The DRT TerminalShock™ .380 Auto 85 grain ammunition used in this test was graciously provided by Wastool. I've never actually seen this brand in any of my local stores and there are only a few test videos out on YouTube so I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this test. This was also my first test of a true frangible round so please excuse my ignorance of the correct terminology as I performed my visual analysis of the artifacts left in the clear gel block. What I thought to be small pieces of jacket were actually larger pieces of fragmented bullet core.
I learned a bit more about the ammunition, and the DRT Company, from their website. DRT describes their TerminalShock™ pistol ammuntion as follows:
"DRT lead-free projectile is a revolutionary round. The bullet breaks apart on contact with a solid surface. The handgun ammunition is made to be an all-purpose round, disintegrating into a cloud of dust on steel but yet is effective on an organic target. It is a target and a carry round. Our round can be fired by law enforcement officers without any fear of ricochet or pass through, or fear of injury or death to innocent bystanders from ricochet or pass through. Calibers currently in production:
.380, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, 45acp"
DRT Ammunition is manufactured in the USA and the DRT headquarters/production facility is located in Grant City, Missouri. If you can't find DRT Ammunition in your local stores, the company runs a direct to consumer sales portal on their main website.
Test Pistol Specifications
I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block that measures approximately 6" x 6" x 16" and weighs approximately 16 lbs. I take the test shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured with the chronograph less than 2 inches away from the block. Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density and periodically validated with the standard BB penetration test used with Ordnance Gel. I shoot the test block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullet. Immediately prior to shooting the test block, I conduct a 5 shot velocity test over a ProChrono Digital chronograph. My testing facility has an elevation of 1,253 feet.
The test results are summarized in the data sheet below along with a close up shot of the recovered bullet.
Video documentation of the entire test from range through bullet recovery is available below. The high definition video is best viewed on YouTube, but you can also view it here.
My Thoughts on This Load
I must admit be being skeptical about this load going into the test. I found it difficult to believe that a frangible bullet, designed to disintegrate upon impact with hard targets, could still have a core component that would penetrate to a realistic depth for self defense purposes when shot into a soft target. This one test definitely eliminated quite a bit of that skepticism. As I thought about what to include in this section of the recap, I went back through many of the previous 380 Auto test results that I previously published.
The one significant benefit of keeping up the blog is the Ammo Tests tab at the top of the page. With one click on that tab, you can find links to all my previous tests. Just for comparison, I checked my clear gel test results for my favorite .380 Federal 90 Grain Hydra-Shok. The DRT load had more energy, and deeper penetration. I'm discounting expansion of both loads simply because I have no idea how I should measure the recovered DRT round. The jacket was clinging to the bullet core when I pulled the bullet from the gel, but immediately separated into two unique pieces of core and jacket. I would have to see similar repeated results from the DRT to believe the recovered round was typical performance for this bullet. The Hydra-Shok obviously had a higher retained weight because it's not built to fragment like the DRT.
I still have some left over rounds that I plan to use to repeat the bare gel test and also conduct a leather and denim stress test. The leather is a formidable barrier and I'd really like to see how much of the bullet gets past the leather and into the gel block. Part of me wonders if the frangible bullet will actually start disintegrating earlier than it did in this bare gel test. Another part of me wonders if the leather will plug up the hollow point cavity and cause the bullet to behave as a full metal jacket. Regardless of the possible potential test outcomes, I'm much more interested in this load now and would really like to see how the larger caliber varieties perform. Unfortunately, with the ammunition supply pressure it might be some time before I can test any of the larger caliber offerings.
Pick or Pan?
Too early to call this a pick or a pan. This specific load is definitely worthy of additional testing and introduction of barrier materials in front of the gel block. Check back for future tests.
Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media. Terminal performance in all other media will show different results. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.
Ammunition labeled as +P or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.