Sunday, January 15, 2012

COP 380 Auto - Copper Only Projectiles .380 Auto Ammo Review

I have to admit that I'm a sucker when it comes to new stuff.  I hope that's a part of what brings you to this blog as I'm willing to be the guy that "takes one for the team" and keeps you from wasting money on stuff that falls short of expectations or brings you useful information on something new that is really good or even outstanding.  This is my first ammo review, so I hope this works out well.

Two weeks ago, I needed a couple of things from Midway USA so I was browsing around the site and as usual, I found a few things to add to the cart even though they weren't on my "shopping list".  I don't know about you, but Midway and me is worse than me at Walmart or Harbor Freight.  I always end up putting a few extra things in my shopping cart.  One of the things I added to the cart was a couple boxes of an ammo I had not seen offered before.  It's listed as C.O.P. Ammunition .380ACP 80 grain Solid Copper Hollow Point.  The C.O.P. name is an acronym for Copper Only Projectiles.  Since I've never seen it before, I have to assume it's a new line of ammo.  It's loaded with hollow point bullets made from solid copper.  I also assume this product has been brought to market to compete with Magtech's First Defense, Corbon's DPX, and the Barnes TAC-XP loaded offerings from Buffalo Bore and Doubletap as all of these product lines are loaded with hollow point bullets formed from solid copper.

With 4 other players making pure copper hollow point rounds in .380 Auto, you are probably wondering what caught my eye on the COP product.  The 4 other makers all get about $1 per round for their products.  Magtech is the lowest price at $0.97 per round.  The other three are loaded with Barnes bullets and range from $1.21 to $1.38 per round before adding applicable tax and delivery.  COP has come to market at a price of $0.49 per round.  All price comparisons are based on the current prices at Midway.  With the chance to get 50 rounds for less than $25, I added a couple of boxes to my Midway order.

The next two photos show the front and back of the COP packaging.  I'm not sure if RareAmmo is the manufacturer or just the distributor of the ammo.  The COP brand may even be a house label created by Rareammo and manufactured to their specifications by a 3rd party.  According to the packaging, the ammo is made in the USA.  I spent a few minutes on their website and learned a bit more about the parent company of Rareammo. 

Opening the box, you find the internal packaging to be a bit different than the usual plastic or Styrofoam tray.  I like the packaging as it's 100% cardboard and recyclable.  I really hate having to throw away the plastic trays most ammo ships in because they don't have the recycle symbol on them so I assume they can't be recycled.  I didn't notice any issues with the packaging having a negative impact on the quality of the rounds.  It appears to protect them well in shipping.

A quick inspection of the ammo shows uniformity in loading and components.  Loaded in mildly spotted Starline brass, the round is loaded quite long compared to it's peer group with sampled rounds averaging .970 for overall length.  A sampling of 10 rounds showed 6 weighing in at exactly 133.6 grains with the balance of the sample being within + or - .4 grains of the 133.6 grain sample mode.  From the website, the published velocity for this load is 1045 fps that's generating 185 ft/lbs of energy.  To the best of my knowledge, the standard ft/lbs energy calculation for this bullet weight and velocity should be 194.  There must have been an error in their calculations.

A true test of any ammo is to get it out on the range and run some rounds over the chronograph.  For those that have been with me, you know the drill.  For the new folks that might be reading my blog for the first time, please see this blog entry for a description of my chronograph testing regimen.

It was a great day to get out to the range today.  Clear skies and temps in the upper 50's with the occasional wind gusts coming up the range to keep tipping over my target holder.  Not our typical January weather, but I was able to finish up my evaluation for velocity and expansion.  The velocity data showed that this ammo is a pretty anemic performer.  I tested velocities in both a Kahr P380 and Bersa Thunder 380CC.  The data table is displayed below.  As documented above, published velocities were supposed to be over 1000 fps.  This ammo fell way short of those numbers and the ft/lbs of energy really show how slow this load is.  I believe this is the worst performing round that I've ever tested in the P380 and second worst performer in the Bersa Thunder 380CC.  You can see for yourself by comparing the COP results with the results of other 380 ammo here.  The one good thing is that the ammo fed and fired perfectly in both guns, but would not cycle the slide with enough vigor to allow the Kahr to slide lock on empty.  The Bersa slide did lock back on empty.

Measured velocity is one thing, but terminal performance is what really matters.  I'm still working on my bullet box so I substituted water jugs for my expansion testing today.  I used my standard 2 layers of medium weight denim, but backed that up with water jugs today.  I'm not particularly interested in capturing an accurate penetration depth.  I just wanted to check velocity and test for expansion.  I documented my test on video.  I work alone so please excuse the tripod and stationary camera and not being able to hear some of what I was saying over the wind noise.

If you don't want to sit though the 3 minute video I also shot some pictures of the captured bullet.  The end result was expansion that did not exceed the diameter of the bullet base.  The round performed as you would expect any very slow FMJ would perform.

To wrap up the review, I'll close by saying that sometimes you really do get what you pay for.  I really liked the prospect of a solid copper hollow point in .380 that was just about affordable enough that I could practice with the same ammo that I intended to carry.  COP is also available in 9mm and my next test was going to be on their standard pressure 9mm load in a Diamondback DB9.  Unfortunately, COP ammo turned out to be an under achiever that was hampered by poor velocity numbers that pretty much assured poor terminal performance.  I've seen one other test of this ammo in .45 ACP on Youtube and that reviewer also identified an issue with low bullet velocity.

COP ammo is currently out of stock at Midway.  I guess a few other adventurous folks took a chance on the ammo.  If you should happen to see it in your store, on-line, or at one of the many gun shows that Rareammo/JEK Incorporated attends, I hope you will remember this review before spending your money on this ammo.


  1. Thanks Bruce from keeping me from buying some cheap, non-performing ammo! I enjoy reading all your posts! I would really like to see you test Critical Defense Ammo in .380 and compare it to the other "carry" ammunition available today. Thanks again and keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks - Great info on the COP - I was ready to get some for my P380!

  3. Too bad I first read this right after I got 2 small boxes of 95 grain +P 9mm. One interesting...thing is that the 95 grain and 115 grain...both +P suppossedly, say the MV is rated at 1250 FPS..for both??? Next time I shoot I'm going to see if the felt recoil of this round is close to the 95 grain 9mm magtech jsp, rated at 1345 (not +p). One thing to be said about the bullet is it has a very deep hollow point cavity, and seems to feed OK dry through my DB9. One would think that with a little extra velocity it could expand OK.

  4. Sounds like it might be a perfectly good bullet, but with the velocity that low you may never know.

  5. Many thanks for this review - I was looking for some low-recoiling defence ammo for my mother and girlfriend. I'll keep looking; thanks for taking your time to test this ammo and spreading your knowledge.

  6. This looks like a good choice for a carry round if you are looking for no expansion (deep penetration) but without a rounded nose bullet profile that you get with FMJ. The hollowpoint looks like it would cut a nice sharp hole all along the wound channel, and penetrate well.

    What's not to like?

  7. Haven't tried this ammo in my .380 but, I really like it in my 38 S&W +P revolver. Affordable and opens like a flower.

  8. Try it in ballistic gelatin. That should be more realistic than water jugs.

  9. Also found this youtube video, and it partly confirms and partly contradicts...
    I still like the ammo as a very low recoil think again solution ...

    1. That's my test video, but posted under the PG&G channel. It was done during a retest of this ammo. Full report is here.