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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi everyone,

I wanted to pass along some information regarding rounds of ammo and my personal research into finding an accurate round for carrying.

So I shot all the name brands, you can look at the other posts I started about +p ammo etc. and others giving their input.

Recently, I decided to reload for the .380, because good (Underwood) defensive ammo is expensive; I reload for five different calipers at the moment. I went to Kenmore Range in Bothell, WA. At 50 yards, much of the ammo I was shooting was off the paper. I could not tell where I was shooting. Some of my reloads as well, 115 grain full metal jacket round nose, did not do well. Not sure if they were too heavy or what???

Then I shot the defensive round I reloaded. I did extensive research on what grain bullet, length, and powder. All of these rounds were on paper at the same distance. Here is my formula:

90 grain XTP bullets at .970 oal with 4.2 gn of CFE powder

I now have an accurate, easy to carry, defensive weapon for my use.
 

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Its late so bear with me.
If I were going to shoot a 380 at long range, I would use lighter bullets that move faster and shoot flatter. 115 is probably way too heavy for the job. On top of that 115 might not be properly stabilized in a 380 barrel (twist rates matter). 115 is 20% heavier than 90 roughly... It seems like just a few grains but it is significant. You also have to seat them deeper and it gets complicated. Destabalized bullets have merits at close range, but its not accurate for long shots. Flipping end over end is better than a JHP.

The load data for 380s is notoriously weak and "safe" even in fairly junky pistols like pot metal 1970s stuff. You can beef it up a little bit for defensive rounds in a quality modern pistol. YMMV and do it safely, but you can bump it up to Makarov levels safely in most guns. Your load looks good 'at a glance' and is probably on par with commercial ammo.

I went the other direction. With the bumper crop of tiny 9mms, I load a 9mm +P with a gold dot 380 projectile.

You should be able to hit a standard full sized torso target at 50 with a p3at. You can make a 2-3 inch group at 50 with a good 1911, after all. And 45 acp is like lobbing a brick ... I think both rounds would be in the 3-5 inch drop at 50 depending on the load data etc but ballpark, they are probably pretty similar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Here is a map of the range. http://www.wcwinc.org/range/layout.htm I am not a member, so I have to use their regular pistol range.

From their website, "We have a professional rangemaster supervising the shooting activity during our public shooting hours, keeping everyone safe and on the target. This is a target range and we require a basic skill level...which is to be able to place all your rounds on a 2'x2' target. The rangemaster will help those willing to learn; the rest we send away."

Even if it was setup at 25 yards. I was not on paper with consistency with every round except my defensive load; the reload data that I gave above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its late so bear with me.

I am not necessarily trying to shoot long distance with this gun. But I do want an accurate and potent .380 defensive round. I guess I can try to bump up the powder a tiny bit. I am going to need to put some sandpaper grips on though.

I am just going to use the 115 grains in my 9mm. Thanks for the reply and info.
 

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The average factory .380 load in any of the common weights and profiles is easily capable of putting rounds on target with even a 2" barrel, if fired using a ransom rest. The problem with accuracy at 25 or more yards is the short sight radius, the miniscule sights, the small size and weight of the pistol, and the DAO long and relatively heavy trigger on the P3AT. Heavier than normal bullets, and exceedingly light bullets may have problems stabilizing, and be inaccurate. I find it interesting that you could so easily conjour up a personal load that is so much more accurate in a mouse gun as compared to standard factory fodder. Especially if it hits to POA. Most loads in these small pistols will require walking the rounds onto the target at longer ranges and learning where to hold off for hits on target.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
I find it interesting that you could so easily conjour up a personal load that is so much more accurate in a mouse gun as compared to standard factory fodder. Especially if it hits to POA. Most loads in these small pistols will require walking the rounds onto the target at longer ranges and learning where to hold off for hits on target.

Underwood ammo is my favorite "commercial" ammo maker. Most of the rounds I make are typically trying to copy those. For instance, if you look at this, https://www.underwoodammo.com/380-acp/ then look under all the different bullet weights, Underwood is using the 90 grain XTP and is getting Muzzle Velocity: 1025 fps
Muzzle Energy: 210 ft. lbs.

I look at the load data for the powder (online), bullet (online, paper that comes with it, or book) and Lee die manufacturer suggestions that come with. For example, I went here, http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/pistol looked at the charge range 3.7-4.2 gn, compared it to the bullet manufacturer data and my Lee die set and just lucked out with a super accurate defensive round.

Same thing happened with my 10mm my first try at cheap plinking ammo, is more accurate than cheap commercially stuff. It was the 10mm that got me into loading in the first place. I own many pistols, but only load using three different dies.

It was not all luck but not very hard either. I re-load and shoot a lot, as much as I can.

 

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I'm going to start reloading 380 soon as I already reload for 9mm. I have found that most 380, 9mm and 38acp/super have barrel twist rates of 1 in 16”. 90gr to 147gr bullets should stabilize fine in any of those barrels, though you won't be able to use anything heaver than 115gr in a 380. I intend to load practice 380 rounds with a tc 107gr lead bullet if I can get the oal of the cartridge to work otherwise I'll use a round-nose 90gr.
 

