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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently acquired a 380 ACP for carry. I like it and the accuracy and controllability, however, I have no idea what bullet/cartridge would be most effective for outdoor effectiveness on two legged predators. If it were a bigger caliber I'd know what to use but I'm sure the FMJ's that were thrown into the deal with the gun are not the things I want to count on when it's time to use it seriously. Any help on the subject would be appreciated.
 

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I have a 32acp and a 380.

My theory (I'm sure is at least part right an part wrong) in regard to using these guns defensively, is that If I am shooting someone with a 'lighter' caliber, I can't rely on expansion, so I'll rely on penetration. Hard cast flat point or FMJ should do the job.

However, Buffalo Bore has some great ammo choices for the 380 in +p pressures. I would probably go with the 100gr hardcast, but they do offer a 90gr HP that shows ballistics that are closer to that of a light 9mm, 1200fps MV.
http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=129

However, it still comes down to controllability and shot placement.

That being said, I only carry the little guns when there is no other viable option. No caliber war stuff here, but especially during this time of year (cold and windy = heavy jackets and lots of layers) I'll stick with the 357 or the 44. A couple layers of Carhartt duck might as well be Kevlar to the 32!
 

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My theories are in there with AVIVII. I'm a 380 Auto carry/shooter and my first choice is cast bullets. I went through the trouble of the Lee special order mold process to get what I wanted, a heavy 380 Auto bullet (125-grain). I received the molds a couple of weeks ago, cast and my initial shooting is meeting my expectations.

The one thing that I've learned about the 380 Auto is that not all guns can digest premium ammo. Many of the pocket gun's magazines will not accept a SAAMI length cartridge. The pistols have been kept small and their magazines tight. For instance, even though there is a 90-grain XTP available I have found that it doesn't work in some pistols as the bullet cannot be seated behind the ogive and still have the cartridge fit in the magazine.

I shot a very large feral hog in the chest with a Sierra 88-grain JHP and he wasn't really impressed but it did what it was supposed to. He lost interest in me.

Recently, I ordered ballistic gel as I want to actually examine and compare wound channel cavities for a couple cartridges and their bullets, the 380 Auto being one of them.
 

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Buffalo Bore has some great ammo choices for the 380 in +p pressures.
I would like to find what is being used as +P pressures. I've searched the internet and cannot find any information related to the 380 Auto. I see the other cartridges that are +P. Anybody have an idea?
 

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Now that you mention it, I can't remember seeing SAAMI specs for a +p either. Standard is what 21,000 or 22,000 psi?

I emailed Buffalo Bore to see what they used for pressures, but I have a feeling it is a marketing ploy at best.
 

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I would go with the heavy flat point, heavy being a relative term with the .380..... I have found that .35 cal cast bullets do a surprisingly good job in a couple of different guns.

Granted I am using stuff with more powder capacity than the .380, but slowly working my way down. Not sure I have the courage to try a big hog just yet ;)

At some point, I need to get a load together for the wife to use in the .357 for the hunting fields and it will have to be downloaded a bit from the 180gr/1200fps load I use. It will, for sure, start out with a flat point cast bullet.
 

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I just received 2 boxes of Buffalo Bore 230 gr truncated cone fmj +P 45 ACP ammo that has a mv of 950 fps vs 850 fps for regular 45 ACP ammo. I would use the same bullet style and +P load from Buffalo Bore for the 380. The flat point will hit harder than ball but penetrate better than a hollowpoint. Both were on sale at Cabelas. Come to think of it I should have purchased some 380 ammo for my Colt Gov't 380 and Mustang. The Buffalo Bore 380 +P ammo on sale at Cabelas is loaded with a 100 gr FN Hard Cast bullet and is $6 less for a box of 20 than buying it from the BB website.
 

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I believe w/ a small caliber like a 380 you need to be able to do more than drill a .357" hole in somebody, you need expansion.

The new Hornady hollow points (w/ the red plastic inserts in the hp) would seem to be a good solution.

I now carry CoreBon hp's in my Kel Tec, but will try the new Hornady's.
 

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the hornady critical defence does expand some but the reason is the hollow point is thin an shallow..but it does expand some..
my choice though is the winchester flat nosed+p 95 i think..don t want to wake the wife an look for sure.... i know it does hit relatively hard an really tears up as long as theres penetration.. ive seen what it can do in humane flesh an it wasn t pretty..slim ..ps i like to have shot my hand off.. grin slim
 

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I have loaded 115 gr GD's in the 380 couldn't get them fast enough to expand, Accuracy stunk! Now I either carry 90 GD's at about 1035 fps out of my Bersa! They open up very nicely and are accurate! I also load cast 105 gr RN and run them at about 1000 fps they penertrate nicely and are accurate!
 

