Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Black Hills Ammunition .380 ACP Xtreme Defense

I have been running Black Hills Ammunition through my firearms since 1992, when I first started writing gun articles. I have yet to have a single round fail me in any way. I think it is safe to say that I’ve easily fired hundreds of thousands of rounds of Black Hills ammo through various firearms for articles. And, to be sure, Black Hills is always on the cutting edge of new products. However, with that said, they do not just jump on the band wagon because everyone else is doing so.


Jeff & Kristi Hoffman are the owners of Black Hills, and they are very proud to be one of the leading ammo manufacturers in this country. They even produce a proprietary round for all our of Special Forces. They are the only ammo maker producing this round, and that says a lot. They go to great lengths to test their ammo, and we aren’t just talking going out and shooting into ballistic gelatin either. There are many protocols that they have to go through to produce this specialty ammo for our military.

About six months ago, I asked Jeff Hoffman about this new “Xtreme” all-copper bullet that is not a hollow point; it is a solid. However, unlike a FMJ bullet, the “Xtreme” has a frontal section that looks like an “X” as you look down on the round. It isn’t just that simple, either. This bullet is designed for deep penetration, and it does not simply slip and slide through a body; instead, it rips through, creating a massive temporary wound channel.


Hoffman promised me that he was experimenting with this new bullet and I would get some for testing. True to his word, he provided me with 300 rounds of his .380 ACP 60-gr Xtreme Defense round. That isn’t a misprint. These are a light-weight bullet at only 60 grs. Many .380 ACP bullets are in the 95-100 grs bullet weight. I received .380 ACPfrom the very first batch of this new ammo. Nice!

Now, you have to understand that, once again, this round does not perform like a FMJ round, nor does it duplicate a JHP round. Instead, as already mentioned, this round was designed to rip and tear through a body, doing the maximum damage possible, all the while penetrating deep enough to get the job done. Many JHP rounds, in lesser calibers like .380 ACP, expand nicely but they just aren’t penetrating deep enough to stop a bad guy. Penetration is king, when it comes to lesser calibers. However, you have to have a balance between penetration and having the bullet do as much damage as possible, too.

I routinely carry a little Ruger LCP.380 ACP in an ankle holster. It is a back-up to whatever my main gun is. It has been a real challenge to find just the right balance between power and penetration. I’ve used standard velocity round in FMJ and JHP as well as +P round, again in FMJ, JHP, and even Hard Cast bullets. The little Ruger has taken a beating but never failed. Needless to say, +P rounds are a real bear to shoot in the little LCP, and Ruger advises against using +P ammo in this itty-bitty gun.


The first thing my wife (who also carries her LCP on a regular basis along with another gun was to see if these unusual rounds would even feed in our guns. There were zero malfunctions. The rounds fed and ejected nicely, and an added bonus was the very light recoil with the 60-gr bullets. It makes the little LCP very controllable, to be sure.

I also did some limited testing against water-filled milk jugs, and the Xtreme Defense round easily penetrated three gallon jugs. It didn’t just slip and slide through them; it caused massive damage, much the same as a JHP would do. Yet, it penetrated deeper.

Ammo makers are producing this round at higher velocities and are using a heavier bullet. However, Hoffman has decided on the 60-gr bullet for use in the .380 ACP, and I’m certainly not going to second guess his extensive testing and experience as an ammo maker. This is now my default round in my LCP–, as it is in my wife’s LCP, too. I’m extremely impressed with this round, and you should be, too. Black Hills Ammunition doesn’t even have this round on their website yet, but you can call and order it. I think you’ll be impressed with it.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio