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Thoughts on loading 115gr in 380?

2481 Views 14 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  dkf
So... I picked up an LCP this week, along with reloading components for 380. I'm thinking of giving the 115gr Sierra Sportsmaster HP's a go. Looking at the Lyman 49th data, I should be able to hit 900fps without exceeding SAAMI max pressure. I'm thinking if any 115gr HP will expand at this speed it'd probably be this one. Anyone tried these, or other 115's in 380? How'd they perform?
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I'm guessing you would not enjoy shooting 115 gr out of a LCP fast enough to make it expand. The gun might not like it, either.

Ammo companies do a lot of experimenting to get proper bullet performance/expansion. The heaviest .380 I've seen is the 102 gr Golden Saber from Remington, and IIRC they don't always expand in tests.
 

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When I had the LCP kicked like a mule. The glock 42 recoils like a .22.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I didn't find the recoil bad at all with the critical defense, or 90gr ball. I fired 125 rounds, and my 15yo fired 50, and she enjoyed it. In fact, she was 50 for 50 on 12" plates from 25 to 50 feet. I did get a set of 13# springs and a Hogue grip for it. That should make it even more comfortable to shoot, and easier to find my brass. This thing throws brass 20' with the factory 9# springs. I needed a little pocket pistol for when I can't carry my 26 IWB. My first impressions of the LCP are good. It's accurate for what it is, fun to shoot, and 100% reliable so far.
I wouldn't consider feeding it a steady diet of full power 115's, I don't believe the gun would like that, and I might not either, but if they'll expand and not over penetrate I might carry them. I have 500 Xtreme 100gr plated flat points on the way for the range. I'll load them to 850 or a little less. The only HP's I've seen that will reliably expand, and get 12" or better penetration in 380 are the 90gr XTP and CD. I'm curious if the 115 Sportsmaster might perform better. The Sierras tend to get big expansion and fragment at higher velocities, but I've never found any info on their performance at subsonic speeds. One way to find out I guess.
I'll definitely start low. Data seems to be all over the place, from book to book, and small changes make big differences in the little, low pressure 380 case.
 

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Timmay,

I'd save the 115g bullets for your 9mm. If feel that the 90g XTP bullet will be your best performer out of that 2/75" barrel.
 

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Ditto on the 90gr XTP. That way you'll get enough velocity for reliable expansion. I love XTP bullets, they're my "go to" defensive bullets and have been for many years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm an XTP fan myself. They're my carry choice in 9mm and 357 sig. I also use them in my muzzleloader. In the end I'll probably end up using the XTP or CD in 90 grain along with 95gr flat points in 380. Pocket guns and gear tested a bunch of RN and FP FMJ in gel. He found that if kept below 850fps the FMJ's tended to tumble and penetrate 16"-18". At 900 or above they tended to be stable and penetrate nose forward 20"+. Plain ol cheap FP's of any brand seam to perform pretty well in 380. The hotter +P FMJ or harcast loads from BB and Underwood over penetrate. He also noted that the FP's created a wider wound track than RN's for the first 4"-5" before tumbling began. I like to tinker though, and I enjoy working up loads. I'll most likely play with the 115 Sierra a little and see what I get.
 

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timmay "I like to tinker though, and I enjoy working up loads. I'll most likely play with the 115 Sierra a little and see what I get."

Nothing at all wrong with tinkering, I have been one most of my life. I too love experimenting with different bullets & powders to see what I come up with. True reloading is all about experimentation in my books.
Three key words in reloading...
Experimentation - sometimes you have to step out-side the box
Observation - look very carefully at your process and results
Documentation - write it down!

And of course above all BE SAFE in every step!

Good luck and be safe out there
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well, my LCP answered the 115gr question for me while setting up dies today. I used a 124gr Gold Dot to adjust my seat/crimp die. I seated it to a COAL of .980 and it chambered fine, but wouldn't clear the ejection port. Wouldn't clear at .970 either. The Sierra has a large HP cavity, so I doubt it would clear at that length either. I'm not comfortable trying to push the 115 to a velocity where it might expand reliably seated as deeply as I would need to seat it. Oh well, it was a learning experience. Think I'll stick with 90gr Hornady HP's and 90-100gr FP's from here on. Thank y'all for your input.
 

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The 115gr XTP will work in .380 and the LCP though they will bulge the case. Don't use nickel brass, it is not forgiving enough.

I loaded some 115gr XTPs for my LCP over HS-6 powder. As said above it did bulge the brass but they fit in my LCP. I have not done any expansion tests with them however. I have not had much time to mess around at the range or go up state to shoot into wetpack. I would say however I think it is going to be difficult to get the 115gr bullet going fast enough for reliable expansion from an LCP. Maybe out of a Glock 42 with the right powder at close to or at max charges. The 115gr XTP has the same HP cavity as the 90gr XTP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Loaded up some cast Hunters Supply 115gr pentagon HP's. I had a little trouble with the slide going fully into battery ocasionally with them loaded at .960 like I load 100gr FP's. I shortened them up to .950 -.955 and the LCP runs like a champ with them. 3.4gr WSF got me a 821 fps average. They're shooting POA for me at this speed at 10yds. Time for some hillbilly milk jug testing. Hornady CD tends to pass through two and stop in the third in videos I've seen, and go 12"-13" in gel. Hopefully these will better that, or at least match it with more expansion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The 115 lead HP's either expand unevenly and exit the side of the 2nd or 3rd jug, or the nose just flattens enough to turn them into wad cutters. You just cant generate enough velocity from the LCP to get reliable expansion with them.
 

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Well for .380 those results are not bad. Hunters list those bullets as 10BHN but their alloy has a lot of Tin in it.(5/95) I'd say the expansion would probably be better with air cooled COWW with 2% tin. BHN should be around 8 and not be as tough because the Tin content is less.

It is just hard to get the .380 to perform reliably within the 12"-18" penetration window. Especially so with a short barreled LCP that can't handle real hot over pressure loads.
 
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