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Discussion Starter #1
For practical reasons that don't merit review here, I am carrying a .380 pistol as my CCW weapon. I regard this caliber as marginal at best as a combat round, but it is the route I feel I must take for now.

My question has to do with ammunition, and it may involve opinions as much as "ballistics."

When Black Talon was available and I was an active duty law enforcement officer I carried it off duty in either 9MM or .45 ACP. My on duty ammo was required by my agency to be Hydra-shok.

I now understand that Winchester Supreme SXT is the "covert" Black Talon of today (SXT = Same Exact Thing)(Yeah, I know - Supreme Expansion Talon) without the black coloring. From what I have been reading the Remington Golden Saber works in much the same manner, opening up a large wound channel.

Since I consider the caliber to be marginal I have been practicing firing at man sized targets concentrating on the suprasternal notch (base of the throat) on the theory that the round might damage the trachea (breathing), damage the jugular (blood) or damage the spine (no reflex kill.)

As an "aging senior" I want a personal defense round that would tend to "severely discourage" any aggressor who I might encounter.

I'm soliciting opinions regarding the relative effectiveness of Golden Saber and Supreme SXT on hits in the general area of the suprasternal notch. I'm leaning toward the belief that they are about the same.

Opinions?
 

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Re: Seeking Opinions re: Golden Saber and SXT (aka Black Tal

OldStar said:
From what I have been reading the Remington Golden Saber works in much the same manner, opening up a large wound channel.

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As an "aging senior" I want a personal defense round that would tend to "severely discourage" any aggressor who I might encounter.

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I'm soliciting opinions regarding the relative effectiveness of Golden Saber and Supreme SXT on hits in the general area of the suprasternal notch. I'm leaning toward the belief that they are about the same.
  1. So too does Gold Dot, Hydra-Shok (yeah!, even High Shok), and any number of other handgun rounds.[/*:r1gq57tk]
  2. I imagine the true "discouragement" part would evolve less from round selection than from the carriage, attitude and resolve of the aggressor's target… but I think you already know that.[/*:r1gq57tk]
  3. The suprasternal notch, actually immediately above the semi-armored sternum, is a high value target more for what resides beyond than what damage might be caused right there.[/*:r1gq57tk]
 

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To put a somewhat finer point on Dean's succinct comment: there ain't two cents difference among all the "premium" bullets... and they all work the same way.

But to me a much better question is why in the world would you care about the suprasternal notch when you can raise your point of aim a bit and have a much bigger... and more discouraging target?
 

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With a .380 I think I would be more concerned about too much expansion preventing penetration to an area that can communicate the message I am trying to send. Certainly if you can be sure to hit in a soft spot such as the neck you will get the results you want but if yuo hit a harder area such as a rib you may not get enough penetration.
 
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Having recently picked up a Pristine Colt Govt. 380 I asked the same question to Tom Burczynski. Tom knows a thing or two about bullet design. Extract from e-mail exchange....

> Choices as I can see them are Hydra-Shok, Golden Saber, Gold Dot and SXT.

While these are all good bullets, I'd choose the Gold Dot for a couple of reasons. Speer has worked long and hard on their current .380 to make it expand consistently when fired through heavy clothing. They used the same approach that worked for their latest low-velocity 38 Special bullet. They aggressively serrated the core on their .380 bullet and thinned the plating. Plus, in general, pure copper plating is more malleable than a conventional gilding metal jacket (gilding metal being 95% copper, 5% zinc). This combination of features has resulted in a relatively low-velocity .380 round that works consistently. When it expands, it retains a somewhat 'tighter' expansion than a conventional jacketed bullet which allows it to penetrate deeper. The strong, electrolytic bond helps retain almost all its original weight which also assists in penetration. Typical retained weight is 99% to 100%
When Tom talks I tend to listen, hence my Govt. 380 runs Gold Dot.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Great responses!

Hey guys, great responses and I appreciate them!

Just to keep the thread going, here are answers to a couple of observations you have made.

First off, the ballistics tables that JRWnTN linked me to were both interesting and eye opening. I found the results of the denim over geletin tests counter-intuitive. I would have expected the denim to cause greater expansion of the bullets than shots directly into geletin - the opposite occurred.

To Dean: I used the term "severly discourage" to somewhat mitigate my reference in the preceding sentence to "no reflex kill." I was trying to sound somewhat less bloodthirsty.

To Dean, Charlie and RenoF250, I make reference to the suprasternal notch as a point of aim just to indicate the general area that I'm aiming for, rather than the traditional law enforcement term "center mass." (What I really want is to penetrate through to the spine for a no reflex kill, but if I can interrupt the aggressors' breathing or blood flow to the head these are acceptable alternatives.)

I believe that at the range that I would expect to be compelled to use deadly force for self defense, and with the practice that I have put into my response, a hit somewhere slightly above the notch should render the aggressor hors de combat.

As for raising my aim and going for a head shot, two observations: It is easier for the target to bob and weave and make a head shot difficult than it is for him to move his entire chest area, and a head shot can destroy a cheek, a jaw, or even glance off of a forehead and not put the aggressor out of action.

