Final Results of the .380 ACP Ammo Quest

In July of 2013, I picked up a little .380 pocket pistol (specifically a Taurus PT738 TCP), and I started researching what would be the most appropriate ammo to use with it.

Turns out that pretty much nobody knew.  Well — I mean, sure, there’s lots of opinions, but I couldn’t find any comprehensive source of professional tests that were done from this particular barrel size, in ballistic gel, with a large sample size.  I found plenty of great tests from PocketGunsAndGear that were shot with a shorter 2.5″ barrel, and some tests from tnoutdoors9 that were shot with a longer barrel, but I couldn’t find any ballistic gel tests that were shot from the 2.8″ barrel.  And I knew that barrel length could affect velocity (especially as compared to the 3.5″ barrel) and that differing velocities can and will cause significant variations in expansion and penetration, so I wasn’t entirely sure that the results these other fine testers achieved would be directly applicable to these pistols with the 2.8″ barrel.

Furthermore, while I applaud the work that other testers are doing, I simply am not satisfied with a sample size of one bullet.  In my experience, ammo performance can vary so widely from one shot to the next, that I believe a larger sample size is necessary in order to have an idea of how the average round of the ammo is actually likely to perform.

So, as announced in a prior post, I decided to conduct my own tests.

Testing Standards

I set as my standard the guidelines established by the 1987 and 1993 Wound Ballistic Conferences, where wound ballistics experts, medical examiners, forensic pathologists, police officers, trauma surgeons, combat surgeons, and others who worked with street shootings and bullets (and the wounds they cause) day in and day out.  These were the recognized experts in their fields, and they conducted conferences to determine what properties and capabilities caused a bullet to be most effective, and how they could then develop tests that would best and most accurately reflect real-world results, so that ammo designers could then design ammo that would perform most effectively.  Effectiveness was determined to be the ability to penetrate deep enough into the body to reach the vital organs (such as the heart, circulatory system, and central nervous system).  A bullet that can’t reach that far, and can’t be relied upon to disrupt the vital organs, was deemed an ineffective bullet.

When it’s all boiled down to the simplest guidelines possible, the parameters work out like this, in order of importance:

  1. A bullet needs to have enough power to penetrate AT LEAST 12″ of soft tissue.  If it can penetrate through 12″ of soft tissue, then that means it has enough power to pass through whatever combination of bone, muscle, skin, fat, and organs that it could possibly encounter, and still be able to reach the vital organs.
  2. A bullet should penetrate LESS than 18″ of soft tissue.  Bullets that penetrated more than 18″ of soft tissue would usually end up exiting the body of the attacker, regardless of how much bone or tissue it had to pass through.  That meant that the bullet posed a very real danger of overpenetration, and also that it was wasting its energy by passing completely through.
  3. The bigger the bullets, the better.  The bigger the hole the bullet makes, the more tissue it destroys, and the more likely it is to damage vital structures that a smaller bullet might miss.  In this context, expanding bullets (that penetrate deeply enough!) are much better than solid bullets, because solid bullets tend to pass right through, whereas an expanding bullet grows larger and is more likely to slow down and stop in the desired window of 12″ to 18″ of soft tissue penetration.
  4. Sharper bullets are better than round bullets.  This isn’t the most important factor, but an expanded bullet with sharp petals on it is more likely to cut an artery or other vital structure than a round-nose bullet might, especially at the limit of travel when the bullet is going more slowly.  A round-nose might just push tissue out of the way, where a sharp bullet may still be cutting and damaging tissue.  This is another reason an expanded hollowpoint is a better wounder than a round-nose FMJ (Full Metal Jacket).
  5. Of all the parameters that matter when evaluating a bullet’s terminal performance, the most important is to achieve sufficient penetration.  Overpenetration is bad, but “underpenetration will get you killed” (quote from Dr. Martin Fackler).

The FBI adopted these requirements for their duty ammo selection, which is only partially related to us in the self defense community; we’re not the FBI and we don’t need FBI duty ammo, but — ammo manufacturers love to sell ammo to the FBI, so many of the modern hollowpoint rounds on the market are designed to meet the FBI requirements.  Which is good for us, because what makes a bullet effective in stopping a criminal, are the same factors that make it effective in stopping someone who’s assaulting us.  The FBI requires their ammo to pass additional tests of barrier penetration, including auto windshield glass, plywood, drywall, and other tests.  In the self defense community, those aren’t likely realistic tests that we need our ammo to pass, so I didn’t bother with those tests, instead I focused on the two tests that are most important to self defense shooters: the bare ballistic gelatin test, and the 4-layer denim test.  The International Wound Ballistic Association standardized these two tests as a comprehensive evaluation of ammo performance in best-case and worst-case scenarios, and so that is the testing methodology I adopted.

I’ve blogged previously on the whys and wherefores of ballistic gel (for example, here, here, and here.)  In the simplest terms, it’s a soft tissue simulant that we use to evaluate a bullet’s performance through soft human tissue.  It’s not “jello”, it’s not a dessert, it’s actually powdered and reconstituted flesh.  Professional ballistic gel is made from ground-up and powdered pork skin.  It’s an effective flesh simulant because it actually is flesh.  I used genuine professional 10% ordnance gelatin from www.gelatininnovations.com for the 4-layer denim test, and synthetic ClearBallistics gel from www.clearballistics.com for the bare gel tests.  (I did a comprehensive comparison between the two gelatin products before starting this Ammo Quest, and found that the synthetic gel was suitable for handgun bullet testing.)

Testing Procedures

My testing procedure was to fire five shots into each block of gel, from 10 feet, through a chronograph.  All 10% ballistic gel was calibrated with a steel BB at ~590 fps, was prepared to FBI specifications using FBI gel preparation procedures, stored at proper temperatures, and shot at proper temperatures, for consistent reliable data.  All bullets were measured for penetration distance while they were in the block of gel, then cut out, cleaned up, measured and weighed for final details.

I tested a total of 18 types of ammunition through bare ClearBallistics gelatin.  I then repeated the test in 10% calibrated ordnance gelatin through 4 layers of IWBA-spec heavy denim, for those rounds that performed well enough through the bare gelatin (or, in some cases, just because I was curious; sometimes rounds did terribly in the bare gel but I was still curious how  or if they might change their performance through denim).  This resulted in a grand total of 27 test videos (sheesh!)

Results

The results are correlated in the tables below.  Links are provided to the YouTube tests for each round.  Penetration data is color-coded; red is totally unacceptable (either gross under- or over-penetration); yellow is a bad sign (indicating modest under- or over-penetration), green is considered good, and blue is considered excellent penetration.  I also include the MacPherson Wound Trauma Incapacitation value (previously blogged-about here).  If you want the brief summary, bigger numbers are more effective at incapacitating an attacker (and if you want the briefest summary, just go by the color code!)

Here is a video that summarizes all my findings and makes recommendations on the various ammo that has been tested.

Below is the summary table, results, and links for the videos of all the ammo tests that were conducted.

.380 ACP Micro-Pistol With ~2.8″ Barrel

Ammunition Test Results

Buffalo Bore 90-Grain JHP Standard Pressure, Item 27G

Average Velocity in feet per second 937
Average Expanded Diameter .472” (12.0 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .505” (12.8 mm)
Average Retained Weight 90.02 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 18.58
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 10.88
11.13
  12.00
23.75
  25.13

 

Copper Only Projectiles 80-grain solid copper hollowpoint

Average Velocity in feet per second 835
Average Expanded Diameter .433” (11.0 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .500” (12.7 mm)
Average Retained Weight 79.82 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 3.96
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 8.25
  8.38
  9.13
  9.25
  9.63

 

 

Cor®Bon 90-Grain JHP, CorBon part # SD38090/20

Average Velocity in feet per second 932
Average Expanded Diameter .453” (11.5 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .512” (13.0 mm)
Average Retained Weight 90.06 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 26.35
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 11.25
  12.00
  13.00
  15.50
  16.00
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 16
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 22.50
  22.75
  23.00
  23.50
  23.75

 

 

DoubleTap DT Defense Lead Free(TM) 77-grain solid copper hollowpoint

Average Velocity in feet per second 895
Average Expanded Diameter .358” (9.1 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .358” (9.1 mm)
Average Retained Weight 77.02 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 18.64
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 11.25
  12.00
  15.50
  15.75
  19.00

DoubleTap-Lead-Free-bullets

 

 

DRT (Dynamic Research Technologies) .380 Auto 85grain HP “Penetrating Frangible”

Note: I tested this round, and it was very different, didn’t penetrate consistently, half the bullets failed entirely and just overpenetrated.  It is such a different round with such different design parameters, it doesn’t fit well with making a consolidated table like the other rounds in the test.  I recommend just going directly to the video to see how the DRT .380 ammo performed.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mx8pn5CadXI

 

 

Federal Premium Hydra-Shok® 90-grain JHP

Average Velocity in feet per second 889
Average Expanded Diameter .426” (10.8 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .487” (12.4 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.46 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 25.68
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 12.00
  12.88
  12.25
  12.75
  12.50
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 20.85
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 13.50
  14.00
  14.50
  15.25
  18.75

 

 

Fiocchi Extrema XTP(TM) 90-grain XTP JHP, part # 380XTP25

Average Velocity in feet per second 791
Average Expanded Diameter .414” (10.5 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .455” (11.6 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.96 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 27.72
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 12.88
  13.25
  13.50
  13.63
  13.88
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 25.40
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 14.25
  14.50
  15.25
  18.75

Note: only four bullets were used in the denim test for the Extremas.

 

 

Hornady Critical Defense(TM) 90-grain FTX® JHP with Polymer Tip

Average Velocity in feet per second 857
Average Expanded Diameter .478” (12.1 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .533” (13.5 mm)
Average Retained Weight 88.92 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 2.11
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 7.75
  8.13
  8.25
  8.75
  8.88
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 18.84
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 10.13
  11.63
  11.88
  12.00
  17.00

Note: Critical Defense severely underpenetrated in the bare gel test.  In the denim gel test we had one round travel to good penetration, but it failed to expand.

 

 

Hornady Custom .380 ACP with 90-grain XTP JHP

Average Velocity in feet per second 851
Average Expanded Diameter .438” (11.1 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .488” (12.4 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.96 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 25.81
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 12.00
  12.13
  12.38
  12.88
  12.88
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 23.80
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 10.63
  11.75
  12.75
  13.00
  13.50

 

 

HPR HyperClean XTP 90-grain JHP

Average Velocity in feet per second 789
Average Expanded Diameter .414” (10.5 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .454” (11.5 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.96 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 27.11
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 13.50
  12.50
  13.88
  14.00
  14.50
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 23.03
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 12.75
13.50
  14.25
  14.88
  15.00

 

PMC Starfire(TM) 95 grain SFHP, part #380SFA

Average Velocity in feet per second 788
Average Expanded Diameter .381” (9.7 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .405” (10.3 mm)
Average Retained Weight 95.13 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 24.60
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 25.50
  16.00
16.00
  14.75

Note: only 4 bullets were tested and recovered.

 

 

Precision One .380 ACP 90 grain XTP

Average Velocity in feet per second 810
Average Expanded Diameter .413” (10.5 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .446” (11.3 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.78 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 28.28
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 13.75
  13.50
  13.75
  13.88
  13.63
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 25.72
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 12.75
  13.25
  13.75
  14.38

 

 

Remington Golden Saber 102-grain BJHP

Average Velocity in feet per second 756
Average Expanded Diameter .527” (13.4 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .624” (15.8 mm)
Average Retained Weight 102.5 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 8.89
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 10.13
  8.50
  9.00
  9.38
  10.50

 

 

Remington UMC 88-grain JHP, part #L380A1B

Average Velocity in feet per second 884
Average Expanded Diameter .355” (9.0 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .355” (9.0 mm)
Average Retained Weight 90 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 16.00
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 22.75
  23.25
  23.63
  24.50
  25.50

Note: These were hollowpoints, but all failed to expand.

 

 

Speer Gold Dot .380 ACP 90-grain GDHP, part #23606

Average Velocity in feet per second 944
Average Expanded Diameter .447” (11.4 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .487” (12.4 mm)
Average Retained Weight 89.36 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 23.25
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 12.00
  11.75
  11.25
  11.63
  13.00
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 19.20
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 10.00
  11.00
  11.00
  11.50
15.00

 

 

Underwood Ammo .380 ACP 102 grain Golden Saber JHP

standard pressure 950 fps, item #142

Average Velocity in feet per second 827
Average Expanded Diameter .503” (12.8 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .603” (15.3 mm)
Average Retained Weight 101.68 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 17.91
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 9.50
  10.50
  10.75
  11.00
  12.00
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 16.00
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 16.75
  18.63
  19.25
  20.25
  21.25

 

Winchester PDX1® Defender(TM) 95-grain Bonded JHP

Average Velocity in feet per second 901
Average Expanded Diameter .562” (14.3 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .655” (16.6 mm)
Average Retained Weight 95.28 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 1.80
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 8.25
  7.75
  7.63
  8.38
  9.00
MacPherson WTI in Denim Test 2.76
Penetration in Denim gel, inches: 8.38
  8.50
  8.50
  8.63

 

 

Winchester Ranger-T

Average Velocity in feet per second 907
Average Expanded Diameter .595” (15.1 mm)
Average Maximum Diameter .793” (20.1 mm)
Average Retained Weight 93.9 grains
MacPherson Wound Trauma Indicator 12.07
Penetration in Bare Gelatin, inches: 21.25
  21.88
15.00
8.13
  9.50

Share Button

348 thoughts on “Final Results of the .380 ACP Ammo Quest

  1. Pingback: The most comprehensive testing of .380 ammo to date.

  2. Pingback: Defensive ammo for 380

  3. Pingback: Ammo Quest .380 Final Wrapup: finding the BEST ammo for a .380ACP pistol

  4. Steven in RI

    Was any testing done with the 380 Auto +P from Big Bore? I know you tested the standard pressure, but I was curious if by chance you tried the +P version.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Steven,

      No, I specifically avoided all so-called “+P” rounds. There is no standard established for “+P” in .380 ACP, so anyone selling ammo labeled “+P” is selling overpressure ammo. The gun manufacturers that I’ve checked (Ruger & Taurus) specifically warn against using “+P” in their .380 ACP guns.

      While .380 ACP “+P” may or may not work in any particular pistol, the fact of the matter is that these are overpressure rounds, which will at the bare minimum accelerate wear on the pistol, and in the worst case they could cause damage to it. Using “+P” in an LCP or TCP will immediately void the warranty.

      My position is this: if you really need the power of “+P” .380, then you should just skip .380 all together and go straight to a 9mm.

      Reply
      1. Pat

        Not necessarily so. I noticed with striaght blowback guns that projectile weight had much more of an effect on slide velocity than actual peak pressure. I tested the buffalo bore + p 80 gr barnes load in my Bersa Thunder 380 Combat and found it beat the gun up less than the winchester white box. The 100 gr hard cast +p load was very stout and I would only recommend it for locked breech guns and even the standard pressure 100 gr load was a bit snappy. I would definitely at least recommend a heavier spring for the 100 gr stuff. Compared to those, the 80 gr +p was extremely mild. The cases were actually being thrown less than the winchester white box.

        Reply
      2. Pat

        Oh. Have you given Cutting Edge’s PHD line a try? The bullet is similar in concept to Lehigh Defense’s controlled fracturing design but in my experience has been much more reliable. I shoot their 240 gr 45 cal out of my muzzleloader and simply put its the most devastating projectile ive ever seen. I also use several of their bullets in 300 blk and they really bring the little blk into a whole nother realm of lethality. Their factory ammo is a 75 gr bullet that clocks somewhere in the ballpark of 1000 fps depending on barrel length and is quite mild. I have load data thst lists the same bullet at standard pressures approaching 1200 fps from a 3 inch barrel and +p data with another couple thousand psi on there approaching 1300 fps. I wouldnt be surprised to see 1300 fps easily from a 3.5 inch gun. They claim 14 inches of penetration but i have yet to see any independent tests on that. Just a couple expansion tests which are as devistating as all their other bullets. Give them a try. I think they will definitely be a contender.

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          I have some of those Cutting Edge bullets. In general I’m not impressed with bullets that sacrifice deep penetration damage in exchange for wider/more superficial damage; it just never has seemed like a good idea to me (rounds like the Lehigh Controlled Fracturing, G2 R.I.P., or the Cutting Edge PHD). I get why they’re trying to do it, I just think it makes the wrong compromise. However, each round deserves to be tested on its own merits, so yes, I will eventually be testing the Cutting Edge version.

          Reply
    2. John

      After reading this, I wanted to get the HPR Hyperclean for my TCP, but have been unable to find it. I did finally get 50 rds of the Fiocchi Extrema. WIl try a few rds at the range soon. But I was surprised to see they had stell shells vs. brass.

      Reply
      1. LouisianaMan

        Those are nickel-plated brass cases, not steel. The advantages are that nickel feeds slickly and it’s brighter & easier to see at night. The downside is for reloaders, as case mouths tend to split more easily than plain brass.
        Bottom line: that Fiocchi ammo is high quality and is NOT steel-cased.
        Happy shooting!

        Reply
  5. Bruce

    fantastic series with a lot of good information. I already ordered my Precision One directly from them. hope that you will take on a new project and treat us to some more of these professional produced informative videos. Hate to see this one come to a close but glad to come out with the information provided. Thanks for all of your time and effort

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Bruce,

      Another series is already underway — an Ammo Quest for 9mm pocket pistols (with 3″ barrels). Already shot several of the test videos, just have to get them edited and start posting them.

      Glad you liked the .380 Ammo Quest!

