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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I'm eager to try out my new Fort Smith PPK and was wondering if anyone here has a preference for the best overall .380 ammo in terms of price/accuracy/reliability/self defense.
 

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I don't have a specific recommendation, but I'm curious to know if your manual provides any reference to bullet weight or the pistol's "zero range" (where path of bullet initially intersects point of aim.) It might not contain these references, as manuals have varied over time on such details.

The German/English/Spanish(?) language Ulm manual that came with my 1980 Ulm/IA .380 PPK does not cite bullet weight, but does indicate (page 6) a "zero range" of 25 meters. (That said, the test target firing range indicates 15 meters.)

The manual that came with my 1986 Ranger/IA .380 PPK does cite (page 4) a bullet weight/type of bullet as 95 gr FMJ but does not cite a "zero range." The test target indicates 15 meters.

Another, English only, Ulm manual I have contains no references to bullet weight or zero range.
 

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The best self defense ammo seems to be Hornady custom 90 grain XTP.

I also like the Gold Dot 90 Grain GDHP but the Hornady XTP has had the most consistent performance reviews in terms of penetration and expansion.

The Ft Smith feeds this ammo well. I have the Ft. Smith PPK/S and have not had any feeding issues with these ammos.
 

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Good ammo both feeds well and properly cycles the pistol. A round that feeds well still might not cycle the pistol. This will show up after couple (plus or minus) rounds based also upon amount of lube and and how clean the pistol.
 

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All of the above, and Federal HST also.

I've finished collecting...336 .380 rounds of varying types, firearms and their FPS, penetration, and expansion results from 13 sources.

I haven't run machine learning on them (soon!) but I can share a sneak preview … if you're using a .380 with a barrel longer than 3", just pick any 'ordinary' JHP round and it'll work.

By 'ordinary' I mean not the super-light 50-70gr rounds.

If you'd selected a sub-3" barrel the choice gets much more challenging.

Lastly the PPK(/S) has, among the tests I found, the second best average power factor (grains*FPS/1000) only to the Makarov and it's 3.7" barrel, and better than the S&W EZ380 and it's 3.7" barrel and also the Bersa Thunder.

tl;dr: Go for it, you have a good gun.
 

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My next trip to the range with my "new" Ranger PPK, I'm going to find some 95 gr FMJ with 955 fps muzzle velocity. That's what the manual recommends (page 4), so that will be my start point for this "new" pistol. I'll google those ammo specs and go from there.
 

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I’ve run just about every major brand of defense ammunition through my S&W PPK/S, and the only brand that has failed to feed was the Winchester 95 Gr JHP. My EDC is the Hornady 90 Gr XTP JHP.
 

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For target ammo, I've had the best luck with Winchester 95 GR flat nose. For defense, Remington 102 Gr Golden Sabre worked ok but I'm looking at other options now as that is a bit exotic and I'm not sure it's even still in production (not listed on Remington site).

For some seriously cheap and sketchy ammo that runs well, there is LAX 90GR XTP JHP. Does it work reliably? Yes. Is it accurate? Not even slightly. Would I trust it to have the correct balance of expansion and penetration, hell no. I have some 95 Gr Winchester White Box JHP coming in the mail, hopefully that works well with my PPK/S. Allegedly it's one of the better .380 JHP's out there despite being a fairly cheap option.


Edit: Tried the 95Gr Winchester JHP, works great (100 rounds, 0 malfunctions) and has the same point of impact as the 95Gr Winchester flatnose I practice with. This will be my carry ammo.
 

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Winchester USA brand fmj
Also I recommend polishing the feed ramp I was having issue with feeding rounds and had it sent to gunshooter enterprise and it came back reliable enough to carry they have a tuneup for ppk/s
Mines from inter arms made in mid to late 80s
 

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In 380 i was using winchester sxz flat nose. I bought some remington 88 grain jhp they feed ok and cheap enough to shoot. I doubt it will expand but seem to feed great. Jhp’s in 380 are iffy at best and if they expand penetration is poor. I rather have it penetrate deep enough to get in deep and punch a hole in target. Penetration may get you sued but under penetration will get you killed. ( Martin Fackler MD)
 

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"Penetration may get you sued but under penetration will get you killed."

I wonder how many bystanders have been hit by misses vs over penetration.
 

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Jhp’s in 380 are iffy at best and if they expand penetration is poor.
This is utter garbage. Ok, it’s true if you buy some microscopic pistol with a sub-3” barrel and proceed to blame the cartridge. If you elect a Little Cra**y Pistol, use FMJ or as STB410 demonstrated, the FTX round with minimal expansion.

