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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

It's rare that you find any one issue of a gun magazine so chocked full of valuable information but the Feb/March 08 issue of G&A's "Handguns" is such a read. From a straight-to-the-point review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo to peforming perfect practice drills, measuring and testing handgun fit, to an excellent buyer's guide on holsters. There's more good information in this one issue than I have found in a whole year's reading of other magazines. But back to the Hornady Critical Defense .380 review by Patrick Sweeney...

Key extracts from Sweeney's article are as follows and you can decide if this is the right carry ammo in your LCP:

- "The FBI has long insisted that anything less than a foot of penetration was deemed insuficient for law enforcement needs, emphasis on long enforcement not for civilian defense. "Hornady specifically designed the Critical Defense line for .380, 9mm, .38 Special and .357 Magnum, the calibers we're more likely to be carrying. The bullet is intended to perform wll in gelatin - clothing or no-but auto glass, metal and pylwood are not as good. That's the price you pay for an easy-to-shoot load that works well in the non-law enforcement world."

- "The (Hornady Critical Defense) .380 load fell short of the FBI minimum, which is 12 inches of gelatin with full expansion. The Critical Defense out of a Ruger LCP managed only nine to 10 inches of penetration. But again, this is designed for civilian needs, not law enforcement, and compared to other .380 loads, this is darned good."

- " As for velocity, the 90-grain bullets averaged a very consistent 860 fps. No, that isn't a blazing speed, but w ho wants to shoot a compact pistol with a .380 load that does all it can to approach 1,000 fps? No, 860 fps is a good velocity when you consider that you get nine to 10 inches of gelatin penetration, Hornady accuracy and reliability, and consistent expansion."

- "If you're certain that you'll be shooting miscreants through barriers such as glass, metal and wood.....Critical Defense is not for you. For the rest of us, who balance all the factors that go into load selection, Hornady has another winner."


I think Sweeney's review pretty much says it all. For those in LE, the best application for this ammo would be for when-all-else-fails backup not for primary carry. For civilians who legally carry, odds are you are not going to have to defeat metal or glass barriers to save your skin, and you might legally challenged if you did so (depending on the situation). But for up front and personal defense, the Hornady Critical Defense .380 makes a lot of sense. My question is how does it perform as a one-stop head shot. I am inclined at this point to load 5 Hornady Critical Defense rounds on top of one Buffalo Bore FMJ or JHC for carry.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Thanks for posting... looks like I'll get some in .380 and 9mm, then rotate them depending on my mood between GS and DPX.

AZ
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

AZ, I just came back from the range to try out my post-recall LCP and fired a magazine full. Flawless feeding comparable recoil to most factory .380 loads and accuracy more than adequate for intended purpose. I plan to carry 5 on top of one Buffalo Bore FMJ.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

- "If you're certain that you'll be shooting miscreants through barriers such as glass, metal and wood.....Critical Defense is not for you. For the rest of us, who balance all the factors that go into load selection, Hornady has another winner."

I think Sweeney's review pretty much says it all. For those in LE, the best application for this ammo would be for when-all-else-fails backup not for primary carry. For civilians who legally carry, odds are you are not going to have to defeat metal or glass barriers to save your skin, and you might legally challenged if you did so (depending on the situation). But for up front and personal defense, the Hornady Critical Defense .380 makes a lot of sense. My question is how does it perform as a one-stop head shot. I am inclined at this point to load 5 Hornady Critical Defense rounds on top of one Buffalo Bore FMJ or JHC for carry.
Load selection is very high on my list as it pertains to potential defensive situations; IE: interior of a mobile home with neighbors within 10-20' or at an ATM or convenience store with other people present.

I have a S&W Model 19 in .357; hunting rifles of the .30 cal family; shotguns 12 & 410 guage- all very capable of stopping the bad guy but not as practical as the LCP for carry and all susceptible of collateral damage by traveling through thin walls and greater range than necessary.

The concept of mixed loads is not talked about very often but does make some sense and I would be interested to know if there would be any problems with feeding or POA. (A whole new topic that someone may be kind enough to develop.)
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Short answer is, the only way to know is to test and then test again. I have never had a problem in my LCP with the mixed loads I have fired. A final round of Buffalo Bore FMJ is added insurance and a personal decision - not everyone may feel the need. I would limit it to the first or last round only.

Sorry Snobird I accidently responded in your post by mistake ([email protected]#$ mods!) that's why is says edited. It was not as you can see. :)
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Why would one want to have 1 round of BB or anyhitng else for that matter? sorry if its a dumb question.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

many people have particular feelings about the special order and arrangement that bullets fly out of their gun. Also, that for an particular scenario, the order of bullet type will increase their desired favorable outcome of the serial discharge.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

I ordered 50 rounds thru ATG...I don't know if it will be shipped quicklu or 10-15 days from now. Has anybody ordered from them before that can give me a heads up?
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

ragu1macrider said:
I ordered 50 rounds thru ATG...I don't know if it will be shipped quicklu or 10-15 days from now. Has anybody ordered from them before that can give me a heads up?
I've ordered several times from ATG with fine service. The price has always been more than competitive. I have not ordered this particular round, however.

P.S. - They always shipped right away and I got the stuff the next week.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

I picked some up this weekend and shot 5 rounds of it yesterday. It was $18 for 25 rounds.
Not sure how it worked as I was shooting at triple stacked pieces of treated 12x12 lumber. After I shoot a few more rounds I will tear the target apart and see how they expanded. BTW, none of the rounds I shot (magtech, wwb, golden saber, aquila) went all the way through 2- 2x12's, their still stuck in there. The wwb and magtech that I dug out of the tree were so perfect I think I could have reloaded them.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Has anyone chronographed the Hornady ammo from the LCP?

