View Full Version : .380 JHP question for HD

December 8, 2007, 11:57 AM
As I've been reading through the posts on Hollow-Points for Home Defense, I'm learning that it seems to be universally understood that there isn't a good reason not to use HP over FMJ in a home defense scenario.

However, when it comes to the .380ACP caliber, I'm also hearing via forums that JHP rounds have very marginal penetration from the smaller calibers (smaller than 9mm). It seems that there is a large group of people saying that FMJ is better FOR THE .380 CALIBER, because of the penetration issue.

To set up my question, understand my situation. I live in a large inner-city older neighborhood with very small, aluminum-sided houses that literally have mabye 5 or 10 feet inbetween them. I worry about over-penetration with FMJ. I have nextdoor neigbors on both sides of me that have small children in the house. My bedroom is set up so that if I have to shoot at a BG breaking in from out my bedroom door, I'm pointing directly towards the neighbor's child's bedroom (about 20 yards from my bedroom doorway). I couldn't stand the thought of shooting in the dark at the BG who just woke me up, and the bullets flying through 2 thin walls and into the house next-door.

With the real lack of confidence floating around in the 380 JHP round, yet the fear of over-penetration with a potential missed shot, I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. What are the opinions of this forum?

December 8, 2007, 12:24 PM
I'll let others deal with the ammunition debate, but I'll offer one practical suggestion: put a piece of heavy furniture against that wall. Preferably a dresser full of clothing, or a bookcase literally jammed with books. Since you know that's the most likely direction in which you will be firing, it makes sense to beef up the wall as much as you can -- regardless of which ammunition type you select.


December 8, 2007, 12:39 PM
The owner of my favorite gun shop owns a Kel-Tec P3AT and loads it with Glaser safety slugs blue. Look these up. He likes the fragmentation of them and they will also not penetrate the walls and injure innocent people.

December 8, 2007, 08:58 PM
The Glaser slugs in a semi-auto could be a very sweet solution in the thin wall scenario. The problem is that some semi-autos can be very finicky as to what they will or will not feed. Glasers seem to cost over a buck a round. If you are willing to feed enough through your pistol of choice to make you feel confidant that the gun will go bang every time, go for it.

Option 2 of course would be to buy a cheap reliable .38 special revolver and load it with whatever you want.

December 8, 2007, 09:15 PM
If you are worried about a .380 JHP not penetrating enough (and you should be), the Glaser round is much, much worse. They don't penetrate nearly far enough to reliably get the job done.

Beefing up the walls in critical areas with large bookshelves and the like is a hell of a good idea. That, and always following the safety rule about being sure of your target and what is beyond, are probably your best bets.

It stinks that we have to account for evey shot and worry about this stuff while the criminals will just blaze away, backstop be damned, but them's the breaks I guess.

December 8, 2007, 10:11 PM
check out http://www.theboxotruth.com and it makes sense, not enough velocity in the little fella's to get get any expansion and not enough depth to guarentee internal damage to bad guys...stick with ball, when i use my p3at i use ball only. i'm even wondering about 9mm still using jhp.

December 8, 2007, 11:23 PM
with a .380 i would not worry about penetrating the house next door maybe the next room but not another house.

December 9, 2007, 09:07 PM
Another vote for Glaser Safety Slugs. I'd try the silver/grey tipped ones made for law enforcement. They are made with larger shot pressed into the prefrag block for more penetration than the blue tipped variety.

Check out Box o' Truth and see how many sheets of gypsum wallboard are penetrated, and ask yourself how much energy it would take to penetrate that far. Then decide if you feel that humans are easier or harder to penetrate to an adequate depth.

The answer for me and the Federal Air Marshalls is that this stuff has limited penetration on solid objects and I wouldn't hesitate to defend my life with them. YMMV. For me, I don't use them because they cost three bucks (or more) per round where I live, and I would want to practice a bit more than that would allow. At in-house distances, this may not be an excessive problem. I WOULD be sure that an automatic will function to an acceptable degree with these. (Perhaps you might like to join us revolver types.)

