Lehigh Defense .38 Spl. +P Xtreme Penetrator Ammunition
Lehigh Defense .38 Special +P Xtreme Penetrator Ammunition is the latest in their long line of premium personal defense and hunting rounds. Featuring a 100% solid copper construction and patent-pending CNC designed projectile. Xtreme Penetrators are among the best personal defense rounds on the market.
This is loaded ammunition.
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Weight: 140 gr.
Bullet: Xtreme Penetrator
Velocity: 800 fps
Energy: 199 ft. lbs.
Penetration: 17.0 in.
I have been conducting and ton of tests from the .380 ACP micro pocket pistols to find what ammo will perform best and give us the best chance of being able to score an incapacitating hit if we are ever forced to use a little tiny pocket pistol like this in a defensive encounter. And I tested a ton of round and I came to the conclusion that of the reigning hollow points that are out there, Precision One with the Hornady XTP bullet made the most consistent load that performed the best through the gel.
Then there is the flat nose FMJ that a lot of people recommend. A lot of people out there are like, “no hollow point is even worth considering with .380,” because, a .380, Let’s be fair, a .380 is a very challenging caliber to load for. I said that in my very first test when I started on the ammo quest because there is too much power for a full metal jacket because they over penetrate. You know, when we are looking at 12 to 18 inches of penetration being the standards that the FBI set. They want to see no less than 12, no more than 18. The full metal jacket penetrates way too deep in my testing. I found that, especially these flat nose ones went around 25 to 27 inches. Well over the 18-inch limit. On the other hand, the hollow points usually don’t penetrate deep enough. In all of the testing I did, and I tested well over 30, 30 testes that I did, most of the hollow points came up short. They fell short of the 12-inch limit. So the Precision One was one of the few, really any round that used the XTP bullet, so basically the XTP bullet is the thing I should be talking about. That did well enough. From the little pistol it would normally go over 12 inches and stop short of 18. Expansion was consistent with the Precision One. It wasn’t always consistently with the other XTPs, but overall the performance was good enough that I called this the flat out winner.
Well now we’ve got a totally different candidate in an entirely different bullet construction and this is promising enough that I am reopening the ammo quest for this specific ammo. Lehigh Defense Xtreme Penetrator. This is a solid bullet. Like a full metal jacket. It doesn’t expand so it should never fail. You know a lot of the hollow points that I test, would clog up in denim and fail and end up performing no better than the full metal jacket. That can’t happen to this because there is no hollow point and it doesn’t expand. But it doesn’t give you the pathetic little wound channel that FMJ does. FMJ doesn’t really cut a lot of flesh, it just kind of moves it out of the way as it makes its way through and you end up with and little tiny pin prick of a wound channel. What this claims is that its got these notches, these groves cut out into it and it says what’s going to happen is the flesh, or the blood, or whatever fluid that the bullet is traversing through is going to get compressed into these grooves and then forcefully shot out and so the results is supposed to be a larger wound channel. As this thing goes spinning a lot, as it rotates and as it is compressing and throwing this fluid or flesh or whatever it is, throwing it out into the wound cavity, it is supposed to actually cut a bigger diameter hole than a hollow point. A bigger diameter hole than an FMJ would. And because there is additional drag caused by that process it is supposed to not over penetrate the way and FMJ does. So, is it possibly the ideal bullet design for a 380 pocket pistol, or is it overhype marketing that is just not going to do anything and it is an expensive machined bullet that is going to cost you more and you should just stick with a hollow point in the first place. There is no way to know from here, but I do know how we can find out. We can head to the range with professional ballistics gelatin and four layers of heavy denim. So I am going to test the bullet in bare gel and denim covered gel. I am also going to test all of these bullets in the same block so we have side-by-side results in the same gel block so we can really compare how these three different types of ammunition perform.
(Fires four shots of Lehigh Defense .380 Xtreme Penetrator Ammo)
Ok, this deserves re-running here look at the gigantic wound cavity that this makes, deep into the gel block. I have never seen a .380 do anything like this.
(Fires two shots of Lehigh Defense .380 Xtreme Penetrator Ammo)
(Fires Winchester FMJ and Precision One XTP Ammo into same block)
At the top here, we have the Lehigh .380 Xtreme Penetrators through the bare gel. And we had one at 16 and a quarter and one at 16 and a half. And those are as ideal as you can ever hope for. That is pretty much perfect penetration. Then we had two that went further. One went to 19 and one went to 19 and a quarter. Those are a little disappointing. Usually out cutoff is 18 inches, so having them go to 19 or 19 and a quarter does represent some over penetration. However, it is dramatically less over penetration than a full metal jacket would do. In my FMJ testing I found that round noses went to 23 inches, roughly 23 to 24, and the flat noses went tot about 27. So having them stop at 19 that is much better than having them stop at 27. It’s not perfect, it’s not ideal, but it’s not bad.
The rest of the testing I did was all through denim. These two along the bottom are the Lehigh Xtreme Penetrators through denim and they stopped at 13 and 13 and a half inches; which is ideal. It’s perfect. I mean I’d love to see 15 but the minimum is 12 so I’ll take 13 and a half especially that considering through denim they can’t fail. They can’t plug up. They can’t get deformed. There is nothing to go wrong. So as long as they go above 12 inches and they stop below, you know, 18, 19, that’s all good. So to have them stop at 13, 13 and a half through denim is really, really good.
