I sure agree. That is common with most of the older calibers. A buddy and I went on a quest to see what short barrel Guns really tested when put on the chronograph. Lots of ammo such as 22, 22 Mag , 380, and 38 special are sold based on what speeds they get from a much longer test barrel. The FBI text protocols has cleaned up a lot of the misinformation:The big problem with the Seecamp pistol is/was one of barrel length. The short barrel robs the Winchester Silvertip of velocity (a rare commodity in the .32 ACP). This causes the hollowpoint round to either,
a) underpenetrate, or,
b) run like slower "ball" ammunition.
It is better to have a 71-grain FMJ pill quickly penetrate, or have an "Extreme Defender"perform in a similar manner with it accompanying tissue disruption. I have seen plenty of videos that bear this out.
Also, exactly as you say many of the expensive highly advertised self defense ammo simply does not expand at the velocity the come out of the barrel. Some ammo works exactly as advertised. One example is the 38 Super Win Silvertip It is advertised from a 5 inch barrel, a 124 grain bullet at 1224 fps. By golly that is what it does from my gun and expansion is pretty radical in sand.
On the other hand, in the 380s, I do not have my data handy, but most of the 88-90 grain hp bullets were sold as going 1000 fps, yet most tested about 900 fps..When shot into water or sand,most did not expand at all. Much of that comes from the shorter barrels as you say. I have a Ruger LCP that is a tack driver as belly guns go, I can put a magazine of ammo in a 2.5 inch circle in about Six seconds at 50 feet, that is as good as I can do any caliber, including my 22s. But I know that the Gold Dots or Hydroshocks that I carry in it are not going to expand ....
So we are right back to what you said, a slow moving hollow point that does not expand is just a solid, and you might as well just use ball ammo. In my mind for just about any semi auto pistol with a barrel 3 inches or shorter, you might as well just use the solid and take advantage of the deeper penetration.
Back to the Seecamp. I do not carry it now because I have a magic little LCP that weighs nothing. I learned that it does not make a good armadillo gun. But when I carried it in law enforcement setting, I did not carry it for the purpose of it taking over if my primary broke or ran dry. I carried it for a get off me gun. That is where a suspect tackles an officer or gets you on the ground. and proceeds to choke you or pound on you. The get off me gun is the tiny one you pull with one hand and into his ear fire until he gets off of you are the gun quits. Any 32 or 380 or 22 or 25 will work. The Seecamp is a great gun for that purpose.