Hand-Picked Daily GUN DEALS, and Exclusive Coupons Codes >>>

Best .380 Ammo: Self-Defense & Target Practice

Need recommendations for the best .380 self-defense and plinking rounds? These personal picks bring out the best capability of the diminutive round.

For many years the .380 ACP wasn’t a hugely popular cartridge for concealed carry or home defense, but times they are a-changing. 

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

Looking to buy your first .380?

Have one and need to know what to feed it? Let’s take a look at some of my favorite ammunition choices and break down the important facts of ammo selection.

LCP Max with Mag
LCP Max with Mag

The problem with this is that with so many types of .380 ACP ammo on the market, how do you know which one is the best defensive ammunition for you?

We’ve got you covered!

Table of Contents

Loading...

How to Choose Defensive Ammo

Here are the most important factors to consider when choosing .380 defensive ammunition.  

.380 ACP Round
.380 ACP Round

Penetration

Penetration refers to the ability of a projectile to travel through the body, determined by its composition, weight, velocity, and projectile type.

PPTGel2
Measuring penetration with ballistic gel

A lead projectile will often bend, break and deform before it penetrates deep enough to cause serious harm. The same goes for a round that is too light and too slow.  

Ideally, you want a round that can penetrate 12- to 18-inches of 10% ballistic gel. 

Expansion

Expansion of projectiles is critical for blood loss and even pain compliance.  

The larger a round can expand the more damage it will do.  

PPTGel3

When researching expansion for a certain load know that bigger is always better, but expansion comes second to penetration. 

If possible, find how the round expands through ballistic gel after being shot through denim. Denim can cause some rounds to fail at proper expansion.  

Reliability

Reliability refers to the round’s ability to expand and penetrate…reliably.

During research, if you see tests where only three out of five rounds penetrate at least 12-inches or fail to expand…that brand might be so reliable.

You want something that always has your back…err gun.

The reliability factor also applies to the round’s ability to consistently ignite and fire.

Most defensive ammo is high quality and you’re unlikely to find an established company producing ammo that doesn’t go boom. But stuff happens.  

Projectile Type

One of the biggest factors that determine how a round will penetrate and expand is the type of projectile.  

The classic bonded jacketed hollow point ammunition has long been a solid performer in both penetration and expansion.  

FMJ vs Hollowpoints (9mm and .45 ACP)
FMJ vs Hollowpoints (9mm and .45 ACP)

Stay away from FMJ rounds since they do penetrate, but often penetrate way too much. I also advise staying away from gimmick projectiles that look cool but function poorly.  

380 ACP gimmick ammo
For Example

Weight Retention

A projectile’s ability to retain weight after expansion and penetration is a good measure of the round’s ability to deal damage to a vital part of the body.  

The more weight retention the better.  

Bullets are measured in grains, so when researching ammunition look at what the projectile weighs before and after the test. 

Barrel Length, Velocity, and Weight

Most .380 ACP handguns are what we call pocket pistols — very small with short barrels. Commonly, these pocket pistols will have a barrel under 3-inches.  

This affects the velocity of a projectile, as does the projectile’s weight.  

Sinterfire .380 ACP 75 grain HP Frangibles and a Ruger LCP II. If you like .380 ACP you really should check out Sinterfire’s frangibles
Ruger LCP II

When searching for the best .380 defensive ammo, you need to find a compromise between barrel length, projectile weight, and the round’s velocity.  

For a pocket pistol, a 90-grain projectile seems to be the heaviest round that penetrates deep enough to strike something critical. These rounds also meet a high enough velocity to expand.  

PPTGel6
Again you want enough oomph to penetrate ballistic gel.

Lighter 77-grain and even 50-grain rounds are fast but often fail to penetrate.

Heavier 102-grain rounds are better suited for handguns with barrels longer than 3.5-inches like the Beretta Cheetah and CZ 83.  

Best .380 Ammo for Self Defense

While I won’t name one brand to rule them all, I can make some suggestions based on my personal research into an effective round for my Sig Sauer P238

For reference, this weapon sports a 2.7-inch barrel.  

Handgun Women Sig Sauer P238
Managing Editor Jacki’s Sig Sauer P238.

1. Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain .380 ACP

The Hornady Custom .380 ACP features the XTP projectile and penetrates very well.

This projectile is really the key to this ammunition’s success.  

