grain
Barnes XPB Lead-Free Box of 20

This stuff is supposed to be the hot ticket.
Expensive though. Might want to give it a go.
I've used some in a Bersa Thunder. No problem.

Midway has some on their sight. midwayusa.com
look under ammo and handgun
__________________

Try this again?

KBintheSLC
October 7, 2008, 06:35 PM
The 102g Golden Saber has always been a favorite for me.

rcmodel
October 7, 2008, 06:40 PM
Speer Gold-Dot, Federal Hydra-Shock, Cor-Bon DPX, Remington Golden Saber, Winchester Silver-Tip.

In fact just about any JHP load from any major manufacture.

But by defination, any .380 ACP ammo is "Self Defense Ammo" including FMJ.

It isn't a very good caliber for much of anything else!

rcmodel

357sigRog
October 8, 2008, 02:06 AM
Rem 102gr Golden Saber

EHL
October 8, 2008, 02:49 AM
Winchester Ranger T 95 grain, Corbon DPX 80 grain, Remington Golden Saber 102 grains, and Gold Dot 90 grains. These are some of THE best SD rounds for 380 acp. I would avoid Hydrashok and definetly avoid Corbon JHP and Powerball. These are some of the most faulty ammo lines IMO.

JR47
October 8, 2008, 11:01 AM
would avoid Hydrashok and definetly avoid Corbon JHP and Powerball. These are some of the most faulty ammo lines IMO.

Please explain. The Hydrashok has garnered an exemplary reputation with Police and other professionals. Cor-Bon has also earned a good reputation.

Powerball is a newer line, and is for areas restricted to FMJ, or early guns that feed only FMJ profiles. It's not designed, nor advertised, as superior to JHP ammunition. However, if your gun won't feed JHP, or you live in such enlightened states as New Jersey, it would be a logical load.

Phil DeGraves
October 8, 2008, 12:36 PM
If I was armed with a .380, I think I'd just as soon use FMJ. The velocities are generally low, especially with th eshort barrels of most common pocket .380s so you aren't going to get lots of expansion, and I'd like to guarantee sufficient penetration to reach the vitals.
That being said, there are several HP loads for it. The people at your gunshop are not very well informed. Maybe you can buy some guns cheap there...

EHL
October 8, 2008, 03:23 PM
Please explain. The Hydrashok has garnered an exemplary reputation with Police and other professionals. Cor-Bon has also earned a good reputation.

Powerball is a newer line, and is for areas restricted to FMJ, or early guns that feed only FMJ profiles. It's not designed, nor advertised, as superior to JHP ammunition. However, if your gun won't feed JHP, or you live in such enlightened states as New Jersey, it would be a logical load.

Sorry Jr47, I was tired so didn't put down the reasons I personally have reservations about these SD rounds.

Well, I'll begin first with Corbon JHP. I bought that load because of the impressive #'s of speed and power, relative to other SD rounds.

I also bought Hydrashok because I'd heard (years ago) from several LEOs that this was a great round.

I've never bought Powerball, but I was definetly tempted to and was about to do so. But...........

I saw some informal tests data that other shooters have compiled and I saw that Corbon JHP have terrible weight retention, in any of their calibers. I then decided to try out my own ammunition to see if it yielded similiar results. Sadly, my Corbon JHP have done exactly as previous testers have reported. This round disintegrates like a snowball that was made out of fine powder snow.:barf: In all of my tests there was always core/jacket seperation and even the lead was scattered to bits. What good is all the speed in the world for a bullet that won't keep it's weight? I was really disappointed since I bought that brand of ammo for all 3 of my calibers. (.380, 9mm, and .45acp) Needless to say, I'm gonna shoot these little lemons and reload the brass.

I was going to buy Corbon Powerball due to the same facts you mentioned JR47. "Superior feeding due to the round nose profile, nearly 100% weight retention, windshield tests, etc....." Sounded real good but I was a little leary going to an even lighter grain than a standard .380. I mean, if I'm going down to such a small caliber for SD, why would I want to sacrifice more bullet weight when it's so light already? But anyways, I looked for reviews on this bullet and although I found several that spoke of it's greatness, I found a large consensus that complained about it being underpowered due to it's relative light weight. On top of that, in several instances, many of the reviewers complained of core/jacket seperation and weight loss to the bullet. Now I understand weight loss can be normal, but for it to happen to this already light load I cannot get my mind around it being an effective SD choice. Also, alot of people complained about it's propensity to underpenetrate, especially if the perp had even just blue jeans on. Anyway, long story short, I decided that there were several better options than this one for me.

Last but not least, I looked at my Hydrashoks. I bought this brand of ammo for all of my calibers since I was an ardent believer in thier stopping power. I have no doubts that if anybody was shot with a few of these, they'd be down for the count. But, I also looked at several reviews on these bullets. Here's the good things that I heard over and over about them. "they penetrate good(when they don't expand that well), they expand reliably (if they don't get plugged up), and they have excellent weight retention."
I decided to conduct my own tests on this bullet line just like I did for the Corbon JHP and I found very similar conclusions. It did penetrate well, but it was (in my findings) because the round didn't expand quite as impressively as some of the other SD bullets I compared it to in similiar tests (Ranger T, Golden Saber, Gold DOt, and DPX). They did expand, but not as impressively as they show in the pictures that Federal has on their website. Weight retention was good, I didn't have any core/jacket seperations either. But again, the one thing I found them good at was penetration. But I reasoned that if I am only supremly interested in penetration, I might better be served with going to FMJ for carry, instead of paying premium prices for an SD round that tends to act like an FMJ instead of a JHP.

I've actually seen some of the data tests you have on the Hydrashok and how they penetrated 12", JR47. I was impressed. Which is why I wanted to figure out whether or not the Hydrashok would be my choice for carry. In my opinion, after both the anecdotal and backyard testing I did, I believe that there are ultimately better options for SD in .380 and other calibers than the old Hydrashok. This doesn't mean I don't think the round could be dangerous. Heck I think an FMJ or even the disintegrating Corbon JHP could kill someone, but I still would opt for something a little more reliable. IMHO.

polizei36
October 8, 2008, 03:27 PM
Well today I just went out and bought a two boxes of Pow'R Ball ammo for my newly acquired LCP. It sells in most of our gun store localy in this area, and from what the counter dude told me it sells quite a bit.

Concerning the "good SD ammo question":

The box states: "380 Auto 70gr Pow'R Ball Velocity 1100fps Energy 188ft/lbs".

Here is what it said on the flip side of the box:

"The unique Pow'R Ball (tm) design aids in high energy transfer that produces superior stopping power. Pow'R Ball wil not get plugged by heavy clothing and can easily penetrate windshield glass or light sheet metal".

I such a small caliber IMO I think this is a good choice and well rounded round to carry in my LCP. Remember 380 auto is "mainly" designed around mouse gun size barrels, so I think the statistics above are real close for the LCP's barrel length.

jimk66
October 8, 2008, 05:48 PM
Lot's of good stuff here to sort out and I want you to know I really appreciate it. I respect all your opinions and must say you've certainly motivated me to do some testing of my own.
I'm going to pick up some things/supplies, 380 hypershock and powerball ammo tomorrow and head for the range and do some comparing to my standard WW box FMJ's that I shoot all the time with all my caenterfire handguns. I'm really curious now....I'm going to be using jello, water, dirt and layers of cloths/jackets from the Salvation Army store. Not very scientific but observable results non the less.

jjohnson
October 8, 2008, 06:54 PM
I just bought some of this stuff for my Mak .380.

The Mak's digested a couple thousand rounds in the last couple years of everything from 88 grains to 115 grains, FMJ, Hollow Point, and Lead reloads with stunning reliability.

I'd rather carry something bigger, but that's not an option. I'm going to test fire the Mag Tech ammo and if it functions reliably, carry that, unless somebody out there tells me the ammo isn't good. The Mak has done well enough by me to trust it to cycle with hollow point ammo.

NonConformist
October 8, 2008, 07:12 PM
Try some Federal Hydra-Shok

The dude is FOS, or ignorant!

Marcus L.
October 8, 2008, 09:07 PM
Posted by Dr. Gary Roberts on Tactical Forums:

"If you are an LE officer, carry a BUG!!!

Many small, easily concealed semi-automatic pistols which are recommended for law enforcement backup or concealed carry use fire .380 ACP or smaller bullets. While these small caliber handgun bullets can produce fatal wounds,they are less likely to produce the rapid incapacitation necessary in law enforcement or self-defense situations.

Handguns chambered in .380 ACP are small, compact, and generally easy to carry. Unfortunately, testing has shown that they offer inadequate performance for self-defense and for law enforcement use whether on duty as a back-up weapon or for off duty carry. The terminal performance of .380 ACP JHP's is often erratic, with inadequate penetration and inconsistent expansion being common problems, while .380 ACP FMJ's offer adequate penetration, but no expansion. All of the .380 ACP JHP loads we have tested, including CorBon, Hornady, Federal, Remington, Speer, and Winchester exhibited inconsistent, unacceptable terminal performance for law enforcement back-up and off duty self-defense use due to inadequate penetration or inadequate expansion. Stick with FMJ for .380 ACP or better yet, don't use it at all. The use of .380 ACP and smaller caliber weapons is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them.

While both the .380 ACP and .38 sp can obviously be lethal; the .38 sp is more likely to incapacitate an attacker when used in a BUG role.

BUG--Infrequently used, but when needed, it must be 100% reliable because of the extreme emergency situation the user is dealing with. Generally secreted in pockets, ankle holsters, body armor holsters, etc... Often covered in lint, grime, and gunk. By their very nature, usually applied to the opponent in an up close and personal encounter, many times involving contact shots. A small .38 sp revolver is more reliable in these situations than a small .380 ACP pistol, especially with contact shots or if fired from a pocket.

The Gold Dot 135 gr +P JHP offers the most reliable expansion we have seen from a .38 sp 2” BUG.

.38 Sp Speer 135 gr +P JHP Gold Dot (53921), ave vel=856f/s
BG: pen=13.1”, RD=0.56”, RW=134.5gr
4 layer denim: pen=13.6”, RD=0.53”, RW=134.1gr
auto windshield: pen=9.4”, RD=0.51”, RW=129.6gr

Downside is the appreciable recoil and relatively poor intermediate barrier performance.

