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Best .380 Ammo [2021]: Self-Defense & Target Practice

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.

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


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, its weight, the velocity it reaches, and it’s projectile type.  A lead projectile will often bend, break and deform before it can penetrate deep enough to cause serious harm.  The same goes for a round that is too light and too slow.  

You want a round that can penetrate 12 to 18 inches of 10% ballistic gel.  You’ll need to find a test that utilizes a firearm with a similar length barrel to the weapon you intend to carry.  

Ammo penetration test
A penetration test will look something like this.


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.  

When researching expansion you should know a .380 is a .35 caliber projectile.  Most ammunition tests measures expansion in inches.  So anything over .35 is measured expansion.  

Hornady Critical Defense 380 Ammo Before and After Expansion
Hornady Critical Defense .380 Ammo Before and After Expansion


Reliability refers to the round’s ability to reliably expand and reliably penetrate.  During research, if you see tests with conflicting data or tests where only 3 out of 5 rounds penetrate at least 12 inches or fail to expand reliably that is something to consider.  The reliability factor also applies to the round’s reliability to 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 reliably 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.  Stay away from FMJ rounds since they do penetrate, but often penetrate way too much.  They also will not expand in any way.  

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 rounds 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.  They are very small with short barrels.  A large pocket pistol like the Glock 42 only has a barrel length of 3.25 inches.

Glock 42
Glock 42

Commonly these pocket pistols will have a barrel under 3 inches.  This affects the velocity of a projectile, as does the projectile’s weight.  When searching for the best .380 Defensive ammo you need to find a good 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.  The rounds also meet a high enough velocity to expand.  The lighter 77 grain and even 50-grain rounds are fast but often fail to penetrate.  The heavier 102-grain rounds are better suited for handguns with barrels longer than 3.5 inches like the Beretta Cheetah and CZ 83.  

CZ 83
CZ 83

The Goal of Defensive Ammo

Defensive ammunition is purpose-built to shoot people, animals, and the occasional overtly aggressive watermelons that are trying to cause you harm.  

As a civilian concealed carrier or home defender, your goal in any defensive situation is to end the threat.  It’s not a matter of shooting to kill, or shooting to wound, you shoot to end the threat.  I tell people all the time if you shoot an attacker and all it does is graze them and they run away, you’ve stopped the threat.  

So if your goal is to stop a threat, your ammunition’s goal is to be capable enough to stop the threat as well.  

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.  

Women with handgun in purse
This is the wrong soccer mom to threaten.

Next, we have pain compliance.  Pain is subjective to the person being shot.  The difference in pain tolerance has an effect on ending the threat.  So does the location of the gunshot wound and the presence of drugs and alcohol in the body.  

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

Now, when I say 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.  The projectile size that matters, in this case, is how big the round expands after it hits the body.  Blood loss can often take several seconds to several minutes, so it’s not the quickest means to end a threat.  

Lastly, the most effective means of stopping an attacker is through trauma to the central nervous system.  This 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, the brain, and brain stem. 

Gun shot to brain diagram
Basically how a shot to the head works.

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.

This is all important when it comes to ammunition selection for any handgun.  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.

Carrying pistol concealed
Otherwise, what’s the point of carrying this around?

Legends and Myths

There are a lot of myths and legends regarding pistol ammunition.  People who believe these myths will often use them to discourage the use of .380 ACP and even 9mm.  These myths are quite popular, so to help you sort through the bull mess we’ll go over the biggest two.

Movie pistol
Anything Goes in Hollywood

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.  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 vital enough to incapacitate.  Shot placement and penetration are the key to stopping an attacker.  A miss with a .45 is still a miss, and 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.  Very few handguns can achieve a speed of over 2,000 feet per second and .380 ACP rounds certainly can’t.  

Best .380 Ammo

While I won’t name one round to rule them all, I can make some suggestions based on my personal research into an effective round for my SIG p238.  For reference, this weapon sports a 2.7-inch barrel.  

SIG P238
SIG P238

Let’s start with .380 Defensive Ammo

1. Hornady Custom Ammunition 90 Grain .380 ACP

The Hornady Custom .380 ACP features their XTP projectile that penetrates very well.  This projectile is really the key to this ammunition’s success.  It penetrates and has controlled expansion to allow the round to gradually expand as it travels through the body.  The rounds aren’t too expensive and are pretty common.  

Best .380 Defensive Round
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take on Hornady’s defensive .380 round?

Readers' Ratings

4.92/5 (692)

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 at less than 50 cents a round.  The round is a solid performer that penetrates and even expands to an impressive degree.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.  

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

4. Liberty Defense 50 Grain

If you are recoil sensitive, then the Liberty Defense 50 grain rounds are comfortable, but you should know they are poor penetrators.  But if you can’t handle the recoil from a traditional round then these bad boys are better than nothing.  

Least Recoil Defensive Round
at Natchez Shooters Supplies

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Now let’s move onto Target Ammo Suggestions.

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 .303Brit 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.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

6. Fiocchi 95 Grain FMJ

I’ve never had a problem with Fiocchi, every round has gone bang like it should.

However – it is some of the dirtiest ammo I’ve used.  After 200 rounds of their 9mm my slide starts to stick and 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.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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.

at Lucky Gunner

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Getting the Right Round

There is strength in community, and the gun community is no different.  I’ve listed what I think is important to consider when choosing ammunition, but I’d love to hear what you think.  

Need more ammo reviews or recommendations? From .22lr to 5.56mm We Got You Covered.

Do you consider other factors when choosing defensive ammunition?  Do you have suggestions for .380 ACP defensive loads from companies?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t have one yet…check out Best .380 Pistols: Pocket Rockets.

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64 Leave a Reply

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
    • TT

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

      February 25, 2021 11:23 pm
    • 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
  • 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
    • 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
      • Shannon Baker

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

        February 11, 2021 8:34 pm
    • 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
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Ronna

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

    March 14, 2020 12:29 pm
  • 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
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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
    • 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
      • 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
  • 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
    • 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
      • tom

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

        December 31, 2019 1:55 pm
    • 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
  • William Shaw

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

    March 7, 2019 6:58 pm
    • 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
  • 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
    • 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
      • 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
  • 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
    • 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
  • Keith

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

    November 10, 2018 7:27 am
    • Dennis

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

      May 24, 2019 10:49 am
  • 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
    • 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
  • Jerre Peak

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

    June 27, 2018 2:09 pm
  • Sean McGroty

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

    May 30, 2018 6:33 pm
    • Ken Clark

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

      September 6, 2018 9:29 pm
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Buck

    No affiliate $$ kickback for Federal HST's?

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

      You're so welcome, fellow Eric!

      February 13, 2018 8:15 pm

    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
  • 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
    • 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
  • 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
    • Eric Hung

      Exactly, Doug!

      December 14, 2017 12:48 pm
  • 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
  • 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
  • Monte Walsh

    Buffalo Bore.

    December 3, 2017 4:57 pm
    • Dave

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

      December 4, 2017 2:13 am
  • Bobo

    Fiocchi Extrema (uses hornady xtp bullets)

    November 30, 2017 8:41 am