I recommend the following two cartridges above all others:
-Federal 90 gr. Hydra-shok (P380HS1 H) - the best standard-pressure .380 JHP load, period.
-Cor-Bon 90 gr. JHP - the most powerful .380 hollowpoint, bar none.
These are the two best .380 loads, and I recommend them for these guns:
SIG/Sauer P230, Beretta 84/85, Browning BDA, CZ-83, H&K P7K3, Walther PPK and PPK/s. The Russian, East German, Chinese and Bulgarian Makarov pistols are apparently perfectly reliable with the hot Cor-Bon, and the strong all-steel construction of these guns should stand up to an infinite amount of these potent rounds. I have heard that the Colt does also well with the hot Cor-Bon JHP, which you should definitely look into if you own a Colt .380. You have better stopping power than any .38 snub-nose revolver (the long-time favorite concealment sidearm) when you load your .380 with these two rounds.
Other good .380 ACP jacketed hollowpoints:
- Remington 102 gr. Golden Saber BJHP (GS380M) - Another excellent .380 load (the BJHP stands for "Brass Jacketed Hollow Point"), the heaviest one available. I prefer the Cor-Bon and Hydra-shok, but many (including Sanow) like this new Remington round for its deeper penetration. I'll stick with the Cor-Bon and Hydra-shok, but the choice is yours.
- CCI-Speer 90 gr. Gold Dot JHP A good all-around hollowpoint.
- Remington 88 gr. JHP (R380AI): A good high-velocity hollowpoint that feeds well in: Colt Government Model .380, H&K HK4, Taurus PT-58, older PP and PPK, Bersa .380, Beretta 70s, Makarov and Hungarian FEG. These are all good guns that might choke on other hollowpoints but they will probably feed the Remington fine. This hollowpoint was redesigned in 1993 and gives excellent performance while retaining its rounded shape for positive feeding. If your .380 chokes on other JHP loads, try fifty rounds of the Remington 88 gr. through your gun and see if it improves.
.380 ACP hollowpoints to avoid:
-Winchester 85 gr Silvertip (X380ASHP) I really cannot recommend this weak and jam-prone round. It works reliably in a few modern European guns (e.g. SIG 230, Beretta 84F), but every load named above offers better performance. The Silvertip will likely jam in any American-made .380 automatic. Russian .380 Makarovs and PPK series guns may jam with the Silvertip, as well. The .380 Silvertip was once state-of-the-art, but has since been superceded by superior designs. It is also quite expensive. Look elsewhere.
- PMC-Eldorado Starfire 95 gr. JHP This round is similarly weak and jam-prone.
- Federal 90 gr. JHP (380BP) (see below)
- Hornady 90 gr. XTP-HP (9010) Both the Federal 380BP and the Hornady XTP-HP never expand and may jam many guns due to their truncated-cone bullet nose profiles. Pass by these two.
95 gr ball:
Davis P-380, Accu-Tek, EAA .380, Tanarmi, AMT/OMC/TDE "Back-Up," Heritage, FIE, Jennings, Bryco, Lorcin, Llama, or "other." Hollowpoints should never be used in these low-priced guns.
9mm Makarov (9x18mm)
-Cor-Bon makes an excellent 95 grain JHP that is totally reliable in all East Bloc pistols.
-Hornady offers a 95 grain JHP/XTP (#91002).