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If their 50 yds away shooting . I going to find a way out or hide . I am not going to engage with my 380 KelTec . Be just as well off throwing my 6" blade Cold Steel folder .

If I had my Commander 9 or 45 maybe . More grip better trigger and longer barrel /sight plane . Plus I have shot at 50 yds with them
 

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Come on MT. I shot at a crow with a KT .32 at a good 100 yards several years ago. No, I didn't hit him but I did make him fly. Probably from the sound of it since I have no idea where the shot landed.
 

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I started reloading the .380 a few years back when the ammo disappeared from the shelves. Since it's available now (although not as cheap as it used to be), I have not loaded a .380 round for a while now. Really hate dealing with those little cases.

I'd have to consult my notes, but one of the last batches I loaded was with 100 gr RNL loaded to the max book load of Bullseye. They were fine in the Bersa, but no fun at all to shoot in the P3AT. No need to shoot loads that hot in that little pistol, especially when they're just practice rounds. Very similar to shooting Buffalo Bore in it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
If their 50 yds away shooting . I going to find a way out or hide . I am not going to engage with my 380 KelTec . Be just as well off throwing my 6" blade Cold Steel folder .



If I had my Commander 9 or 45 maybe . More grip better trigger and longer barrel /sight plane . Plus I have shot at 50 yds with them

I think you, and some others in this thread, are missing the point (no pun intended).

I know what the .380 round is made for. My goal, is to create the most accurate defensive rounds for everything I shoot. If I can hit a target at a greater distance, I most likely have a better chance of hitting someone at shorter distances too, and with arguably more force. After all, in my opinion, for a defensive round, having the most usable force possible, on the target repeatably, combined with a great performing bullet is the goal (I am sure someone will argue).

You can start another thread about what caliber and gun/weapon system you would use to defend yourself at certain distances if you want, would probably be a popular thread. But that was not the intention of this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm going to start reloading 380 soon as I already reload for 9mm. I have found that most 380, 9mm and 38acp/super have barrel twist rates of 1 in 16”. 90gr to 147gr bullets should stabilize fine in any of those barrels, though you won't be able to use anything heaver than 115gr in a 380. I intend to load practice 380 rounds with a tc 107gr lead bullet if I can get the oal of the cartridge to work otherwise I'll use a round-nose 90gr.

Nice!! Please let me know the results of your 107 gr.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I started reloading the .380 a few years back when the ammo disappeared from the shelves. Since it's available now (although not as cheap as it used to be), I have not loaded a .380 round for a while now. Really hate dealing with those little cases.

I'd have to consult my notes, but one of the last batches I loaded was with 100 gr RNL loaded to the max book load of Bullseye. They were fine in the Bersa, but no fun at all to shoot in the P3AT. No need to shoot loads that hot in that little pistol, especially when they're just practice rounds. Very similar to shooting Buffalo Bore in it.

I am sure you will agree, commercial practice rounds are cheap, good and accurate defensive rounds are not. Which is the main reason I started reloading the .380.

I can reload a defensive round, that I carry everyday, as cheap or cheaper than commercial stuff. Biggest plus is that it is cheap enough to practice with. For me that is everything, makes me feel more competent when concealing.

I agree, shooting super hot rounds in P-3AT are waste of time. Which is why I wanted to share my data. Thanks for sharing yours. If I get a good price on some 100 gn RNJ I might try that round for penetration.
 

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Agreed. In the end I settled on Hornady Critical Defense for my carry load- I have not shot hundreds of them, but enough that I am comfortable with them for carry.

I did go digging for my notes and was not able to find all the .380 testing I did- I recall testing 90 gr XTP with Bullseye, AA#2, and Unique- can't find the data for the last two powders, but with 3.4 Bullseye the 90 XTP averaged 1019 fps from the P3AT, with 208 ft/lbs.

In comparison, the Hornady Critical Defense was noticeably softer to shoot, and averaged 901 fps and 162 ft/lbs.

Still, I went with the Hornady because of tests I have seen/read about that bullet's performance vs. many reports of the XTP not expanding at all. I have not seen that to be the case using the 240 .44 XTP in a .44 Mag on deer (Bang-flop, all of them and about a 1" exit hole) but this is a whole different thing!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Agreed. In the end I settled on Hornady Critical Defense for my carry load- I have not shot hundreds of them, but enough that I am comfortable with them for carry.

I did go digging for my notes and was not able to find all the .380 testing I did- I recall testing 90 gr XTP with Bullseye, AA#2, and Unique- can't find the data for the last two powders, but with 3.4 Bullseye the 90 XTP averaged 1019 fps from the P3AT, with 208 ft/lbs.

In comparison, the Hornady Critical Defense was noticeably softer to shoot, and averaged 901 fps and 162 ft/lbs.

Still, I went with the Hornady because of tests I have seen/read about that bullet's performance vs. many reports of the XTP not expanding at all. I have not seen that to be the case using the 240 .44 XTP in a .44 Mag on deer (Bang-flop, all of them and about a 1" exit hole) but this is a whole different thing!
I have reviewed tests with four layers of heavy denim and some of the rounds not expanding the XTP. Was going to try some Nosler (brand I load my .40 with) and also Gold Dots to see if They are as accurate.
 
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