      Reply
      1. Bruce

        great advice, go to a 9mm if you’re looking for that kind of power. honestly speaking with a kind of results you found with the precision one XTP why bother with a 9 with a pocket pistol. I carry an XD 45 in the winter but since you published your results I am absolutely confident carrying my 380 with the proper rounds at those times I can’t conceal a bigger weapon

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Why bother with a 9mm pocket pistol? Because the 9mm is substantially more powerful than the .380…

          I know what you’re saying, but I’d like to make sure to clarify here — if someone is torn between a .380 and a 9mm, GET THE 9MM. It’s much more powerful. Much. Now, personally, I prefer a .45. I know there are people who get upset about “caliber wars” and diminishing someone else’s choice — I’m not doing that. All I’m saying is — I like the weight of 230 grains. I like having a big heavy bullet that will smash through anything it encounters. Others prefer capacity. I’m okay with those choices — doesn’t really matter to me. I have a pocket 9, and a pocket .380, and an almost-pocket .45 (the XDs). They’re all fantastic — but if I ended up actually in a life-or-death situation, I know I’d rather have brought the .45 than the others.

          So — the pocket 9 gives you more penetration, and bigger bullets, and more moving mass (usually 124 to 147 grains) than the .380. Those are all good. The downside to the pocket 9 is that it’s bigger, thicker, and usually significantly more expensive.

          The pocket .380 (especially the TCP/LCP size) are just such a tiny, compact, lightweight, portable, concealable solution that they’re really unparalleled. My “pocket 9″ is only barely dimensionally bigger than the TCP, but in reality it is nowhere near as convenient to carry. It’s still tiny compared to a full-size duty pistol, sure, but there’s a world of difference between a TCP in a SuperFly, and a Sig 938 in a Remora in the pocket. The Sig barely fits in my jeans pocket, the TCP disappears in the same pocket.

          So — is the TCP with an XTP round “good enough”? It may well be. And it’s vastly, infinitely better than being unarmed! But is it as good as a Pocket 9? No, I can’t say that it is. I definitely feel “better armed” carrying the 9 than I do the .380. But I have to confess, I’m much more likely to carry the .380 just because there’s absolutely no reason not to. I literally forget it’s there within five minutes of stuffing it in a pocket. Why WOULDN’T you carry one? Even if you had a big gun on your hip, why not throw a little TCP (or maybe the rumored new Glock 42) in your pocket as well? Because when you combine it with the right ammo, it’s no longer a toy or a pea-shooter, it’s a potentially seriously effective defensive weapon.

          Reply
          1. frank

            gel & denim, capacity, expansion, laser, caliber, trigger pull, etc…Thugs must laugh at us. They know a bullet (any bullet) could put a burning, bloody tunnel in their body. Either a 4″ or 14″ deep tunnel causes the same pain and ER visit to them. That’s why you see them, on security cameras , scrambling like cockroaches when a clerk simply pulls a gun. Watch those aligator hunters on tv, they shoot those beasts right through the skull with .22’s…and I’ve never seen a round “BOUNCE OFF THE BONE” like I’ve heard a million times on blogs. Do you REALLY think trevon martin would be alive if he was shot point blank with a .380 instead of a 9mm, that’s where your possible attack will be, close hard and fast. Buy that 8 ounce kel-tec, carry it unholstered in your front pocket, and if you even THINK there will be trouble put your hand on it and be ready to shoot from inside your pocket if need be.

          2. 2Asux

            Yeah, I agree. Too much information leads to smart decisions. Best to just wing it when it comes to self-defense. Street thugs (of any type) probably have more gunfight experience than most any of us. Let’s just depend on the minimum tool to deal with whichever threat we encounter. Cheaper solutions are always cheaper solutions. Friends don’t let friends defend with adequate tools.

          3. ArmedAmerican

            agreed. if you need more then just get a 9mm and forget the 380. I’m varying the taurus tcp 380 daily because I trust it and the 380 to do the job. if I had doubts I’d just carry a 9mm instead

      2. Bruce

        replace liked with loved. not to float your boat but I have never seen a more professionally presented presentation with more real life put to use information anywhere. your series was comprehensive and real world useful. kudos to you bro for doing it right. you do a series on 3 inch 9 millimeters and I might have to buy one

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Thanks for the kind words! Consider my boat floated. :)

          I’m working on the 3″ 9mm series right now. I can tell you this — it’s a lot easier to find effective rounds! I’ve found some over-penetrators, but so far they’re all meeting the minimum. That said, I’ve already replaced my preferred carry ammo twice. The first round I was carrying turned out to be a huge over-penetrator, but I found a different round that hit 12″ just fine, so I went with that. But my most recent test I found a round that hits 15-16″ every time through both denim and bare gel, so I ditched the 12″ round. I really don’t know how it can get much better than what I’ve already found, so the 9mm series might be pretty short! :)

          Glad you found the .380 series helpful. I’m glad I did it, and I’m really happy that I found a round that makes the tiny TCP a seriously more effective defensive weapon than I thought it could be. Makes me much more comfortable carrying it.

          Reply
          1. ibie

            Great tests. I really enjoyed it a lot. Just wanted to know which one of the ammo tested will perform the best out of a 3.5 inch barrel like the walther pps or the bersa thunder .380 or even the older astra constables .380 .
            Are there any tests done with the longer barrels and where can we find these tests if any.

          2. Shooting The Bull Post author

            tnoutdoors9 on YouTube did some testing from a Bersa Thunder .380, you can check his out. In general I find that the longer the barrel, the more velocity given to the bullet, which means that hollowpoints will expand more, which means they will penetrate less. I fired a couple of Gold Dots from a Bersa Thunder into calibrated 10% gel, and they penetrated about 9.5″, which is less than they did from the 2.8″ barrel.

            I fired the XTP’s from a Glock 42, which has a 3.25″ barrel, and found them to just barely reach 12″, I doubt going to 3.5″ would make much additional difference, so they should be a solid choice from the 3.5″ barrel. But frankly I’d look at the Lehigh XP’s — they do excellent damage, and they’re not hollowpoints so they won’t clog up or fail to expand, and they penetrated to excellent depths from the 2.8″ barrel; I would presume they’d penetrate a little deeper from the 3.5″. They would be my first choice for a 3.5″ barrel, followed by the XTP rounds.

      3. Too close to chicago

        Can’t wait to see the results! I have a Glock 26 and kahr CM9 so I am eager to see those results too!

        Reply
  6. Too close to chicago

    Thank you for taking the time to do such a thorough job with these tests. Very impressive and informative. I have a ruger LCP that I stick in my pocket during the warm months and now I know I have to ditch my hornady critical defense for something more effective. It is awesome to know what I should consider. Sure, I would carry my glock 26 everywhere if that was feasible, but sometimes it just isn’t. I got turned on to your blog via TTAGs and look forward to future reviews!

    Reply
    1. Albert Nygren

      This talk of carrying a bigger, more powerful gun is all very nice if you are not physically disabled as I am. When my low back is at it’s best I can carry a Ruger LCP in my front pocket. If my back is worse, I can carry a NAA arms 22 Magnum mini revolver. At the present time my back is so bad that the most I can carry is my NAA mini revolver in 22 long rifle. All being said, mu NAA 22 long rifle mini revolver is much better than a sharp stick!

      Reply
      1. Shooting The Bull Post author

        My stock advice is to carry the biggest, most powerful gun you can accurately control. If all you can handle is a 22WMR or LCP, then so be it… do your best with what you can. You are vastly better off with either an LCP or a 22WMR than you would be with … nothing. A good percentage of attackers will disengage at just the sight of a gun, and of those that won’t, about 60% of them will immediately stop when they’re shot with any bullet of any caliber. So you’re much better off having SOMETHING than having NOTHING. And with proper placement and the right ammo, either one of those could potentially cause an actual incapacitating hit.

        Reply
      2. Sam I Am

        Hi,

        The Sig P938 is just slightly bigger than the P238, and the 938 is 9mm. The 938 is the pocket pistol STB uses for his 9mm pocket pistol ballistic tests.

        Reply
  7. Bobby

    The .380 series was a big help. I only carry a LCP or a Bodyguard. The big dissipointment was the PDX1. The heaviest bullet expands well but not enough penetration. Going to be using one of the XTP loads when I can find them.

    I thrived the XDs , Glock 26 etc. jaut would not carry them, too difficult. I work at a job that’s suit and tie and anything bigger than the little .380s just prints horribly. Dress slacks are thin and don’t work well with gun belts.

    One thing that’s of interest, do the IWB or the FBI tests 12-18″ , expansion etc take into consideration bone?

    A huge service doing these tests

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Bobby,

      I know exactly what you mean — the .380’s are so tiny that they can be concealed anywhere, and even though the “tiny nine’s” are supposed to be only a little bigger, that “little bigger” part does make a significant difference. Sometimes one can only accommodate a tiny .380. That’s why I set out to do the series — I know that for whatever reason, there are some of us who will be carrying these little pistols, so I hoped to find the most effective round for those of us who don’t or can’t move up to something bigger.

      Regarding your question — yes, the IWBA and FBI specifications include bone. That’s actually why the tests require 12″ to 18″ of penetration, is to account for the presence of bone. If you think about it, most of us aren’t anywhere near 18″ thick(!) Many (maybe most) of us aren’t even 12″ thick. But in all of us, the “vital organs” that are so necessary to hit to force incapacitation, are encased in a cage of bone. The experts who devised the testing parameters well knew that they’d have to penetrate bone almost 100% of the time, to hit the circulatory system; it is for that reason that the tests require so much penetration: so that after the bullet has dealt with the obstacle of bone, that it still will have enough penetrating ability to reach the vitals.

      Reply
      1. Arthur Heath

        Wow. That to me is the final annalysis of the discussion. Thanks. I’m just in the quest to save my life and those around me. Primary shots in a panic mode are, and instinctively, should be center-mass. Vests and misses aside, if a round hits target, you want to be able to travel out confindently in public, anywhere, thinking what you have in the chamber will stop any immediate threat. I have an affection for my .380. Mine is the original late ’80’s AMT SINGLE-ACTION .380 BACK UP. Most were horrible and unreliable. Mine is the exception (lucky me). Judging from your tests, my decision has been made. God bless us all with the ever-growing threat to our safety in places we used to not even think about.

        Reply
  8. Pingback: Thoughts on .380 JHP? - Page 20

  9. JDELUNA

    Great tests !!! I occasionally carry a Ruger LCP with Gold Dots. Unless I missed it, in your opinion, which would be your choice for best all-around ???

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      My recommendations for best (well, for everything) are in this video:

      The best performer, overall, were the Precision One XTP rounds. However, all the XTP rounds performed very well, and any of them would be a fine choice. In addition to the XTP’s, the Federal Premium Hydra Shoks were a great performer, so all four of the XTP’s and the Hydra Shoks all made it into “the winner’s circle”, with the Precision Ones being the overall best performer, and the Hydra Shoks and Fiocchi Extremas being named the “best big-brand-name alternatives” for those who don’t want to rely on a small-name company but are more comfortable using brand-name ammo.

      Reply
      1. the 45 guy

        first thanks for your research. well done and informative .when conditions prohibit carrying a larger pistol I go to my 380 . now ive always thought xtps were excellent for self defense I now regard the 380 xtp loads as good carry ammo for mine I am switching out my pdx1 ammo to fiocci or precision one as soon as I can find either one at a reasonable price. then off to test fire for function

        Reply
    2. Red

      The XTP bullets were not identical, and/or the XTP bullet is sensitive to velocity and/or the gel composition/temp made a perfect storm for the Precision One. The XTP bullet consistency makes it a winner. I have a Bersa 380 with a 3.5″ barrel which is 7/10 inch longer than the pistol used in the test. Fiocchi tested at 791 and with the extra Bersa barrel length it may hit the 810 average which velocity wise appears to be the sweet spot. Great article, Thanks…!!

      Reply
  10. Joe Simeone

    The PDX1,s look so nice oh well, I guess I will stick with the XTP. I been using the Hornady Custom for years in .380 and .32 both function flawless and are easy to find at my LGS. I was planing on garbing some PDX ‘s but were always sold out, I guess that was good since I won’t use not in .380 atleast. I also buy Fiocchi XTP to practice and to get more for the less $, I never had a problem with the Fiocchi’s in any caliber. I have learned allot form the test .

    Reply
  11. MRF

    Apologies if this has already been asked and answered, but it was difficult to search for: are there plans to do a study of .38 special after the short barrel 9mm tests?

    As a professional scientist, I thought this was very well done!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi MRF,

      Thanks for the compliment!

      .38 Special is on my list of “calibers to get to”, but it’s not the next one up. My immediate focus is on 9mm pocket pistols, I started a new 9mm Ammo Quest and the first video is being released to the public today. I will also be doing tests on short-barrel .45 ACP.

      After that I may go to .40, or perhaps .22LR, or perhaps .38 Special, it really depends on what would benefit the most # of viewers/readers.

      Thanks for your interest!

      Reply
  12. dave

    thanks for you efforts…

    i decided to give precision ONE ammunition a try for the LCP. purchased 250 rounds to see how well they feed… my only hope is the results are constant throughout the calibers you are testing. considering they are a new company, i am still a bit skeptical.

    Reply
    1. mruseless

      Fantastic information and blog posts. I bought a Ruger LCP this year, and because of your tests I just purchased a few boxes of the Precision One rounds. I’ll shoot a hundred to make sure they feed well, then that will be my new carry ammo for that gun.

      My favorite carry guns are a Glock 26 (3.4″ barrel) and an M&P Shield (3.1″ barrel). So I’m very curious to see how the results of your 9mm AQ shape up! I currently carry 124 grain Gold Dots, a very popular round indeed.

      Reply
  13. Gregg

    I would love to see a short barrel .45 test. Specifically out of a 3.3″ barrel. I know pocket guns did one but I believe it was out of a Glock 36. I haven’t seen one out of the XDs though. Even better, compare ballistics between the 9mm and 45 XDs.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Gregg,

      It’s coming. I have an XDs and will be conducting a short-barrel .45 Ammo Quest, once the 9mm Ammo Quest is done. I have posted one video already, a comparison of Gold Dots vs Short-Barrel Gold Dots in .45 ACP, but when I’m done with the 9mm Quest I’ll do a full & proper .45 ACP ammo quest.

      Reply
  14. Earl Norred

    I carry 9mm XD sub compact . My wife uses S&W Chief special in 38 Special . My son carries a Sig 380 and his wife uses Ruger LCP 380 . I watched your videos on the .380 and was very pleased with the science and logic you used . I look foward to 9mm and 38 special testing as this is what we use . I live in the Texas hill country Thanks for the videos and your time . Earl

    Reply
  15. Jay

    These were some great tests. I’m really glad you do the five shots as this gives you a much better picture than just one shot. Looking forward to the 9mm test. I bought the Ruger LCP so I could have a pocket pistol. The 9mm pistols were just a little too big to be used in the pocket. Thanks for doing these.

    Reply
    1. Lee Lambert

      Hello, and Thank you for all of your hard work. I have recently purchased an LCP and was referred to your sight.
      I cannot find any of the top performing rounds. I have found theTAC-XPD self-defense and duty handgun ammunition by Barnes and the .380 ACP 90 gr. Hornady XTP (1000 FPS – 3.8″ Barrel, 20/Box) loaded by Wilson Combat.
      Any input on either of these in an LCP?
      Thank you.

      Reply
      1. Shooting The Bull Post author

        I’d go with the Wilson Combat load. It looks to be the same bullet and the same basic ballistics as some of my winning rounds from my Ammo Quest.

        Reply
  16. pjxii

    Greatly appreciate your work on this! I finally got a pocket .380 (Bodyguard) for times when my revolver just won’t hide, and what you’ve done here is just brilliant. Now I know what ammo to test in MY gun for reliability and practice with the most accurate and best handling round for ME, without wasting time and (lots of) money on a defensive round that most likely won’t perform when I need it to. Thank you for this obviously time-consuming and expensive testing!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi pjxii, glad you found it helpful — the scenario you describe is exactly why I did it. I went looking for the exact info, couldn’t find it, and so I decided to create it. Hope it helps you and others in similar situations!

      Reply
  17. Mike

    To echo everyone elses sentiments, I really appreciate your efforts and found your 380 ammo testing very interesting and useful. I just purchased a Bersa 380 Thunder Plus which has a 3.5″ barrel. Would you assume the best rounds from your test would hold true for a 3.5″ barrel? I assume the greatest variable would be the longer barrel which I would think would increase velocity and penetration? Your thoughts? Thanks again, Mike

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Mike,

      Unfortunately, no, you can’t assume the results will remain the same, nor can you assume that the longer barrel will give more penetration — in fact, it’s frequently the opposite. I did a little testing on Gold Dots between the 3.5″ barrel and the 2.8″ barrel and found that, yes, the longer barrel does of course give more velocity, but that did NOT result in deeper penetration! Instead, the additional velocity resulted in bigger expansion, which actually resulted in LESS penetration.

      I would expect that the additional velocity might turn some of the nonexpanding, disqualified rounds (like the Buffalo Bores) into more consistent performers. I would guess the additional velocity would make expansion more likely to happen, and therefore some of the rounds that were marginal in the 2.8″ barrel, might become good solid performers from the 3.5″ barrel. But to truly know those answers, we’d have to go in and test each and every one of them all over again.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Thanks so much for your respone. Did not think about greater expansion but I guess that does make sense with higher velocity. Thanks again!

        Reply
  18. Jay

    I appreciate such a well done comparison! Very educational. I would LOVE to see these tests done with the new Glock 42. I recently purchased one and have been doing allot of research on ammo. I believe the ultimate goal is to get the penetration just right. Until I cam across your tests, I was focused on Muzzle Energy and Velocity. I know both play a huge roll in the penetration results. I will be going to my local Academy store tomorrow to purchase the HPR 90 Grain XTP. They have 50 round box for $28.99. I paid more than that for a 20 round box of critical defense!!!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The Glock 42 may very well reinvigorate the entire .380 cartridge market. However, its barrel is long enough that it would probably require retesting to know what its true terminal performance potential is, and what ammo helps it reach that. With a 3.25″ barrel, it’s got almost a half inch more barrel than the 2.8″-barrel pocket pistols. That should result in a noticeable increase in velocity and it may turn some of the more marginal performing rounds into better-performing or even great performers.

