The preponderance of pocket pistols has persuaded some ammo manufacturers to re-evaluate their offerings and tailor their them to be more suitable for today’s guns. That’s a good thing, because as I’m finding in my Ammo Quest series, ammo that works great from a full-sized pistol doesn’t always work as well from a pocket pistol (wow, major revelation there, right?) So we’ve seen Speer offering “Short Barrel” versions of their Gold Dots, and Hornady specifically tailored Critical Defense to perform better from short-barrel pistols. Now Remington is offering an updated version of their venerable Golden Saber bullet, called “Remington Ultimate Defense — Compact Handgun.” They actually have introduced two revised versions of Golden Saber; there’s “Remington Ultimate Defense” and also “Remington Ultimate Defense — Compact Handgun” . . .
It’s taken me a while, but I finally got ahold of a box of their “Compact Handgun” ammo in .380 ACP — Academy had it on their shelf, so I picked up a box. I’ve tested the Golden Saber before in .380, twice actually — once in Remington’s original loading, and once in a version from Underwood where they really amped up the velocity. Neither did very well from the tiny 2.8″ barreled pistol that I used.
Now, Remington has apparently reformulated the Golden Saber to make it more appropriate for shorter-barreled pistols. This bullet weighs the same, looks the same, and the expanded bullet looks the same, but as near as I can tell Remington has redesigned it so that it will open up at slower velocities. All bullets have a “velocity window” within which they work best; fire the bullet slower than its minimum necessary velocity and it’ll fail to expand. I have read (but can’t point you to the source) that Remington has reformulated the bullets to open up at around 100 fps slower minimum velocity, and reduced velocity exactly the type of situation one would encounter when using a shorter-barreled pistol.
I fired two rounds into bare gel, and three rounds into denim-covered gel. Why only two in bare? Because when I saw the penetration achieved, I knew there was little point in continuing with the bare shots — even if the rest had been perfect, I was going to have to rule this ammo out of contention. But when I got to the denim, I found that the more things change, the more they stay the same — this new version of the Golden Saber performed exactly the same way that the older version did — it plugged up, failed to expand, and overpenetrated.
Oh well. It’s too bad, because the Golden Saber (in all its variations) sure does open up into a nasty, sharp bullet, but if it can’t be relied on to penetrate deeply enough, and it can’t handle the denim test, then I think that there’s not really any reason to continue on with this ammo, as there are other brands and types that perform better from the little pocket pistol.