There have been many reports in the scientific literature, by Dr. Fackler and others, recommending the 158 gr +P LSWCHP as offering adequate performance. Please put this in context for the time that these papers were written in the late 1980's and early 1990's--no denim testing was being performed at that time, no robust expanding JHP's, like the Barnes XPB, Federal Tactical & HST, Speer Gold Dot, or Win Ranger Talon existed. In the proper historical perspective, the 158 gr +P LSWCHP fired out 3-4" barrel revolvers was one of the best rounds available--and it is still a viable choice, as long as you understand its characteristics.

While oversimplified, bare gelatin gives information about best case performance, while 4 layer denim provides data on worst case performance--in reality, the actual performance may be somewhere in between. The four layer denim test is NOT designed to simulate any type of clothing--it is simply an engineering test to assess the ability of a projectile to resist plugging and robustly expand. FWIW, one of the senior engineers at a very respected handgun ammunition manufacturer recently commented that bullets that do well in 4 layer denim testing have invariably worked well in actual officer involved shooting incidents.

With few exceptions, such as the Speer 135 gr +P JHP and Barnes XPB, the vast majority of .38 Sp JHP's fail to expand when fired from 2" barrels in the 4 layer denim test. Many of the lighter JHP's demonstrate overexpansion and insufficient penetration in bare gel testing. Also, the harsher recoil of the +P loads in lightweight J-frames tends to minimize practice efforts and decrease accuracy for many officers. The 158 gr +P LSWCHP offers adequate penetration, however in a 2" revolver the 158gr +P LSWCHP does not reliably expand. If it fails to expand, it will produce less wound trauma than a WC. Target wadcutters offer good penetration, cut tissue efficiently, and have relatively mild recoil. With wadcutters harder alloys and sharper leading edges are the way to go. Wadcutters perform exactly the same in both bare and 4 layer denim covered gel when fired from a 2" J-frame. For example, the Win 148 gr LWC: VEL = 657 f/s, PEN = 20"+, RD = 0.36", RL = 0.64", RW = 147.4 gr

When faced with too little penetration, as is common with lightweight .38 Sp JHP loads or too much penetration like with the wadcutters, then go with penetration. Agencies around here have used the Winchester 148 gr standard pressure lead target wadcutter (X38SMRP), as well as the Federal (GM38A) version--both work. A sharper edged wadcutter would even be better... Dr. Fackler has written in Fackler ML: "The Full Wadcutter--An Extremely Effective Bullet Design", Wound Ballistics Review. 4(2):6-7, Fall 1999)
quote:

"As a surgeon by profession, I am impressed by bullets with a cutting action (eg. Winchester Talon and Remington Golden Saber). Cutting is many times more efficient at disrupting tissue than the crushing mechanism by which ordinary bullets produce the hole through which they penetrate. The secret to the increased efficiency of the full wadcutter bullet is the cutting action of its sharp circumferential leading edge. Actually, cutting is simply very localized crush; by decreasing the area over which a given force is spread, we can greatly increase the magnitude to the amount of force delivered per unit are--which is a fancy way of saying that sharp knives cut a lot better than dull ones. As a result, the calculation of forces on tissue during penetration underestimate the true effectiveness of the wadcutter bullet relative to other shapes."

For years, J-frames were considered "arm's reach" weapons, that is until CTC Lasergrips were added. With the mild recoil of target wadcutters, officers are actually practicing with their BUG's; when combined with Lasergrips, qualification scores with J-frames have dramatically increased. Now 5 shots rapid-fire in a 6" circle at 25 yds is not uncommon--kind of mind blowing watching officers who could not hit the target at 25 yds with a J-frame suddenly qualify with all shots in the black…

I personally carry standard pressure wadcutters in my J-frames with Gold Dot 135 gr +P JHP's in speed strips for re-loads, as the flat front wadcutters are hard to reload with under stress. I am currently running 342's, previously had the 38 and 649. I like the 342 w/Lasergrips very much. Shooting is not too bad with wadcutters; not so comfortable with the Speer 135 gr JHP +P Gold Dots. Any of the Airweight J-frames are fine for BUG use. The steel 649's were a bit too heavy for all comfortable day wear on the ankle, body armor, or in a pocket. There is no reason to go with .357 mag in a J-frame, as the significantly larger muzzle blast and flash, and harsher recoil of the .357 Magnum does not result in substantially improved terminal performance compared to the more controllable .38 Special bullets when fired from 2” barrels.

2" J-frames are a great BUG's and marginally acceptable low threat carry guns, because they are lightweight, reliable, and offer acceptable terminal performance at close range--downsides are difficulty in shooting well at longer ranges because of sight and sight radius limitations, along with reduced capacity coupled with slower reloading. Nonetheless, with the addition of CTC Laser Grips and an enclosed or shrouded hammer, the 2" J-frame models without key locks (I personally will NEVER own firearm with an integral lock) may be the best BUG's and most reliable pocket handguns available.

