The Critical Defense line from Hornady was created for concealed carry pistols that typically have barrels that are shorter than service length pistols. The entire line has been optimized for short barrel pistols and features nickel plated brass for corrosion resistance and slick feeding. Propellent powder is low flash to protect night vision and also generates lower felt recoil. The FTX bullet has a red polymer plug inserted into the hollow point cavity during production that aids in expansion when the bullet is fired into heavy clothing barriers like denim or leather.
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 FTX bullet performed exceptionally well in this test. This is the first 380 Auto load that I have tested, though the 2.5" barreled Kahr, that expanded and penetrated to 12 inches or more in bare gel and also heavy denim and gel testing. I was genuinely surprised to see how well the FTX bullet performed in the denim test.
Pick or Pan:
One test doesn't represent a statistically significant sample set, but I am still very impressed with the performance of this load. It is one of the very few 380 Auto loads that can expand and penetrate to 12 inches from a short barrel pocket pistol. The heavy denim clothing barrier presented no significant challenge to terminal expansion performance. I will definitely be adding this loading to my ammo shopping list and may do a follow up test at a later time with additional test shots.
Recovered bullets photo series with bare gel on the left and heavy denim on the right.
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.