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Old 04-25-2010, 01:18 AM   #1
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Default Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expansion

With lots of new .380 ammo showing up nowadays, especially JHP types, I'd like your opinion on what you think. I lean toward penetration with so many "monsters" showing up these days. Many with 15" thru the COM.
Used to be 9" thru COM was average but it's changing. Maybe the FBI 12"min. in gelatin is too low anymore (8"min. equiv. in wetpack).
Or do you think a bigger hole is better?
After the poll, I'll try to do an ammo rating based on several years of my wetpack tests, and the best gelatin test data available.

Go ahead and comment on your favorite ammo too.

Cheers,
og

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Old 04-25-2010, 02:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

I carry Hornady Critical Defense or something loaded with the Horndady XTP bullet(TAP or Fiocchi Extrema). I like to go to both extremes when test firing my ammo and shoot both wet paper and water jugs to verify expansion in materials of varying density. The Hornady ammo is the only type I have found that expands consistently in both materials out of the very short barreled guns. The Hornady bullets expand consistently, but not overly much allowing for a good compromise between expansion and penetration.

I've posted these here before but here they are again:
Golden Saber into water jugs:

Golden Saber into wet phone books:

My conclusion is that the short barrel is barely providing the velocity needed to allow expansion. This round performs very well in all media when fired in my wife's Bersa Thunder with the longer barrel.

Both the CD and XTP bullets perform well regardless of medium.
Critical Defense here on the right:

and Hornady TAP loaded with the XTP bullet here:

The CD's penetrated about ~8.5" in the wet paper test. The TAP bullet was fired into water jugs and completely passed through three 1-gallon jugs and dented the fourth for ~18" in water.

As always, my tests are not scientific, conclusions drawn are my own, testing was performed to satisfy my own curiosity and to have fun!

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Old 04-25-2010, 03:23 AM   #3
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

Golden Sabers will not expand out of the P3AT. Golden Loki's gel tests illustrate this http://www.goldenloki.com/ammo/gel/380acp/gel380acp.htm. His results are why I quit carrying them in my P3AT. I now carry Hornady Critical Defense because of the balance between expansion and penetration.

I always look to balance expansion and penetration but I lean more toward expansion. The reason for this is the collateral damage risk of over-penetration. I would rather have to fire multiple rounds into an assailant than be responsible for the death of an innocent person.

Now before someone objects about knowing is behind the "target" and not shooting if the background isn't clear, that only works in the realm of theory. When being attacked by a violent criminal, you are functioning at bad breath distance. There isn't time to check to see what's behind the scum. You're to busy trying to stay alive. That's why I want expansion first and foremost.

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Old 04-25-2010, 05:19 AM   #4
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

When I carried a 44 spl I believed in the bigger hole theory ... course it also had noprob with penetration.

With the P3at I'm into adequate penetration ...cuz *ya can't hurt what it can't get to.

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Old 04-25-2010, 01:59 PM   #5
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgranpa
With lots of new .380 ammo showing up nowadays, especially JHP types, I'd like your opinion on what you think. I lean toward penetration with so many "monsters" showing up these days. Many with 15" thru the COM.
Used to be 9" thru COM was average but it's changing. Maybe the FBI 12"min. in gelatin is too low anymore (8"min. equiv. in wetpack)...

Go ahead and comment on your favorite ammo too.

Cheers,
og
Hi,

Neat survey but I have to disagree with it, placement is much more important, that supposes that the round goes off, it has enough penetration to do the job, and then expansion is a nice to have. *The 380 Auto as well as the 32 ACP don't have enough power to put down a bad guy by mechanical means (break bones, such as leg, hip, etc.), that typically goes to calibers that begin with "4". *If you use a smaller caliber placement becomes all so much more important, and shots to the heart, nerve centers (head, spine, etc) become the high percentage shots. * The problem is that these are also the deepest and best protected structures in the body so penetration is very important, and then expansion.


L-R
- 380 Auto CCI/Speer 90 Gr. Gold Dots (2) out of a P3AT 48-50 caliber, penetration 10-11" Gelatin equivalent
- 32 ACP Federal 65 Gr. Hydra Shok out of a P32 49 caliber, penetration 10.5" Gelatin equivalent
- 32 ACP Hand loads 85 Gr. Hornady XTP's (3) out of a P32 46-56 caliber, penetration 12.5-13" Gelatin equivalent
- 32 ACP CCI/Speer 60 Gr. Gold Dots out of a P3AT 0.312 caliber, penetration 10.5" (bullet tumbled) Gelatin equivalent
- 380 Auto Magtech 77 Gr. SCHP First Defense out of a P3AT 36 caliber, penetration 10.5" Gelatin equivalent

Folks, none of the above rounds except the hand loads meet the 12" FBI requirement in my eyes, FMJ will meet this requirement no problems out of either 32 ACP, or 380 Auto with almost identical results. *The FBI specification is an almost military specification born out of the Miami shoot-out where several FBI agents initially used pistols against 2 armed felons, one armed with a rifle. *The perfect shot with a 9mm went through a arm and just stopped short of the heart perfectly expanded. *It was a fatal shot, but not immediately. *Two FBI agent were killed and more wounded from the bad guy after that shot. *The bullet was blamed for the mess
not bad tactics (it was an FBI 12 Gauge Shotgun that stopped the gun fight.)