Another great BUG option if it can be comfortably carried, is a compact 3-3.5" barrel 9 mm pistol like the G26, Kahr PM9, Sig P239, or S&W 3913, as these offer superior terminal performance compared to either .380 ACP or .38 Sp handguns. A G26 is particularly nice when using a G19 or 17 as a primary weapon due to the ability to use the same magazines.

As always, don't get too wrapped in the nuances of ammunition terminal performance. Spend you time and money on developing a warrior mindset, training, practice, and more training."


Just one man's VERY, VERY, informed opinion. My opinion is, go with .38special or 9x19mm.

benzuncle
October 8, 2008, 10:00 PM
My first concealed carry firearm was a NAA 380. I did a lot of research and chose the caliber and firearm based on the ability to conceal and retrieve it easily. (I carry it in a Nemesis pocket holster when I can't carry one of my 45's.) While the 380 is not the top round for SD, it'll make'em leak. On to the ammo discussion:

I have an article I saved from the NAA forum where a memeber (oldgrandpa) did a wetpack test on the following 380 ammo:
1 Corbon DPX 80gr copper bullet
2 Corbon 90gr JHP
3 Federal HydraShok 90gr JHP
4 Remington Golden Saber 102gr JHP
5 Speer GoldDot 90gr JHP
6 Winchester SXT 95gr JHP

In a nutshell: the Golden Sabers opened to .570 and .588in. at 897fps. Both rounds penetrated 8in. The next best opener/penetrater was the Winchester 95gr. SXT. They opened to .506 and .537in and also penetrated 8in. I have the photo showing the expanded rounds with the penetration depths listed. I've been using it ever since in my NAA 380. It also chambers smoothly. I use 230gr Golden Sabers in both of my 45's also. I like the stuff.

krs
October 8, 2008, 11:28 PM
Marcus L,

THANK YOU for bringing such an expert and definitive exposition on the topic of effective worst case defensive equipment choices.

I for one would like to see this essay by Dr. Roberts made a sticky so that the information it holds could be the first stop for those with a question to do with the viability of the .380 acp loadings for self defense purposes.

It seems to me that Dr. Roberts has put a lid on the question with a very tight twist.

Marcus L.
October 9, 2008, 12:04 AM
Marcus L,

THANK YOU for bringing such an expert and definitive exposition on the topic of effective worst case defensive equipment choices.

I for one would like to see this essay by Dr. Roberts made a sticky so that the information it holds could be the first stop for those with a question to do with the viability of the .380 acp loadings for self defense purposes.

It seems to me that Dr. Roberts has put a lid on the question with a very tight twist.

Thanks, but it is all relative. I'll take a .380acp any day over a knife, pepper spray, or a smaller caliber. However, if you can comfortably carry a 9x19mm or .38spl alternative, it would be in your best interest to carry that instead. If you have no choice, go with a good .380acp FMJ/Hardcast load with a semi-wadcutter bullet to improve cutting.

The FBI deemed the .380acp to not be an ideal caliber for duty or a BUG because 20 years ago there was no defensive load available that could meet the minimum bare gel test criteria. There was also plenty of shooting reports followed by medical exams that showed JHPs to have very poor penetration. After 20 years of ammunition advancements the larger calibers such as the 9x19mm have greatly improved where the FBI once thought it not ideal, now find it to be an excellent cartridge for duty use based on their large purchase of Winchester Ranger Bonded 9mm 147gr. The .380acp hasn't really improved at all in two decades. The problem is probably related to its very poor sectional density. A .22lr and .25acp has better sectional density than a .380acp 90gr bullet.

EHL
October 9, 2008, 01:55 AM
Here we go again.:rolleyes:

polizei36
October 9, 2008, 10:35 AM
I am by far no expert on this topic! LOL. I am glad to see that so many people out here in THR there are actually positively contributing to the post in a well informed manner, and are being helpful to the cause. Sure its been discussed before, but were not all experts to the topic of the 380 ammo debate. That IMHO is exactly what were here for, to discuss topics of interest as a community and help each other out when we don’t know all the answers. Thanks to those who offered up great information to this thread. Sure there are always neah sayers and those who have strong personal convictions about what ammo works better than others and which ammo does not work as well. But such is life.

I have never been involved in an SD situation where I had to deploy and use my firearm to defend my life, and I am going to guess or assume that 95 percent or more of the civilians (not law enforcement) here on this site have never deployed their firearm and actually shot a BG to stop a threat. So reading what is currently available about a certain caliber from what history dictates through actual (but limited to the public) street use data and ballistic test data are all we got to rely upon when we debate such topics.

I tried to search for a thread in THR about documented cases of actual civilian firearm use in self defense situations, but did not locate any. I must be searching the forum incorrectly or something. It would be very interesting to hear about THR civilian members who actually used a certain caliber to stop a lethal encounter (and I am not taking about the NRA stories because they never specify specific caliber brands in their reports etc...). These are the ones I would like to question about what ammo was used in their situations to determine the best ammo to use in a civilian SD situation. Any one know of a thread on this site that is related specifically to this topic?

Thanks again for such enlightening information here in this post! It’s helped me out quite a bit.

kokapelli
October 9, 2008, 12:33 PM
Most 380 velocity figures we read about are from pistols like the Bersa or PPK who's velocities though not real fast are reasonable, but when I saw real velocities from a P-3AT with it's shorter barrel and how much slower they actually are I decided to not carry Gold Dots anymore and now carry fmj only.

