I wasn’t sure what to make of the Buffalo Bore .380 ACP +P 100gr Hardcast Flat Nose when I first got my hands on it. I’ve done a large amount of shooting with lead bullets in .38 Special, .45 ACP, and .45 Colt, but never in something like this in .380. I didn’t quite understand it, but I quickly discovered that this load does what it does very well.
Buffalo Bore needs no introduction here. They make some of the most powerful ammo that’s commercially available and it is legendary in its performance. This load is very similar to the hardcast Outdoorsman line that Buffalo Bore offers. I’ve tested a variety of bullets in this line (with more to come) and have great respect for what good old-fashioned lead can do.
The idea was to make a .380 that offered superior velocity and penetration, thus making small pocket guns into serious self-defense weapons as opposed to a last-ditch compromise.
The .380 load here features a 100gr hardcast lead bullet with a flat nose. This flat nose is great for creating crushing damage and will also offer straighter penetration through bone and tissue.
Accuracy and Basic Performance:
I fired this load through a SIG SAUER P238, which is one of the best .380 pistols made today. I chronographed ten rounds over my Oehler 35P and gathered that the load travels just under the listed speed of 1150fps, that being 1095fps.
The five-shot groups I achieved on paper at both ten feet and fifteen yards came in at a respective 1.5” and 3” from standing. That’s acceptable for what this round is and is intended for out of a gun as small as the P238.
Recoil is greater than a standard .380 load, but it isn’t bad. An interesting note about this round is that there’s some bullet lube smoke that comes out upon firing. It’s part old west and part badass. Some people who didn’t grow up shooting black powder may be alarmed by it, but it’s not a concern.
This was an interesting test for several reasons. I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I fired my first gel test at a fighting distance of six feet. The bullets penetrated completely and passed through my wood backer. I decided to back off a bit and walk out to 10 yards. Again, complete pass-through. To make the story shorter, I wasn’t able to stop the bullets in bare 10% FBI gel from Clear Ballistics at any distance inside 15 yards.
To make matters more interesting, the bullets passed clean through all the fabric I tested, including leather and heavy denim. The bullets just passed directly through in a straight line with virtually no variance. I expect this from something like a .45 Colt hardcast, but not a .380.
To confound matters even more, I wasn’t able to recover a complete bullet even when shooting through 2×4 boards. I ended up with very small shavings of the bullet in the gel, but nothing complete. Shooting through wood may as well have been shooting through a shirt.
These bullets are exceptionally hard to stop, and when they have been deformed they shred tissue like you wouldn’t believe. The would channels in the gel were ragged and had pieces of wood in them, but no bullets.
Unlike many other bullet types, this hardcast flat nose crushes the material it comes in contact with instead of just icepicking right through. Wound channels weren’t particularly wide, but they were much more ragged than what a FMJ can produce.
The most shocking damage done was when materials were involved. No other bullets I’ve tested produced the amount of particle and splinter damage as this. The bullets were hard enough to stay complete and force their way through, but soft enough to deform in material and take it in with it. This bullet no doubt would do tremendous damage to bone.
The Buffalo Bore 100gr +P hardcast flat nose is something that you may want to consider carefully for everyday carry. It does exactly what it is supposed to do. The question is, is that something you want? The .380 round has struggled with penetration, but that’s not a problem with these hardcast bullets. The concern here is over-penetration.
A story can be found on the Buffalo Bore website about a man killing a grizzly bear with the 9mm version of this bullet type and getting incredible penetration. Given my tests, I can certainly believe the penetration claim.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * * * *
While not match accurate, this load produced very acceptable results for self-defense. Jacketed bullets always seem to product better results in modern guns like the P238.
Handling: * * * *
This load adds some oomph to a .380. Still, it handles well and offers fast follow-up shots considering the power level in such a small gun.
Reliability: * * * * *
I had zero issues to speak of with this load. It left my gun a bit dirtier than usual, but that’s to be expected with lead bullets.
Terminal Performance: * * * * *
For being just 100 grains, this bullet is a freight train at bad breath distance. If you want to have a load that can blitz through a bad guy doing damage as it goes, this is the one.
Overall: * * *
The Buffalo Bore .380 ACP+P 100gr Hardcast Flat Nose is certainly effective as a personal defense load in small carry pistols. It will inflict serious damage on your attacker. You won’t have to worry about carrying an underpowered .380 round. But unlike many .380 rounds, the concern here is its over-penetration. That’s a definite consideration in a round you intend to carry for personal defense, and a risk many carriers won’t want to take.