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Old 03-17-2006, 08:36 PM   #1
 
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

This is Phase One (of two tests) of a Comprehensive .380acp WetPack test with the Sig P232 pistol. The results apply equally well to the Bersa Thunder 380, CZ types, and the Walther PPK, if those are the pistols you have. But not to pistols with barrels less than about 3.5", so that leaves out the KelTec and Beretta (Tomcat) short barrel pistols. You'll find data for them in my sig line link. I don't recommend either of those short barrel pistols for self defense.



First picture shown is a typical wetpack that I use. In picture 1. you'll note a plastic garbage bag I use in the wetpack box to keep all the water running from out on the way to the range. Note picture 4. with bullets showing 8" deep into the wetpack, CorBon 90gr, Rem GS 102gr, and Speer GD 90gr. Holes remaining are for bullets that went deeper. See the WetPack picture for details. Not being tested is Win SilverTip which is unsatisfactory, poor penetration. This was shown in the previous .380acp wetpack test.



Phase Two will be done as soon as I receive the rest of the ammo I ordered, Win SXT, MagTech FD.

I'll also include Fed HydraShok, there wasn't room in Phase One for it. I'll also shoot a few CorBon 90gr into it for a sort of "calibration" to compare with Phase One. Maybe in a week or two.



In the meantime, there is enough wetpack data now on the longer barrel now to do some recommendations: (Phase One)



BEST: Rem GoldenSaber 102gr 9 data points, .610"exp.avg, SD .020", 8.05"pen.avg, SD .37"



EXCELLENT: 1. Hornady XTP 90gr 6 datas, .514"exp.avg, SD .007", 8.83"pen.avg, SD .23"



2. CorBon 90gr+p 3 data points, .593"exp.avg, SD .002", 7.83"pen.avg. SD .23"



3. Speer GoldDot 90gr 3 data points, .537"exp.avg, SD .023", 7.83"pen.avg. SD .23"



UNSATISFACTORY: Winchester SilverTip....over expands with poor penetration (long barrel)



CorBon PowrBall....jacket and bullet fragment with very poor penetration**



**Note: in the short barrel P3AT, CorBon PowrBall does not expand at all, see sig line links.



TOO EARLY TO TELL: The Federal Hi-Shok 90gr (LEO ammo) did very well, fair expansion

and excellent penetration with only 2 rounds tested.



Granted, wetpacks are not exactly the same each time, but after enough of them a rough estimate of performance can be calculated. Some may argue the Hornady is best due to penetration always over 8" (equivalent to 12" gelatin). But GoldenSaber looks close enough.















Your comments welcome.

og
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Old 03-17-2006, 08:44 PM   #2
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Hello, sir. Thanks for the most interesting information accompanied by the photographs. It is appreciated. It is interesting how similar the JHP penetration is in this media. The aggressive expanders hit about 8" while the less aggressive do a bit more.



Best.



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Old 03-17-2006, 08:56 PM   #3
 
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Thanks, Stephen,

you're my inspiration to explore the .380acp based on all your previous work with this round. I think it's a fine self defense round, in the right pistol with a long (>3.5") barrel. But I agree with others on this site, for serious self defense, such as home invasion, against bad villians, my 1911 .45 is what I'll turn to.

Cheers,

og
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:23 PM   #4
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Hello. Yes, I've experienced the same thing with regard to expansion in some of the .380 JHP's. Some that expand so-so out of my Bersa, turn inside out when fired from the slightly longer barrel of the Walther PP or an older FEG I have. Others seem more consistent than expected, but I've not looked at them from the super short .380's, but your tests save me that effort.



Best.



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Old 03-18-2006, 04:07 AM   #5
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Hi OG,



Thank you for the valuable information and I really enjoy your rating system.



Your tests do save us the time and effort to explore other ammunition choices for our .380's.



Chris
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Old 03-18-2006, 01:18 PM   #6
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Nice work, as usual, OG. I have always liked the Hornady and the Cor Bon myself.



Glad to see that your new 232 is being put to good use!