      I am hoping to get hands on one soon and will try a few rounds from it to see what it can do.

      Reply
  19. Eric

    Do you think some of these rounds would’ve performed differently out of the Ruger LCP? In other tests, I’ve typically seen the Hornady CD defense to very well, and it seems to be a highly recommended round. I see here that it didn’t do so hot.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      They should perform identically from an LCP, as they did from my TCP. The barrel lengths are almost identical, so velocity should be basically identical, which means the expansion and penetration characteristics I showed should be identical.

      I’ve seen other tests of Critical Defense that got different results than I did; I don’t know what was different between their tests and mine (other than, frequently, barrel length). I use five shots in my tests to hopefully rule out the occasional “fluke” where a bullet comes up short or penetrates way further than normal. I have now tested Critical Defense .380 out of both the TCP (in bare clearballistics gel and also in denim-covered ordnance gelatin) and also from the Glock 42 (longer 3.25″ barrel, in bare clearballistics gel) and I can say that the performance has been extremely similar between the G42 and the TCP. As such, I wouldn’t bother carrying Critical Defense in .380 at all. I think it’s a wonderful bullet in 9mm, but I’m just completely unsatisfied with its performance in .380.

      Reply
      1. Boo Radley

        First, kudos for your hard work and well-written report. It was a real eye-opener! One big shocker was the abysmal performance of the Hornady Critical Defense round. I’m not a brand name bigot but over the years I’ve gravitated to Hornady as my preferred ammo and, since the introduction of their Critical Defense line, I’ve used it extensively in my various pistols and revolvers. (Although I use Buffalo Bore 305 grain in my 44 Magnum while in hog country.)

        My wife carries an LCP stoked with Critical Defense. She has trained and shot for years and is more than competent. But I’m placing an order today for Precision One to replace the Critical Defense, which will henceforth be relegated to practice ammo.

        Now I need to dig deeper into Critical Defense in the other calibers I use, 9mm, 40, 45acp, and 357 SIG.

        Again, thanks for your reviews.

        From the shadows,

        Boo Radley

        Reply
        1. lasttoknow

          moved from critical duty, to pre-1, to lehigh xp. switch often between the latter two. both work just fine in sig 238 and bersa thunder.

          Reply
  20. Dutch

    Thanks for the 380 test. I had always used 380 ball before reading your review. On another note have you ever thought about testing 357mag out of a rifle. I know the round is a lot faster (1511 4″ vs 2051 16″, fed 124g JHP, from BBTI) then out of a revolver but have always wondered what that would do to the bullet that was really designed to expand at lower velocities and is lighter (124g) better with higher speeds or heavier (158 or 180)?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Dutch,

      Yes, you are definitely on the right path in wondering that. I don’t have a .357 magnum rifle on hand to test with, but I have been working on a test with a lower-power round, PDX1 in .45 Colt. The difference in performance between the 2″ barrel and the 6″ barrel is really significant and it’s something to consider. I also have an 18″ barrel and will try it from there, although the velocity difference I’m dealing with here is more on the order of 200 fps, whereas with .357 magnum it can easily be several hundred fps more.

      Reply
  21. Harry Stone

    Thanks so much for putting the painstaking detail a
    into this effort. You provided all the information I needed for my conceal carry weaponand the ammo to use in it. Thanks to your research and testing I’ll be completely confident in the gun and ammo that will be my daily/conceal carry. Keep up the excellent work!

    Reply
  22. Pingback: G2 Research's RIP Ammo- Ballistic Testing, Phase Two | The Truth About Guns

  23. Pingback: Hornady Critical Duty 45+p 220 grain/ Glock 30 - Page 2

  24. Steve Myers

    My brother put me on to your tests. Great job.
    I have two questions.

    1) How would the tested ammo do in longer barreled .380s like my PPK?

    2) The new compact Remington R51 in 9mm looks like it might be one to replace many .380s with. Will you include it in your 9mm testing?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Steve,

      1. No way to know without testing. Some rounds will perform better, but it really depends. For the best reference I can give you, stay tuned to my youtube channel as I have one test up there already for Precision One through a Glock 42 (3.25″ barrel, about the same as your PPK), and I will soon be posting tests from Critical Defense and Buffalo Bore through the G42.

      2. The R51 has a 3.4″ barrel, which puts it about halfway between the pocket pistols I’m testing from, and the standard pistol barrel length that other people usually test from. As such, I don’t know that it warrants a complete round of tests on its own; instead I’d say to just look for tests that show the ammo performing well from the 3″ barrel, and also from the 4″ barrel, because if it performs well from both of those, it almost certainly will perform well from a barrel inbetween.

      Reply
  25. Zebulon Pike

    I tried the Precision One ammo in my 1-yr old S&W BodyGuard (all stock, no mods). Of 50 rounds, 5 did not fire on the first pull. They did fire on the second pull. This gun has been fired only 233 times, so I can’t rule out that it could be the gun. It did fire 33 rounds of Hornady CD without problem. I’m wondering what primers are used in Precision One vs Hornady.

    The Hornady CD did not pass your tests, but it is back in the gun until I can find a round that will not fail. Because, hey, I figure an under-penetrating round is probably preferable to one that does not fire 10% of the time.

    I really like this detailed ammo quest. Can’t wait for the 45ACP one (hint, hint!). The data points and reproducible tests really appeal to my software engineering side. I can just imagine that you have a giant spreadsheet somewhere to track all this.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      By all means, yes, put the working ammo back in! No matter what, the first and foremost requirement for ammo is that it reliably go “bang” each time you pull the trigger.

      Ammo and guns are just plain finicky. Sometimes a round will work great in one pistol, and not work at all in another — I just encountered that at the range last week. Had five fail to fires in my Sig 938; kept ejecting the rounds and trying the next one, still failed to fire. Took those exact same ejected rounds and loaded them in a Kahr PM9, and every one fired just as they should. Put some HSTs back in the Sig, and it fired every single one of them.

      So I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that ammo or the Sig, it was just the combination of the two that didn’t work.

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that ammo fired just fine in someone else’s Bodyguard or LCP or whatever, but for some reason it won’t fire in your pistol. Doesn’t matter though — you’ve identified it won’t work, so yeah, get rid of it and replace it with something reliable!

      As for a .45 ACP Ammo Quest, I do have that on the long-range radar. I have a Springfield XDs with a 3.3″ barrel that needs to receive the whole Ammo Quest treatment, so I’ll get to it, I just have to finish off a tremendous number of 9mm tests first!

      Reply
    2. Zebulon Pike

      An update to this…
      I tried the Federal Premium Hydra-Shok in my BG380. 50 rounds and no problems at all. Any other BG380 owners out there–it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the same experience as I did with YOUR gun.

      I would have liked to try the Fiocci Extrema, but I seems that I’ll sooner find a unicorn before I find a box of that ammo.

      Reply
      1. Shooting The Bull Post author

        You’re very right, you have to try the ammo from your own pistol. It’s frustrating but true — guns can be picky, and some might like one brand but refuse to work with another brand.

        As for the Extrema ammo, my advice would be to keep checking ammoseek.com or gunbot.net. Occasionally it shows up, and it’s usually quite inexpensive (for .380, that is). Last time I saw it was at Cabelas.com, I think it was like $14 for a box of 20, which isn’t too bad for .380 defensive ammo.

        Reply
    3. rw walden

      hi,
      still a believer in Pre-1 380 ammo. over 100rds without a hitch, at all. the manufacturer is a bit quirky, but all the boxes arrived timely. the manufacturer is apparently a very small operation (google maps indicates it plant may be someone’s residence), and availability of a particular round might be sketchy at times. at any rate, based on the ammo quest videos and write-ups done here, 380 in my opinion is a very good self-defense round, and Pre-1 is excellent. But you may want to note that the final ammo quest video points out that any of the top five finalists using XTP bullets would be quite satisfactory. would use one of those rather than the Hornady CD.

      cheers

      Reply
  26. Pingback: 2 Questions RE .380 Ammuntion - Page 2

  27. Pingback: .380 vs .38spl in a small EDC thinking out loud - Page 5

  28. Pingback: A few pics - Glock 42 vs. M&P Shield - MP-Pistol Forum

  29. Truc

    This is awesome. My TCP is on its way, and your methodical approach will help me carry the TCP with confidence. Thank you.

    Reply
  30. Pingback: Winchester USA 380 hollow point white box - Page 4

  31. Pingback: What is the best .380 round for SD? - Page 2 - Ruger Forum

  32. Pingback: favorite self defense ammo? - Page 3

  33. Jim Clark in Oregon

    Thank you, this was a great article, “Final Results of the .380 ACP Ammo Quest”.

    Years ago I purchased a bunch of WInchester 380 ACP Silver Tip. I am wondering if you have an opinion on how you think this ammo would compare with the rounds you tested?
    After viewing this video with 1-round tested, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pk4cgOjJfvY and given the ~10″ penetration with 4X Denim, I am extrapolating that it may be about equivalent to the Hornady Critical Defense with the plastic tip or worse case similar to the Copper Only hollow point (given the depth of penetration take-away raised in the following paragraph).

    My interesting take-away is that in going through Denum it seems to plug the hollow and increase the depth of penetration, but may adversely also reduce “petal” peel..

    The peeling of the hollow point petals seems dependent on the the manufacturers design. For example, the slower Fiocchi round performs better than faster rounds, exhibits fairly consistent peeling and performs well w/wo Denim for wound depth.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      One of my youtube viewers actually sent me some Silvertips to test. Planning on getting them tested very soon. Stay tuned to the youtube channel to see the results when I get them done.

      Reply
  34. Evan

    How are you doing sir? I hope all is well.
    I have to say that i appreciate everything you do and value your opioin more than anyone elses after watching your videos and the work and precaution you put into them.
    In your opioin what would be the best defensive round in a kahr cw 380? The gun has a 2.5″ instead of a 2.8″ barrel … Ive read up on one of the other websites you posted but cant make a decision lol…

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi, I haven’t done any testing from a 2.5″ barrel. Have you checked the Pocket Guns & Gear blog? (http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/) I know he’s done some testing from a P380, which has the same length barrel as your CW380.

      Without having tested it from that specific gun, my guess (and it is only a guess) is that the new Underwood Part #110, a .380ACP 90-grain XTP round in standard pressure, would probably be a pretty good fit. The Underwood is loaded faster than pretty much all other .380 rounds I’ve tried, so it very well may be able to retain some of that additional velocity even though the CW380 has a shorter barrel. If you want a bigger brand name, I’d recommend trying the Hornady Custom. They are a fairly fast loading of the XTP bullet, and I think they may make a good match with the CW380. Again though, having not tested it, I can’t say for sure, so these are just guesses (for what that’s worth).

      Reply
      1. Evan

        Thankyou for your quick response! After watching your videos and hours of research i acctually went with the underwood +p xtp rounds. Unfortunately(in my opioin ) there is too much recoil to have accurate and fast follow up shots. Hence why im reaching out to you. I called kahr to make the gun was rated for plus p and it is, they recommend changing the recoil springs every 2000 rounds if you shoot plus p. Im going to agree with you and go with the standard pressure xtp rounds.
        I did read up on the blog you mentioned, he likes the hydra shocks but i dont trust his test results as much as yours. It seem like his gelatin was softer than or not up to the standard of yours because he was getting more penetration than made sense. Basically i dont think the hydra shock would penatrate as well if you tested it with your testing procedures. Granted if the hydra shock did stand up to your tests through a 2.5″ barrel i would probably go with it thinking that it would make a biger wound channel. Lol this is why im taking your advice, my opioins Are based on assumptions not actual testing.

        Again, thank you for your advice
        Evan

        Reply
      2. ibie

        Hi there
        just wanted to know .how would all those rounds you have tested perform out of a 3.5 inch barrel. Like the astra constable .380 or the bersa thunder .380

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Unfortunately, there’s no way to really know without going through and re-testing all of them.

          In general:
          1. Longer barrels usually impart more velocity to a bullet than a shorter barrel would. (within limits, of course)
          2. A 3.5″ barrel should always impart at least as much, and likely more, velocity than the 2.8″ barrel will.
          3. Hollowpoint ammunition will expand bigger when fired at a higher velocity.
          4. Bigger expansion generally means less penetration.

          So in general, I’d expect the longer barrel to result in larger bullets and slightly shorter penetration depths. I tried a Gold Dot out of a Bersa 3.5″ barrel and got about an inch less penetration than the same bullet fired from a 2.8″ barrel. I tested Precision One and Buffalo Bore out of a 3.25″-barrel Glock 42; the higher velocity of the G42 resulted in more consistent performance with the Buffalo Bores, and in all cases the bullets were bigger and with less penetration.

          Reply
  35. Evan

    One other thing i should mention is that hornady xtps failed to open in his tests. The ficcoi (speeling) xtps did but that still threw me in a loop…

    Reply
  36. Pingback: Hornady Critical Defense Misfire

  37. Pingback: Why I won’t use or test .380 ACP “+P” or any “+P+” ammo… | Shooting The Bull

  38. Pingback: Best carry ammo for an LCP

  39. Pingback: Selecting a pocket pistol for comfort, safety, and protection.

  40. Will

    Excellent job. I had been carrying Remington Golden Saber in .380 and .40 (165 gn.)

    I ordered the Fiocchi Extrema XTP and will carry for CCW with exception of when I’m out walking.

    I think the Remington Golden Saber would be excellent on a wild animal, due to great expansion. Would be worried shooting a large dog with the .40. No telling where the bullet would wind up.

    Would love to see some .40 testing. Have seen Brass & Fetcher gelatin tests on .40 165 gn. Golden Saber and it looks good – easily through their test material.

    Reply
  41. Ryan

    Great information. Just wondering why the federal 18.75 in the denim test is yellow and the same result with fiocchi is blue?

    Reply
  42. Tania

    Hello! I’ve been following your website for a while
    now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Kingwood Tx!
    Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic job!

    Reply
  43. Pingback: No Soft Targets

  44. John Wilson

    Excellent testing presentation. Very easy for us end users to understand. I now carry Precision One 380ACP in my Sig P238. I am using Federal HST 124 in my P938 and thought your evaluation was right on the money. Anxious to see if anything will outperform. Patiently awaiting the short barrel 45acp testing as well. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
    1. Sheila Rea

      John,
      I just purchased a Sig P238 Extreme. Have you had any problems with the Precision One Xtp in your Sig? Any jams or FTE, for example. I have heard the Sig P238 can be finicky and while I have found a lot of info on other ammunition, I haven’t found anyone using the Precision One. If it works well in your Sig, I’m definitely going to go with that for defense.

      Reply
      1. waldengr

        hi,

        fully successful, long-time successful shooting of pre-1 ammo thru two different 238s and one bersa thunder plus. indeed, the 238 feeds whatever i use….good, bad or indifferent. my 238 were purchased in 2013 and were manufactured the same year. one difficulty i have seen is shifting the pistol in the hand while trying to learn to manage the stiff trigger. guess the result would be considered “limp handing”(?), don’t really know. but each gun is seemingly different, so would recommend moving up (yes, up) to the lehigh extreme penetrator. my result with that ammo is perfuct for 380 and/or 9mm. the 9mm went swimmingly thru mp9c and ria 1911 compact.

        pre-1 appears to literally be a home/cottage manufacturer (google the address on maps; company address is a residence). contact pre-1 and discuss. they can sometimes not be really eager to fix a problem, but all my interaction has been pleasant, helpful and recommendable.

        cheers, ya’ll

        Reply
      2. waldengr

        hi,

        fully successful, long-time successful shooting of pre-1 ammo thru two different 238s and one bersa thunder plus. indeed, the 238 feeds whatever i use….good, bad or indifferent. my 238 were purchased in 2013 and were manufactured the same year. one difficulty i have seen is shifting the pistol in the hand while trying to learn to manage the stiff trigger. guess the result would be considered “limp handing”(?), don’t really know. but each gun is seemingly different, so would recommend moving up (yes, up) to the lehigh extreme penetrator. my result with that ammo is perfect for 380 and/or 9mm. the 9mm went swimmingly thru mp9c and ria 1911 compact.

        pre-1 appears to literally be a home/cottage manufacturer (google the address on maps; company address is a residence). contact pre-1 and discuss. they can sometimes not be really eager to fix a problem, but all my interaction has been pleasant, helpful and recommendable.

        cheers, ya’ll

        Reply
  45. Aaron

    Great reviews of .380 ammo, which is of interest to me because I usually carry a .380 in a pocket holster. This is because I live in a climate in which shorts and a t-shirt are apropos almost year round. I wrote a “pocket pistol roundup” that Dan Zimmerman posted over at TTAG – the pocket pistol I settled on is the Kahr P380.

    Would be helpful if you provided a summary table that shows all types of bullets that you tested in one table, with average penetration and average expansion for both bare gelatin and denim. thanks again!

    Reply
      1. Aaron

        Just bought 5×50 round boxes of new-manufacture P1 .380 based on your review, it’s available at bangitammo.com for less than a 20 round box of Hornady critical Defense costs at my LGS (when they have it in stock).

        Reply
          1. rw walden

            which round did you receive. ordering problem? order fill problem? working on my 400rd count with pre-1. deliveries were accurate, ammo works great in my p238s.

            (couldn’t avoid the rhyme).

            cheers,

          2. Aaron

            I ordered 95 grain gold hollow points; I didn’t realize that P1 has two different .380 hollow points and stupidly assumed that the .380 ammo on the website was the 90 grain XTP. I sent them an email asking about the performance of the 95 grain bullets, will follow-up if they respond.

          3. rw walden

            as for shootability, have used both RN and HP from pre-1. worked flawlessly. this last box is the “proof” for EDC, JHP. have purchased from both bangitammo and precision one (direct). both have been great to work with.

            cheers

          4. Shooting The Bull Post author

            Yeah, that’s a different round. That’s definitely not an XTP bullet, but I don’t know what it is from just looking at the picture. Almost looks like a Remington Golden Saber, but the weight’s wrong for that. Maybe it’s a Magtech? I don’t know. So I would have no way of predicting how it might perform.

