Best 380 Ammo Reviews for Self Defense

Best-380-AmmoThoughts of home invasion and robberies circling your head? Want to feel a bit safer every time you sleep? You should look for 380 ammo as your daily carry.

I often found myself in the shady parts of town for business. I couldn’t help but feel the need for a carry weapon glued by my side. Well, that’s just what I got!

Although I have never used it, the thought of the cold metal always helps keep me at peace.

The 380 ammo was and always will be my first choice for self-defense. When designed with a jacketed hollow point, it can help you deliver quick and easy blows to any target. Want to know about the best 380 ammo in the market? Read ahead and find out!

At a Glance: Our 6 Best 380 Ammo

My Top Choice

My personal favorite happened to be the Winchester USA 380 ammo. Not only is it perfect for self-defense, but it is also affordable as well. Deep penetration and superior stopping power are just the tip of the iceberg. And it’s not just me! Most users seem to revel in the reliability and smooth feed quality the Winchester provides.

Read more about the Winchester USA 380 ammo below…

6 Best 380 Ammo for Self-Defense

Winchester USA 380 Handgun Ammunition-Best Overall Ammo

The Winchester USA White Box stands for excellence and reliability in the world of ammunition. Their 380 ammo is perfect for concealed carry as well as self-defense.

Key Features

  • Consistent accuracy to ensure superior self-defense
  • Heavyweight 95-grain bullets
  • Pack of 50 Jacketed Hollow Point cartridges
  • Muzzle velocity of 955 fps

What Other Users Are Saying

Like myself, most users find the Winchester to be a reliable option for self-defense. The JHP Cartridges expand considerably well. It makes sure that your target is wounded and incapacitated. Furthermore, they feature deep penetration into the target without leaving through the other side.

The high muzzle velocity further helps the ammo in staying embedded inside the target; otherwise, the bullet might damage innocent people. The high energy deposit and the higher mass ensures more force is behind each round. They are available in a box of 50 rounds which most users found sufficient for self-defense needs.

Watch how it holds up:



  • Boxer primed so it can be reloaded and replaced
  • Non-corrosive and durable bullets
  • JHP bullets ensure maximum penetration and larger wounds
  • High stopping power
  • Available in a large box of 50 rounds


  • Higher recoil due to heavy bullets

To Sum Up

All in all, the Winchester holds up to its reputation. It might be a bit expensive, but its reliability mostly makes up for it! The higher reliability ensures the bullets never jam up when you need them the most.

Overall rating: 4.9


Hornady Custom 380 ACP Handgun Ammunition-Best Value for Money Ammo

Hornady’s custom .380 ammo is the best 380 ammo in the market due to its high level of expansion as well as penetration. Not only is it used by law enforcers, but self-defense users swear by its performance as well.

Key Features

  • XTP Jacketed Hollow Point bullets
  • Expand 1.5 times more than their original diameter
  • Can penetrate to terminal depths due to stopping power
  • 90 gr. bullet weight as well as a box primer

What Other Users Are Saying

Most users love the more traditional ammo from the Hornady brand. They find it perfect for self-defense. According to Hornady, their bullets can easily expand up to 1.5 times more than their original diameter. Not only this, but they possess superior stopping power as well.

Overall, your targets will up with large wounds and a bullet that penetrates deeply. The XTP JHP bullets include various serration on the jacket to facilitate expansion. On the other hand, the jacket includes varying thicknesses throughout the length of the bullet. This helps control the expansion while helping the bullet penetrate deeper.

Want to dig deeper?



  • Leaves behind large wounds
  • Penetrates deeply into the target
  • Expands considerably well
  • Bullets are intricately designed to ensure maximum damage
  • Heavyweight helps possess high stopping power


  • Harder recoil
  • Package only contains 25 rounds, which might be fewer than you’d like

To Sum Up

The Hornady with its large expansion power and never-jamming bullets will ensure you’re always protected no matter what! As a result, you’ll feel safer and more secure.

Overall Rating: 4.8


Hornady Critical Defense 380 Handgun Ammo

If you’re looking for something a little less conventional, then perhaps the Hornady FTX bullets will suit you better. With a high muzzle velocity and a large weight, they are bound to incapacitate one target after the other.

Key Features

  • 25 Polymer Tipped Hollow Point Bullets
  • Lead core locked to the jacket to ensure reliable performance
  • Secant Ogive profile
  • 90 gr. bullet weight while the muzzle velocity is about 1000 fps

What Other Users Are Saying

Buyers and users can’t seem to get enough of the modern Polymer tipped FTX bullets. The soft polymer tip and the lead core ensure immediate expansion once the bullet is in contact with the target. In addition, users found it worked well in all sorts of tubular magazines.