For that matter, does anyone know what barrel length Hornady used to come up with it's velocity/energy figures? Did they use the LCP, since they are at least hinting that this round was developed specifically for that gun? Or are they using a 6" barrel and trying to B.S. us a little?
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

newshooter said:
Why would one want to have 1 round of BB or anyhitng else for that matter? sorry if its a dumb question.
I carry a "full house" .357 round in the last chamber of my snubbie. I carry a somewhat reduced load for the first 4 shots.

I like the controlability of the reduced loads for repeat shots. That's why I carry them in the first 4 chambers.

When I reach round number 5 - I want to know that I am there. I can then reach for my BUG (LCP) or run for my life as the case may be.

When round number 5 goes off I really know it for sure. (Double Tap 125 gr. high velocity at 1425 fps. vs. DPX 125 gr. reduced velocity at around 1100 fps).

I will probably be carrying the LCP with 6 rounds of the my final choice of self defense ammo. It may and likely will be the Hornady Critical Defense ammo. I will (as is my custom) load with round number 7 being something entirely different. I'll do it for the same reasons as stated before.

AND, quite frankly, in that scenario, I don't really care if the gun is harmed from that round being right on the margin of acceptable pressure for the .380.

However, I probably would NOT want to subject the gun to those kinds of abuses every time I went to the range. (And I will want to fire a few rounds of carry ammo every time I go to the range simply because I want to be sure of the carry ammo's continued functioning in the little gun with it's close tolerances.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Snubbie

I printed out the Hornaday spec sheet the other day and it indicates they used a LCP, at least in the penetration tests, and there is a picture of a LCP laying next to a box of the Critical Defense rounds, so I am guessing that is what they used to chrono those rounds...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Snubbie K said:
Has anyone chronographed the Hornady ammo from the LCP?

For that matter, does anyone know what barrel length Hornady used to come up with it's velocity/energy figures? Did they use the LCP, since they are at least hinting that this round was developed specifically for that gun? Or are they using a 6" barrel and trying to B.S. us a little?
Pat Sweeney in his review indicated he used a Keltec P3AT for chronographing. Average velocity was 860 fps. Hornady developed the round for the LCP/P3AT and other comparable sized .380's.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

ragu1macrider said:
I ordered 50 rounds thru ATG...I don't know if it will be shipped quicklu or 10-15 days from now. Has anybody ordered from them before that can give me a heads up?
I just received a shipment yesterday from Ammunition To Go. It was for 3 different items, all in stock when ordered, but was close to a two week turnaround and I ended up not getting 1 of the three items ordered because they ran out of stock between order date and ship date.

They have added a special "Notice" on their home page that they are running approximately 14 days on order processing time due to unprecedented order volume.

I agree with another poster that they have been excellent in terms of variety of inventory, competitive prices, good communications and fast shipping. (Under "normal" conditions.) :)

Regards, Quiet1
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Pat Sweeney in his review indicated he used a Keltec P3AT for chronographing. Average velocity was 860 fps. Hornady developed the round for the LCP/P3AT and other comparable sized .380's.
[/quote]

860 fps seems to be right in the ballpark of what can be expected from most .380 defense ammo. A little more wouldn't hurt, though. I guess it'll all come down to seeing the comparative terminal results comparisons by various testers (like "Old Grampa").

The price seems OK.

I'd rather subject my gun to this kind of ammo day in and day out than the BB. But still............................a couple of hundred fps more is something to consider, isn't it.

Resisting the impulse to send for a variety of defense ammo right away. I'd sure like to pick one and be able to just stay with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Snubbie, I may end up going with 5+2 (one in the chute). 5 Hornady Critical Defense on top and 2 Buffalo Bore FMJ or hard cast. First I want to do a functioning test. Buffalo Bore is impressive stuff.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

Kraigster,

I notice you're considering the JMJ flat point now instead of the HP's. I assume that is because, as a back up round, it only will come into play if the Hornady's fail to get far enough in - as it were.

That's probably good thinking. Along those lines - one could even go with 3 or 4 Hornady's followed by 3 or 4 BB's. If a few Hornady's fail, there must be a reason for that and it's time to switch up about half way through the magazine.

Lots of ways to look at things, I guess. That's part of the fun of thinking about these problems. It's also one of the challenges of carryng a marginal gun and trying to be ready for every single eventuality. That's not possible of course. But it is interesting to think of how to cover the most bases.

Better to think of these things now than when the chips are down.
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

OK you guys. I've tried to analyze all these scenarios to evaluate if I should consider mixing round types in my magazine. So far, the conclusion I've come to is my head hurts. So I'm back to all one kind in the mag for a while. As soon as my LCP returns from recall processing I will qualify the Critical Defense and if successful, will fill her up with those. In the mean time, keep up with the alternatives and I'll keep taking Excedrin. :D
 

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Re: Review of the Hornady Critical Defense .380 ammo - G&A Handguns Feb/March 08

HowardCohodas said:
OK you guys. I've tried to analyze all these scenarios to evaluate if I should consider mixing round types in my magazine.
I'll give you a reason that has nothing to do with the ammo itself. With a revolver, one of the best ways to overcome bad shooting habits like anticipation and flinching is to mix some spent shells and live loads and then spin the cylinder. Even better is to have someone else load it and hand it to you. When your sights don't move when you hit an empty cylinder, you know your technique has become consistent and refined. Since you can't do this in an auto, the next best thing is to mix loads so you don't know what is coming next and end up concentrating more on controlling the pistol. You have to really re-acquire a sight picture after every shot. The better you get at putting the bullet where you want it to go, the less important the choice of load becomes.
 
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