Previous Post
Next Post

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.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. Good video. High pressure gas and liquid cuts well, so the principle seems sound. But. I am pretty skeptical that bone would not affect performance. Bone could cause the bullet to deform, deflect, or tumble, rendering those sharp edges useless.

    • Wouldn’t bone also cause hollowpoints to deform, tumble, deflect, or fail to expand, thereby rendering them just as useless as any other bullet after a bone strike?

    • And cue..3…2…1…

      [Insert name of politician] of [insert name of jurisdiction] working with [insert name of civilian disarmament group] has introduced legislation to ban lethal sharp-edged “notched bullets” which cause tremendous high-pressure damage to the human body.

      “These bullets, along with hollow points, aren’t allowed on the battlefield, why should we allow them on our streets. It’s time for gun owners to agree to common sense legislation,” said [insert name of politician].

      • Speaking of the battlefield, since these do not “expand” or “flatten” could they be legal under the Hague Convention?

        Can you imagine what a military contract could be worth?

        • I had thought about that as well, so I looked it up, and the Hague Convention specifically prohibits “the use of bullets which can easily expand or change their form inside the human body such as bullets with a hard covering which does not completely cover the core, or containing indentations”.

          I don’t know what the original meaning was about indentations back in 1899, but I would expect that this design would likely not be allowed because it clearly does contain indentations.

        • I bet the original intention behind “indentations” referred to soldiers cutting or pressing an “X” into the front of bullets by. The so-called “Dum-Dum” round. Whether or not this worked is debatable (it would be an interesting experiment to perform, hint, hint…). But some people seemed to think so. Eventually police/crime genre book authors got hold of the idea (followed by Hollywood) and the miracles the “Dum-Dum” were given credence for got more ridiculous with each iteration.

          That would be my best guess. And no matter the original intent, I’m sure they would apply it to these rounds also because, as they would say “They sure ’nuff look like indentations to me!”

        • The indentation reference in The Hague Convention is in reference to making a bullet deform. The notches in these cavitation bullets do not make the bullet deform, so the are legal under the international law of war.

    • Someone on YouTube performed a test using the 10mm version of this ammo and it went through bulletproof glass with extremely minimal effect on the bullet. I’m sure bone won’t have a more adverse effect on the bullet than bulletproof glass.

    • Gelatin does not produce “wounds” that are representative of a wound produced in real tissue, though. The biggest difference is that gelatin is not nearly as elastic as real tissue (except brain and liver tissue). When a projectile passes through gelatin or tissue, it pushes some of the material out to the side and the momentum imparted on that tissue causes it to continue outward for some distance. The empty space this creates is called the temporary stretch cavity, or TSC. It is temporary because the tissue stretches, then snaps back into place like a rubber band. At velocities exceeding 2,000 fps, this TSC can expand beyond the elastic limit of the tissue and cause tearing. The Lehigh ammunition doesn’t produce velocities anywhere near that, though. That means that the tears that are seen in the gelatin block do not represent wounding. They are simply an artifact caused by the relative inelasticity of gelatin.

  2. Ok… I’m very impressed. Given summer clothing and my general dislike of pocket pistols, this is going along way towards making me feel comfortable with my little Walther.

  3. I thought this was going to be another round like RIP, glad to see an innovative new design be able to perform. If I get a .380 again I’d consider this first.

  4. I wonder if you could cast these effectively in straight up lead? (just to reduce costs)

    What an incredibly interesting development.

    • For this bullet, I would cast it in “hardcast” lead. The lead typically used in bullets is mushy as we all know. Hardcast lead used in bullets is much harder and designed to maintain its shape even when encountering bone. And hardcast lead is still inexpensive since it is roughly 94% lead and the remaining metals (antimony and tin) are fairly inexpensive as well.

      • Ah cool. I didn’t realize hardcast was an alloy. (Kind of a noob still)

        I’m actually more worried about the precision of the cast. If the cuts were asymmetric your bullet could do bad things. You would want predictability. Obviously you don’t want your bullet deforming for that reason as well.

