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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
All,

I have been reloading 45 ACP for years, with the ubiquitous 200 gr coated lead swaged wadcutter (SWC) bullet. I’m about to start reloading 380 ACP for the first time, and since the 380 is nothing more than a scaled-down 45 ACP, I assumed similarly scaled-down SWC bullets would be readily available.

Not so? I can find them in much heavier weights for 9mm, but nothing in the 90-100 grain region for the 380. Where are they hiding them?

Assuming they don’t exist, I’m considering trying copper-coated bullets (i.e. Berry’s, Rainer et al) for the first time. Are there any specific bullets that your typical Ulm PPK doesn’t digest happily? Any strong recommendations?

I will be loading Speer Gold Dot hollow points for ‘social work’ and am looking for an analogous low-cost practice bullet.

Thanks!
 

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Mine hates Winchester White Box truncated cone bullets. Frankly I have only had good results with round nose ball ammo.



If you want to shoot gold dots, they are available as reloading components. Sierra and Hornady also make JHP bullets in that weight.


At self defense ranges you could probably get by with 95 grain ball.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
:confused: Are you talking about the cartridge or the gun?
The cartridge. When browning was tasked with developing a ‘38’ caliber cartridge, he simply scaled down the existing 45 ACP that he had also previously designed. It is proportionally scaled down in all dimensions.

I just read that little nugget somewhere a few weeks ago, but can’t find the reference now....

Edit: found it. From an article in Shooting Times:

The .380 ACP was designed by John Browning for a Colt pistol sometime around 1908. The confusing thing–at least to me–is why Browning didn't just shorten a 9 mm case? No doubt he had one on his workbench. This is possibly because when shortened, 9 mm case walls would be too thick to accept the .355-inch bullet without bulging. Still, Browning could have gone with the 9 mm exterior case dimensions and just thinned the case walls. He didn't.


There is a more plausible explanation I stumbled upon while playing with a calculator. While my hypothesis is mere conjecture, I've yet to find anyone who can offer convincing evidence to the contrary. A .355-inch diameter bullet is about 78 percent the size of the .451-inch diameter bullet used in the .45 ACP cartridge, which Browning had already developed. If you take all the dimensions on a .45 ACP case and reduce them proportionally, guess what? You end up with a .380 ACP. In essence, a .380 ACP is 78 percent of a .45 ACP.

This makes perfect sense and is similar to what Browning did when developing the M2 machine gun in .50 caliber. The .50 BMG cartridge is very proportional to the .30-'06 Sprg.; a cartridge Browning did not design, but he did subsequently design a machine gun chambered for it.
 

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The cartridge. When browning was tasked with developing a ‘38’ caliber cartridge, he simply scaled down the existing 45 ACP that he had also previously designed. It is proportionally scaled down in all dimensions.

I just read that little nugget somewhere a few weeks ago, but can’t find the reference now....

Edit: found it. From an article in Shooting Times:

The .380 ACP was designed by John Browning for a Colt pistol sometime around 1908. The confusing thing—at least to me—is why Browning didn't just shorten a 9 mm case? No doubt he had one on his workbench. This is possibly because when shortened, 9 mm case walls would be too thick to accept the .355-inch bullet without bulging. Still, Browning could have gone with the 9 mm exterior case dimensions and just thinned the case walls. He didn't.


There is a more plausible explanation I stumbled upon while playing with a calculator. While my hypothesis is mere conjecture, I've yet to find anyone who can offer convincing evidence to the contrary. A .355-inch diameter bullet is about 78 percent the size of the .451-inch diameter bullet used in the .45 ACP cartridge, which Browning had already developed. If you take all the dimensions on a .45 ACP case and reduce them proportionally, guess what? You end up with a .380 ACP. In essence, a .380 ACP is 78 percent of a .45 ACP.