          5. Larry

            I made the same error as you aaron. I contacted precision one and was informed this round is loaded with a Montana Gold bullet. I read someplace Double Tap loads this same bullet. Aside from that it is a mystery to me. Did they ever tell you anything about the performance of this round?
            Larry

          6. Aaron

            Here’s all the told me: “The velocity is in the upper 800 to lower 900 range. No we don’t test
            through gelatin or denim. Thanks.”

          7. Aaron

            Just fired 100 rounds of the pre-1 Montana Gold and 50 rounds of Hydrashoks through three guns: Colt Mustang Pocketlight, Kahr P380, and Kelt-Tec P3AT that has been to factory twice. For the first time ever, my Pocketlite had multiple FTFs, and the Kahr had multiple FTFs . The pre-1 Montana Gold round might be awesome, but I can’t rely on it (or Hydrashoks).

          8. waldengr

            last summer, pre-1 began using montana gold when they could not get XTP bullets.
            pre-1 had a big promotion when they finally received XTP. stick with those.

            cheers,

  46. rw walden

    reckon i would just go with the .380 STB results (actually, i did). looked at several dozen “tests” on youtube and found nothing more persuasive. fortunately, STB tested with the 238, which i have. so no concern over how my unit would perform. however, the final .380 video noted 5 products that were considered good choices, but just not quite up to the pre-1 (btw, pre-1 9mm 147gr did not perform near as well from a 938).

    cheers,

    Reply
  47. Pingback: Rethinking my Primary Carry Weapon - Page 2

  48. Pingback: Good .380 ammo? - Page 3

  49. Pingback: Best concealed carry semi auto - Page 2 - SIG Talk

    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I will eventually get to publishing a test of Liberty 9mm. It’s — well, it performs pretty much exactly like G2 R.I.P. or DRT or any other high-velocity, low-weight, frangible or fracturing round. At some point I’ll get a test of it posted.

      Reply
  50. Pingback: Who carries a .380 PPK as their primary CCW? - Page 9 - WaltherForums

  51. Pingback: Opinions on a new backup?

  52. Pingback: NAA .22LR Mini Revolver Ammo Quest Results | Shooting The Bull

  53. Chris

    Based on your data, what is the optimum velocity for the 90 gr. XTP bullet? I don’t suppose you have a spreadsheet with the velocities and penetration measurements for each shot fired available?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The deepest-penetrating rounds were about 800 fps. Faster velocities usually resulted in larger expansion but shallower penetration.

      Reply
      1. Brett

        Would you consider doing a test of the Wilson Combat .380 ammo? They use the XTP bullet and advertise 1000fps from a 3.8 inch barrel. I’d be very curious to see how they perform in the Glock 42 as well.

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          I don’t have the Glock 42 anymore, so I can’t do more testing from it; that was a temporary loaner pistol.

          The Wilson Combat load is rated quite fast. The Hornady Custom uses the exact same bullet and is rated at 1,000 fps from a 4″ barrel. Accordingly I would expect that the Wilson Combat should perform basically identically to the Hornady Custom.

          A reader/viewer has donated some ammo from Good To Go, which is .380 XTP rated at 960 fps, and I will be testing that soon. It will give us another data point for how XTP rounds do, and may help fill in the picture so we have a more comprehensive view of how the XTP performs when it’s rated at various velocities.

          Reply
  54. Pingback: M&P Bodyguard 380 ammo

  55. Pingback: 380 sleepers

    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I haven’t had the opportunity to test them yet, but from what I’ve read, it seems like they use the exact same bullets as the PDX1. The rated velocity is a little bit different (1000 fps vs 950) but overall I would expect performance to be very comparable, and therefore I doubt the Train & Defend .380 would penetrate very much.

      Reply
      1. juan

        precision one came out with a 95 grain 380 acp new i know you tested the other one which was great but hard to come by but do you think this one will act as good as the xtp 90 grain i shot it and it does cycle good
        on my lcp 380.

        Reply
  56. Pingback: What does a spent bullet say to you? - Page 2

  57. Pingback: P238 Sport with FTF issues with Hollow points - SIG Talk

  58. Pingback: Is the .380 ACP an Adequate Caliber for Defensive Use?

  59. Matt

    I am curious about the drt frangible rounds, but when I click on the link to watch the video it says the video is private. I am subscribed to your youtube channel. How can I view it?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi Matt,

      The DRT video was changed to “private” after DRT changed their marketing practices. When I made that video, they were making a lot of absolutely outrageous claims, and so my video responded to those claims and showed which ones were simply unsupportable. However, DRT (to their credit) has revamped their site and eliminated almost all of the over-the-top marketing claims. As such, my DRT .380 video, while still accurate in its results, spends a lot of time refuting claims that are no longer being made. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, so I just moved it to private. I applaud DRT for taking steps to more properly represent their ammo’s performance and for eliminating wildly over-the-top marketing claims.

      The basic summary of my DRT .380 test was — it doesn’t frange, it doesn’t do anything special, it’s a mediocre performer. It doesn’t perform like their ammo in bigger calibers does — in a rifle, for example, it creates a large wound cavity and works like a fragmenting rifle round should. In handguns, it typically creates a large shallow cavity, just like G2 RIP or Liberty or other “exotic” ammo does. But in the .380, there just isn’t enough velocity to make the franging action happen, so you end up with a thin little wound channel and a bullet that breaks up into a couple of pieces, and some powder littering the wound track but not creating a bigger wound track.

      As such, I can’t find a place for the DRT .380 ammo that makes sense. I don’t believe in frangible/fragmenting handgun rounds in the first place, but even if someone did believe in them, the DRT .380 doesn’t have the velocity to fragment or frange. It doesn’t expand like a hollowpoint, it doesn’t penetrate particularly deeply like an FMJ, so — in general, I don’t think the DRT .380 is a good choice for self defense. I reserve judgement on their larger caliber rounds until I’ve had a chance to put them through an appropriate series of tests to evaluate what they’re good at, and what they’re not good at, and how they compare to conventional ammo.

      Reply
  60. Pingback: 22 MAGNUM vs .380 tcp for self defense

  61. Larry

    I ordered recently, by mistake, the Precison One 95 grain jhp gold. I intended to get the xtp ones that you tested. I contacted Precision One and was informed the 95 grain jhp offering is loaded with a Montana Gold bullet. Have you Dested This round in the 2.8″ barrel? Would you consider doing so? I dont know much about Montana Gold…I think double tap loads them, or once did anyway. Would love to see how this load tests. I would be remiss if I failed to thank you for the hard work and expense of the testing you have done here. One could not ask for a more scientific and realistic test.
    You have really made me feel very confident in carrying my little Bodyguard .380.
    Larry

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I think Hornady suspended production of the .380 XTP bullets during the ammo shortage, so they could concentrate production on more profitable lines, and that created a shortage that’s still playing out and that’s why nobody can find the Precision One XTP load.

      I haven’t tested any ammo that uses the 95-grain Montana Gold bullet, so no, sorry, I don’t have any info on how that performs.

      Thanks for all the kind words!

      Reply
  62. Pingback: 380 Pocket Pistols - Page 4

  63. Bret

    Remington released a “new” line of ammo for the 380 labeled Ultimate Defense Compact Pistol. I would love to see if it will penetrate adequately since XTP rounds are very difficult to find. Thanks for the time, effort and resources you direct toward enlightening viewers.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I bought a box and will be testing them. The XTPs have indeed been in quite a shortage… Hornady cut the manufacturing of the .380 XTP during their crunch last year; I don’t know when they’ll ramp production back up.

      Reply
  64. d wayne r

    ahhh, was looking for your great results… so which ammo was the winner for .380 and 9mm? Thanks and by the way… it looks like you did a great job. thanks for posting.

    If I understand the overall winner for 9mm is the cor-bon 115 dpx?

    thanks

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The .380 has several in the “winner’s circle”: any round that uses the Hornady XTP bullet, and the Federal Hydra Shoks, were all declared the “winner’s circle” at the end of the original ammo quest, with the specific loading of the Precision One .380 ACP 90gr XTP being declared the overall winner. However, I’ve since tested a new round that I think is even better, Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrator (XP).

      For 9mm, no overall winner has been declared, the quest is still ongoing. The best-performing rounds so far include the CorBon DPX, the Federal HST, and the Hornady Critical Defense.

      Reply
      1. pjxii

        Can you post those Lehigh XP results and photos with the rest of these results? I’m very curious to see how they can be better than Precision One XTP! BTW P-One’s website shows no 90 grain XTPs in stock anymore but list a “new” 95 grain hollow point (not XTP). Any chance of testing those? I’d be happy to order a box and send it to you since that may be their XTP replacement.

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Yes, eventually I’ll update the .380 Ammo Quest results page with photos of all the various rounds I’ve tested since I (thought I) completed the Ammo Quest! I was a fool for ever calling it “Final”, because since then I’ve probably tested at least another half-dozen rounds.

          Precision One was caught in the same mess that everyone else was, when Hornady quit making the .380 XTP bullet. I am sure they will be producing it again when Hornady gets the bullets themselves to them.

          I haven’t really considered testing the 95-grain that they’re offering now only really because I’m backlogged with 9mm testing to get done; I only took on the Lehigh because it seemed to be so radically different than everything else currently out. I appreciate the offer, I just don’t want to go accepting even more donations when I already have a few months’ worth of testing to do on what’s already been donated…

          Reply
        2. rw walden

          contacted pre-1. they said the non XTP are montanna gold, and expect to have the XTP available late this month.

          the lehigh XP were great in three .380 pocket pistols. only noticed a bit of sparking out the muzzle. did not feel a snappier recoil than using 90/95gr jhp of other manufacture.

          cheers,

          Reply
          1. Larry

            Hello to all. After being without a .380 for awhile, I have recently purchased another. Just cant seem to give up on this round because when I really take everything into consideration I have every reason to believe in it and happen to believe it is the best CC platform especially with the efforts going into creatng more effective ammunition. This brings me to my question. I have always had an idea for a new design which Lehigh Defense has pretty much captured in the xetreme penetrator. Ive purchasrd a Bersa Thunder CC and am curious if anyone here had tried running the Lehigh Extreme Penetrator round through one before I go buying some. If itll run I plan to stock up a good supply.
            Thanks again for your hard work to bring us this incredibly informative study. And thanks to all who contribute to this message board.
            Larry

          2. Sam I Am

            Would a ThunderPlus experience be helpful?

            I’ve put both the Precision One and the Lehigh XP thru the ThunderPlus, without any difficulty. About 100rds, each. Keeping it loaded with the Precison One, but that extra box of XP keeps calling me.

          3. Larry

            Hi Sam. Yeah I think the cc and plus are close enough…I dont think theres much of a real difference mechanically speaking. So I would say Ive got the green light (excuse lol) I was lookin for to give the Lehighs a try! Now if I coud just locate some in stock!
            Thanks again Sam!
            Larry

  65. Earl

    Great video! have you tested the ftx bullets? Are those worth the time? XTP’s are out of stock for a while.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The FTX is used in Critical Defense; in .380 it’s a significant under-penetrator and I wouldn’t recommend it, but in 9mm it’s superb.

      Reply
  66. d wayne

    I didn’t notice (maybe I missed it) any testing of the MagSafe or Glaser Safety Slugs. These have been used successfully by LEO with maximum result… no I am not selling the stuff… I am looking for a .380 round with maximum energy dump and very little penetration. If I ever have to use the gun I sure don’t want the round going through the target on into innocent bystanders.

    I did see where you sort of passed off “frangeables” but again I don’t want a deep penetrating round…

    Any advice? Oh, I also witnessed a friend of mine test the liberty civil defense in gel and oh, my. that performed very well so that would be a contender as well but penetrated a little too much. He also tested a RIP round and it vaporized its target and did amazingly in gel but a couple of trocars penetrated the outside of the gel… ALSO there seems to be some legal issue here…. liberal nut cases I am told by our attorney can’t think straight and are “bothered” by ominous sounding ammunition and are more likely to sue in the aftermath of defense if someone uses a “bad sounding” round. She suggested using ammo with the word, “SAFE” in it. Hence my interest in MAGSAFE and Glaser SAFETY Slugs”…

    Any advice? thanks

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Hi d wayne,

      There are two very different schools of thought when it comes to terminal ballistics. They can be easiest summed up as “light & fast” vs. “slow & heavy.” The “light & fast” group will use terms such as “energy transfer” and “kinetic energy dump” and “velocity is king” and “stopping power” and “one shot stops”, etc. The “slow & heavy” group is looking for penetration and expansion and overall wound volume.

      These two groups do not get along. They’re about as likely to engage in a healthy debate as your average tea partier would with your average ISIS member. The internet is littered with debates between these two camps.

      My studies and my philosophy is in the “slow & heavy” field. I am an adeherent of the school of thought propagated by Dr. Fackler, Duncan MacPherson, Urey Patrick, Shawn Dodson, Dr. Gary Roberts, the International Wound Ballistics Association, and the FBI. We believe that the only thing you can really count on, when it comes to bullet performance, is the hole that the bullet makes in the bad guy. We believe that a bullet needs ample penetration capability in order to reach and destroy the vital organs, and that once ample penetration is achieved, any additional available energy should be spent on expansion so that the hole created is as deep and wide as possible.

      As such, our side of the debate is decidedly unimpressed with frangibles, or fragmenting rounds, such as the MagSafe, the Glaser Safety Slugs, the G2 RIP, the Liberty, or any rounds like that. Bullets that fragment or frange early on have been shown to produce nasty superficial/shallow wounds, but lack the penetration capability to reliably reach and disrupt the vital organs deep in the body.

      Now, I’m not saying that getting hit with a frangible like a Glaser or a MagSafe would be fun. I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt — I bet it would hurt like hell. I’m not saying it wouldn’t stop someone — it might. But what I am saying is, based on the evidence as presented by trauma surgeons, forensic pathologists, combat surgeons, and ballistics experts, the frangible rounds do not have the ability to FORCE a bad guy to stop their attack.

      Furthermore, frangible/fragmenting rounds like the Glaser or MagSafe would disintegrate if they hit an intervening arm, leaving little to no capability to go further on and damage the vital structures in the bad guy’s body. That’s not a situation I’d want to face — I don’t want to be using ammo that might work in some circumstances, and definitely wouldn’t work in others. I want ammo that will have the power to reach and disrupt the vital organs from any angle, and through arms if necessary.

      To me, the frangible vs. deep-penetrating bullet is very much akin to the difference between using birdshot or buckshot in your shotgun. Birdshot may stun an attacker, but buckshot will take them down, guaranteed. If I were ever put in the position of needing to use deadly force to stop an attacker, I wouldn’t be looking to stun them, I’d be looking to stop them from being able to attack any further.

      Another way to look at it is a slap vs. a punch. You can put all your weight behind a slap, and whoever gets slapped won’t enjoy it at all — but will it knock them out? Will it stop them from fighting? It might, if they choose to run away because they didn’t enjoy getting slapped. But it might not. If your life was on the line, and someone was coming at you with serious intent to do you harm, would you want to slap them? Or would you punch them as hard as you could?

      Your concerns about overpenetration are noted. Using deep-penetrating ammo definitely does open up the possibility that it may indeed penetrate completely through the attacker and potentially pose a hazard to someone beyond them. However — let’s think this through. If you are in so dire a circumstance, so deadly an encounter, that you are forced to draw a firearm (a deadly weapon) to defend yourself, what is your primary concern at that moment? Is it “boy, I sure hope this doesn’t hurt anyone else?” Because, if so, then I would ask you to consider whether the situation was really all that deadly in the first place? I know that for me, the only way I’m drawing a weapon and firing is if I’m dead if I don’t fire. And if that’s the case, my primary concern is going to be in stopping that attacker RIGHT NOW. Whether he wants to stop or not. That doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about others, just that there’s nothing else I can do at that moment — if I don’t act, I’m dead (or, in the case of drawing for purposes of defending another person’s life, it’d be a case of if I don’t act, that innocent person is dead.)

      Sometimes I think people think that what they really want is a less-than-lethal option, but for some reason they want to use a firearm to deliver that less-than-lethal option. They want to discourage an attacker, without running the risk of actually killing them. I can well understand the appeal of that, but I’d question whether a firearm is the way to accomplish that? A firearm is a deadly weapon. It is capable of killing. Even a little .22LR is a deadly weapon. And even the frangible ammunition or fracturing ammunition is capable of being deadly. If you’re pulling out a firearm, you should be accepting the potential consequences of administering deadly force.

      If you can’t face that, or the situation isn’t so dire to require that, then perhaps you may want to explore some legitimate less-lethal options, such as a taser or pepper spray. If discouragement is the primary goal, those should suffice without posing nearly so much potential risk for damage to other people — and even if they are damaged (i.e., innocents are hit by pepper spray overspray) they’re not likely to be permanently injured or incapacitated.

      As for ammo names and “safe” in the name — the very notion sounds silly to me. There’s nothing safe about ammo — it is, inherently, deadly. If it were “safe”, there wouldn’t be all that much point to it, would there? Now, I do understand where you’re coming from — there are ammo types on the market with names that, in my opinion, are just irresponsible. Those would include “DRT” and “RIP”. Both of those are acronyms for death — DRT is often used as shorthand for “Dead Right There”, and RIP is of course known for “Rest In Peace.” Does your ammo name, or type, matter to an attorney? Probably not, in general — the prevailing opinion, as I understand it, is that in any particular shooting situation, either the use of deadly force is warranted, or it isn’t. If you had to use deadly force, then — well, deadly force it is. But where it may become an issue is if the prosecutors are trying to paint you as someone who was wanting to kill — someone who wasn’t concerned about defense, but was seeking out an opportunity to actually kill someone. If they could successfully paint you as bloodthirsty, that might taint the jury’s view of the legitimacy of your claim of genuine self defense. I don’t know how successful a prosecutor would be in using that type of strategy, but I also don’t see a whole lot of benefit in giving the prosecutor ammo to use against you. If you have a choice of using, say, “R.I.P.” ammo, or “Critical Defense” ammo, which would potentially play better to a jury? All other things being equal, I’d say you’d be doing yourself a favor (however slight a favor) by choosing the “defense” ammo over the “death-sounding” ammo. But, all other things aren’t equal — I would most definitely use Critical Defense over MagSAFE, because having ammo that will definitely stop the threat is more important than worrying about whether a ruthless prosecutor might try to twist a word against you.