Pax is right on the mark with the heavy furniture in your target background, no matter what you choose.


December 9, 2007, 10:00 PM
The answer for me and the Federal Air Marshalls is that this stuff has limited penetration on solid objects and I wouldn't hesitate to defend my life with them. YMMV.

I don't believe that Federal Air Marshalls have used them for quite some time...once they figured out that a random "miss" will not bring down a jetliner due to "explosive decompression" a la Hollywood movies...

I was a believer in frangible rounds (MagSafe and Glaser) quite a number of years ago, but their high cost, cycling issues in otherwise reliable pistols and dubious penetration took them out of the picture for me. Three strikes, you're out.

December 13, 2007, 08:07 PM
If you choose to use a .380 (or any other caliber) with hollow points, and the hollow points don't expand, what do you have? You have non-expanding JHPs. Or, rather, you have ball ammo with a hole in the end.

My .380 shoots JHPs just fine. It shoots ball ammo just fine. If the choice is between JHPs that might open up and function as designed, but if not simply emulate ball ammo, or ball ammo that absolutely can't be other than ball ammo, I'm picking the JHPs.

December 14, 2007, 05:14 AM
You could always go to a .32, that won't penetrate two walls.

Actually a shotgun would be a good HD weapon. It won't go through two walls and saves you moving all that heavy furniture.

fat old gun nut
December 21, 2007, 08:41 PM
If i had what you have i would use the .380 for CCW (I do) and the 20 gauge for home protection. If you use #4 shot it will stay in your home and make a wound large enough to stop your intruder + you have two more shots if necessary. Another + is you don't have to aim point shooting is accepted by all!

michael t
December 22, 2007, 06:02 PM
All 5 of my 380's are loaded with Corbon DPX or Corbon 90grHP Depends on my Corbon supply at the time. 380 ball or Glasers are not good SD rounds.

December 24, 2007, 10:43 PM
I like Corbon or Speer Golddots for jhp .380. They both perform well for .380 loads.

December 27, 2007, 01:12 AM
Plus one on the shotgun. No handgun will come close to the short range stopping power of buckshot. I carry my pistols away from the house but the shotgun is still the king of HD weaponry. If you are patient you can find a good solid pump for $100-$200 used or catch one on sale for a little more. Just be sure to spend some time shooting it at clays or at paper to familiarize yourself with it. I mostly use birdshot for my "practice" sessions with some buck mixed in. Good HD and for not much money.

January 2, 2008, 01:55 PM
If you choose to use a .380 (or any other caliber) with hollow points, and the hollow points don't expand, what do you have? You have non-expanding JHPs. Or, rather, you have ball ammo with a hole in the end.

You are missing a major point. The problem with the .380 HP is when it does expand. Every test I've seen conducted with 10% ballistic gelatin shows minimal penetration (about half of the depth specified by the FBI) after the slug expands.

I have a Kel-Tec .380 that was a backup gun. I finally dumped in in favor of a S&W .38 (for backup only) because the .380 ACP just won't penetrate after expansion. FWIW, while I was carrying the P3AT, it was loaded with FMJ ammo.

Oh, and for those considering the Glaser....Oldbillthunderchief is correct. If it fragments as designed, you would be really looking at minimal penetration with those. The only good thing I've seen concerning the Glaser "Silver" is that they are better than the Glaser "Blue."

I understand that the OP is concerned about shooting a a neighbor - but assuming he hits his intended target, he needs to have a round that will penetrate to the BG's vital organs. I would recommend:

1. A more effective round than a .380
2. Lots of practice
3. Using the furniture recommended by Pax

January 2, 2008, 02:38 PM
I'll join the choir that says better than a .380 for home defense makes sense. The .380 is marginal at best, good for backup or pocket wear. You'd be better off with a .38 special,
a well proven cartridge.

