Federal’s New .380 ACP Round

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The .380 ACP has been on the market since 1908, and over the years there have been some interesting creations based on the diminutive cartridge. After all, who can forget Defense Distributed’s 3D printed, single-shot pistol, the Liberator, which was, of course, chambered in .380 ACP. And for those who think the cartridge is only for pistols, it’s not; there are submachine guns in this caliber such as the Ingram MAC 11.

In recent years it seems the .380 ACP has gained even more popularity, partly due to how easy it is to conceal, and although we could go on for awhile regarding the various reasons for it’s growing popularity that’s a conversation for another day. Today we’re here because Federal is coming out with a new HST round, and it’s for the .380 ACP.

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The Federal HST is known for its fantastic, star-shaped expansion; it often expands to multiple times the size of the bullet’s original diameter. B

Before now the HST has only been manufactured for today’s standard-issue duty weapon calibers – 9mm, .40S&W, .357 SIG, .45 ACP – so it’s a pretty big step in the ammunition world. Yes, it’s true that there are absolutely officers who carry pistols chambered in .380 ACP for their backup gun, but until now they couldn’t load those BUGs with the HST.

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The new round weighs in at 99 grains, putting it outside what’s considered the standard weight range for the cartridge size (that range’s high end is 95 grain). According to testing these rounds have a muzzle velocity of 930 feet per second from a 2.75″ barrel, a speed that was attained by careful selection and balancing of propellants. In addition the bullet traveled 10″ in ballistic gelatin testing.

The Federal .380 ACP 99 grain HST promises maximum terminal performance, nearly-100% weight retention, and a design meant to resist clogging, which is a problem for many HP rounds.

No word yet on MSRP or the exact release date. Although some distributors are beginning to list it on their sites, it hasn’t yet been listed as in stock and they have not had an exact date it will be. Hopefully it won’t be too long, though; it would be great to see these heavier rounds in action.



katie.ainsworth

Katie is an avid shooter, hunter, military journalist, and Southern girl. Firearms are her passion whether at the range or on a spot-and-stalk after a big buck. She’s a staff writer at The Firearm Blog and writes about guns, hunting, and the military for various publications both online and in print such as Outdoor Life, Handguns, and Shooting Illustrated. Shoot her a message at ainsworth.kat@usa.com


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  • Blake

    Not to pick nits, but most of the .380 ACP we have is 100gr Freedom Munitions

    • the ammo addict

      True, but 99 grains is still quite a heavy bullet for the .380 acp coming from a “mainstream” manufacturer like Federal. I’m happy to see that they weren’t afraid to go heavy. Old time reloaders know you can go even heavier for plinking use. I’m loading 115gr plated bullets deep in the case to achieve proper COL, but the accuracy is astounding and the propellant charge in pleasantly small. IIRC, one of my old Lyman manuals even lists loads for an even heavier lead bullet, something like 121gr or 124gr. Whatever weight it was, it has a blunter profile more suitable for loading .380 acp, than the standard 115gr bullets that are intended for 9mm Luger.

  • Hank

    Looks promising. I’d like to see ShootingTheBull410’s put it through its paces.

    • J.T.

      He might be disappointed though since they are only saying 10″ of penetration.

      • Eddie_Baby

        That’s a bad sign. the standard is 12″.

        • Risky

          In all fairness, 12 inches is an absolutely arbitrary standard adopted by the FBI.

          • FightFireJay

            It is NOT fair to say that the 12-18″ mark is “absolutely arbitrary”.

            A lot of shootings were reviewed and it was determined that in order to reach vitals, a bullet would need to often travel 12 inches and passing through a bad guy of up to 18″.

            They didn’t just guess and decide on a dozen to a dozen and a half because that’s how donuts come in boxes. They used statistical analysis. Not all federal employees are stupid.

      • nova3930

        Yeah, especially since he was getting pretty consistent 12″ results on .380 rounds loaded with the Hornady bullets.

      • Blake

        Given that any factory .380ACP ammo we’ve tried won’t push the horizontal toggles on our shooting tree half way around most of the time (whereas 115gr 9mm almost always sends them all the way around), I’d be more concerned with expansion than penetration.

        (& stick with vertical knockdown targets at the range…)

  • iksnilol

    + it is subsonic, nice for suppressor use.

  • gunsandrockets

    I know high-end hollow points are all the rage, but in my opinion some cartridges just don’t have enough energy behind the bullet to make it worthwhile. .380 ACP is a good example.

    • RealitiCzech

      380 occupies the difficult position of having HP ammo that won’t penetrate enough, and FMJ that penetrates too far.

      • FightFireJay

        Shootingthebull410 has found several cartridges that expand consistently and also make 12-18″ penetration. Specifically any loading of Hornady’s XTP bullet (by Hornady, Fiochi, and others) and the Federal hydrashock.

  • TZH .

    anything new for this cartridge is good. my zombie maxx rounds are cute but they clash against my other Federals

  • Lt Donn

    I don’t trust any HP round in .380…they simply lack the velocity to ensure deep penetration. Especially in colder climates where several layers of clothing are the norm…the Only 380 round I would trust is Buffalo Bores 100gr hard-cast…especially designed to maximize the penetration of the 380…now this round will not expand…but at least you may be able to punch several deep holes…the HP’s simply don’t go deep enough and will expand too soon to be effective

    • FightFireJay

      Not always the case. shootingthebull410 tested many 380s and found that Hornady XTP and Federal hydrashock do very well.

    • Paul Kalman

      Lt. Don, have you tried Precision One? You tube showed it as only one of two consistent for 12″ penetration both with bare gel and 4 layers of denim, I tried to duplicate it and found it close to the same (I couldnt afford calibrated ballistics gel)

  • Rob_F

    With major manufacturer Remington’s 102 grain Golden Saber load having been around for so many years, a 99 grain load is well within the current standard weight range for the .380 ACP cartridge. Less numerous than 90-95 grain loads, but still within today’s commonly found weight range.

  • percynjpn

    What exactly are these “absolutely officers”?

  • Joseph Simeone

    I,m worried that a 99 grain is so close to the lack luster 102 grain Golden Saber (from a 2.75 in barrel)it is not going to expand, unless it will be 900 fps or faster out of a 2.75 LCP or same.

  • Joseph Simeone

    to push a 99 grain to 930 from a 2.75 barrel it would have to go like 1100 from a 4in. barrel that would be close to a +p load. most 90 grains list 1000 fps from a 3.75in. barrel. I hope the fps of 930 are right on spec I will be snatching it up.