      • Being a machinist,working with lead is difficult , hardened lead,with tin even more so,and holding a sharp edge impossible

  5. I am very wary of ammo that doesn’t come from a major manufacturer, but this has my interest. It may raise my beloved PPk’s from the back of the gun safe and turn them into the summer guns I’ve always wanted them to be. Might even make my LCP a decent back up and (gasp) relegate my J-frame to nostalgic status.

    • I too have been impressed my these tests. But, I had to check out whether this round would operate reliably in my Glock 42. I tried it, and it does. The result is that I now carry the Glock with Lehigh instead of a J frame loaded with .38 +P’s. The Lehigh looks to be as lethal as any .38.


        • No problems with the Lehigh .380 XP in your Sig p238? On Lehigh’s website it says some folks have reported cycling problems with the Kahr380 and the Sig p238…. none for you? I’m interested in this load but money is tight, don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Thanks. Email me your results please, if you will, at [email protected]
          Would be much appreciated.

    • This may be a little late in reply, but . . .

      My PPK (S&W, not Interarms or German made) was having FTF issues with every mag of the Lehigh Extreme Penetrators. Fwiw, it’s been pretty good about reliably eating everything else I’ve fed it.

      That said, there’s another reply in this thread saying that they worked fine in his PPK. I wonder if his is an S&W model, or not.

  6. Now_this_is interesting ammo. I’m real curious how this type of shape would do in 9mm, .357, etc.

    Lehigh is doing interesting stuff.

    • There was apparently a similar design some years ago, the “Devel” bullet, but it wasn’t CNC-machined, it was made from sintered copper. I have no experience with them and can’t say how they’d perform vs. these Lehighs; I would imagine the CNC machining process might have allowed for a more precise design but that would just be speculation. As far as I understand it, sintering is primarily used in frangible bullets and is not likely to have been as robust a design as a solid copper core, so perhaps the Lehighs perform more consistently through barriers and through bones. Again, speculation, as I have no experience with the Devel and don’t know how similar it may or may not have been.

    • makes pretty phillips head holes in paper. just saying. most intriguing development…and you heard it first from STB.

    • They have a .357 version already; it’s not lead or jacketed of course, as all these bullets are 100% solid machined copper. The mfr states 27″ of penetration from a .357 Magnum.

      Seems like an awful lot for a personal defense bullet against humans, but if you had to defend against a large predator, that extra penetration might be very useful. The .44 Magnum version claims it’ll go a full 32″.

      The other one I think that is most interesting (besides the .380) is the .38 Special; I’ve seen lots of tests of .38 Special from snubbies where expansion just hasn’t been consistent (or happened at all). The XP claims 17″ of penetration, which should be pretty good for personal defense purposes, but they didn’t list the barrel length so I don’t know for sure what that means. If I ever get around to doing a .38 Special Ammo Quest, I’ll definitely try to get some of those thrown in the mix.

      • Ah, I somehow missed that these are lead-free.

        Yes, I was specifically interested in how well these would work for protection against predators in a snubbie. Right now I’m carrying 180gr hard cast Buffalo Bore in a 2″ Chiappa Rhino when hiking. This should work reasonably well penetration-wise, but the bullets don’t open up much (and, OTOH, JHPs that do open up won’t necessarily have enough penetration out of a snubbie to deal with bears). A bullet that can both penetrate deep and expand the wound cavity would be a welcome change.

        .38 also sounds interesting, yes. .357 out of Rhino is not nice to shoot, but still controllable, partly because of its design, but partly because it’s just heavy enough. Lighter pocket snubbies with conventional layout are going to be much harder to control. If .38 doesn’t give up too much penetration, it could be a good compromise.

        For giggles, test it in Taurus View. 🙂

        By the way, have you given any thought to the idea of crowd-funding your tests that I’ve mentioned earlier? I, for one, would definitely chip in for .357 and .38 testing.