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I believe w/ a small caliber like a 380 you need to be able to do more than drill a .357" hole in somebody, you need expansion.

The new Hornady hollow points (w/ the red plastic inserts in the hp) would seem to be a good solution.

I now carry CoreBon hp's in my Kel Tec, but will try the new Hornady's.
Using a .380 for SD is better than calling 911 especially out on a trail. That said, it is not the best choice of caliber. But the caliber is made for small guns that conceal easily. A solid bullet with a flat point or meplat is not the same as a RN or HP in the diameter of the wound it makes. The flat point or meplat diameter (not caliber) and striking velocity determine wound diameter with hardcast or fmj bullets. Using the Beartooth Permanent Wound Calculator with an estimated meplat size of 0.21 inches at a striking velocity of 1000 fps, the wound size will be 0.525 inches, not .380 inches. A HP will indeed create a larger wound diameter (if it expands) than a RN or FP. The fly in the ointment is penetration. If for example Bubba weighs 250 lbs and is wearing heavy clothing there is a very good chance a 380 HP will not penetrate deep enough to hit anything vital. If the FMJ or hardcast bullet with a flat point that makes a 1/2 inch sized hole penetrates through Bubba's clothes, his sternum and punches a 1/2" hole in his heart and then lodges in his spine he will be in a world of hurt. If the HP expands, penetrates 2" of fat and cracks his sternum but goes no further Bubba may be sore but highly PO'd. I use the hard cast or fmj with the largest meplat I can find as I want penetration and not have to worry about whether a HP will expand or not. Also HPs usually have a lower sectional density than the heavier solid bullet of the same caliber. Sectional density plays a large part in penetration. One exception is the Barnes DPX all copper HPs. They penetrate very well from all the info reported back. They also are very expensive as is the Corbon ammo that uses them. If I were to use a HP it would be the Corbon with the DPX (Deep Penetrating X bullets). Shooting someone in self defense is always a crap shoot. I have a LEO friend who shot a bad guy at point blank range in the forehead with a 357 mag. The bullet glanced off his skull, went under the scalp and exited the scalp on the back of the guy's head. He was knocked out cold and was immediately handcuffed. He wound up with 2 holes in his scalp and a heck of a headache. A good (but expensive) way to test a bullet/gun combo is to shoot a cured ham with the bone in it and some clothing over it. Compare results of the wound diameter and depth created. Remove the bullets before serving it to Grandma at Christmas dinner. Remember that a nasty surface wound may not deter a bad guy who may be stoned and not feeling any pain. The bullet must penetrate deep enough to clip something that will cause the BG to bleed out or penetrate deep enough to hit the CNS (brain and spinal chord). Don't shoot for the forehead!!!! Aim for the nose so you have a good chance of getting the bullet into the brain. A center mass hit will require a lot of penetration to get a spinal hit. Even a hit to the heart will still allow the BG's brain enough time for him to inflict a lot of damage to you or loved ones. There is a lot of wisdom to the concept of 2 to the chest and 1 to the head. I hope no one who is a member here ever has to find out if they made the right choice. Also don't assume all critters are 2 legged. Cougars are a big problem in CA now thanks to the tree huggers. In some areas feral dogs in packs can be a problem. For the most part animals are a lot harder to put down than humans. You may need a bullet that will penetrate a shoulder bone to get to vital organs. Here is where a solid is better than a HP. Good luck with whatever choice you make and again I hope you never have to find out if you made the right choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A big thank you to the responders, the variety of inputs will surely help me make a good decision here. I only carry the "little gun" where concealability prevents using my 40 S&W which I use at home and carry when I can conceal it. The 380 is the better than 22 and better than being unarmed in today's world. I'll try the flat point +P and see how they work accuracy wise.
The advice on pissing them off is good, it carries six and if I need to use it, they'll get all six.
 

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I believe w/ a small caliber like a 380 you need to be able to do more than drill a .357" hole in somebody, you need expansion.

The new Hornady hollow points (w/ the red plastic inserts in the hp) would seem to be a good solution.

I now carry CoreBon hp's in my Kel Tec, but will try the new Hornady's.