Expansion is useless if the bullet doesn't reach vitals.

Ben86
October 9, 2008, 01:43 PM
I plan to get a ruger lcp and I've been pondering this same thing. From what I've seen with ballistic tests the jhps only penetrate 9" if you are lucky. So I might be sticking with fmj because penetration is more important than expansion.

Also most of the ballistic stats, even for .380, are for 4" barrels. Go figure.

JR47
October 9, 2008, 03:02 PM
EHL, were the tests that you performed in calibrated gelatin? Perhaps the new test medium available? Just curious. What pistol was used?

The quote that .380 "is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them." is an opinion. Truth be told, MANY agencies allow the .380 as an authorized off-duty gun. Some, like the Indiana State Police, actually issued the Beretta Model 84 for off-duty, when they used the Model 92 as a carry-gun.

It's statements like that, which propose opinion as fact, where most troubles come from. If you'd look a little further into the author's writing, he thinks that the 9mm shouldn't be used as a duty caliber, either.

Ben Shepherd
October 9, 2008, 03:27 PM
Fiocchi loads a 90grain hornady XTP in 380. Fifty round boxes for around 20 bucks at cabelas. That's what I carry in my 380 makarov. Ran 200 rounds for function with no issues at all, and excellent accuracy. I still need to do a chrono and penetration/expansion test though. (It's been a low priority, the mak gets carried rarely.)

krs
October 9, 2008, 03:46 PM
Truth be told, MANY agencies allow the .380 as an authorized off-duty gun. Some, like the Indiana State Police, actually issued the Beretta Model 84 for off-duty, when they used the Model 92 as a carry-gun.

Truth be told, eh?

As to this supposed Indiana purchase decision you don't think that perhaps, if truth were told, the purchase of the .380 pistols was sidled in along with the purchase of the 9mm pistols because it was the only way to buy a BUG at all? That it would be an easy and oft repeated hoodwink of the procurement folks to buy something not authorized by making it seem to be part of the purchase of things authorized? If you don't think so then I'd recommend a little time in a governmental agency where such practices are a form of survival technique and where it's usually pretty easy to pull a fast one on the procurement people who in most cases couldn't tell a pistol from a floor buffing machine, and wouldn't care much if they were educated to the difference.

To your "some" I ask "which, exactly?"

To your "MANY" I ask "How many, and again which ones?"

I'm sorry, but the opinion of a surgeon familiar with woundings and the characteristics of the effect of bullet types on flesh and simulations of flesh is more than the simple opinion you insist, it is expert conclusion. How does his "thinking that the 9mm shouldn't be used as a duty caliber, either" matter to any consideration of the .380 for the purpose extant? If the truth were told, of course. :)

EHL
October 9, 2008, 03:52 PM
The quote that .380 "is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them." is an opinion. Truth be told, MANY agencies allow the .380 as an authorized off-duty gun. Some, like the Indiana State Police, actually issued the Beretta Model 84 for off-duty, when they used the Model 92 as a carry-gun.

It's statements like that, which propose opinion as fact, where most troubles come from. If you'd look a little further into the author's writing, he thinks that the 9mm shouldn't be used as a duty caliber, either

Thank you for putting that quote into context JR47. It is an opinion of a professional, but anybody with an agenda can produce just as many if not more professionals that opine in the exact opposite way. The fact that some pro said it was a bad choice means just that, "they thought it was a bad choice". The fact that other pros have expressed that a .380 was "adequate for SD purposes" means just that, they believe that .380 was "adequate for SD purposes". It's up to all of us to either buy into or not buy the opinions expressed.

I for one accept the notion that .380 is the minimum for an SD caliber. But that's neither here nor there. The topic of this thread was what .380 brand of ammo would we recommend, not "Is the .380 is even worthy of being an SD caliber?"

EHL, were the tests that you performed in calibrated gelatin? Perhaps the new test medium available? Just curious. What pistol was used?

JR47, to answer your questions, No, they were not tested in calibrated gelatin. I used the poor mans, and I do stress POOR college guy method of milk gallons filled with water. I'd read from several other guys that 4 gallons of water roughly equated to 12" of calibrated geletin. Maybe this is wrong??? When this was brought up, I didn't read any naysayers though.
I would like to eventually test all of SD ammo (not just my .380) for all of my calibers in calibrated gelatin.

The test gun was the Kel tec P3AT. I wanted the absolutley shortest barrel for all of my tests so I could get roughly "worst case scenario" results.

Marcus L.
October 9, 2008, 05:36 PM
The quote that .380 "is really not acceptable for law enforcement use and most savvy agencies prohibit them." is an opinion. Truth be told, MANY agencies allow the .380 as an authorized off-duty gun. Some, like the Indiana State Police, actually issued the Beretta Model 84 for off-duty, when they used the Model 92 as a carry-gun.

It's statements like that, which propose opinion as fact, where most troubles come from. If you'd look a little further into the author's writing, he thinks that the 9mm shouldn't be used as a duty caliber, either.

