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reloading 380 auto

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by G36_Me, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. G36_Me


    Aug 4, 2009
    Just did a search on 380 auto and found only one thread in GT...

    I have a 380 Auto that I'm reloading for. (Sig Sauer P238).

    So far I've reloaded some Rainier 100gr Plated Round Nose and some cast lead 95gr Round Nose.

    Powder I've tried is Titegroup and Bullseye.

    For the Titegroup I've loaded from 2.6 to 3.1 grains and they all feel about the same.
    For the Bullseye I've loaded 2.9 and 3.0 grains (just the variation of the throw, not on purpose) These feel the same as the range of Titegroup loads.

    For overall length, I've been at: .935; .957 and .973. All have worked, shot, and passed a drop check in the barrel.

    Now my issues:
    I think I'd like a FMJ type of bullet... Any recommendations? and especially where to get them?

    And for powders? Any recos?

    And for Overall Length? any suggestions.

    In summary, I'm really after your experience with a FMJ and what the powder and length should be. Any other data is a bonus.
  2. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    I have used some Montana Golds (95gr I think) with Power Pistol. I liked it a lot. You can find the thread by searching for my post. I also loaded some Lead 105 gr with Solo 1000 (fast powder). I prefered the feel of the Power Pistol. More umph, seemed more accurate.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011

  3. Ceapea


    Apr 12, 2010
    For my Sig P232, I have over a dozen different combo's of bullets and powders loaded up and ready to test velocity and accuracy. I usually test accuracy first and if it is good, I'll clock them.
    The best so far, has been my 100gr Xtreme Plated RNFP (round nose flat point) bullet over 3.4gr Universal. COAL is always .960 for my loads. This length works well with my magazines. It is very accurate out of my gun out to 50', which is the max at my indoor range. I've even used it for shootin' pins!
    Also, 3.2gr is very good. I have not yet to clocked either of these rounds.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2011
  4. Boxerglocker

    Boxerglocker Jacks #1 Fan

    Mar 6, 2003
    Lynnwood, WA
    I use the freakshow load for .380 100g Berrys RN 3.2g HP38 @ .980 OAL with Federal small pistol primers.Nothing but flawless and accurate out of my P3AT.
  5. ColoCG


    Mar 18, 2011
    I load 100gr. Berry's RNHB bullets with 3.1gr. WST at col. .970" with either REM 1/2 or CCI 500 sp primer. It works great in my LCP and Walther PPK.
  6. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    If you want some economical shooting from your P238 (I love mine, by the way), buy some Missouri Bullets "Secret Agent" 95gr LRNs and load them over 2.9gr W231 at 0.98 COL.
  7. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm 10mm Advocate

    Every handloader that emails me about loading for the .380 ACP asks for a starting point. I tell them 100gr Berry's RN with 3.2gr HP38/W231 @ .980 OAL and that's all you need to know. :wavey:
  8. 95gr Berry's bullet is working good for me with a little help from 3.0gr of Unique. CCI 500 primer, OAL 0.97".
  9. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    When I loaded for the 380, W231 was my choice for 88gr-102gr bullets, but many powders work. OAL as always, bullet & gun specific.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  10. njl


    Sep 28, 2000
    Are you sure about the accuracy of your scale / powder charges? 3.2gr Universal won't cycle my G42. Even at 3.4gr, I get enough unburned powder to make a mess. The lower the charge weight, the worse that gets.

    BTW...that's with the same (Xtreme) bullets, and a slightly shorter OAL.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2014
  11. blastfact


    Aug 15, 2011
    I only load .380 with 90gn XTP's. We shoot a Bodyguard & P3AT.
    3.1gn TightGroup, Good
    3.4gn HP-38, Good
    3.3gn Bullseye, Sucks
    4.5gn Power Pistol, Good
    4.1gn CFE Pistol, Great
    All, except Bullseye come in between 925 to 975fps depending on round and pistol used. All more accurate than we are. I have worked up true book max and above loads. All are useless in such short barreled pistols. All these loads are just under book / published data max.
  12. Ceapea


    Apr 12, 2010
    Even the Hodgdon site lists 3.0 as a starting load and 3.4gr max for for 100gr bullets. I still use this load, almost 3 years later. The Hornady book lists 2.8gr Universal as a starting load for 100gr bullets. The P232 is a tough little bugger when it comes to cycling the slide, and this load does it. You, might want to check your scale's accuracy...
    That, or there is something special about the G42.
    I do agree with you though, too light a load w/Universal is a bit messy. You finding some orangish colored flakes/balls of partially burnt powder? I used to get that when I loaded some 45 acp for my S&W 25-2. Light target loads, but they gummed up the cylinder and star/extractor. I no longer use Universal for that revolver.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  13. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH

    I have tested a bit of .380 ACP, fun round to reload & shoot. Components can be a bit hard to come by depending on where you live. On-line is a bit spotty as far as inventory now-a-days but keep your eyes open.