PGM
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Old 03-26-2006, 10:50 PM   #7
 
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Well, folks, the Phase Two part of this .380acp test is complete. I'll post a picture with results here in a day or so just as soon as I can photograph the bullets. Included in the test were Winchester's SXT 95gr which has good expansion but not quite 12" gelatin equivalent penetration. It has the same "T" bullet as Ranger but loaded to lower velocity. Readily available everywhere. (I'm sure Ranger T would have done better but I won't buy ammo when only one e-mail type supplier has it. None of the major online dealers have it and my dealer can't get it.)



Also tested was the MagTech First Defense 77gr solid copper bullet which did not expand in the wet paper!! Reports say MagTech got it to expand but I can't find any such report written by them. At Marshall's site a new member reported the First Defense in other calibers expanded really well in water. (E. Marshall got real upset at the posting that anyone should dare offer a substitute for CorBon's DPX. Wonder why?)



And finally, results with Federal's HydraShok offerings, old package PD and new package PD were the same, good expansion but not the best penetration. Also had a few rounds of the original Fed "Premium" Hydrashok that did a little better.

In addition, a few rounds tested in Phase One were included with identical results which helps verify reliability of the wetpack.



My tests are by no means all inclusive of every kind of ammo out there. By last count there were over 32 brands of JHP .380acp ammo on the market and that many more FMJ. I've only tested a dozen brands of what I could obtain easily. If you want some additional info on other brands check this link for the "Bersa Chapterhouse"...

http://bersachapterhouse.50webs.com/cartridges.html

and be sure to read the article at the bottom of the page about selecting ammo for the .380 pistol. Based on the author's statements, any ammo that expands and gets over 6" gelatin (about 5" wetpack minimum) should be adequate for civilian SD using proper placement. He emphasizes placement.

Myself, I still like closer to 12" gelatin (close to 8" wetpack) for ammo I would chose.



Anyway, watch for the Phase Two pictures...



og
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Old 03-27-2006, 09:12 PM   #8
 
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Here are the final results for my Comprehensive P232 .380acp wetpack tests with the picture for Phase Two below. Phase Two required 2 wetpacks (5 Win SXT and 5 MagTech in second pack). My ratings for the cartridges tested look like this:



Best: Remington GoldenSaber 102gr JHP still the best expansion and penetration combination.

See Phase One report.



Excellent: 1. Federal Hi-Shok 90gr JHP with 4 data points, .506"avg exp, SD .010 and 8.25"avg pen, SD .25

Note this is a different design than HydraShok and is shown on Fed's lawenforcement site.



2. Hornady XTP 90gr JHP, with 8 data points, .516"avg exp, SD .010 and 8.5"avg pen, SD .45

this is a close second to the Fed Hi-Shok and only second place because it gets a strange

looking expansion. Maybe that is actually better. You decide. Just my opinion.



3. CorBon 90gr+p JHP, see Phase One report.



4. Speer GoldDot 90gr JHP, see Phase One report.



Acceptable: 1. Winchester SXT 95gr JHP, 8 data points, .589"avg exp, SD .014, 7.6"avg pen, SD .48



2. Federal HydraShok "PD" 90gr, 6 datas, .584"avg exp, SD .011, 6.9"avg pen, SD .34 (barely

acceptable)



Conditional: MagTech FirstDefense 77gr copper bullet, zero/partial expansion, 10+" penetration with 3 bullets

exiting the pack and assumed zero expansion.

(actually unacceptable, in my opinion, FMJ would do as good and a lot cheaper)



Unacceptable: See Phase One report.







A few comments....If you feel expansion is more important than 12" equivalent gelatin penetration (8" wetpack), then the Winchester SXT and Federal HydraShok offerings might be good choices. Both are readily available on the civilian market.

The SXT is reported to use the same 95gr "T" bullet as Ranger T ammo, but as you can see it apparently is not as "powerful". However, the SXT is a big improvement over the old Silvertip ammo.

Federal's Personal Defense stuff comes in a new package labelled "Reduced Recoil". See picture below.