If you are talking about my opinion, I find the 9mm to be a very ideal caliber for both duty and self defense(I take it you are confusing my opinion with Dr. Roberts who also supports the 9mm). It is true however that during the days of early hollow point designs the FBI considered the 9mm to be less than ideal for duty use due to its poor performance against common barriers such as windshields. This was the primary reason for their adoption of the 10mm auto, then later the .40S&W. Here's a briefing that describes the opinion at the time:

http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi_10mm_notes.pdf

However, 9mm ammunition technology has vastly improved making it a wonderfully versitile caliber. The FBI signed new ammo contracts with Winchester for their Ranger Bonded ammunition in both .40S&W and 9mm. No where did Dr. Roberts or Dr. Fackler mention that the 9mm was not effective, nor did they hint at it. The .380acp on the other hand has not evolved as the other service calibers have. .380acp JHPs are still where they were in the 1980s because there isn't much to work with. It has VERY, VERY poor sectional density meaning that even the best ammo designers can not make it "reliably" penetrate to acceptable levels in standardized FBI testing. A little info on sectional density:

http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/volume4/number1/toc.htm

When Dr. Roberts mentions "savvy" agencies prohibiting its use, he means agencies that are in the know when it comes to their equipment and how best to serve their employees.

Marcus L.
October 9, 2008, 06:06 PM
EHL,

Proper gel testing is a VERY expensive process which is why most internet testing is inaccurate. I would not trust the Brass Fetcher data unless they can provide evidence of accurate testing. Many internet sites claim to be performing standardized testing, but they usually provide no supporting evidence that they actually do.

An exact gel consistancy must be made for exact sized blocks, in addition to exact cooling temperatures in the fridge. Once it is taken from the fridge for testing, it must be calibrated. A BB is fired into the block of gel at a specific velocity. The BB must reach a specific penetrate depth within the gel and if it does not, the gel must be thrown out and not used in the testing otherwise the data will be inaccurate. Obviously, this gets very expensive which is why Ammo Labs shut their doors because they could not afford to keep up their testing and provide accurate results. The only testing facilities I would trust for accurate gel testing are DOD and large LE agency testers such as the Firearms Institute or the National Defense Association Industry. For you information, Dr. Gary Roberts works with both the Firearms Institute and the NDAI meaning that he knows what he's talking about with the .380acp. Dr. Roberts has also worked with the FBI and Dr. Martin Fackler on large LE agency testing on ammunition and equipment. They have even incorporated swine ribs in gel to mimick the human rib cage, but determined it did not pose enough of a barrier to ammunition to warrant further use of it.

EDIT: Just to address the topic of water testing. During the days of early hollow point designs, ammo companies tested their designs using water. This led to a big problem. Muscle tissue and other organs are not 100% water. As a result, hollows points were not opening up reliably in actual shootings, and penetration was much less. Water is after all a liquid, and muscle and gel are solids. Drop a bullet onto a block of gel and the bullet doesn't penetrate the gel, drop a bullet into a bucket of water and the water quickly moves around the path of the bullet and the bullet sinks to the bottom. Before the late 1980s and the advent of gel testing, these early hollow point designs were tested using water and they were not performing well in the field. The .357magnum was doing well because its higher velocity overcame the problems with these early JHPs, but slower velocity calibers were not mushrooming reliably. This is how the legend of the .357mag's stopping power was born. The average .380acp Ranger Talon only penetrates into gel about 7", while in water it can penetrate more than double that and expand very well. Ballistic gel was designed to mimick swine muscle tissue which is similar to human muscle tissue. It is not 100% water, and it very accurately mimicks the solid consistancy of muscle tissue. That is why it is used instead of water. It works and it works well, as is evident by the much more predictable nature of bullet effectiveness in actual shootings in the last 20 years.

lanternlad1
October 9, 2008, 09:59 PM
Rem Golden Sabers are the heaviest .380 bullet at 102g. I put the heavies bullets I can in my .380s. Heavy bullet = more mass = more penetration. If they don't feed properly, then I use CorBon PowerBalls. Feeds like FMJ, works like HP. Gun is useless if bullets don't feed.

JR47
October 10, 2008, 10:00 AM
When Dr. Roberts mentions "savvy" agencies prohibiting its use, he means agencies that are in the know when it comes to their equipment and how best to serve their employees.

Really? Would you happen to actually have a list of agencies that prohibit the .380 ACP as a back-up weapon? It's his OPINION. No more, no less.

The preparation of gelatin blocks isn't rocket science. The directions are readily available, as are the ingredients. Calibration is simple, and temperatures, and their maintenance, are easily achieved. As for homogenity, that, too, is simple to achieve. Blaming results that you disagree with upon poor blending or casting of gelatin is a simple way to dismiss them, but hardly scientific, despite the smoke-screen of "it isn't stated."

What guarantees that the testing agency that you agree with didn't produce flawed gelatin? A mistaken measurement could produce batch after batch that was flawed. Placement of the temperature probe could also produce routinely flawed data.

Multiple tests could result in harried technicians producing an entire lot of improperly blended gelatin.