This makes perfect sense and is similar to what Browning did when developing the M2 machine gun in .50 caliber. The .50 BMG cartridge is very proportional to the .30-'06 Sprg.; a cartridge Browning did not design, but he did subsequently design a machine gun chambered for it.
Thanks for the update, this was information I wasn't aware of. I was just reading an article on a 1911 380 which also helped confuse me, which ain't too hard to do.:D
 

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A lot of little 380s are kind of picky about any ammo except for round nose. Reliability for hollow points is spotty from brand to brand. I have found the Lehigh Defense Xtreme penetrator a good choice for best stopping power verses reliability in my 380. Your mileage may vary. Look at the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator bullet here
https://www.lehighdefense.com/colle...r-xtreme-penetrator-bullet?variant=1166802480

Lehigh Defense and Underwood ammo both sell loaded ammo with the Lehigh bullet. Underwood ammo loads their version to a higher velocity than Lehigh.

Also, on utube, shootingthebull410 did extensive testing on 380 auto ammo from numerous manufacturers, and the last I checked he decided this round from Underwood ammo using the Lehigh defense bullet was the best performer.

You can search Utube for all of shootingthebull410 380 Auto ammo tests. Quite informative in my opinion.

Pudge
 

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My personal jury is still out on them' newfangled boolits', but this was the most positive evaluation of the Lehigh. I may have to try some.


Back to the OP's question(s).
First, SWC .380s; never have seen one, tho' a buddy used to cast lead truncated cones. The SWCs can even be problematic in some 1911s, so it's little wonder that they're not made for the .380.
We have had the similar flat-nose rounds at the Club, and they have run okay in Glocks, but they look like trouble waiting to happen. The LTCs are more pointed.
Presume we're talking about feeding a PP series, since it's posted here. My current load is 3.2/Bullseye/95FMJ, which produces nearly 900 fps in a Glock 42. In not especially extensive testing, it has run in an Interarms PPK/s, mine and others.
I only carry factory, but that is just me.
Moon
 
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I only carry factory, but that is just me.
Moon
I agree 100%. If it's on my night stand or in my holster, it's loaded with factory ammo, and the firearm is 100% factory with NO alterations. I base this on two seminars I attended given by two different CO lawyers who handle a lot of shooting cases. They both separately said that in Colorado anything but factory ammo and a 100 % stock firearm is a real disadvantage in court. Especially civil court. One said that a set of aftermarket grips with the punisher logo on them was a big detriment in a civil case he had. The opposing lawyer just ran that into the ground.

Pudge
 

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Don't really want to revisit the 'factory vs handloads' and modded guns/triggers. It's a personal decision, and I've made my choice, not any insistence anyone agree.
As regard reloading the .380, it isn't a difficult cartridge (and the analysis of it being a proportionally downsized .45 was interesting). The straight sided case is easier to size than a 9.
The challenge is finding a load that runs 100% in a PPK; the one I listed is a place to start.
Moon
 

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A guy at the Gun Club last night was looking for 9mm SWCs; different weight, same diameter as the .380.
No one, right off hand, was aware of one.
Moon
 

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Missouri bullets and Bayou bullets sell 9mm swc projectiles. I think S&W or Federal marketed some swc ammo thirty years back.
 

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Scaled down .380 ACP

All
This is the very subject I started to look into a while ago. I have been Bullseye shooting ( 200 grain SWC .45 ACP) in a 1911 for awhile and was looking at the scaled down .380 ACP from Browning for my wife, to shoot in Bullseye competition. This parallels Pantera Mike’s thinking.The only lead bullet I was able to find was a 90 grain round nose. I had no feeding problems in a Sig P238. Which is a scaled down 1911, sort of. The Browning’s have barrel bushings which is a plus and the scaling in size is closer to Pantra Mikes thinking. The .380 ACP comes in 95 grain FMJ and a 115 grain HP which would also be worth a try. Bullseye shooters are starting to look at jacketed bullets a little closer. We are trying a PPQ Q5 for my wife currently which is amazing.
 