        • I would generously support a crowd-funded .38 Special Ammo Quest. I’ve been a .38 Spcl shooter since the mid-80’s and consider myself conversant with the various cartridges from the major manufacturers. But a systematic round up like the kind that you do, Dan, would be most welcome. I bought my first .380 for my wife last year and, not being too familiar with the caliber, your .380 Ammo Quest proved invaluable. A similar assessment of the .38 Spcl would get my money.

  7. Looks interesting and I’ll have to monitor ongoing developments with this approach on bullet design, as my backup EDC firearm is a TCP, too. Gel tests are great, but since this caliber is for me only used as a backup and potential extreme close range defensive firearm, I’m not terribly worried about ballistic performance. At distances measured in inches, I’m pretty confident that most of the options out there will do what I expect of them in terms of penetration and damage.

    What really matters to me is that the cartridge reliably cycles and doesn’t FTF on the second shot. That’s been a problem with .380 handguns for me overall, not just with the Taurus, and particularly with hollow points rather than FMJs.

    I overcome this with a super firm grip, as well as keeping the firearm extra clean and lubed. Still, results vary by ammo. The wadcutter idea hadn’t occurred to me, but I’d be interested to try that out. Didn’t realize .380 even came in a wadcutter version. Good tip.

    • Totally agree. Reliability is the #1 most important factor; bullet technology doesn’t mean anything if it won’t feed in your gun!

      I have had my share of FTFeed’s with the little Taurus, that’s for sure. Almost all were eliminated by using the “mag lip” fix (prying the feed lips a little more open); that made a night-and-day difference. Any remaining issues have been solved, as you have done, with a “gorilla” grip on the little pistol. Limp-wristing is a sure way to get misfeeds on the tiny pistols with a variety of ammo.

      I only had one box of ammo to test with, and I shot up almost half of that just putting the bullets in the block… I used the rest for a reliability test using a tight grip, and was plenty pleased with how that turned out, but I would advise anyone to test the feeding properties of any defensive ammo through their personal gun before trusting their lives to it. Especially when there’s something unusual about the shape of the ammo, such as this Lehigh round, or a G2 RIP, or a flatnose FMJ, or a Hornady Critical Defense/Duty bullet with the polymer tip — I’ve never had a problem with the Hornadys feeding, but I’ve read plenty of gun forum reports from people who say the polymer tip causes friction and gets the bullet hung up in the magazine on their guns.

      Guns can be finicky; some may feed everything, some may be very particular. You have to test the ammo from your particular gun. And that’s why at the end of this video I made sure to mention that this could be a great choice IF it feeds properly and reliably in your gun. Only way to know is for everyone to test the feeding themselves in their own individual guns.

      • That’s good advice, particularly the tip about the mag’s feed lips. Keep doing what you’re doing, my friend. The videos and analysis are useful and valuable and I’m sure appreciated by more people than might get around to mentioning it. Thanks.

      • I picked up some of this to try and did have one odd thing with my TCP. I ran 10 magazines through and 4 of the 10 first round from the magazine didn’t quite seat. The slide was out of battery by about 1/16″ inch (or less) and just thumb pressure seated it immediately. No failure to feed, fire or eject while actually shooting, just when slingshotting the slide on the first round.

        I have not had this with any other ammo I’ve tried and I know the gun was cleaned and lubed OK before the trip. Odd. I did run 13 rounds of Critical Defense first but that shouldn’t have been enough to crud up the works. t may look at polishing the feed ramp just in case the edges of the bullet are not sliding smoothly and it is slowing things down just enough on that first round out of the mag that it isn’t seating.

        • hi,

          could this be an instance where the bullet (lehigh) might provide enough advantage that giving up a favorite pistol might be in order? several commenters report reliable performance in a number of other weapons. have used both lehigh and polymer tip successfully, multiple times in: SW Model 10-7, MP9c, RIA 9mm 1911, sig 238, bersa thunder plus. in each case, no adjustment was make to the pistol, mag, or feed ramp. all performed perfectly clean or dirty. i can understand your dilemma. i am stuck between lehigh and precision one.


