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Old August 20, 2012, 08:56 AM   #1
Southern Shooter
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.380 ACP--- Alternating FMJ and JHP for CCW self-defense purposes

Two of my family members have Bersa Thunder .380 ACP pistols for concealed carry. They really like them and will not readily part with them to move up to a 9mm. So, I am trying to make sure the max capability is squeezed out of these guns.

The debate about whether the .380 ACP is sufficient for self-defense, if it gets enough penetration or expansion, etc, etc, becomes overwhelming.

Would alternating FMJ (especially flat-point FMJWin 380 95gr.jpg) and a quality JHP in the magazine be a good idea for self-defense?

Thanks
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Old August 20, 2012, 08:57 AM   #2
RedBowTies88
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Do a youtube search for TNoutsoors9. He has done extensive ammo testing with the .380 as well as other calibers anf I think you'll find the answer you're looking for.
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Old August 20, 2012, 09:19 AM   #3
ClydeFrog
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mixed bag...

A few pistoleros & CC license holders load ball or FMJ rounds & factory JHPs or "exotic"(Glaser, MagSafe, LeMas, etc) rounds not just for the .380acp but other common handgun calibers.
I, for one, do not endorse or suggest the concept.
I would suggest using a proven, well made factory load(no reloads or hand-loads for carry use) that has a decent street record.
For the .380acp, many like the Glaser Safety Slug, the "PowRball", the Winchester silvertip HP or the MagSafe frangible round.
FMJ may be the only ammo type that properly cycles or feeds in a compact .380acp. If that's the case, then just use factory made ball ammunition.

In closing, a mag full of JHPs or frangibles supported by one or two spare magazines of factory produced quality FMJs should do a .380acp owner well.

I'm not a fan of the .380acp but many gun owners/CC license holders use it.

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Old August 20, 2012, 09:46 AM   #4
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Several well done denim cloth over ballistic gel tests of Hornady Critical Defense 380ACP have shown very good results. Nearly 12 inches of penetration, near original weight retention, excellent, although not large expansion, and a surprisingly well formed stretch cavity. With all that to support it, I see no need for FMJ, or other ammunition in my LCP. Elsie, and her companion spare magazine are always filled with Hornady Critical Defense 90 gr. FTX ammunition.
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Old August 20, 2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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There are not a lot of FMJ FP options other than the Winchester White Box. I bought some but never tested it in my Bersa Thunder but I have read that it can cause FTF issues. I would look at the hard cast FP from Buffalo Bore. Regardless, in a .380 a decent meplat would be a good thing if it would feed reliably. You will have a hard time finding ammunition for a .380 that will expand and get 10" to 12" of penetration. The Hornady Critical Defense would be a good choice. I don't like the idea of alternating ammunition except in a shotgun.
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Old August 20, 2012, 10:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
You will have a hard time finding ammunition for a .380 that will expand and get 10" to 12" of penetration.
While expansion is minimal, the stretch cavity, and penetration of Critical Defense is impressive. Also the ammo is not at all hard to find.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H9M6cZGd18
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Old August 20, 2012, 10:27 AM   #7
oldgranpa
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good idea, JHP & FMJ

good idea and many do it, alternate. With marginal penetration with JHP, a FMJ may reach the CNS, spine or brain.
og
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Old August 21, 2012, 12:51 AM   #8
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I always recommend BuffaloBore's 100 gr hardcast load for the .380.

Its the hardest hitting .380 on the market (1150 fps and 294 ft-lbs of energy, thats better than you can get from any commercial 9mm Makarov round).

The hardcast is a good compromise between FMJ and JHP. This load will penetrate 23 inches of ballistic gel, but because it is lead it will deform on its way through ripping a bigger hole than a FMJ load.

The only downside is that in a LCP, the recoil can be rough, but in a Bersa it's not bad.

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=127
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Old August 21, 2012, 09:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
The only downside is that in a LCP, the recoil can be rough, but in a Bersa it's not bad
Not to mention that Buffalo Bore puts the Non-existent +P marking on the ammo. Non-existent because there is no SAAMI pressure standard for 380ACP+P In the LCP owner's manual it specifically states in bold, red font not to use +P in the LCP.
Again, companies selling over loaded ammunition with advertising hype calling it +P that is most likely harmful to most of the firearms it is used in. The old snake oil sales pitch that "My super ammunition will turn your wimpy 380 into a 9X17 Magnum". The sad part is that while some people realize that this overloaded ammo can harm their gun, and use it only sparingly as a carry round, many others will think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, shoot it all the time, and destroy a good gun. Then most likely blame the gun maker for putting out a POS pistol!!!
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Old August 21, 2012, 09:25 AM   #10
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Buffalo Bore HCFN 100gr works fine in my Thunder 380. I have a spare mag loaded up with it. I carry Buffalo Bore 95gr JHP in the gun. Hopefully I'll never need to find out if that's right or not.

If you want to alternate between FMJ and FN then I don't see any problem with it.

In addition to the Hornady and Buffalo Bore already mentioned, Corbon DPX and Winchester PDX1 have a good reputation.
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Old August 21, 2012, 11:38 AM   #11
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Cheapshooter is on a SAAMI support crusade lately.
Ruger may warn against +P in their "Little Copy Pistol", but the original, the Kel Tec P3AT is specifically approved for limited use of +P.
SAAMI is not all it is cracked up to be. I use +P+ Winchester Ranger in my 9mm, which Cheapshooter insists should not be sold by anything but a reckless manufacturer who wants to destroy my gun.
Likewise, SAAMI spec for 38spl is ludicrous, and supposedly shaped by junk Spanish revolvers from a century ago.
Buffalo Bore does not just chuck this ammo out to see what blows up.
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Old August 21, 2012, 11:44 AM   #12
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What is the purpose to alternating FMJ and HP? if you have concerns of over penetration use HP if it’s under penetration then use FMJ but by alternating are you hoping the next bullet will overcome the failure of the previous?

In SD confidence in one's equipment is very important and if you only get one shot it better be with what works.
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Old August 21, 2012, 05:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Cheapshooter is on a SAAMI support crusade lately.
Not lately, I have always believed in not exceeding accepted safe pressure levels, or even pushing the envelope to the very limit. I find it amusing that people are willing to take a chance on damaging a good gun to make it into something it isn't rather than to just buy a more powerful gun if that is what you think you need.

Quote:
the Kel Tec P3AT is specifically approved for limited use of +P.
From the Kel Tec owners manual:
Quote:
AMMUNITION: The P-3AT Pistol is designed and chambered for the .380 Auto
cartridge. Do not use any other ammuntion. The P-3AT will accept +P
ammuntion, however not with continuous use.
however not with continuous use
What is that supposed to mean? 10 rounds? 50 rounds? 100 rounds? I generally run at least 100 rounds of what ever ammunition I plan to carry through the gun to be as certain as I can that it will function. Yes, 100 rounds of the CD that I carry in my Elsie cost me about 1/3 the price of the gun. But I know it works!!! I practice often with every one of my CCW firearms. A lot with cheaper fmj, but always rotate through some of my carry ammo. So at what point does using over pressure ammo start to cause problems? I guess for a person that buys a gun, maybe shoots it a couple times, then loads it up with "super ammo" to be put in a bedside drawer, car glove box, or carried it wouldn't make much difference. But mine all get shot, and shot quite a bit.
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Old August 21, 2012, 06:40 PM   #14
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While I have not tried any +P 380 in my P3AT, I would do so, following the manufacturers recommendation for limiting its use.
I am a member of the KT Owner Group forum. Many there discuss using Buffalo Bore on their P3AT's...none have reported a problem. SAAMI specs are a yardstick, not the last word. The Ranger +P+ 9mm load is widely regarded as one of the finest loads in that caliber, and one of the most used by law enforcement...yet according to Cheapshooter, it shouldn't exist. Same with the Buffalo Bore 38spl loads. Fans of the 38spl agree that the BB 158gn SWCHP load brings the 38spl to maximum potential, which is what I want should I need to defend self and family with the possibility of one or two shots.
So far, I am satisfied with Speer Gold Dot in my P3AT.
Regarding the OP's question, I do not believe in mixing ammo in the same magazine.
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Old August 21, 2012, 10:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Quote:
yet according to Cheapshooter, it shouldn't exist.
I never said it shouldn't exist. My concern with the over pressure "super loads" is that people who are not as knowledgeable about guns will not read the limits suggested by Kel-Tec, or the warning in the owners manual of an LCP, or any other gun chambered for 380ACP. They get the idea that it's the right caliber, 380ACP, and one the shelf, so it must be OK, and why shouldn't I use the ammo that is touted to be the best, most powerful for my gun. Then when they do have a problem, it's all about how Kel-Tec, Ruger, or who ever else make lousy POS guns.
Meanwhile if a person realizes the risk, is confident whit limited use to "proof" the ammo that it functions 100%, and wants to practice with milder ammo, have at it. I just personally don't have the need to try to stretch my Elsie Pea to something it isn't. If I feel I need more power I have the option of guns in +P rated 9MM, a 40 S&W, 45 ACP, and even 10MM if that level of power is needed.
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Old August 21, 2012, 10:52 PM   #16
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But now, off the +P, +P+. +++P+++, or what ever. Back to the OP about alternating rounds. When I first got my Elsie Pea the Hornady Critical Defense wasn't out, or wasn't readily available. So at that time I did alternate between Speer gold dot, and Remington, or Winchester FMJ during the warmer months. If for some reason of deep concealment I needed to carry my LCP in cold weather I carried all FMJ. Now, after seeing and reading numerous excellent reviews and tests of the Hornady Critical Defense that is all I carry in Elsie!
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Old August 22, 2012, 05:59 AM   #17
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I don't "do" .380 but I do alternate HPs and FMJ of the same weight in Makarov, and 9mmP, as well as in my .45s. Reason being penetration of the FMJ vs the expansion of the HPs. Very old habit on my part.
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Old August 22, 2012, 07:41 AM   #18
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I agree with most, alternate if u wish...just make sure they hit the same on paper.. I found that power balls hit way different than most of the other defense loads out there.( Cor..Bon, MagSafe, Gold Dot, etc)..that's in my .380.. now my .40 and .45 are a different story.. make sure you practice...
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Old August 22, 2012, 09:02 AM   #19
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I use Speer Gold Dot in my .380 and I like it. I had once considered alternating, but if I ever go to court I will be asked to justify my ammo choice. I feel like choice would be much easier to justify than two.
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Old August 22, 2012, 09:34 AM   #20
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No reputable trainer recommends alternating rounds. It's an old debate that sounds fun on the Internet. The risk of fmj is always overpenetration. You cannot keep track of the rounds.