I figured out several things from all of this. *The first thing is *in this sort of situation nor should we be a pocket pistol is a short range proposition no more than 7 yards. *The second thing is if you are going to be dealing with monsters (super high pain tolerance, drugs, etc) use a pistol with "4" as the first digit or be super accurate. *Third less penetration is OK as you aren't taking extreme shots like the FBI so 7 to 10" of penetration is OK. *The last thing is that in some situations quantity is a quality

I, not dealing with monsters have made the decision use *pocket pistol usually a P-32 because of the increased firepower, faster recovery for follow-on shots. Why don't I usually a P3AT? *My observation from test is that 380 hollow points do not reliably expand, and 380 FMJ over penetrates often not dumping all of its energy into the target so in my eyes 32 ACP using foreign FMJ, and the better JHP's is as good as 380 Auto. *I realize that there are those that will differ in their opinions and I respect that this is sort of a personal choice that you have to be comfortable with.

Best Regards

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Old 04-25-2010, 04:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

Priorities are...
1. *Reliability - it has to work.
2. *Shot Placement - you have to hit COM.
3. *Penetration - must be adequate although 12 inches is not required.
4. *Expansion - increases the odds of hitting something vital.

Having said that, IMHO, unless you are in the frozen north where fat guys are layered up in thermals, denim and heavy parkas, I think all to often, too much is made of penetration. *I am not the FBI. *The 12 inch standard takes into effect shooting through barriers such as car doors, glass, etc, and for the average concealed carrier, that is of little import. *I don't know too many folks who's internal organs are more than 2 or 3 inches inches under their skin. *In 380, I'm still loaded with Corbon DPX. *It runs reliably, readily penetrates 8+ inches in gel and pretty much nothing expands better - most doesn't even come close. *The fact that it was developed by Corbon pretty much exclusively using a pair of P3ATs doesn't hurt. *

I haven't carried my P32 at all lately but when I did/do, I use Fiocchi ammo with a JHP in the chamber and on top of the mag, followed by FMJ rounds under that. *This loading prevents rim lock and hedges your bet on the penetration/expansion issue. *In larger calibers, 9, 40, 45, etc, beyond reliability and quality, I don't think it makes much difference at all. *There are many choices all of which penetrate and expand well, in standard pressure rounds. *Take your pick and don't worry - be happy. *

Note: *There was no choice in the poll that really summed up my opinion so I went with. "They are equal".

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Old 04-26-2010, 08:28 PM   #7
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

Considering the limited power of any .380 coming out of a KT P3AT, I would have to vote for penetration over expansion. Mine can be finicky with ammo selection, so it is currently loaded with FMJ (Win. 95 gr. JFP), which should result in better penetration compared with JHP loads.

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Old 04-27-2010, 12:55 AM   #8
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Default Re: Latest opinion on .380 penetration v.s. expans

Thank you all very much for the replies. A basic assumption for this poll was, of course, reliable function of the ammo. And just as important, placement.

So, with those factors, lots of test data, wetpack, waterjugs, gelatin, etc. and now the excellent info in this poll, I will dare to post ratings of 380 JHP ammo brands.

I'll make a new thread and hope your comments will continue.

og

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Old 04-27-2010, 01:02 AM   #9
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Default Opinions on ratings of .380 JHP ammo

With the .380acp caliber becoming popular for both backup and sometimes primary carry, most of my test work has been with .380 ammo and pistols. Many new pistols are on the market now. New, improved ammo offerings are also available. After over 6 years of personal wetpack tests and excellent gelatin, waterjug, and other tests by others, (plus a recent poll) I decided to do a rating of JHP ammo. Various opinions exist as to whether penetration is more important or expansion. FMJ ammo is prefered by some but not included in the ratings here.

I should emphasize that the ratings are basically for pistols with barrel 2.5" and longer. Shorter barrels, like 2" that I've tested, give erratic results, both in penetration and expansion. I'm sure some will disagree, venomously!!

These ratings are only an opinion based on ammo I have tested and data from other limited sources. Your ratings may vary and not even agree with mine. The lists are in order from best to lowest rating for JHP (hollowpoint) .380 ammo. The difference between 1st and 2nd on the lists is close and could be a tie. In fact, all the penetration ratings are slightly above or close to the 12" min. gelatin requirement. The expansion ratings range from a .650" high to .450" low.

Best Penetration (with reliable expansion)
Fed HS 90 gr "PD"
Speer GD 90 gr
CorBon DPX 80gr
Win Ranger 95gr
Hornady CD 90gr *
Hornady XTP 90gr
DoubleTap 90gr
Win SXT 90gr
BB Std.Pres. 90gr
Rem GS 102gr

Best Expansion
BB Std.Pres 90gr
Rem GS 102gr
CorBon DPX 80gr **
Win Ranger 95gr
Win SXT 90gr
Hornady CD 90gr *
Speer GD 90gr
Fed HS 90gr "PD"
DoubleTap 90gr

*not tested by me and some reports of FTFire.
** some partial expansion noted.

Not Rated (poor results in my tests)
CorBon 90gr JHP
CorBon PowerBall 70gr
Win SilverTip 85gr

Your choice of ammo for selfdefense is up to you. Some prefer penetration, some expansion. So, in no way are these lists a recommendation. Reliable functioning in your pistol is a primary requirement and should be understood. And of course, your personal marksmanship and placement is up to you. We all understand that! Since without it, the ammo is wasted!!

Cheers,
og

P.S. +p ammo not included since it's not SAAMI approved!

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Old 04-27-2010, 01:32 AM   #10
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Default Re: Opinions on ratings of .380 JHP ammo

Thanks OG, once again you have confirmed my choice (Corbon DPX) and here is my logic:

Look at the top 3 rounds in both penetration and expansion. *Only DPX is there (#3) in both lists. *In fact, regarding penetration, the top two rounds (Fed HS and Speer GD0 rate very poorly in expansion, among the worst. *Regarding expansion, the top two rounds (Rem GS and BB) are dead last in penetration. *Again only Corbon DPX consistently both penetrates and expands. *The others tend to do one or the other but never both. * *

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