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The cartridge. When browning was tasked with developing a ‘38’ caliber cartridge, he simply scaled down the existing 45 ACP that he had also previously designed. It is proportionally scaled down in all dimensions.

I just read that little nugget somewhere a few weeks ago, but can’t find the reference now....

Edit: found it. From an article in Shooting Times:

The .380 ACP was designed by John Browning for a Colt pistol sometime around 1908. The confusing thing—at least to me—is why Browning didn't just shorten a 9 mm case? No doubt he had one on his workbench. This is possibly because when shortened, 9 mm case walls would be too thick to accept the .355-inch bullet without bulging. Still, Browning could have gone with the 9 mm exterior case dimensions and just thinned the case walls. He didn't.


There is a more plausible explanation I stumbled upon while playing with a calculator. While my hypothesis is mere conjecture, I've yet to find anyone who can offer convincing evidence to the contrary. A .355-inch diameter bullet is about 78 percent the size of the .451-inch diameter bullet used in the .45 ACP cartridge, which Browning had already developed. If you take all the dimensions on a .45 ACP case and reduce them proportionally, guess what? You end up with a .380 ACP. In essence, a .380 ACP is 78 percent of a .45 ACP.

This makes perfect sense and is similar to what Browning did when developing the M2 machine gun in .50 caliber. The .50 BMG cartridge is very proportional to the .30-'06 Sprg.; a cartridge Browning did not design, but he did subsequently design a machine gun chambered for it.
Mike there is a difference between the .380 case and the 45 ACP case, and that is the 380 has a internal taper, which reduces powder space and restricted the length of bullet that can be used. That is why he used a 95 Gr FMJ.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Okay, interesting, thanks.

I eventually decided ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and gave up on finding cast bullets for the 380. I discovered that with Speer’s 20% rebate, their TMJ bullets are cost-competitive with typical cast lead bullets, and offer several advantages, so I wound up ordering a thousand of those instead.

It proved to be a good decision. I don’t claim to be an expert pistol shot by any means, but the attached photo shows the results of my first six-round magazine fired at a target 25 yards away, which I gather is a greater distance than most PPK shooters tend to use. The gun is an apparently NIB 1966 Ulm PPK that I bought a few months ago. The load is 3.0gr of HP-38, which feels slightly lighter than the factory Speer Lawman ammo using the same bullet. Five rounds in one hole and a single flyer is surprising performance, especially from an average shooter.

This particular group is evidence of the blind squirrel/nut aphorism—at 15 yards most of my groups were in the 3-5 inch range. But it shows what is possible when the shooter does his job properly...
 

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Oh No!

I had ordered quite a bit of bulk ammunition a few weeks ago, and when I got it I realized that the .380 I ordered came with a flat nose bullet. I Just saw FMJ when I ordered, (And not the FN) and was really worried I had 1,000 rds of ammo I couldn't use because my only other .380 (Besides my Walther PPK) is a Sig 230, which is notoriously finicky. Took a couple of boxes to the range today and the Walther and the Sig functioned flawlessly. I only used one box (about 25 shots apiece) WHEW! Winchester white box FMJFN, works in Walther's and Sigs! :cool:
 

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^ Mine also (2019 Ft. Smith PPK/S) and has faultlessly digested FMJ and JHP without issue.

I recently learned a local (Novi) place called Fenix manufactures rounds built to hit IDPA power factor including a 100gr .380 round. I have written to ask how they got 950fps out of that... out of my bullet data collection from almost a dozen sources only Federal HST and Remington Golden Sabre hit 95PF or more and that wasn’t always.
 

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No.6, what power factor are you trying to achieve? Trying anything outside the norm with a PPK can create too much slide velocity.

Finding a handload that would run 100 straight in a Ranger Walther was a battle I fought 30years ago...and lost.
Moon
 

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Pantera Mike when one finds the 380 load that his or hers likes, groups like yours makes for an enjoyable day at the range. Just yesterday myself found a load with the Hornady 90 Gr XTP and 700-X powder that my PPK/S really likes, it was a great day.
 
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