Thursday, April 19, 2012

Another Realistic 380 ACP Vs. 9mm Test With Hornady Critical Defense

This is the third installment of a new series of ballistics tests that compares 380 ACP with 9mm ammo from the same manufacturer with similar pistols and testing conditions.  I really believe that 9mm is quickly becoming the new 380 ACP and we have really started to see a big increase in the Pocket 9mm pistol category.  Rather than do stand alone 9mm tests, as I did with my 380 tests, I've decided to run them both head to head and see what can be learned.  This series should help people decide if the performance trade off between 380 ACP and 9mm is justified by the slightly smaller size of the 380 pistol vs. the 9mm pistol.  Alternately, it may help you decide if the increase in terminal performance is worth the extra recoil and size of the 9mm.

Then you have to consider that 9mm ammo is usually cheaper than .380 ACP, so you can practice more shooting for less money with the 9mm.  So many things to consider.  =)

Pistol Specs:
Diamondback DB9 9mm with 3" barrel
Diamondback DB380 380 ACP with 2.8" barrel

Ammo Specs:
Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain FTX 9mm
Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain FTX 380 ACP

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot with each pistol at alternate ends of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shots from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 5 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  The video below documents the entire process from range to recovery.

Recap of Test:
This was my third time testing Hornady Critical Defense in 380 or 9mm.  I have to say their performance has been very consistent across all the tests.  They have always delivered a nice balance of expansion and penetration.  You won't see these loads leading the pack on expansion or penetration depth, but if I figured out a way to average those two characteristics together I think the Hornady would come out near the top of the list.  One other thing I noticed is that all the Critical Defense loads I've tried are really mild on recoil.  This may be important for you if recoil is a concern.

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