Saturday, May 6, 2017

Winchester Train & Defend .380 ACP

I received a shipment for review.  (Being almost famous has its advantages.)  When I first started shooting, it was a Colt Government Model .45 ACP.  At the time you could get 230 grain FMJs or 185 grain JHPs.  Pretty obviously, the lighter bullet had a somewhat flatter trajectory.  Where your FMJs hit was usually a bit below where your JHPs hit.  If you practiced with FMJs, and carried JHPs, you had to remember to aim a bit lower in a defensive use.

You could spend the extra money shooting JHPs for practice, but the JHPs were expensive by comparison.  Even in the 1980s, .45 ACP wasn't cheap except by comparison to today.

Winchester now offers what it calls Train & Defend ammo.  The Train ammo is 95 grain TMJ (Truncated Metal Jacket, not the unpleasant jaw condition):

The Defend ammo is 95 grain JHP:

The mouth is pretty substantial and the shape of the teeth that expand on impact reminds me of the Winchester Silvertips that were signs of the collapse of civilization to gun controllers a couple decades ago.  I suspect that they are fundamentally the same very effective design with a copper wash over the soft underlying metal.

I went shooting today, after weeks of heavy rains and a trip to Alaska interrupted  my plans (yes, feel sorry for me).  Not having a Ransom rest for experimental testing, I set up milk jugs filled with water.  Then I loaded alternately Train & Defend in magazines for my Colt Mustang.  Why not fire one magazine of each?  Because you (or at least I) am not going to fire two magazines in a row exactly the same.  Also, mixing JHPs and TMJs may expose any feeding problems caused by different bullet shapes.  

JHPs all by themselves can be problematic in some guns.  My wife's larger Colt .380 does not reliably feed any JHPs that I have tried.  (FMJs that feed, fire, and eject are superior to any round that doesn't feed!)

I fired I think about five magazines of this mixed set.  There were no failures to feed, fire, or eject.  Now remember that the Mustang is very small.  It is strictly a gun for conversational distances, where the conversation starts with, "Give me your wallet," or, I'm taking your car."  The milk jug bad guy was not terribly distant, but every round hit in approximately the same place, sending the milk jug to the ER, where it will explain to the police how it got a bullet wound.

The packagimg is 80 rounds to a box of Train and 20 to a box of Defend.  I am pleased that they are packaged in Styrofoam instead of loose or in unsturdy cardboard spacers like some very cheap ammo I have bought:

This matters when flying because most airlines want all the ammo boxed when checked, and this Styrofoam packaging makes unloading your magazines and repacking the ammo very easy.  I am very pleased with both concept and execution of Train & Defend. 

Thanks to Widener's Reloading & Shooting Supply for feeding my shooting habit.


  1. If your Mustang feeds most anything, consider comparing the barrel ramp with your wife's .gov model. I suspect you will discover a difference in shape. If so, make it match. I did a LtWt Mustang for a sister about twenty years ago, and did the barrel throat about the same as I did for .45's. Does the job. I think Gold Dot had the worst feeding rep for .380's back then, and that fed fine after doing the work. Wouldn't feed at all when stock.

  2. I have a Ruger LCP in .380 that was purchased for...places where I had to be able to ditch the gun should it come to that.

    Anyway, my go-to 9mm loads have been Speer Gold Dot hollow point 147gr ever since the early 2000s when I bought five or 6 250 round containers at the Santa Clara County gun show for about 40 bucks each.

    Later I found that Speer had a TMJ round that was within error margins of that loading

    When I bought my LCP I found out that Speer has a 95gr .380 load in both HP and TMJ that is identical at relevant distances:

    Trajectory if sighted at 25 yards
    25 yards 50 yards 75 yards 100 yards
    0.0 -1.3 -5.1 -11.5 Gold Dot hollow point
    0.0 -1.7 -6.0 -13.4 Lawman TMJ RN

    I consider less than half an inch at 50 yards from a 380 to be "noise". Especially considering the sights on a Ruger LCP. At 100 yards I can't see the target AND the sights.

    I buy the Lawman TMJ in 500 round cases from places like Lucky Gunner and Ammoman for reasonable prices. Because 9mm is my preferred pistol round I don't stock so much of the .380 HP.