It offers controlled expansion to allow the round to gradually expand as it travels through the body. This ammo isn’t too expensive and is pretty common.  

Best .380 Defensive Round
20
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

What’s your take on Hornady’s defensive .380 round? Rate it below!

Readers' Ratings

4.94/5 (959)

Your Rating?

2. Remington 88 Grain HTP

I’m not going to lie…the biggest reason I was attracted to the HTP loads was the price.  

These High Terminal Performance loads come in boxes of 50 and are priced pretty competitively.  

The round is a solid performer that penetrates and even expands to an impressive degree.

23
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

3. Sig Sauer 90 Grain .380 V-Crown JHP

Testing done by Chris Baker at Lucky Gunner has shown this round to be incredibly effective in both penetration and expansion.  

The round has no issue reaching that 12-inch mark, and also expands up to half an inch in size.  

Sig’s ammunition is well built and surprisingly affordable.  

Available Coupons

4. Liberty Defense 50 Grain

If you are recoil sensitive, then the Liberty Defense 50-grain rounds are a good choice.

So, if you struggle with the recoil from a traditional round then these bad boys are better than nothing.  

Least Recoil Defensive Round
34
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Best .380 Ammo for Target Practice & Plinking

5. Prvi Partizan 94 Grain FMJ

Prvi Partizan makes a huge range of ammo and much of it is odd calibers or calibers that just aren’t in production anymore. 

That is how I first started using them with their .303 Brit ammo. Since then, I’ve come to know and respect many of their calibers and they have become one of my goto picks for range ammo.

Available Coupons

6. Fiocchi 95 Grain FMJ

I’ve never had a problem with Fiocchi, every round has gone bang as it should. However, it’s some of the dirtiest ammo I’ve used. 

After 200 rounds of their 9mm my slide starts to stick. After 300 I need to clean it if I want to keep things running smoothly. 

Still one of the main brands I use for range ammo.

Available Coupons

7. Silver Bear 94 Grain FMJ

Two things to be said for Silver Bear — it’s steel cased and it’s cheap.

Generally, it is very reliable, at least for me it has been, but it is stunningly inconsistent.

Groups with otherwise very accurate firearms will bust open wide when using Silver Bear ammo of any kind. 

But it is by far my top pick for range ammo when I need to dump rounds, mostly because it is just so much cheaper than almost anything else on the market.

250
at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

8. Sellier & Bellot

Another favorite of the PPT team for range use is Sellier & Bellot.

It’s not built for self-defense purposes, obviously since it’s FMJ…

But it works well when you want to get some training done at the range.

Available Coupons

The Goal of Defensive Ammo

Defensive ammunition is purpose-built. As a civilian concealed carrier or home defender, your goal in any defensive situation is to end the threat.

So, your ammunition should match that goal.

Goals Punch

Bullets stop threats in a number of ways.  

The first and most unreliable is fear. It relies on criminals thinking, “he has a gun and he can shoot me.” It doesn’t matter what kind of bullet it is since the very thought of the bullet is enough to end the threat.  

Next, we have pain compliance. Pain is subjective to the person being shot. Pain tolerance, the location of the gunshot wound, and the presence of drugs and alcohol in the body all factor into this compliance.

Painful to Look At

Blood loss can also be an effective means to stop an attacker depending on where the bullet is placed and the size of the projectile. 

Now, when I say the projectile size I don’t mean the size of the actual bullet before it’s fired. The difference between a .380 ACP and 40 S&W is literally a millimeter in projectile size.  

In this case, the projectile size that matters is the size of the round after it expands in the body. Blood loss can take several seconds to several minutes, so it’s not the quickest means to end a threat.

Mountain Man Medical CAT
How do we stop excessive blood loss to extremities, friends? Tourniquets.

Lastly, trauma to the central nervous system will typically result in the death of an attacker, as well as near-instant incapacitation. This kind of trauma requires a shot to or near the spine, brain, and/or brain stem. 

Low Round Count Drill Sage Target

Remember that just because this is the most effective means of stopping an attacker does not mean it is always appropriate or legal to use this level of force. 

Make sure you know your state’s laws regarding self-defense.

The round you choose must be able to accomplish these tasks to incapacitate an attacker. A .380 ACP is a lower-powered round, so ammunition selection is even more critical.

Legends and Myths

There are a lot of myths and legends regarding pistol ammunition.  

