I don't think the Custom line from Hornady gets the respect it deserves. It's the oldest variant in the Hornady 380 Auto HP line up with boxes that display the image of the company's founder, Joyce Hornady, on the front. While it may lack the marketing pop and sizzle of "Critical", "TAP", and "Z-Max", it is loaded with Hornady's excellent XTP bullet.
I purchased this box for testing last year and just found out that Hornady has temporarily suspended production of this loading until they can catch up with consumer demand.
Step 1) Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2) Run a 5 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 8 feet.
Step 3) Run first bare gel test shot into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density. Shot distance is 8 feet.
Step 4) Run second test shot through 4 layers of 14 oz/yard heavy-weight denim. Shot distance is 8 feet.
Step 5) Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth.
Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:
My Thoughts on This Load:
All of the Hornady 380 Auto loadings specify a muzzle velocity of 1000 feet per second. A quick check of their website confirms that their velocity measurements are done with a 4" test barrel. It's understandable that our velocity was much lower since our barrel was 1.5'" shorter than the Hornady test barrel. As a rule of thumb you can expect to lose about 100 feet per second for every 1" reduction in barrel length.
The XTP bullet has always displayed the characteristics of modest expansion and deep penetration. The bare gel test shot performed exactly the way I expected it would. It expanded a little and penetrated deeply.
The denim and gel shot was a bit of a surprise. From previous testing we know that the 4 layers of heavy weight denim is a formidable barrier so failure to expand was not unexpected. We also know that 380 FMJ loads traveling at less than 850 feet per second tend to tumble after hitting the heavy clothing barrier. The surprise was that this XTP bullet behaved very much like a FMJ and tumbled after passing through the clothing barrier. The low initial velocity, and velocity loss during the tumble, kept the bullet from over penetrating.
Pick or Pan:
I found this load to be very mild in regard to felt recoil. That is probably due to the low initial velocity. Bare gel terminal performance was good with a balance of modest expansion and deep penetration. It would have been nice to see some expansion from the heavy denim test shot, but bigger and faster bullets have failed to expand through this test barrier. At least the bullet didn't over penetrate when it failed to expand.
This load might be right for someone looking for a mild recoiling load that penetrates between 12 and 16 inches regardless of expansion. It's one of the few 380 loads that I have seen that is capable of expanding and still penetrating more than 12" in bare Clear Ballistics gel.
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,