Moreover, the lead core is locked to the jacket which ensures that they never separate. Thus, users got deeper penetration as well as maximum weight retention. Moreover, the Interlock design when combined with the heavy jacket, helps to control the expansion. As a result, you get stable and accurate trajectories.

For more information, watch:


  • Immediate and high level of expansion
  • Includes all the ballistic advantages of an FJM
  • Works well with all kinds of guns, especially tubular magazines
  • Ensures deeper penetration as the jacket stays locked
  • Accurate, flat and stable trajectories


  • Difficult to reload
  • Expensive

To Sum Up

With FTX technology behind these rounds, it’s hard to argue about the high price point. Overall, they are sure and reliable. No wonder they made it to my list of the best 380 ammo.

Overall Rating: 4.8


Federal Hydra-Shok Handgun 380 Ammo

Used my various law enforcement agencies, the Federal Hydra-Shok has certainly made its mark in the ammo world. One of the best 380 ammo, it ensures deep penetration and provides efficient energy to fully indispose off any threats.

Key Features

  • Controlled expansion due to the center post design
  • A serrated or notched jacket ensures maximum energy transfer
  • JHP bullets with Hydra Shok feature
  • Nickel plated brass casing

What Other Users Are Saying

The major notable feature is the Hydra Shok design. This includes a center post design which allows for controlled expansion. Users noted that their bullets expanded quite well. Others also stated that there was sufficient energy transfer to allow the bullet to penetrate easily. However, the stopping power was just as excellent, ensuring the bullet stays inside the target.

Other than that, the casing features brass construction and a nickel plating. Perhaps this is why users found them to be non-corrosive and thought they braved against moisture quite well. Furthermore, the boxer primer ensures users can easily remove and reload the primer with maximum ease.

To see how it holds up in real life:



  • Controlled expansion as well as sufficient energy transfer
  • Excellent stopping power to reduce any collateral damage
  • Non-corrosive and durable
  • Easy to reload the primer
  • Can be used in all kinds of weather conditions


  • Large recoil
  • Very few rounds in a box

To Sum Up

The Federal Hydra Shok 380 ammo is a force to be reckoned with. It the ultimate control at the tip of your fingers. All in all, it is a great choice for a personal carry or home defense.

Overall rating: 4.8


Federal Personal Defense 380 HST Handgun Ammunition

If you’re looking for something a little heavier, then the Federal HST might serve you better. The HST Personal Defense ammo is not only reliable, but it ensures superior terminal performance as well.

Key Features

  • 100% weight retention at 99gr
  • Pack of 20 JHP bullets
  • High muzzle velocity of 1030 fps
  • High-level terminal performance

What Other Users Are Saying

Users have found the HST to be the most reliable ammo in the industry, with fewer jams and misfire than any other 380 ammo. The Jacketed Hollow Point design ensures maximum expansion as well as optimum penetration through the toughest of materials.

Moreover, the jacket is linked with the core and does not separate upon impact. Thus, users noted how well it penetrated and achieved 100% weight retention. Furthermore, the tips of the jacket are thinned which allows for more efficient expansion. In addition, users find that this ammo is best suited for short barreled pistols and handguns.

Watch how it fares against others:



  • Penetrates through tough materials and fabric easily
  • Quickly disposes of threats
  • Suitable for short barreled pistols and handguns
  • Does not separate
  • Features superior penetration as well as expansion capabilities


  • Very expensive
  • Heavyweight bullets may result in deeper projectile curves

To Sum Up

All in all, when your life hangs on a thread, you can count on the HST to save you. It is perfect for self-defense and concealed carry!

Overall Rating: 4.5


Winchester W Train & Defend 380 Ammo

Looking for the ultimate solution to all your defending needs? The Winchester W Train & Defend is a highly coveted package that helps you stop any threats right in its tracks!

Key Features

  • Lead-free box primer
  • 95 gr. bullet weight as well as 950 fps muzzle velocity
  • Bonded jacket and core
  • Limited recoil

What Other Users Are Saying

A lot of users, especially those who were training to shoot found this to be the perfect ammo for self-defense. Not only does it feature minimal recoil, but the JHP bullets ensure easier and quicker incapacitation. This makes it perfect for new shooters and users.

Moreover, the bonded jacket and core allow for maximum penetration and weight retention. Also, the lead-free primers help you to use it indoors as well. In addition to this, the lead-free design means you won’t have to clean your gun too often.