It has been years since I have tested a 380, but even the FMJ bullets lacked in penetration IMHO an expanding bullet would offer even less pentration. If were to carry a 380 it would be with a heavy wide nose hard cast provided it would feed
. expansion is nice as long as pentration is not compremised
 

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I'd go with a good factory load. The new Hornady Critical Defense ammo is superb, as are Speer Gold Dots. They aren't cheap, but what is your life worth?

There are many who pooh-pooh the .380 as a defense load -- but darn few of them have volunteered to put their chest where there mouth is and prove it!
 

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It has been years since I have tested a 380, but even the FMJ bullets lacked in penetration IMHO an expanding bullet would offer even less pentration. If were to carry a 380 it would be with a heavy wide nose hard cast provided it would feed
. expansion is nice as long as pentration is not compremised
Doubt most LWFN will cycle thru a 380 auto.

Following is from Evan Marshall's forum (not my post or my quotes). I realize two layers of denim into ballistic jello isn't real world, but it ain't chopped liver either.

And the Strasbourg tests gave results for animal incapacitation at about 1/2 the time for hollow points versus the FMJ's...about 11 sec vs 22 sec.

I think you're better off w/ a good modern HP like the Core Bon or Hornady. How far does it really need to penetrate into ballistic jello when these guns are being used at bad breath range?
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EDIT: ran into another web site reporting the following results into 10% gel through 2 layers of denim from a Kel-Tec P-3AT (2.7" barrel):

Hornady Critical Defense FTX 90gr
874 fps / 11.2" pen / .443" exp

Cor Bon JHP 90gr
950 fps / 13.3" pen / .463" exp

Cor Bon DPX 80gr
956 fps / 10.9" pen / .645" exp

Fiocchi XTPHP 90gr
832 fps / 13.6" pen / .393" exp
bullets flipped backwards

Remington Golden Saber JHP 102gr
773 fps / 15.4" pen / didn't expand

Speer Gold Dot GDHP 90gr
909 fps / 12.6" pen / .452" exp

So, if DPX will feed & 11" is enough penetration (which I expect it is for non-LE civilian purposes), it looks like the pick of this litter.
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10% gel with 2 layers of denim is not the same as a leather jacket, sweater, 2" of adidpose tissue or worse yet muscle and a sternum. A 250 pound Bubba is not 250 lbs of gel. I would have like to have seen ball ammo and 100 gr +P Buffalo Bore hard cast flat point at over 1000 fps for comparison in the gel test.
 

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10% gel with 2 layers of denim is not the same as a leather jacket, sweater, 2" of adidpose tissue or worse yet muscle and a sternum. A 250 pound Bubba is not 250 lbs of gel. I would have like to have seen ball ammo and 100 gr +P Buffalo Bore hard cast flat point at over 1000 fps for comparison in the gel test.
2 layers of denim is not the same as a leather coat...for sure, but the goats that were killed in the Strasbourg test all had leather on.

Point being that any handgun is potentially inadequate, would prefer to have my 10mm with me, but a 380 is better then nothing. I'll carry the CorBon DPX and I will shoot more than one bullet...might even aim at the head from 3' away. I think that will have the desired effect.

Interestingly, the best ammo in the Strasbourg goat incapacitation test was the frangible type, like the Glaser and MagSafe. They dropped the goats much faster than a hollow point. They are designed not to over penetrate, if that's even possible w/ a 380.
 

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Now that you mention it, I can't remember seeing SAAMI specs for a +p either. Standard is what 21,000 or 22,000 psi?

I emailed Buffalo Bore to see what they used for pressures, but I have a feeling it is a marketing ploy at best.
The pressures for the 380 Auto are:
PSI: 21.5K
CIP: 19.5K
CUP:17.0K

I went through the complete SAAMI list of cartridges and they only list two as "+P"

38 SW Special:
Parent: 17.0K
+P: 18.5K
+P is 109% of parent

45 ACP
Parent: 21.0K
+P: 23.0K
+P is 110% of parent
 

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I'd go with a good factory load. The new Hornady Critical Defense ammo is superb, as are Speer Gold Dots. They aren't cheap, but what is your life worth?

There are many who pooh-pooh the .380 as a defense load -- but darn few of them have volunteered to put their chest where there mouth is and prove it!


Why would anyone volunter to be shot with a 380 or a BB gun for that matter.
One not wanting to be shot with a 380 does not prove the 380 to be a satisfactory defensive round
 
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