Movie pistol
Anything goes in Hollywood

People who believe these myths will often use them to discourage the use of .380 ACP and even 9mm.  

To help you sort through the mess let’s go over the biggest two myths.

Stopping or Knockdown Power

The stopping power myth is so widespread that it has seeped into gun culture. I cringe when I hear someone bring up stopping power because there’s simply no such thing.  

The ability of a round to stop an opponent hinges on the shooter’s ability to strike a vital portion of the body, and for the round to penetrate deep enough to hit something to incapacitate.  

S&W M&P Shield EZ shooting
It all comes down to your skills.

Shot placement and penetration are the keys to stopping an attacker.

A miss with a .45 is still a miss. The heart, lungs, and brain do not know the difference between a .45 and a .380.

Hydrostatic Shock

Hydrostatic shock is a thing, but it’s not something that really occurs with handguns. To achieve hydrostatic shock damage, a projectile has to move at over 2,000 feet per second.  

gotta go fast

Very few handguns can achieve this speed and .380 ACP rounds certainly can’t.  

Conclusion

The .380 round is one some choose for self-defense or just for some fun on the range. Regardless, of what you use it for, the right ammo will only help you reach your goals.

Sig Ammo 380

We’ve listed out some of our favorite .380 ammo brands to get you started and hopefully set you down the right path.

What’s your favorite .380 brand? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t have one yet…check out the Best .380 Pistols: Pocket Rockets for some recommendations.

The Best Gun Deals, Coupons and Finds

Subscribe to Pew Pew Tactical's sales and deals email.

74 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Rod Burke

    380 ACP +p Underwood 90 grain XTP

    June 4, 2022 9:10 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rob

    Good article. I read another one around when I got my LCP gen 1, so 2015ish?, where they FBI protocol gelatin tested everything and found that the 90gr Hornady XTP is the ideal bullet for a sub-3" barrel 380 ACP pistol. They tested rounds with newer and better (in 9mm) bullets than the aging XTP, but found that because the XTP doesn't expand as much as newer bullets, it penetrates to the appropriate depth, while the "fancier" rounds overexpand and don't penetrate deep enough from a sub-3" 380.

    As for a specific brand, all the XTP rounds they tested (there were 3-4 IIRC) were pretty close in performance. The one that was the most consistent was Precision One, who seems like a good company that makes high quality ammo, so I buy mine from them.... But like I said, they all performed about the same and you can safely run any decent ammo maker's 90gr XTP in your sub-3" barrel 380.

    May 28, 2022 4:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    R. Lee

    Lots of good choices for self defense ammo. For my Ruger LCP2, I choose Lehigh bullets by Black Hills ammo, or Underwood ammo. Relatively new technology largely ignored by firearm media. Very impressive terminal ballistics for penetration and large, extended wound channel. Puts 380 ammo performance right up there with 9mm. Avoid FMJ for carry and/or defense. Don't go cheap to defend your life, or that of your family.

    May 22, 2022 9:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chance Mc Call

    I really like the Super Vel's Pocket Rocket. I wish that had been included in your review.

    April 10, 2022 3:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rex T. Dog

    We have a little Speer gold dot and Hornady on hand for our. 380, but have never tested to see if the stuff will run reliably (it will have to wait until we can pick up some more, just in case)...all our different brands of hardball do okay, and as a strong believer in penetration first, we figure at worst we have some capability in a pinch...luckily, as primarily revolver people this can wait until we do get enough HP to test...

    December 8, 2021 6:00 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nes Coburn

    Traditional hollow points in .380 are marginal in achieving both penetration and expansion--see Ammo Quest test results on Shooting the Bull site.
    But there is a novel new round that works quite well, as also reported in Ammo Quest---the 90gr Xtreme Penetrator made by both Lehigh and Underwood. Currently in stock at Underwood.
    It's solid copper but with an X top that makes it tumble to achieve good effective expansion while also penetrating to FBI depths. Results are on par with 9mm in penetration and expansion.
    But be sure your 380 mouse gun will feed it --Lehigh/Underwood have tested most mouse guns and have a list of what guns work. It feeds fine in My Ruger and is what I carry.

    November 22, 2021 9:49 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Robert Phillips

    You should check the 380 tests on Shooting the Bull web sight... “ Ammo Quest. At least the finalists.

    November 11, 2021 12:33 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jim Bullock

    "For a pocket pistol, a 90-grain projectile seems to be the heaviest round that penetrates deep enough to strike something critical." I think you mean the "lightest round".