Just get a quality SD round and stick with it. Spend the time learning to shoot the 380 well.
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Old August 22, 2012, 12:10 PM   #21
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use of FMJs or "ball" ammunition for defense-carry pistols...

I agree with part of the last forum post, but I'd still suggest using ball or FMJ rounds in a .380acp IF that feeds or cycles 100%.
A gunfight or lethal force event is not the time to have a .380acp malfunction due to ammunition.
Ball type rounds may over-penetrate but I'd take that risk over having a semi auto pistol jam up.
I read a NRA article about popular pocket size(carry type) .380acp pistols about 2 years ago. The article T&Eed a few well known brands(Ruger, Kel-Tec, Kahr).
Many .380acp pistols had problems with JHP rounds & none really seemed very reliable IMO.

If you need to go to a second or third pistol magazine in a lethal force event, ball-FMJ ammunition may keep you in the fight.

CF
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Old August 22, 2012, 12:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
I read a NRA article about popular pocket size(carry type) .380acp pistols about 2 years ago. The article T&Eed a few well known brands(Ruger, Kel-Tec, Kahr).
Many .380acp pistols had problems with JHP rounds & none really seemed very reliable IMO.
Not seeing the article I don't know what rounds were tested, or if the guns used were well proven to function correctly with any ammo. I can only speak of my personal experience with a Ruger LCP. Over 100 rounds of Hornady Critical Defense without any failures. I also have shot about 60 rounds of Speer Gold Dot without problem. where my testing of Winchester PDX1 in 380ACP has been limited to only about 40 rounds it has also proven to be 100% reliable in my Elsie Pea. As was also experienced with 25 rounds of Remington Golden Saber.
In fact, every make, type, or design of 380ACP ammo tried have worked perfectly in this gun.
I have no connection with Hornady, and in fact only use the CD in my 380. I do believe it is the very best round in that caliber. Combining some expansion, and stretch cavity producing ballistics along with better penetration, and 100% reliability.
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Old August 22, 2012, 03:30 PM   #23
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The problem with FMJ is it is cheap ammo, and cheap ammo sucks for SD. If I could find premium FMJ, I would probably run it exclusively. All the WWB and other cheap brands are marginal in performance, and the last thing I would worry about is over penetration. If you can find some S&B hardball, you probably have something. Lawman can be good. Too much of the other stuff is loaded down to just cycling the action. I trust my reloads more than any of that stuff to get the job done when performance counts.
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Old August 22, 2012, 08:25 PM   #24
amd6547
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White box 380 shot well for me..It would be my choice if I used FMJ.
This page has some good data testing ammo through a P3AT:
http://www.goldenloki.com/ammo/gel/380acp/gel380acp.htm
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Old August 24, 2012, 12:22 PM   #25
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Here in Ohio, neither an assailant who gets shot nor his mutant relatives can collect any damages if it's a good shoot. If you shoot through your assailant and hit somebody else, they or their survivors can sue you all day long.

I've never carried FMJs from the day I got my Ohio CHL and never will.
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