Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

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max129
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Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by max129 »

I started carrying my new Sig P238 in the past month. Smaller ammo, less power than my 9mm, lots of reviews for "the best" ammo.

My LGS sells some cheap standard .380, some Buffalo Bore and similar (I am not a fan) and the nice Fiocchi .380 in JHP both "standard" and the XTP Carry ammo.

After finding I really like the Fiocchi in my 9mm Sig, I decided to try it in my new .380. Feeds and shoots like a charm. 300+ rounds in my new P238 and not a single FTF/F/E. (BTW, the same experiment in my deprecated S&W Bodyguard was a fail: could not shoot well with the gun AND it had primer strike failures ever other magazine - can't carry that gun.)

Well, I wanted REAL carry ammo, buy my LGS did not have any Speer LE Gold Dot JHP (which is my carry ammo for my 9mm and my .38 sp). So I ordered some Gold Dot online.

It arrived yesterday and today was range day. I shot a box of 50 Gold Dot. 2 Failures to Feed. Once on the empty chamber full mag step (and not limp wristed - bullet just did not feed into chamber.) And once mid magazine - bullet did not go into chamber.

The POA was a bit lower and to the left of my other ammo.

My thumb got black marks after 1 magazine. (Never had this with any 9mm or .380 in a couple of years.)

And the ammo did not look right. Even in the rather dark shooting lanes - the ammo looked 'off'.
1) There was a very noticeable bulge on the casing where the bullet was seated on every bullet in the box of 50.
2) The nickel casings looked dull and scratched. (Very noticeable next to the Fiocchi XTP which is also nickel cased.)

The recoil felt a bit more stout than my Fiocchi, but not a huge delta.

I came home and looked at my other calibers of Gold Dot (I have quite a few boxes to look at, bought over many different times.) They all looked like my other ammo. Cases were bright. No bulges. But none were .380 ammo.

I took some pictures and posted below. The most important picture (of course) is blurred. It is hard to take a picture of the bulged casing because the cases are so reflective. But you can see the bulge in one photo, and every round has this bulge. I also took a shot of my Fiocchi ammo so you can see there is a distinct difference in the polish on the Fiocchi vs the Speer.

I am not sure what to make of this. The ammo had my first FTF in my P238, but people have the same complaint about the Fiocchi in the Ruger .380. Smaller guns can be very picky about ammunition.

But I will be using my one other box of Gold Dot for range ammo. I am willing to try other .380, but the Speer flunked in my gun.

Many people here know 10x more than I do about ammunition. I have seen similar bulges on ammo, but only on factory reloads. This is clearly brand new ammunition.

Does anyone have an insights into why there are bulges in new factory ammo?

Needless to say, I am doing to be carrying with my Fiocchi XTP .380 ammo.

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Last edited by max129 on Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by Bang »

Those bulges are a huge red flag to me, I'd assume they could be dangerous to shoot if I saw them.

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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by SubRosa »

I'd send them back to Speer.

W/pix, too.

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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by lurker »

i'd certainly be leery of failures to chamber and extract.

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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by Marlene »

The bulge itself is nbd, but the rest of what you describe doesn’t sound great.

A tight case that is sized up a bit by the bullet is often a goal for reloaders who want a lot of neck tension to resist the effects of recoil in the gun without super-intense crimping. Dunno if this is Speer doing that intentionally or the result of a manufacturing error.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by CDFingers »

Hornady Critical Defense.



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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by K9s »

Yeah, I settled on Critical Defense .380 ACP for my 380s. Not the best penetration out there, but it works well in everything I shoot.

I think that your Fiocchi XTP ammo choice is probably a great choice.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by AndyH »

Max,

I carry Speer Gold Dot 9mm +P 124 gn. All of my current stock is from the same lot number - 23617 . I can feel the diameter change at the base of the bullet on most, and can see it on more than half. Mr. Mitutoyo says the bump is at most 0.001". They're all well within SAAMI dimensions - max at the mouth of the case is 0.380 and this batch of Gold Dot are 0.377. They're 0.3765 at the base of the projectile. They run perfectly in my G17 and G19, as well as the M9A1 - but those are my only data points. I don't have any experience with .380s or shooting anything smaller than my G19.

Dull and scratched doesn't sound right at all. I think I'd contact Speer/CCI about those.

If they don't run in your gun, I'd keep trying everything available from a major manufacturer (the ones that keep 10 years worth of samples from each lot).

If you've got any LEO friends, maybe they can get you some new Winchester Ranger One to try!


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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by Eris »

CDFingers wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 9:10 pm
Hornady Critical Defense.



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This is what I carry, though now that I think about it I've never actually done extensive shooting with it to see how well it works. Might have to change that.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by K9s »

Eris wrote:
Sat Jan 26, 2019 11:27 pm

This is what I carry, though now that I think about it I've never actually done extensive shooting with it to see how well it works. Might have to change that.
The good thing about Critical Defense is that expansion is good and that little plug works to make that happen. It doesn't penetrate as deep as some rounds, but it is very low flash and reliable. It is also easy to find. Nothing bad about it.

It is really, really good in 9mm. Still pretty good in .380.

Check out Ammo Quest 380 on YouTube for a good smorgasbord of tests on .380 ACP.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by max129 »

Thanks for all the feedback. Marlene's comments made me feel a bit better. I have never seen anything like this on new commercial ammo. But when I did my own reloading in Alaska, I did have some rounds with a slight bump.

I contacted Speer online and sent them photos, etc. I will see what they say.

And now I am on a mission to find out if the cheap online ammo people are selling first quality ammo or if there is a market for safe ammo with blemishes (as there is in just about every other product category known.)

My wife is a serious professional jeweler. She fits stones that are less than 1mm in diameter and her tools are really something. She measured a round of the Fiocchi and the Speer GD with a bulge. Here is what she found:

In inches,
Fiocchi = .371 inches

Speer before bulge = .370 inches
Speer at bulge = .373 inches

She also commented on the appearance of the casings of the Speer compared to the Fiocchi and declared that the Speer 'looked like shit'.
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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by AndyH »

max129 wrote:
Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:46 pm
She also commented on the appearance of the casings of the Speer compared to the Fiocchi and declared that the Speer 'looked like shit'.
Yeah, that's what seems bizarre here. I have Gold Dot in 9mm, .223, and .308 and they all look like any other commercial ammo in a nickeled case - smooth and shiny.

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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by lurker »

i happen to have 50 rds of locally produced 380, "American Patriot Ammo High Quality Training Ammunition", reloaded 88gr hollowpoints. gun show ammo. don't usually buy hollowpoint, haven't shot any, just bought the first .380 i saw. there's just the slightest bulge in the case around the base of the bullet. not noticeable but if i look for it there it is. if memory serves, i've seen this before, in .45acp.

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Re: Gold Dot JHP LE for .380 ACP (not a good review)

Post by max129 »

I have seen bulges on reloads - as Marlene points out, it may even be a feature, not a bug. I buy bulk reloads for range ammo.

I have never seen them on commercial ammo to my memory.

I am trading emails with the Speer support rep now. They have the lot number and the pictures.
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