    Those pointy things stuck in the end of a case are called "bullets". It is a technical term, but most readers will understand.

    A "projectile" is any generic object in ballistic flight. Bullets, as discussed in this type of article are not in flight. Please use the correct technical term.

    November 2, 2021 9:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Clifford M. Deal

    Never really met a 380 OR 9 mm that fit my hand properly, which is why I stick to Colt or reproduction Colt 1851 Navy. THAT's the REAL test in choosing a hand gun: comfort level. If it don't sit well, you'll ALWAYS be self conscious and off your mark. Handled an old Walther P38 once, I liked the feel. IF an affordable P 1 model [ post war make] comes my way, I'd be tempted. Till then..got a couple of wheel guns I'll stick with. NOTE: 30 caliber = 9.1 mm in metric, and the short Colt is a match for the Luger round in size, [ 9.1 mm x 19.] a lot of the myths stem from conversion tables: most folks don't know how to.

    July 8, 2021 7:39 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Anderson

      .30 cal does not equal 9mm in metric. .30in is 7.62mm

      October 22, 2021 5:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Clifford M. Deal

    LOL...looking at the head hit chart..where did you find the pistol that throws the entire cartridge, and NOT just the projectile ? I'd like to see one of those...

    Just sayin' for a bit of fun.

    July 8, 2021 7:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rex t. Dog

    We just broke in a Bersa, and I found the Winchester white box 95gr to be really dirty, but the stuff was accurate enough...our Smith&Wesson loves the Fiocchi target ammo...for carry we have the Hornady, which ran fine in the Bersa...we don't trust the Smith&Wesson, so it buried deep in the house as a backup that we definitely hope we never have to use...

    March 3, 2021 4:04 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    m

    Does the person who wrote this actually fire the ammo? Liberty Civil Defense may only be 50 grain, but it has crazy velocity, and that means serious recoil.

    January 23, 2021 7:53 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      TT

      What's your take on the Liberty Civil Defense .40 S&W 60 grain?

      February 25, 2021 11:23 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John D

      No, the recoil is very mild. It is a matter of physics. While it is not a penetrators as one might like, it is still very effective, particularly for small stature folks.

      September 15, 2021 7:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John Marley

      When a bullet is fired from a gun, the expanding gas exerts a force on the bullet in the forward direction. This force is called the action force. The bullet also exerts an equal and opposite force on the gun in the backward direction. Therefore a gun "recoils" when a bullet is fired from it. For you to "feel" recoil, the force must overcome the mass (weight) of the gun which was at rest as you pulled the trigger. The heavier (weight) the gun, the more action force necessary for the gun to experience recoil and transfer that force to your shooting hand. So, felt recoil is not just how heavy the projectile is or how fast your propellant can move the bullet (action force), but also how heavy (mass) the gun is to move it in an opposite direction. Also, the geometry of the gun between the grip and barrel will effect the rearward force ("recoil") exerted on the shooter's hand ("felt" recoil). Bottom line: a lighter bullet accelerated to a very fast velocity may impart the exact same "felt" recoil as a heavier bullet, accelerated to a much slower velocity. This is why some shooters complain that their 1911 .45 (230g at 830fps) has much greater felt "recoil" than their Glock 19 (115g at 1180 fps). That's also why when you fire a .45 with a light bullet (165g) at higher velocity than a .45 230g at 830 fps, the felt recoil is so much less.

      January 22, 2022 9:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gary MOORE

    Thanks for the article. My EDC of choice is the S&W 380 EZ. When are the ammo suppliers going to catch up with demand. Geez, hire more people!

    November 10, 2020 6:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jane

      I just purchased a S&W 380 EZ. My first firearm and am scrambling just to find ammo for a pistol class I've signed up for!

      November 30, 2020 9:22 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Shannon Baker

        Shooting ranges will sell you ammo. It’s very expensive though.

        February 11, 2021 8:34 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      KRodrig1

      My wife and I carry this same gun for self defense and we use the Liberty Civil Defense rounds. They pack a serious punch. Not sure where the author got his info on these rounds but they penetrate just fine into 10% ballistic gel with 2 thick layers of denim. We achieved over 12+ inches of penetration across 15 rounds fired. The particles expansion was just as advertised.

