Opinions on .380 ammo for self defense

Discussion in 'CCW & Open Carry' started by Greg B., Nov 21, 2018.

  1. I just got a Ruger LCP .380 to be able to pocket carry when I'm wearing light clothes. Any one that carrys a .380 have any strong opinions on good self defense ammo in this caliber ? I have to admit I'm totally clueless on the subject of .380 but I'm pretty excited about carrying it.
    I just picked up a box of Sig Sauer V Crowns from Cabela's because I was there and had rewards points on my card, but I have since watched a couple of videos where they didn't expand at all.

    Has anyone seen this review by Shooting the Bull and have opinions? The Precision One 90 grain XTP was the best and Fiocchi Extrema 90 grain XTP was a close 2nd. Federal Hydra Shok and Hornady Custom XTP did well too. 3 of the 4 best were XTP bullets.
    Surprisingly, the Hornady Critical Defense ammo seemed to expand too quickly and didn't penetrate enough.

    He has since done another video where he says the Lehigh Extreme Penetrator is the best round.

    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  2. greg_r

    greg_r Lifetime Supporter

    The 380 ACP is in the top 3 of my favorite centerfire handgun rounds. The 45acp and the 38 spl being #1 and #2. Did you know the 380 is a 3/4 size 45 acp? I have 380’s chambered in KAHR, Ruger, Beretta, and (gasp) Hi Point.

    I did some testing of several different 380 rounds. Fired them into hams that I had covered with khaki work pants. From the testing, my favorite bullets for social work are the cast truncated cone and the Hornady XTP.

    The TC bullet penetrates well and has a surprising exit wound, the XTP also penetrated well, expanded well also. The others mostly either did not penetrate as well, some of them never exited the ham, or acted like a FMJ and just punched right through.

    I have no problems with the 380 for social work. My rule is that expansion is good, but gets trumped by penetration. Get the bullet to where it needs to go, expansion is a bonus.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2018
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  3. histed

    histed Supporting Member

    I always carried TC cast or Guard Dog (when I could find them). The Guard Dog is an expanding bullet that looks and shoots like a FMJ. Both shot well in my Taurus and I keep the TC loads in the Hi Point for my LOML in the house. The weight of the HiPoint lets her shoot that as well or better than her .22 EDC
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  4. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter

    I most often carry a .380 loaded with the Hornady XTP.
    On occasion a .45 and when I’m in a nostalgic mood I’ll carry my CZ-52
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  5. histed

    histed Supporting Member

    Factory Loads? I saw greg does the same. I tried handloads with XTP, but never got them to group in the .380. They work great in .38 Spcl and .45
  6. Dave4903

    Dave4903 My other car is a M60A3 Supporting Member

    I keep Hornady Critical Defense in my Beretta Pico. It seemed to do ok in the tests and was very consistent. Also, it’s always in stock at Academy stores.
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  7. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter

    Factory everything as I don’t reload.
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  8. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Most any of the modern .380 self defense ammo is going to perform well enough. Though I agree that the Lehigh seems like the best of breed, I wouldn't discount the majority of the traditional design competitors.

    Peace favor your sword,
  9. Rerun

    Rerun Member

    Accuracy first.
    Penetration over expansion any day.
    When one gets to the heart of the matter...

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  10. ajole

    ajole Supporting Member

    NE Utah
    Accuracy can be the enemy of darned effective, if you get too hung up on it.

    In a .380 pocket gun, acceptable accuracy is paper plate sized mag dumps at 7 yards, for my money. I don’t need 1 inch groups at 25 yards, especially if it decreases penetration or makes expansion go wrong.

    I use XTP, as well. But, my SIL gave me some Critical Defense FTX, that seems to work just fine, too.
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  11. SWAGA

    SWAGA No longer broke... Lifetime Supporter


    15 feet away with a 2.25 inch barrel on a pocket .380
    Anything further isn’t really self defense anyway
  12. Rachgier

    Rachgier Administrator Staff Member

    Just can't resist saying dumb shit, can you?
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  13. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Actually it could be. There's a lot of different variations to it. Heard of a case not long ago where someone shot a home intruder down his hallway beyond 35 or 40 feet.

    Peace favor your sword (mobile)
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  14. backbencher

    backbencher Supporting Member

    I would suggest FMJ in .380, based on the low energy surplus for reliable expansion. I have not seen enough gel tests to convince me that any .380 hollowpoint will reliably expand and penetrate @ least 12".
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  15. Rachgier

    Rachgier Administrator Staff Member

    If I confront someone anywhere on my property and as long as I can prove they're a threat to me, someone else, or any livestock; I can defend myself with lethal force.

    My exterior cameras now cover most of my property.

    That gives me a longest possible shot of around 75 yards, the average being about 40 yards.
  16. histed

    histed Supporting Member

    So, I'm guessin' you're not using a .380 for that, Rach?
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  17. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member


    Peace favor your sword (mobile)
  18. Rachgier

    Rachgier Administrator Staff Member

    I might. Thought about getting a tranquilizer gun for the kids though. Might give somebody a sporting chance. Birdshot from the 20ga at 75 yards shouldn't be lethal, right?
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  19. I thought the same thing ☺
  20. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    To be honest, I know guys who practice shooting in 25, 50, 75, sometimes even 100 yards with a handgun.

    Not me, though. I don't think I've ever tried shooting past about 40 or 50 yards at a human-sized target with a pistol.

    Peace favor your sword (mobile)
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