  8. Damn. This’ll be perfect for anyone with little mouse 380s for CC. I like the idea and concept of the round too, I can’t imagine what it’ll do on a nine or .45.

    • They do offer it in the bigger calibers. According to their details, most of the service caliber loadings result in what I would consider significant overpenetration (21″ or more). The .45 ACP claims 27″ of penetration and a damage cavity a full 2″ in diameter. That sounds impressive; I wonder if using it in a short-barrel pistol like the XD-S might rein in some of that overpenetration…

      … as said before, against humans that might be too much penetration, but maybe these types of rounds would be interesting for those who use their guns for defense against larger predators, where that extra penetration might be a very good thing indeed…

      • It also sounds like it could be good ammunition for pistol-caliber carbines to extend the effective range – light bullets at fairly high (they claim 1400 FPS – more out of a carbine barrel, of course) velocity, and being lead-free they should be long, increasing BC. Lack of a hollow point should also contribute to BC somewhat. Of course, as velocity drops with distance, the efficiency of their bullet design would also be diminished, but even then it should be as good as FMJ.

  9. I would be very interested in seeing some tests done to see how this round feeds in a number of common firearms. The profile is enough like the Winchester white box flat nose round that I am very suspicious, perhaps even skeptical, about this round feeding reliably. Neither my Ruger LCP nor Taurus TCP will feed the white box at all well and I have not yet encountered anyone locally who has not commented that it failed to feed properly. They are, of course, one time only purchasers. I wonder why Winchester hasn’t gotten the word and change their bullet design.

  10. If people are curious about penetration through bone, why not get some large slabs of meat (maybe like ribs) from a butcher? It doesn’t have to be super scientific, but just to get an idea.

  11. I too just put in an order for a few rounds and calibers.
    Just my curiosity.
    Im more then happy with both Liberty for underpenetrating scenarios and wont give up my HSTs for regular carry just yet,

  12. I really like the fact that this bullet construction uses its rotational energy to improve terminal performance. All other bullet designs waste their rotational energy on impact as far as I know.

  13. I don’t own anything in 380, nor have I ever shot anything in this caliber.

    Went to look at pistols about two weeks ago, the gentleman behind the counter told me that he shot a 380 pistol at a dummy at 8 yards, and the damned round failed to penetrate a Carrhart denim jacket.

    I smell a little exaggeration there, but that still about killed the attractiveness of the 380 round for me.

    • It would be interesting to see the circumstances of that test. I’ve shot a ton of .380’s through four layers of heavy denim, and not one has ever bounced off; they all bust right through and then go on to penetrate 8 to 14″ of flesh simulant too.

      The .380 is far from an ideal defensive round; it’s pretty much the bare minimum I’d consider adequate for protection, but — it certainly hasn’t shown any deficiency in handling denim in my tests…

    • interesting. have heard that .38spl+P bounce-off NYPD winter coats when the bullet is fired from arms length. heard about it, but never found actual documentation. if you look at what STB has demonstrated, the .380 can actually be an effective round. STB is transparent about his test conditions. one wonders at a retailer who makes a claim that does not include details that would let us know how useful the experience is/was.

      however, if little bullets make you nervous, get the biggest handgun manufactured, practice until highly proficient, find a way to carry that. shoot what you are comfortable with. no amount of testing of anything that you are uncomfortable with will convince you to change.


      • >> interesting. have heard that .38spl+P bounce-off NYPD winter coats when the bullet is fired from arms length.

        This sounds like one of those BS stories that grow more and more crazy as they go around. Basic physics of the process (i.e. the velocity and energy involved) would seem to indicate that this is impossible. History would seem to support that notion – after all, Germans used 9mm (not +P!) in their SMGs on the Eastern Front in WW2, which is not that much more powerful, and Russian winter uniform of the time, designed for winters much harsher than anything you’d see in NYC, was very bulky cotton jacket with a thick outer shell (look up “telogreika” on Wiki) – yet Germans didn’t complain.