      April 2, 2021 12:31 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Patti

    Thank you for this article. I have the same Sig (rainbow). Not knowing anything about ammo when I started, I bought Silver Bear to share with a friend. That was the dirtiest ammo I will never buy it again. I just purchased Winchester PDX1 hollow point for self defense. I haven't tried it yet. Thanks!

    September 16, 2020 3:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ralph

      You need to go somewhere you can shoot dirty targets, like a block of clay 1 cubic foot. Then put a rack if ribs in front of it and shoot it again. I don’t shoot just ballistic gel anymore because it doesn’t show what will happen in the human body. It has to have some bone in front to really represent a person unless you are shooting in the stomach. I don’t want to just hit paper because what does that prove, you can hit the target. I want to see the actual stopping power when it hits the chest or head.

      November 16, 2020 7:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Anne

    Thank you for this! I've just bought my first handgun and knew I needed 380 ACP ammo (have already bought some) but it always helps to have an expert opinion. Coincidentally, two of the brands listed above (Hornady and Sig Sauer) I've already purchased, but I'm always looking for more recommendations, particularly since it's so difficult to find ammo at all these days.

    August 2, 2020 11:17 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    I have a P238 and I have been testing lots of different ammo in it. My pistol does not like 95-105 FMJ rounds of the 6 brands I tested (including SIG). Fifteen yard groups are basket ball size. They seem to shoot about 8" high. Most of the FMJ bullet holes were slightly oblong indicating that the bullets were key-holing. However, it loves every 88-90 grain JHP I feed it. They all seem to have the same POI. I shot 5 rounds of 4 brands of JHP into one 2.5" group at 15 yards. They hit about 3 inches low.

    July 14, 2020 6:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      John

      I have a P238 with the exact same problem. It shoots 12" groups at 15 yard with FMJ ammo (5 brands including SIG) It loves every hollow point I have tried. I wish I could find a inexpense FMJ to practice with.

      August 6, 2020 3:53 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Anne Galivan

    Every one of these is out of stock. Really frustrating. Can you do an article on places that still have ammo in stock?

    July 9, 2020 9:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Julia Rainey

    Great article , I'm continuing my journey in firearms with an addition to my collection of a 380 . This was very helpful. Great read and informative.

    June 30, 2020 9:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Maricica

    There's a lot of people on these forums saying the XTP round and the Hydrashock are good as far as penetration and expansion goes. Shooting the bull video. Others still want to carry FMJ and partial to flatnose. I had light primer strikes on a Bodyguard with Fiocchi.

    June 19, 2020 11:35 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    David

    Just figured I’d offer my personal recommendation here as well. For range use I agree with “David, PPT Editor” that Sellier & Bellot 92gr FMJ would be an excellent choice for practicing (Fiocchi’s 95gr FMJ isn’t bad either, but I find S&B to be of higher quality). For defensive ammo I recommend Underwood Ammo’s 65gr Xtreme Defender loads (it’s a Lehigh Defense round but Underwood uses better cases in their loadings).

    April 7, 2020 7:19 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Ronna

    What ammo. do you suggest for firing my S&W 380 at the RANGE (outdoor)?

    March 14, 2020 12:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dan

    I’ve tried Hornady’s XTP bullets in Fiochi’s rounds in my PPKS. They are accurate, shoot to POA, clock at 1000+ fps but they don’t expand.

    January 24, 2020 6:16 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Michael

    What do you think about Jesse James .380 ammunition? I carry a Ruger LCP .380 & they seem to shoot well & very accurate.

    October 29, 2019 4:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I haven't used the Jesse James line of ammo, but I've also not heard great reports about it. Low expansion and high cost from what I understand.

      October 29, 2019 4:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Frank

    The author mentions the steel Silver Bear with saying "by far my top pick for range ammo when I need to dump rounds." Uh, pardon my ignorance, but when is "dumping rounds" an effective use of ANY range practice time or ammo? I haven't got recent experience with steel ammo because the range I frequent doesn't allow it. I have shot steel 223 in an AR rifle (some color bear, and Wolf) and agree with you about it's inconsistency and dirtiness. But don't understand the whole concept of just shooting "fast and down and dirty" for no apparent gains in ability, just to hear the firearm go bang. So i don't understand the recommendation. Otherwise, as a new 380 shooter (well, carrier), thanks for the defense rounds recomendations.

