ShootingTheBull410 .380 Ammo Quest, The Sequel: Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator

Finding a good-performing load for a .380 pocket pistol is tough. Really tough. That’s why I had to run over 30 different tests before settling on the winner, Precision One’s loading of the Hornady XTP bullet. But… even though that load met the penetration requirements and performed more consistently than any other, and has been loaded in my TCP ever since, I still keep an eye on the .380 ammo market to see if anything better has come along . . .

So my ears certainly perked up when I heard about Lehigh Defense’s new “Xtreme Penetrator” load. Why? Because it claims that it does damage in a new way. It’s not an FMJ. It doesn’t fragment. And it’s not a hollowpoint. It doesn’t expand. Conversely, because it’s not a hollowpoint, it can’t FAIL to expand either, something that was quite problematical with .380 hollowpoints in general, especially thru the heavy denim test.

But since it doesn’t expand, isn’t it just equivalent of an FMJ? Well, not according to them. According to Lehigh, the new XP bullet causes wounding in a familiar way (in that it’s a flat-faced projectile with a sharp edge, like a wadcutter) but also, it creates a big wound channel in an entirely new way — it uses some specially-shaped notches on the front of the bullet to channel and pressurize the fluids (like soft body tissue or blood) that it encounters, and squirt them out the sides at high velocity. That sounds odd, but if you’ve used a pressure washer, you know that concentrated water pressure can do some damage. Lehigh also says that the disruption is compounded by the high speed at which the bullet is rotating. It sprays its high-pressure damage all around the bullet as it travels, or so they say. Sounds like a whirling lawn sprinkler from hell.

Can it possibly live up to those claims? Why not test it and find out? If this round does what they say it will, it should penetrate deeply, not overpenetrate, and create a bigger wound channel than either an FMJ or a hollowpoint. Which would all be very welcome to all us .380 pocket pistol enthusiasts.

To give a proper perspective on this, I put the bullets through bare gel, and also through denim, and then I added a couple of Winchester White Box 95-grain flat-nose FMJs into the mix, and finished it off with a Precision One hollowpoint. That way we have all three types of ammo all represented in the same block of gel, side by side, so we can compare penetration ability and the damage tracks directly in the most apples-to-apples way.

And if you like spoilers, well… you may very well like these apples.