      If, after considering all this, you decide that you are firmly in the “light & fast” camp and are looking for “maximum energy dump” etc., then I’m afraid my testing is not likely going to provide the answers you are looking for. My testing is designed to find the rounds that perform best according to the guidelines established by the FBI at the 1987 International Wound Ballistics Conference, which established the standards by which all modern major ammo manufacturers design their ammo to perform.

      Reply
  67. d wayne

    ….. oh follow up… the advertising on MagSAFE ammo says that elite special forces and police use MagSAFE ammo , presumably due to the results… so if THEY have chosen this ammo doesn’t it make it the best?

    also they advertise the strassberg (sp?) test using Magsafe that out-performed every other ammo in the world? TRUE / FALSE?

    Advice please?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Again, apologies in advance, because the questions you’re asking are basically equivalent to going into a Boston sports bar and telling them how great the Yankees are… :)

      But — I believe you’re sincere in wanting to find answers, so I will give you the answers that I have.

      As for MagSAFE advertising that special forces and police use it — that is a standard tactic used by pretty much every other maker of “exotic” ammo. I think you might find it very interesting to read the ar15.com “Exotic Ammo FAQ”, where they’ve explored and debunked a lot of this type of stuff.
      http://www.ar15.com/ammo/project/Exotic_Ammo_FAQ/

      You’ll see that there are a lot of parallels among makers of “super-duper” ammo, they usually involve outrageous claims of performance combined with claims that SWAT or Special Forces or SEAL teams (or other elite forces) are using their ammo. It’s easy to claim that, because you’ll probably never get a statement from any SWAT or Special Forces or SEAL teams about what kind of ammo they actually do use. Has the Special Forces ever bought a box of MagSAFE or Glaser or RIP or LeMas? I’m sure they probably have. I know if I was in the hierarchy in those places, I’d darn sure make sure that we bought and tested the latest ammo innovations. But there’s a world of difference between someone testing something for suitability, and them issuing it as standard issue. Do any SWAT or Special Forces or SEAL teams use MagSafes or Glasers? I would doubt it.

      There was a time when people thought that the Air Marshals were using Glasers, for safety reasons on planes. Possibly so at one point, but I don’t believe they do any longer. Even so, there could be reasons why — if you think about it, planes are profoundly crowded, and the odds of striking an innocent are vastly higher on a plane than they would be just about anywhere else, right? So maybe lesser terminal performance in exchange for lowered risk made sense to them? Or, if we’re talking about special forces, maybe they’re planning an doing something like you’d see in a Mission Impossible movie, an assassination at an embassy party, where there’s hundreds of dignitaries and government officials around and the slightest hint of overpenetration or ricochet could cause an international incident or a war. In a case like that, a contact head shot or a contact heart shot of a MagSafe or Glaser might get the job done, while presenting minimal or nonexistent risk of affecting anyone else. Is this a realistic scenario? I doubt it, seems like something from the movies, but — if you look hard enough, you can find a reason or special use for just about any product on the market. But even if it were true and the special forces were using these types of rounds for targeted assassinations, surely you can see how that would have little to no bearing on the round’s general appropriateness for personal or self defense against a determined attacker?

      But your last question really raises it all. The Strasbourg Goat Tests. You are correct, MagSafe does advertise that they were the best-performing ammo in the Strasbourg Goat Tests.

      But here’s the problem — as far as I know, there is no evidence that there ever was a Strasbourg Goat Test. No evidence exists whatsoever. There is no corroborating evidence, no data, no testimony, no pictures, not a single person in history has ever been found who claims to have taken part in it, Edward Snowden hasn’t even released documents about it! The Strasbourg Goat Tests were declared a fake and a hoax by the Firearms Training Unit of the FBI. The statement made was “In mid-1993, the results of an authorless “study” done purportedly by shooting more than 600 goats in Strasbourg, France, were circulated, anonymously, throughout the handgun community. A copy of these “Strasbourg Tests” was sent to the Firearms Training Unit of the FBI just before a scheduled meeting of the Wound Ballistics Committee. The committee members, all respected pathologist or trauma surgeons, were unanimous in their opinion that these “tests” were, in fact, a hoax — and had been fabricated, most likely by somebody without a medical background. A detailed analysis of these tests was published in the Wound Ballistics Review.”

      If you want to see a review of the MagSAFE ammo done by Shawn Dodson, you can find that here:
      http://www.firearmstactical.com/tacticalbriefs/volume4/number3/article432.htm

      His conclusions are his own, but do represent the thinking of the experts on terminal ballistics such as Gary Roberts, Martin Fackler, and Duncan MacPherson. Nobody’s saying a MagSAFE wouldn’t hurt, or that it wouldn’t POTENTIALLY be even deadly; we’re just saying that it doesn’t have sufficent penetration to reliably reach the vital organs, nor would it have adequate size to do substantial-enough damage to those organs (if it were to reach them) to cause rapid incapacitation.

      Finally — consider how long these types of rounds have been on the market. The Glaser first came out in 1974 — that’s a full FORTY years ago. Several types of prefragmented or frangible bullets have come on the market, flared up and faded out over the years, including the Quik Shok, the Extreme Shock, the RBCD, the LeMas, etc. Yet, in the at least 40 years of these types of bullets being available, why is it that NONE of the major manufacturers (Remington, Speer, Hornady, Winchester, Federal, etc) offer this type of bullet? Why are these frangibles only ever offered by little start-up companies? Surely the big companies have research departments (and, I’d dare say, much bigger, better funded, and more capable than the individual inventors). Surely they’ve all tested these concepts, and if there was merit to them, they’d all offer it. If the Special Forces and the Police Departments were actually using this type of ammo, the big companies would be competing heavily for those contracts. Yet — here we are, 40 years later, and not a one of the big companies offers any ammo products anything like this. Isn’t that curious?

      Finally, let me leave you with this article:
      http://www.firearmstactical.com/briefs5.htm

      It really explains a lot of the issues that can happen with prefragmented or frangible bullets when used for defensive purposes. Note that they do allow that an unobstructed shot with a prefragmented bullet may indeed produce a serious injury — all ammo is ammo, and none of it is a joke. But an injury is one thing — incapacitating the attacker is something entirely different.

      Reply
      1. d wayne

        The great info on this site convinced us to abandon the .380 and go with 9mm using Lehigh HERO (High Energy Retaining Ordinance) rounds for defensive purposes.

        Now how do we get the “follow-up comments stopped from flooding our email account ???

        Reply
  68. Ross

    I’ve been looking for one of the top performers in your test but everything seems to be out of stock. The only thing I can find is the Federal Hydra-Shocks but I notice the ones I find are labeled “Low Recoil.” There is also a “LE Tactical” version that could be found but I’m unsure of its effectiveness. Which version did you test and what would you recommend I do?

    Reply
  69. Spud

    Best 380 tests by far. Wife has been down the LCR, Smith M60, LCP, Shield 9mm, (can’t rack slide) XDs 45 (too much gun) routes in her quest for a carry gun. LCP’s still in the mix, (EDC for her) but we’re also back to trying a Colt 380 Gov’t obtained @ 25 years ago. I load the XTP 90 gr. at about the same velocity as your test in the Colt. (slightly less in the LCP) Thanks for the effort. Well done.

    Reply
  70. Glenn

    Hi. Great job with all of these tests. I wish I would have found this when I painstakingly scoured the net a couple of years ago for my 9mm, 40 and 45 choices. One thing I discovered during all of that was that the smaller the bullet/caliber, the less choices you had for adequate terminal performance. When I got to .380 there was very little data and I ended up going with Corbox DPX which I noticed you have not reviewed (or at least I couldn’t find it). Are you familiar with those? I would love to know how they stack up against your new favorite, the Lehigh XP and now runner up the Precision One rounds. The data I found a few years ago was that they would.

    Reply
  71. Glenn

    That’s the newest one. What about their initial version, prior to the “improvements?” I have a few boxes of the older stuff that tested extremely well. Full expansion and deep penetration with or without denim.

    I guess it’s a moot point now if they no longer make it. I’d have to look again but I’m pretty sure mine are copper and lead.

    Reply
  72. D Wayne

    Thanks AmmoQuest guy! When you created a more real life test for the G2 RIP rounds by putting the ribs in the gel, and seeing the Trocars fail was a real eye opener. The test seemed real, fair and accurate.

    I would still love to see that test performed on the MagSafe .380 & 9mm, Glaser Safety Slug, and Liberty Civil Defense. If you could perform only one test I would request the MagSafe as they say in their advertising their rounds are so effective they are used by Navy Seals, elite Swat and police forces around the world… and they also say in writing that their round is the most effective round in the world. This of course they support by saying how their ammo is received by all the elite units they mention. They further go on to say in writing that “even their weakest .380 round has the impact force of a .45″. Those are some pretty bold claims and would LOVE to see if they can be proven.

    THE OTHER THING to consider is all the legal ramifications to using self-defense. My wife and I have been conducting some research on our end as well from a different perspective. We consulted the law firm we have on retainer and we were advised (now these were THEIR WORDS not mine) to use ammo that does not “look” dangerous or have a dangerous sounding name! And if we could use ammo that has the word “safe” in it so much the better which is why we were looking at MagSAFE and Glaser SAFETY Slugs. SAID THEY, liberal DA’s want to nail good citizens who defend themselves with guns and to do that they paint them as bloodthirsty. And it is easy to paint this picture with weak-minded liberal people. ESPECIALLY with ammo named R.I.P. and I do not believe that G2 had an accident in naming their product.

    Look, I know you dismiss “frangeables” offhand but still due to the possible legal ramifications out there I would love to see a demonstration of the MagSafe with all its’ bold claims put to the test… (and Glaser SAFETY Slugs). Thank you so much…

    Oh, and thanks for the article on your site discussing the historical and dangerous sounding BLACK Talon ammo and the real life shooting incident with the police officer Soulis. In regard to the shooting, this is just one reason why (and you might be surprised) that I don’t even like handguns… not that we don’t have the absolute RIGHT to carry them (and with no infringement of a permit I might add) but they are just not as affective as some of my small female students are in martial art. I have been teaching this since age 14 under my adopted dad Grand Master Hon, and beyond in high school, college and grad school… as you point out in your article the perp was shot 22 times with .40 S&W and kept on ticking… IF the perp is in arms length the hands are more deadly than any hand cannon. a phrase I developed for my students in the 70’s to help them remember what to do in stress situations is: “If he can’t see, I am free”… that is right, take out his eyes. None of my students need more than 1.5 seconds to render a tall, strong man into a pile of weeping crap… For any women out there… it does not matter if your attacker is 8 feet tall, 500 pounds and 1% body fat, if he can’t see, you can walk away safely. Now if your attacker is farther away or many attackers, well practice with that firearm….

    But the reality with firearms is this: I fully believe that the current and continuing Communist regime now in control of our country will be successful in confiscating all firearms. Why? It seems we just don’t have it in us anymore to defend our own country. Want proof? Well, we elected the Dictator TWICE now didn’t we.

    OK sorry for the digression…. please consider running those tests on those SAFE sounding ammo makes won’t you?

    Thanks again.

    Reply
  73. D Wayne

    WHAT!? NO PROOF of … ” The Strasbourg Goat Tests were declared a fake and a hoax by the Firearms Training Unit of the FBI. ”

    OK AmmoQuest guy, now I feel quite silly, and am glad you presented that information. By the way, if anyone is interested, I do sell Dr. Quantum’s all healing Elixir. It heals all known and unknown illnesses, regrows hair, and will add three inches to your height… all for the amazing price of $19.95! But wait, if you order now I will send a second Dr. Quantum’s all healing Elixir for just the cost of shipping…$995,000.00.

    Reply
  74. D Wayne

    If I understand correctly your tests were conducted with a micro-pistol with a barrel under 3″.

    Have you given thought to testing with the increasingly popular Glock G-42 with it’s 3.25″ barrel?

    Thanks for your hard work!

    Reply
  75. Bekwell

    I worked in the trauma section of a large hospital for five years. Looking at the other end of the weapon, at the wounds caused by handguns, I will simply state that a 380 kills as effectively as a 9mm or even a 45.

    Reply
  76. Josh

    I was wondering if (based on the precision one 90 grain) if you have tested their 95 grain? and if so where the results as good.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I have not tested it, but (and understand, I am guessing here) I would not expect it to be as good. In my testing, the only bullets that proved to be able to reach deep enough, while still offering some expansion, were the 90-grain XTP and the Hydra Shok. I don’t know what bullet Precision One is using for their 95-grain load, but I don’t believe it’s a Hornady XTP, and therefore I would suspect it’s not likely going to offer the same performance. As a potential alternative, check out the Lehigh Defense eXtreme Penetrators, those did extremely well in my tests, surpassing even the Precision One.

      Reply
        1. Aaron

          I had multiple FTFs with the Pre-1 Montana Gold (and Hydrashoks) in a Colt Pocketlite and Kahr P380 – the Pocketlite never jammed before today. Hornady CD may not be the best round, but I have fired hundreds of rounds (expensive!) through multiple .380 pocket pistols with 100% reliability. I’ll take reliability over a small increase in terminal performance.

          Reply
  77. D Wayne

    Thanks Ammo guy on your testing of LEHIGH all copper Maximum Penetration ammo… my wife and I ordered some for our G-42 .380s…. still a little concerned that it may over penetrate in real world…

    Have you given any thought of testing the LEHIGH Maximum EXPANSION ammo for .380 ? For 9mm the LEHIGH guys seem very positive that their 9mm ME ammo gives the 9 all the punch and effectiveness of a .45… Of course they are sold out of that for 9 and .380…

    frustrated…

    Reply
  78. Eric

    Nice series of reviews. I’m pretty surprised that the Hornady Critical Defense didn’t do well. I’ve seen many other tests where it’s always been a consistent performer, such as this one:

    Reply
    1. george from fort worth

      thinking the clear gell is not IWBA/FBI compliant (could be wrong), but 2rds vs. 5rds tells us about consistency. like many others, have noted the difference in test protocol/control between STB and everyone else. have seen many STB examples of thre or four good shots, and one poor performer. would prefer to not rely on a one or two shot test. YMMV.

      cheers

      Reply
  79. Pingback: New "baby" Browning 1911 .380 ACP - Page 3 - Ruger Forum

  80. Brian

    For the 9MM, the only 2 rounds worth using for self-defense is the Speer 124+p GDHP and the Federal 147 HST, with the later used in sub 4″ compact handguns.

    Reply
  81. Mark Calhoun

    It seems to me like the last thing you need to test in order to complete your 9mm ammo quest, at least for the time being, is the lehigh defense xtreme penetrator. They are probably on backorder and they may over-penetrate, but you’re all about testing, not conjecturing. I purchased them in 380 and they fed perfectly in my sig p250 compact; yes, I actually own one. I had a problem with the last round in my Rohrbaugh 380 (yes, I actually own one of those, too); I chalk that up to the gun, though; even expensive micropistols can be finicky.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The problem with testing the 9mm XP is that the manufacturer already says that it will penetrate 23″… and typically, I find Lehigh to be a tad conservative with their estimates, so I expect that in reality it will probably go in excess of 23″. For personal defense, that exceeds the recommended 18″ limit, and there are already plenty of great-performing 9mm rounds that do large damage while not overpenetrating…

      Reply
  82. Eric

    One thing I noticed by looking at the photos is, some of the rounds that performed best, actually didn’t expand much (or failed to expand at all) through denim. IMO, the Gold Dots should’ve been rated higher. Maybe they didn’t hit the 12″ mark every time, but denim or no denim, they expanded nicely. Even 4 of 5 Hornady CD’s expanded beautifully. Personally, I think the results through denim are more important and more realistic. I will never say never, but if I ever have to use my gun in self-defense, the bad guy will most likely be wearing clothes.

    I guess my point is, the Hydra-shoks penetrated well through denim, but they barely expanded. The Critical Defense still made it 10-12″ deep and they expanded (except for one). Same with the Gold Dots, pretty much 11+ inches deep, awesome expansion. Maybe the Hydras did well in bare gel, but does that really matter, aside from a purely scientific standpoint? No one shoots bare gel in a self-defense situation.

    Anyway, thanks for doing such a comprehensive test!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The Gold Dots did look good and, early on, before I’d found the XTP rounds, I thought that they’d end up being the winner.

      The thing is — the 12″ mark that was set by the FBI and IWBA is considered the bare minimum that a bullet should be able to penetrate, in order for it to be able to reliably and effectively reach *and destroy* the vital organs located deep in the body. The preference set by the IWBA is for 14″-15″, and for the FBI they consider anything deeper (up to 18″) to be better. So 10″ isn’t bad, and in some circumstances it will prove to be plenty enough (such as a forehead shot, or an unobstructed chest shot). In some scenarios, the Gold Dot may even perform better than the XTP.

      But.

      The thing is — you don’t get to pick and choose your shooting scenario. You don’t get to stop the bad guy and say “hey, could you do me a favor, could you stand up straight and spread your arms out wide, because I’m using Critical Defense and they only penetrate 10″, they won’t get through your arms if you’re pointing the gun at me like that, so … could you please? Thanks.” That just isn’t gonna fly. In my opinion, you need something that’s going to reach deep, be able to destroy organs, and be able to reach and destroy them through any angle, through intervening arms if necessary, from the side if necessary, etc.