    June 6, 2019 5:03 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Frank, "dumping rounds" is just meant to be a semi-humorous term for some serious target practice at the range. Some think going to the range once or twice a month, and shooting a 50 round box is going to make them an expert. Even "dumping" a 1000 rounds a month hasn't made me an expert... yet.

      June 8, 2019 3:20 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Kelly

        Frank, with no discredit intended to those who may see reasons to use cheap ammo for practice, I agree with you. To me, it's a false economy.

        I personally have never seen the advantage to using super-cheap but inconsistent/inaccurate rounds for any reason. For me, shooting incorporates a feedback loop: I aim the gun, inTENding to hit a target; that is my "mission". I pull the trigger. The round either hits or misses the target as in plinking or falling plates; or, in the case of paper targets, I obtain a record of the relative accuracy of the gun/ammo/shooter 'system', that hopefully gets me 'on paper', and ideally creates one ragged hole where the X-ring used to be. With tin cans/falling plates, I either hit or miss; hits give positive feedback, misses are negative. With paper, I print a group. Closer to the "X" is more positive, further away is more negative. Positive feedback is my reward. It makes me happy and builds my confidence in the gun, the ammo, and myself; and I firmly believe that confidence in all 3 of those elements is essential to good shooting for fun, competition, or urgent self-defense. Negative feedback (poor accuracy) is discouraging, no fun, not helpful, and demonstrates a need for adjustment to the gun/ammo/me system. I may have only one gun, and changing "me" requires a certain amount of re-training; so the easiest thing to start with is to change to an ammo with a documented history of good accuracy in most guns. So I never use ammo with a reputation for generally poor or inconsistent accuracy. It just doesn't fit into my goals; and it puts wear on my gun and costs me time and money with nothing to show for it but rounds flung willy-nilly downrange to no good purpose. But that's just me. As Brother Dave Gardner (comedian, popular in the late '50s to mid-'60s) said, "Ev'body to they own kick." Rejoice, Dear Hearts; GROOVE in it! You got'cher own thang. You are a unique individual,... just like ev'body else! Say "GLORY"! ; -D

        October 31, 2019 11:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jerre Peak

    How about Federal Hydra-Shok 90 grain h.p. in .380's ? They're very accurate and reliable in my Ruger LCP ll and my Glock 42.

    April 25, 2019 4:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Yep. "Precision One" is my top choice for 380 defense. Clean, dependable, very effective... BUT... hard to find, expensive.
      Federal Hydra-Shok comes in at #2, and is my most used round.
      #3 - Any Hornady XTP,
      #4 - Fiocchi Extremist,
      #5 - Hornady Customs.

      Any of the above 5 rounds exceed 12" penetration (usually 14-16"), always expand VERY well, and they go boom every time.

      May 24, 2019 9:48 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        tom

        Precision One thru Outdoor Unlimited
        I found them thru ammograb.com

        December 31, 2019 1:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Kevin

      If you look at the Lucky Gunner trials, the Hydra-Shoks over penetrate and do not expand as well as the Hornady Critical defense or Sig V-Crown rounds . Those two were the best performers out of all of the .380 rounds tested. The Federal HSTs over penetrated with poor expansion and the Speer Gold Dots under penetrated. You must test the V-Crowns in your guns to make sure the feed properly as they have a wider cavity than the others mentioned. https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/self-defense-ammo-ballistic-tests/

      July 17, 2019 10:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    William Shaw

    what about Lehigh defense 65gr. xtreme defense rounds? it creates ballistic's close to 9mm.

    March 7, 2019 6:58 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      I love the way Lehigh's splatter on paper, so maybe their art resale value could help you recover some of their high price. They only do surface soft-tissue damage, and makes a bloody mess. Hitting a bone usually stops the bullets dead in their tracks, but not an attacker. Kinda like a 22, your attacker will probably die tomorrow, maybe.

      May 24, 2019 10:02 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gga

    The title including training ammo. Thanks for covering usable cheap stuff, but what about softer shooting rounds. My 380 is a micro 1911 and kicks like the dickens and muzzle dilutes badly with the non-extended mag. Also after a box of ammo my joints hurt.

    I really needed to train with that pistol since it is considerably different than my other Pistols (1911 style).

    So what is a soft shooting round just for training?

    BTW: that pistol is a beast to clear a jam. Most Pistols, just drop the mag and rack the slide twice. This one just seems to jam tighter. It's a Springfield 911, shoots well, but hates Federal ammo.

