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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 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 is the best defensive ammunition for you?

    We’ve got you covered!

    Here’s the current in-stock options:

    .380 ACP Ammo in Stock

    Cost Per Round
    Free shipping
    Free shipping over $49
    90gr HP
    Free shipping over $49
    90gr JHP
    Free shipping

    Summary of Our Top Picks

    1. Most Affordable Defense Ammo

      Hornady American Gunner 90 GR XTP .380 ACP

      These come in boxes of 25 instead of 20, and the pricing usually makes these one of the cheaper, yet reliable, defense options out there.

    2. Runner-Up Self Defense Loads

      Remington 88 GR HTP .380 ACP

      Good expansion and penetration, a little more affordable

    3. Editor's Pick

      Sig Sauer 90 GR JHP V-Crown .380 ACP

      These hollowpoint rounds are reliable in both firearm operation and terminal performance.

    4. Most Affordable Target Ammo

      Prvi Partizan 94 GR FMJ .380 ACP

      PPU ammo is consistenly on the lower end of the price spectrum while remaining reliable in almost every platform.

    5. Runner-Up Target Shooting Load

      Fiocchi 95 GR FMJ .380 ACP

      Relaible, but can dirty up your gun

    6. Budget Plinking Round

      PMC Bronze 90 GR FMJ .380 ACP

      Good price, decent if you want to train or send tons of rounds downrange

    7. Best Target Ammo

      Sellier & Bellot 92 GR FMJ .380 ACP

      It isn't the cheapest range ammo, but it burns cleanly and is accurate in most guns.

    Table of Contents


    Why Should You Trust Us

    Travis Pike is an NRA-certified instructor and concealed carry trainer. Drawing on his experience as a Marine infantryman, he uses his knowledge to test and review guns, gear, and ammo for Pew Pew Tactical.

    Travis shooting Primary Arms Classic Mini Reflex Sight on Arex Delta M
    Doing what Travis does best.

    With countless hours behind pistols of all sizes, he knows what ammo works best and which ones are best for concealed carry, plinking, and training.

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

    Measuring penetration with ballistic gel

    A lead projectile will often bend, break and deform before penetrating 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. 


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

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


    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 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.  

    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
    Our Editor-in-Chief’s Sig Sauer P238.

    1. Hornady American Gunner Ammunition 90 Grain .380 ACP

    The Hornady American Gunner .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 expand gradually as it travels through the body. This ammo isn’t too expensive and is pretty common.

    Most Affordable Defense Ammo
    at Grabagun

    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

    4.96/5 (1439)

    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.

    Runner-Up Self Defense Loads
    at Palmetto State Armory

    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 V-Crown ammunition is well-built and surprisingly affordable.  

    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    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, these bad boys are better than nothing.  

    Least Recoil Defensive Round
    at Grabagun

    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 go-to picks for range ammo.

    Most Affordable Target Ammo
    at Firearms Depot

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    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.

    It is still one of the main brands I use for range ammo.

    Runner-Up Target Shooting Load
    at Grabagun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    7. PMC Bronze 90 Grain FMJ

    If you are looking for reliable ammo that runs relatively clean, PMC Bronze is a great option.

    In the current market, PMC ammo has been fairly available while remaining competitively priced.

    This is great for those who are looking to plink with solid ammo at a solid price.

    Budget Plinking Round
    at Grabagun

    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.

    Best Target Ammo
    at Grabagun

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    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.  

    Final Thoughts

    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 ammo brand? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t have one yet? Check out our article on the Best .380 Pistols: Pocket Rockets for some recommendations.

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    96 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Jimmy Dee

      What about the Gorilla Silverback? Penetration without over penetration?

      August 9, 2023 8:46 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Have you seen the “shooting the bull” gel tests? Precision One 380 is the only round that meets the FVI protocol on both penetration and expansion. You didn’t mention it. Why?

      August 7, 2023 9:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Allen

      My choice for Carry in my 380 is the WWB full metal jacket flat nose.

      August 7, 2023 9:31 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Erick Tamberg

      I abandoned HP bullets for .380 ACP after 12 years on Homicides Department. It´s not capable of penetration and expansion at same time in human tissue - not ballistic gelatin.

      The other reason is that .380 ACP pistols are designed essentially for close range. To solve a stoppage when you are covered behind a pole, with a high capacity magazine and some distance from the opponent is one situation, but at breath distance the things are different. I feel more comfortable minimizing the stoppage chances with FMJ standard ammo.

      August 4, 2023 12:15 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Peat Marsh

      I'm evaluating my new Glock 42 in .380. I was told by the gun dealer that this gun may be finicky with some ammunition. I found that WWB as a range ammo was 100% reliable without a hitch or a hiccup. The gun dealer recommended SIG Sauer Crown for a defense load. After going through several boxes, I found it to be COMPLETELY unreliable. About 90% of the time it stove piped even if it was loaded by hand right into the chamber. On the other hand, Hornady critical defense was 100 percent reliable. It wasn't as snappy as the Sig and I would describe the recoil sensation as "soft". I used several different boxes of the Sig bought at different stores at different times so I don't think it was due to a bad batch.