      Now, it’s true that the Hydra Shok expansion was iffy through the denim, and the Gold Dots and Critical Defense expanded well. But — expansion isn’t the only, or even primary, factor you should be looking for. You’re looking for sufficient penetration first and foremost, and expansion is a secondary consideration. That’s one reason why many experts have recommended nothing but FMJ in .380 for many years, is because at least with an FMJ you’ll get sufficient penetration. Many JHP’s in .380 will come up short (as I found and demonstrated in my testing). Would I rather have a beautifully-expanding Gold Dot that stops at 10″, or a raggly-expanding Hydra Shok that stops at 16″? I’d take the Hydra Shok, and complain about its inconsistency, but I’d still take it.

      Which is why I am so optimistic about the new Lehigh eXtreme Penetrator bullets. They penetrate plenty deep every time, through denim or bare, and they don’t have to expand to do damage. They do much more damage than an FMJ, and even do more damage than a hollowpoint, while penetrating deeper, and not needing to expand. In my testing they were heads and shoulders above FMJs and even the winning XTP round, the Precision One.

      Reply
      1. Eric

        Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, it appears there’s no perfect .380 round; we have to compromise a bit. I think my two favorites are still the Hornady CD and the Gold Dots, but I’m sure everyone won’t agree. Looking at your data, through denim, they penetrated an average of 11.4 inches (and that’s ignoring the 17″ outlier), while still expanding 0.478″ avg. That’s actually better than the Gold Dots, which penetrated 10.9 inches (avg) through denim, and expanded to 0.447″ (avg).

        The nice thing about the Critical Defense is, they seem to balance penetration and expansion, and most tests show them expanding very consistently. I can live with 11.4 inches of penetration. I admit, I’m pretty puzzled by their poor performance in bare gel.

        Good luck with the LeHigh testing!

        Reply
      2. William

        I have a Kahr p380. This gun occasionally does not feed flat nosed bullets well. The shape of the various bullets is somewhat confusing at my level of experience. It’s not quite as simple, apparently, as just looking at the bloomin’ round. Which of the better performing rounds would be considered ’round nose’, or ‘sufficiently round-ish, ‘ and should feed well in the Kahr?
        Thank you for the work you have done here.
        W

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Not sure I know the answer to that. I mean, if your gun can’t feed flatnose bullets well, that would make it unlikely to do well with the Lehigh XP, but most of the hollowpoints should do much better. I’d ask the question on a dedicated Kahr forum to see what a multitude of owners have observed. Maybe someplace like kahrtalk.com or kahrforum.com?

          Reply
  83. Pingback: Hornady CD ammo still a good choice? - Page 4

  84. Eric

    Speaking of the Hornady CD, has anyone had trouble with squib/dud rounds? I was at the range yesterday testing out some Gold Dots in my LCP, and also shooting some leftover CD. One of the Hornady rounds made a really weak pop and the shell casing didn’t eject. The bullet made it out of the barrel, but didn’t penetrate my cardboard at 21′ away (it just made a little dent).

    Reply
    1. Aaron

      Not me. fired several boxes of Hornady Critical Defense in .380 through a Kahr P380 and Colt Mustang Pocketlite, 9mm through a Kahr CM9, and .45 through a Colt Officers Lightweight. I did have some problems with Fiochi in .380 and .38 +p with “hard primers”, but no probs so far with Hornady CD.

      Reply
  85. d wayne

    Encouraged by the great results of the Ammo Quest guy regarding Lehighdefense ammunition, I was motivated first to get some and run some of my own tests… oh my… everything the AmmoQuest guy found and more… I then purchased some MAXIMUM EXPANSION Lehigh ammo and everything the ME rounds did, this did and more so… NO I AM NOT connected with LEHIGH and I don’t believe the AmmoQuest guy is either… but these are my new defensive rounds period. For me the quest has ended.

    Thanks AmmoQuest guy…!

    Reply
    1. Eric

      Where are the test results for the LeHigh ammo? How is it that this brand is able to do so much better than others? Are they loaded hot or something?

      Reply
  86. Pete

    This XP ammo is costly making practice with them almost prohibitive. A new bullet design ,hmmm, they look promising but…will keep an eye out for these to see what other tests or if any issues pop up. Hopefully they will be good to go.

    $26.70 for 20 = $1.33 a bullet and the underwood version is even more costly around $1.42 a round. And that’s before shipping is added on. That’s pretty dear.

    Precision one works out at .57 cents a round. They also seem to have a “+P” 380 version now for the Glock 42 specifically.

    Reply
  87. Pete

    Had some FTF’s with Precision one today with my 7 round mag in one of my LCP’s. It choked every other round and sometimes would not even go into battery when loading the mag. Did not happen with my newer LCP or with any 6 round mags tested. The 7 rounder loaded and cycled Geco 380 FMJ just fine in both guns, it has also fed Golden Saber and other 380 hardball just fine.

    I have recently read some disappointing reviews of Geco 380 being inconsistent from shot to shot, I have not found this to be so.

    All in all I was pleased with the function and feeding of Precision one. Found some Fiocchi extrema XTP’s to try. We shall see.

    Reply
    1. Aaron

      I had some failure to fire with Fiochi extrema through my Kahr P380 – the primer showed clear strike-marks. it always fired the second time, but that requires racking the,slide and reloading the round into the mag. I don’t trust this ammo for that reason.

      Reply
  88. Pingback: 380 rounds

  89. Aaron

    Just fired 100 rounds of the pre-1 Montana Gold and 50 rounds of Hydrashoks through three guns: Colt Mustang Pocketlight, Kahr P380, and Kelt-Tec P3AT that has been to factory twice. For the first time ever, my Pocketlite had multiple FTFs, and the Kahr had multiple FTFs, with both rounds . The pre-1 Montana Gold round might be awesome (although it wasn’t tested$, but I can’t rely on it (or Hydrashoks). Hornady Critical Defense may have sub-optimal terminal performance, but it has been 100% reliable in all of my .380s. I’m back to carrying Critical Defense.

    Reply
    1. waldengr

      skip the montana gold. ask for the XTP bullet. those are the ones that
      performed best in the original testing. the problem is with hornady,
      not pre-1. if hornady does not supply the XTP bullets, pre-1 is handicapped.

      cheers,

      Reply
      1. Aaron

        Yes, I am aware of all that. When I bought the pre-1 they were out of stock of XTP bullets and I bought the Montana gold by error. the Hydrashoks tested well but don’t feed well.

        Reply
        1. waldengr

          hi,

          hope you can get the right ammo at this point. for feeding problems, you may want to look at changing or modifying the magazine follower to raise the front just a bit (my 238s and bersa 380 feed all XTP rounds flawlessly), or maybe look to a stronger mag spring (after a time, my mags became very easy to hand-load, so i know the springs weaken rather quickly). but, whatever works 100% is the ammo to use, even if it is not the current “best”.

          cheers

          Reply
          1. Aaron

            yep, Hornady Critical Defense XTP bullets have been 100% reliable in all of my .380s, my Kahr CM9, and my Colt Officer .45. The only gun that I tried XTP bullets with that didn’t like ’em was a 1911 Government clone. I know Hornady CD didn’t score well in Shooting The Bull’s .380 ammo quest, but I’ll take reliability and availability.

  90. Pingback: New to Taurus... - Page 3

  91. Pingback: Small Handguns? - HuntingNet.com Forums

  92. Pingback: .380 Not Good Defensive Caliber?? - Page 2

  93. George

    I just received from Santa a new Ruger LCP. I live in Florida and I have a fit build ahd have a hard time concealing my handguns without anotuer cover garment. Your video on the .380 ammo makes me feel more confident in the .380 cartridge and you have made, by far, the most objective, complete and data driven/logical ammo comparison I have seen. Thank you and keep up the good work…BTW cant wait to see 9mm and .38 Special.

    Reply
  94. Joe Draper

    Please retest the Lehigh XP vs the Precision One with 5 rounds each and include the Wound Trauma Indicator results. Your testing has been incredible to date but the Lehigh test was sparse and was only compared to a single Precision One in that test. Thanks, Joe

    Reply
  95. thomas J Metz

    GREAT video on the 380 ammo but with the results you got with the critical defense rounds I’m find myself concerned . You see, my EDC is a Kimber Master carry pro (4 in barrel ) that I have loaded with Hornaday’s 230 gr +p .45 critical defense rounds. I also have a makarov which uses a 9X18 round which is also loaded with the Hornaday critical defense rounds. Did I make a mistake ? I don’t expect you to have a video on the makarov (especially mine which is a hi-cap, 12 rd pistol which is pretty rare ) but I would be interested in a test with the Kimber master carry pro & the hornaday critical defense. Thanks a LOT for the great video’s
    T. Metz

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      .45 ACP is an entirely different world from .380. While I haven’t done testing of .45 Critical Defense yet, I can say that I think it will be a fine performer. I don’t know that it would be among the best performers of all, as I haven’t tested it properly, but I wouldn’t be concerned in the least. There will come a time when I do .45 ACP Critical Defense testing sometime this year, but until then, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      Reply
      1. Thomas Metz

        Thanks , I really appreciate the time you took for a reply. I can’t wait to see more of your video’s, very well thought out with a LOT of attention payed to detail. I watched the video on the Judge & found it so interesting that I had to watch both parts & I don’t even own a Judge (although friends do) Thanks again & keep up the good work …… (hmm don’t you have a REAL job ? better for us if you don’t )

        Reply
  96. Glenn

    Hi. Do you have a final wrap up test of a wide range of 9mm self defense rounds like you did with .380? Link?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  97. Pingback: p238 - SIG Talk

  98. Pete

    http://www.glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1550688

    Anybody catch Mas Ayoob’s (love him or hate him) answer on Glock talk concerning the Lehigh and STB’s video on it.

    basically

    “I’m not aware of any real world data on it.

    Nothing against Lehigh, but when you note the low power level, my alarm bells go off. When the video emphasizes that the bullet gets its effect, at least in part, by spinning at 61,700 RPM, I get one of these: . The bullet won’t be spinning for a minute for 61K+ revolutions. In the tiny fraction of a second of its passage, it will turn maybe once.

    I might buy a box to support an innovative company, and own a conversation piece that might become a collector’s item. I don’t see grounds to choose it for self-defense as yet.

    best,
    Mas ”

    FWIW

    Also I had slightly better feeding issues with the Fiocchi extrema XTP’s, particually in my 7 round mag, so currently I carry the Fiocchi but have some precision one as well.

    Reply
    1. Eric

      One reason why I’m sticking with a tried and true brand/design. Maybe the Gold Dots come up a tad shy in penetration in SOME tests, but I trust them over a gimmick. When the cops start carrying LeHighs, maybe I will re-evaluate

      Reply
      1. Shooting The Bull Post author

        The cops will likely never carry the Lehigh XP, because the cops don’t carry .380 ACP pistols. My review and recommendation on the XP was specifically for the .380 pocket pistol. While they (Lehigh) do make the XP in other calibers, I wouldn’t recommend any of them for self defense use because they all penetrate too deeply (hence the name, eXtreme Penetrator). The only two calibers that they make it in that it penetrates shallowly enough to be used for a proper self defense round are .38 Special and .380 ACP. Coincidentally, those are the two calibers where it’s most difficult to find a proper-performing hollowpoint.

        Reply
        1. george from fort worth

          been wondering about the .38spl. looking at internet resources, seemed the 50yr old LHPSWC in my drawer was the most viable bullet. will be testing the .38XP now, to ensure the revolver is happy with new food.

          thanx, STB

          Reply
          1. Shooting The Bull Post author

            Y’know, .38 Special (especially from a snubnose) doesn’t seem like it’s been the most reliable hollowpoint platform either. I don’t currently have a snubbie .38, but I can say I’d probably agree, the SWC may be the best choice among conventional ammo, although I’d be highly interested in the Lehigh XP as well. Lehigh’s specs say it won’t overpenetrate, and being a revolver there should be no worries about feeding reliability. Someday eventually I may pick up a snubbie and do some testing from it, and if so, I’ll be looking at that exact question.

          2. Eric

            For .38 Spl, I think there are only a couple of clear choices. One is the Gold Dot. It was specifically designed for the NYPD and short barrel revolvers. It’s what I carry in my snubbie. Tests show 12+ inches of penetration and excellent expansion. On top of that, it’s a 135gr bullet. It’s a pretty bad ass round. Guess I’m a Gold Dot fan =)

          3. george from fort worth

            wonder if i should expect the XP to shoo a little high, as the SW model 10 was designed for a 158gr bullet, meaning a 135 grain would not resist the barrel flip as much as the 158?

        2. Pete

          Several cops around here have been authorized to carry 380’s as bug’s.

          Glock 2015 annual says that Marietta PD has chosen the Glock 42 as a standard back up.

          Reply
          1. Pete

            The article did not say, but they acquired 115 Glock 42’s and issued them. Several photos show them on the firing line with them. Their main side arms are Gen 4 Glock 22’s.

    2. Sam I Am

      Guess the STB tests are not ‘real world’ for any round. Reckon the FBI is just passing the time testing bullets in gelatin? Are there really enough ‘real world’ shootings of humans to statistically prove that one bullet or the other consistently matches gelatin testing….thereby proving that the bullet is a legitimate choice? don’t we have numerous examples where ‘proven man-stoppers’ failed miserably?

      If the FBI tests are not reliable representations of bullet effectiveness, then what’s the point in FBI tests? Whether the effect of the bullet is dependent on spinning 100,000 revolutions per second, or Di-Lithium chrystals, or no spin at all, means nothing (unless the manuf advertises the characteristic, but the bullet doesn’t perform to that). Not sure how to evaluate Muzzle Energy, because I do not have information that explains projectile performance at differing distances and muzzle energy at each of those distances (would stipulate that at some point (distance), a bullet will not break skin. However, ME is not part of the FBI testing (meaning the tests/specs are bogus?)

      Until we are allowed to have controlled ballistic performance testing conducted against live humans….we are left with only the FBI testing regimen, one that states the gelatin is designed to be an effective predictor of bullet performance in human recippients (bone, tissue, liquid accommodated).

      Cheers,

      Reply
    3. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Mr. Ayoob is correct in that we don’t have any real world (i.e., human shooting) data on it. As for the low-power comment, it is about the same power level as every other .380 out there; 860 fps for a 90-grain bullet (in the latest iteration) matches the best .380’s I tested. Granted, ALL .380’s are low-power, so that’s a given, but cannot reasonably be used as an argument against the Lehigh XP when it’s right there with every other bullet.

      The rotational energy is not a source of wounding power, it’s a source of distribution. I understand why he says it’d only turn once; based on the twist rate of a .380, it should complete one revolution for 10″ of travel. That’s true when passing through the air, and it’s a major point I used to disprove G2 RIP’s claims of being a “hole saw”. However, once a bullet hits gel, it seems to me that they lose penetration faster than they lose rotation, as I have seen many gel shots that look like three or four rotations have taken place before the bullet stops. The rotation is not something that the Lehigh uses to cause damage, it’s something that it uses to distribute damage around. The damage is done by the forward motion of the bullet channeling the fluid (blood, etc) into the grooves and then spraying them outwards. The rotation distributes that damage in a circular pattern. It’s no big deal, the rotation isn’t a major thing, it was just something to note.

      Here’s the basic summation of my opinion on the XP: you have three types of bullets you could use, you could use a hollowpoint, you could use an FMJ, or you could use a Lehigh XP (because really it’s “its own thing”). Most .380 hollowpoints generally overexpand and underpenetrate, which is the worst thing that you can do, and many .380 hollowpoints clog up. FMJs do tiny little damage tracks and overpenetrate. Neither is, in my opinion, acceptable. The Lehigh represents the best characteristics of both, while avoiding the bad characteristics of both. The Lehigh is a solid projectile so it cannot plug up. It penetrates as well as an FMJ while avoiding the underpenetration of most hollowpoints, and avoiding the overpenetration of all FMJs. And, because of its unique nose design, it does a wider damage path than any FMJ, and even does more damage than an expanded hollowpoint. The best of both worlds.

      The Precision One and other XTP hollowpoints and the Hydra Shok all manage to avoid the major drawback of all other hollowpoints I tested, which is the underpenetration problem, and that makes them my preferred hollowpoint. Even so, the absolute resistance to clogging and the additional larger damage track still make the Lehigh XP my preferred choice (provided, of course, that it feeds properly in your gun).

      Even if “real world” autopsies revealed that the additional damage done by the Lehigh is something that only causes cracks in the gel, and doesn’t actually result in more damage being done to living tissue, I would still say the Lehigh is a far superior choice to FMJs, because it’s a flatnose design with a sharp edge, and because it avoids overpenetration.

      Reply
  99. Pete

    Hmmm, I am sticking with the XTP hollow points for now, Lehigh is way to costly to practice with and to new, so to speak.

    I simply passed on Ayoob’s comments and are not necessarily supporting them one way or another.

    Reply
  100. Pete

    Seems to be some issues in feeding XP in certain guns, the sig forum

    “They do not cycle through my P238 Equinox. Federal Hydra-Shoks, Sig HP’s, Golden Sabers and all other HP’s — and FMJ’s — I’ve ever tried cycle flawlessly. $57 down the toilet. Only fired the first round, which I had to push into battery. I would not even try these, let alone rely on them, in a P238. Sorry. ”

    “The Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrators worked flawlessly in my 9mm P229 but would not cycle in my Grandson’s a Glock 17 a single time. According to my research others have had problems with this round in various model Glocks. The Glock 17 magazine angle was steeper than the P229, I suspect this was the problem. ”

    ” I’ve had similar issues with my G42, but the rounds have run flawlessly in my Kahr P380.”