As far as I could tell there was no difference at all with the old package PD. Wetpack tests seem to confirm that as well. The PD bullet has more cuts around the tip than the old original "Premium" HydraShok (no longer available) that appear to give it more expansion but sacrifce penetration. In my opinion, they should have left it alone, penetration is more important.



I don't recommend you waste money on the MagTech stuff. Lots of muzzle flash with the First Defense copper bullet type.

However, I'd love to send Stephen 5 rounds for him to compare with the CorBon DPX that he tested. (Stephen, let me know.)



And a final comment...it's a lot of work doing a wetpack report. The pack and shooting is easy and fun. But to do the report, pictures have to be made, enhanced, and edited taking a lot of time and harddrive space. No one has done more work in this respect than Stephen Camp. He not only includes expansion pictures of bullets, but cartridge pictures, and handgun pictures enlarged and in detail. There is no other web site that can begin to compare with Stephen's.



This series of .380 wetpack tests will not be shown on another site. Maybe some links here is all. My final tests for now.

Comments welcome.



og
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:00 PM   #9
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

OG,



I agree with you concerning Mr. Stephen Camp's website as being unparalleled, in terms of information, presentation and down to earth commentary. I also appreciate YOUR efforts in researching .380 ammo.



I have a Colt Pony Pocketlite .380 and a Makarov 9x18. As soon as Makarov.com comes out with their own production replacement barrels in .380 I plan on/hope to convert my Mak to .380, primarily for commonality of ammo.



You and Mr. Camp have come up with 2 very different contenders for "best" ammo, Remington 102 gr. GS versus Corbon 80 gr. DPX. The Remington has been around for quite a while and time will tell how good the Corbon DPX is.



I look forward to hearing more about both loadings (and others) in the future by whomever presents them.



Regards.



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Old 03-28-2006, 07:27 PM   #10
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Comprehensive .380acp test with P232

Hello. From what I'm seeing now from a few folks trying it in 10% ballistic gelatin, the DPX is not penetrating any better than the 90-gr. rapid expanders. That it does this at is lighter weight speaks well to the design, but it appears that for those wanting 12"+ in penetration plus aggressive expansion, the .380 is just not going to be able to deliver both. Right now, were I going to carry a .380 in the traditional size, it would be loaded with Hornady XTP's as a first choice or Federal 90-gr. JHP's as the second. The Hornady doesn't do so well at the 4-layers of denim thing, but to me, that is an overrated protocol. How does it do with two or three? That's never mentioned. The closest I've seen is that the four layers represent an absolute worst case scenario for an expanding bullet. The Federal 90-gr. JHP expands nicely and for me it has done so pretty reliably out of Walther/Bersa-size pistols but it hasn't usually gone to quite as wide an expanded diameter in water as has Golden Saber, Winchester Ranger .380 (Yes, it exists) or Corbon 90-gr. (Sierra) JHP's. It seems to wind up on the heels of the XTP.



I honestly believe that about any of these loads can do the trick in a head-on shot that is not obstructed by an intermediate target. I believe that the average male upper torso is roughly 9" thick. The problems can occur if an arm or some other object gets in the way of the bullet as it is speeding to the chest. That said, even though the .380 is not considered a "powerful" round compared to many others, I have personally seen a man whose femur was broken after he was hit with a 95-gr. FMJ from a .380 pistol. I do not remember the make of ammo and I think the pistol was an old Llama.



I'm no expert a tall with regard to the .380, but right now, I'd go with the Hornady XTP's if wanting some expansion with hopes for 12" penetration or 95 FMJ from Remington, Winchester, or Federal.



Best.



PS: You know, it's interesting that our results are actually pretty similar. We wind up picking the XTP and the Hi Shok, just in different order. As you have found (and so did I), some of the MagTech ammo doesn't cut it. What I found with their Guardian Gold 9mm was that sometimes the bullet would literally "explode" into small fragments and other times it would expand nicely. This was from the same lot of ammo and from the same gun on the same day. Ditto the 9mm S&B JHP's. I think for now, I'll stick with those rounds that are more consistent. I really, really, really wanted the DPX to work a bit better as so many folks seem to shoot the classic size 380's better than the lightweight snubs and have a few more shots.



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