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380 Self Defense Ammo???

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by jimk66, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. jimk66

    jimk66 Well-Known Member

    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.
  2. JJE

    JJE Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. printcraft

    printcraft Well-Known Member

    another thread?

    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?
  4. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Well-Known Member

    The 102g Golden Saber has always been a favorite for me.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    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!

  6. 357sigRog

    357sigRog Well-Known Member

    Rem 102gr Golden Saber
  7. EHL

    EHL Well-Known Member

    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.
  8. JR47

    JR47 Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. Phil DeGraves

    Phil DeGraves Well-Known Member

    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...
  10. EHL

    EHL Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. polizei36

    polizei36 Well-Known Member

    380 SD ammo is readily available in Colorado Springs....

    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.
  12. jimk66

    jimk66 Well-Known Member

    380 SD Ammo

    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.
  13. jjohnson

    jjohnson Well-Known Member

    Mag Tech Guardian Gold

    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.
  14. NonConformist

    NonConformist member

    Try some Federal Hydra-Shok

    The dude is FOS, or ignorant!
  15. Marcus L.

    Marcus L. Well-Known Member

    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)

    "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.
  16. benzuncle

    benzuncle Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. krs

    krs Well-Known Member

    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.
  18. Marcus L.

    Marcus L. Well-Known Member

    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.
  19. EHL

    EHL Well-Known Member

    Here we go again.:rolleyes:
  20. polizei36

    polizei36 Well-Known Member

    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.

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