    “The first five rounds of LD went through the chronograph and were quite promising, no issues cycling the rounds at all. I measured the five rounds at the following velocities, with the muzzle about 5′ from the chrono:

    823 ft/sec
    870 ft/sec
    855 ft/sec
    862 ft/sec
    845 ft/sec

    Avg 851 ft/sec”

    Then began the fun. I put another five rounds each of Lehigh Defense into three magazines and tried to run in sequence. My goal was to pull the trigger about once every second for five rounds, refill and repeat, until all the mags were empty. Things fell apart quickly, however. On the ensuing 15 rounds, I had 10 stovepipes. The next round loaded to the chamber but the case did not clear the slide, ended up pointing open end straight up from the ejection port, caught between the chambered round and breech face. I cleared the malfunction and reloaded the round into the magazine and attempted again, with the previously reported results. Not promising. ”

    Just passing it on, anyone have reports on the Ruger LCP?

    Reply
    1. george from fort worth

      gotta intervene here….6 boxes of .380 XP thru two P238s and one bersa thunder plus- – – – – not a single hiccup, at all, of any sort. spending a bunch to determine if a fighting round is legit and useful is a small investment in my ability to respond to a threat. the point of testing ammunition is to determine if YOUR gun will function 100%. if YOUR gun fails, note it and move on; no blanket denouncement of a bullet for all guns of YOUR type/model. STB proved the XP will function just fine in a p938, but makes no claim for suitability in other examples. my three guns are just really happy with the XP, but my neighbor might not agree because they are finicky in his guns. OK, there are good rounds for his gun, also. why do we have the idea that any good round (actually, any round) should be reliable for every gun made?

      BTW, can anyone point to documentation that every police department (wherever) ALWAYS issues the absolute best round for their particular guns? even law enforcement is often constrained by considerations other than ballistic performance. waiting for some cop shop to love the XP, while ignoring the same tests the cop shops allegedly perform/analyze may not be the most prudent course.

      but, hey….your gun, your ammo, your opinion, your life, your choice. mine is not better than yours, but maybe better informed.

      cheers, all ya’ll

      Reply
      1. Pete

        To be fair I have read on Glocktalk of some having no issues in their Glock 42’s while others have. On the main boards very little is reported about this round, mostly due to its cost it would appear. But it was clear on the sig board the round was hit and miss in the few threads talking about it.

        I am glad the 6 box investment worked for you, I was just passing on the info I had discovered written by others. Which suggests the round did not work for them.

        “why do we have the idea that any good round (actually, any round) should be reliable for every gun made?” Not sure how to answer this but I would hope what would feed in one Glock 42 would feed in another Glock 42 but the evidence I have looked at suggest not.

        If anyone tests them in a Ruger LCP let us know.

        Reply
        1. george from fort worth

          good input; thanx !

          indeed, one would think that with mass produced, interchangable parts, every gun of a particular model would function exactly like the next one. indeed. but consider the car market…how is it we find that not every example of a particular model operates precisely like all the others. agree, cars are not guns, and if you depend on a gun for safety/defense, there should be no difference in models. but the military has been living with that problem forever. as a former employee of general dynamics/lockheed martin producing f-16 fighter aircraft (and after 6000 you would think they are standardized within model/type) i have seen how the computerized, ISO 9000 processes result in each aircraft being a one-off.

          my experience might be why i understand/accept/tolerate the fact that one should thoroughly know their weapon, and not imagine one will function exactly like the next.

          Reply
  101. Fred Anderson

    I finally got to fire off Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrators through my new Ruger LCP .380. I won’t say I’m in love with the snap but I do love how each one fed out of the “made in Italy” magazines. Both were 6 rounders but one was outfitted with an extended base plate allowing a total of 7 rounds. These mags have a shined black finish on the exterior. I have heard some folks have experienced difficulty with 7 round mags with a flat finish that are not made in Italy for Ruger. Hope this helps.

    Reply
    1. waldengr

      keep shooting. you will learn to manage/control the snap. remember, the LCP is not a target pistol. think about shooting distances pretty much the length of the longest shot you would need to make in your house/apartment (which also covers most all the situations you might encounter in buildings, malls, parking lots. once you understand how to hit at point of aim, then step-up the follow-up shots in tempo, until you can empty the mag in short order, all shots in a 4in group. then work on shooting while the target is moving toward you. the little pistols are surprisingly fun to shoot, and can be very accurate for your purposes.

      cheers,

      Reply
      1. Pete

        Also add the Hogue Handall Hybrid Ruger LCP Grip Sleeve, which pins on the the grip. makes the gun 100 % better for shooting and gripping and does not add any appreciable size in concealment.

        Best $10 upgrade for the LCP

        Reply
          1. thomas J Metz

            I use the pachmyr sleeve really like it … don’t really know what the difference would be between it and the Hogue. What does *pete* mean by ” which pins on the the grip” ?

  102. Pete

    Put some more Precision one and Fiocchi XTP’s through my new 2nd gen LCP I picked up this week. Love the new trigger pull and the gun ran like a champ with the XTP’s.

    My new gun came with the flat finish USA mag but it seemed to function just fine as did the Italian made mags I already have.

    Reply
  103. Bill Burke

    Would love to sign up to your site if you have one I am very impressed with your work. It is greatly appreciated. I’m a fan.

    Reply
  104. JB

    I have the lcp ruger .380. I watched your ammo test finals. Impressed with your work. I forget what 380 you used.. My question is do you think your ammo test with performance one xtp and hydra shocks as being your top choices would be different if shot through my lcp? Because it is a different model 380 you shot, given it was still a micro pistol. I just want to carry the best load. I have the hydra shocks, but want to buy the xtp’s. What is your opinion on that? Thanks, enjoy your show.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      There should be practically zero difference between how the ammo performs in my TCP, and how it performs in your LCP. They both have very comparable barrel lengths, and within normal tolerances should perform pretty much exactly the same. Of course, you have to test your carry ammo through your own gun to ensure reliable functioning.

      I prefer the XTP rounds over the Hydra Shoks, but they’re both good. I prefer the new Lehigh eXtreme Penetrator over both of them, however.

      Reply
  105. JB

    So the new Lehigh Extreme Penetrators…gotta check them out.. Have you done a taped ballistics test with them yet? I’m gonna look to see if you did. If not, I hope you will soon sometime..!

    Reply
  106. thomas J Metz

    In the past I talked to you about the .380 being the 9mm’s little brother and that the 9mm makarov rd (9×18) is actually a different family, what I failed to ask is just where the 9mm makarov comes in power wise, is it more powerful than the .380 ? Seems like it would be to me , but just where does it come in with the ballistics test ? do you test it with the .380 ? or the 9mm , or is it in a class of its own . I realize its a rare round as is the makarov pistol (mine is the russian 12 round version that -nobody- has seen or heard of) and you probably won’t do any test on it but I was just wondering where the 9×18 round stood with the other calibers — thanks

    Reply
  107. Pingback: Holy crap, no round? - Page 5

  108. Cory

    Great studies and information! Do you happen to have a consolidated data file that you could share or post with all of the stats in one view? I really enjoy this detailed data, but trying to scroll down and up to compare against my personal preferences is a bit challenging.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      The only consolidation I have is that article, and even that’s out of date, I’ve done a number of newer tests that all need to be added into it…

      Reply
  109. Sarah

    Will there be much of a difference when firing the Precision One rounds through a Kahr P380? The Taurus 738 TCP has a 2.84″ barrel, and the Kahr P380 has a 2.53″ barrel. Will the difference in size make a difference in the performance of the bullet? I am thinking of buying a Kahr P380.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Generally you can expect a shorter barrel to deliver slower velocities, all other things being equal. However, not everything is always equal. Bruce over at Pocket Guns and Gear does a lot of testing from the Kahr P380, and he and I have tested many of the same loads, and in general, the velocities he gets from the P380 are surprisingly similar to what I get from the TCP. That leads me to think that perhaps the Kahr has a lower-friction barrel maybe, so that the bullets are generally a little faster, and maybe the TCP’s barrel is a little higher-friction maybe? I don’t really know; maybe the rifling in the P380 is a little shallower and doesn’t bite into the bullet quite as much, meaning there’s less friction and the bullets accordingly travel a little faster than you might otherwise expect? I’m grasping at straws here, but the net upshot is: the P380 seems to get comparable velocities as the TCP delivers, and if that’s the case, then you can expect that the bullet performance will be comparable between the two.

      Reply
  110. Brad

    Great work! I, like you and many have attempted to find the best .380 ammo. (side note:I also have a Taurus TCP,( I have had a Ruger a keltec and for me the TCP has the best trigger)
    Have you considered testing a flat nosed FMJ or Flat nosed copper jacketed bullet/cartridge. Years ago as a SWAT team member carrying .45 acp we tested what was available at the time and the cartridge we chose was a 230 flat nose.(this was what was carried by Air Force security then) It had more penetration than hollow points of the day (this was in the 80s) and they did expand! Not so much like a hollow point but to more of something that looked like a mushroom. We did not have ballistic gel then we used the old wet soaked city phone books test. I have been looking for a jacketed soft point flat nosed bullet to reload just for kicks to see what they would do. I know both are old school, however it may may the ticket for the .380 in micro guns. Penetration with some expanding ?????

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I have tested a variety of FMJs in .380, including Winchester White Box 95-grain Flat-Nose FMJ and Buffalo Bore hardcast flatnose. They don’t deform or mushroom at all, and they penetrate extremely deeply. The Winchester penetrated to 23″ to 27″ depending on whether there was denim or not, and the Buffalo Bore went to 40″.

      Reply
  111. joe

    Wow… awesome tests. I have a Tarurus 738 on the way and was extremely pleased to see you did the .380 ammo quest on that very gun. Talk about custom data! Thanks a ton! You haven’t done any tests with the Taurus PT111 Millennium G2 Pro have you? =) Watching your ammo quest 9mm videos now.

    Reply
  112. Pingback: Sig Sauer P232, a gentleman’s concealed carry | sevengun

  113. Fred Himstedt

    Since the Winchester Train & Defend did so well in 9mm, have you considered testing Winchester Train & Defend in .380?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I’m eventually going to, but I’m not optimistic. Train & Defend looks like a revision of their earlier PDX1 ammo, and PDX1 in the .380 was one of the most severe under-penetrators I tested. I would expect Train & Defend .380 to be basically comparable, so I’m not in a big rush to get to it.

      Reply
      1. James

        Bump.

        I am also interested in the findings on the Winchester Train and Defend in 380 if you have time. I was so impressed with their performance in the 9mm.

        Your work is outstanding by the way. Thanks for sharing with us.

        Reply
        1. Shooting The Bull Post author

          Glad you like the testing! I’m not optimistic at all about Train & Defend .380. Pocket Guns & Gear did a test and discovered exactly what I anticipated — gigantic expansion leading to gross underpenetration. In effect it acts pretty much like PDX1 did in .380. I think there are much better choices out there (such as an XTP round or the Lehigh XP or XD).

          Reply
  114. Pingback: what does everyone think of the GLOCK 42 [380 cal.] - Page 2

    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Should perform exactly the same as the Hornady Custom. Same manufacturer, same bullet, and same ballistics (at least as rated on the box).

      Reply
  115. Tom myers

    As it is, I am blog and internet useless. I have stumbled across your article about the 380 and really feel you have done some fantastic work. But look as I may, I cannot figure where to find your articles about the 9mm. In specific, I own both a sig 938 and a kimber solo. What is your suggested best for these two pistols? Either separated or collectively, as the barrel length is different on both.

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Haven’t done the article on 9mm, as testing is still underway. You can follow it on the youtube channel.

      As for the P938, several outstanding rounds include the CorBon DPX 115+P, Hornady Critical Defense, Federal HST (all weights & pressures) and Winchester Defend.

      Reply
  116. Al Boldt

    I assume you have heard of Polycase Inceptor ARX for the 380. This is a recent innovation in the last year or two. I saw some in my local ammunition store several months ago, thought it was a fragmentation round and ignored it. Recently, while investigating the Lehigh XP for the 380 that you recommended, finding a troubling number of failure to feeds, I ran across the Polycase. Here is a link to a google search on Polycase 380 videos:
    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#tbm=vid&q=polycase+arx+380+video

    The Polycase website is : http://www.polycaseammo.com
    A lot of info if you browse through the website. It is not a fragmentation type bullet design.

    I was reluctant to jump in full tilt with the Lehigh due to feed issues while I loved the tested performance. The Polycase appears to have addressed the feeding issues successfully. My ammo vendor says the Polycase 380 works in everything. The gelatin performance appears equal or better than the Lehigh. I feel that this ammo is worthy of your consideration in the round of 380 ammo discussions. The Polycase Inceptor ARX has a 56 grain bullet with 1150 ft/sec muzzle velocity.

    I have purchased Polycase Inceptor ARX for the 380, 9mm, and 45 ACP. The 380 and 9mm pistols I own have ammunition specific feeding issues and I think the Polycase ammo will be more dependable. The 45 ACP Hornady Critical Defense appears to be acceptable to me with the nominal 900-1,000 ft/sec muzzle velocity (depending on barrel length). The only video I saw with the 114 grain Polycase 45 ACP, 1150 ft/sec velocity appeared to me to have outstanding performance.

    The Polycase ammunition with rounded nose three flute design is utilizing the same hydrodynamic principles as the square nose four flute design by Lehigh.

    Please consider giving us your observations and opinions (testing results if you want to re-enter the swamp) of the Polycase ammunition concept.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Stay tuned to my YouTube channel; the PolyCase ARX review is the next video that will be posted. 9mm and .380.

      Reply
      1. John Zumrick

        Polycase performed well for me in a Glock 43. However, in 380 acp on a Glock 42 every single round produced a malfunction. The cartridge would fire, the slide would cycle, trigger click but no boom. The old cartridge was still in place. After about 15 successive failures all the same i quit trying. The rest of the polycase worked fine in a Smith Bodyguard.

        Reply
  117. Pingback: Does Caliber Even Matter? | Shooting The Bull

  118. Mr. Tree

    The first thing to say, is that the report does not say “which” of the ammo worked “the best” in the Taurus TCP 380 pistol that the author was shooting. This pistol is “very” picky about what kind of ammo is used and there “had to be” some FTF’s that the author had, that is not being reported here. I think you owe it to your readers on this site and your YouTube channel to report that.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I make every effort to tell people that they have to find what ammo works best from THEIR gun. What works reliably in mine, may not work reliably in yours. Guns are finicky. Little guns are more finicky than bigger guns are. There is no shortcut — you have to test the reliability of any particular ammo in your own firearm.

      Reply
    2. thomas J Metz

      Jeeze Mr. T,
      How many times does the guy have to tell you that he is only giving you an opinion , or a direction to go in ?
      He is telling you what worked best in the gun he was testing the ammunition in. You may very well have the same model & have vastly different results BUT, he DID give you a darned good direction to go in so that maybe … just maybe YOU don’t have to gell test 37 varieties of ammo.
      I KNOW ….. how about everybody sends in their pistol to him along with ammo & a small fee to test each individual pistol AND in about 100 years you can get back your pistol KNOWING EXACTLY the perfect ammo for YOUR pistol

      Reply
    3. lasttoknow

      perhaps STB had no FTE/FTF/FT-whaterver. would be hard to document events that did not happen. the only FTs i had (multiple pistols) were when i was using .380 in a 9mm pistol.

      Reply
  119. Pingback: Shot some new ammo today

  120. Roy

    Really learned a lot from your 380 Ammo Quest series. Thanks!

    In addition to defense applications, I also carry a LC380 when we ride our horses. Sometimes we get back into the wilderness where any sort of help is hours to days away. Hope it never happens but if one of our horses breaks a leg I want to be able to put it down rather than watch it suffer.

    Any recomendations for a 380 round to euthanize a horse?

    The bullet needs to penetrate the skull and pass through the brain. I’ve read recommendations for FMJ to insure penetration. Would very much appreciate any ideas you might have.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I wouldn’t choose a small .380 for that job, but — with proper shot placement that hits the brain stem, it could probably be done. The American Veterinary Medical Association issues recommendations on proper and acceptable humane methods of euthanizing cattle, and they recommend that even a .22 can be sufficient for small cattle. So a .380 from a LC380 is possibly sufficient, I can’t say for sure. I don’t know how horse skulls may differ from cattle skulls. Whatever firearm you use, shot placement is vital; you want to use a solid-point bullet (no hollowpoints) and place the shot such that it will hit the brain stem. Damage to the brain stem will result in immediate cessation of life with the absolute minimum of suffering.

      Here’s the recommendations from the American Association of Bovine Practitioners on cattle euthanasia methods:
      http://www.aabp.org/resources/AABP_Guidelines/Practical_Euthanasia_of_Cattle-September_2013.pdf

      Reply
      1. seeker_two

        That’s impressive. I have yet to see any ballistic expert go the extra mile to offer this type of information. Thanks!

        Reply
      2. Roy Woodruff

        The link you provided is consistent with a video out of Iowa State University I found:

        http://vetmed.iastate.edu/humaneeuthanasia/en/gunshot-or-captive-bolt

        FWIW, I found several recommendations for hollow point ammo, with one vet saying he would use a CCI Stinger 22 LR. These are great for use in a rifle for varmints but I would be very concerned they would not penetrate a horse skull.

        I like the LC380 because it does not take up much room in my saddle bag and, even though the recoil is low, it is about all I can handle because of base of thumb arthritis. I have some Double Tap 100 gr FMJ rounds that should do the job but I sure hope I never have to use them.

        Thanks,

        Roy

        Reply
  121. John Zumrick

    You did not mention the bullet weight in your Lehigh Extreme Penetrator test. Lehigh show two bullet weight available in 380, 90 and 115 gr.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I tested the original 85-grain, which, as I understand, has been changed to a 90-grain load. That’s the only XP that I know of for .380. They offer a 115-grain bullet for 9mm, but not for .380.

      Reply
      1. John zumrick

        My mistake. You did clear up the difference between the 85 and 90 grain. Your work on ballistic testing is the only one that I feel confident of. Everyone constantly changes their approach meaning that results can be compared.