        Anyway, if someone wants to test it, more power to them. After all, the old BS story about 7.62 AK being able to pierce a railroad rail (with the right ammo) turned out to actually be true when someone tried it.

        • Years ago when Amron Ammo came out my department decided to use it. My watch was the first to use them. The very first round I fired didn’t. Neither did 2 of the remaining 5. The next night after a gun fight it was found that the Amron round fired had penetrated the leather jacket but never broke the skin. The Sheriff decided to not use Amron. Hundreds of departments did with no problems. No brand of ammo is perfect.

  14. I really like the series that you produce. You use science and experimentation to achieve accurate results. Here’s an idea. One the winner is selected in an ammo category, it would make for an interesting video if you were to test the functionality of that ammo in some of the most popular handguns of that caliber. Also, what is your name? A first name to put with your face would be nice.

  15. The round is marketed as the XP meaning (e)Xtreme Penetrator. I highly doubt the calibers that typically work well for defensive situations (9mm, .357, .40, .45, etc…) would be good choices with this bullet design. They’d over penetrate.

    Only those that typically fall short of the FBI minimum 12 inches would be a good match IMHO (those needing a boost in penetration capability). Those being the .380, .38 special, and others like it. I wonder if this would give some life back in the poor .25 autos.

    Otherwise, I’m very excited for this in .38 spl and as usual, very impressed with ShootingTheBull410’s videos.

  16. Extremely impressive results. I must confess, I was skeptical given how many “radical new designs” we’ve seen for bullets that look far nastier than they actually are. The best engineering is usually simple, elegant engineering. Ordered a couple of boxes for my wife’s Walther PK380.

  17. Great info. and appreciate your work and objective test results. I was fortunate enough to get a box of the XP .380 this past weekend, and was very optimistic. Unfortunately, these bullets did not cycle in (3) of my .380 pistols (Sig p232 and two Taurus TCPs). The bullet design is indeed innovative, but as you clearly stated in your results, each pistol needs to be tested for reliability and proper feeding. For me, every round jammed up tight on the feed ramps. Needless to say I was disappointed, but am anxious to try the XP .38 special +P ammo in my snub nose – I’m sure the results will be much better in a revolver. Thanks again for sharing your info. and look forward to seeing more of your tests.

  18. I ordered 3 boxes the night I saw the YouTube. Received within 3 days. I tried them out yesterday on my Glock 42 (new, with the updated parts) and my brother’s S&W Bodyguard with laser. I had no hope for the Bodyguard because my new one without a laser was just sent back to S&W for the second time this month for FTF, stovepipe and slide not locking back on last shot.

    I would have lost money on a bet. The Glock 42 jammed every round after the first and was horrible with this ammo. However, the Bodyguard loved the ammo. Every round. Very accurate and much less recoil than standard FMJ and Federal Hydra Shok. I’ve worked a deal with my brother for the Bodyguard and it will stay loaded with the Lehigh XP.

    • Update – At their request I told Lehigh of the issues I had with the Glock 42 and their new ammo. They told me they we aware of the issues and have made the rounds slightly longer with a little more powder and told me they would send me a box. I received the new and improved .380 XP ammo from Lehigh today and went out and shot most of them. They now work great in the Glock 42! And they still work great in the Bodyguard. Couldn’t tell a difference in recoil or accuracy. The only difference I could see is that these fed just fine.

  19. Customer service with Lehigh was great, I received my order of three boxes of their new .380 XP’s in about three days. Unfortunately, they would not feed in my Kahr P380; it appears that there are too many edges on the bullet which catch on the feed ramp.

  20. Has anybody tried the XP in a BERSA Thunder 380?

    I will order and try them in that, a Hi Point CF380, and a newer version LCP. Just at the range, not gel test.

