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Bullet Size for .380?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by NHSHTR, May 7, 2009.


    NHSHTR Well-Known Member


    I'm going to begin reloading .380's (been reloading other calibers for a while) and noticed that different bullet companies have different dia.s for their .380 bullets. Some are .355", some 356" (i.e. Rainier .355, Berry's .356", Mastercast.com .356", Mastercast.net, .355", Meister.355"). My Lyman, Hornady, Hodgdon info all give .355" as dia. for their recipes. Not sure that the .001 makes any difference in accuracy with lead, but wanted to check before buying them.

    I was looking to try 90, 95 and 100 gr. to see which may perform better. Also plated or plain lead. I'm planning to use W231 and Green Dot powders.

    Those are a lot of combinations to track, but it'll keep me busy loading and shooting! :)

    Any of you have a firm opinion on dia., gr, or powder? Thanks for any suggestions.
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Either size is fine.
    Probably the bigger the better.

    Most .380 barrels have so much variation they might really be .380"!!!

    Slug your bore and find out for sure.

    I have had good luck with 100 Berry over 3.8 Unique.

    Or 90 grain XTP over 3.3 grains either Red Dot or Green Dot.

    Shooting a K-T P3AT.

  3. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    I've loaded slugs from mastercast.com over BullsEye and Red Dot with great results.
    haven't used any of the powders mentioned but have read good about W231.
  4. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Usually, for the .380 Auto you would use a .355" Jacketed bullet and .356" lead bullet just like in the 9mm Luger but either will work. IMO W231 is the best powder for loading the .380 Auto.

    NHSHTR Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the responses. :)

    So I'll not worry about the .001" difference. I'm going to try the three different weights and start with the W231 powder first.

    One more question; I know different guns have different accuracy, but what size 3 shot groups do you consider "good" for a .380 out to 25 yards? (maybe if I can hit a mouse at 25 yds, that's good!:D)
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    First off, 3 shot groups are for rifles while handgun groups are usually measured with 5 shot groups.

    Secondly, you didn't mention which gun you are shooting. If you are shooting a Kel-Tec P-3AT I highly doubt you will get ant kind of group from 25 yards. (well, at least I couldn't, you might be a great shot) If it's a full size pistol I would think anything under 5" @25 yards is good. At SD ranges of 7 yards a 3" group is what I would consider good. Those numbers are only my opinion and in reality, groups don't really matter with a small SD gun. If you can keep all 5 shots within a 6" to 8" group you are hitting center mass.

    I do a practice someone posted years ago on this forum. (sorry, I don't remember who) If you can shoot 5 rounds from 5 yards onto a 5" paper plate in only 5 seconds you are doing very well.
    Last edited: May 9, 2009

    NHSHTR Well-Known Member

    I'm shooting a smally - a Bersa T380. It has given me 6" groups of 6 shots at 25 yards from a rest with factory ammo.

    But I guess I should be more realistic for that gun and stick to SD distances. I like your practice of 5 rounds in 5 seconds from 5 yards. I think you meant also to get a 5" group. Thanks!
  8. Marlin 45 carbine

    Marlin 45 carbine Well-Known Member

    that's exceptional shooting with the .380acp round IMO.
    I have a BDA that will do near that good off a rest if I'm haveing a good day.
  9. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I agree, 6" groups from a .380 Bersa from 25 yards out is very good shooting indeed.
  10. NHSHTR

    NHSHTR Well-Known Member

    These are three targets of 6 in which I was able to get ~6" 6 shot groups at 25 yards with the Bersa using a rest. I know this only proves I have targets with holes in them since you didn't see me shoot from 25 yards, but I offer them for what it's worth. My model is the Duotone which has the 3 dot adjustable sights.

    Target #2 was the best of the 6 targets. On #3 I only shot 5, since one was FTF because I made it too short. #4 was 3 high, 3 low, one on the white. Problem with a 8" dia. bull at 25 yards is that the front sight, as small as it is, blots it out. So I'm moving to a bigger bull.

    I've been shooting the .380 with factory for a few months, but wasn't familiar with what the gun can do, so I thought I'd like to reload it.

    I loaded six variations. Target #2 is 2.6 gr. of Titegroup with a Berry's 100 grain RNHB, Starline case, Fed Primer, OAL = .980

    #3 target is 2.3 gr. of Green Dot, same case, primer, bullet, OAL.

    #4 target (has a hole in white from adjacent target) is 2.6 gr. of Green Dot, same case, same primer, bullet and OAL.

    I still have to try straight lead (.355, .356 the reason for this thread) and W231. I was trying to figure what I should set as a reloading goal. Sounds like I'm pretty close and will try some at 15 yards to see how much tighter they may be.

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