Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Realistic 380 ACP vs. 9mm Test With Speer Gold Dot

I'm not a huge fan of making YouTube videos, but I fully understand why they have become such a big part of the world today.  I don't think of myself as particularly charismatic or fun to watch so editing my videos can be painful.  I really prefer to capture my work and thoughts in an organized manner via my blog.  Having said that, I will admit that I have been sucked into the YouTube vortex several times and spent way too much time watching video after video.  Some were better than others, but they were all interesting even if only for a few minutes before I moved on to the next one.

After watching a zillon different ballistics testing videos it suddenly occurred to me that there was still a virgin area of testing that remained untouched.  I realized that no one had ever really done a head to head comparison of 380 ACP and 9mm in the same video.  There were a couple of attempts, but they introduced too many different variables into their testing.  So I had this idea......

I've come to the conclusion that 9mm is becoming the new 380, so what if I could compare the most popular bullet weights in 9mm and 380 ACP, using the same brand of ammo?  I would have to find a comparable pair of pocket pistols that should represent the current state of what's available in the marketplace. I ended up deciding to run my first test with Speer Gold Dot ammo and this pair of Diamondback pistols.

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

Ammo Specs:
Speer Gold Dot 115 grain GDHP 9mm
Speer Gold Dot 90 grain GDHP 380 ACP

Testing Protocol:
My testing process will be 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've included that YouTube video I mentioned above with the actual shots and digging the recovered bullets from the SIM TEST block.  It wasn't too painful to edit.  =)

Recap of Test Results and My Thoughts:

Speer Gold Dot ammunition is popular for a good reason, and that reason is that it performs.  It has been a very consistent performer in the lab as well as the field. This is the first of a series of 380 vs 9mm tests and it was nice to see such consistent performance from these two popular choices.  This test will serve as a great benchmark for the future tests that will follow soon.


  1. Thanks Bruce. Posts like this are why I follow your blog. Keep up the great work!

  2. Great work - thanks!! It really helps to see these outcomes when deciding between calibers.

    It's a whole lot less of a difference than I thought to be honest. Of course, I have no idea how much of a difference 1.5" of penetration would make, or how much aprox .1" of expansion would make in a wound channel for that matter.