    The 38 Special looks like a similar round that benefits from this design. I will try in a 642 and 64-3 4″ to see how they handle against Gold Dot 135 SB. At least they will surely “feed” as revolvers but wondering what kind of performance they offer. Does anyone know of ballistic gel tests with the .38 Lehigh XP?

    • yes !! thunder plus. 30rds. like the bersa didn’t even know it wasn’t feeding fmj. rapid fire, slow fire, slingshot into battery. SOLD !!.

      same for 9mm in mp9c and compact 1911 (stb hasn’t done the 9mm yet).


  21. Sincere thanks, RW!

    I am ordering in another page as I type. Have all info entered up until payment. 2 boxes 380, one .38 Special. All XP ammo.

    This makes them viable as sd/HD and easier to find then gold dot 135. Remington’s golden saber is a good .38 special plus p as well but this Lehigh looks better. As 17″ most likely in the 140 grain.

  22. For those interested in how this round feeds in certain handguns, both my wife’s Walther PK380 and my finicky Walther PPK fed, fired and extracted the XP rounds without any problems.

    • Silver Fox,

      Is your PPK a S&W model? Older InterArms or German manufacture? My PPK (S&W) was having FTF issues with every mag of the Lehigh Extreme Penetrators. Fwiw, it’s been pretty good about reliably eating everything else I’ve fed it.

      Just wondering if the difference in our experiences with the gun/ammo combo might be due to S&W’s changes.

  23. With the excellent testing Dan has done thus far combined with the reports from shooters here and at other Web sites the only question I have left is how the bullet will perform in bone strikes, particularly in the low mass/limited energy case of the .380.

    Seems to me that the closest approximation to a real SD scenario would be to test the round on feral hogs. Hog hunting can provide shooting distances that fall into the typical range of SD incidents, gives the opportunity for rib, long bone and skull strikes and bullet tract lengths would be measurable and the wounds observable. Experienced handgun hunters could provide anecdotal evidence regarding the rounds’ effectiveness. Additional objective evidence would be obtainable by injecting fresh wound tracts with a fast setting silicone and through inspection of recovered rounds.

    Hunt on Saturday. Barbecue on Sunday. Post videos and findings for discussion all week.


  24. I approve of the way the tests were done. I disagree with some of ShootingTheBull410’s analysis and judgement of how the data is significant. You penalize ammo for overpenetrating–why? It is known that most shots fired even by law enforcement officers will miss entirely; yet you are worried about the bullet that hits the target, exits, and still retains enough energy to hit someone behind them? That’s nonsense and it rarely happens, most bullets either hit their intended target or end up in furniture/wall. Underpenetration is unacceptable. Overpenetration is no big deal.

    Then you look at the temporary cavity of this gelatin and determine it’s almost 1″ across, as if this is what it would do to a human. You have to understand that the temporary cavity from handgun bullets causes no trauma to human tissue because it does not have so much pressure on it as this gelatin. The temporary cavitation will split gelatin open, but in the human body it only moves organs aside briefly. This is why you only consider the permanent cavity when analyzing handgun rounds.

    Handgun terminal ballistics are mostly pretty simple. The hole made will be the size of the bullet, no less, no more, so the expanding bullet wins in this regard. You also want the bullet to penetrate as far as possible. I interpret the FBI’s requirement as 12″ is a minimum, and 18″ or over is ideal–this is because I don’t really care about overpenetration. I would still say the Precision One wins, because it expands, and penetrates adequately and consistently. Don’t buy into the lie that the cavity in the gel = the cavity in a human.

    The point is to take the data and know how to analyze it yourself, not take somebody else’s analysis as the truth automatically.

    • Two excellent points!

      In fly fishing there is an old saying: “Some flies are tied to catch fish, but many are tied to catch fishermen.”. Lehigh has created a bullet that looks to be great at catching shooters, but I doubt it is any better at stopping bad guys than an FMJ.