For PPK(/S) or G42 or any other .380 with a barrel kinda similar to most “subcompact” 9/40/45 iron, the quoted statement is 100% false. However, don’t mistake .380 for a service pistol.
 

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This is utter garbage. Ok, it’s true if you buy some microscopic pistol with a sub-3” barrel and proceed to blame the cartridge. If you elect a Little Cra**y Pistol, use FMJ or as STB410 demonstrated, the FTX round with minimal expansion.

For PPK(/S) or G42 or any other .380 with a barrel kinda similar to most “subcompact” 9/40/45 iron, the quoted statement is 100% false. However, don’t mistake .380 for a service pistol.
Hello No.6, What is the testing protocol you use in your endeavor? Have you published your .380acp results on this forum or anywhere else?
 

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N0.6 garbage ah no! you are entitled to your opinion. Jimmo952 is correct what testing have you done to discredit this? My Walther PPK actually shoots slower than my S&W M&P bodyguard 380 with a smaller barrel. I see your referring to shooting the bulls testing, which is great data but he used a small TCP handgun. Even he found that bullets that expanded with any size had shallow penetration. He found that most of your high dollar rounds expanded great but penetration is lacking. He concluded that the XTP bullet which expands to a tiny size over a flat nose looked the best. Why bother! To my way of looking at it, its very iffy at best. I never considered the 380 as a first choice duty round but a back up, yes. By the way DEPistol there are stats on innocent bystanders getting shot with a through and through. Its not as high as people think but one person is more than too many. We should all be aware of whats behind your assailant before you shoot. One more thing, most of these hollow points that expand will work great with a frontal shot but with most confrontations the assailant isn't standing still so you can shoot them. Prepare for the worst case and hope for the best. A smaller hole which can penetrate through vitals and break bone is way better than a nice expanded bullet which is too shallow to get through muscle and bone. Just my opinion guys.
 

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Hello No.6, What is the testing protocol you use in your endeavor? Have you published your .380acp results on this forum or anywhere else?
My protocol was to collect everyone else’s protocol and do analytics on the 300 or so gun/round/result combinations from STB, Lucky Gunner, and many other places (that’s just the .380). The math doesn’t have an opinion :)

I wrote elsewhere on this forum that it’s an early finding that the true pocket pistols are different than .380s of 3”+ barrels.

Will definitely ping here when it’s published.
 

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N0.6 garbage ah no! you are entitled to your opinion. Jimmo952 is correct what testing have you done to discredit this? My Walther PPK actually shoots slower than my S&W M&P bodyguard 380 with a smaller barrel. I see your referring to shooting the bulls testing, which is great data but he used a small TCP handgun. Even he found that bullets that expanded with any size had shallow penetration. He found that most of your high dollar rounds expanded great but penetration is lacking. He concluded that the XTP bullet which expands to a tiny size over a flat nose looked the best. Why bother! To my way of looking at it, its very iffy at best. I never considered the 380 as a first choice duty round but a back up, yes. By the way DEPistol there are stats on innocent bystanders getting shot with a through and through. Its not as high as people think but one person is more than too many. We should all be aware of whats behind your assailant before you shoot. One more thing, most of these hollow points that expand will work great with a frontal shot but with most confrontations the assailant isn't standing still so you can shoot them. Prepare for the worst case and hope for the best. A smaller hole which can penetrate through vitals and break bone is way better than a nice expanded bullet which is too shallow to get through muscle and bone. Just my opinion guys.
Cocojo, I'm coming to the same conclusion re the 380acp. It took me a while but I'm more and more of the camp to just use FMJ and do my best with shot placement and multiple hits.
 

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I came into several boxes of Sellier & Bellot 92 grs FMJ (955 FPS) (newer Black and Gold box) and have been shooting it without issues in my Ranger PPK pistols.
 

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There is an ammo which may look promising. Fort Scott 95 pointed solid copper projectile. Suppose to tumble upon impact and still get in deep. Haven't tried it yet, I’m not into exotic ammunition but who knows.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Unless you are facing off against a sasquatch high on PCP .380 is going to take the juice out of any rapist or other attacker. I watch that show The First 48 Hours which deals with real life homicides and the overwhelming majority are caused by small calibers .22 to .380 wielded by unskilled shooters.
That's reality.
Being observant of your surroundings and trusting your instincts to leave a situation that is potentially dangerous are WAY more important than the particulars of what caliber penetrates the most.
 
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