The 9mm is the 9mm. Bullet development has achieved reliable expansion and penetration. However, that has also made the choice of such ammunition much more dependent upon barrel length for that performance. No matter how much we proclaim it's superiority, it's still a .355" projectile. The fact that it has to be driven to +P and +P+ velocities to produce practical performance objectives requires enough barrel to allow that. In short-barreled guns, there are few choices.

All in all, the same performance enhancements have allowed other calibers to show the same improvements.

EHL, your testing was your testing. It still shows a comparative result. While the body isn't composed of plastic and water, neither is it composed of blocks of gelatin purportedly emulating swine flesh. There is no correlation between a block of gelatin, and the varying densities of flesh, bone, and organs of a living creature. Ballistic gelatin is the modern equivalent of the Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904, with better instrumentation.

There is also a growing body of information that regards the neural shock of bullet performance as important. It was ignored, even after verification, by the god Fackler. Being unable to measure it, or reproduce it in his tests, it was relegated to a foot-note. Today, with enhanced computer modeling, and more sensitive instrumentation, it is a repeatable phenomena.

I have found that the Hydra-Shok, and it's follow-on, the HST, perform well in 10% ballistics gelatin, calibrated, and temperature monitored. It won't meet the FBI criterion testing, as it's performance against glass, and sheet metal barriers is lacking.

One of the caveats of water testing was that water is non-compressible. It was found that fragmentation in water tests was indicative of expansion in flesh. While that may not sound scientific, if you're going to use water as a test medium, then the findings of that test should be explained.

kokapelli
October 10, 2008, 10:27 AM
There is also a growing body of information that regards the neural shock of bullet performance as important. It was ignored, even after verification, by the god Fackler. Being unable to measure it, or reproduce it in his tests, it was relegated to a foot-note. Today, with enhanced computer modeling, and more sensitive instrumentation, it is a repeatable phenomena.

That's just not true in regard to handgun velocities.

There have been many police officers here in the United States who've been shot with medium-high energy Magnum handgun bullets (as well as shotgun slugs) while wearing soft body armor. Soft body armor is constructed of several layers of fabric. When a projectile impacts soft armor, its energy is transmitted directly through the flexible fabric to the officer's body. There's not one documented incident in which an officer was knocked unconscious or physically incapacitated or in any way rendered unable to perform willful activity after his soft armor stopped such a projectile. These officers absorbed nearly 100 percent kinetic energy transfer, yet none were incapacitated by the blunt trauma "shock" of projectile impact or temporary displacement of underlying soft tissues.

As for the Hydra shok 380 round, when they gelatin tested it at stoppingpower.net it did not expand and so didn't do any better than a generic fmj round.

Here are their results..........

The following are results from gelatin tests done at Evan Marshall's
"stoppingpower.net" group.


Pistol used is Keltec .380 3AT

Corbon .380 90 gr. +P

Pen 16.50+" Exp N/A (left the block, not recovered)

Speer .380 90 gr. Gold Dot

Pen 10.50" Exp .476

Federal .380 90gr. Hydra Shok

Pen 16.50" Exp .356

The assumption is that bullets that left the block did not expand, because surely a 380 round that expands can not penetrate 16.5" of gelatin.

Marcus L.
October 10, 2008, 10:50 AM
EHL, your testing was your testing. It still shows a comparative result. While the body isn't composed of plastic and water, neither is it composed of blocks of gelatin purportedly emulating swine flesh. There is no correlation between a block of gelatin, and the varying densities of flesh, bone, and organs of a living creature. Ballistic gelatin is the modern equivalent of the Thompson-LaGarde tests of 1904, with better instrumentation.

There is also a growing body of information that regards the neural shock of bullet performance as important. It was ignored, even after verification, by the god Fackler. Being unable to measure it, or reproduce it in his tests, it was relegated to a foot-note. Today, with enhanced computer modeling, and more sensitive instrumentation, it is a repeatable phenomena.

Then you can also consider BPW to be nothing more than Strausbourg with better instrumentation. When Courtney gains any kind of respect in the ballistics field, I might jump on that bandwagon. Right now he is flooding the internet with his research and self published papers, but not spending much time going head to head with anyone who can with intelligence and education give an accurate critique. For now, I have no problem with Courtney's recommendation of high kinetic energy with a minimum penetration depth of 12"(FBI standard is 12-18", 12" being minimum) as it does not conflict with FBI standards as Marshall and Sanow energy dump did. The downside to this is decreased pistol handling due to increased recoil, muzzle flash, and muzzle blast. This may be more of a detriment than a gain in an actually shooting scenario.

Standardized ballistic gel testing does not measure physiological effects on the destruction of the human anatomy. None of the papers I have read imply that it does so. A requirement was made by the FBI that their pistol ammunition penetrate to a certain depth as was determined by field experiences, and that it also create as large a hole as possible through commonly encountered barriers in the field. Is it a perfect testing system?....of course not, but it is a damn good one. If you are concerned about the incorporation of ribs, the Canadians did that in a 1994 study in which their conclusions were that it did not effect service calibers using heavier bullets, but did have minor effects on lighter loads. As a result LE shooting incidents seem to go much more in favor of the officer provided they shoot straight, versus previous generation shootings that were based on stopping power ammo development.