      July 5, 2023 10:50 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      J clay

      I have Remington 88gr HTP Jacketed hollowpoint rounds in my ruger lcp max, my edc handgun. I like these alot. My other favorite is Sig VCROWN 90gr jacketed hollow point ammo. I’ve used different rounds in .380 from underwood/Lehigh company, even the Xtreme Penetrator rounds they make that are 68gr I believe. And inaccurate compared to the sig VCROWN and Remington HTP rounds I prefer to carry in my Edc gun

      March 23, 2023 11:06 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jeff Breinling

      I carry Black Hills Honey Badger in my. 380. It is a solid copper projectile that gives the performance of a hollow point with the prenatal of a FMJ.

      March 19, 2023 4:41 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Arlan R. Allen

      Enjoyed the read thank you. A .380 is a good choice for some folks. Days when my arthritis is acting up, I leave my .40 S&W at home. And carry my 380EZ. The 380 in this platform is very pleasant to short. Sometimes I carry a Bersa 380 plus. 15+1 is a bunch in a nice sized firearm. I use 380 HST 99gr or 380 Hydra Skok Deep 99gr or 102gr Golden Saber. All function very well. Not a fan of micro pocket 380s.

      February 19, 2023 9:19 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck Cochran

      I'm a .380 fan and carried my PPK/S for 25 years. I've used Federal, Remington and Winchester, until Hornady came out with their Critical Defense load. After running it for a bit, I was sold. No malfunctions, feeds like a dream, and across a rest I could keep my groups at slightly over 1" at 25'.
      I retired my PPK to range Baby in 2018, because my old eyes had trouble making out the sights in Low Light. While I'm happy with the P365, I still enjoy shooting my PPK.

      November 22, 2022 4:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Anthony Colca

      The Hornady 90 grain xtp seems to be the best in a .380 for penetration I think fiocci uses this bullet in their hollow point ammo I have read very good reviews on this brand of ammo my every day carry gun is a glock 42 I believe with a .380 you should practice a lot and if you have to shoot an attacker aim for the head or throat area.

      November 15, 2022 8:49 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Al Lovitz

      There are two .380 Ammunition manufacturers that make excellent defensive rounds for this caliber. They are:
      - Precision One - Hollow Point
      - Federal - HST

      Both of these rounds meet the FBI Protocol for penetration. And they expand well too. My Pistol is a Beretta 84, which I've used to test .380 Ammunition. The aforementioned Ammunition are the best.

      September 23, 2022 6:46 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        I love my Beretta 84’s. Right fond of my CZ-83 as well. I like the Remington 102 gr Golden Sabres for them. Also, have you checked out the Underwood Xtreme Defender and/or the Xtreme Penetrator with the Lehigh fluted projectiles? Same principle as the Honey Badger.

        November 20, 2022 7:18 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        Agreed, HST for every caliber.

        June 16, 2023 11:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mitch Glassman

      Well written, highly informative and decidedly useful. One point worth mentioning, if not already mentioned, is that a .380 nicely fits into the pocket of a pair of pants and in an emergency, both the pants and any burning on the leg can well be secondary.

      September 10, 2022 4:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Gerald Keller

      Nice article, and some great common sense on the .380. If you can hit the target, the .380 should do the job! I would think, as you commented, that just the presence of the firearm can stop all but the most crazed individuals. Smaller more compact firearms tend to attract less attention too.

      September 3, 2022 6:21 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I reload the Sig 90 gr. V-Crown for practice but carry the Underwood 90 gr. XTP for every day.

      August 15, 2022 2:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Looking forward to trying out the new Norma 85 grain MHP

      August 15, 2022 2:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I've used hundreds of rounds of MaxxTech .380 auto, every one has gone bang in my Bersa, and a buddy's Kimber micro and LCP. Made in Bosnia, somewhat dirty, but great range ammo

      July 7, 2022 10:48 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Rod Burke

      380 ACP +p Underwood 90 grain XTP

      June 4, 2022 9:10 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        I'm likeing the extreme penetrator/denfence line. Looking forward to trying out the Norma MHP very soon.

        August 15, 2022 2:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      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

        Why would u even post this comment, when u haven't even tested the ammo?! You literally contributed nothing to the topic.

        November 30, 2022 11:58 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

        G9 also makes these fluted bullets, but they call them “external hollow points.” Everything I’ve seen makes me think that they’re THE defensive ammo for .380. (For those unfamiliar with them, they create their wound channel by cavitation, not expansion.) Lastly, the Underwood you probably want is the “Extreme DEFENDER” as the penetrator is designed to penetrate, so tends to OVERpenetrate.

        August 8, 2023 10:02 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

        .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

      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

        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

        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

        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

      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

        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
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          What most don’t realize is that the gel test came second. First the FBI found rounds with excellent street results and then fired the best into gel and saw they all penetrated between 12-18 inches and expanded to about 50% larger than they started. Rounds that penetrated less where less reliable stoppers and those that penetrated more didn’t expand enough.

          August 7, 2023 10:39 pm