        Reply
      2. Tom

        can you test Lehigh XD (extreme defenders) for your 380 tests.
        It is said to have been developed for the 380 to bring the penetration to 14″
        (XP was 19″), while having a large cavity

        Thanks

        Reply
  122. Pingback: New .380-auto Ammo Tests! - Shooters Forum

  123. HU4MX

    How about http://www.tds-us.com/catalog.php/tds/dt96910/pd2185839/LIBERTY_AMMUNITION_CIVIL_DEFENSE_9MM_50GR_-_20_ROUNDS#IMAGES

    Liberty Ammunition CD ammunition use our patented high performance, lead– free ammunition created by using proprietary blended metals. This revolutionary self defense ammunition delivers extended range, beyond the “normal” 10—15 meters.
    These rounds give you three times the terminal effects with a dramatic reduction in felt recoil allowing for quicker follow up shots on target.
    Liberty Ammunition +P rounds strives to enhance the ability of current weapons platforms with no modifications to the weapons platform. The Liberty Ammunition Civil-Defense range of calibers offers a:

    Lighter
    Faster
    More powerful round
    Capable of an increase in range, terminal effects and penetration. Our current caliber portfolio include:
    50 grain 9x 19mm
    60 grain .40 S&W
    78 grain .45 ACP

    Reply
    1. Tom

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      can you test Lehigh XD (extreme defenders) for your 380 tests.
      It is said to have been developed for the 380 to bring the penetration to 14″
      (XP was 19″), while having a large cavity

      Thanks

      Reply
  124. Pingback: Taurus TCP FMJ ammo recommendations

  125. Pingback: Anyone Have the Kel Tec .32? - Page 3

  126. Pingback: For people who doubt the .380 can do the job. - Page 2

  127. Pingback: Is 380 enough ?

  128. Montey Nelson

    Sirs,
    I read your article titled “Final Results of the .380 ACP Ammo Quest”. It was very well thought out, researched, as well as tested. I wonder if you have the same type of information available on 9mm.
    Thanks,
    Montey

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Not yet, but when I’m done with the 9mm testing (that’s currently underway) there will be a comparable article for it.

      Reply
  129. Pingback: Ruger LCP Price | Buy & Sell Ruger LCP for FREE

  130. Raysteffins

    Was hopeing to find a test on the atomic ammo 380 acp , they make some stong claims on their web site , they could be a contender, have you any knowledge of anyone’s test results? I could not find Any.

    Reply
  131. Pingback: P232sl question - SIG Talk

  132. Pingback: I like .380 but... - Page 2

  133. Ron W

    Really enjoy watching your videos & have learned a lot. I’ve been loading my M&P .380 with Fderal hydra shoks since watching the final wrap up since it was more convienent for me than ordering online. It appears that’s the only way to get Precision one ammo. Looking forward to the 9mm wrap up

    Reply
    1. george from fort worth

      take another look at lehigh extreme penetrator. it may be avail in your area. there are better rounds from federal than hydro shok.

      Reply
  134. dumax

    Hi. Thank for Your great job making such big testing. It is very great idea to find out how ammo will work with such short barrel. But to say truth, You test is great, but conclusion is wrong. Let see why… HP ammo was desighed for only one purpose – to utilize bullet energy in the target without useless running out through target. And here is main trick, the bigger energy is and faster it converts to damage, the better result should be. Deep penetration is NOT that we need mostly, bullet can make damage and produce stop power even on 1 inch depth. That we really need, is mass of energy goes out in tiny time. As it well know energy is weight multipled on speed and multipled on speed again (E=mV2). So the faster bullet goes, more energy it have and weight is less important. Sure, on long range weight becomes more substantial, but this is not for self defense. So, first point is speed on entering target. The second is how fast energy goes out from movement to target destruction and bullet stops. Imagine 2 bullets with same energy, first one stops in 2 inch deep, second in 10 inch becuse of bullets different diameters. So first bullet will transfer movement energy to damage 5 times more intensive, making much more damage and greater temporary cavity in wound channel because of higher pressure revealing for shorter time. Also it will produce much more stop effect on target, like short punch hitting instead of longer sting hitting. The ideal self defense bullet should fly with light speed and stops in target on zero time. Our aim is not to kill anybody, our aim is to stop, maybe kill too, but the main thing is to stop. In reality (for self defense, not police or military purposes) there is no need to penetrate deep, no need to make sharp edges or beautifull mushrooms on expansion, only need is to make smash damage. So the best ammo is Winchester PDX1, it goes really fast and thanks to it expansion diameter, stops very quick from its high speed. Its energy is 31 percent bigger and it transfers to damage 67 percents faster than winning Precision One (according to Your measures). On slow motion video its clearly goes out, that PDX1 punches gel greater and make more serious temporary cavity doing its job best in test. The second place is to Speer Gold Dot – even more energy, but not so fast stopping, so punch force and temporary cavity not so great.

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      I understand what you’re saying, but please understand — “energy transfer” is a theory that has been discredited, and the current field of terminal ballistics says that energy transfer is irrelevant. Bodies are not wounded by transferring energy. They are wounded by mechanical stress — cutting, tearing, crushing. It takes energy to do that work, yes, but the actual energy itself is not a factor.

      Bodies can withstand a lot of “energy transfer” and be completely undamaged (in terms of permanent damage). If we take your example of a fast bullet that stops in zero time, we could take an example of a professional baseball player hitting a player with a ball. A typical baseball, pitched at 95 mph, carries 87 ft/lbs of energy — about the same as a .22LR bullet. But we’ve all seen dozens of instances of players getting hit by a baseball, absorbing that energy, and walking to the base. On the other hand, a .22LR through the heart will kill that person dead. Again, it’s not the amount of energy absorbed, it’s the type of damage done.

      The problem with the “energy transfer” theory is that it implies that the energy is doing the wounding — and it just doesn’t. And “energy transfer” doesn’t produce “stopping power”. It just doesn’t. There are too many examples to list, but the one that springs to mind is the case of Richard Blackburn vs. Officer Mark Coates. Officer Coates shot Blackburn five times in the chest and torso with a .357 Magnum. Considering that each bullet carried approximately 500-600 ft/lbs of energy, that means Blackburn absorbed 2,500 to 3,000 ft/lbs of energy. And shrugged it off. Blackburn then shot Coates with a North American Arms .22LR mini-revolver — carrying somewhere around 40 to 50 ft/lbs of energy. That bullet went through the armpit hole in Coates’ vest, and punctured Coates’ heart. Officer Coates died at the scene — and Blackburn is alive today, in prison. Why? Because the .357 Magnum shots didn’t penetrate deep enough and didn’t hit any of Blackburn’s vital organs. Blackburn’s .22LR did penetrate deep enough to damage Coates’ vital organs. Blackburn absorbed 2500-3000 ft/lbs of energy and lived. Coates absorbed 40 ft/lbs of energy and died. As you can see, the amount of energy is utterly irrelevant — what matters is: what does the bullet hit, and does it damage something vital? And the only way to guarantee that a bullet has the capability to penetrate deep enough to be sure that it can hit something vital, is if the bullet can penetrate a bare minimum of 12″ of ballistic gel.

      The temporary cavity is irrelevant in handguns; it doesn’t produce wounding. It’s too small. In a rifle round at 2,700 fps or more, yes, the temporary cavity can be large enough to actually rip and tear flesh. But in handgun rounds, it’s so small that it’s easily contained within the elastic limit of the flesh.

      Again, these are not my opinions, these statements reflect the established science in the field of Terminal Ballistics. If you want to read more, I highly recommend Duncan MacPherson’s book “Bullet Penetration”, or Charles Schwartz’s “Quantitative Ammunition Selection.”

      Reply
      1. dumax

        Hi again. Great answer, here I`ve got something to think about) But how about R.I.P. and SinterFire ammo? They stopped in 2 inch, without deep penetration (exept small piece in RIP) – it is not acceptable for self defense?

        Reply
        1. waldengr

          hi,

          please review all 30+ videos. your questions about ‘magic bullets’ will be addressed. also, go to the stb blog and look at the paper on energy transfer, the one on penetration, and the one on calibre.

          simply put, a two inch diameter hole, two inches deep is not likely to immediately “stop the threat” (that is, for anything approaching handgun bullets; grenades are a different matter).

          there is no moral or real advantage to doing the minimum damage possible. if one is thinking “minimal damage”, or stopping the threat by just “seriously wounding, but not killing” should not have a handgun. if you are using a handgun for self-defense you need to do whatever you can that will give you the best chance of “immediately stopping the threat”. let the “stoppee” wory about the extent of damage.

          Reply
    2. Al Boldt

      Then obviously you would prefer the Polycase ARX 74 grain with 395 ft-lbs muzzle energy compared to the Winchester PDX 147 grain with 326 ft-lbs energy.

      Reply
  135. Jim Chance

    I really enjoy your series. I have started carrying my Glock 42 because I hit with it better than my pocket 9. I prefer hotter rounds because it makes the gun less sensitive to limp wristing, but it looks like the XTP over expands at higher velocities. It seems the G42 could benefit from a slightly heavier version of the XTP so it could have higher energy at a lower velocity. Another route might be a bullet that was a little more reluctant to expand at the lower velocities.

    Reply
  136. Pingback: Episode 34 – Ruger LCP Torture

  137. Josh

    I hope you don’t mind if I put a new spin on an oft asked question, but I was wondering if you might be able to post the list of your results with the 9mm as a work in progress so that we can see the better performers even before you’ve completed the project? I have a high regard for your testing and am interested to see where things stand!

    Thanks,
    Josh

    Reply
  138. LouisianaMan

    I’m late to this particular party, but not to the topic matter. First, THANK YOU for an extraordinarily useful piece of analysis on the .380 ACP. The best thing out there on this caliber.

    I’m a “Facklerite,” but I also factor in what I’ve experienced in hunting deer (not humans, I know, but a living mammalian reaction to gunshot wound). Look up a fellow named Jerry Lester, who used to post on a couple of gun forums. He harvested hundreds of deer as part of a game management program in Virginia, and knew guns, terminal balistics, and the UP-CLOSE response of deer when hit by .357 bullets of various constructions and at different velocities from handguns and carbines. Priceless insights. And Cirillo certainly left some nuggets for us all to consider.

    At handgun velocities, it’s placement, penetration, permanent cavity…and some sort of additional “shocking power” (an intentionally old-fashioned term, for an observation not new to us, but that nobody can truly define–much less quantify). That “shocking power” is clearly associated with hard-edged wadcutters when looking at immediate animal reactions (Lester) and momentarily later with expanding bullets (all to an unquantifiable extent). Of course, everyone’s struggle is to find the “right balance.” And the ultimate problem is that each shooting incident has too many variables to be truly predictable–all we can do is try to play the probabilities, and there again I thank you for your specific contribution!

    By testing multiple versions of the XTP which gave different velocities and different results, you’ve shown its sweet spot to be focused within 790-850 fps, with 810 being about ideal. As a handloader, I’ll strive for 800-825 and call it a deal.

    Not trying to introduce the contentious issue of handloads for defense. I will, however, close by pointing out that approx. $125 for a chronograph is a very wise investment for *anyone* who concerns themselves with handgun terminal ballistics. “Will it work in my gun, with this barrel length, with such-and-such barrel length?” I use an original Remington 51 in .380, with a 3.5″ barrel. Instead of tearing my hair over the fact that you used a different barrel length, leaving me in the dark about my gun’s ability to perform with the loads you tested, I can simply measure the loads and eliminate the guesswork. (But since I personally am most comfortable with ammo I can practice with extensively, and I’m feeding several calibers and multiple guns, it’s beyond my means to use commercial ammo for every caliber. I can load a fresh batch of XTP’s as close to 810 as possible, and leave the guesswork behind.)
    Thanks again for your great work!
    Dana
    aka LAMan

    Reply
  139. Pingback: Suggestions on HP ammo for 380 - Hipoint Firearms Forums

  140. Bill

    I know you didn’t put Speer GoldDots in the last group because of under penetration but from the photos you posted they’re the only ones besides Win. PDX’s that consistently expanded in your denim test. Which in my opinion out weighs the 1/2″ of under penetration, especially for summer carrying when most people are wearing a thin shirt.
    Just my $.02

    Reply
    1. waldengr

      there is a reason for tje 12-18 inch criteria. if a huge hole that stops short of vitals is ok, then use the round you favor. if you don’t like a round that expands reliably and penetrates beyond the min, then don’t use that round. if you don’t like a bullet that penetrates well, and does not even need to expand to get a large wound, then don’t use that one.

      the idea behind the tests is to show the best overall performances and make decisions from that on what you trust your life to. ammunition manufacturers are quite good at providing financial support to relatives of the dead who relied on under-performing munitions.

      Reply
  141. Pingback: S&W Body Guard .380 - Page 3

  142. Chris L.

    BG 380 …fired 100s of rounds no problem. Bought some of the 789 fps HPR HTPs…..many cycling failures. Will try Honady’s 851 fps Custom XTPs. Low power HPR XTPs don’t seem to have enough kick to cycle the BG 380 reliably. This is not “Limp wristing”. But effect is the same. 5 or 10 bullets in gel is not the same as 100 in YOUR GUN. Willing to sacrifice 2 inches of penetration for 100% confidence gun will 7 times in a row when needed!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      As well you should. The most important factor in any ammo decision is RELIABILITY. That comes first. Performance is secondary. Doesn’t matter how good the performance should be, if it doesn’t go bang or if it won’t feed!

      Reply
  143. Pingback: Fiocchi Extrema 90gr XTP

  144. Brent

    I love this ammo test, I just noticed a new product, well new to me on the cabela’s website and I was wondering if you could give it a test in the 380 acp ammo quest. The product is called Winchester Kenetic HE.

    Reply
  145. Dan Marsella

    I recently purchased the Taurus TCP 380. After reviewing all of your testing I decided on the Federal Hydra Shocks. I bought two 20 rd boxes and noticed that the the ammo had “low recoil” indicated for their 90 gr bullet. When I looked at your video, the box that you display looks exactly the same as the ammo I just purchased. I can not tell if it says low recoil on the ammo you were testing because the lettering is too small on the screen. Can you tell me if what you used was the low recoil version.
    thanks

    Reply
  146. christia foran

    Hey blog post – I loved the information – Does someone know where my company might be able to get ahold of a template 2012 ATF E-Form 3310.4 document to use ?

    Reply
  147. Pingback: Episode 29 — Shooting the Bull – Interview

  148. Pingback: .380 2015 - Page 2 - WaltherForums

  149. Excalibur

    Excellent work! And a lot of hard work at that. Thank you for your efforts. Your results make it clear that not all defense ammo is created equal for every handgun size. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time watching the videos, and was sure to let ads play through. The monetary compensation may be small, compared to your efforts, but hopefully if others do the same they’ll add up.

    Reply
  150. Pingback: Shoulder Holster Question - SIG Talk

  151. D Carpenter

    Given how well you liked the Winchester Defend round in 9mm, have you considered adding the .380 Winchester Defend round as a postscript to the .380 Ammo Quest?
    If you find it to be comparably good, it would be a very worthwhile exercise!

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      No, it doesn’t perform like the 9mm version. It performs like PDX1, which was one of the first rounds I ruled out. Pocket Guns & Gear did a test on it, and showed it to be capable of big expansion and gross underpenetration — exactly like PDX1.

      Reply
  152. Pingback: Need .380 sd ammo suggestions? - Ruger Forum

  153. Pingback: How do you manually clear a TCP? - Page 2

  154. Pingback: Caliber Wars – 380 ACP | Getting on Target

  155. Mike in MN

    Greetings from Minnesota!

    Lehigh has both the XP and their new XD ammo. Both ate touted to be excellent self defense rounds. I’m torn between which of the two to load in my Remington RM 380 carry gun. The XP has a lighter (65 grain) projectile, but it’s supposed to tear things up and leave a mess. I’m undecided. Has anyone compared these two side by side?

    Thanks.

    Reply
  156. Kenneth

    The issue of over penetration is something that’s questionable.

    I believe that over penetration is good in terms of stopping power, because it creates an exit wound, which is much larger in surface area and will cause the attacker to lose blood quicker. However in the case of such a small caliber, even with 9mm, over penetration can only be achieved with FMJ. So it may be that FMJ would actually have more stopping power with a smaller caliber. Thoughts?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      An exit wound doesn’t lead to the kind of blood loss that stops an attacker quickly; the type of wound you need for that is a hit on an artery, and it really doesn’t matter whether the blood leaks out an exit hole or internally into the body, as long as it’s not in the pipes where it belongs then it’ll lead to lower blood pressure and a more rapid onset of unconsciousness.

      FMJs are notoriously bad stoppers. They do very little damage (especially the round-nosed ones) and they are small in diameter. They can, if aimed perfectly, stop a person or animal just fine, but you’ll generally get much more likely stopping results from an expanded hollowpoint that has much more surface area and damages more tissue, and which is more likely to hit vital tissue (such as an artery, or the heart, or vena cava) than a smaller bullet would.

      Reply
  157. Mike Gardner

    Very interesting data. Can this information be extrapolated to other barrel lengths? I carry a 380 with a 3.3 inch barrel. I presume that penetration will be improved with additional velocity, but does expansion or other characteristics suffer?

    Reply
    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Generally, the opposite. Generally, the longer the barrel, the faster the velocity, and the faster the velocity, the more expansion we see. And the more expansion, the less penetration. I tested Gold Dots from a 3.5″-barrel Bersa Thunder, and got 8.5″ to 9.5″ of penetration, quite a bit less than we observed from the 2.8″ barrel.

      Reply
  158. Pingback: Flat bottom Bersa FireStorm 380 magazines

    1. Shooting The Bull Post author

      Yes, there will be a short-barrel .38 Special Ammo Quest. Not from an airweight though, it’ll be from a Ruger LCR, but the results should be fully transferable.

      Reply
  159. Pingback: P-250 in .380.... underkill? - SIG Talk

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>