Gel testing didn't just come out of someone's rear, it was developed in conjunction with applied medical science. There are essentially two methods for rapid incapacitation of a determined attacker that are agreed upon by the medical community as a whole. Blood loss and central nervous system damage. A determined attacker on PCP will not stop fighting unless parts of his body are disabled which anatomically prevent him from fighting. In dozens of PCP shooting cases I have read of in FLETC and DOI files the perp stopped fighting when he was either shot in the head or he bled out. Some of these cases went back to the early 1980s with .357mags and .41mags. Spinal cord hit, brain hit, aorta hit, heart hit,....etc. Only CNS hits are instant, blood loss hits take 5-10+ seconds for desired results depending on what is damaged. Hundreds of autopsy rooms, military field hospitals, and emergency rooms later the verdict is still pretty much unanimous....that this is the only proven method of rapid incapacitation through a gunshot. There is nothing observed that would hint at some other reliable means of rapid incapacitation. Even high powered rifles still have no mysterious effect. Their effects are still localized to the area of the wounding agent(the bullet), only its effects are increased through yawing, tumbling, fragmentation, and temporary cavity stretch that is large enough to tear tissue.

So, the criteria is simply. To increase your chances of rapid incapacitation on an attacker your ammunition should maximize penetration and expansion and you must target specific regions of the body to expect good results. Provided that penetration is good, the larger the caliber, the better your odds of rapid incapacitation. The .380acp, does not do this very well in caparison to the 9mm which creates a much larger volume wound channel. The FBI standardized testing has been in place for 20 years now and it has greatly improved the terminal effects of modern duty ammunition. I'm sure a lot of readers will ignore or deny the content of these posts, because after all you've invested money and confidence in the .380acp and those are hard things to let go.

JR47
October 10, 2008, 02:43 PM
Gel testing didn't just come out of someone's rear, it was developed in conjunction with applied medical science.

Cute, but not relevant. It was developed, as you, yourself, said, to equal swine flesh.

If you are concerned about the incorporation of ribs, the Canadians did that in a 1994 study in which their conclusions were that it did not effect service calibers using heavier bullets, but did have minor effects on lighter loads.

Again, not what was stated. The body isn't a homogenous amalgam of anything. It is composed of fat, muscle, bone, cartilage, and both hollow and soft organs. Nothing, not swine flesh, nor ballistics gel, will result in performance in that medium.

The FBI decided on essentially arbitrary minimums and maximums, based on 1980's technology, and the Spartan form of democracy, for it's multi-phase tests. Could that be improved upon today? Why, of course, but only at the cost of revealing just how flawed the past performance criterion actually are. Building bullets to meet the criterion results only in bullets that excel in that criterion. Transferring that success to the street requires an almost religious faith, and also requires that any competing position, or research, be denigrated as false, or incomplete.

At the very least, Thompson-Legarde used actual living beings from stockyards for testing. As far as humans go, there are multiple examples of soldiers sustaining numerous fatal wounds, and yet remained able to fight back long after they should have. They weren't on drugs, either. There are more mechanisms involved than CNS disruption under controlled conditions, or exsanguination. Dr. Courtney's work is undergoing peer review, as you well know, but failed to mention. With the death of the IAWB, from fratricide, and the withdrawal of Fackler from research, the remaining zealots are operating from information 20 years old.

Newton
October 11, 2008, 12:49 AM
I carry hot loaded FMJ in my LCP.

JHP out of a pocket rocket like the LCP is a total waste of time IMHO.

Energy Recruitment
January 7, 2009, 08:46 AM
In terms of total ammunition sales, the 9mm Parabellum is the biggest seller by a wide margin. The reason is simple: It is compatible in so many guns. Since World War I, the 9mm has been the dominant cartridge in Europe and much of the free world. When American law enforcement began the switch to semi-automatic pistols, high magazine capacity was a major concern, and the 9mm led the pack in those terms. Today almost everyone who makes pistols has one or more 9mms in the line.Three bullet weights dominate today's 9mm selections -- 115, 124 and 147 gr. loadings. Within that group you can find standard, +P and even a few +P+, which are restricted to law enforcement. The information regarding all the various calibers, bullet weights and factory velocities is available at the various web sites, or in catalogs.

JR47
January 7, 2009, 01:50 PM
And, while nice in an academic sort of way, it has NOTHING to do with the OP's question.

When the Facklerites destroyed themselves in an orgy of fratricide, each striving to be more correct than the other, the "research" that they championed was already over two decades old. Science, and it's ability to quantify results, had advanced far beyond the results solidified by the Fackler crowd. I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the fact that most of the work derived by Dr. Fackler was in 20% gelatin, and not 10%. This required a conversion of results. Not exactly the paradigm of science, there. There are still a few adherents to the now nearly 60 year old research, derived from Korea onwards, as we can see. They routinely ignore new research, calling it unproven, much like Fackler's own research in the 1960s. Here, and you thought all of the dinosaurs died out 65 m illion years ago.

The Remington Golden Saber, the Speer Gold Dot, and the newer Honbady Critical Defense rounds are all good bets in the .380 that you're CARRYING. Talk of buying something in a different caliber won't help anyone. When was the last time that a CCW carrier was involved in shooting through auto glass, or sheet-metal, anyway? That's an LEO scenario.

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