    March 1, 2019 6:46 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Hmm, sounds like a Springfield. If you like to clean your gun, use Fiocchi, it burns hot (fewer jams), but a bit dirty, about 20 cents per round. MagTech makes descent range ammo, at around 25 cents per round, that burns clean relative to other cheap ammo. Ammo picky or sensitive guns may not like MagTech (Sig, Mossberg, Canik), but Springfield, Glock, S&W, Taurus, seem to eat it just fine.

      May 24, 2019 10:26 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Dennis

        ...and if anybody says "Remington", it's because they hate you. Plug your ears, and run the other way!

        May 24, 2019 10:30 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Spidero

    First review I’ve seen saying Fiocchi Ammo is dirty. Most reviews mention how clean it is! I’ve used it. Cleaner than most ammo I’ve used in 9mm, 38 Special, 380 Auto, 357 Magnum.

    November 14, 2018 12:08 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Yeah, but he said 380, and he dislikes the recoil kick. I like Fiocchi in 9mm/38/357 cause it's hot, cheap, medium-clean. It still has more kick than Federal or MagTech. MagTech seems to balance recoil, reliability, and price, with a cleaner burning powder, that still works for most 380's.

      May 24, 2019 10:45 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Keith

    Buffalo Bore +P 95 grain hollow point, 1125FPS with 267 ft. lbs.

    November 10, 2018 7:27 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Killer 380 round... just to rich for my pocketbook.

      May 24, 2019 10:49 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Steve Carpenter

    Last night the wife and I were at the range. She : M&P Bodyguard, Me : Kel-Tec P3at. Rounds we fired for the first time : Hornady Critical Defense and Sig V-Crown. 1&1/2 boxes of each/each. No feed or ejection problems. The wife prefers the V-Crown due to less muzzle flip & lower recoil. For me it was a tie. At 15 feet with these non-target rated ccw pistols, we both printed 9 ring groups. Both rounds are smooth performers. Next time we will try Remington 88gr HTP, and Federal Hyra-Shok and let you know how it goes. Thank you for your advice and info.

    September 1, 2018 8:57 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Well, it's been 8 months and Steve never came back. I warned y'all about using Remington.

      May 24, 2019 10:54 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jerre Peak

    My favorite for my .380"s are Federal Hydra-Shok and Fiocchi XTP hollow point bullets.

    June 27, 2018 2:09 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sean McGroty

    Come on, why does the brain picture show a complete round flying at the brain? :)

    May 30, 2018 6:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ken Clark

      Because that's how liberls know they are smarter than the rest of us.

      September 6, 2018 9:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John Weir

    This was a good and informative article, however, I must disagree with the assumption that there isn't any hydro shock damage below 2000 fps. A look at. projectile testing in 10per cent test medium shows enlarged wound chanels at speeds well under 2000fps,

    April 24, 2018 9:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      I think Federal Hydra-Shoks do plenty of damage, even at 1000 fps, and can neutralize a threat (if the threat is not on alcohol or drugs).

      KEEP IN MIND: Ballistic gel is for testing bullet performance relative to other bullets. It does not necessarily, accurately or realistically, demonstrate the damage or effect on a human or animal target.

      An attacker's size, weight, motion/velocity, clothing, health (fat/thin, athletic with muscles, or weak puny out-of-shape wimp), will all give you bullet performance characteristics that cannot be simulated with gel.

      So... unfortunately we have to compare bullets to bullets with gel. We just couldn't get enough volunteers to do testing of bullets to bodies (and NAPCA said we couldn't use animals, NACME said we couldn't use cadavers).

      May 24, 2019 11:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Towjon

    I hope this does not duplicate prior coments that I wrote just a real thanks for well written and easy to follow believeable infro just on 380/9/45 have all know but looking at 4 kimber why? Why not. PS what do you gel is easy-most comfortable Cary for older over weight 70 yr old that’s bin carrying for many yrs and still looking around

    April 2, 2018 6:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Towjon

    Thanks a bunch just spent several hrs reading and educating my self on what gun to buy next your 9 and 45 infro is easy to read and follow I think you just might have keep me looking at another 9 over the 45 again very impressive writing style and believesble infro thanks again. TowJon

    April 2, 2018 5:49 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Buck

    No affiliate $$ kickback for Federal HST's?

    February 21, 2018 2:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      I really like them for 9mm and .40 but for .380 which I don't have a lot of experience with...I fall back to the expertise of our writer choosing the best rounds.