    As for FMJ bullets - the best bang for your buck is 95g "Magtech", very nice, consistent construction.

    95g Remington & Winchester are always good but a bit more money.

    Test Gun - Bersa Thunder .380 w/3.5" barrel

    Powder/charge/OAL - I have used;
    Hodgdon Universal @ 3.9g / OAL - .970"
    Accurate Arms #5 @ 4.7g / OAL - .970"
    Winchester Autocomp @ 4.2g / OAL - .975"
    Winchester 231 @ 3.2g / OAL - .975"
    Alliant Bullseye @ 3.2g / OAL - .975

    I have used several load manual for my numbers (the more the merrier);
    Lee 2nd Edition & revised Edition
    Hodgdon Reloadning Annual
    Speer #14

    Do your homework, start low & work your way up (you know the drill), and have fun.

    Good luck and keep us posted with range reports.
  14. njl


    Sep 28, 2000
    Do you recall where that data came from, or is that just what you worked up to without anything blowing up? That's 0.4gr above what Hodgdon publishes as max for a 95gr FMJ. OTOH, I've found Hodgdon's data for Universal is sometimes ridiculously conservative.
  15. M24C


    Oct 31, 2002
    Quick loads has that load at around 20K psi with the sami max at 25700psi for 380 auto. So yes I would say that their load data is quite conservative.

    I'm saying Kentguy's load is conservative and Hodgdon is really conservative ;)
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  16. njl


    Sep 28, 2000
    Multiple sources are saying SAAMI max for .380 is 21500psi.

    I'm trying to figure out how far beyond Hodgdon's max for 100gr FMJ might be safe with Xtreme 100gr plated...because 3.4gr Universal Clays just doesn't cut it, and because at their 3.4gr max load, they say the pressure was only 16100psi and at that low pressure, the powder isn't all burning.

    What info would you need to run a quick loads calculation on the 100gr bullets? (if you'd be willing)

    BTW...25700psi happens to be the max pressure for .32NAA (necked down .380). I don't know if it's safe to assume a .380 pistol can take that pressure.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  17. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH
    njl "...Do you recall where that data came from, or is that just what you worked up to without anything blowing up?"
    Interesting way of putting your comment...

    Speer Reloading Manual #14 - Page 847
    95 g TMJ RN
    COAL - 0.970"
    Speer testing out of a 3.8" barrel (Walther PP)
    H.Universal Starting charge - 3.6g @ 854 fps
    Max charge - 4.1g @ 979 fps

    Knowing Universal powder like I do I started my test charges at 3.9g, 4.0g, 4.1g. My best all around test charge was 3.9g coming in at 945 fps out of my Bersa Thunder 380 w/3.5" barrel.

    I always compare my numbers to factory ammo as well;
    Federal "Champion" 380 95g fmj = 980 fps
    Federal "American Eagle" 380 95g fmj = 960 fps
    Remington "UMC" 380 95g fmj = 955 fps
    Winchester "White box" 380 95g fmj = 955 fps

    My tested velocity numbers were all lower than these factory listed velocity numbers so between factory ammo data & Speer listed data My test results and velocity numbers are well within safety boundaries.

    I hope this answers your questions & concerns.
  18. M24C


    Oct 31, 2002
    Okay this is what I found, on the Universal. The Speer #13 manual has the 95 grain bullet that Kentguy listed and the max on it 4.1 grains to 3.6 grains. When I put that load at 95 grains at 4.1 with OAL .980 I get in Quickloads 21500 psi calculated. Which for the SAMI is right at the max. Now Speer Says they don't exceed the sami spec.

    Keeping the same load 4.1 grains and jump to the 100 grain at .980 OAL The pressure jumps to 25500 PSI!

    Now 100 grain load at 3.8 grains of Universal powder puts the pressure at 21700 PSI.
    It is the same OAL for all these values
    3.4 grains gives 17130 PSI,
    3.5 grains gives 18210 PSI,
    3.6 grains gives 19,344 PSI,
    3.7 grains gives 20530 PSI.

    I definitely would not exceed the 3.8 grains without caution on the 100 grain bullet. I believe this is what you were looking for.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  19. njl


    Sep 28, 2000
    Yeah...I just went upstairs and looked at my Speer #14. This appears to be one of the cases where Hodgdon's data is just stupid conservative. They do the same thing with Universal and 230gr .45acp, where Hodgdon's published max load is 0.1gr above Speer's starting load. Hodgdon's starting load was a mess (unburned powder) and crazy low velocity (I think I got about 600fps).

    I'm not sure comparing velocity to factory ammo really has much meaning. Due to differing burn rates, the powders we use might not be capable of reaching factory velocity without dangerously high pressure...or you might easily exceed factory ammo velocity.