And finally, to Schmit: I found the Burcznski insights very interesting. The part about Gold Dot being designed to expand consistantly through heavy clothing was particularly significant. However, since virtually all of my time is spent on the Florida west coast, (where heavy clothing is most unusual) and since my primary aiming point is at a generally unclothed area, I'm inclined to go for a bullet which gives the largest expansion in unprotected soft tissue. Maybe when I vacation up north (Georgia and beyond) I'll resupply with Gold Dot for the trip.

Again, thanks to all. In my youth I was a gun nut, hunter, reloader, target shooter (pistol, rifle and shotgun) and avid reader of ballistics tables. In mid-life I was more consumed with the investigative aspects of law enforcement. In retirement, my interest in all aspects of firearms is re-kindled, but there have been great changes that I must catch up on.
 

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I've been carrying the Federal PD 90 grain Hydra-Shoks in my Colt .380 Pony. I have no reason to change unless these become obsolete. It that occurs, based on the FBI tests cited in Part III of JRWnTN's link and Schmit's info, I'll go with the Gold Dot. FWIW, Texas' Highway Patrol are using the GDs in their 357 SIG chambered P229s. As a pfc now-a-days, I usually try to carry similar loads as the load law in my bigger PDWs.

Interesting thread. Thanks all.
 

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I'm with Schmit. If the creator of Hydra-Shok, Starfire, and Quik-Shok likes the Gold Dot, I, as well, like the Gold Dot.

By the way, if you think that you are going to hit the jugular, you'll hit the carotids just as easily. The carotids pump blood out quicker, being arteries. The pressure in the jugular, being a vein, will be marginally lower, but will also draw air into the system, eventually causing the heart to stop, or a stroke to occur. However, the last two conditions might take a while.

My wife carries my Colt Govt. Model .380 ACP as a CCW. We've been using Starfire, but a trip to the ammo locker will change that.

The PG. Co., Md. Police Department authorizes the Sig P203/232 as an off-duty, loaded with the Federal Hydra-Shok round. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Learning.....

I'm learning!

By the way, in my reference to the jugular I really meant the carotid - memory lapse.

I do believe I'm being convinced that Gold Dot might be the way to go.

Am I correct in believing that with GD ammo I can safely switch my point of aim to "center mass" of the chest (sternum up to heart) and still expect to reliably "stop the objectional actions of the aggressor?" (Police euphemism used in court to avoid saying "shoot to kill.") Remember we are discussing .380 caliber.

Can someone give me some insight regarding the bullet dynamics that cause less expansion when firing into denim covered geletin as compared to bare geletin? I would have thought the cloth would have caused expansion to begin sooner and become larger.
 
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Lonestar,

My requirement for my 380 ammo is based on the relitively low power of the cartridge (when compared to my normal 45 ACP carry gun) (I just had to get the Colt Govt 380 due to many reason one of which was that I'm old and didn't want to relearn presentation/gun manipulation). I wanted something that would perferate (not penetrate), drive as deep as possible, but still expand (consistantly). That is the reason I went to Tom with the question. He stays up with (if not developing) current bullet design technology.

Where in FL are you located?

JR... you forgot to mention Federal's Expanding Full Metal Jacket (EFMJ)
 
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still expect to reliably "stop the objectional actions of the aggressor?" (Police euphemism used in court to avoid saying "shoot to kill.") Remember we are discussing .380 caliber.
NO! And I don't care what handgun caliber we are talking about... be it .380 or 45 ACP (with the possible exception of either S&W's 460 or 500 Mag). To many variables. As a Retired LEO Investigator you know nothing is a sure thing.

Hollow Point bullets expand due to the hydrolic pressures being generated in the cavity. When this reaches a certain pressure the lead/jacket/plateing can't contain it and the bullet starts to mushroom.

The reason a hollow point will penetrate deeper when fired through heavy clothing is that the hollow point of the bullet will "cookie cut" part of the clothing as it passes through it. This will partially clog a portion of the cavity making it smaller (and changing the configuration of it to an extent). Being partially clogged it takes the bullet longer to expand which causes it to penetrate deeper.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You never really know for sure........

Schmit, I sent you a PM with a little more personal info.

We are on the same page regarding any shot being a sure thing.

I recall an event in my early days of law enforcement when a guy walked into the waiting room of the ER of a local hospital and insisted he needed to be seen right away. A deputy standing there told him he needed to wait his turn and asked him what his problem was.

He raised his shirt and showed that he had taken six .45 rounds in the chest - and he was still walking and talking!

(He DID get moved to the front of the line.)

Thanks for explaining the disparity in bullet expansion when the bullet goes through clothing. (I did notice on one chart that Golden Saber reacted contrary to other rounds - the shot through clothing expanded MORE than the strike on bare geletin.)

As you said - nothing is for certain.
 

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"no reflex"

I once had a very interesting discussion on this subject with a group of shooters who repsectively were: Head of Anesthesiology, Head of Neurology and 2 thoracic surgeons of the same major medical institution. The phrase they used for a CNS hit on the medulla and/or spine down to the 5th cervical vertabrae was "no voluntary movement". Note the distinction carefully.
 
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