      February 22, 2018 10:55 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      I wish!!! Fed HST is my most used go-to defense round. I've heard Hickok45 admit Fed gives him free ammo, but he's been with them since he came off the Ark with Noah.

      May 24, 2019 11:33 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Eric

    Thanks for the article and very well written. I use the Precision One XTP bullet for my Kimber Mirco 380. I've been researching this a lot and you have some great ammo suggestions too.

    January 20, 2018 1:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      You're so welcome, fellow Eric!

      February 13, 2018 8:15 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    DEWAYNE H

    The Underwood Defender is my choice. As a retired police officer, I wish this ammo had been around when I was on the streets. Take a look at some of the videos that have been posted. I don't think you will be disappointed.

    January 16, 2018 8:30 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jack

    I use Fiocchi Extrema. A reputable ballistics test recently demonstrated that they expand and penetrate very well out of small barrels. The vast majority of. 380 ACP hollow points don't, including the majority manufactured by the most well known brands. XTP bullets seem to do the best for this caliber.

    December 12, 2017 10:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dennis

      Federal makes excellent "heavy" HST bullets specifically for very small pocket guns. It's designated as "Federal HST Micro" ammo. Gel results very similar to Hornady 9mm 147gr in a 4.6in barrel.

      May 24, 2019 11:46 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Doug Snapp

    I live in Florida...shorts and t-shirt all year... I have been shooting everything all of my young 60 years... I love my 380 because of size... I train with laser round at least 3 times a week and range 2-6 times a month pistol and mostly rifle...
    More power on a lighter gun means more recoil...and...on a very short barrel hitting your target can be very challenging...forget the stress
    Using the laser round is an inexpensive way to learn and train at home without recoil...trigger pull...and shot follow up.
    Then figure out the rounds you like the best at the range...PHYSICS don't go away...a big bullet in a tiny gun is not of much use and certainly not FUN...placement...PLACEMENT...placement...LASER ROUND practice sure opened my eyes...in a good way...thanks for all the good info PEW PEW.

    December 4, 2017 6:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Exactly, Doug!

      December 14, 2017 12:48 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    MarkWynn

    I've done my amateurish, little range tests with vaious Hornady lines, in .22WMR, .380 and .45ACP, and found them to perform as claimed. Disclaimer ... as a Lincoln, Nebraska native I've toured the Hornady facilities in Kearney. Found their development and testing programs impressive. Certainly more to ammo development than I imagined.

    December 3, 2017 8:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Pandaz3

    I use Underwood with XTP' as my go to 380, but I have Sig Gold Crown, Federal Hydro Shock, Speer Gold Dot, and Federal HST,

    For hardball I use Fiocchi, and PMC primarily but I have a few other hardball choices.

    December 3, 2017 8:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Monte Walsh

    Buffalo Bore.

    December 3, 2017 4:57 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dave

      I alternate BB and Hornady CD.
      BB is a good bone breaker but doesn't expand.

      December 4, 2017 2:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bobo

    Fiocchi Extrema (uses hornady xtp bullets)

    November 30, 2017 8:41 am
Join the community! Log in
Please provide a valid email.
Field is required.
or
Register
Please provide a valid email.
Field is required.
or
Trouble logging in?
Type your email address and we’ll send you a link to reset your password.
Please provide a valid email.
Password
Type your new password and hit button below to confirm it.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We already have an account registered for email address () which is linked to your Facebook account.
To log in type your Pew Pew Meter password below.
Field is required.
Account already exists
We noticed that you have previously logged in with your Account which is linked to the same email address () - we can link both of your accounts together.
In order to link your accounts, hit button below and log in to your Account with the same email as above.

Account in Pew Pew meter means more

Check what do you get by creating an account
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
Consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do
Sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore
pew pew tactical logo

new here?

Personalize your experience.
Select what level shooter you are!

pew pew tactical logo

level up your gun knowledge

Thanks! We'll send you the latest guides and training tips geared towards your level.

pew pew tactical logo

welcome!

You'll now receive newsletters of our best articles on techniques, guns & gear.

$47 value

yours free!

targets targets
free

practice targets

printer icon printable

our 9 favorite targets and drills

free

practice targets

printer icon printable

enter your email to download

We'll only use the information provided according to our privacy policy.

success icon

Ready to Download

Click below to begin your download

download pdf