Ammunition Upgrade

Not too many decades ago there was but a single JHP load for the .380. It was loaded to high velocity and the bullet — pretty as it was — would expand perfectly if placed on a hard surface and struck with a 3-lb. ball peen hammer. From the standard-sized pistols of the day, it didn’t fare so well.

I wondered if current .380 loads would perform as intended from the 2.7" of the 911, or if they’d pencil on through organic matter like an FMJ. On the average, the loads on hand lost 116 fps in comparison with the 3.6" barrel of my Walther PPK. My assortment of 90-gr. JHP loads — SIG Elite, Hornady Critical Defense and the Hornady American Gunner (XTP) — averaged around 920 fps. The Black Hills and Fiocchi loads both launched the 90 gr. XTP to 840+ fps.

A quick and dirty protocol involves shooting into raw meat and observing expansion. I shot several bullets from my ammo assortment through beef slabs thick enough to bring them to full expansion and caught them in water jugs set behind. All of them worked consistently — pretty much like the pictures on the boxes suggested.