I also used to think the shotgun was best for HD but there's several factors to consider, the noise indoors will be intense, maybe disorienting and perhaps deafening for a while. Also the flash from a short barrel can do the same for your eyes. The pellet spread at close range isn't what most people think either and missing is entirely possible. That said, it ranks quite highly in the intimidation factor.

January 2, 2008, 03:56 PM
My AMT backup 380 is reliable with fmj but less so with hp ammo. With a 380 I prefer fmj anyway.
Any 380 would not be my weapon of choice for inhome protection. I would prefer a larger caliber but that doesn't answer your over penatration worries. Maybe a 12 ga with buckshot would be a better solution.

January 5, 2008, 11:23 PM
Mr. Young -

If you are limited to a .380ACP, then I'd recommend Buffalo Bore (http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#380)'s ammunition.

Their hard-cast lead Flat Nose 100 gr round clocks out of a Colt Mustang Pocketlite like mine at about 1070 ft/sec. It won't make a large hole, but it should go deep enough to stop.

YMMV one hell of a lot,

Shawn Dodson
January 9, 2008, 12:10 PM
Glaser fragments in flesh NOT dry wall. Glaser is inappropriate ammunition if one desires reduced wall penetration in case of an errant shot.

My wife's defense pistol is a Beretta 85, which has a 3.8" barrel. Tests I conducted with ordnance gelatin showed the Hornady 90gr XTP cartridge to just barely penetrate 11" average in bare gelatin. It seemed to reliably expand and penetrate when tested against denim covered gelatin. The bullet achieved 1000 fps from this pistol. All other loads (at the time) either underpenetrated or failed to expand when tested against denim covered gelatin.

I'm unaware of any .380 load that reliably expands when fired from shorter barrel pistols, nor am I aware of any other load that achieves adequate penetration when the bullet expands.

45Marlin carbine
January 9, 2008, 01:16 PM
maybe keep a JHP in the chamber or first in the mag. then FMJ. despite claims to the contrary betch'a won't need more than one well placed shot.

Bill DeShivs
January 11, 2008, 03:07 AM
The FBI's "recommended penetration" depth takes into account shooting someone in their outstretched arm, as if they were aiming a gun at you, and still hitting a vital organ. It's strange that so many perpetrators were stopped with "inadequate" penetration before this study. Perhaps the bad guys didn't read it.....
Expanding ammunition put the lesser calibers on the map as defense cartridges many years ago. They generally work.
I can not understand why this one "study" is touted so highly by the Internet commandos.
If you happen to hit a bad guy in the outstretched arm, he isn't aware of the FBI's recommendation, he doesn't feel pain, he still has enough muscle control to fire his gun, he hasn't already turned and run away, and is insanely determined to keep coming you might need all that penetration.
Or not.

Rifleman 173
January 11, 2008, 05:41 AM
I'd do two things. #1. I would move. I would get a place where I didn't have to worry about shooting through thin walls and maybe striking another person. #2. I would step up to more effective firearms for home defense or personal protection. The .380 guns are nice and better than nothing for personal protection but I would want to use something better to help increase my survival chances.

When I made the move, I would take a long and hard look at how I wanted to be situated in the next apartment building or house. I would also look at the design of the building in that I would look to see if there were brick walls or other design features that would stop stray fire coming at me or going away from me. One thing that nobody tends to think about is that there could be ANOTHER gun owner right down the hallway and if he/she got into a desparate situation then THEIR SHOTS could be coming at you too. So you want to think about YOUR shots and possible OTHER shots coming at you. I would also check out things like exterior night lighting in the common areas of my building and all around the outside at night or for foggy days. I would check the parking situation and access options for moving heavy items in and out of my chosen building and in case of emergency situations. I would check for possible flooding scenarios and whether I want to live higher up in my chosen building or on or below the ground level.

Remember forethought or thinking ahead is the best remedy for defeating possible trouble before it even starts to happen.