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380acp penetration

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by jimbo555, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Well-Known Member

    Just purchased a sig p238.What is the best penetrating jhp or is fmj the only acceptable choice for adequate penetration?
  2. plouffedaddy

    plouffedaddy Well-Known Member

    For the JHPs, the XTP round is probably the best penetrator that will reliably expand. But, the 380 is a compromise and if you're looking for 14+'' of penetration FMJ may be the way to go.

    I keep my 380s loaded with either Speer Gold Dots or Underwood Gold Dots FWIW.

    Speer 90gr JHP Sim Test Media Test

    10.5'' through gel and 4 layers of denim.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012
  3. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    I have done a lot of research on this and have ended up with WW white box fmj with a truncated bullet.

    As for 380jhp expansion, most jhp rounds from the better ammo makers absolutely do expand and anyone that says they don't hasn't bothered to research the subject, but remember that expansion decreases penetration.

    Here is a good source for 380jhp expansion tests.

  4. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    It all depends upon your needs.

    If you must have a round that rises to the FBI specification for penetration of at least 12", then you're gonna want an FMJ because the vast majority of .380 JHPs won't make it past 10" - 11" if they expand.

    The best compromise JHP is likely the XTP as suggested above by plouffedaddy.
  5. Shawn Dodson

    Shawn Dodson Well-Known Member

    It all depends on barrel length. .380 JHPs will reliably expand from my wife's Beretta 85, with it's 4" barrel. The SIG P238 has a 2.7" barrel and JHP expansion will probably not happen, especially when clothing is encountered.

    WW white box (Q4206) is what I suggest.

    Don't bother wasting money on Buffalo Bore's +P hard cast as the slightly higher velocity doesn't increase the wounding effects of a non-expanding bullet.
  6. jimbo555

    jimbo555 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the responses.I chose the sig238 to replace my walther tph22 as a backup and sometimes primary.The p238 has great sights and the sa trigger makes it much more accurate than other 380's I tried.I'm comfortable with cocked and locked carry.The diamondback 9mm I consider not yet proven based on my research.I have a ruger lc9 wich is reliable but I wanted a small pistol to backup my colt new agent 45.
  7. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    This is what I mean about people not doing the research!

    The Brassfetcher 380 gelatin tests were preformed using a Kel Tec P3AT which has a 2.7" barrel and again all of the jhp rounds did expand including the ones fired through heavy clothing into the gelatin block.

    Just take a few seconds and go to the link in my previous post above.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  8. Bozwell

    Bozwell Well-Known Member

    In that limited testing on mostly bare gelatin they did expand. The more problematic data from that testing though is that none of the tested JHP's achieved even the minimum recommended penetration depth of 12". In my mind, 12" is a minimum, and if you can achieve that with reliable expansion, that's even better. But, without that minimum depth, expansion (or lack thereof) isn't really meaningful.
  9. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Well-Known Member

    Are they really that much...!? :what:
    I carry a Kel-Tec PF9 most of the time, but carried a Bersa Thunder 380 for quite a while before (great gun, by the way; still have it.) It was usually loaded with Remington-UMC 95-grain FNEB loads, sort of a semi-jacketed, flat-tipped solid.
    In my P32 Kel-Tec, I also opt for penetration over expansion, and carry either the Fiocchi FMJ (when I can find them), or the .32 version of the above-mentioned Winchester "fully-jacketed flat-tips."
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2012
  10. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    Those Winchester flat-nosed FMJ are what I carry if I'm carrying a short-barrel .380. I also bought a bag of Remington golden-something 102 grain JHP bullets to try reloading, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.
  11. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Well-Known Member

    Another vote for WWB FMJ in the .380.

    Bare gelatin and bad guys walking around wearing clothing are two different things when you start comparing limited penetration, tiny hollow point cavities filling up with clothing and not expanding, and ball ammo not expanding but always penetrating a minimum of 12 inches.

    Just my .02,
  12. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    Yes and that's why I choose to carry the Winchester fmj with truncated cone bullet or the Freedom Munitions 100gr truncated bullet round in my 380 pistols as well.
  13. Phantom Captain

    Phantom Captain Well-Known Member

    You guys should check out the Buffalo Bore Hard Cast Flat Nose loads.

    I think they are the perfect compromise between HP and FMJ loads and all I carry in an SD .380.

    My PPK/s eats them up no problem.
  14. kokapelli

    kokapelli Well-Known Member

    How are they a compromise between jhp and fmj?
    They are a hot truncated bullet round that will give deep penetration at an expensive price And so will Winchester's truncated round at a much lower price as will Freedom Munitions truncated 100gr fmj at an even lower price.

    In every gelatin test of the Winchester truncated 380 round I have seen penetration was at least 18" and anything over that is just over penetration.
  15. HOWARD J

    HOWARD J Well-Known Member

    I picked up P-238 & a P3AT----never got much chance to use for carry as my daughter got one & my youngest son got the other
    So, I went back to my faithful Walther PPK-380
    Can't win them all
  16. Robert101

    Robert101 Well-Known Member

    I don't have an issue with FMJ in 380 as I like the added feeding reliability of the FMJ and maximum penetration for this lighter round. I won't argue for the HP design as I want that bullet to go as deep as possible and through barriers if needed. The FMJ is the best candidate in 380 for me.

    Some commentary for a moment, I think the 380 is adequate for SD. I think we get too engrossed into that laser one shoot drop against a mountain of 350 lb specimen story that occurs once every 10 years. I've got some big hand guns but I still legally carry the 380 and feel confident with it.
  17. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Well-Known Member

    I generally agree with you, but anything over 18" is also a little extra margin if you hit a bone or a belt buckle or something.
  18. Bozwell

    Bozwell Well-Known Member

    Sorry, I have to call you on this. What bullets are experts "trying to sell you" when they recommend 12-18" of penetration? Is the FBI selling bullets these days? What research can you actually support that says 12" is too much penetration? You'll forgive me if I'm skeptical, but a random guy on the internet who proclaims he's researched a subject for decades and then proceeds to contract nearly every expert in the field tends to raise an eyebrow or two.
  19. Tedzilla

    Tedzilla Well-Known Member

    18" penetration!?! What are you shooting... Hippos?!?
    I'm 6'2" 200lbs center mass on me is 16" wide and less than 10" deep. Clothing isn't that tough and you've got at least 7 or 8 chances with a normal .380.
  20. 481

    481 Well-Known Member

    If you can guarantee those specific angles will be unobstructed. That's an awfully big "if". During a gunfight, we have precious little control over such things and we often must take what we are given in the way of such options.

    Again, you can't guarantee that your intended mark isn't obstructed by that arm in the first place. During a gunfight, our "intended mark" may be blocked by an act or circumstances outside of our control and we may not have the time to wait for it to be removed, hence the need for ammunition that doesn't just barely meet the minimum penetration requirement.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2012

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