For the full Ballistics Test:



  • Features minimal recoil
  • Allows for maximum penetration and expansion
  • Doesn’t require frequent cleaning
  • Quicker incapacitation as larger wounds are left on the target
  • Increased indoor range


  • Initial feed might not chamber smoothly
  • A little unpowered in terms of velocity

To Sum Up

The Winchester W Train and Defend 380 ammo ensures you get reliable and smooth performance. In addition, it is perfect for new shooters or trainees due to its minimal recoil.

Overall Rating: 4.4


Other Great 380 Ammo

About The .380 Ammo and Where to Use it

The .380 ammo is an Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) cartridge made for straight walled pistols. It was developed by John Moses Browning and commercialized by Colt Industries. The .380 ACP has a typically shorter range than most other pistols.

Most bullets weigh about 85 to 95 grains, but you can also pair it with a 9mm 115-grain bullet. Talking about the specs, a 95-grain hollow bullet will travel at 980 fps and penetrate 17 inches. The expansion is approximate .36 inches. The recoil is incredible with this one, so be extra cautious when firing a round.

Due to the minute size and weight, the .380 ammo is pocketable. It can be used with small hand calibers and handguns. I recommend using the .380 ammo in backup guns when you have no other arm at hand. There are some other arms that make great use of the .380 ammo, such as Glock 42 and Walther PPK.

Generally, if you choose to pocket it, use a pocket holster or keep it away from other objects. That way, you don’t risk accidentally shooting it. Overall, the .380 ACP ammo has some serious caliber.

Wondering what’s so different about the 380? Watch a comparison with the ever popular 9mm:

Why You Should Choose JHP 380 Ammo

JHP means Jacketed Hollow Point. These bullets were one of the very few that changed the firearms industry. These are made of lead and copper and are great at controlling expansion and penetration.

Bonded JHP bullets make sure that the jacket remains attached to the core. This makes expansion easier and penetration very trivial. I highly recommend them as they are perfect for taking down an intruder or attacker.

They are regarded as the defense industry’s best contraption. These bullets are not only fast, but have a suitable expansion rate. This accelerates penetration and speed.

For details:

How to Choose the Best 380 Ammo for Self-Defense

When it comes to choosing the best 380 ammo, you might get confused due to the wide variety available in the market. No need to worry! Here are my two cents on some of the major factors, which are:


The penetration power needs to be strong enough to enter deep inside the body in order to cause major harm. Generally, the penetration depends on the weight and the type of bullet. With JHPs, you will always get deep penetration while FMJs might pass right through the target without stopping. Choose a JHP ammo that can penetrate about 70% into the body.


Next, the expansion of the bullet once it hits the target is important as well. It can help you leave larger wounds. This way you won’t have to waste more rounds as you can easily dispose of the threat with a single shot.

I personally recommend you go for a bullet that expands considerably well. Test it through denim as well, because most bullets lose expansion capabilities after passing through the fabric.


A 380 ammo may show amazing results when tested for penetration and expansion, however, it might not be reliable. What I mean by this is that if only two out of five bullets feed well or expand well, then there’s no point to buying the ammo. Always opt for ammo that shows the highest reliability with little chances of any misfires.

Weight Retention

You might have often seen manufacturers label their ammo with “100% weight retention.” The ability to retain weight after the bullet has penetrated can make a huge difference in the amount of damage to the threat.

Therefore, look for online tests that measure the weight before and after the test. Mostly, bonded jackets show almost 100% weight retention.

Weight and Muzzle Velocity

The weight of the projectile directly affects the velocity and its trajectory. You’ll find that most 380 ammo weighs about 90–99 gr. Usually, heavier weight results in lower muzzle velocity and heavier recoil.

Overall, you need to find a balance between the two. Ensure that the projectile is not too light that it doesn’t cause sufficient damage and that it isn’t too heavy either.

Generally, if you’re going for a handgun with a longer barrel length, you should choose a heavier projectile.


Whether you wish to carry it around in the shady parts of town or keep it locked up in a safe for emergencies, 380 ammo for self-defense can end up saving your life. However, which one stands the winner of my lineup? Yes, you guessed it! The Winchester USA 380 ammo is perhaps the best 380 ammo on the market.

The credit goes to the premium expansion capabilities as well as the excellent stopping power. Both these qualities are highly coveted and desired for in any self-defense ammo. The sheer threat stopping power can help you keep your family safe and secure. Although, I do hope you never get to use it!

Leave a Reply