      Wound ballistics experts have known for three decades that handgun cavitation does not wound. I’ve read that to make cavitation medically significant the terminal energy must exceed 500 ft•lb, or terminal energy must exceed 2,000 ft/s, neither of which the .380 Auto will do anytime soon, if ever.

      Congrats to Lehigh for a great marketing gimmick. I’ll stick to using FMJs in my .380.

  25. Please retest Lehigh XP vs Precision One with a full 5 shot bare gel and denim review. The one shot Precision One was not a full sample group. Thanks, Joe

  26. The new updated version of this round from Lehigh has a smaller flat surface on the nose of the cross shaped section of the bullet and the velocity has been increased to 950 fps. The penetration should be better through denim I would think.
    Can you test this new updated version of the Lehigh XP 380?

    • Their advertised velocity of 950 fps does not match the published “Load Data” pdf listed on their website. That data indicates a max. velocity of 875fps for the 90gr bullet using a 3.25″ barrel. I’ve asked them about the inconsistency…waiting for their response. This will make a difference regarding penetration, since the bullet acts more like a FMJ than a JHP.

  27. I’m hoping to see a review of the new 65gr Xtreme Defense round soon. Lehigh’s testing reveals a 14″ gel penetration and a whopping 2.5″ permanent wound cavity, quite an eye opener for 380 ACP. I managed to acquire five boxes and went through one of them in initial reliability testing. With smaller available surface to engage feed ramps I was somewhat concerned but the results were excellent. I tested a S&W 380 BodyGuard and two magazines. For reasons unknown, the final round in the first magazine failed to load but it wasn’t the bullet shape. The round was never pushed out of the magazine and the slide closed leaving the chamber empty. Another full load with the same magazine was flawless as was all testing in the other magazine. Consequently, I’m now carrying the new ammo in my 380 as well as the 9mm +P 90g Xtreme Defense in my Kahr CM9.

    • Per Underwood, the testing of their 65gr extreme defender was done with a 3.25″ barrel, making this a perfect round for 3″ plus barrels without the worry of overpenetration. Since the design is nearly identical to the XP’s, penetration and expansion should be equally reliable. This will be perfect for the wife’s Thunder 380…as long as they feed well.

  28. Love your work. Have you shot the underwood casing of the Lehigh xp bullet? They are saying they are 1100 fps and 1200 fps with the +P ammo. It sounds cool and looks cool on a video I saw, however I respect your opinion more than anyone on here. Do you think the underwood round is too hot for a 380 lcp?? I want to be safe before I order and shoot some of this stuff. There is a youtube vid showing this outperforming the Lehigh..Thanks shooting the bull!

  29. Your testing is a major public service to gun owners. I stumbled across your test while researching rounds for my LCP. I am amazed that ball ammo overpenetrates in 9mm short/.380 auto after shooting at various target materials compared to other rounds.
    I heard a few companies are making these fluted bullets. Taking advantage of bullet rotation to maximize damage and limit penetration is very clever. Not having seen the flutes close up, one question comes immediately to mind. Are they dependant on the direction of twist of the barrel rifling? Other fluted bullets have directional flutes designed to throw fluid like a boat prop when spinning correctly. Are these Lehigh flutes symmetrical around the bullet axis? If so, then LH or RH twist won’t matter. If not, then the issue of matching the bullet to the barrel twist comes up for specified performance, as the two configurations would perform radically differently.
    Once again, thanks for the excellent report.

  30. Have you done a MacPherson Wound Trama Indicator test on the Lehigh XP? It would be nice to have this figure to compare to the other rounds that you tested.