OK, next we’re going to show you the Winchester White box flat noses. When I shot these through bare gel I got about 27 inches. This time I went through denim and that brought it down some but still gross over penetration. One went to 22 inches and one went to 23 and a half. So the flat nose FMJS represent a substantially more significant over penetration hazard than the Lehighs do. And then later I’ll show you the damage tracks and why I am really interested in this load. But the final one to compare is the precision One hollow point. Now the Precision One was the winner of my .380 ACP Ammo Quest and it did well here not quite as well as it did before. This time it stopped at 11 and half inches. And I don’t like testing just one bullet at a times because you can have this sort of thing happen. You know, in the finals of my ammo quest it was going 13, 13 and a half inches. In this particular test it went 11 and a half inches. Who knows, if I had fired five of them I would probably have more of an average of 12 and half to 13, but I only fired one and this one cam up a little short. But the thing is, it’s fair to compare it to the others because we ran the same block so, for my preferred hollow point to go 11 and a half inches and this Lehigh XP to not need expanding and although went 13 to 13 and a half, I think that bode pretty well for the Lehigh.
Now Let’s look at the damage tracks. So this is a cross section of the gel take from two inches in. Now, regular viewers will know that I don’t usually bother showing the actual wound track because, in general, the damage that takes place in the first few inches really doesn’t matter. It’ll be a flesh wound but is isn’t very significant in terms of terminal performance. But I just want to demonstrate this so you can see the difference in these types of bullets. The reason I took this at two inches is because that’s when the hollow point, the Precision One, was at its largest and so that will show its most damage and were going to compare that to the XPs and also to the Winchester Flat Nose. Those are three examples of the XP. So you can see that they definitely do a little bit of damage. I mean, a lot bigger than just the diameter of the bullet. We’re up to about an inch across on those. The hollow point, it has, this is during its expansion phase, when the petals are first peeling back so that is why it is at its biggest. And so it’s dong the most damage it’s going to do. So you can see that, yes the hollow point is bigger but as far as all the rest of them go in the first two inches, they’re all the same. We’re not really given much up by going with the full metal jacket or with the XP. They’re all doing a notable amount of damage in the first inch or so.
Now let’s look later, deeper in the wound track. Ok, this is about 8 inches into the wound track. When we look at what the flat nose are doing, they are pretty much just a little tiny hole. Whereas the XP is still pushing the tissue out of the way and still ripping chunks of the tissue that are a bigger diameter wound cavity than the bullet itself should be capable of doing. It is doing hollow point style damage even deep in the wound track.
This section is about 11 inches in so we are coming up right on the back of the hollow point, it stopped at 11 and a half. And you can see at the top there these Lehigh XPs are still cutting a big nasty slice out of the flesh. They’re still damaging. Whereas the hollow point, that’s just a little round hole at this point. You don’t really see practically any additional cutting there. And with the flat nose full metal jacket, it’s pretty much just making a pin hole at this point. Whereas these XPs they are still slicing and dicing away. So, this to me is pretty darn impressive that that little solid bullet is doing much, much more damage than the full metal jacket is and it is doing even more damage than the hollow point is and it is still going. It is still penetrating even further than the hollow point did and is doing more damage than the hollow point is.
Alright, let’s look at the recovered bullets. Although, there is really nothing to see. These are the bare gel, these are the denim. These were all through denim as well. The expanded hollow point of course, expanded. So that shows something different but all of the rest of them, they are just solid bullets. There’s no deformation, there’s no, there’s nothing to notice. Denim can’t affect them bones can’t affect them. They will perform he same, every time and I’ve got to say that is a really appealing aspect. Especially when we’re talking about a caliber where bullet performance can be as unpredictably as a little .380 can be. Obviously the full metal jacket performed exactly as they should. These little cutouts, these little grooves that are in there, actually did make a much bigger damage cavity. Even over what the hollow point did. Even though the hollow point is a bigger the overall damage cavity that was done was bigger in the Xtreme Penetrator.
Well this delivers all the penetration that you would possibly need and tit brings it down, instead of going 23 inches, 25 inches, 27 inches, like I have had these do, the worst it went was 19 or 19 and a half I think and that aint bad. I would rather it stayed under 18 but if I had a choice of a bullet that could potentially fail or one that grossly over penetrates or one that does 13 to 17 inches normal, with the worse case of 19 ad it does a much bigger wound cavity; this thing wins hands down across the board, this is my new favorite ammo. And all I am going to say is if this feed properly in your gun, this is what I would load a .380 with. Well done to Lehigh for thinking outside the box, for coming up with a design that does damage deep which is where you really need it. What happens superficially, no big deal. What happens deep in the wound cavity when the bullet actually impacts the vital organs that’s what matters. If you put a shot on target with this, I think this will have more terminal effect than an FMJ would or even an expanded hollow point would. And when you are trying to stop someone form attacking you or your loved ones that’s what you need; the best terminal effect you can get. I think as far as the .380, it is a challenging caliber to load for but I think this is the best I have seen. Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator. So, well done Lehigh…
About the Manufacturer:
Lehigh Defense is a Pennsylvania based lead free bullet and ammunition manufacturer best known for their Xtreme Penetrator pistol rounds. Their other product lines include; Controlled Chaos, Controlled Fracturing and Maximum Expansion Hollow Points, Match Solids and more. In addition to unique bullet designs, Lehigh Defense utilizes brass, copper and aluminum to get the exact performance they desire out of each of their rounds.