  31. This bullet leaves the same wound as a FMJ round when it is shot into actual animal tissue. This bullet exploits the properties of Gelatin to give a false impression of it’s terminal ballistics . I have tested round in 2 different calibers , both loaded by Underwood in pork shoulders (details below) to reach this conclusion. BUT Before I go into the science and testing, here is an experiment you can do yourself to understand why we got different results in actual tissue than in Gelatin:

    Take an hunk of meat, organ, or any large animal tissue the butcher will give you, and if its not similar in size, cut it to the the same size as a brick of ballistics gelatin you’ll need for the experiment. Proceed to attempt to you fold the Ballistics Gel in half. The brick will either begin to tear, or more likely (and especially if the gelatin is made from Knox or other Collagen based gelatins), the gel block will completely tear in half. Now I dare you to try and tear a raw pork shoulders, steak, pig lung, pig or heart, in half. Heck try and tear them in half in anyway you can. Unless you are tearing strips of meat along the fibers of a steak, you will not be able to do this nearly at all. It is a very hard thing to stress/stretch actual tissue enough to make it tear. Tearing ballistic gelatin on the other hand, is incredibly easy by comparison. The Gel tears because if its poor elasticity at higher forces. It is this property that gives the illusion that these bullet use to trick the buyer into thinking they give equivalent terminal effects as hollow points.

    The Bottom Line is : When shot through meat, Lehigh Xtreme Defense/Penetrator rounds leave the exact same type of wounds that FMJ rounds do of the same caliber

    How I wish I had my phone charged at my friends farm the day we tested these rounds. I have posted this information on many videos for the Lehigh Xtreme Defense and Xtreme Penetrator rounds. These rounds went all the way through the pork shoulders we lined up on his folding-table; and they left nothing but a tiny hole in the meat, with a wound path diameter no great than the diameter of round itself! In gel we had results just like shown in the above video… though not as drastic for some reason. I suspect that is because we used ClearBallistics brand gel, while the gel above appears to be made with from Know Gelatin with an insufficient ratio of Collagen Gelatin (Knox) to Water, and I don’t see a BB used to calibrate the home-made gel. None the less, the results in the video are still very similar to what you see in clear ballistics gel. But the result in meat is not so. Notice in the ribs placed before the gel, there is nothing but a small hole where the bullet penetrated.

    • In response to the post regarding testing the extreme penetrator round in a piece of mean… please be aware of the fact that your test is flawed. The results that you get from shooting through body vs a dead piece of meat is not the same. Drastic changes take place to the body tissue after being dead, plus the blood has been drained. Then you further change the nature of the tissue, once it is frozen and thawed out. Your method is flawed.

      • Testing 2741 makes good points.

        Why does Lehigh confine their testing to gel? It would be a simple matter to bag a critter with one of their newfangled bullets then show a massive wound channel through fresh tissue by immediate autopsy. You won’t see realistic testing, because handgun cavitation does not wound biological tissue — this has been known for 30 years! And, ballistics gelatin was never meant to be a realistic model of biological tissue. It has some similarities, but is primarily a uniform medium in which relative penetrations can be observed, then correlated with real world observations by trauma surgeons and pathologists to what penetration is needed in standardized gel to achieve effective e al world results — 12.5 to 14.0 inches in bare gel, and 13.0 to 16.0 inches in gel covered by three layers of heavy denim. (I’ve never seen any justification by the FBI for modifying these expert opinions to “12 to 18 inches”.)

  32. Anyone use these Lehigh. 380 XP’s in a Sig p238? Lehigh’s webpage states some folks are reporting feed issues with the Kahr380 and the Sig p238. Can anyone give me their experiences or insight as far as the p238? I’m not familiar with this webpage so ifyou could, e-mail me at [email protected].
    Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

  33. I am concerned that bullets are getting designed specifically to exploit some qualities that are specific and limited to ballistic gelatin. In the 1970s and 1980s a lot of gun magazines would do articles where they would shoot into clay blocks. Various types of unique bullets would blast very wide holes through clay.

  34. I also would love to see a comparison between the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator and the Lehigh Defense Xtreme Defender in .380. Guns of choice: Ruger LCP2. I wonder if the .380 Defender would be able to penetrate deep enough (in denim and gel)to use over the .380 Penetrator.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here